Merger of Rajput states in
the Indian Union
of Rajput states in the Indian Union
The down of political awakening in Rajasthan in the late nineteenth and early
twentieth century was due to a variety of factors. In short the main factors
could be listed as follows:
(1) Agrarian grievances and peasant uprisings.
(2) Role of the middle class and professional classes.
(3) Influence of the Arya Samaj activities in Rajput states.
(4) Influence of activities in neighboring provinces.
(5) Role of Press.
(6) Spread of education.
December 1927 was a landmark in the freedom movement of India with
establishment of the All India States people’s Conference with the aim of
introducing constitutional reforms and responsible governments. Encouraged by
the success of the conference various ‘Praja Maridals’ were established in
Rajput states in the 1930’s with the purpose of terminating maladministration
and feudal oppression in the states and a the same time stressing upon the
need for responsible governments. The Hirapura Declaration by the Indian
National Congress by which the party accorded recognition to the aspirations
of the people of the Rajput States, set the stage for close co-operation
between the Congress and the workers of the Praja Mandal with the twin aim of
independence from the British rule and constitutional reforms in Rajput
States. The ‘Praja Mandals’ created an atmosphere for the establishment and
consolidation of democratic institutions. While the erstwhile rulers in the
states tried to come to terms with the people’s movements in their respective
states, events moved at a fast pace at the national level and the speed only
in creased with end of Second World War in 1945.
With the decision of the British Government to transfer power to the All India
National Congress, India became independent on 15th August 1947. The major
unresolved issue was the problem of integration of Indian States in the Indian
Union. However, with the increasing efforts of Sardar Vallabh Bhai Patel and
Home Secretary Shri V. P. Menon, the Indian States decided to merge in the
Indian Union. The problem of the Rajput Sates persisted which was resolved in
various stages with the formation of Matsya Union (18th March, 1948), United
Rajasthan (25th March, 1948), the inclusion of Udaipur in the United Rajasthan
(18th April, 1948), Greater Rajasthan (30th March, 1949) and the incorporation
of Matsya Union in Greater Rajasthan (15th May, 1949). Ajmer – Merwara, which
was hitherto a part of the Part C States, was merged into Rajasthan in 1956.
The AISPC was convinced since its early inception that the Indian states had
ceased to have a meaningful existence and were surviving only due to the
support from the British. Nehru in 1939 had clearly hinted that the past
treaties between the British and the Indian rulers had ceased to exist. States
were to be recognized on basis of population and the annual income was another
argument. This was also discernible in the British attitude during the visit
of Cripps in 1942. He clearly realized that rulers and stats, in the then
existing form, mattered little. Around the same time the Chancellor of the
Cambar of Princess, Bhopal Nawab, was trying to ensure, with the help of small
states, that the rulers of India emerge as the third force in Indian politics.
This resulted in divisions in the Chamber of Princes.
The end of the Second World war saw the AISPC strengthening its efforts to
strike at the powers of t e rulers. In a meeting in Srinagar in August 1945
the AISPC proposed that :
(1) Mass movements should be encouraged in the states to establish responsible
(2) Small states (parameters decided earlier on) should there merge with large
states or should unite among themselves and become part of the Indian Union.
The Cabinet Mission in 1946 envisaged more powers to the rulers in Indian
States, a matter which was bitterly opposed by the the Cabinet Mission in 1946
envisaged more powers to the rulers in Indian States, a matter which was
bitterly opposed by the AISPC. During the interim Government, the Political
Department continued to function under the Viceroy and this system favored the
rulers against the aspiration of the masses. The Congress was opposed to it.
The AISPC was increasingly of the view that for future negotiations about the
India States and the Indian Union, the administration in the states should
have at least 50% elected members.
While the above events were taking place, the rulers of Rajasthan were playing
their games. In 1946 Maharana Bhupal Singh of Mewar advocated the formation of
a Rajasthan Union of Rajput States, which would functions as a sub-federation
of the Indian Union. In 1947 the celebrated constitutional expert, K.M. Munshi,
was also invited to Mewar to draft the constitution of the Rajasthan Union. It
was proposed that the major Rajput States would initially form Unions with
smaller states. But the efforts came to naught as feelings of mistrust
persisted between the bigger and smaller states.
On the other hand the Indian Government had proposed that only those states
with an annual income of 1 crore and a population of 10 lakhs could maintain
independent status. Jaipur, Jodhpur, Udaipur and Bikaner qualified for this.
Initially it was also proposed that Kishangarh and Sirobi States be merged
with Ajmer – Merwara, but the scheme fell through because of violent
Formation of Matsya Sangh
The partition of India was marked by communal frenzy on a large
scale that engulfed the entire nation. Alwar and Bharatpur were
also not spared of these riots and in 1948 the Indian Government
took over the administration of these states in its hand as the
rulers failed to maintain peace. Neighboring to these states
were the smaller states of Dholpur and Karauli. On the advice of
the Indian Government, the four states agreed to unite to form
the Matsya Sangh, a name given to this area during the days of
the Mahabharat. The Sang came into existence on 18th March,
1948. the Maharaja of Dholpur was named as the Raj Pramukh and
the Maharaja of Karauli was named as Deputy Raj Pramukh.
Shobharam Kumawat of the Mewar Praja Mandal was elected as the
Prime Minister of the Sangh.
The next slip in the
integration of Rajasthan started in the Hadoti region. Kota,
Jhalawar and Dungarpur wanted to set up a union of smaller
states beyond the Aravalli range. Initially it was also proposed
to include Malwa and certain Central Indian states in this, but
that proposal did not find general acceptance. Banswara and
Pratapgarh also agreed to join the new formation. Kishangarh and
Sirohi also wanted to join the United Rajasthan. Ultimately nine
states viz. Banswara, Dugarpur, Pratapgarh, Kota, Bundi,
Jhalawar, Kishangarh, Shahpura and Tonk combined to form the new
union. The ruler of Kota was made the Rajpramukh whereas the
rulers of Bundi and Dungarpur were made Deputy Rajpramukhs. But
the ruler of Bundi was a stickler for protocol and a respecter
of past practices whereas he felt that Bundi should be accorded
seniority to Kota. To resolve the issue he suggested that the
Maharana of Udaipur be, asked to join the new formation and by
virtue of his seniority and status he would automatically be
made the Rajpramukh. But the Udaipur ruler insisted that the
other states should merge into Mewar. While this deadlock was
on, the Mewar Praja Mandal under Manikyalal Verma, protested
that the fate of 20 lakhs could not be left to the whims of a
single ruler. The prajandal leaders also felt that for the all
round progress and development of the people it was better if
Udaipur merged into United Rajasthan.
The United Rajasthan came into existence on 25th March, 1948 and
Gokul Lal Asawa became its first Prime Minister. Shortly
afterwards it was announced that the Mewar Maharana was also not
averse to joining the United Rajasthan. Two factors seem to have
induced this change in thinking of the Maharana. Firstly, the
Mewar Prajamanadal was largely successful in convincing the
masses that the progress and development was only possible if
Mewar joined the United Rajasthan. Furthermore the Mewar
Maharana’s viewpoint was increasingly seen as a step in taking
Mewar backwards. Secondly, the nobles of Mewar were also trying
to convince the Maharana that if Mewar continued as an
independent entity than the Maharana would have to bow to the
wishes of the Prajamandal leaders and their decisions. It was
also argued that in a United Rajasthan the influence of Mewar
Prajamandal leaders would not be so powerful. The Mewar Maharana
ultimately consented to join the United Rajasthan. As per terms
of the merger it was decided that the new Union would be called
“United States of Rajasthan”. The Udaipur Maharana was made the
Rajpramukh and the capital of the Union was Udaipur though one
session every year would be held in Kota. The new Union was
inaugurated by Pandit Nehru on 18th April, 1948.
Now only four states-Bikaner, Jaisalmer, Jaipur and Jodhpur –
were outside the Union. The fate of these states depended on the
amount of pressure the Praja Mandals in these respective states
could exert on their respective rulers. To illustrate this point
if we look at Udaipur and Kota where the Praja Mandal Movements
were very powerful, we find that the rulers were quick to agree
to merge into the Union. Whereas in the case of Bikaner, where
the Praja Mandal was comparatively weaker, the Bikaner Maharaja
held out his desire to maintain his independence. In Jodhpur the
situation was different. The Lok Parishad was very powerful but
the proximity to the Pakistan boarder and the desire of Maharaja
Hanuwant Singh to merge into Pakistan made him hesitant. The
Indian Government suggested that Jaisalmer, Bikaner and Jodhpur
should combine to make one centrally administered area. Under
such circumstances the demands of the Lok Parishad for
responsible governments etc. became rather less important. But
this scheme could not be implemented as even Sardar Patel felt
that public sentiments should be respected.
The rulers in these states at the same time realized that they
could not retain political power in their hand for long and they
would have to share them with the elected representatives. Under
such circumstances it was less dishonorable to lose power to
elected representatives within a larger union rather than in an
When it was clear
that Rajput states were slowly realizing that people’s wishes
could no longer be ignored in matters of governance, efforts
were intensified for the creation of a Greater Rajasthan. The
problems being faced by Manikya Lal Verma, the newly elected
Prime Minister of United Rajasthan, were a clear indication that
the feudal element in Rajput states was not easily adaptable to
changes in fortunes.
In May, 1948 the ‘Madhya Bharat Union’ (Central India Union) was
formed and even big and powerful states like Indore and Gwalior
agreed to join this Union. This led to demand for the creation
of ‘Brahad Rajasthan’ (Greater Rajasthan) which would include
the manor Rajput States. The Socialist Party took a step in this
direction by establishing an ‘Rajasthan Andolan Samiti’ at All
India level. The Samiti had the blessings of socialist leaders
of the stature of Jai Prakash Narayan and Ram Manohar Lohia.
The Diwan of Jaipur State opposed the formation of Greater
Rajasthan, as it would lead to hegemony of Rajput in Rajputana,
which was not in the interests of the Indian nation. He
advocated that Rajput States be divided into 3 units.
1. United Rajasthan to continue to exist as it was.
2. Jaipur, Alwar and Karauli to be merged into one unit.
3. Jodhpur, Bikaner and Jaisalmer combine to form a Western
4. Bharatpur and Dholpur may be merged into the neighboring
Sh. V. P. Menon and Bikaner Dewan Sh. C.S. Venkatacharya felt
that such a proposal would not be appreciated by the masses that
were now dreaming of a larger Rajasthan.
In Dec. 1948 on advice of Sardar Patel, V.P. Menon started
negotiations with rulers of Jodhpur, Bikaner and Jaipur on
formation of Greater Rajasthan. After initial hesitancy, the
rulers agreed to the formation of a Greater Rajasthan. The
Jaisalmer administration was already in the hands of Indian
On 14th January, 1949 the consent of the rulers of Jodhpur,
Jaipur and Bikaner to merge their states into Rajasthan was
announced, and thus finally the dream of Maharana Pratap of a
Greater Rajasthan came true.
Some questions immediately arose:
1. Who would be the Rajpramukh of this new Union?
2. Where could be the administrative capital located
To find solution to these questions V.P. Menon convened a
meeting of Gokul Bhai Bhatt, Manikya Lal Verma, Jai Narain Vyas
and Hira Lal Shastri – all prominent leaders of mass base.
It was proposed that Jaipur Maharaja Sawai Man Singh would be
appointed as Maharaja Pramukh looking to the special position
the Udaipur royal family enjoyed due to its past glorious
history. It was also decided that two or three I.C.S. officers
be appointed as Advisors in the new set up. It was also decided
that in case of a conflict between the ministry and these
advisors, the Indian Government would intervene and mediate.
It was further decided, upon advice of an expert committee, that
Jaipur would be the new administrative capital and to placate
the other manor cities it was also decided that some major
offices would be located in them. Thus Jodhpur got the High
Court, Education Dept. was given to Bikaner, Udaipur got the
Mining Dept. and the Agriculture Dept. was allotted to Bharatpur.
The next issue was the problem of the proposed Prime Minister of
Greater Rajasthan. Amongst the claimants were Hira Lal Shastri,
the Prime Minister, Jaipur and a proven administrator and Jai
Narayan Vyas, the undisputed leader of Lok Parishad from Jodhpur
– Manikya Lal Verma removed himself from the race by stating
that henceforth he would not accept any Government Office. Vyas
and Verma suggested the name of Gokul Bhai Bhatt for the post of
Prime Minister. The Government was keen to install Hira Lal
Shastri on this post, but this move was opposed by rest of the
leaders. Ultimately the rest of the leaders relented and Hira
Lal Shastri was accepted as the Prime Minister of Greater
Even fates and nature appeared to conspire against the formation
of Hira Lal Shastri’s Government, Firstly the Jaipur ruler was
seriously injured in an air-crash and secondly when Sardar Patel
came to Jaipur to inaugurate Greater Rajasthan, his plane
crash-landed and he could not make it in time. To compound
errors further during the inauguration Jai Narayan Vyas and
Manikya Lal Verma were not accorded proper courtesy which not
only annoyed them but their supporters as well. The consequence
of all this was that Shastri was denied the co-operation of both
Vyas and Verma in his cabinet formation. Some important
ministers in the Council of Ministers were Siddhraj Dhadda
(Jaipur), Prem Narain Mathur and Bhurelal Baya (Udaipur) Phool
Chand Bafna, Nar Singh Kacchwaha and Rao Raja hanuwant Singh
(Jodhpur), Raghuvar Dayal (Bikaner) and Ved Pal Tyagi (Kota).
The Hira Lal Shastri ministry did not last for even 2 years. The
establishment of Greater Rajasthan sounded the death-knell of
feudalism in Rajasthan.
Merger of Matsya Sangh
With the formation of Greater Rajasthan, the independent
existence of Matsya Sangh comprising of Alwar, Bharatpur,
Dholpur and Karauli States became untenable. In Alwar and
Karauli the public opinion was clearly in favor of merger with
Greater Rajasthan, though the position in Bharatpur and Dholpur
was not so clear. Sardar Patel deputed a committee under Dr.
Shankar Rao Dev to ascertain the public opinion in these two
states and the Committee reported that the people in these
states also favored merger. Thus the Indian Government agreed to
the merger of the Matsya Union States into Greater Rajasthan on
15th May, 1949. The popular leader of Matsya Sangh, Shri Shoba
Ram was inducted into the Council of Ministers.
It had been a
long-standing demand of the state of Gujarat that Mount Abu in
Sirohi State be made a part of it. Much against the wishes of
the people the States Department in November, 1947 agreed to
transfer Sirohi from the jurisdiction of Rajputana Agency and
bring in under the control of Gujarat Agency. In March, 1948 the
Gujarat States Agency, inclusive of Gujarati States, was sought
to be transferred to Bombay State. To avoid the transfer of
Sirohi to Bombay State, the people increased the demand for
merger of Sirohi into United Rajasthan. On the question of
Sirohi, Nehru and Sardar Patel differed radically, Nehru was of
the opinion that the people were justified in demanding the
inclusion of Sirohi into United Rajasthan whereas Patel was of
the view that Sirohi should go to Gujarat. In 1950, Patel handed
over Mont Abu and a part of Sirohi to Gujarat. This move led to
widespread agitation all over Sirohi under the leadership of
Gokul Bhai Bhatt. The injustice to Sirohi was ratified in
November, 1956 when Mount Abu and parts of Sirohi were restored
Merger of Ajmer
Ajmer came under the
category of Part C states – those small states like Ajmer and
Delhi which after 1947 were independent entities under a Chief
Commissioner appointed by the Central Government. Ajmer had an
assembly also prior to 1951, from 1947 onwards the Chief
Commissioner was assisted by an Advisory Council comprising of 7
members. The Congress leaders like Hari Bhau Upadhyaya, Bal
Krishna Kaul, and Pandit Mukul Behari Lal Bhargava were opposed
to merger of Ajmer into Rajasthan. In the election of 1952, Hari
Bhau Upadhyaya was elected as Chief Minister of Ajmer. Finally
in 1956 Ajmer was merged into Rajasthan.