Language Movements in India
The Samyukta Maharashtra Movemnet (1946-1960)

The problem of reorganising the States and demarcating their boundaries after setting conflicting claims considerable anxiety to the Government of India and the Congress party after the achievement of independence. It was a legacy of the pre-independence period during which the Congress committed itself to the idea of redrawing the map of India mainly on the linguistic basis. After the achievement of freedom, various linguistic groups demanded the redemption of the old pledge. However, apprehensive of the fissiparous tendencies that were supposed to lead eventually to the balkanisation of the country, the decision-makers, at first, tried unsuccessfully to shelve the issue of linguistic States. Later on, they grudgingly conceded the demands of various linguistic groups but not before sustained and powerful mass-movements, thriving on occasional outbursts of violence and police-repression, forced them to reconsider their earlier decisions.

The popular demand and agitation on this issue posed a serious threat to the unity and discipline not only within the ruling party but also within the opposition parties. The state leaders of the ruling party but invariably made convert and overt attempts to defy and pressurise the leadership of the centre. They associated themselves with the movements for separate States or the agitation on boundary-disputes and often acted in collusion with the opposition parties. At the state-level, the intra-party struggle for power between factions often became intense and a new leadership took over in the wake of such movements. Till the demand was conceded by the dacision-makers, the fortunes of the state branch of the ruling party fluctuated sharply giving a chance

to the weak opposition parties within that State to present a formidable challenge by entering into an uneasy alliance strengthened by the people. It was only when the agitation led by the opposition and joined by the Congress dissidents threatened the very survival of the ruling party in a State that the decision-makers responded by substantially conceding the demand of the bulk of the population in the State.

A study of the Samyukta Maharashtra Movement reveals this familiar general pattern. The rise and growth of the Samyukta Maharashtra movement must be studied not merely in the general context of the country-wide agitation for linguistic States but also in the particular context of the society and politics in Maharashtra. It is widely known that politicians from the different regions of Maharashtra (Western Maharashtra, Vidarbha and Marathwada) and even from the same region responded in different ways to the demand for a unilingual State of the Marathi-speaking people. There were sharp difference among them about the objective as well as the tactics to be adopted to reach the goal. Apprehensions and expectations of the people from the different regions were not always the same. Their support or opposition to the demand had its roots in the social, economic and political situation that prevailed in Maharashtra. The economic and political development of the regions largely determined the attitude of the people and their leaders towards the Samyukta Maharashtra movement. Factional fights within the five organisational units of the Congress in Maharashtra (the four P.C.C.s of Maharashtra wing of the Hydrabad Pradesh Congress Committee) also became intense on this issue as the movement reached its crescendo. Personal rivalries, ambitions and temperamental differences were partly responsible for the bitter intra-party struggle for power but partly it was also due to the socio-economic setting in which the factions operated. It was not a coincidence that new leadership emerged in the last phase of the Samyukta Maharashtra Movement which replaced the old guards who had controlled the Congress organisation in Maharashtra for more than two decades. the process was considerably accelerated by the Samyukta Maharashtra Movement. Hence it is necessary not to lose sight of the backdrop of the society and politics in Maharashtra.

At no time in the history of India, all the regions which now constitute the State of Maharashtra were politically one. They were ruled for centuries by different dynasties till Shivaji succeeded in carving out an independent kingdom for the Marathas in 1674. Despite Aurangazeb's bid to destroy then after Shivaji's death in 1680, the

Marathas continued to dominate politics in India. In the heyday of the Peshwas (the Brahmin chief ministers who usurped the power of the Maratha Chattrapatis (rulers), the descendants of the great Shivaji) they wielded considerable influence in the politics of North India. They were the most powerful opponents of the East India Company. During British rule, the Marathi-speaking people were scattered in the two British Indian provinces of Bombay and C.P. and Berar besides the State of Hydrabad and several other small States of the Maratha princes. After the defeat of the Peshwas in 1818, the Marathi-speaking people in the Bombay Presidency closely followed the people in Bengal in contributing to the increasing political awakening of the country during the nienteenth century. From the establishment of the Congress in1883 to Tilak's death in 1920, politicians from Western Maharashtra played a very prominent role in the freedom-struggle. It is this leading role played by them in shaping the destiny of India that has made the Maruthi-speaking people of their history and heritage (Govt. of India 1965 : 119).

It was not merely the extremist Tilak but also the moderate different regions of Maharashtra (Western Maharashtra, Ranade who successfully evoked the memory of Shivaji as a liberator and traced the Rise of Maratha Power. Since that time, nearly every important leader of Maharashtra invoked Shivaji with the result that Shivaji has ceased to be a great historical figure and has been transformed into a myth. Even the communists who warn others to be wary of regional chauvinism tended to glorify Shivaji's achivements1. Besides the cult of Shivaji, pride in their recent history has resulted in fostering
another illusion of the Marathi-speaking people. They seem to believe in a special historic mission of theirs to come to the rescue of India in its hour of crisis. This belief in the special role of Maharashtra was shared by even staunch nationalists like V. D. Savarkar and P. M. (popularly known as Senapati) Bapat2. During the Samyukta Maharashtra movement, opposition leaders in Maharashtra raised the slogan of a socialist Maharashtra in a socialist India. It was based on an assumption that in some special ways, the land of the Marathi-speaking people was congenial to the growth of socialism. This belief was shared by even senior Congress leaders like N. V. Gadgil. (Gadgil 1955 : latter to Nehru, Gadgil 1965 : 542). More recently during the Congress split of 1969-70, the Maharashtra Congress leaders repeatedly talked of a special responsibility of Maharashtra and urged caution. Such slogans or arguments were subtle variations of the same theme. Assuming that they were meant merely for public consumption and that the leaders themselves did not cherish such ideas, the very fact that they were often repeated is adequate to prove its general appeal.

The sense of pride in their recent past coupled with the belief in a special role for Maharashtra led to another tacit assumption of the Marathi-speaking people. They seem to believe that they should be always in the forefront of the country's politics as they had been in the past four centuries. after Tilak's death in 1920, for more than four decades, no Marathi-speaking leader exercised any similar enormous influence in the top echelons of the Congress under Gandhi and Nehru. In the Gendhian era, the Marathi-speaking Congressmen like Shankarrao Deo, N. V. Gadgil, S. K. Patil and others belonged to the second line of leadership in the Congress and could not influence or share in the decision-making process at the hishest level of the party. In the intra-party wrangles, they were invariably at the receiving end. None of the Maharashtra contingent was ever regarded as a member of the Congress High Command in the Nehru era. The absence of the Marathi-speaking leaders in the decision-making group of the Congress led to the belief that Maharashtra was lagging behind and had a secondary position in Indian politics. the fact that Maharashtra Congress leaders were occupying back-seats was bemoaned by not only Congressmen but also by non-Congress leaders. Ambedkar 1950: 28, Bhagwat 1949 : 1, Vividh Vritta 1930 : 11-12). What was even more significant was that several leaders and leading intellectuals of Maharashtra often gave vent to this feeling during the post-independence period when the Congress High Command persisted in refusing to concede the demand for Samyukta Maharashtra.

The socio-economic conditions have also considerably influenced the course of the Samyukta Maharashtra Movement. Barring the industrially advanced Bombay-Poona region, the rest of Maharashtra is even now industrially as underdeveloped as several other States in India. nearly 70 per cent of its people living in rural areas depend on agriculture for their livelihood. As the percentage of the net irrigated area to the cultivated area is extremely low and the rainfall irregular, scanty and undependable, agriculture in Maharashtra has invariably been affected by the vagaries of the monsoon. During British rule, major irrigation schemes were undertaken only in the Deccan. As the storage sites for construction of dams on the rivers in Gujarat were to be located in the former princely states which were not eager to co-operate, Gujarat had to wait till independence for the implementation of major and minor irrigation schemes (Patel, 1957 : 25-35). Compared to Gujarat, Maharashtra was in a slightly better position. While the percentage of irrigated area to the percentage of the total cultivated area in Gujarat was about 4.3 per cent in 1952-53, it was only 7 per cent in Maha Vidarbha (i. e. the Marathi-speaking areas of

Madhya Pradesh) aganist 5 per cent for the entire Bombay State. The policy of the Bomaby Government to spend more on the major and minor irrigation works in Gujarat in the post-independence era was resented by the people in Maharastra. The official explanation underlined the need to clear the backlog of dvvelopment in the relatively underdeveloped areas in order to bring about a balanced development of the entire state. The Marathi-speaking peoplpe, however, interpreted it as a stepmotherly treatment given to them by a Gujarati-dominated government. In particular, the dalay in the implementation of the Koyna project was severly criticised. though the Koyna scheme was accepted by the Government in 1951-52, its implementation was delayed thereafter by more than three years. In contrast, the unsually large amount spent on the electricity works and tube-wells in Gujarat at the cost of Maharashtra (Gadgil 1953: letter to Nehru, Ambedkar 1955:22). With the launching of the five-year plans, more complaints were made both privately and publicly by the Marathi-speaking about the treatment meted to the majority in the Bombay State. Their grievance was that Maharashtra was getting less than what was due. Despite official denails, this continued to be a major theme of the speeches made by the Marathi-speaking opposition leaders in the Bombay legislature till 1960. Tied by the rules of party discipline, the Marathi-speaking Congressmen rarely gave public expression to this grieance but within the party, they did not conceal their dissatisfaction from the Cogress High Command and repeatedly drew attention to the injustice suffered by Maharashtra.

The Marathi-seaking people who were in a minority in Madhya Pradesh nursed a similar grievance and protested frequently aganist theincreasing tendency of the MP Government to spend proportionately more money on the Hindi-speaking tracts than on the Marathi-speaking areas. Though the per capita income or contribution to State Exchequer (excluding grants from the centre) from the Marathi areas was proportionately more than that from the Hindi areas, the Government, it was believed, enriched the Hindi districts at the cost of the Marathi districts (Samyukta Maharashtra Parishad 1954:8). As cotton, jower and oil-seeds are the main products of Maha Vidarbha, it was felt that its link with the Bombay market would prove more beneficial than its association with the Hindi areas which produced rice and wheat. Itwas alleged that as linguistic considerations played a decisive role in planning and development, all major irrigation schemes involving an expenditure of more than three crores were loacated in the Hindi areas and not even one was undertaken in Maha Vidharbha.

With a population of about 55 lakhs and an annual revenue of about 7 crores, the Marathwada district constituted the most backward region of Maharashtra. Except the two textile mills at Nanded and Aurangabad, there were practically no big industries. As about 6 per cent of its land was irrigated it depended mainly on dry cultivation of cotton, jowar, oil-seeds and wheat (Samyukta Maharashtra 1954:8). It ws this Similarity between the agricultural products of the two regions that made Brijlal Biyani and other sponsors of a separate State of Maha Vidarbha dream of persuading the Marathwada leaders to join of Maha Vidarbha dream of persuading the Marathwada leaders to join hands with them. But as the Marathwada districts also found it profitable to have links with the Bombay market they opted for merger with the relatively more advanced Bombay State rather than with the proposed state of Maha-vidarbha. For them it meant starting with a clean slate because the Nizam never cared to developed the region during his rule. As the Marathi-speaking people were in a minority in the Hyderabad State, they felt that even after the Police Action of September 1948, Marathwada continued to suffer and starve and more was spent on the Telangana districts.

One of the striking features of the economy of Maharashtra is the predominant position enjoyed by the non-Marathi-speaking businessmen, shopkeepers and industrialists who outnumber the few Marathi-speaking enterpreneurs and traders. Even during their ascendancy the rulers of Maharashtra from Shivaji to the peshwas invited and encouraged traders from Gujarat and Rajasthan to settle down in Maharashtra. The Bohras, the Khojas and the Parsis who are widely known as the trading communities, also migrated from Gujarat to Bombay during British rule. The Komtis from Andhra and the Lingayat Vanis from Karnataka also enjoyed influence in certain areas of Maharashtra. However, barring the small number of Vaishyas in the Konkan districts, the only section of society of the Marathi-speaking people which could be regarded as a class of traders consisted of the Madhyandin Deshastha Brhmins who were more known as money-lenders (Karve 1968:81). Several of them were also landowners whose land was cultivated by their tenants. It was not, therefore, surprising that the twin targets of the anti-Brahmin movement, which gathered strength in the twenties and the thirties, were the non-Marathi-speaking Shetji (a rich person) and the Marathi-speaking Bhatji (a Brahmin priest).

Out of the two, it was easier to dislodge the Brahmins from positions of power since whatever influence they exercised was primarily political rather than economic in nature. In their attempt to weaken the nationlist struggle for freedom, the British rulers instigated and

blessed the efforts of the non-Brahmin leaders to occupay as many positions under the Government as was possible. The leaders and supporters of the non-Brahmin movemnet included not merely those who beloged to the economically and educationally more advanced castes like the Chandraseniya Kayastha Prabhus (CKP). The Jainsfrom little more than one per cent of the total population of Maharashtra and though the Jain Gujars, for instance, originally came from outside Maharashtra, they, especially the Jain peasants, joined hands with the Marathas and the CKP's in challenging the hegemony of the Brahmins.

With the achievement of independence, the ruling Congress was bound to be managed and controlled by the non-Brahmins who formed the bulk of the population (Durgadas 1972:255). This was inevitable in a case ridden society which accepted adult franchise and a framework of a democratic government. The aftermath of the tragic assassination of Gandhiji made the Brahmins feel more insecure especially in the rural areas of Western Maharashtra. The influence of the Brahmins began to wane. The implementation of tenancy legislation in the first decade after independence with its objective to abolish intermediaries seems to have hastened this process. In the taluks of Western Maharashtra, the lessor-lessee division broadly ran parallel to the higher caste (Brahmin) and the upper middle caste (Marathas) division. Apparently, preponderance of the Brahmins among the lessors ensured a higher degree of success for the Maratha lessees in the matter of effective purchase under which the lessees acquire the land and the lessors have to lose (i.e. sell) it (Dostwala and Shah 1971 : 55-60).

Thus, because of a variety of reasons, the educated Brahmins began to flock to the urban areas, particularly the Bombay-Poona belt, in search of job opportunities. Their tendency to migrate to cites like Bombay seeking independent occupations or managerial positions in private enterprise than seek service under the Government was also clearly visible. After independence the thin ranks of the Marathi-speaking entrepreneurs began to grow with the addition of some upper-caste-people who dared sail on the uncharted sea of trade and commerce. Evidently, they found it difficult to complete with their established non-Marathi-speaking rivals as well as the newcomers like the Sindhis and the Punjabis, who, with their enormous experience and enterprise, had firmly entrenched themselves in Bombay's business-world. Hoping to secure better opportunities and more favourable atmosphere in Samyukta Maharashtra, the small class of the Marathi-speaking entrepreneurs led by Kirloskkars and Dahanakars strongly supported the cause of Samyukta Maharashtra with Bombay as its

capital. The calculation, perhaps, was that 'as sons of the soil' they would again more by sponsoring projects such as the Koyna project or demands such as the demand for Samyukta Maharashtra.

Another important feature of Maharashtra's economy is its pathetic dependence on the Bombay Metropolitan region. It accounts for 75 per cent of the industrial activity in Maharashtra and nearly 65 per cent of the factory workers in the State. It is because of Greater Bombay that Maharashtra appears to be India's most urbanished and industrially advanced State. But excluding Greater Bombay, even now, it is not merely as backward as any other state in India but in certain respects indeed more backward than many other less industrialized parts of the country. The infrastructure of the economy of rural Maharashtra is not much developed, Villages in Maharashtra generally lack adequate means of transport and communication. Particularly road mileage in Maharashtra is found woefully inadequate when compared to that in many less industrialized states in India (Maharashtra Economic Development Council 1970:76). Among the regions of Maharashtra, Western Maharashtra has better transport facilities like the railways and the national highways compared on Bombay in such a way as to link it to its vast hinterland which serves as a feeder. In view of this almost total dependence of Western Maharastra particularly the Konkan districts on Greater Bombay, it was not surprising that the attempt to separate the city from its hinterland was opposed with greater intensily by the people in this area compared to those in the other regions of Maharashtra.

Bombay city's extraordinary rapid growth began during and after the second world war and gathered considerable speed in the first decade after independence. It resulted in the decline in status of the Marathi-speaking people who enjoyed upto independence a clear majority in the city as is evident from the Census Reports of 1921, 1931 and 1941 (Samyukta Maharashtra Parished ND). The Census of 1951, however, revealed that the Marathi-speaking people including the Konkani-speaking people formed nearly 48 per cent of the city's population. Thus they were no longer a majority group but were merely the largest single group in the city. Population of Greater Bombay increased at the unprecedented of 7.6% per annum between 1941-51 and at a rate of 3.9 per cent per annum in the next decade. This spectacular growth was largely due to migration of the people from outside Maharashtra. Nearly 64% of the population of Greater Bombay consisted of migrants according to the Census of 1961. about 65 per cent of them came from outside the state (28.5% from North India,

190/0 from Gujarat and Rajasthan and the rest from the Southern states) and out of the remaining 35% coming from Maharastra excluding Greater Bombay, 23 per cent hailed from Kolaba and Ratnagari (Sahasrabuddhe 1967;90).

By and large, the Marathi-speaking migrants to Greater Bombay were job-seekers rather than job-givers. With the increasing influx of the people from other parts of India, they had to face severe competition with the coming from the Southern states of India. 'The sons of soil' felt that the non-Marathi-speaking entrepreneurs proferred to recruit people from their own region rather than from Maharastra (Anonynous N.D.). They also believed that the Government of the composite Bombay State was dominated by Gujaratis and hence it would not care to take any measure to safeguard the legitimate interests of the local people. They imagined that if a separate State of the Marathi-speaking people was formed, the government would certainly implement a programme of decentralization of industries and thus restrict the dangerous swelling of Bombay city and its suburbs. The compromise solutions of a separate city-state or a centrally administered area of Bombay were not acceptable to the marathi-speaking people in Greater Bombay because such solutions were not at all likely to give them any sense of security and confidence. Hence they refused to accept any alternative except the inclusion of Bombay in a unilingual state of Maharashtra.

It was not merely the synchronization of the interests of a small section of the Marathi-speaking entrepreneurs and the larger section of the middle class and the working class in Greater Bombay that provided the driving force of the Samyukta Maharashtra Movement. Equally important was the deep-seated feeling of dissatisfaction held by the dominant groups of the Maratha-Kunbi caste-cluster in rural Maharashtra. They resented the inadequate representation given to tem in the Bombay cabinets of 9137-39 as well as of 1946-52 and did not like the subordinate role which they had to play in a government dominated by a combination of Gujarati Brahmins and Banias. A separate Sate of the Marathi-speaking Brahmins was possible. By raising the spectre of the Maratha caste-cluster's hegemony, the Gujarati-speaking leaders who opposed Samyukta Maharashtra often urged the Marathi-speaking Brahmins to give up their demand. Though a majority of the letter refused to be frightened by this nightmare not a negligible section of Brahmins did feel assured by the presence of the Gujarati-speaking

Brahmins at the helm of affairs. These people were lukewarm in their support to the demand for Samyukta Maharashtra and felt relieved when the Congress High Command decided to experiment with the bigger bilingual Bombay State in 1956. The fear of the tyranny of the majority rule of the Marathas haunted the mind of B. R. Ambedkar who apprehended that the position of the weaker sections like the Scheduled Castes would be worse in a single state of the Marathi-speaking people.

Unlike the powerful movements for the creation of separate provinces of Bihar, Orissa, Andhra and Karnataka, the campaign for the formation of Samyukta Maharashtra was relatively of recent origin. Though some prominent intellectuals and well-known Marathi writers such as N. C. Kelkar, S. V. Ketkar, V. V. Tamhankar, Vinoba Bhave, D. R. Gadgil, K. S. Thackeray, D. V. Potdar and G. T. Madkholkar supported the demand for the unification of Maharashtra in the first four decades of the present century, no vigorous campaign was launched till 1946. Congress leaders from Maharashtra did not evince any interest in the early attempts made by the Samyukta Maharashtra. Sabha in 1940 to mobilize public opinion for the unification of Maharshtra. They believed that the creation of linguistic provinces was a secondary question which could be tackled after independence (Deo 1946 : 7). When asked about the cause of this attitude, several maharashtra leaders of to-day attributed it to the greater political consciousness of the marathi-speaking people. It is difficult to accept this over-simplified explanation of a much more complex phenomenon.

A study of the movements for separate linguistic provinces of Bihar, Assam, Orissa, Andhra and Karnataka reveals certain common causes which seemed to have stimulated and strengthened the popular feeling for linguistic provinces. Firstly, the Hindi-speaking people of Bihar or the Assamese or the Oriyas or the Telugus or the kannadigas were in a minority in Bengal, Madras and Bombay Presidencies or provinces respectively. Secondly, these minorities nursed certain grievances over the years and felt that they were given stepmotherly treatment by the largest linguistic group in each of the three provinces. Thirdly, there existed in each province a vocal educated middle class representing these minorities which felt that in matters of getting jobs, they were subjected to severe and, according to them, unfair competition with the Bengalis, the tamilians and the Marathi-speaking Brahmins were in the forefront of the agitation for Andhra and Karnataka in the pre-Independence period for they were outnumbered by the Tamil-speaking Brahmins and the Marathi-speaking Brahmins who dominated the services in Madras and Bombay.

The Marathi-speaking Congressmen from Bombay could afford to wait till independence because the Marathi-speaking people were in a clear majority in the Bombay province and whatever little developmental expenditure was incurred by the Government during British rule, did benefit them on account of their sheer number. Both the Gujaratis and the Lingayats (the largest single Kannada-speaking community in Bombay provinces). Never showed any genuine interest in competing for Government jobs and preferred to confine themselves to their traditional occupations such as trade and commerce or agriculture. In C. P. and Bihar, the Marathi-speaking people were in a minority but economically and educationally they were relatively less backward than the Hindi-speaking people of the Mahakoshal region. As in the State of Hydrabad they dominated politics and administration for a very long time. It was only as a sequel to the ouster of N.B.Khare as the premier of C.P. and Berar in 1938 that many of them lost their influence and though some of them could see the shape of things to come, they failed to evoke public enthusiasm on a large scale for their demand for the unification of Maharashtra. There was a perceptible and rapid change in this situation after 1946. It was increasingly felt by the Marathi-speaking minorities in Bombay that political power was effectively exercised by the Hindi-Telugu and Gujarati-speaking politicians respectively. Above all, they felt that the economic development of their areas was neglected by their opponents who delivered the meager funds to their own region under one pretext or the other.

The year 1946 marked the beginning of a really vigorous campaign in support of the cause of Samyukta Maharashtra. The demand was revived at the thirtieth session of the Marathi Sahitya Parishad held at Belgaum on 12th may 1946. In his Presidential Address, G.T.Modkholkar urged the Maharashtra Congress leaders to emulate their colleagues like Pattabhi Sitaramayya and Rangarao Diwakar who were working with great zeal for the formation of linguistic provinces (Madkholkar 1946:77). Shankarrao Deo and K.M.Jedhe, two senior Congress leaders responded favourably and re in a Deo became the most prominent leader of an all-party organization called the Samyukta Maharashtra Parishad. It was primarily intended to reflect rather than act and it tried to overcome the hurdles by resorting to methods of persuasion and negotiation. As it was dominated by the Congress leaders it would have been surprising had it used other methods. It was bound to crack when the Congress High Command refused to be convinced about the merits of their case. Yet it deserves credit for putting forward the demand for Samyukta

Maharashtra with the backing of people from different regions of Maharashtra. Though it always get full support from marathwada, an influential section in Maha Vidarbha persisted in refusing to co-operate with it. The samyukta Maharashtra Parishad leaders. However, managed to weaken considerably the Maha Vidarbha movement by signing the Akola Pact (8 August 1947) and the Nagpur agreement (28 September 1953). Largely because of D.R. Gadgil the Parishad also succeeded in providing a rationale to its demand which was merely accepted by its successor, the opposition-led Samyukta Maharashtra Samiti formed on 6th February 1956. the samiti was a united front of opposition parties which discarded the Parishad;s politics of petitions, protests and prayers which failed to secure an amicable settlement of the question of Bombay's inclusion in Maharashtra.

The greatest obstacle in the path of the proponents of Samyukta Maharashtra was the tremendous opposition which they encountered over the inclusion of Bombay in Maharashtra. Had they have been willing to give up their claims to the city, the Congress High Command would have readily consented to the formation of a unilingual Maharahtra as it did earlier when the Telugu-speaking people reconciled themselves to the loss of the city of madras. But the Marathi-speaking people never gave up their demand refused to accept the second-best solution of a bilingual Bombay State. The Bombay Pradesh Congress Committee and the Gujarat Pradesh Congress Committee supported by powerful pressure groups like the Bombay Committee which later on itself as the Bombay Citizens' Committee and the Indain Merchants' Chamber were arrayed against them in the fierce battle for Bombay city. Above all, the CHC invariably aligned with the opponents of the demand. Hence the pro-Samyukta Maharashtra Congressmen found themselves in an unenviable position. Some of them including Y.B. Chavan shrewdly preffered to obey the Congress High Command and incurred the displeasure of the people in Maharashtra whilemany others including Deo, N.V. Gadgil and B.S. Hiray lost the goodwill and support of both the people and the top leadership of the party.

The battle for Bombay had four distinct phases. During the first phase (1946 to 17 November 1955) under the leadership of the Samyukta Maharashtra Parishad, the supporters of Samyukta Maharashtra tried to bargain with their opponents by giving certain guarantees and by agreeing to provide safe-guards to protect their legitimate interests (Dec. 1954: letter to Thakurdas). But the Bombay Citizens' Committee led by Purshottamdas Thakurdas was quite adamant and reiterated its demand for a separate city-state of Bombay (Dec. 1954: letter to Ali). The States Reorganisation Commission (SRC)

Particularly its Chairman, fazi Ali, also made efforts to bring about an amicable settlement of the Bombay problem by encouraging the parties to the dispute to resolve their differences through discussions. For quite some time, the SRC toyed with the idea of a sub-federation as a possible solution to the problem of Bombay State (Bombay Citizens' Committee Files 1954). But the idea was given up in view of the opposition of the industrialists and businessmen from Bombay. Afterwards the SRC seems to have toyed with another idea. According to this plan, Bombay city was to be given the status of a Metropolitan Authority with enhanced powers of the Bombay Municipal Corporation. The industrialists of Bombay were not willing to accept such a plan (Deo 1954: letter from Sovani). The publication of the SRC report did not create any stir in Bombay city where the Marathi-speaking people received it with calm and understanding. They SRC not only rejected the demand for Samyukta Maharastra including Bombay city but also excluded Mahavidarbha from the "balanced" bilingual state of Bombay by proposing its formation as a separate state. The first few weeks after the publication of the SRC report passed off without any untoward incident because of the lingering hope of the common people shared also by some opposition leaders that the Maharashtra Congress leaders would succeed in persuading the Congress High Conmmand to concede their demand. The calm which prevailed in the city, however, was deceptive. The first rumbligs of the seething mass could be heard in the largely attended protest meetings. As days rolled by, they attracted lakhs of people. This was a sure indication of the depth of the feeling of injustice shared by the majority of the Marathi-speaking people.

The second phase in the battle for Bombay city (18 November 1955 to 5 February 1956) was marked by a completed breakdown in the bargaining process and the ecipse of the Samyukta Maharastra Parishad followed by an unprecedented eruption of violence in the absence of effective leadership to channelise the people's discontent. Before the Paliament concluded its discussion on the SRC report, the Bombay Municipal Corporation passed a resolution moved by opposition corporators demanding the inclusion of Bombay in Samyukta Maharashtra (22 December 1955). Despite a clear majority of the Congress members in the Corporation, the resolution was carried by 63 votes against none thanks to the dissensions among the Congress corporators.

The Maharashtra Pradesh Congress leaders could not, however, make up their minds whether they should accept a city-state of Bombay as a lesser evil or whether they should support the move to makeBombay city a centrally-administered area. Their fickleness was quite annoying to many but if anyone suffered most because of it, it was C.D. Deshmukh, Maharashtra's sole representative in the Union Cabinet. What made his position still more embarrassing was that he was not always kept fully informed by the MPCC laders of their fluctuating preferences. TH Prime Minister, Jawaharlal Nehru, also did not think it wrong to announce the decision to make Bombay city a centrally administrated are without getting the sancton of the entire cabinet. Deshmukh came to know about the decision only when the Prime Minister's announcement was reported by the newspapers (Kesari 1960; deshmukh's interview). This decision led to violent Protest and loss of life in Bombay. (Bombay Legislative Council Debates 1956 Vol 34, p. 10).

The uproar in Bombay made the Congress High Command reconsider its decision to have a centrally administrated Bombay City. The Union Home Minister, Pant in particular was inclined to support the idea of a bigger bilingual Bombay state which was acceptable to the MPCC but was rejected earlier by the Gujarat Pradesh Congress Committee.

The third phase in the battle for Bombay began with the formation of the Samyuktha Maharashtra Samiti (6 February 1956) an alliance of the opposition parties and ended with the formation of a bigger bilingual Bombay state on 1st November 1956. During this period of about nine months, the bulk of the population in Western Maharashtra, disgusted with the vacillations of the MPCC leaders, turned towards the Samiti led by S.M. Joshi and S.A. Dange channelised their anger by organizing Satyagraha and other peaceful forms of agitation, occasionally there was an outburst of mass-violence against the provocative tactics adopted by their opponents. This period also witnessed the mediatory efforts by the Sarvodaya leaders Vinoba Bhave and Jayaprakash Narayan as well as the discreet canvassing by Pant for a bigger bilingual Bombay state which was described as a 'national' solution to the Bombay problem as it was sponsored by members belonging to various parties in the Parliament.

During the fourth and the last phase of the battle for Bombay (1 November 1956 to 1 May 1960) the older leadership of the Congress in the Bombay State changed yielding place to now; this was a critical moment in the history of the party. But the Congress continued to

lose by-elections and its reverses in Bombay city in particular and also in Marathwada caused consternation among the Congress leaders.

Alarmed by the distinct possibility of losing power in the Bombay States in the elections of 1962, the Congress High Command responded wellin advance and decided to bifurcate the Bombay state. The realization of the goal of Samyukta Maharashtra was the result of response given by the ruling party to the chllenge of the opposition.