23 January, 2021

Flicker Of Hope

Mountbatten revels in his role as arbiter, the destiny of millions sitting light on him even Churchill is convinced. The lone dissenter: a desperate Gandhi

Flicker Of Hope
LORD MOUNTBATTEN was not given to modesty, but the deference with which the British Cabinet and the Indian leaders accepted his plans justified considerable conceit. During his final consultations in London, he encountered only praise, especially from prime minister Attlee. An even bigger achievement was to win over a grumpy Winston Churchill, who as the previous prime minister had sworn that he would never preside over the liquidation of the British Empire, of which India was the jewel.

In a recorded interview to Larry Collins and Dominique Lapierre, authors of Freedom At Midnight, later, Mountbatten could boast: "I had as great a control over the (British) cabinet as I had over the leaders in India at that time, and I had the most frightful, not so much conceit, but a complete and absolute belief that it all depended on me, and they had to do what I said or else...." He recalled Jawaharlal Nehru crying on his shoulder and Vallabhbhai Patel with tears in his eyes at his departure.

Gandhi remained the only obstacle until he was forced to concede defeat. But in the last...



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