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Cabinet Mission to Partition & Independence (1946-47)

N.K. Chauhan in Modern Indian History
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May 23, 2022 , Updated: May 23, 2022 · 5 min read

PM Attlee cited several reasons for leaving India, the most important of which were the INA activities of Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose, which weakened the very foundation of the British Empire in India.

Later the RIN (Royal Indian Navy]) Mutiny made the British realise that the Indian armed forces could no longer be trusted to prop up the British.

1946 Cabinet Mission to India

A Cabinet Mission came to India on April 2, 1946 in order to discuss the transfer of power from the British government to the Indian political leadership, with the aim of preserving India's unity and granting its independence.

Formed at the initiative of Clement Attlee (the PM of the United Kingdom), the mission contained as its members, Lord Pethick-Lawrence (Secretary of State for India), Sir Stafford Cripps (President of the Board of Trade), and A.V. Alexander (First Lord of the Admiralty).

It was headed by Lord Pethick Lawrence.

The Viceroy of India Lord Wavell participated in some of the discussion.

The Cabinet Mission Plan, formulated by the group, proposed a three-tier administrative structure for British India, with the Federal Union at the top tier, individual provinces at the bottom tier, and Groups of provinces as a middle tier.

Three Groups were proposed, called Groups A, B and C, respectively, for Northwest India, eastern India, and the remaining central portions of India.

The Plan lost steam due to the distrust between Indian National Congress (INC) and the Muslim League, and the British Government replaced Lord Wavell by a new viceroy Lord Mountbatten, to find new solutions.

Sardar Patel was totally in favour of Cabinet Mission Plan.

Constituent Assembly of India (1946)

The idea for a Constituent Assembly was proposed in 1934 by M. N. Roy, a pioneer of the Communist movement in India and an advocate of radical democracy.

The Constituent Assembly of India was elected by the 'Provincial Assembly'.

Following India's independence in 1947, its members served as the nation's first Parliament as the 'Provisional Parliament of India'.

The official demand for Constituent Assembly was raised by Indian National Congress in its Lucknow session of 1936, presided by Pt. Jawahar Lal Nehru.

C. Rajagopalachari voiced the demand for a Constituent Assembly on 15 November 1939 based on adult franchise, and was accepted by the British in August 1940.

The Constituent Assembly of India was constituted under the Cabinet Mission Plan of 1946.

The total membership of the Constituent Assembly was 389 of which 292 were representatives of the provinces, 93 represented the princely states and four were from the chief commissioner provinces of Delhi, Ajmer-Merwara, Coorg and British Baluchistan.

Roughly one seat was to be allotted for every million (10 Lakh) population.

After this election, the Muslim League refused to cooperate with the Congress and the political situation deteriorated.

Hindu-Muslim riots began, and the Muslim League demanded a separate constituent assembly for Muslims in India.

On 3 June 1947 Lord Mountbatten, the last British Governor-General of India, announced his intention to scrap the Cabinet Mission Plan; this culminated in the Indian Independence Act 1947 and the separate nations of India and Pakistan.

The Indian Independence Act was passed on 18 July 1947 and, although it was earlier declared that India would become independent in June 1948, this event led to independence on 15 August 1947.

The Constituent Assembly met for the first time on 9 December 1946, reassembling on 14 August 1947 as a sovereign body and successor to the British parliament's authority in India.

Dr Sachidanand Sinha was the first president of the Constituent Assembly.

Later, Dr Rajendra Prasad was elected its president.

As a result of the partition, under the Mountbatten plan, a separate Constituent Assembly of Pakistan was established on 3 June 1947.

After partition, the Constituent Assembly of India had 299 representatives, these included 229 members from provinces and 70 from princely states.

These delegates sat over 114 days spread over 3 years (2 years 11 months and 18 days to be precise) and discussed what the constitution should contain and what laws should be included.

The Drafting Committee of the Constitution was chaired by B. R. Ambedkar.

Interim Government of India (Sep, 1946)

The Interim Government of India, also known as the Provisional Government of India, formed on 2 September 1946 from the newly elected Constituent Assembly of India.

It remained in place until 15 August 1947, the date of the independence (and partition) of India, and the creation of Pakistan.

The interim government was headed by Jawaharlal Nehru.

Asaf Ali headed "Railways" and Rajendra Prasad headed "Agriculture and Food" portfolio.

After induction of Muslim League, Liaquat Ali Khan was given the portfolio of finance, which he handled brilliantly.


The partition of India in 1947 divided British India into two independent dominions: India and Pakistan.

The partition involved the division of two provinces, Bengal and Punjab, based on district-wide non-Muslim or Muslim majorities.

The partition also saw the division of the British Indian Army, the Royal Indian Navy, the Royal Indian Air Force, the Indian Civil Service, the railways, and the central treasury.

The partition was outlined in the Indian Independence Act 1947 and resulted in the dissolution of the British Raj, i.e. Crown rule in India.

Direct Action Day (16 August 1946), also known as the 1946 Calcutta Killings, was a day of nationwide communal riots.


The two self-governing independent Dominions of India and Pakistan legally came into existence at midnight on 15 August 1947.

Clement Attlee (Labour Party) was the Prime Minister and George VI was King of Britain at the time of Partition/Independence of India.

PM of the UK announced on 20 February 1947 that: The British Government would grant full self-government to British India by 30 June 1948 at the latest.

The Mountbatten Plan of 3 June, 1947 became the platform of Indian Independence and "Partition".

In Delhi Congress Session on 14th June, 1947, the resolution for India's partition was passed, it was presided over by - Rajendra Prasad.

J.B. Kripalani was the president of the Indian National Congress in 1947.

Before Kripalani, the President of INC was Jawaharlal Nehru in 1946.

Khudai Khidmatgar leader Khan Abdul Ghaffar Khan and Mahatma Gandhi, both belonging to the INC, strongly opposed and voted against the partition of India.

Sir Cyril Radcliffe was made the Chairman of the two Border Commissions (one each for Bengal and Punjab) in June 1947.

Indian Independence Act 1947 was passed and came into into force on 18 July 1947.

Lord Mountbatten (1947-48) was the last viceroy of the British Indian Empire and the first Governor-General of independent India.

After independence, C Rajagopalachari became the only Indian and last governor-general of India.

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