Failure of the Cripps’ Mission and worsening of the world situation due to the extension of hostilities in Asia, offered new opportunities before the Indians for struggle against the British.
In 1942 the appearance of the Japanese army in Burma endangered the Indian Territory. In a situation like this Gandhiji decided to raise the ‘Quit India’ slogan.
His argument was that the possibility of a Japanese attack on India was only due to the existence of British rule in the country. If India was left to herself Japan would be compelled to revise her plan of an attack on India.
b. The ‘Quit India’ Resolution:
In a critical moment the Congress session in Bombay (1942) took a momentous decision which was to guide the future course of the national movement On August 8,1942 the Congress adopted the historic ‘Quit India Resolution’ which declared among other things that the immediate ending of the British rule in India was an urgent necessity.
In a historic speech Gandhiji raised the slogan ‘Do or die’, meaning ‘self-immolation or drive the British out of the country’.
He also categorically declared: ‘Let every Indian consider himself to be a free man … Mere going to jail would not do’.
c. The Revolution Begins:
Though the Quit India Resolution was adopted on August 8 the Congress leaders got no time to implement it as most of them including Gandhiji were arrested early morning next day.
As a consequence tumult of protest was raised all over the country against the government action.
One of the important aspects of the Quit India Movement was that in the absence of any leadership the Movement did not follow a particular line.
Despite Gandhiji’s appeal to the people to remain non-violent, the brutal repression led to violent rebellion. Thus it may be said that what started as a Quit India Movement ultimately took the form of an all-out rebellion.
And the rebellion came to be known subsequently as the ‘August Revolution’ since it had occurred in the month of August (1942).
d. The Nature of the Rebellion:
As it has been said earlier, the national leaders could not chalk out any plan or programme of action for the Quit India Movement.
Leaderless mass reacted in any manner they could do. In fact, people came out in open rebellion spontaneously.
Another important aspect of the movement was the participation of students, industrial workers, peasants and this gave the movement a popular turn.
Incidentally, in Bengal, Madras, I Uttar Pradesh and Bihar the movement attained its maximum popular intensity. In some places the rebels even formed ‘national government’ or Jatiya Sarkar.
e. Importance of the Movement:
Though the Quit India Movement collapsed within a very short time it will be a mistake to suppose that the movement was a total failure.
Firstly, the movement revealed the determination of the people to undergo any amount of suffering for the cause of the country.
Secondly, the popular character of the August Rebellion was revealed through the participation of students, working class and peasants.
In the opinion of Suniit Sarkar, it was the participation of the peasant communication that turned the movement into a mass upsurge.
Thirdly, 1942 Movement marked the end of Indias struggle for freedom and may be regarded as an apex of the freedom struggle.
Fourthly, the violent mass upsurge of 1942 convinced the British rulers that their hold was sure to collapse in India sooner or later.