The end of the British rule in India also saw the independence of around 565 princely states within the country. Their independence posed a serious problem for the establishment of a democratic undivided India which was already suffering from the effects of Partition. The response from the rulers of these small principalities like Travancore, Hyderabad etc made the further division of India a very real possibility. The reaction of the interim government to these principalities was firm and swift with Sardar Ballavbhai Patel playing a crucial role in subduing the states into compliance. The government’s approach was guided by three considerations –
• The opinion of the common people who wanted to be a part of India.
• The need for flexibility in their approach to take into consideration the demands of a particular region.
• The government found it crucial to integrate the principalities to counter the effects of Partition.
Prior to Independence, most of the principalities that were contiguous to the Indian territory were brought into the Indian Union through peaceful negotiations. A document called ‘Instrument of Accession’ was signed by most rulers which signified their agreement to be a part of the Indian Union. The princely states that resisted included Junagarh, Hyderabad, Kashmir and Manipur. Their addition occurred after the Independence. While the army had to be deployed in case of Hyderabad, Manipur was attached through coercion. The issue with Kashmir is an ongoing process.
After Independence, the Indian Government refused to create separate states based on linguistic lines. This was because of –
• The political leaders at the Centre felt that creation of states based on linguistic character would lead to disruption and disintegration of the nation.
• The leaders also felt that linguistic separation would take away the attention from other major problems in the social and economic spheres of the country.
• The Partition acted as a deterrent towards creation of states based on linguistic identity.
• The annexation of the princely states were paramount at that point of time as it would lead to an unified India.
When the Indian Government refused to create separate states based on linguistic character, several effects were observed –
• The decision was taken by the interim Government at the Centre and was opposed by the regional political leaders.
• It led to widespread protest across the country which began in the Telegu speaking provinces of the old madras province.
• The Vishalandhra Movement supported by all the political forces in the region in favour of linguistic reorganisation demanded the separation of Telegu speaking areas from Madras to Andhra region.
• The death of Poti Sriramulu due to fasting led to violent protests which finally led to the formation of the separate state of Andhra Pradesh in 1952.
• This showed the way to other dissenters which finally forced the government the State Reorganization Commission in 1953. The former Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, Fazal Ali headed the commission which in 1956 recommended the creation of 14 states and 6 Union Territories on linguistic basis.
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