Tamil Nadu - Justice Party


Justice Party

The Justice Party, officially known as South Indian Liberal Federation (S. I. L. F.), was the political wing of Then Nala Urimai Sangam (literal translation: The South Indian Welfare Association). The Justice Party derived its name from an English-language daily of that time, named Justice.

The Justice Party was established in 1917 as the South Indian Liberal federation by Sir P. Theagaroya Chetty and Dr. T. M. Nair as a result of a series of non-Brahmin conferences and meetings in the Madras Presidency. The formation of the SILF or the Justice Party marked the culmination of a series of failed efforts to establish an organisation representing the non-Brahmins of the Presidency. The early political work of the party involved petitioning the imperial administrative bodies and British politicians demanding more representation for non-Brahmins in administration and in the government.

In 1920, elections were held in the Madras Presidency as per the Montagu-Chelmsford reforms. The Justice party contested the elections and was elected to power. The party ruled the province for six years before giving way to the independent ministry of P. Subbarayan in 1926. The Justice Party, however, recaptured power in the Presidency in the 1930 elections and ruled till 1937 when it lost to the Indian National Congress. It never recovered from the defeat and was eventually withdrawn from politics in 1944 by its then President E. V. Ramaswamy Naicker. A rebel faction called itself the Justice Party and survived till 1957 when it was eventually disbanded due to poor performance.

The Justice Party's period in power is remembered for the introduction of caste-based affirmative action and also for the educational and religious reforms it introduced. The Justice Party under E. V. Ramasami spearheaded the anti-Hindi agitations of 1937 and allied with Mohammad Ali Jinnah in its demand for separation from the Indian union.

Justice Party - Rule

A dyarchy was created in Madras Presidency in the year 1920 as per the Montagu-Chelmsford reforms and provisions were made for elections in the Presidency. In the first elections held in November 1920, the Justice Party was elected to power. A. Subbarayalu Reddiar became the first Chief Minister of Madras Presidency. However, he resigned soon after a short period due to declining health and was replaced with Sir P. Ramarayaningar, the Minister of Local Self-Government and Public Health. The party split in late 1923 when C. R. Reddy resigned from primary membership and formed a splinter group which allied with Swarajists who were in opposition. A no-confidence motion was passed against Ramarayaningar's government on November 27, 1923, which was however defeated 65-44. Ramarayaningar, popularly known as the Raja of Panagal, remained in power till November 1926. The passing of the First communal Government Order (G.O. No.613) which introduced reservations to government jobs, in August 1921, remains one of the highpoints of his rule. In the next elections held in 1926, the Justice Party lost. However, as no party was able to attain clear majority, the Governor set up an independent government unde rthe leadership of P. Subbarayan and nominated members to support it.

Soon after the demise of the Raja of Panagal, the Justice Party broke into two factions: the Constitutionalists and the Ministerialists. The Ministerialists were led by N. G. Ranga and were in favor of allowing Brahmins to join the Party. In 1930, the Justice Party was victorious and P. Munuswamy Naidu became the Chief Minister. However, the exclusion of Zamindars from the Ministry split the Justice Party once again. Fearing a no-confidence motion against him, Munuswamy Naidu resigned in November 1932 and the Raja of Bobbili was appointed Chief Minister. The Justice Party eventually lost in the 1937 elections to the Indian National Congress and Chakravarti Rajagopalachari became Chief Minister of Madras Presidency.

During the 1920s and 1930s, the Anti-Brahmin movement evolved in the Madras Presidency. This movement was launched by a Congressman E. V. Ramaswamy Naicker, who, unhappy with the principles and policies of the Brahmin leadership of the provincial Congress, moved to the Justice Party in 1925. E. V. R., or Periyar, as he was affectionately called, launched venomous attacks on Brahmins, Hinduism and Hindu superstitions in periodicals and newspapers such as Viduthalai and Justice. He also participated in the Vaikom Satyagraha which campaigned for the rights of untouchables in Travancore to enter temples.