Labour Imperial Establishment, and Protecting British Power, and Interests in the Decolonisation Process: Bevinian Atlanticist View in A Bi-Partisan British Post WWII.

Labour Imperial Establishment, and Protecting British Power, and Interests in the Decolonisation Process: Bevinian Atlanticist View in A Bi-Partisan British Post WWII.

The significant feature of the federation was to be the organisation of the provinces into three groups, one predominantly Hindu and the other predominantly Muslim. Ironically, this time, the Muslim League said that the United Kingdom was favouring the Hindus. Therefore, the leader of the Muslim League, Mohammed Ali Jinnah, in August 1946, inaugurated Direct Action by the League for securing a separate sovereign state for Muslims. The campaign began with communal riots in Calcutta which resulted in 4,000 dead and 10,000 injured. In early September rioting broke out in Bombay, in October destruction and disorders in East Bengal led to Hindu evacuations; in October and November there followed b holocaust of Muslims in Bihar.

Early in 1947 Wavell, the Viceroy, concluded that no single Indian central authority could be constituted and he accordingly advised the British government either to retain power for at least a decade or to transfer it, fragmented, to the several provinces.

The United Kingdom Government rejected this advice. The Viceroy, Lord Wavell, was recalled, and replaced in 1947 by Lord Mountbatten of Burma as the last Viceroy. Lord Mountbatten brought the prestige of his royal connections and his war record to his new post (he had been the Supreme Allied Commander in South-East Asia): he had, additionally, a well-developed diplomatic sense and the capacity for decision-making. He also had a good relation with the Attlee Government with regard to a large number of issues. Concerning Lord Wavell, however, Attlee wrote in his autobiography, “I had a great admiration for Lord Wavell… but I did not think he was likely to find a solution. I did not think that he and the Indians could really understand each other. New men were needed for a new policy.”21

The appointment of Lord Mountbatten was to end British rule in India. Lord Mountbatten started by re-examining the points of agreement and disagreement among the Indian leaders. This was not a formal investigation, but only an attempt on the part of the Viceroy to enter into the fears and hopes that occupied the Indian leaders’ minds. In his exploration Lord Mountbatten was least successful in respect of the League. “I will enter the discussion on one condition only,”22 Mohammed Ali Jinnah said to the Viceroy, in the opening conversation of his first meeting. Lord Mountbatten interrupted Jinnah at once and said to the Muslim League leader “Mr. Jinnah, I am not prepared to discuss conditions or, indeed, the present situation until I have had the chance of making your acquaintance and knowing more about yourself.”23 Very little was achieved in the meetings between the last Viceroy and Jinnah. This was as a result of Jinnah’s uncompromising manner and his lack of experience in handling hard negotiations. However, the Viceroy was significantly successful in dealing with the Congress.

Lord Mountbatten, within two weeks of his arrival in India in March 1947, concluded that “the need for a solution was much more pressing that it had appeared to be in London, and that the time limit of June 1948, far from not allowing enough time, was too remote.”24 The Viceroy, therefor, advanced the date of withdrawal to August 1947. By taking such action the Viceroy prevented a bloody civil war in the Indian sub-continent. This included proceeding with a partition plan to accommodate the Muslim League’s demand, by creating the state of Pakistan.

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