In Sept 1946, Governor-General Lord Wavell formulated this plan. This time, the cold war (1946) hostility had started. A section of British policymaker had started realizing that some territories in India should remain under British control even after the transfer of power. Jawaharlal Nehru was proclaimed socialist. It was expected that Independent India could join hands with the Soviet Union. This thinking had made leaders like Wavell, a supporter of the two-nation theory.
Wavell Plan was supporting the Two-nation theory
Wavell or Breakdown Plan formulated to pressurize Congress to accept the creation of Pakistan. This plant proposed the transfer of power to every British province & native state beginning from South to North. This Indian entitles were to decide their political future themselves. Wavell Plan was a direct threat to Indian unity & integrity. It was opposed by Jawaharlal Nehru strongly & the British were warned of serious consequences.
As a result of strong Indian opposition, Wavell Plan was abundant but it convinced Indian Leaders that the British game plan was to fragment India into as many pieces as possible so that British interest could remain safe.
Lord Mountbatten executed the Wavell Plan
Lord Mountbatten was the last Governor-General of British India along with being 1st Governor-General of Independent India. He was appointed as Governor-General of India in Feb 1947 with clear instruction to transfer power into responsible Indian hands by June 1948. He came to India on 23rd March & the very next day he started holding talks with Indian Leaders so that power could be transferred at the earliest.
Mountbatten was a senior military commander. He had played an active role in World War II. He behaved as if he was on a military operation while dealing with the task of transferring power into Indian hands. He held 133 rounds of talks with different Indian leaders during the period 24th March – 6th May 1947. He used every trick in the book to achieve his objective when leaders like Gandhi, Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru didn’t agree to the partition plan; he pressurized them into acceptance by putting forward the plan “Balkan” in April 1947.
Boundary commission created under the chairmanship of Cyril Redcliff were pushed hard to submit their award as soon as possible as a result of this, national boundaries were drawn haphazardly, many areas left unmarked, many villages, houses divided into 2 nation. It was this military operation like the speed of Mountbatten that forced Indo-Pak to right wars to settle the issues left behind by Lord Mountbatten.
Role of Lord Mountbatten in Partition of India
When Mountbatten came to India as Governor-General only Muslim League and the British government were clear about the objective of the Partition of India. In fact, the Muslim League was also playing to the tune of the British government because, by the meet of 1946, many policymakers of the British had started believing inefficacy of the “Two nation theory”.
The cold war had already started many British leaders apprehensive that Independent India led by Jawaharlal Nehru could join the Soviet Union. In such an environment, it was imperative to the safety of British interest that the same territories in India must remain close to or under British control so that cold war politics could be handled effectively.
Mountbatten had to strive hard to make Congress accept the reality of the Two-nation theory. Leaders like Gandhi, Jawaharlal Nehru, and Patel agreed to the creation of Pak only when the British threatened India’s complete fragmentation. Without this serious threat to unity & interest of India, Congress would never accept the creation of Pakistan so it’s not correct to say that Mountbatten’s task was merely to work out the detail of Partition of India as demanded by the Muslim League & agreed upon by both British government and Congress.
Different views about the Wavell Plan and Partition of India
Mahatma Gandhi: Gandhi was strongly against the Two-nation theory. He believed that Hindu & Muslim were not two different cultural entities. Gandhi thought that Indian National can survive only when both Hindu & Muslim are part of it. He emphasized that he will never allow the political will of the majority to impose on minorities.
Gandhi was strongly against partition & he said that partition will take place only on his dead body. Gandhi accepted partition with a heavy heart when there was no other alternative. He said that Indians will start another movement for reunification of Indo-Pak once the communal frenzy (madness) settled down.
Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru: He was strongly against the two-nation theory like Gandhi till the very last. He believed that partition will seriously affect & disturb economics, communication & extension defense of both Indo-Pak. At a time, groups were emerging on the international scene; division of India would be against the ongoing international trend. He accepted partition only British threaten complete fragmentation of India by transferring power to all the native state & British provinces.
Maulana Abul Kalam Azad: He was the only leader of Congress who never accepted partition. He thought that the Indian Struggle against British Rule has been fought by Hindu & Muslim together & communalism was handy work of a small section of leaders. He believed that partition wasn’t demanded by the common masses, its reflection of the political ambition of few leaders. He said that if we wait for 2-3 years & delay Independence then Muslim League would come to turn one India automatically.
Dr. B.R. Ambedkar: He was in favor of the two-nation theory, as he considered Muslims as a nation. He believed that constitutional safeguards could be applied only to a minority, not to a nation.
Khan Abdul Gaffar Khan: Frontier Gandhi was against partition when Congress accepted the partition; he commented that his entire movement had been thrown into wolves.
Hindu Mahasabha: It was strongly against partition. It wanted India to remain united & to be proclaimed as a Hindu nation.