On 20 February 1947, Clement Attle, the Prime Minister of England, announced that the British Government would grant full self-government to British India by 30 June 1948. Clement Attle advised King George VI to appoint Lord Mountbatten as the ‘Viceroy of India’. Mountbatten arrived in India in March 1947, charged with overseeing the transition of British India to independence no later than 30 June 1948.
Between March and May of 1947, Lord Mountbatten felt that the Cabinet Mission Plan had become untenable. He decided to formulate an alternative plan. Mountbatten prepared a “Dickie Bird Plan” for the independence of India. This Plan was prepared by a Committee, including General Sir Hastings Ismay, Sir Geoge Abell, and Lord Mountbatten himself. When the Plan was completed, Sir Hastings Ismay presented it to the Assembly of Provincial Governors in Delhi on 15-16 April 1947. Due to this, the Dickie Bird Plan was also known as the “Ismay Plan“.
Main Proposal of the Dickie Bird Plan
As per this plan, all the provinces viz. Bombay, Madras, United Provinces of Bengal, Punjab, and North-West Frontier, etc., were proposed to be declared independent. The Plan proposed the provinces be declared independent successor states and then be allowed to choose whether to join the Constituent Assembly or not. The ‘Dickie Bird Plan’ was the name given to this strategy.
Rejection of Dickie Bird Plan
The Plan envisaged the transfer of power to separate provinces (or to a confederation if formed before the transfer), with Punjab and Bengal given the option to vote for the partition of their provinces. The partitioned units thus formed would have the choice to join India or Pakistan or remain separate.
When the Mountbatten discussed the details of this Plan with Jawaharlal Nehru, Nehru vehemently rejected it. Nehru told Mountbatten that this Plan would invite the Balkanization of India and provoke conflict and violence. Hence, the Dickie Bird Plan was also known as “Plan Balkan“.