Dr. B. Pattabhi Sitaramayya was born 137 years ago on 24th November 1880 in Andhra Pradesh. He was a Constituent Assembly member elected from Madras Province.
Sitaramayya was an active member of the Indian National Congress. In the 1939 Congress session in Tripuri, Sitaramayya was Gandhi’s nominee for President of the Congress Party. He stood for election against Subash Chandra Bose. However the Congress Party elected Bose.
Sitaramayya played a significant role in the integration of princely states with India. He was a member of Constituent Assembly Negotiating Committee which carried out consultations and deliberations with the Negotiating Committee set up by the Chamber of Princes to: arrive at a settlement for distribution of seats in the Constituent Assembly for Princely States as per the Cabinet Mission Plan, 1946 and to settle the mode of appointing members from Princely States. The efforts of this committee were fruitful: 16 members from 7 Princely States took part in the proceedings of the Constituent Assembly on 28th April 1947.
Another significant role of Sitaramayya in the Indian Constitution making was that he was Chairman of Committee of Chief Commissioners’ Provinces. In its report, the Committee recommended the administrative and legislative set up for Delhi (which became a Union Territory in 1956 and National Capital Territory in 1991) which was adopted by the Constituent Assembly. The committee recommended for a cooperative and co-existing administrative set up for Delhi with Lieutenant Governor appointed by President and an elected legislature to administer Delhi ( B.Shiva Rao, ‘The Framing of India’s Constitution’, Volume 3, Page 249, First Edition). Though exhaustive provisions regarding administration of Delhi were recommended by the Committee and adopted by the Constituent Assembly the issue of conferring Statehood to Delhi is currently before the Indian Supreme Court to be adjudicated upon.
He played an important role in the reorganization of states on linguistic basis. Jawaharlal Nehru and Gandhi supported reorganization of states on linguistic basis. Though Gandhi’s views on this remained unchanged, Nehru was opposed to this idea since India underwent partition on the basis of religion and dividing India on linguistic basis would undermine India’s unity, stability and security (Ramachandra Guha, ‘India After Gandhi’, Page 181, First Edition). Nehru’s disinclination became a cause of worry amongst various Congress party members. To address this, Congress in its 1948 Jaipur session set up a committee with Nehru, Sardar Vallabhai Patel and Sitaramayya as its members (also referred to as ‘JVP’ committee after the initials of the committee members) (V.P.Menon, ‘Integration of the Indian States’, Page 250).
This committee recommended against the creation of states on the basis of language and argued that ‘language is not only a binding force but also a separating one’ (Ramachandra Guha, ‘India After Gandhi’, Page 183, First Edition). The committee further noted that in the light of the prevailing conditions of the nation, reorganization of states on linguistic basis be postponed for 10 years. (V.P.Menon, ‘Integration of the Indian States’, Page 454).
The movement for creation of states on linguistic grounds intensified irrespective of Congress Party’s position on the issue. The Nehru Government in 1953 appointed the State Reorganisation Committee whose recommendations paved way for States Reorganization Act of 1956 creating states on linguistic basis. The States Reorganization Act of 1956 came into force on November 1st, 1956 which is commemorated by several states including: Karnataka, Kerala, Haryana.
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