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Gandhi was vehemently opposed to the Partition of India and tried to avoid it. But what was his stance on it once it had happened? Did he accept it as fait accompli or did he envision some scheme for re-unification in the future? Did he express his views on the matter in print before he was murdered?

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2 Answers 2

Gandhi accepted partition, but deeply deplored the communal violence that was taking place at that time. In fact, he had been scheduled to leave for a "peace march" to Lahore from Delhi, but was killed just four days before he could begin the march. He had also pleaded before the Government of India to try and maintain friendly relations with the Government of Pakistan.

However, I am not sure that Gandhi was as vehemently opposed to partition as it is generally believed. Had the partition plan not had Gandhi's passive support, it would surely have been vetoed by the Congress, since Gandhi was still its unquestionable leader. It appears that he acquiesced to the partition plan only to avoid communal tension.

As for views in print, since Gandhi himself edited the paper Harijan, I expect there to be some written record. But I have not been able to find it yet. If I get something, I will update my answer.

Update: I have added a few quotes from Gandhi's speeches. They have been taken from Collected Works of Mahatma Gandhi, so in case you disagree with my conclusions, feel free to respond with additional quotes/reasons.

Note on Gandhi's speech at Congress Working Committee on June 2, 1947

He [Gandhi] said that though he did not agree with the decisions of the Working Committee regarding the division of India, he did not want to take any step which would stand in the way of the Working Committee in implementing its previous decision. He however pointed out that there was still some scope for further clarification, and he suggested that Clause 20 relating to the right of the parts to decide to remain or not within the British Commonwealth should be clarified and the Government should be informed that the Congress does not want that any differential treatment should be meted out to any seceding part of India. He also wanted that a written and categorical assurance should be forthcoming from the Muslim League that it accepts the statement as a final settlement and will not make any further claims beyond what is conceded in this statement.

Refer to Gandhi's speech at prayer meeting on June 4, 1947

I told you that we would not give even an inch of land as Pakistan under coercion. In other words, we would not accept Pakistan under the threat of violence. Only if they can convince us by peaceful, argument and if their proposal appeals to our reason would we concede Pakistan.

From another letter by Gandhi on June 2, 1947

Probably no one is more distressed than I am over the impending division of India. But I have no desire to launch a struggle against what promises to be an accomplished fact.

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RE last paragraph: That would be great. Your answer matches my understanding as well, but I have no better source for this idea than a veiwing of the Ben Kingsley Gandhi movie 30 years ago. I was hoping to see something more authoratative here. –  T.E.D. Jan 31 '13 at 18:41
    
Do you have a source for the claim that Gandhi accepted partition? I am also not sure about your claim that he gave the partition his "passive support". –  Felix Goldberg Feb 1 '13 at 19:19
    
@FelixGoldberg Please check my update. –  Arani Feb 6 '13 at 20:25
    
That third quote seems both ironic and hypocritical given that most of his adult life was spent in "a struggle against ... an accomplished fact". I infer from the statement that his opposition to partition was decidedly weaker than his opposition to British rule; and that his statement is purposefully disingenuous. –  Pieter Geerkens Apr 29 at 2:05
    
@PieterGeerkens Exactly my view too. Apart from what he himself said, most of the leaders in the Congress Working Committee owed their rise to Gandhi himself and it is hard to believe that they would have gone directly against him. –  Arani Apr 29 at 6:34

In fact ... Gandhiji had to succumb to the Pressures built up within the Congress accepting for the Partition ... a more TRUTHFUL and a REAL description of the circumstances leading to Mahatma Gandhi's fate in Congress had been described by Stanley Wolpert -

Stanley Wolpert has argued, the "plan to carve up British India was never approved of or accepted by Gandhi...who realised too late that his closest comrades and disciples were more interested in power than principle, and that his own vision had long been clouded by the illusion that the struggle he led for India's independence was a nonviolent one."[116]

[116]. Wolpert, Stanley (2002). Gandhi's passion: the life and legacy of Mahatma Gandhi. Oxford University Press. ISBN 9780199728725.

This clearly exhibits that, in his post-partition days, Gandhiji REALISED that "his closest comrades and disciples were more interested in power than principle"... AND, probably this REALISATION led to Gandhiji saying to DISSOLVE CONGRESS ...here, the question is - who were those closest comrades and disciples ... Nehru was surely one of them ... going for the POWER ... leaving the Principles and Ideology aside.

But, what Sonia now says ... POWER IS POISON ...

Certainly, when Congress has become a SYNONYM of POWER right from the days of NEHRU ... leaving Gandhi's Principles and Ideology ... the present CONGRESS has just BECOME POWER GREEDY ... NO FAITH IN GANDHI's PRINCIPLES & IDEOLOGY ... ONLY STOLE HIS NAME ... for doing politics in HIS NAME.

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Cut out your personal political views on current situation and make this a relevant answer in terms of history only. –  Rajib Apr 27 at 7:22
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What @Rajib said - the first part is upvotable, the second is spurious. –  Felix Goldberg Apr 27 at 7:31

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