Interim Government Formation - [September 2, 1946] This Day in History

On 2nd September 1946, the Interim Government of India was formed to oversee the transition of the country from a British colony to an independent republic. This is an important chapter in the modern history of India. Read on for more information on this aspect of Indian history for the IAS exam.

Interim Government – Background

  • The Interim Government was formed as a provisional government between an imperial structure and a democratic structure.
  • It lasted till 15th August 1947 when India became independent and was partitioned into India and Pakistan.
  • This Interim Government was formed from the Constituent Assembly which was elected in August 1946.Interim Govternment Members
  • The election to the Constituent Assembly was not direct and representatives were elected by the provincial assemblies.
  • In these elections, the Indian National Congress (INC) won around 69% of the seats and had a majority. The Congress Party won 208 seats and the Muslim League won 73 seats.
  • In the Interim Government, the Viceroy’s Executive Council was equivalent to the position of Council of Ministers which acted as the executive.
  • Pundit Jawaharlal Nehru became its Vice President and served as the de-facto Prime Minister.
  • Even though the Muslim League refused to be a part of the Interim Government, insisting on their demand for a separate nation, it eventually became a part of it. In Muhammad Ali Jinnah’s words, the League was “going into the Interim Government to get a foothold to fight for… the cherished goal of Pakistan.”

Interim Government Formation

The formation of the Interim government is related to the Second World War. The period post the second world war was a turning point as all the political prisoners were released who were a part of the Quit India movement. The Indian National Congress laid the foundation by declaring its participation in the formation of the Constituent Assembly. The newly formed government of Clement Attlee dispatched the 1946 Cabinet Mission to India to formulate proposals for the formation of a government that would lead to an independent India.

Members of the Interim Government

The Cabinet of the Interim Government of India was composed of the following members:

  1. President of the Executive Council (Viceroy and Governor-General of India): Viscount Wavell (till February 1947); Lord Mountbatten (from February 1947)
  2. Commander-in-Chief: Sir Claude Auchinleck
  3. Vice President, Also in charge of External Affairs and Commonwealth Relations: Jawaharlal Nehru (INC)
  4. Home Affairs, Information and Broadcasting: Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel (INC)
  5. Agriculture and Food: Rajendra Prasad (INC)
  6. Commerce: Ibrahim Ismail Chundrigar (ML)
  7. Defence: Baldev Singh (INC)
  8. Finance: Liaquat Ali Khan (ML)
  9. Education and Arts: C Rajagopalachari (INC)
  10. Health: Ghazanfar Ali Khan (ML)
  11. Labour: Jagjivan Ram (INC)
  12. Law: Jogendra Nath Mandal (ML)
  13. Railways and Communications, Post and Air: Abdur Rab Nishtar (ML)
  14. Works, Mines and Power: C H Bhabha (INC)

The Cabinet Mission of 1946 was sent by the British Government from London to help form the interim government. The Interim Government was in force till 15 August 1947 when a new government was formed. Nehru became the Prime Minister of India.

Also on this day 

1945: Surrender of Japan to the Allies bringing an end to the 2nd World War. 1970: Privileges of 279 Maharajas abolished by the Parliament.

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