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Government of India Act 1935


  • After the Third Round Table Conference, the Government of India Act of 1935 passed.
  • The Act provided for the establishment of an All India Federation and a new system of government for the provinces on the basis of provincial autonomy.
  • The federation was to be based on a union of the provinces of British India and the Princely States.
  • There would be a bicameral federal legislature in which the States were given disproportionate weightage.
  • The representatives of the States were not to be elected by the people, but appointed directly by the rulers.
  • Only 14 per cent of the total population in British India was given the right to vote.
  • Even this legislature, in which the Princes were once again to be used to check and counter the nationalist elements, was denied the real power.
  • Defence and foreign affairs remained outside the legislature’s control, while the Governor-General retained special control over the other subjects.
  • The Governor-General and the Governors were to be appointed by the British Government and were responsible for the governance.
  • In the provinces, local power was increased.
  • The ministers responsible to the provincial assemblies were to control all departments of provincial administration.
  • But the Governors were given special powers.
  • They could veto legislative action and legislate on their own.
  • Moreover, the government retained full control over the civil service and the police.
  • The Act could not satisfy the nationalist aspiration for both political and economic power continued to be concentrated in the hands of the British Government.
  • Foreign rule was to continue as before, only a few popularly elected ministers were to be added to the structure of British administration in India.
  • The Congress condemned the Act as “totally disappointing.”


  • The federal part of the Act was never introduced, but the provincial part was soon put into operation.
  • Though bitterly opposed to the Act, the Congress contested the elections under the new Act of 1935.
  • The elections conclusively demonstrated that a large majority of Indian people supported the Congress, which swept the polls in most of the provinces.
  • Congress ministries were formed in July 1937 in seven out of eleven provinces.
  • Later, Congress formed coalition governments in two others.
  • Only Bengal and the Punjab had non-Congress ministries.
  • Congress Ministries
  • The important features of Congress Ministries after 1937 election were:
  • The Congress ministers reduced their own salaries drastically to Rs. 500 per month;
  • Most of them travelled in the second or third class railway compartments;
  • They set up new standards of honesty and public service;
  • They paid greater attention to primary, technical, and higher education and public health;
  • They helped the peasant by passing anti-usury and tenancy legislation;
  • They promoted civil liberties.
  • Political prisoners were released;
  • There was “relaxation of police and secret service raj;”
  • Freedom of the press was enhanced; and
  • Trade unions felt freer and were able to win wage increases for workers.
  • The period between 1935 and 1939 witnessed several other important political developments which, in a way, marked a new turn in the nationalist movement and the Congress.

Government of India Act 1935 – Government of India Act 1935 – Government of India Act 1935- Government of India Act 1935

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