Jawaharlal Nehru’s Interim Government, 1946-47:
An alternative historical assessment’
Dr. Rakesh Ankit,
University of Southampton,
Jawaharlal Nehru’s Interim Government (2 September 1946-14 August 1947), the precursor to the first government of independent India, appears as a ‘penumbra of oblivion’ at this distance of time. Caught in a liminal political space, it has been an uneasy fit in our historical consciousness. The massive literature on the partition and independence of India has tended to approach it almost solely through the prism of Partition; understanding it merely as a prelude to it and offering it as further evidence for its ‘inevitability’. This paper, instead, attempts a study of the ‘transitional’ and ‘transnational’ character of the interim government from outside the binaries of ‘national-colonial’ and ‘secular-communal’. Based on British colonial structures, run by diverse Indian parties, engaging with provincial politics and making international forays, the interim government represented an exercise in political accommodation, power-sharing and coalition-building that, contrary to perceptions, managed to work enough to leave lasting legacies.
Dr. Rakesh Ankit studied history at Delhi, Oxford and Southampton Universities and is currently associated with the Centre for Imperial and Post-Colonial Studies (Southampton).