For taking necessary steps for transferring power to the Indians, Lord Wavell was recalled and Lord Mountbatten was appointed as the new Viceroy of India. One of his immediate tasks was to restore peace between the Congress and the League. He realized that the partition of India was inevitable. He thus came up with his plan to transfer power from Britain to India. The Muslim League and Congress accepted the Mountbatten plan.
Lord Mountbatten came up with the plan of partition of India. He presented his plan to seven prominent leaders—Nehru, Patel, Jinnah, Kripalani, Liaquat, Nishtar, and Baldev Singh. The plan was accepted by Congress and the League.
Main features of the Mountbatten Plan
- To divide British India into India and Pakistan.
- It was for both countries to decide about their relationship with the British Commonwealth and with each other.
- The princely states would be free to join either India or Pakistan.
- Bengal and Punjab were to be partitioned provided the Legislative Assemblies of both states voted in favour of partition.
- A plebiscite was to be held in Northwest Frontier Province to decide if the people wanted to join India or Pakistan.
- A referendum was to be held at the Muslim majority province of Sylhet to decide whether it wants to remain in East Bengal or wishes to join Assam.
- A separate Constituent Assembly would be constituted for framing the Constitution of Pakistan.
- It was decided that power would be transferred much before June 1948. The British Parliament would have to pass an Act for the transfer of power before 15 August 1947.
Acceptance of the Mountbatten Plan
The Mountbatten Plan was received with mixed reactions from people and parties across the country. The nationalists were not happy with the partition of the country. The Muslim League and Congress accepted the plan.
- The large-scale communal violence and clashes in the country convinced the people that the communal tension could only be eased by partitioning British India.
- The League had joined the interim government to obstruct the working of the Congress. The latter realized that it was not possible to work with the League.
- It was felt that the only alternative to partition was a federation with a weak centre. A smaller India with a strong central authority was better than a bigger state with a weak centre.
- Any further presence of the British on Indian soil could have been dangerous as they were instigating the Indian princely states to remain independent. Hence, partition was the price to pay for the immediate independence of the country.
- The leaders also felt that any delay in transfer of power could result in the outbreak of civil war in the country.
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