Static – Modern History (Post-Independence) – Integration of the Princely States (2) | Focus – Mains

Notes for Modern History (Post-Independence)

Integration of Manipur

  • A few days before Independence, the Maharaja of Manipur, Bodhachandra Singh, signed the Instrument of Accession with the Indian government on the assurance that the internal autonomy of Manipur would be maintained.
  • Under the pressure of public opinion, the Maharaja held elections in Manipur in June 1948 and the state became a constitutional monarchy. Thus Manipur was the first part of India to hold an election based on universal adult franchise.
  • In the Legislative Assembly of Manipur there were sharp differences over the question of merger of Manipur with India. While the state Congress wanted the merger, other political parties were opposed to this.
  • The Government of India succeeded in pressurising the Maharaja into signing a Merger Agreement in September 1949, without consulting the popularly elected Legislative Assembly of Manipur. This caused a lot of anger and resentment in Manipur, the repercussions of which are still being felt.

Integration of Junagadh

  • Junagadh was a small state on the coast of Saurashtra surrounded by Indian territory and therefore without any geographical contiguity with Pakistan.
  • Yet, its Nawab announced accession of his state to Pakistan on 15 August 1947 even though the people of the state, overwhelmingly Hindu, desired to join India.
  • The Indian nationalist leaders had for decades stood for the sovereignty of the people against the claims of the princes. It was, therefore, not surprising that in Junagadh’s case Nehru and Patel agreed that the final voice, like in any other such case, for example Kashmir or Hyderabad, should be that of the people as ascertained through a plebiscite.
  • Going against this approach, Pakistan accepted Junagadh’s accession. On the other hand, the people of the state would not accept the ruler’s decision. They organized a popular movement, forced the Nawab to flee and established a provisional government.
  • The Dewan of Junagadh, Shah Nawaz Bhutto, the father of the more famous Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto, now decided to invite the Government of India to intervene. Indian troops thereafter marched into the state.
  • A plebiscite was held in the state in February 1948 which went overwhelmingly in favour of joining India.