Lord Mountbatten (who served from March to August 1947) was sent to replace Wavell as viceroy, with Britain ready to transfer its power over India to a few “responsible” hands by June 1948. Shortly after reaching Delhi, where he met with the leaders of all parties and with his own officials, Mountbatten decided that the situation was too dangerous to wait, if only for this short period. Fearing a forced evacuation of British troops still stationed in India, Mountbatten decided to opt for a partition that would divide Punjab and Bengal, instead of risking further political negotiations as a civil war raged and a new mutiny of Indian troops was imminent. Among India`s leading leaders, Gandhi alone refused to reconcile with partition and asked Mountbatten to offer Jinnah the post of prime minister of a united Indian nation instead of a separate Muslim nation. But Nehru would not agree, nor would his most powerful deputy, Vallabhbhai Jhaverbhai Patel (1875-1950), being both tired of arguing with Jinnah and persevering in the task of leading an independent government of India. “It was felt that such a declaration would give the impression that we would be expelled from India because we were not able to maintain our position. Indeed, our withdrawal would be the last step in a deliberate policy of promoting India`s development towards self-sufficiency, which successive governments in that country had joined in the last thirty years. It was certainly the wish of the present government that the Indian people take full responsibility for autonomy. There was therefore no reason to excuse our withdrawal: instead, we should seek recognition that we took this initiative to end British rule in India and transfer our responsibilities to the representatives of the Indian people. …. Those who kindly invited me to give this conference resisted its subtitling.
I insisted on a “margin vision” because I wanted to emphasize that my remarks were based on my own presence at the events of 1947 and would be limited to the issues of which I was directly known. This is still largely true: mine is in part an undisguised personal story. But it`s a little more complicated. On the one hand, while I was certainly a spectator, I was able to enter a segment of the New Delhi playground for a few months in 1947, even to have one or two touching of the ball before returning to my place on the terraces. But for the purpose of this conference, I could not settle for memories; I kind of studied the slowness of reruns of television cameras. In trying to link my memories, diaries and letters from 1947 to the records of India Office Records, I confess that there have been times of confusion on the way to a clarification as modest and temporary as I can offer it. It is not as if, in the 34 years that the world has moved, the perspective has changed. This is a problem that must be overcome by the historian`s entire capacity. The difficulty is further compounded when the spectator cum minor actor in yesterday`s drama bets on the historian`s dress; for not only the world, but it has changed with it. Her Majesty`s government has always wanted to transfer power according to the wishes of the Indian people themselves. This task would have been greatly facilitated if there had been an agreement between the Indian political parties. In the absence of such an agreement, the task of developing a method of identifying the wishes of the Indian people has been passed on to Her Majesty`s flesh .
After full consultation with political leaders in India, Her Majesty`s Government decided to adopt the plan contained in this announcement. Her Majesty`s Government wishes to make it clear that it has no intention of creating a final constitution for India; It is the business of the Indians themselves.