Regionalism is a pre-independence phenomenon. It became predominant in post independence period. The politics of regionalism started with the implementation of constitutional reform under government of India Acts of 1909, 1919 and 1935. The establishment and role of Justice Party in Madras and to a lesser extent, of Akali Dal in Punjab in pre-independence period are examples of emerging regionalism in India.
After independence there are four major landmarks in the development of regional politics.
After independence democratic form of government was established. Its main aim was nation-building on the principles of democracy, secularism, national unity and social justice. All parts of the country wanted a fair deal in nation-building. They started competing with each other for their development.
Anything short of expectation led to disenchantment and it resulted in the emergence of regional politics.
There was integration of the Princely States. Small states were integrated with the big states. People continued to nurse loyalties to old territorial units. This was the most important factor for the success of Princes in elections. The Princes often received overwhelming support their former territories in the newly created states and relatively much less in other parts of the same state.
Reorganization of states on linguistic basis also played a very vital role in the development of regional politics. Twenty eight states were reshaped and reduced to 14 states along with centrally administered territories. Later new states were created, then for example Bombay was divided into Gujarat and Maharashtra, Punjab and Haryana. But these states were not constituted entirely on linguistic basis. Many other factors like ethnic-cum-economic considerations: (Nagaland, Meghalaya, Manipur and Tripura), (Haryana and Punjab), language-cum-culture, (Maharashtra and Gujarat); historical and political factor, (U.P. and Bihar); integration of princely states in and need for viable groupings (M. P. and Rajasthan); language and social distinctiveness (Tamil Nadu, Kerala, Mysore, Bengal and Orissa), have played a decisive role in the composition of the Indian federation.
In spite of all these considerations, language remained the most important factor in the reorganization of states. It became such an important force in the context of regionalism that linguistic regionalism gained ground in Indian politics.
Another factor which gave rise to regional and parochial tendencies in the country was the personal and selfish ends of politicians. Immediately, after independence the struggle for power started among some parties. For enhancing their own authority and prestige, the regional and state leaders did not hesitate to weaken the authority of the centre or in some cases of states. The creation of more states meant more governors, chief ministers, M.L.A.’s etc. The professional politicians explored the narrow and sectarian sentiments of ignorant masses for fulfilling their personal and selfish ends. Keeping these landmarks in mind, let us now examine the bases or regional and state politics.