Independence With Partition

  • v  Attlee’s Statement of February 20, 1947
  • Ø  Background

§  League’s declaration of “Direct Action Day” on 16th August 1946 for its demand for Pakistan and the communal clashes that followed had created a crisis like situation in the country.

§  Even after Wavell ensured the League’s entry into the “Interim Government”, it continued its non-cooperative attitude both inside and outside the Government.

§  Further, the League refused to participate in the Constituent Assembly which met on 9th December 1946.

§  The breaking point came when the League demanded that the Constituent Assembly be dissolved because it was unrepresentative.

§  On 5th February 1947 the Congress members of the Interim Government sent a letter to Wavell with the demand that the League members should be asked to resign.

§  A crisis was imminent.

§  This developing crisis was temporarily defused by the statement made by Attlee in Parliament on 20 February, 1947

  • Ø  Main Points of Attlee’s Statement—February 20, 1947

§  The date for British withdrawal from India was fixed as 30 June 1948 even if the Indian leaders had not agreed on the constitution by that time. Atlee made it clear that if, by June 1948 the Constituent Assembly was not fully representative (i.e. if Muslim majority provinces did not join) power would be transferred to more than one central Government.

§  The British powers and obligations vis-à-vis the princely states would lapse with transfer of power, but these would not be transferred to any successor government in British India.

§  Lord Louis Mountbatten would take over from Lord Wavell in March 1947.

  • Ø  Why a date was fixed for early withdrawal?

§  British had hoped that the date would shock the parties into agreement on the main question.

§  The British government was keen on averting the looming constitutional crisis.

§  British also hoped that Indians would be finally convinced that the British were sincere about conceding independence.

§  The basic reason why the Attlee Government accepted the need for a final date was because they could not deny the truth of Wavell’s assessment that an irreversible decline of Government authority had taken place.

  • Ø  Reactions to the Statement

Congress’ Response

§  The anticipation of freedom from imperial rule lifted the gloom that had set in with continuous internal wrangling. The statement was enthusiastically received in Congress circles as a final proof of British sincerity to quit. Even the provision of transferring the power to more than one Central Government was acceptable to the Congress as it meant that the existing Assembly could go ahead and frame a constitution for the areas represented in it. It offered a way out of the existing deadlock, in which the League not only refused to join the Constituent Assembly but demanded that it be dissolved. The Congress responded with a gesture of cooperation to the League. Nehru appealed to Liaqat Ali Khan, “The British are fading out of the picture and the burden of this decision must rest on all of us here. It seems desirable that we should face this question squarely and not speak to each other from a distance.”

League’s Response

§  The hope for an agreement proved to be an illusory as Jinnah{sin-quite}s reaction to Attlee{sin-quite}s statement was entirely different. Jinnah was more convinced than ever that he only had to bide his time in order to reach his goal. After all, the declaration made it clear that power would be transferred to more than one authority if the Constituent Assembly did not become a fully representative body, i.e. if the Muslim majority provinces did not join it. The league was on a war path. It began a civil disobedience campaign in Punjab which brought about the collapse of the coalition ministry headed by Khizr Hayat Khan of the Unionist Party.

  • Ø  A brief analysis of Attlee’s Statement of 20 February, 1947

§  While the statement was no answer to the constitutional crisis that was at hand, it showed that the British decision about leaving India remained unchanged.

§  The Statement of February 20, 1947 in the context of Indian politics was an open license for Pakistan in some form or other.

§  This Attlee’s announcement had hints of partition.

§  By fixing the date of transfer of power, the British had done no more than intensifying the ‘war of succession’.

§  They had encouraged the Indians to take the decision into their own hands, but those hands now held knives.

§  During the last week of February 1947, the Punjab erupted with intensified violence in a half dozen major cities including Amritsar which ultimately brought down the Khizr Hayat Khan led coalition Government.

  • v  Independence and Partition

§  The partition of India was the product of complex processes and was the outcome of several factors and the role of the British, the Muslim League and the INC for the division of the subcontinent. Partition was neither inevitable nor the product of sheer chance. It was not the fulfilment of destiny or the logical outcome of the two nation theory; nor was it simply an accident that was produced by a single wrong decision or failure of judgment

  • Ø  Main Events on Which Partition is Based

§  After withdrawing its support to the Cabinet Mission plan, the Muslim League decided on “Direct Action” for winning its Pakistan demand. It announced 16 August, 1946 as “Direct Action Day”. On this day, riots broke out in Calcutta, lasting several days and leaving several thousand people dead.

§  British Prime Minister Attlee announced in February, 1947, the Plan for the transfer of Power by June 1948.

§  Lord Mountbatten was sent as Viceroy to India in March to make arrange -ments for the same.

§  By March 1947 violence spread to many parts of northern India due to League’s stand on the communal division of the country.

§  In the early 1947, due to widespread communal riots and the unworkability of the congress-League coalition in the interim government compelled many to consider the so far unthinkable idea of partition.

§  It was in March 1947 that the Congress high command voted for dividing the Punjab into two halves, one with Muslim majority and the other with Hindu/Sikh majority; and it asked for the application of a similar principle to Bengal.

§  By this time, given the numbers game, many Sikh leaders and Congressmen in the Punjab were convinced that Partition was a necessary evil, otherwise they would be swamped by Muslim majorities and Muslim leaders would dictate terms. In Bengal too, communal Hindu groups, who wanted political power to remain with them, began to fear the “permanent Muslim dominance”.

§  During this period no efforts could lead to an inter-party understanding and a communal settlement. As a result, India got independence with the Partition of the country in 1947.

  • Ø  Background to Partition

§  The demand for Pakistan did not arise in a vacuum. It was a product of certain political developments which took place after 1937. The period after 1937 witnessed serious changes in the politics of both the Hindu communal and the Muslim communal forces. In the popularisation of the Pakistan demand the British Policy also played a very active role, by giving it acknowledgement and credibility.

Role of British Policy

§  The growth of Muslim communalism was considerably aided and encouraged by the British by giving it official backing.

§  By 1937 the policy of “divide and rule” really amounted to keeping the Hindu-Muslim divide unbridgeable.

§  The British were willing to go to any length to prolong their rule in India.

§  They deliberately encouraged Jinnah’s Muslim League after 1940 to weaken the national movement and thwart Congress participation in government during the war.

§  After the outbreak of the Second World War the Muslim League was assiduously fostered by Viceroy Linlithgow.

§  The Pakistan demand was used to counter the demand of the Congress that the British should promise that India would be free after the War and as proof of their sincerity, transfer actual control of the government to Indians immediately.

§  The British pointed out that Hindus and Muslims must come to an agreement on how power was to be transferred before the process could begin.

§  The League was officially recognised as the representative voice of Muslims (even though its performance in the last elections hardly substantiated this claim) and it was promised that no political settlement would be made unless it was acceptable to the League.

§  There was a blanket power of veto, which Jinnah was to use to good effect after the War had ended.

League and Partition

§  The year 1937 was a turning point in the history of Muslim communalism.

§  Mohammad Ali Jinnah played a prominent role in the partition process.

§  It was the poor performance of the Muslim League in the elections to the Provincial assemblies in 1937 that compelled him to rethink his strategy.

§  Now the league, which so far had its support among the landlords and elite loyalists, decided to expand its base among the masses.

§  The league started following a campaign of hatred and raised the cry “Islam in danger” and threat from impending “Hindu Raj”.

§  Once the prospect of “Hindu Raj” became a deep-seated fear in the Muslim psyche it was easy to drive home the need for a separate homeland.

§  At its Lahore session in March 1940, the league passed its famous “Lahore Resolution” demanding a sovereign state for the Muslims on the ground Hindus and Muslims were two nations.

Hindu Communalists and Partition

§  The Hindu communalists had fared even worse than their Muslim counterparts in the 1937 election.

§  They faced the same choice, they either had to obtain support among masses or face extinction.

§  They could not continue their activity from within congress any more. They soon asserted that the Hindus were the only nation living in India and Muslims should either leave or live as a second-class citizen in India.

§  By 1946-47, the language of Hindu communalists became extremely vicious. As communal riots spread, the Hindu communalists expanded their influence by posing as saviours of the Hindus.

§  The demand was raised since Pakistan was an Islamic state, India should be declared a Hindu Rajya.

Congress and Partition

§  The Congress acceptance of Partition was the consequence of its failure over the years to bring the Muslim masses into the nationalist mainstream and since 1937, to stem the advancing tide of Muslim communalism.

§  In the prevailing atmosphere of hatred and violence during 1946-47, the Congress was still unable to reach out to the Muslim masses, Therefore, reluctantly accepted the wishes of the majority of the Indian Muslims to carve a nation for themselves.

§  There is one more view that the congress leaders succumbed to the temptation of power and struck a deal with the British by which they got quick power. However, this view has been rejected by modern Historians.

  • Ø  Gandhi’s attitude towards partition

§  The strongest reaction to partition came from Gandhi who had worked for communal harmony for decades.

§  Gandhiji’s unhappiness about partition and his helplessness have often being pointed out. He also had no choice but to accept the inevitable as he was in fact helpless due to communalization of the masses.

§  However, amidst all this turmoil, he worked valiantly towards restoring communal harmony

§  He moved from the villages of Noakhali in East Bengal (present-day Bangladesh) to the villages of Bihar and then to the riot-torn slums of Calcutta and Delhi, in a heroic effort to stop Hindus and Muslims kill each other, careful everywhere to reassure the minority community.

  • v  Mountbatten plan, June 3, 1947

In February, 1947, Lord Mountbatten was sent as the viceroy to India to ensure early transfer of power. he put up his plan on June 3, 1947 which included partition of India. following the Mountbatten plan, June 3, 1947, India was made free, but by partitioning India the new state of Pakistan was created.

seeing the kind of communal tension created in the name of religion, the congress leaders thought it beneficial for the larger interest of humanity to accept the decision of partition. On 15 august 1947, India attained freedom.

  • Ø  Lord Mountbatten as viceroy

§  In February 1947, following Attlee’s declaration for “transfer of power”, Wavell was replaced as viceroy by lord Mountbatten.

§  he was the last viceroy and charged with the task of winding up the raj by 30th June 1948.

§  Mountbatten was given more powers than his predecessors to settle the matters on the spot so he was quick in decision making.

§  he was directed to explore the options of unity and division till October, 1947 after which he was to advise his majesty’s government on the form transfer of power should take.

§  Cabinet mission plan was a dead horse. Jinnah was obdurate that the Muslims would settle for nothing less than a sovereign state.

§  A serious attempt at retaining unity would have involved identifying with the forces that wanted a unified India and countering those who opposed it.

§  Rather than doing that, Mountbatten preferred to woo both sides.

  • Ø  Main points of Mountbatten Plan, June 3, 1947

the major points of the plan were as follows: -

Dominion status

§  The 3rd June, 1947 plan, famously came to be known as the Mountbatten plan.

§  It sought to affect an early transfer of power.

§  This transfer of power was to be done on the basis of dominion status to two successor states, India and Pakistan.

Partition

§  The members of the legislative assemblies of Bengal and the Punjab should meet separately in two groups i.e. representatives of the predominantly Hindu areas, and representatives of the predominantly Muslim areas.

§  If both sections of each of these assemblies voted for partition, then that province would be partitioned. Partition will be followed by creation of two dominions and two constituent assemblies.

§  If Bengal decided in favour of partition, a referendum was to be held in the Sylhet district of Assam to decide its fate.

§  Similarly, a referendum was proposed to decide the future of the north west frontier province.

§  Sindh legislative assembly of was to decide either to join the existing constituent assembly or the new constituent assembly.

Boundary commission

§  In case of partition, the viceroy would set up a boundary commission to demarcate the boundaries of the province on the basis of ascertaining the contiguous majority areas of Muslims and Non-Muslims.

§  Thus a boundary commission was set up under the chairmanship of sir Cyril Redcliff for demarcating the boundaries of new parts of the Punjab and Bengal.

Princely states

§  The British suzerainty over these princely states was terminated.

§  They were given the choice to remain independent or accede to dominions of India or Pakistan.

Transfer of Power

§  Mountbatten announced at a press conference that the British would soon leave India for good on 15 August, 1947.

§  Thus, an early date was decided by the British to leave India as compared to 30th June 1948 as decided earlier.

§  Thus, the league’s demand for creation of Pakistan was conceded to the extent that it would be created, but taking congress’ position on unity into account Pakistan would be made as small as possible. Mountbatten’s formula was to divide India but retain maximum unity.

  • Ø  Rationale for an Early Date

§  One of the major reasons for an early date for withdrawal was the desperation of the British to secure congress’s agreement on dominion status.

§  The British also wanted to escape responsibility for the rapidly deteriorating communal situation.

§  Since congress was asked to concede their main point i.e. a unified India, all their other demands were met. whether it was ruling out Independence for the princes or unity for Bengal or Hyderabad’s joining up with Pakistan instead of India, Mountbatten firmly supported congress on these issues. he got his majesty’s government to agree to his argument that congress goodwill was vital if India was to remain in the commonwealth.

  • Ø  Why Congress Accepted Dominion Status

The congress was willing to accept dominion status for a while despite its being against the spirit of Lahore congress (1929) declaration of “Purna Swaraj” because:-

§  Congress wanted a quick transfer of power in a peaceful manner.

§  it was important for congress to assume authority and power to check the explosive situation due to communal tension.

§  dominion status gave breathing time to the new administration as British officers and civil service officials could stay on till Indians get settled in their new positions.

  • Ø  Aftermath

§  The 72 days timetable, 3rd June to 15th august 1947, given by the British in their hurry to leave India, for both transfer of power and division of the country, was to prove disastrous.

§  In fact, a peaceful division could take a few years at the very least.

§  The partition council had to divide the assets in a hurry and there were no transitional institutional structures within which the knotty problems spilling over from division could be tackled.

§  Mountbatten had hoped to provide the necessary link between India and Pakistan by becoming common governor-general of India and Pakistan, but this could not happen as Jinnah wanted the position of the governor general of Pakistan for himself.

§  Hence even the joint defence machinery set up failed to last beyond December 1947 by which time Kashmir had already been the scene of a military conflict.

§  The boundary commission award was ready by 12th august, 1947 but Mountbatten decided to make it public after independence day, so that the responsibility would not fall on the British.

§  The delay in announcing the boundary commission award compounded the ongoing problem of communal riots in India.

§  Ultimately, the Indian independence act, 1947 was enacted by the British parliament that provided for the end of the British rule in India, on August 15, 1947.

  • v  Indian Independence Act, 1947

On June 3, 1947, Lord Mountbatten, the viceroy of India, put forth the partition plan, known as the Mountbatten Plan.

§  Once all the major political parties agreed to the partition scheme, based on the Mountbatten plan, Independence Bill was introduced in the House of Commons on 4th July, 1947.

§  The bill was ratified by the British Parliament on 18th July 1947 and became Indian Independence Act, 1947.

§  This was a very significant event in the colonial history of India as it marked the end of India’s struggle for national independence.

§  However, it was the final culmination of British Policy of “Divide and Rule” as the act laid the basis of partition of India and a new state, Pakistan was created.

  • Ø  Salient Features of Indian Independence Act 1947

§  It marked the end of the British rule in India. The British were to officially leave India on 15th August, 1947

§  The act declared India as an independent and sovereign state from August 15, 1947.

§  It dropped the title of Emperor of India from the royal titles of the king of England.

§  It proclaimed the lapse of British paramountcy over the Indian princely states and treaty relations with tribal areas from August 15, 1947

§  Indian Independence Act provided for partition of the country and creation of two independent dominions – India and Pakistan. This was to take effect from 15th August, 1947, with the implementation of the act.

§  It granted freedom to the Indian princely states either to join the Dominion of India or Dominion of Pakistan or to remain independent.

§  Office of viceroy was abolished by the act. Each dominion was to have a Governor General, to be appointed by the British crown on the advice of responsible government in each dominion. Governor General, so appointed would be a constitutional head of the state and responsible for effective operation of the act.

§  It designated the Governor-General of India and the provincial governors as constitutional (nominal) heads of the states. They were made to act on the advice of the respective council of ministers in all matters.

§  His Majesty’s Government in Britain was to have no responsibility with respect to the Government of India or Pakistan.

§  The constituent assembly of these two dominions were to also act as the legislature of the respective dominion.

§  Existing central legislative assembly and council of states were automatically dissolved with the passing of the act.

§  It empowered the Constituent Assemblies of each dominion to frame and adopt any constitution for their respective dominion or nation and the two dominions were also to be free to repeal any act of the British Parliament, including the Independence act itself.

§  The Indian Independence Act, 1947 was not a constitutional document in any manner and hence it held that until a new Constitution came into force, the 1935 Act would work as the Constitutional Law of India.

§  No Act of the British Parliament passed after August 15, 1947 was to extend to either of the new dominions unless it was extended thereto by a law of the legislature of the dominion.

§  The office of the secretary of state for India was also abolished by the act and his functions were transferred to the secretary of state for Commonwealth Affairs.

§  The act also provided for continuation of all the benefits of the civil servants appointed on or before 15th August, 1947. However, it discontinued the appointment to civil services and reservation of posts by the secretary of state for India.

  • Ø  Implementation

§  As per the provisions on the act two dominions – India and Pakistan were created. While Pakistan got its freedom on August 14, India became independent on August 15, 1947.

§  Muhammad Ali Jinnah became the Governor General of Pakistan, India decided to request Lord Mountbatten to wield the post of the Governor general of India.

§  He swore in Jawaharlal Nehru as the first prime minister of independent India.

§  The Constituent Assembly of India formed in 1946 became the Parliament of the Indian Dominion.

  • Ø  Repeal of the Act

§  The act had empowered both the dominions to repeal any act of the British Parliament applied to them including Indian Independence Act itself.

§  Subsequently, both India and Pakistan repealed the Independence Act, 1947, with enactment of their constitution

§  Article 395 of Indian constitution effectively repeals the Indian Independence Act 1947.

§  With the passing of the Indian constitution, the dominion status was also done away with and India became a republic.

§  Interestingly, the British Parliament has still not repealed the Indian Independence Act, 1947 on its side.

  • v  Problems of Early Withdrawal

The British not only abdicated responsibility for growing messy situation in India but the speed with which the withdrawal took place, made the situation worse. The seventy-two day timetable, 3rd June to 15th August 1947, for both transfer of power and division of the country, was to prove disastrous. Arranging partition details in such a short span of time, under Lord Mountbatten, created many anomalies and failed to prevent the Punjab massacre.

§  As the historians believe, peaceful division could take a few years at the very least. As it happened, the Partition Council had to divide assets, down to typewriters and printing presses, in a few weeks.

§  There was a complete absence of any transitional institutional structures within which the problems of partition could be tackled.

§  Mountbatten had hoped to become the common Governor General of both India and Pakistan. It would have provided a much needed link in the governance

§  However it could not happen as Jinnah wanted the position of the Governor general of Pakistan for himself.

§  Hence, even the joint defence machinery set up failed to last beyond December 1947 by which time Kashmir had already been the scene of a military conflict rather than a political settlement.

§  The Boundary Commission Award was ready by 12th August, 1947 but Mountbatten decided to make it public after Independence Day, so that the responsibility would not fall on the British.

§  The delay in announcing the Boundary Commission award (under Radcliffe) made the situation very complex in already communally charged atmosphere.

§  The Punjab massacres that accompanied Partition were the final indictment of Mountbatten.

§  British officials were hesitant in taking decisions and intervening. They did not know how to handle the situation.

§  Nobody knew who could exercise authority and power.

  • v  Integration of States

Background

§  Clement Attlee in his statement of 20th February, 1947 made it clear that the princely states were free to join either of the two dominions India or Pakistan.

§  Later, Under 3rd June Plan, Mountbatten refused to give a sovereign status to the states to prevent the balkanization of the country.

§  During 1946-47, there was a new upsurge of movements among people of the Princely States demanding political rights and elective representation in the constituent assembly.

§  Two sessions of the All India State People{sin-quite}s Conference were held in Udaipur (1945) and Gwalior (April, 1947), presided over by Nehru. He declared that the states refusing to join the constituent assembly would be treated as hostile.

§  In July 1947, Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel took charge of the newly formed Ministry of States and V.P. Menon took charge as its secretary.

§  Under Patel{sin-quite}s leadership, the incorporation of Indian States took place in two phases.

Carrot and Stick Policy

§  The famous carrot and stick policy was used by Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel in the process of unification of the country.

§  To achieve the complex goal of integration of states he used a skilful combination of baits and threats of mass pressure in both of the phases.

§  Principle baits offered were a generous privy purse, appointment as governor or Rajyapramukhs etc.

§  Patel also appealed to the patriotic feelings of the princes to join the Indian dominion in matters of defence, external affairs and communication. He also used threats of mass pressure and popular revolt to achieve rapid unification of the country.

§  This carrot and stick policy proved to be immensely successful and barring few errant princes, all the rulers had signed the instrument of accession by the time India got independence. The rapid political unification of India after independence was one of the greatest achievements of Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel.

  • Ø  Phases of Integration of Princely States

Phase I

§  By August 15, 1947, all states except Hyderabad, Junagarh and Kashmir had signed an Instrument of Accession with the Government of India.

§  By signing this Instrument of Accession, the states acknowledged central authority of Indian government over three subjects defence, external affairs and communication. Later, these states felt that a closer association was necessary and a complete Indian jurisdiction over these states was established.

§  Thus the Indian states lost their identity and became part of one uniform political set up.

§  The princes agreed to this arrangement easily because they were surrendering only what they never had under the British Paramountcy and also there was no change in the internal political structure.

Phase II

§  The second phase was much more complex process than the first phase. It mainly involved integration of states with neighbouring provinces or into new administrative units like Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, Himachal Pradesh, Kathiawar Union etc.

§  There were also internal constitutional changes in states which retained their old boundaries for some years.

§  The principal bait offered to princes was a very generous privy purse . Some princes were also made governors and Rajyapramukh in the independent India.

  • Ø  Integration of Junagarh, Hyderabad and Kashmir

Junagarh

§  The Muslim Nawab of Junagarh wanted to accede to Pakistan.

§  Junagarh had a predominantly Hindu population (approximately 80%) willing to join Indian Union.

§  The population was outraged with the repressive attitude of the Nawab.

§  Finally, a plebiscite was held which decided in favour of accession to India.

Hyderabad

§  The Nizam of Hyderabad wanted a sovereign status for Hyderabad.

§  To this end, he signed a standstill agreement with India in November 1947.

§  Following this the Indian forces withdrew from the state and Nizam’s force and storm troopers (Razakkars) took over the security and policing functions in the state.

§  Nizam wanted an outlet to the sea (Goa).

§  The worsening situation in the state with incidents of violence and inflow of foreign arms and ammunitions prompted Indian troops to move in again in 1948. This movement of Indian troops was described as a police action to restore law and order.

§  Now, Nizam had no choice but to accede to India. Finally, Hyderabad acceded to Indian union in November 1949.

Kashmir

§  The state of Jammu and Kashmir had a Hindu Maharaja Hari Singh ruling over a predominantly Muslim population. The Prince was reluctant to accede to either of the dominions and wanted a sovereign status for Kashmir.

§  While the Prince procrastinated, Pakistan sent an army of armed tribesman backed by its national army to invade Kashmir.

§  Now, the desperate Maharaja Hari Singh offered to sign an instrument of accession with the Indian union, endorsed by the popular leader Sheikh Abdullah.

§  Immediately, the Indian troops were dispatched to defend Kashmir against the militia from Pakistan.

§  Later, India reached out to United Nations Security Council with an offer to settle the status of the state of Kashmir through a plebiscite, which led to a ceasefire.

§  Under article 370 of the constitution, a special status was accorded to the state of Jammu and Kashmir.

  • v  Inevitability of Partition
  • Ø  Why Congress Accepted Partition?

§  The age old Hindu-Muslim rift and failure of the two communities to come to an agreement on how and whom the power was to be transferred resulted in the partition of the country, the most unfortunate consequence of the British rule in India.

§  Why did the Congress accept Partition? It was one thing for the League to demand Pakistan and the British to concede it because it was in harmony with the politics they had pursued in the part. But why did the Congress, which had fought for unity for long years, give up its ideal of a united India. Over the years, this question has been subjected to many debates and opinions.

Reasons for acceptance of partition by Congress

§  The Congress was only accepting the inevitable due to its failure over the years to bring the Muslim masses into the nationalist mainstream.

§  This was also due to congress failure to stem the surging waves of Muslim communalism, especially, since 1937. This failure was evident from results on 1946 elections in which Muslim League won 90 per cent of Muslim seats.

§  However, the point of no return was reached a year later when the battle for Pakistan was no longer confined to the ballot box but came to be fought on the streets.

§  While the congress leaders were adamant on not surrendering to the blackmail of violence, they finally accepted Partition most of all because they could not stop communal riots.

§  By June 1947, the Congress leaders had realized that only an immediate transfer of power could check the menace of the communal violence which was spreading quickly due to the Muslim League’s call for Direct Action.

§  The breakdown of the Interim Government only confirmed the inevitability of Pakistan. The congress leaders were dismayed at the turning of the Interim Government into an arena of struggle.

§  Another consideration in accepting partition was that it firmly ruled out the spectre of the {sin-quite}balkanisation{sin-quite} of the country. The partition plan laid out by Lord Mountbatten had ruled out independence of the princely states which would have had the prospect of balkanisation of the country.

§  Princely states standing out would have meant a graver blow to Indian unity than Pakistan was.

§  Thus, the acceptance of Partition in 1947 was nothing but culmination of the step-by-step concession granted to the League in its rhetoric of a sovereign Muslim state.

§  Autonomy of Muslim majority provinces was accepted in 1942 at the time of the Cripps Mission.

§  Gandhiji in his talks with Jinnah in 1944 went a step further and accepted the right of self-determination of Muslim majority provinces.

§  In June 1946, Congress finally conceded the possibility of a separate constituent assembly formed by the Muslim majority provinces (included under the Group B and C of the Cabinet Mission Plan).

§  At first, congress opposed compulsory grouping and upheld the right of NWFP and Assam not to join their groups if they so wished. Later, Congress accepted without demur that the groping was compulsory.

§  Official reference to Partition came in early March 1947 when the Congress Working Committee passed a resolution that Punjab and Bengal must be partitioned if the country was divided.

§  Congress accepted the partition laid in 3rd June Plan of Lord Mountbatten.

  • Ø  Why Gandhi Accepted Partition

§  It is common knowledge that Gandhi was distressed when partition became an imminent reality.

§  Gandhiji’s unhappiness and helplessness have often being pointed out in regard to the partition. Gandhi{sin-quite}s unhappiness was also about the fact that his advice was ignored by his disciples, Nehru and Patel, who wanted power at any cost.

§  However, he did not wish to condemn them publicly because they had been his faithful followers.

§  Most of all Gandhiji was distressed by the communalization of people of India and the overwhelming violence in every nook and corner of India.

§  The desire of the Hindu and Sikh community for Partition forced Gandhiji to a position of a mass leader without any masses to back him in his struggle for unity.

§  The Muslims had already declared him to be their enemy.

§  At his daily prayer meeting on 4th June 1947 Gandhi said, "The demand has been granted because you asked for it. The Congress never asked for it.... But the Congress can feel the pulse of the people. It realised that the Khalsa as also the Hindus desired it".

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