• By the middle of the 19th century, the British government had established treaty relations with most of the Princely States in India. Under British paramountcy, the internal administration of the States was left to the Princes. British residencies were established as channels for communication with the British government. In theory, the rulers had absolute power but in practice, they were subject to the dictates of the British Resident and dependent on the British government for internal and external protection. Succession policies in the States were also laid down by the Resident.

Pitiable conditions of people of Princely states:

  • Most of the Princely States were autocratically ruled. The economic burden on the people was heavy with high taxation, education and social services were backward and civil rights were restricted. State revenues were expended on the luxurious life-styles of the rulers and since the British provided immunity from domestic and external aggression, they felt free to ignore the interests of their people. The British government expected the States to support them in their imperialist policies, thereby acting against the development of nationalist sentiments.
  • The people under the British provinces were given some political rights and participation in the administration after the Acts of 1919 and 1935. The people under the Princely States did not have the rights equal to the rights enjoyed by the British provinces.
  • Most of the Princes were hostile and suspicious towards the nationalist forces. The exceptions to this were States like Baroda and Mysore which sympathized with the nationalists and promoted internal political, administrative, agricultural and education reform.

The National Movement in Princely States:

  • The onset of the nationalist movement in British India also had an impact on the people of the Princely States. Many revolutionary nationalists fleeing British authority came to the Princely States in the first and second decades of the 20th century and initiated political activities there.
  • The launching of the non-cooperation and Khilafat movements stirred the entire Indian population cutting across the borders of British India. Under the national movement, the subjects of the princely states established people’s organizations in the Princely States were established in Mysore, Hyderabad, Baroda, Kathiawad, Jamnagar, Indore, Nawanagar, etc.The people’s organisation started by the people of princely states for the national movement were called ‘Praja Mandals’ or ‘Praja Parishads’. The national movement in the princely states are also called Praja Mandal movements.

Nature of the Praja Mandal Movements:

  • The people of Praja Mandal movement fought against their feudal princes and the British administration simultaneously for their rights.The main demand of the Praja Mandal movements was the democratic rights.
  • Activities of Praja Mandal Movements: – The people of the Praja Mandal Movements implemented the constructive programmes of the Indian National Movement in their princely states. – They established schools, used khadi, encouraged cottage industries and started agitation against the Untouchability

The National Movement Associations in Princely States:

  • The Hitvardhak Sabha:- The Hitvardhak Sabha was founded in Poona in May 1921. – The aim of this association was to solve the problems of the people of southern princely states.
  • Akhil Bhor Sansthan Praja Sabha:- Wamanrao Patwardhan founded Akhil Bhor Sansthan Praja Sabha in Bhor region in November 1921.The aim of this Sabha was to fight for the problems related to people of Bhor region.

All India Association of the People’s Council:

  • The first session of an All India States’ People’s Conference was held in Bombay in December 1927. The Conference brought together representatives from hundreds of Indian princely states, including Baroda, Bhopal, Travancore and Hyderabad.
  • It was established to encourage political dialogue between the princely class of India, and the British Raj, upon the issues of governance, political stability and future of India. The Council and other people’s movement also struggled for the farmers loans, taxes etc in the princely states. Balwantrai Mehta, Maniklal Kothari and G.R. Abhayankar assumed the leadership of the movement.
  • In the Bombay session of All India Association of the People’s Council in 1927, the princely states national movement was made a national level movement. The Bombay session of the Council demanded the responsible government and rights of citizenship for the people of Princely States.
  • The Madras Session of Congress also adopted the demands of Bombay session.
  • Two developments in the mid-30s brought a radical change in the relations between the Princely States and British India.
  • (1)The Government of India Act of 1935 projected a scheme of federation in which the States were brought into a direct constitutional relationship with British India. The States were to send representatives to the upper house of the Central Legislature called the Council of States. However, all these representatives were to be nominated by the rulers of the States rather than elected by their peoples. It would deprive the people of their rights and also create a band of hand-picked persons to stand by the British Government in the Federal legislature at any crucial time. The decision to leave the choice to the rulers to join or not to join the federation was another feature of the Act which undermined the people’s legislative representation.In the Karachi Session of the Council in 1936, the Council rejected the clause of the 1935 Act wherein the nomination of Princes of the Princely states to the Imperial Legislature was allowed.The Karachi Session of the Council demanded that the right of election of representative should rest with the subjects of the princely states.
  • (2) The second major impact on the States was created by the acceptance of office by the Congress in majority of the British Indian provinces in 1937. The installation of the Congress ministries in the neighbouring British Indian provinces encouraged the Praja Mandal leaders to step up their political activities for demanding responsible government in the Princely States.
  • The year 1938-39 stand out as years of a new awakening in the Indian States and were witness to a large number of movements demanding responsible government and other reforms.

Attitude of Congress and Subsequent Development:

  • The Congress, for the first time at its Nagpur Session in 1920, enunciated its policy towards the peoples’ movement in the Princely States. It called upon the Princes to grant full responsible government in their States. However, it was pointed out that though the people belonging to the States could enroll themselves as members of the Congress, they could not initiate political activity in the State in the name of the Congress. They could carry on political activity in their individual capacity as members of the local Praja Mandals.
  • From the mid-20s, the Congress started taking keen interest in the states’ people’s movements. In 1929, Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru in his presidential address of Lahore Congress observed, “The Indian States cannot live apart from the rest of India…. The only people who have a right to determine the future of the States must be the people of those States.”
  • This position continued till 1935 though the cooperation between the leaders of the States’ People’s Conferences and the Congress leaders gradually increased. Finally, it was decided that Congress Committees could be formed in the Indian States but they were not to engage in any unparliamentary activity or direct action. This compromise formula helped to bring about harmony between the Congress and the freedom movement in the States.
  •  In a resolution passed at the Lucknow session of Congress in 1936, it was observed that, “Congress… desires to make it clear that, in its opinion, the people of the States should have the same rights of self-determination as those of the rest of India, and that the Congress stands for the same political, civil and democratic liberties for every part of India. The Congress, however, desires to point out that the struggle for liberty within the States has, in the very nature of things, to be carried on by the people of the State themselves.
  • In Rajkot, the Satyagraha movement drew personalities like Gandhiji and Sardar Patel. Though Gandhiji ultimately withdrew the Satyagraha accepting his failure to change the heart of the ruler, its impact was far reaching. In Hyderabad also, a very powerful people’s movement built up. In Kashmir, under Sheikh Abdullah the people organized themselves.The Congress also started showing more interest in various political activities in the States, though adhering to its old stand that the movement in the Princely States should not be conducted in the name of the Congress but in the name of the local organizations.
  • After this, the Haripura session of Congress in 1938 dealt with the problems of the States in detail. It considered the states to be integral parts of India and desired the same political, social and economic freedom in the States as in the rest of India. The demand for ‘Purna Swaraj’ put forward by the Congress was for the whole of India inclusive of the States.
  • But Haripura Congress of 1938 reiterated its policy that movements in the States should not be launched in the name of Congress but should rely on their own local strength. A few months later, on seeing the spirit of people and their capacity to struggle, Gandhi and Congress changed their attitude on this question. The radicals and socialists in Congress as well as Political workers in the States had already been pressing for this change for quite sometime.
  • Explaining this shift in policy in Jan, 1939, Gandhi said : The policy of non intervention by the Congress was in my opinion a perfect piece of statesmanship when the people of the States were not awakened. That policy would be cowardice when there is all round awakening among them and a determination to go through a long term suffering for vindication of their just rights. The moment they became ready, the legal, constitutional and artificial boundary was destroyed.
  • Congree at Tripuri in arch 1939 passed a resolution enunciating its new policy by complete removal of restrain on itself.
  • Jawaharlal Nehru was invited to become the President of the All India States’ People’s Conference in 1935, and elected president of the All India States’ People’s Conference in 1939 at its session held in Ludhiana. (He remained President until 1946). He exhorted the Praja Mandals to step up the agitations in the States to uphold the rights and dignities of the people. Important leaders like Ramanand Tirtha and Ravi Narayan Reddy of Hyderabad, U.N. Debar and Balwantrai Mehta in Saurashtra and Kathiawad region and Sheikh Abdullah in Kashmir spearheaded the movement in these States.
  •  During the Quit India movement, Congress formally extended the call for launching a struggle to the people of the States as well. The constitutional changes, likely to take place in the near future also underlined the necessity of having an organic relationship between the Princely States and the Government of India. In the post-World War II period, when the withdrawal of the British from India became increasingly clear, the future of the Princely States occupied the attention of national leaders both in the Congress and in the Muslim League.
  • The Cabinet Mission of 1946 had proposed a federal scheme for free India. In the memorandum of 12 May 1946, while explaining the consequences of the withdrawal of British power and the emergence of independent India, it had observed, “Thus, as a logical consequence and in view of the desires expressed to them on behalf of the Indian States, His Majesty’s Government will cease to exercise the powers of paramountcy. This means that the rights of the States which flow from the relationship to the Crown will no longer exist and that all the rights surrendered by the States to the paramount power will return to the States.”  Though the Congress never agreed to this interpretation of paramountcy, some of the Princely States decided to declare independence. They hoped that the British Government would come to their aid and they found support in Jinnah.
  • Jinnah emphasized that the Indian States were sovereign states, except in so far as they had entered into treaties with the Crown. British India could do nothing to them. To say that the Governor General or the British Parliament could lay down that every Indian State was bound to enter one Constituent Assembly or the other was not constitutional. If the States liked to come in, they could do so by agreement, but there was no way of forcing them in.
  • Nehru reacted to this strongly and pointed out that by no test of sovereignty could an Indian State be defined as sovereign. Congress pressure forced the British government to act and the Political Department was taken away from British control and was placed under two new State Departments of the two future Dominions. Sardar Patel headed the States Department of India. Both Nehru and Patel acted firmly on this issue. They were fortified by the support of the States’ people. So, when the Nizam of Hyderabad and Travancore-Cochin expressed their desire to declare independence, Sardar Patel acted swiftly.
  • The Mountbatten Plan of June 1947 envisaged a division of India into two dominions with the Princely States choosing their course of action. The definition, scope and relevance of paramountcy came into question. Since paramountcy was going to lapse, technically, the States would have the choice to join either dominion or even be independent.
  •  However, Mountbatten and the British government ruled out the possibility of independence for the States by giving their support to the integration of States in the Dominions. In the few instances where rulers expressed a tendency towards independence, for instance in Hyderabad, Travancore and Junagadh, popular movements for responsible governance came into play against independence.
  • The AICC, in its resolution of 15 June 1947, made the position of the States quite clear by not admitting the right of any State of India to declare its independence and to live in isolation from the rest of India. That would be a denial of the course of Indian history and of the objectives of Indian people today. During the next few weeks, the ground was prepared to bring in all the 565 States into the Indian Union.

Praja Mandal Movement In Rajkot (Rajkot Satyagraha):

  • In 1930’s, Dharmendra Singhji as a ruler proved to be an autocrat and lived luxurious life opposite of his father. He was encouraged by his Diwan Virawala who concentrated power in his own hand. The State’s wealth was wasted and reached in such a state that monopolies for the sale of rice, matches, suger, cereals were given for a price to individual merchant in order to raise revenue. Taxes were increased, rice rose and popular assembly was allowed to lapse. All this produced discontent.
  • Many political party prepared for struggle in Kathiawar area but one of the main group emerged was led by U N Dhebar who was Gandhian constructive worker.(In 1941 Dhebar was selected by Gandhiji to offer Individual Satyagraha at Viramgam.)
  • First blow was struck in 1936 when a strike of 800 workers took place under a labour union oeganised by Jethalal Joshi, a Gandhain activist, in the state owned cotton mill. Durbar had to concede union’s demands for better working conditions. Encouraged by this success, Jethalal and U N Dhebar organised a meeting of Kathiawar in march 1937 (Rajkiya Parishad) where responsible government and reduction in taxes and state expenditure were demanded.
  • The Parishad launched next phase of protest in Aug 1938 against gambling. Later resistance was stepped as full scale Satyagraha. Activities: Workers strike in cotton mills, student strikes. boycott of good produced by monopolic merchants or State , on-payment of land revenue, withdrawal of deposits from the State bank etc. This blocked all sources of income of the State.
  • Volunteers came from Mumbai, British Gujarat. Sardar Patel kept in touch with Satyagrahi.
  • Durbar entered into settlement with Sardar Patel on 26th Dec 1938 by which Satyagraha was withdrawn and prisoners were released. Durbar commited to appoint a Committee of ten state subjects or officials to formulate a scheme of reforms designed to grant the powers to people. Out of 10, seven were to be nomminees of Sardar Patel.
  • British government which had opposed the agreement on the first place now swung into action. After consultations at the highest levels of the Viceroy and the Secretary of state, Thakore sahib was forced to take the stand that he would not accept Sardar Patel’s list of seven members and instead would have drawn another one with the help of the Resident. The reason given was that Sardar Patel’s nominees are only Brahmins and Banias and there is no representation of Rajputs, Muslims and depressed classes (this was to create division among people).
  • Satyagraha was resumed on 26 Jan 1939 and was met with heavy repression. Kasturba (Gandhi’s Wife) who had grown in Rajkot was so moved that she decided to go to Rajkot in spite of her old age and poor health. She came with Sardar Patel’s sister Maniben. Gandhiji himself decided to proceed to Rajkot. He decided to go on infinite fast. The beginning of fast led to a nation wide protest. Viceroy was pressurised and Congress ministry threatened to resign.
  • On 7 March 1939, Gandhiji broke his fast after Viceroy asked Chief Justice of India, Sir Maurice Gwyer, to arbitrate and decide whether Thakore had violated the agreement.
  • The CJI upheld Patel’s position in an award given on 3rd April but the Durbar egged on by Diwan Virawala continued to promote the communal and caste divide by encouraging Muslims and Depressed classes to put forward their claims and then using them to refuse to honour the agreement. Soon, Jinnah and Ambedkar stepped in for their demand for Muslims and Depressed classes and there were hostile demonstrations at Gandhiji prayer meetings. British Government, since it had nothing to gain but to lose from Congress victory, refused to use its influence.
  • At this point Gandhiji decided to withdraw and announced that he released Thakore Sahib from the agreement and apologised to Viceroy and CJI for wasting their time.
  • Rajkot Satyagraha showed the complexity of situation in princely States with Paramount Power always ready to interfere in its own favour but ever willing to use legal independence of the Rulers as an excuse for non-interference. The same method of struggle when used in different political conditions of British India and Indian States often produced dissimilar results.
  • Though Rajkot Satyagraha was failure but it exercised a tremendous politicising effect on people of the States. It also demonstrated to the rulers of the States the power of popular resistance and encourages many State to integrate with India after Indian Independence.

Praja Mandal Movement In The State of Hyderabad:

  • The State of Hyderabad was the largest princely states of India in terms of population and territory. The ruler of the State of Hyderabad, Osman Ali Khan,  was called the Nizam of Hyderabad. The State of Hyderabad included the Marathwada, parts of Andhra Pardesh and Karnatak. The Nizam of Hyderabad was highly supported and helped by the British administration.
  • The Non-cooperation Movement also influenced the State of Hyderabad.The Nizam of Hyderabad crushed the non-cooperation movement and Khilafat movement in Hyderabad though Nizam hesitated to come out openly against Khilafat Movement due to religious concern. Nizam promoted formation of Ittiehad ul Muslimin, an organisation based on loyalty to Nizam on the basic of common religious faith, Islam.

People’s Councils in the State of Hyderabad:

  • In 1921, Andhara Mahasabha in Andhra Pradesh and Karnatak Council in Karnatak were founded. In 1937, Maharashtra Council in Marathwada was founded.
  • The aim of such councils was to work in the social and the cultural spheres. These councils demanded responsible political system, expansion of private schools and vernacular education.These councils placed before the country the problems of the people in spite of the restrictions in the State of Hyderabad.
  • The press played an important role in spreading the political consciousness among the people of the State of Hyderabad.

The Rise of Hyderabad State Congress:

  • The Hyderabad State Congress was founded in the State of Hyderabad in September 1938 by leaders of all three councils. The arrival of the State Congress started the first phase of the political struggle in the State of Hyderabad.The leaders of the State Congress declared the party as a secular, national and open to all the castes and tribes.The party declared the aim of communal harmony and unity as its objective.
  • The Nizam of Hyderabad felt a threat from the Hyderabad State Congress. He banned the State Congress.
  • In October 1938, Swami Ramanand Tiratha (a Marathi speaking nationalist who was Gandhian.) launched a Satyagraha against the ban on the State Congress.
  • Arya Samaj, Hindu Maha Sabha and Hindu Civil Libery Union also launched a Satyagraha at the same time against religious persecution of Hindus in the state of Hyderabad. This Satyagraha had religious objective and taking communal overtone and there was chances of confusion among people regarding consideration of both Satyagraha as same. This was seen by State Congress and Gandhiji. Accordingly, it was decided that to keep religious and political issue separate, political Satyagraha of State Congress be suspended.
  • The ban on State Congress resulted in the regional cultural organisations emerging as the forum of political activity. This became particularly true of the Andhra Mahasabha of Telugus. An important development occurred this tie was that Ravi Naraya Reddy, who had emerged as the major leader of the younger radial group in the Mahasabha and had participated in the 1939 State Congress Satyagraha was drawn towards Communist Party of India. He along with B. Yella Reddy succeeded in securing the support of a large proportion of the younger cadre as well. The result was the growing radicalisation of Andhra Mahasabha and its focus on peasant problems.
  • Nizam of Hyderabad was forced to introduce some reforms but he did not raise the ban.Finally in 1940, the State Congress launched the individual Satyagraha against the ban.

Repressive Policies of the State of Hyderabad and the Freedom Struggle:

  • The State of Hyderabad had imposed ban on the National Song ‘Vande Mataram’.However, the students took lead to make it a song of national freedom movement.The students of the Government College of Aruangabad were main activists in spreading the song of Vande Mataram.
  • Later the student movement was merged with the national movement and freedom struggle in the State of Hyderabad became strong. Mukundrao Pedgaonkar, Srinivasrao Borikar, Govindbhai Shroff were key leaders in making the freedom movement strong in Hyderabad.

Hyderabad Sate Congress and Quit India Movement of 1942:

  • When the Quit India Movement of 1942 started by the Indian National Congress, the Hyderabad State Congress itself as a part of the movement.
  • The State Congress organised a massive Satyagraha in the State of Hyderabad. Many arrests were made. A batch of women offered Satyagraha in Hyderabad city and Sarojini Naidu was arrested in that connection.
  • In August 1942 it placed following demands before the Nizam of Hyderabad:
  1. Responsible government under the Nizam.
  2. Integration of the State of Hyderabad with Independent India.
  3. Grant of Civil Rights to the people of the State of Hyderabad
  4. Removal of ban on the Hyderabad State Congress in Hyderabad.
  • The years 1945-46 were years of the growth of powerful peasant movement in various pockets of the Nalgonda district and to some extent Warrangal and Khammam against force labour (Vethi / Begar) , illegal seizures of land forced grain levy that had to be paid to the State as a part of war time food procurement etc.
  • In 1946, All India Association of People’s Council also demanded from the Nizam to revoke the ban on the Hyderabad State Congress.
  • By the end of the Second World War, the conditions that emerged, made the situation of the Nizam of Hyderabad very difficult.Finally n July 1946, the Nizam raised the ban from the Hyderabad State Congress.

The Movement for Integration of Hyderabad with Independent India:

Significance of Rajkot Satyagraha and Hyderabad Satyagraha:-

  • The cases of Hyderabad, and that of Rajkot, are good  examples of how methods of struggle evolved to suit the conditions in British India, such as non-violent mass civil disobedience or Satyagraha, did not  have the same viability or effectiveness in the India States.The lack of civil liberties, and of  representative institutions, meant that the political space for hegemonic politics was very small,  even when compared to the conditions prevailing under the semi-hegemonic and semi-repressive colonial state in British India.
  • The ultimate protection provided by the British enabled the rulers of the States to withstand popular pressure to a considerable degree, as happened in Rajkot. As a result, there was a much greater tendency in these States for the movements to resort to violent methods of agitation — this happened not only in Hyderabad, but also in Travancore, Patiala, and the Orissa States among others. In Hyderabad, for example, even the State Congress ultimately resorted to violent methods of attack, and, in the final count, the Nizam could only be brought into line by the Indian Army.
  • This also meant that those such as the Communists and other Left groups, who had less hesitation than the Congress in resorting to violent forms of struggle, were placed in a more favourable situation in these States and were able to grow as a political force in these areas.Here, too, the examples of Hyderabad, Travancore, Patiala and the Orissa States were quite striking.
  • The differences between the political conditions in the States and British India also go a long way in explaining the hesitation of the Congress to merge the movements in the States with those in British India. The movement in British India adopted forms of struggle and a strategy that was specifically suited to the political context. Also, political sagacity dictated that the Princes should not be unnecessarily pushed into taking hard positions against Indian nationalism, at least till such time as this could be counter-balanced by the political weight of the people of the state.

Praja Mandal Movement In Punjab:

  • Punjab Riyasti Mandal an organization of the people of the Punjab princely states established in 1928 to work for securing to them civil liberties and political rights.
  • Administrative and constitutional reforms of considerable significance had been introduced in the Punjab of British India, and a number of socio religious reform movements had brought about much awakening among the people.
  • The struggle for freedom in the Punjab had taken the form of a vigorous agitation against the severely repressive Rowlatt Acts which had culminated in the Jallianvala Bagh massacre (13 April 1919), followed by the Gurdwara Reform movement for the liberation of the Sikh shrines from the control of the corrupt priests supported by the British government, and the violent activities of the Babar Akalis.
  • The people in the neighbouring Indian states were by comparison wholly voiceless under the arbitrary and despotic reign of the princely rulers. The subjects of the states enjoyed no freedom of speech or expression and there were no popular institutions such as legislative councils and assemblies.The rulers squandered the revenue on personal luxury.
  • To remedy the situation a public platform emerged with the formation of the Punjab Riyasti Praja Mandal announced at a public conference called by such workers at Mansa, in Patiala state, one of the larger princely enclaves, on 17 July 1928.  An year earlier, on 17 September 1927, All India States People`s Conference had been founded to fight for the rights of the people of the 600 odd states in the country.
  • The initiative for the establishment of the Punjab Riyasti Praja Mandal came from the Akali workers belonging to the Punjab states. They had been freshly affranchised by their participation in the long drawn struggle for the reformation of the management of Sikh places of worship in which they had suffered imprisonment and bodily injury.
  • Seva Singh Thikrivala, of Patiala state, an Akali leader still in jail, was elected president Punjab Riyasti Praja Mandal, and Bhagvan Singh Laungovalia, also an Akali, general secretary.
  • Soon afterwards the Praja Mandal membership was thrown open to all adult inhabitants of the Punjab states without distinctions of caste, class or religion. The scope of the Praja Mandal`s activities was extended to include all princely states in the Punjab, Kashmir and Shimlahill regions.
  • The central organization, the Punjab Riyasti Praja Mandal, itself affiliated to the All India States People`s Conference, was to coordinate and direct the activities of the local units.
  • The main objectives of the Praja Mandal were the protection of the rights and liberties of the people, the setting up of representative institutions in the states and the amelioration of the condition of the peasants.
  • The rulers of the princely states were intolerant of any criticism of or opposition to their administration. Moreover, they enjoyed the full protection and support of the British government.The launching of a popular movement against them was thus not an easy task. At first the activities of the Praja Mandal remained confined to four of the Sikh states of Patiala, Nabha, Jind and Faridkot, in particular against Maharaja Bhupinder Singh of Patiala. The Shiromani Akali Dal resolved to hold a series of meetings in the Patiala state to secure the release of Seva Singh Thikrivala.
  • Kharak Singh, the charismatic Akali leader, undertook a tour of the state. He strongly denounced the administration of Maharaja Bhupinder Singh. The state authority adopted stern measures to counteract the agitation and arrested a large number of Akali workers. At this time Master Tara Singh, another Akali leader of note, opened a relentless campaign against the Patiala ruler. The Praja Mandal intensified its own agitation.Faced with this twofold challenge, the Maharaja relented and made a conciliatory gesture, ordering the release of Seva Singh Thikrivala along with other Akali prisoners.
  • After his release, Seva Singh threw himself zealously into the Praja Mandal movement. On 27 December 1929, the first regular session of the Punjab Riyasti Praja Mandal was convened at Lahore. It adopted a resolution strongly condemning the maladministration of Maharaja Bhupinder Singh. It started a morcha in Jind state to protest against the enhancement of land revenue and against begar (forced free labour).
  • In Malerkotia a document entitled Malerkotia Indictment was prepared faulting the ruler as well as the state administration. In Kapurthala state, the Praja Mandal demanded the abolition of oppressive taxes and the establishment of responsible government. In the spring of 1929, a memorandum. Indictment of Patiala, was addressed to the Viceroy of India enumerating instances of misrule in Patiala and of the misconduct of its ruler. The All India States People`s Conference conducted an enquiry and found the Maharaja guilty of most of the charges.
  • In November 1930, Maharaja Bhupinder Singh, as chancellor of the Chamber of Princes, was nominated as the sole representative of the princes of India at the first Round Table Conference in London.The Praja Mandal stepped up its campaign against him and, at a conference held at Ludhiana on 11 October 1930, Seva Singh Thikrivala castigated him for his misrule and demanded his deposition. Seva Singh was arrested and sentenced to ten years` rigorous imprisonment, but was released after a few months.
  • In July 1931, the third annual conference of the Punjab Riyasti Praja Mandal took place at Shimla. Its main demand was the deposition of Maharaja Bhupinder Singh.
  • During 1932-33, the Praja Mandal brought out a second memorandum against Patiala and staged demonstrations in its support at Amritsar and Delhi. Meanwhile, to counteract the Praja Mandal the Patiala government issued the Hidayat (instruction) (1931), which banned all political activity in the state.Under the provisions of the Hidayat, Seva Singh was rearrested in January 1933, and sentenced to six years` imprisonment. He resorted to hunger strike in protest against the harsh treatment meted out to him.
  • In solitary confinement in the Patiala jail, he died on 20 January 1935. The death of Seva Singh Thikrivala marked the end of an important phase in the history of the Punjab Riyasti Praja Mandal.
  • Early in 1936, the Patiala government signed an agreement with the Akali leader, Master Tara Singh, resulting in the release of all Akali prisoners. The withdrawal of the Akalis considerably weakened the Praja Mandal.
  • Several of its leaders, including Bhagvan Singh Laurigovalia and Jagir Singh Joga, came under Marxian influence. With the Akali Dal playing a minimal role in the Sikh states and dissensions erupting between the ruralite Communists and the urbanite Congress group within the Praja Mandal itself, the movement further waned.
  • However, in 1945, the Communists having been expelled from the Indian National Congress, the All India State People`s Conference instituted a regional council for the Punjab states, with Brish Bhan as chairman. The leadership of the Praja Mandal in the Punjab states thus passed into the hands of the urban Hindus.
  • The struggle for constitutional and administrative reforms in the princely states continued. Several of the states witnessed popular agitations, Faridkot the severest of them in 1946. Jawaharlal Nehru`s visit on 27 May 1946 marked the culmination of the agitation. A local leader who spearheaded the movement was Giani Zail Singh, India`s future President.
  • With the formation soon after Independence of PEPSU, a union of Patiala, Nabha, Jind, Malerkotia, Faridkot, Kapurthala, Nalagarh and Kalsia states on 15 July 1948, the princely regimes ended and the Punjab Riyasti Praja Mandal lapsed. It was replaced by the PEPSU Pradesh Congress.

The Liberal Prince of Aundh:

  • Balasaheb Pant Pratinidhi, the ruler of Aundh ( in the Deccan States Agency division of the Bombay Presidency) was a liberal ruler.
  • He formed a Representatives’ Council.He allowed 50% representation to the people of his state to the Council. In 1926, he allowed the power to legislate and to pass resolutions to the Council.
  • In 1929, he declared the subjects of his states would get the right of self rule within next five years.He also formed a committee to frame a constitution of the modern political principles.
  • His work was highly appreciated by the All India Association of People’s Council.


  1. This is a very impressive piece on the organisations of peoples of princely states during the independence movement era. I was wondering who wrote this article. Is the author(s) of this piece a historian or passionate on this particular subject of Indian history? I would be interested in getting in contact with whoever researched and published this work because I have studied in some depth the movements/policies of and figures in the All India States’ People’s Conference during my degree at the University of Edinburgh. I am travelling to India in the winter partly to do some more research on the history of the ISPC – so any contact would be greatly appreciated! Thankyou

Leave a Reply