Cambridge Journals Digital Archives
In February 1937, the Congress party in the Madras Presidency won 159 of 215 seats in the provincial Legislative Assembly at the first elections under provincial autonomy. It was the most convincing victory for the Congress in any province of British India, and neither the Madras Government nor the Congress leaders had expected it. In the two and a half years Congress rule that followed, their ministers made adept use of their powers. They cut land revenue and dismantled the procedure for revising the land revenue demand, thus appealing to the pocket of every landholder. They re-instated all the village officers who had been dismissed for aiding the Congress during Civil Disobedience, thus instructing the leaders of rural society where the source of power and influence now lay. They passed two measures to alleviate the burden of agricultural debt, and threatened to legislate in favour of the tenants inside the major landed estates. Meanwhile, for the first time, the Cogress established a network of committees throughout the province, and by 1939 this new machine had placed virtually every local government board under a Congress régime. The number of Congerss members in the Tamil and Andhra areas rose from 115,971 on the eve of the 1937 elections to 594,397 in 1938.
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