Menon played a similar stellar role in assisting Sardar Patel in Hyderabad and Junagadh, the other two intractable states. Bemoans Basu: “Today, the integration of India is credited solely to Sardar Patel with VP Menon staying largely in the wings… It was VP Menon who cajoled, coaxed and threatened rulers into joining the new born Indian Union.” But it is the politician as the team leader, and not the bureaucrat, however brilliant, who got all the credit.
However, it was the Mountbatten plan for India’s independence that VP Menon produced after the last Viceroy’s initial plan was rejected by Jawaharlal Nehru is, arguably, his least well-known contribution to independent India.
The Plan Balkan, which Mountbatten had already sent to London for approval, was shown by Mountbatten to Nehru at Simla on the night of 10 May 1947.The moment he saw the plan, Nehru flew into a rage for what he read horrified him. According to the Plan, India would be partitioned not into two nations, but ‘vivisected into dozens of countries; each province would have the right to secede; each Princely State the right to become independent.’
After receiving an angry missive from Nehru early in the morning of 11 May, Mountbatten summoned VP who in the presence of Nehru, was asked by the Viceroy to submit the draft of a new plan that would meet the objections of Nehru ( and obviously of Patel in Delhi). As Nehru was to leave Simla by 7 pm, Menon had only four hours to devise his ‘alternative, coherent and workable plan’.He met the deadline and presented a draft which would become the famous Mountbatten Plan.
By a strange coincidence both the Menons were present in Simla to assist the two powerful men, who were giving final shape not only to the destiny of a new India three months later, but also the future of Commonwealth.