Beginnings of the Blood-bath
British attempts to impose an unnatural sense of unity upon the Hindu and the Muslim did not cease in spite of apparent failures on the negotiating table – ‘the game continued, move by Machiavellian move’ straight into 1947 while India continued to slip into bloody chaos.
Wavell, though quite convinced that “Congress was only after power and wanted to get rid of the British after which they will see how to deal with the Muslim and the Princes… the former by bribery, blackmail, and propaganda, and if necessary force… and the latter by stirring up people against them”, was eager to see an interim government in place following the Cabinet Mission’s rather abrupt departure from India. Although Pethick-Lawrence instructed him to seek Jinnah’s participation in the set-up, especially in the wake of ML’s announcement of Direct Action, the Viceroy deemed it inadvisable to “send for Jinnah immediately” as that would only put Jinnah’s stock further up. Instead he resorted to inviting Nehru to form the interim government while also obligating him to seek collaboration with the ML. Nehru’s ambition was ablaze and relentless – unwilling to grant political parity to the ML and exclude Congress’ nationalist Muslims from the interim government – and Jinnah was not in the mood to continue another pointless ride on the merry-go-round of talks. Wavell’s indirect overture was therefore rendered a failure when Jinnah suggested to “defer all action for six months” – for quite as anticipated Congress was itching to take control of India’s executive power and not the least inclined to accommodate any delay.