On the issue of what Britain wanted to gain by choosing a divided India over a united India, one needs to keep in mind some of the points mentioned below:
After the End of The Second World War
A. Soviet Union was the strongest country in Europe.
B. It had already amalgamated central Asian republics into it.
C. In Europe it merged traditional Russian influence states like Ukraine, Latvia, Belarus etc.
D. It had the largest area under occupation in Europe where it had no
plan to release them from its influence.
E. East Germany, Poland, Yugoslavia, Checkosolovakia , Romania,
Albania Austria , Hungary etc were all under soviet influence.
F. To remain neutral, Austria had to work really hard to remain
equidistant from the West and the Soviet Union.
G. Afghanistan had been historically unstable and Soviet Union had
reached Uzbekistan, Tajikistan etc on its northern border.
H. The west tried really hard to keep Iran in their sphere of influence.
I. UK, France were nearly bankrupt because of the war and could not influence global geopolitical space.
J. US filled up the boots of UK and France as it was the only country in Western Hemisphere which came out more powerful and with a robust
economy at the end of the war.
K. Soviet Union despite its spread lacked a good warm water port or
access to seas in warmer zones.
L. Practically it was the largest landlocked entity ever created in history.
M. US and UK were apprehensive that Soviet Union will try to gain
access to warm seas through Afghanistan and western India.
N. It is said that both US and UK approached Congress for support to
create bases in NWFP, FATA, Balochistan and Kashmir to contain the
expansion of Soviet Union.
O. Congress refused to oblige or agree to the request.
What was happening in India :
A. In 1942 congress launched quit India movement, which was suppressed
and entire leadership of congress was put behind bars.
B. The Congress leadership spent entire war in Jail or house arrest.
C. But Muslim League and Jinnah supported the war efforts and were in the
forefront of collecting support , asking people to join war effort etc.
D. Jinnah opposed quit India movement and was with Britain during this time.
E. He along with other Muslim Leaguers were the only Indian leaders who were out of jail.
A. It is speculated that Jinnah was the only major leader who was in
direct and continuous contact with the British government.
B. It is speculated that the viceroy sounded off Jinnah when he took any
decision about the war effort and India’s participation in the war.
C. It is speculated that the relationship between Jinnah and viceroy and
British senior officials was most cordial.
D. It is speculated that during this period Britain sounded off Jinnah
on bases in northwest India to which Jinnah had no problems and
readily agreed but also cautioned that he was a minor player who could not
gurantee such a stance in an independent India.
E. It is said that Mountbatten was given 2-3 years to find a settlement about India but it is speculated that intelligence sounded Britush government on Jinnah’s illness and it is speculated that British knew that Jinnah had end stage TB of lungs and he may not survive 3 years.
F. It was also known that once news of his illness is made public, Congress will play waiting game to see him dead than decide.
G. It is speculated that when Jinnah came to know that Liaqat Ali Khan
knew about his illness and had tried to sell this information to
Bhulabhai Desai he was so angry and upset with Liaqat that he did not
speak to him for a long time.
H. It is speculated that news of Jinnah on the last stage of TB had spooked the British establishment so much that the date of independence was advanced to 15 August 1947 through a decision of the Cabinet, from June 1948, which had been approved by the British parliament.
The Shadow of the Great Game: The Untold Story of India’s Partition by Narendra Singh Sarila. Reviewed here.
Geo-political and Strategic Implications related to the Emergence of the Indian and Pakistani Nation. A paper whose full text can be found here.
Facts are Facts: The Untold Story of India’s Partition by Wali Khan. The book can be downloaded here.