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The Mountbatten Plan

Updated on October 18, 2015

Mountbatten Plan

The next step taken by the British government was to send Lord Mountbatten to India as Governor-General in place of Lord Wavell in order to arrange how, and when, power was finally to be transferred into the hands of the Indian people. Finding that Punjab and Bengal had very narrow Muslim majorities, he was able to make the Congress and the Muslim League agree to the breaking up of these two States into Hindu and Muslim majority blocks, each consisting of districts geographically contiguous to each other, and decided to hand over power to the Muslim League, so far as the Muslim majority provinces and the Muslim majority districts so constituted were concerned, and in the rest of the country to the Congress. Assam, East Punjab and West Bengal were, thus, detached from the totality of the area which the Muslim League was demanding as the homeland of the Muslims in India. The suggestion made by Lord Mountbatten was duly ratified by the vote of the members of the Legislative Assemblies of Punjab and Bengal meeting in two parts, and the decision was duly embodied in what came to be known as the Mountbatten Plan. The Mountbatten Plan further envisaged a referendum in the North Western Provinces and in the Muslim majority district of Sylhet. As was expected, the Muslim majority areas of Punjab and Bengal voted for secession from India, and the referendum in the North Western Frontier and Sylhet was also in favour of Pakistan. A separate Constituent Assembly for Pakistan was, therefore, set up on 26 July 1947. The next logical step, initiated by the dynamic leadership of Lord Mountbatten, was taken quickly, and the Indian Independence Act, 1947 duly introduced in the British Parliament on 4 July received the Royal Assent on 18 July 1947. India was now the mistress of her own destiny. Constitutional changes in India had been carried out in the past by the legislative will of the British Parliament but, under the Indian Independence Act, 1947, India and Pakistan were to emerge as two independent Dominions, and the Constituent Assembly of each Dominion was to have unlimited power to frame and adopt any constitution and to repeal any Act of the British Parliament, including the Indian Independence Act, if it so desired.

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      Rohan Fernando 

      6 years ago

      The Mountbatten Plan was actually formulated by his constitutional adviser V P Menon. More information on Menon can be found in the article V P Menon- Forgotten Architect of Modern India which is available on www.forgotten-raj.org.

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