Social Scientist. v 16, no. 181-82 (June-July 1988) p. 77.

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Liaquat All Khan's Budget of 1947-48 The Tryst with Destiny


The period of the Interim Government of 1946-47 is usually discussed in the existing historiography only in connection with the issues involved in the process of the Transfer of Power. The power struggle between the Congress and the Muslim League is a favoured topic. We draw a blank if we search for any discussion on the economic steps taken during this first experiment in self-government for the sub-continents Occasionally one finds a mention of the formation of the Advisory planning Boatd by Jawaharlal Nehru as the leader of the first Interim Government. The Budget controversy, however, is seldom mentioned in the literature. The present article attempts to fill in the gap and establish that Nehru's 'tryst with destiny' actually began a few months before the sub-continent achieved its freedom from British rule.

The first Interim Government after the general election of 1946 in British India was formed by the Indian National Congress in September 1946. The Muslim League ^had initially declined 4he offer by Lord Wavell, the Viceroy, and then joined the Ministry in November 1946. The relation between the Congress and the League, never congenial, was at a particularly low ebb at that time. The persistent refusal by the latter to accept the Cabinet Mission's plan and to join the Constituent Assembly proposed by the Mission did not help the relation. However, the League's decision to join the Ministry in November 1946 necessitated a redistribution of Government portfolios hitherto held by the Congress members. The League demanded at least one of the major portfolios like Home, Defence or Finance. Wavell suggested to the Congress to give up the Home Department which Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel strongly refused to part with. As an alternative, the Congress offered Finance, till then held by Dr. John Matthai, to the League hoping that because of the technical nature of the subject, the latter would either decline the offer of 'soon make a fool of themselves in it'.2. In this judgement the Congress leaders proved entirely wrong. The Muslim League not only accepted the Finance portfolio but Liaquat Ali Khan, its nominee to that post, performed his task so well that the Congress was iM^r to regret its own

^Centre for Studies in Social Sciences, Calcutta

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