Social Scientist. v 13, no. 143 (April 1985) p. 32.


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32 SOCIAL SCIENTIST

leadership ot the non-tribal peasants. This helped the process of formation of a tribal-peasant continuum. Finally, Gandhi who launched a mass movement in 1920 by broadbasing the Congress10 could not afford to ignore the tribal or the non-tribal peasants. Gandhi said, "Noone who hopes to construct Swaraj on the foundation of non-violence can afford to neglect even the least of India's sons. Adibasis are too numerous to be accepted among the least"." The personality of Gandhi left a deep imprint on the tribal world.12

Political Scenario in Rajasthan

This study of the impact of regional and national politics on the Bhils of Rajasthan has certain limitations. Rajasthan was an Indian State and it was only in the Haripura session in 1938 that the Congress decided to extend the idea of Purna Swaraj to the 'Indian States as well. But at the same time certain restrictions were imposed on the proclaimed goals. It was declared that for the present the Congress would only extend "moral support and sympathy" to the movement in the States. Hence, the States remained considerably isolated from the mainstream of the Indian politics. Mewar, one of the regions which the present study focusses upon, witnessed the formation of a Prajamandal as late as in 1938 with the limited goal of civil liberties and responsible government under the aegis of the State chief.

But that does not detract from the fact that echoes of the national events were also felt in Rajasthan, like in any other Indian State. Wilkinson in the Rajputana Agency Report of 1921 found Mewar "becoming a hot bed of lawlessness. Seditionist emissaries are teaching the people that all men are equal. The lands belong to the peasants and not to the state or landlords. It is significant that the people are being urged to use the vernacular equivalent of the word 'comrade'. The movement is mainly anti-maharana but it might soon become anti-British and spread to the adjoining British area."'^

Gandhi himself was quite optimistic about the role which the Bhils would finally play. He expressed his concern for and faith in their awakening in the following words : "The Bhils have been long neglected by the States and reformers; if they are given a helping hand, they can become the pride of India. All they need is the spinning wheel in their homes and schools in which their children can receive simple education. In the vast awakening that has taken place, no race can be teft out of the calculation of the states and reformers."14

Against the backdrop discussed above we will examine the linkages between the movement of the Bhils and the trends of regional and national politics. The study is restricted to Bijolia and Sirohl regions as the awakening and nationalist fervour left their deepest impact on ^hese two regions in the main.

Bijolia Movement :Its Background and Aftermath

In 1920, the Bhils of Mewar for the first time joined the movement launched by the peasants of Bijolia. The Dhakar Kisans of the Bijolia thikana had first joined a. movement in 1905 against the high incidence of rent, and against the existence of as many as 86 types of cesses, be^ar or forced labour and other feudal exactions. The Bijolia movement in 1920 developed contact with the Gandhian movement and was spearheaded bv nationalists like Vijai Singh Pathik, Manikya Lal Verma, Haribhau Upadhvaya, Ganesh Shankar Vidyarthi, Sadhu Sitaram Sas, Ramnarain Coudhary, Manilal Kothari and Motilal Tejawat. These leaders tried to integrate the Bhils in the movement which was hitherto exclusively the affair of the Dhakar castes' Hence the Kisan Panchavat which was the organisational base of the movement vested in Motilal Tejawat the responsibility of organising the Bhils to draw them into the peasant move-



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