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Mountbatten's daughter says he wanted India's good

Jul 20, 2007 09:55 AM IST India India
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London: Pamela Mountbatten says Independence and partition happened because her father, Lord Mountbatten, felt that Indian leaders had to learn to cope with their own problems.

She was speaking exclusively to Karan Thapar just ahead of the release of her book India Remembered, being published by Roli Books.

Karan Thapar: Lady Pamela, your father came to India in March 1947, with a deadline to handover power 15 months later by June 1948. Whilst the intention was noble, do you think the decision to do it so quickly was justified?

Pamela Mountbatten: In fact, it was essential that this was brought forward. And my father was desperate that they should take on government. It's very easy to be in the Opposition, to shout, to want all this and that. But when the reality of government faces you, you find out exactly how difficult it is. For them to have to cope with their own problems was really essential.

Karan Thapar: What people say is that Britain brought partition forward knowing the consequences and yet cut itself off from worrying about them.

Pamela Mountbatten: It really is despicable to say that kind of thing. Really and truly my father was working for the benefit of India. The fact that partition was inevitable was the disaster.

Pamela Mountbatten also revealed that her father had one deep regret, which he was very bitter about. She also said that her mother, Edwina Mountbatten, wanted Lord Mountbatten to leave India after Independence.

Karan Thapar: Did your father have any regrets afterwards in the decades that followed about the handing over of power, about partition or Independence or bringing the date forward?

Pamela Mountbatten: His regret afterwards in many ways was that he assumed rather that when he was invited, or going to be invited to remain on, that he would be the Governor General of both and that Nehru would be Prime Minister of India and Jinnah would be Prime Minister of Pakistan. When it became obvious that Jinnah would announce that he was going to be the Governor General himself then, for my father, it was a terrible problem whether to stay on or not. My mother actually suggested that he really ought to leave because she rather anticipated the feeling -- which did happen in the end -- that he would be accused of favoring India against Pakistan.

And the sad thing was Jinnah repulsed him and wouldn't have him otherwise he would very much have liked to have been supervising or as a counselor to Pakistan as much as to India.

Karan Thapar: And that disappointed Lord Mountbatten? He had wanted to stay on as Governor General (of Pakistan)?

Pamela Mountbatten: Bitterly, bitterly.

Pamela Mountbatten also said that the whole idea of Partition seemed crazy and unworkable to her father Lord Mountbatten

Pamela Mountbatten: The partition of India seemed to him crazy. I mean somebody once described it as an elephant with the two ears. Because of course Bangladesh was later on, but you've got East Pakistan, West Pakistan and the whole mass of India in the middle. It's the most crazy idea. My father knew that the Indian leaders wanted power and it was the right time they should have that power. The fact that Jinnah was determined to have his Pakistan was what was going to happen, it had to happen, but it made it all completely unreal and crazy and unworkable.

Watch a special and exclusive two-part interview with Lady Pamela Mountbatten in Devil's Advocate on Sunday at 8:30 PM.