The states people movement in the princely states was further strengthened by direct or indirect participation of nationalist leaders. Elucidate.
Post 1857, British developed a different kind of relation with the princely states. The rulers were subjected to dictates of British Resident and, in turn, they were granted absolute protection against internal and external threats.
Similar to provinces, these states also witnessed freedom movement in the form of States People’s Movement or Praja Mandal Movement.
- Undemocratic government – Unlike provinces, the princely states did not witness any constitutional reforms and were ruled autocratically.
- Pitiable conditions of people of Princely States – Many Princely States had backward education and social services. Civil rights were severely restricted and at the same time there was a high tax burden.
- Lavish lifestyle of and extravagant expense by princes – Rulers ignored the interests of their people and spent State revenues on their luxurious life-styles.
- Educated middle class – English education with its focus on rationalism, progressivism and humanism led to the growth of educated middle class, which in turn provided leadership to the movements in princely states.
- Further, states people’s movement was greatly influenced by the nationalist movement.
Influence of Nationalist movement
- Many revolutionary nationalists fleeing British authority came to the Princely States and started political activities there.
- During non-cooperation movement, the subjects of the princely states established people’s organizations in the Princely States. Establishment of PrajaPrishadwas mainly to counter the Chamber of Princes. The Hitvardhak Sabha was founded in Poona to solve the problems of the people of southern princely states.
- From the mid-1920s, the Congress started taking keen interest in the states’ people’s movements.
All India States Peoples’ Conference was established in 1927 under the leadership of Balwantrai Mehta, Maniklal Kothari and G.R. Abhayankar.
- The installation of the Congress ministries in 1937 in British Indian provinces encouraged the Praja Mandal leaders to step up their political activities for demanding responsible government in the Princely States.
- Haripura session of Congress in 1938 considered the states to be integral parts of India and desired the same political, social and economic freedom in the States as in the rest of India. PurnaSwaraj was declared the goal of whole of India including Princely states.
- During the Quit India movement, Congress formally extended the call for launching a struggle to the people of the States as well.
Thus, nationalist movement had a profound impact on movements in princely states. There was direct or indirect participation of nationalist leaders like Gandhi, Sardar Patel, J L Nehru, Bose etc. in movements like Rajkot Satyagraha, Mysore state movement, etc. These movements mobilized the consciousness among the people. They strengthened the cause of Nationalism and the ides of nation making.