Samyukta Maharashtra Samiti

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Flora Fountain was renamed Hutatma Chowk ("Martyr's Square") as a memorial to the Samyukta Maharashtra movement. The Hutatma Chowk memorial with the Flora Fountain, on its left in the background.

Samyukta Maharashtra Movement (or Sanyukta Maharashtra Andolan) was an organisation that, starting in 1956, demanded the creation of a separate Marathi-speaking state out of the (then-bilingual) State of Bombay in western India, with the city of Bombay as its capital.[1] Similarly, in 1956 the Mahagujarat Movement started agitation for creation of separate Gujarati-speaking State out of Bombay State, which became the state of Gujarat.

The Samyukta Maharashtra Movement achieved its aim when the present state of Maharashtra was created on 1 May 1960. The state reorganization left Marathi-speaking areas in Northern Karnataka, such as Belgaon, outside Maharashtra. The newly liberated people of Goa in a 1967 referendum rejected merger with Maharashtra.

Samyukta Maharashtra Movement : S.M.

1 May 2010 is the Golden Jubilee of the formation of Maharashtra state. On this occasion, it was necessary to make today's youth aware of the history of the formation of our state, the struggle that had to be waged to get Samyukta Maharashtra, including the city of Mumbai, the nature of that struggle, the leaders of that struggle and other details. This is all the more necessary especially on the background of the violent and destructive nature of the agitation that took place recently for the establishment of the separate state of Telangana. These days, agitations and protests have reached the lowest levels of violence, stone pelting and damaging of public property. However, the agitation for Samyukta Maharashtra was very different : it was aggressive in its demand no doubt; but it was not violent. It consisted of satyagraha and non cooperation within the framework of democracy. Together with Satyagraha, the struggle adopted the constitutional tool of contesting the elections. The agitation demonstrated that in a democracy it was possible to achieve the desired goal, without recourse to violent means, if the demand had popular support. It is true that at some stage of the agitation, violence did erupt - 105 people were victims of police firing - but at that juncture, the people of Mumbai and Maharashtra were without an organised movement led by an able leadership. A chaotic situation prevailed. There was a dire need to channelise people's anger into an organised well directed and non-violent, peaceful agitation. Any such agitation needs a leader of exceptional integrity, efficiency and toughness. The socialist leader S. M. Joshi proved to be such a leader; he formed the Samyukta Maharashtra Samiti under these trying circumstances and discharged the responsibilities of the General secretary of the Samiti. He gave a morally correct orientation to the agitation, achieved essential unity of all opposition parties and adopted the tool of Satyagraha to achieve the goal of Samyukta Maharashtra, including Mumbai. That is why his contribution as one of the leading architects of Samyukta Maharashtra is truly invaluable. It would be appropriate to take a brief review of history of this issue. The congress party had decided in 1929 to reorganise the states of India on linguistic basis after India won its freedom. The rationale for this was that for democracy to take root the language of the state administration should be the people's language, the language they could understand. In British rule Maharashtra (then Bombay), Andhra Pradesh (then Andhra), Tamil Nadu (then Madras) and Kerala were provinces with more than one language. The need for speakers of Marathi, Telegu, Tamil and Malayalam languages to have their own state was being felt strongly. Marathi-speaking areas were spread over Bombay presidency, Madhya Pradesh and the princely state of Hydrabad. With the objective of integrating these areas into one state peacefully through negotiations, the Samyukta Maharashtra Parishad was constituted on 24 July 1946. This body was headed by Shankarrao Deo. Its members included representatives of the Congress and other parties and also some independent individuals of importance. India became independent on 15 August 1947. After this, the Constituent Assembly was formed to prepare the Constitution Of India. Rajendra Prasad was its chairman. Members of the assembly representing the four provinces mentioned above were pressuring the chairman for the formation of language-based states. Rajendra Prasad prevailed upon prime minister Jawaharlal Nehru to appoint Dar commission to examine this issue. The report of this commission was severely criticized because the commission had merely recommended to postpone any decision on this issue. This was due to representations submitted by non Marathi people and institutions of Mumbai expressing their fears to be a part of Maharashtra (Marathi speaking) state. The big capitalists and businessmen of Mumbai who were mainly Gujarathis and Marwadis expressed their unfounded fears to the commission. Further, the then Mumbai congress committee, led by S.K. Patil submitted a representation that Mumbai city should not be included in the state of Maharashtra. The Dar Commission considered all these representations and recommended the postponement of decision on this issue. The congress party then appointed a new committee consisting of Jawaharlal Nehru, Vallabhbhai Patel and Pattabhi Sitaramaiyya to examine the issue and make recommendations. This committee also recommended postponement. 3. Observing that the government was not taking this issue seriously, a Gandhian activist of Andhra, Potti Sriramulu sat on a fast unto death, to press the demand for language based states. Nobody took serious notice of this fast. Potti Sriramulu passed away on the 58th day of his fast on 15 th December 1952. This triggered unprecedented rioting in Andhra. Property worth cores went up in smoke. This compelled Nehru to agree to the formation of a Telugu speaking Andhra state. Andhra Pradesh came into existence as a new state in October 1953. After this a new states Recorgnisation Commission consisting of Syed Fazal Ali, Hridaynath Kunzru, and KM Panikker was constituted. This commission recommended the formation of a balanced bilingual state. This included Gujarat, including Saurashtra and Kutch areas and Maharashtra excluding Vidrarbha. Further the southern proviences of Mumbai presidency - Belgaum, Dharwad, Karwar and Bijapur were to go to Karanataka. Although the Belgaum and Khanapur Talukas were Marathi speaking, they were to go to Karnataka for the convenience of their administration. Mumbai was to be the capital city of this new bilingual states. The plan recommended by Kunzra committee was not liked by anybody, even Nehru disapproved of it. He got another plan for Trifurcation of the province approved by all India congress committee on 9 November 1955. This envisaged

  1. An independent Mumabi city
  2. Maharashtra inclusive of Vidarbha and
  3. Gujarath inclusive of Saurashtra and Kutch.

This development caused extensive and serious discontent in Maharashtra. It was inconceivable for Maharashtrians to think of Maharashtra without Mumbai. Mumbai had to be an integral part of the proposed Maharashtra State. Declaration of this trifurcation was scheduled to be done on 16 January 1956. Large scale rioting erupted in Mumbai on the previous night. People had assembled from distant places. Morarji Desai was then the chief Minister. The police had to resort to firing to control the rioting mob. Some 90 people lost their lives and hundreds were injured. Further, a Morcha of about 1,00,000 to 1,25,000 marched to the state assembly while it was debating a proposal for a balanced bilingual state. Police had to again resort to firing, which left 15 dead and 400 to 500 injured. At that time shri SM Joshi came out from the assembly hall and led the Morcha to Chowpatti. Had he not done so, the agitated mob would have damaged public property on a large scale, and further firing would have been necessary to control the violence. The morcha then went to chowpatty where Senapati Bapat presided over the huge public meeting. The slogan of that occasion was : "Samykta Maharashtra inclusive of Mumbai, Belgaum, Karwar, Dangs, Goa, Nipani must be created." This police action and the large-scale firing causing so many deaths and injuries, disturbed Shankarao Deo to such an extent that he dissolved the Samyukta Maharashtra Parishad on 20 January 1956. Further, there was a split amongst the congressmen. Shri. Bhausaheb Hire and Shri Shankarav Deo were leading the Parishad. Shri Yashwantrao Chavan revolted against their leadership. He took the stand that he would support Nehru if it was a question of choosing between Nehru and Samyukta Maharashtra. Thus, a crisis arose in conducting the agitation for Samyukta Maharashtra. However, the agitation continued hereafter in a systematic manner. The following is a brief review of developments that took place. Organisation of Samyukta Maharashtra Samiti - 1956 : The split in congress leadership and dissolution of the Parishad by shri Shankararao Deo caused a vacuum in the leadership of the agitation. In this situation shri SM Joshi took the initiative and convened a meeting of leading figures of the agitation at the Suvarnakar Dharmashala in Pune. The meeting approved that Shri. SM Joshi should now lead the agitation. Next was a meeting of workers of all the parties on 6 February 1956, Shri. Keshavrao Jedhe presided over the meeting. The Samyukta Maharashtra Samiti was formally constituted at this meeting and shri SM Joshi was declared as the General Secretary of the Samiti. Satyagraha : Soon a Satyagraha was launched which began from 9 March 1956. Decision in the Parliament : The issue of trifurcation (formation of 3 states) was taken up by the Loksahba on 6 August During the debate on the resolution for the three-state formula on 7 August, MP's shri Frank Anthony Shri. Tulshidas Kalichand moved an amendment in favour of a Greater Bilingual state. MPs shri Kripalani, Shri. Ashok Mehta, Shri. C. D. Deshmukh and others supported the amendment which was passed on 9 August by 341 votes against 40 votes. This scheme had kept the dispute of bordering towns aside. The decision immediately led to mass protests. Students in Ahmedabad came out on the streets in protest. Police firing claimed 15 lives. Gujaratis demanded Mahagujarat state and Marathi people wanted their own Maharashtra state. Thus, people on both the sides agitated against the bilingual decision. Parliamentary struggle : In implementation of the parliament's decision, the greater bilingual state of Mumbai (then Bombay) came into existence on 1 November 1956. Shri. Chavan was the chief Minister. The election to the state assembly was due in March 1957. All the opposition parties were together in the Samiti. Each party was seeking the maximum possible allotment of seats. Shri Joshi accommodated such demands even at the cost of giving up assured seats of his own party in order to ensure the unity of the Samiti, which was of paramount importance to achieve the goal of Samyukta Maharashtra. When the Hindu Mahasabha insisted upon the assured and safe constituency of shri Joshi he conceded their demand without any hesitation. Shri. Sanas, a very strong candidate of the Congress was contesting from Shukrawar Peth, Pune. No one was prepared to stand against him. However, SM decided to contest against him and won the election there by proving that the Samiti enjoyed massive support of the people. With the exception of Yashwantrao Chavan all Congress senior leaders lost their election. But the Congress got considerable support from Vidarbha, Marathwada and Gujarat. Finally, tally of Congress seats was 235 in the new assembly and that of Samiti was 161. Yashwantrao Chavan again became the chief Minister. This was followed by the election of corporators for the Mumbai Municipal corporation; Samiti contested and won 97 seats as against 71 of the congress. Thus Mumbai expressed its desire to be in Maharashtra. Satyagraha of Pratapgad : Yashwantrao Chavan had made out a plan for the inauguration of the statue of Shivaji Maharaj at Pratapgad at the hands of Jawaharlal Nehru on 30 November 1957. SM Joshi proposed that the Samiti should launch a peaceful protest against this function. Accordingly some 50,000 people gathered at Wai and in all the ghat rows ahead. SM Joshi gave an assurance to the police that the demonstrations and protest would be entirely peaceful and that no untoward incidents would take place. Accordingly, the Samiti's protest was totally peaceful. Nehru must have taken note of the will of people against the bilingual state. In due course, he came to the conclusion that the bilingual state would not be workable, against the will of the people. Finally he decided to form a Samyukta Maharashtra, while pending any decision on the issue of border areas (Belgaum etc.) Thus Samyukta Maharashtra, including Mumbai, came into existence on 1 May 1960. In the bargain, Maharashtra had to lose border areas around Belgaum, Karwar, Dangs and half of Umbergaon Taluka. Owing to the able leadership of Shri SM Joshi, Maharashtra could realise its dream of Samyukta Maharashtra, although without the contested, but rightfully due, border areas mentioned above. During this period he had to carry everyone, of all political affilialions, along : this was indeed a tight rope walk. He had the company of other leaders, namely Comrade Dange, Acharya Atre, Prabodhankar Thakare, Sarvashri Walchand Kothari, Mahadevrao Bagal, Dajiba Desai, BC Kamble, Datta Deshmukh, Dr. Naravane and some others. The "Maratha" daily, of Acharya Atre did a great job of keeping the issue burning and mobilised mass opinion. Performances by "Shahirs" (Singer performers of heroic, energising songs) also contributed consisderably. All had the blessings of the elderly, saintly, Senapati Bapat who was constantly with them. Broadly speaking, one can say that the role of Yashwantrao in this popular movement was akin to that of shri G K Gokhale in the freedom movement. Shri Shankra Deo and Bhausabeh Hire played the role of Shri. B G Tilak and shri SM Joshi's role was similar to that of the Satyagrahi Gandhiji. It is worth remembering that Acharya Atre, in his inimitable style, had equated Samyukta Maharashtra acronym "SM" to Shri. SM Joshi. It is often said that the leaders of the Samyukta Maharashtra agitation/movement did not give any consideration to the future structure and evolution of the new state. In this context, it needs to be carefully noted that the Sumyukta Maharashtra Samity was not a political party which could be expected to have a social and political agenda with vision for the future. The Samiti was no more than an agglomerate of all political parties. It had a limited agenda that of creation of Samyukta Maharashtra. It is the task of political parties in the state, especially that of the party in power to pay detailed attention to the economic, political and cultural development and its goals. The mantle of evolving policies and their implementation falls squarely on the ruling party. Samiti can never be held responsible for this.


The organisation was founded on 6 February 1956, under the leadership of Keshavrao Jedhe in Pune. Many of the Prominent activists of Samyukta Maharashtra Samiti were leftists such as Shreedhar Mahadev Joshi, Shripad Amrit Dange, Narayan Ganesh Gore, and Uddhavrao Patil. Other leaders included Maina Gawankar, Walchand Kothari, Pralhad Keshav Atre, Keshav Sitaram Thackeray, Pandurang Mahadev Bapat, Bhausaheb Raut, and Amar Shaikh. As a part of the campaign, P. K. Atre used his Maratha newspaper to criticise Prime minister Jawaharlal Nehru, Morarji Desai (then chief minister of Bombay state) and S.K. Patil, the Mumbai Congress party politician who favored separation of Mumbai city from a linguistically reconstituted Maharashtra or Gujarat[2]

The Indian National Congress had pledged to introduce linguistic states prior to Independence.[3] However, after Independence, Jawaharlal Nehru and Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel were adamantly opposed to linguistic states. They perceived linguistic states as a threat to the integrity of India. For the first time and perhaps the only time, Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh and its chief Madhav Sadashiv Golwalkar supported Nehru and Patel against redrawing of the map along linguistic lines. The catalyst to the creation of a States Re-organization Commission was the fasting death of Telugu nationalist Potti Sriramulu. In 1956, the SRC (States Re-organisation Committee) recommended creation of linguistic states of Andhra Pradesh, Kerala and Karnataka but recommended a bi-lingual state for Maharashtra-Gujarat, with Mumbai as its capital but vidarbha outside Maharashtra. Further, they recommended[citation needed] the creation of Vidharba state to unite the Marathi-speaking people of former Hyderabad state with Marathi-speaking areas of Central Provinces and Berar state. On 21 November 1955, demonstrators were fired upon by the police at Flora Fountain in the capital city of Mumbai. Flora Fountain was subsequently renamed Hutatma Chowk or "Martyr's Crossroad" in their memory. It is estimated that in all, 105 people were shot by security forces during the period of agitation and at different places. Morarji Desai, who was the then chief minister of Bombay state was later removed and replaced by Yashwantrao Chavan as a result of criticism related to the 21 November incident.[4] Nehru's speech dissenting with the SRC led C. D. Deshmukh, the then Finance Minister of the Nehru Cabinet to resign his post in January 1956.[3][5] This led to the creation of the predecessor movement Sanyukta Maharashtra Parishad, inaugurated on 1 November 1956, causing a great political stir and, under the leadership of Keshavrao Jedhe, a whole party meeting was held in Pune and Samyukta Maharashtra Samiti was founded on 6 February 1956. In the second general election of 1957, the Samiti defeated the stalwarts of Congress by securing 101 seats out of 133, including 12 from Mumbai. The Congress party could form a government only with the support of Gujarat, Marathwada and Vidharba.

The Samyukta Maharashtra Samiti achieved its goal on 1 May 1960, when the State of Bombay was partitioned into the Marathi-speaking State of Maharashtra and the Gujarati-speaking State of Gujarat. However Goa (then a Portuguese colony), Belgaum, Karwar and adjoining areas, which were also part of the Maharashtra envisaged by the Samiti, were not included in Maharashtra state. The prominent leaders of sanyukt maharashtra samiti decided to quit samiti after 1 May 1960, but the then chairman of the samiti Bhai Uddhavrao Patil continued his fight for the 862 Marathi-speaking villages of Karnataka that were excluded in 1960.

See also


  1. ^ Dandavate, Madhu (19 November 2017). "Dialogue with Life". Allied Publishers. Retrieved 19 November 2017 – via Google Books. 
  2. ^ Guha, Ramachandra (2003-04-13). "The battle for Bombay". The Hindu. Retrieved 2008-11-12. 
  3. ^ a b Windmiller, Marshall (1956). "The Politics of States Reorganization in India: The Case of Bombay". Far Eastern Survey. 25 (9 (Sep)): 129–143. Retrieved 11 January 2017. 
  4. ^ "BMC will give jobs to kin of Samyukta Maharashtra martyrs". Retrieved 19 November 2017. 
  5. ^ Gopal, Sarvepalli (1980). Jawaharlal Nehru: A Biography, Volume 2: 1947-1956. Cambridge, MA, USA: Harvard University Press. ISBN 9781473521889. Retrieved 11 January 2017. 

External links

  • Samyukta Maharashtra movement
  • Founding of the Samiti
  • 'Zalach Pahije!' by P.K. Atre ISBN 81-86837-00-0
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