Regionalism is a country wide phenomenon and it took the form of well conceived and well organized agitations and campaigns.
Regionalism in India has assumed various forms, and found expression in more than one way. It assumed, four forms in the political fields, (i) Secession from the Indian Union, (ii) demand for separate state hood; (iii) demand for full fledged state hood; and (iv) Inter-state disputes.
(i) Secession from the Indian Union:
The DMK in Tamil Nadu, the Akali Dal in Punjab and the Mizos and Nagas in North East India and more recently the supporters of Khalistan movements have been demanding secession from India.
In 1960 the DMK and the man Tamil organised a joint campaign throughout Madras state demanding its secession from India and. for making it an independent sovereign state Tamil Nadu.
In 1961, another organisation by the name of Tamil Arasu Kazhagam lunched an agitation for the renaming of Madras state as Tamil Nadu. DMK proposed that the states of Madras, Andhra Pradesh. Kerala and Mysore should secede from Indian Union and form on independent republic of Dravida Nadu.
In 1963 Parliament adopted the constitution bill which enables in to make laws providing penalties for any person questioning the sovereignty and integrity of the Indian Union. As a result, DMK dropped from its programme the demand for a sovereign independent Dravidian federation and its secession from the Indian Union.
Demands for Sikhistan:
In Punjab there was a demand for Sikhistan. As early as 1949 the Sikhs under master Tarasingh declared that the Hindus of Punjab had became highly communal and that the Sikhs could not hope to get any justice from them. The Sikhs under the Akali Dal put a demand for a separate Punjabi speaking state.
The Akali Dal leadership is well aware that it is not possible to have Sikhistan, as separate independent state outside the Indian union. They therefore started demanding like the DMK in Tamil Nadu that the states should be given more powers and autonomy.
Demand for Khalistan:
Since April 1987 the Akali extremists have been taking a hard line approach for establishing a new all Sikhs nation called Khalistan a demand originally voiced by a former member of the Akali Dal, Jagjit Singh in June.
The Mizo demands in Assam:
The hill districts of Assam have also displayed great regional feeling and demanded the formation of an independent mizo state.
They demanded a separate state of Mizoram outside the Union of India and in order to Press their demand they organized themselves in a political forms known as the Mizo National front. The Mizos organized armed agitation and commenced guerrilla war fare. In the wake of the Chinese aggression the MNF was banned.
Demand for Nagaland:
Another tribe that fermented secession from Indian Union and agitated for an independent state was the Nagas of Assam. The Nagas formed the Naga National Council under Z. Phizo to carry on an agitation for the grant of independent status.
In 1952 he organized a boycott of the general election and this was a great success. The Naga National council even proposed to take the issue of Naga independence to the United Nations.
Regionalism and Demands for separate state hood:
Another form in which regionalism has found an expression in India is that some of the areas have been demanding separate state hood, where the people of the are could develop their language and culture. This type of regionalism gained momentum after the reorganization of the states on a linguistic basis.
Bifurcation of Bombay State:
The states Reorganisation commission had recommended that Bombay should remain a bilingual state, but also suggested the creation of a separate state of Vidharva by adding some areas of Madhya Pradesh.
There was violence in the state and two separate organisations. They sought the creation of two separate states of Gujurat and Maharashtra.
Bifurcation of Punjab:
The Punjabi speaking people of Punjab, mainly Sikhs, demanded a separate Punjabi speaking state. They reported to agitation, violence, strikes and fasts. Two separate states of Punjab and Haryana were created in November 1966.
Demand for separate Vidarbha state:
When in 1960 a proposal for the bifurcation of Bombay was under consideration the demand for the creation of a separate state of Vidarbha was revived. Some congress MLAs from the Nagpur strongly demanded the formation of Vidarbha.
Re-organization of Assam State:
The demand for a separate state of Meghalaya was raised by the people living in the hilly areas of Garo, Khasi, Jailta and North Cachar. They formed the All Party.
Hill deadens conference and demanded the creation of a separate hill state. In December, 1969 the Assam Reorganization Bill was passed by the Parliament and the Hill state of Meghalaya was created as an autonomous unit with Assam.
Demand for Telengana:
The states Reorganization commission recommended that Telengana should be a separate state, but that a provision should be made for its union with Andhra Pradesh after the third general election.
If a two third majority of the legislature of Telengana expressed itself in favour. But the Govt, decided to unite Telengana with Andhra.
Demand for Jharakhand:
Not only in Bihar, but also in west Bengal, Orissa and Madhya Pradesh tribals have demanded a separate Jharkhand state since the 1940’s. The states Reorganization Commission (1956) rejected the demand on the ground that the tribal population is only a little more than one third of the total population and is divided into several language groups. Since then tribals have continued their campaign for a Jharkhand state.
Demand for Bodo Land:
The Bodo agitation is led by the Assam Bodo Students Union (ABSU) which is demanding a separate state and has resorted to wide scale violence and a series of crippling band has to pursue their demands. The Bodos are the largest single tribal community in the North East.
Demand for Gorkha Land:
The Gorkha National Liberation Front (GNLF) under the leadership of Subhash Ghishing has steered a demand for separate Gorkhaland.
It spearheaded a violent agitation for 28 months in the Darjeeling hills. They have also demanded the status of official language for Nepalese in their area.
Regionalism and Demand for full-fledged state hood. After the passing of the states Reorganization Act. there were two I categories of units in the country, viz., the States and Union Territories regionalism found its expression in the latter also when union territories demanded that they should be given the status of a full fledged state.
The agitation in these Union Territories became so intense that with the passage of time the Union Territories of Himachal Pradesh, Manipur, Tripura and Goa. Mizoram and Arunachal Pradesh got full statehood.
The Union Territory of Delhi also raised a cry that in view of its large population and financial viability, it should also be made a full fledged state. Now the union Territory of Delhi is known as “National capital territory of Delhi.”
Regionalism and Inter State Disputes:
Another form of regionalism in India has found expression in the form of Interstate disputes. There is a dispute over Chandigarh between Punjab and Haryana.
There are boundary disputes, for example, between Maharashtra and Karnataka on Belgaun, Where the Marathi speaking population is surrounded by Karnada speaking people between Karnataka and Kerala on Kasargod and several other border areas between Assam and Nagaland on Rangma reserved forests in Ram pagani area.
The first important dispute regarding use of water resources was over the use of water resources of three rivers namely Narmada, Krishna and Cauvery in which the states of Madhya Pradesh.
Rajasthan, Gujarat and Maharashtra were involved. There were many other disputes involving the distribution of the waters of other rivers, but these were of minor importance.
In all these cases the state Chief Ministers behaved, like spoke’s men of independent nation and endeavoured to obtain the maximum for their own states. It appeared as if for their own states. It appeared as if India was a multi-national country.