Merger of Rajput states in the Indian Union

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Merger 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 government.
(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 opposition.


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.


United Rajasthan

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 independent state.


Greater Rajasthan

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 Rajasthan Union.
4. Bharatpur and Dholpur may be merged into the neighboring Uttar Pradesh.

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 Government.

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 Rajasthan.

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.


Problem of Sirohi

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 to Rajasthan.


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.


Rajasthan Information: History - Culture - Heritage - Music - Dance - Art - Architecture - Society

Sources of the History and Culture of Rajasthan
(From earliest times up to 1200 A.D.)

Rajput - Muslims Relations
 (1200 – 1526 A.D.)

Architecture in Rajasthan (1200 – 1800 A.D.)

Kalibangan - the largest prehistoric site in Rajasthan

Excavations at Ahar (South Rajasthan)

Origin of the Rajputs

Origin of the Guhilas, their Rise and Bappa Rawal in Rajasthan

Moguls & Chauhans Resistance in Rajasthan

Rawal Ratan Singh of Rajasthan and his Resistance against the Turks

Maharana Kumbha (1433 – 1468) and his Political Achievements

Maharana Kumbha & his Cultural Achievements

Maharana Sanga & his Achievements (1508 – 1528 A.D.)

Rajasthani Paintings Schools

Merger of Rajput states in the Indian Union

Resistance of Mahararana Pratap of Mewar Against Akbar

Maratha - Rajputs Relations

Raja Man Singh of Amber

Rathore – Sisodia Alliance & Achievements of Raj Singh in Mewar

Role of Durga Dass Rathor in the history of Rajasthan

Sawai Jai Singh of Jaipur , Mughals and Marathas

Rajasthan’s Cultural Heritage


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