Government of India Act of 1935

In August 1935, the British gove3rnment announced the Government of India Act. The main provisions of this act were:

1. India was to become a federation if more than 50 per cent of the Princely States decide to join it.

2. Provincial autonomy was granted. The ministers of provincial government s were to be responsible to the legislature. The power of the legislature was also increased. But the right to vote remained limited (only 14 per cent people had voting rights).


3. Diarchy was abolished at the provincial level but introduced at the Centre. The Viceroy became more powerful and was not to be responsible to the legislature.

The Act was rejected by the Congress. It, however, decided to contest the elections of the provincial legislative assemblies in AD 1937. The Muslim League also contested these elections.

In the elections, the Congress swept the polls. It won an absolute majority of seats in six provinces. In three provinces, it emerged as the single largest party. The Muslim League won only 109 out of 482 seats reserved for the Muslims. In the North-West Frontier Province, it did not win a single seat. The election results made it clear that people had rejected the communal parties.

The Congress formed its own ministries in seven out of the eleven provinces. In two others, it formed coalition governments. Only in two provinces were there non-Congress ministries. These ministries did useful work in the field of encouraging education, up-liftment of harijans and the development of traditional crafts. Many political prisoners were released and civil liberties were established.


This phase of the national movement ended in AD 1939 when the Second World War started. The developments during these years, however, made it very clear that the days of British rule in India were numbered.