Saturday, April 24, 2021

Madhya Bharat: History of a forgotten state that was merged to form Madhya Pradesh

Shams Ur Rehman Alavi

Madhya Bharat was a state that existed for several years after independence. 

Madhya Bharat had Gwalior and Indore as capitals. The former ruler of princely state of Gwalior was the nominal head, Raj Pramukh i.e. Governor. 

While the ruler of Indore state, Holkar, was Up-Rajpramukh, Deputy Governor. The state lost its identity after it was merged into MP in 1956.

Actually, MP had already been created in 1950 from Central Provinces* and other regions with Nagpur as its capital. But in 1956, the regions that had Marathi speaking populace, were ceded to Bombay presidency. 

And, the remaining parts of MP were merged with Madhya Bharat, Vindhya and Bhopal, a part C state, to create Madhya Pradesh, the biggest state in the country. Sironj, which is located in Vidisha district, but was part of Tonk state, was also included. This greater MP existed for almost 44 years, till 2000.

Chhattisgarh was carved out, and now MP's geographical area is comparative quite less. In May 1948,  24 princely states of Malwa region in Western part of central India, were brought together to create the state.

The biggest were Indore and Gwalior, the two princely states that formed 77% of the area of Madhya Bharat. Gwalior was much bigger, twice the size of Indore. The first chief minister of the state was Liladhar Joshi.

Later, Mishrilal Gangwal Jain became chief minister. For a while, Gopikrishnan Vijayvargiya was CM. He was a Jain from Gwalior. Takhatmal Jain was CM of the state, too. He was also known as Takhatmal Jalori and belonged to Vidisha. Joshi was CM from January 1948 till May 1949. 

Gopi Krishan Vijayvargiya was CM from May 1949 to October 17, 1950. Then, Takhatmal Jalori alias Takhatmal Jain took over from October 18, 1950 till March 2, 1952. From March 3, 1952 till April 15, 1955, Mishrilal Gangwal Jain was CM. Once again, from April 16, 1955 to October 31, 1956, Takhatmal Jain remained CM. 

In 1956, Ravishankar Shukla took over as first CM of the newly formed Madhya Pradesh. Interestingly, Jain dominance in politics continued in MP to an extent, later too. Three Jain leaders, PC Sethi, Virendra Saklecha and Sunderlal Patwa, became chief ministers of Madhya Pradesh.

Another aspect of the politics in Madhya Bharat, from 1948 to 1956, is how many leaders were cabinet, at one point of time five senior positions occupied by Jain leaders. However, none of them used Jain surname, and hence their identities were either of caste [Bania] or region--Indore, Gwalior etc. 

As a result, there was no focus on how one group got over-representation. Digambar Jains on the other hand use Jain as surname and the practice has now become more common in recent years. However, even today leaders like Pawan Ghuwara, Manohar Untwal or even Jayant Malaiya in MP, are not seen as Jain leaders, rather their identities are more of region or caste.

Indore a city, ruled by Holkars, before independence had businessmen and industrialists like Sir Seth Hukum Chand Jain. The financial power and the clout, helped the section in politics too. It took a long time before power equations changed. 

*After re-organissation of state, MP had an area of 4,43,452 sq kms. However, when Chhattisgarh was carved out, MP remained a state spread over 3,08,252 sq kilometers. Now Rajasthan is the biggest state in terms of area, followed by MP and then Maharashtra.

*Digambara generally prefer using 'Jain' as surname, unlike Shwetambars who continue to use their original surnames ranging from 

*CP and Berar, formerly