13 MAY 1943, Page 12


SIR,—It was careless of me to leave a stick about for Dr. Bevan to be- lalpur me with. Except for the one sentence which he quotes, and which would, I agree, nave been better unwritten, my whole letter was based on the assumption (which seems to me inevitable) that what he means by " the principal elements in India " are incapable of agreeing. There is an unbreakable deadlock unless the British can break it.

I expressed myself badly ; may I say instead that if we wait for Hindu- Moslem agreement we seem likely to postpone indefinitely the date when our promise is to be fulfilled, and to increase the likelihood of civil war ; whereas I venture to think that my suggestion might lead to speedier swaraj and truer democracy. I ask leave to withdraw the offending phrase and to enquire from Dr. Bevan how much longer he thinks we ought to wait (bearing in mind the enervating lack of policy which results from uncertainty) for the " principal elements " to come to an agreement.

Would it be very paradoxical to assert that the true " principal ele- ments " have already come to an agreement? The present members of the Viceroy's Council, and the men who have come to Our help in the war (largely illiterate, and politically children), are at least as worthy as the political parties to be regarded as principal elements in the life of India. They come from every race and class, and they have agreed to co-operate with us. My proposal would guarantee to both of these elements con- tinued and increased powers in the government of their country after the war, according to the ability of each, and I do not think that " forcible control " on our part could be regarded as a breach of any promise. if it were exerted with the good will of this very large proportion of the