Provincial Elections of 1937

British government conducted provincial elections in the year 1937. In these elecions Congress emerged as the representative of Majority of Indian population.


Three Round table conferences happened between 1930 to 1932. Based on the discussions happened in these conferences, a white paper was published in the March 1933.

Later, debates and discussions happened in British parliament over this Whitepaper. And, after the end of this complete process British government passed Government of India Act 1935.

Most Striking feature of GOI Act 1935 was that it introduced provincial autonomy in all the provinces in British India.

Provincial Autonomy was introduced by Government of India Act 1935.

Detail of Provinces in British India

At that time i.e. Year 1935, there were total 11 provinces in British India. They were – Madras, Central Province, Bihar, Orrisa, United Provinces, Bombay Presidency, Assam, NWFP, Bengal, Punjab and Sindh.

The Election

In the above mentioned 11 provinces, there were total 1585 seats on which elections were conducted. Out of 1585, a total of 482 seats were reserved for Muslim candidates. Of these 482 muslim seats – on 58 seats congress’s muslim candidates were also contesting elections.

Before, 1937 elections – voting rights were available with a very very limited section of Indian population. Now, as part of the preparation of 1937 elections, British government had provided voting rights to almost 30 Million people. Which is equivalent to 14% of the total population. However, women were still not allowed to vote.

Result : Provincial Elections of 1937

Result of these elections was declared in Feb 1937. INC fared well and it proved to be the largest representative of the Indian population.

Result was as follows

Total Seats




Muslim League


Although, Muslim League stood 2nd but it was still very embarrassing for Muslim League because it could gain only 20% of 482 Muslim reserved seats. In this respect, Congress fared better as out of 58 Muslim reserved seats on which Congress candidates were contesting – they won 26 Seats. So, Congress’s strike rate was close to 50%.

From these statistics, it became clear that Muslim League does not represent entire Muslim Population, which it used to claim.

Formation of Ministries after Provincial Elections of 1937

Congress had absolute majority ( i.e. they won more than 50% seats ) in Central Province, Bihar, Orrisa, Madras and United Province. So, in these 5 Provinces – Congress form the ministries.

Apart from these, there were 3 other provinces – NWFP, Assam and Bombay. Here Congress emerged as the largest party in the election of 1937 but failed to get absolution majority by very less number of seats. So, Congress tied up with local parties to form coalition government in these 3 provinces.

Muslim League too formed coalition government in 2 provinces.

  • Punjab – In coalition with Unionist Party of Sikandar Hayat Khan.
  • Bengal – In coalition with Krishak Praja Party of Fazlul Haq.

At Sindh, Muslim political party made the government.

So, for these discussions, British government held 3 round table conferences at London during 1930 – 1932.

BR Ambedkar's Indépendant Labour Party contested won 14 seats out of 17 seats, it contested.

Performance of Congress Ministries

So, as discussed earlier, Congress had formed ministries in 8 out 11 provinces. People had very high hopes with Congress. Congress too worked hard tand brought land reforms, industry reforms and social reforms.

At Orrisa, United province, Bengal and other places where congress had formed their ministries, they had brought Tenancy bills so that the life of peasants who used to work on others land, can be improved.

By 1939, congress had already spent 28 Months in power. But, depressed classes, peasants and industry workers were still not satisfied with their work. Muslim League was also taking an opportunity to criticise Congress’s work and tried to spread the dissatisfaction among the masses.

In-fact, Muslim formed a committee – Pirpur Committee to prepare a report to highlight that Congress is working in favour of Hindus and is trying to suppress Muslim population.

Congress Ministries – Resigned

On 3rd Sep 1939, Viceroy Lord Linlithgow declared that India is going to support Britain in their war efforts in World War II. Viceroy did this declaration without consulting Indian political parties. Congress had a strong objection to this declaration and In response, On 22nd Oct 1939 – resigned from all the 8 provinces where they formed the ministries.

This Post Has One Comment

  1. Sir please update the notes of government of India act 1935
    And sir you work really help us alot
    Thanks for that

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