The Indian National Congress, a major political organization in India at that time, was dominated by Brahmins who refused to consider the demands of non-brahmin members.
The leader of the non-brahmin in the Madras Presidency started to think of a non-brahmin political organization. The political reforms after the First World War and the formation of representing institutions stimulated their idea of non-brahmin political organization.
Dr T.M.Nair, Pitti Theagarayar, and Dr C.Natesan founded the South India Liberal Federation to promote the political, economical, and social interests of the non-brahmins. The South Indian Liberal Federation (SILF) popularly known as the Justice Party named the English Journal Justice.
Through the efforts of the Justice Party, they secured the reservation of seats for the non-brahmin in the elections to the legislative council.
The main objectives of the Justice Party (JP)
- To promote the educational, social, economic, political progress of all the communities other than the Brahmins of South India.
- To work for Non-Brahmin development by constitutional government. To make a truly representative government.
- To create public opinion in favor of Non-Brahmins demands.
- Montagu Chelmsford reform 1919, introduced dyarchy in presidencies by which some departments were marked for Indian Ministers to be chosen from the elected members.
- In the first election under dyarchy in 1920, the Justice party won the majority and A.Subbarayalu became the Chief Minister and after his death, Raja of Panagal became the Chief Minister of Madras in 1921.
- As a part of the Non-Co-operation movement, congress boycotted the elections.
Contributions of Justice Party
In spite of the fluctuating fortunes in the subsequent elections, the Justice party continued to hold power from 1921 to 1937.
The Justice Party introduced several reforms.
By Communal government order, the Justice Party ensured an adequate number of opportunities for non-brahmins of every category in education, and employment.
They removed discrimination against Sudras and Panchamas in public transport, roads, restaurants, and public wells.
They regulated temple laws through a newly constituted Hindu Religious Endowment Board, and provided lands to the Panchamas called Panchami Land.
They introduced new townships and industrial estates.
Education was provided to the children of depressed classes.
They introduced an experiment called the “Noon Meal Scheme” for the first time in a few schools.
Knowledge of Sanskrit as the basic eligibility for medical education was removed, which gave non-brahmin students to enter into medical education.
Dr Muthulakshmi and others abolished the Devadasi System in Tamil Nadu and women were enfranchised which means the women were given the right to vote.
Co-operative societies were promoted. Mirasdari’s system was abolished. Various irrigation schemes were introduced in 1923.
Annamalai and Andra University were started during the Justice Party regime. It was the Justice Party that provided the most successful government though they were given a few departments by the British.
The decline of the Justice Party
The Justice party began to face a decline in 1930. Factors of the decline of the Justice Party are,
It lost support among the Depressed section of society and minorities. The self-respect movement under Periyar had become more radical. The pro-British outlook of the Justice Party is important for its decline.
Periyar’s refusal to enter electoral politics and the growing popularity of Gandhi made congress win the elections in Madras Presidency in 1937 and Rajagopalachari became the premier.