In early 1947, British Prime Minister Clement Atlee announced that Britain would withdraw from India. It was a historic moment. In a statement made in the House of Commons in February 1947, Atlee said that His Majesty's Government wished to transfer power to responsible Indian hands by June 1948. The appointment of Lord Mountbatten as the New Viceroy in place of Lord Wavell was also made. Making a statement in June 1947, Lord Mountbatten advanced the date for the transfer of power from June 1948 to August 1947.
To Patel and several others who had toiled to see the hour of freedom, the sweet dream of independence was finally within grasp. But the fruits of their labour were coming at a heavy price. Partition of India into two nations was looking increasingly unavoidable and though Patel had initially dismissed Jinnah's idea of Pakistan as a 'mad dream', he realised that he was going to have to swallow the bitter pill.
Having realised thus the cherished dream of independence at the advanced age of 72, Patel did not consider rest or retirement. 'Let us not forget in this hour of joy the stupendous responsibilities and obligations which freedom brings in its wake' he said in a statement. 'Indeed there are enormous difficulties and insuperable obstacles in our way; but it is for us to overcome them.'