Samyukta Maharashtra Movement: Importance of linguistic unity among Marathi speaking people

The movement of all Marathi speaking people to establish a state based on the principle of linguistic regionalism is called Samyukta Maharashtra Andolan or movement. This movement started in the pre-independence period and ended on May 1, 1960 with the formation of United Maharashtra with Mumbai.

Samyukta Maharashtra Movement was the largest mass movement in Maharashtra between 1950 and 1960, in which a total of 105 people was killed in police firing.

The beginning of linguistic unity among Marathi speaking people

In the twelfth century, the awareness of political and cultural identity among the Marathi speaking people started increasing but politically the Marathi speaking people remained scattered. During the British rule, Marathi speaking people were divided into Mumbai State, Hyderabad and Central Province. Maharashtra was part of the state of Mumbai.

Goa was under Portuguese rule, while the five districts of Marathwada were in the state of Hyderabad. The eight districts of Vidarbha were part of the Central Province. The idea was to bring all these parts together and form a state based on their language.

The Congress party accepted the principle of linguistic regionalism. Later, the Congress party set up Pradesh Congress Committees on the basis of language. State Committees of Gujarat, Maharashtra and Karnataka were established in the State of Mumbai.

Samyukta Maharashtra Movement monument in mumbai

India gained independence but the Indian constitution did not include rules for the establishment of linguistic states. However, in the Ahmedabad session of the Indian National Congress (1921), a resolution was passed that there should be a linguistic state. Nevertheless, the then Nehru government took a negative stance towards language-wise provinces.

JVP committee on Samyukta Maharashtra Movement

The tariff committee set up by the government refused to form a language-wise province. The Congress appointed a JVP committee to look into the matter. The committee consisted of Jawaharlal Nehru, Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel and Pattabhi Sitaramayya.

The committee recommended that the question of linguistic regionalism should not be taken up as a matter of priority. In this regard, the Central Government and According to Nehru, there were four major problems:

  • Linguistic regionalism should not be decided in a hurry as it would not be desirable to bring about a drastic change in the way of life of people living together for hundreds of years.
  • Each linguistic group has a minority linguistic component. They are opposed to these demands. Their objections should be considered appropriate.
  • When there are other important issues of development and unity before the country, the issue of dividing the people like linguistic regionalism should not be given priority. This will lead to violent movements and counter-movements.
  • Cultural diversity in India is the glory of a nation. We must perpetuate a state like Hyderabad, which speaks four languages and promotes a shared Indian culture.

The agitation demanding a Marathi-speaking state in Maharashtra, namely Sanyukta Maharashtra, began to take a special shape from the establishment of the Samyukta Maharashtra Samiti at the Marathi Sahitya Sammelan held at Belgaum on 12 May 1946. Chairman of the meeting c. Trin. Madkholkar rewarded the demand for a united Maharashtra.

Akola Agreement in Samyukta Maharashtra Movement

The main issue was Vidarbha, which is part of the Central Province. Nagpur was the capital of Madhya Pradesh and the leaders of Vidarbha played a major role in the national Samyukta Maharashtra Movement. Despite being a Marathi speaker for hundreds of years, Vidarbha had developed a different identity.

Therefore, the leaders who awarded the United Maharashtra discussed with the leaders of Vidarbha and signed the ‘Akola Agreement’ with them. Three points were important in this agreement:

  • Vidarbha will not remain under the domination of Hindi speaking department in Madhya Pradesh.
  • If the demand for a united Maharashtra is rejected for some reason, then the establishment of an independent Mahavidarbha should be supported by the leaders of Maharashtra.
  • If Vidarbha is given the option to remain as a Central Province or as a Sub-Province of United Maharashtra, then Vidarbha should choose the option of United Maharashtra.

Samyukta Maharashtra Movement On May 1, 1960, when the state of Bombay was partitioned into the Marathi-speaking state of Maharashtra and the Gujarati-speaking state of Gujarat, Samiti fulfilled its purpose. However, Goa (then a Portuguese province), Belgaum, Karwar, and surrounding districts, which were also part of the Samiti’s Maharashtra vision, were not included. After the exclusion of 862 Marathi-speaking Karnataka villages in 1960, prominent Samyukta Maharashtra Movement Samiti officials opted to leave the organisation, but then-Samiti President Bhai Uddhavrao Patil continued his battle.

Also Read: Collection of Articles on Mumbai

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