Andhra’s Claim Over Madras City

On 9th December 2009, the Union Home Minister Thiru Chidambaram had made an announcement that the Indian Government is beginning the process of Telangana state formation. This has set off a chain reaction in Coastal Andhra and Rayalaseema regions of Andhra Pradesh. History is repeating itself as some leaders started making all kinds of claims and demands on the Hyderabad City. They say that Hyderabad has developed with investments from Andhra region and that it should either be made a common capital, a Union Territory or a state by itself!

Such claims and demands are neither new nor valid. We have witnessed similar scenes when Andhra separated from erstwhile Madras Presidency and when Gujarat separated from Bombay Province..

This document throws some light on the Andhra’s claim over Madras city during 1950s and how that issue was settled. It would be worth mentioning here that Andhras ran a sustained campaign called ‘Madras Manade’ (Madras belongs to us) but the firm resolve of the then Central government and also the Madras Government, the city stayed with Tamilnadu.

The Dispute About the City of Madras

The claims of the Andhras to the city may be briefly summarised as follows:

It was a Telugu King who owned the soil on which the Fort St. George and the city sprang up. The areas surrounding the Fort. St. George belonged to the Telugu Kings. The King, in his grant, wanted the city be esteemed for all time as a Telugu city. The Telugus were there already. The city was known as a Telugu city to foreign travellers for a very long time.

These claims of the Andhras are largely true so far as the Chennapatnam of the 17th century was concerned; but it is necessary to bear in mind that the boundaries of Madras expanded since then. The official centre of the settlement founded in 1639 was designated as Fort St. George. The British applied the name of Madraspatnam – which gradually became Madras – to the combined towns of Chennapatnam and Madraspatnam. The original site of the village of Madraspatnam is probably to be found on the northern esplanade of modern Fort St. George. Outside the bounds of Madraspatnam was a group of villages comprising Tandore on the north, Perambore to the north-west, Vepery and Purasawalkam on the west, Egmore and Nungabaukam to the south-west and the Triplicane on the south. These villages, with others, are now included in the urban area, but they were acquired by the British only later. Chintadripet was not founded until the eighteenth century. With the addition of these and other areas, the growing city also came to be called Madras.

The Tamil claims to the city were based on solid grounds. The Tamils constitute the majority of the population in the city which is also surrounded by Tamil areas. Within the Madras municipal corporation Tamil population was at 67.92% in 1951.

Old Claims

In the early years of the Andhra Movement, the considered view of almost all its protagonists was that Madras, not being a Telugu city, had no place in the future Andhra Province. Even maps of Andhra Province published at that time excluded Madras. The articles in the press argued that the Andhra backwardness was due, among other things, to the situation of the capital in a far-off corner dominated by Tamils. The remedy, the Andhras felt, lay in having a separate Province with the capital in its midst.

The first suggestion that Madras could be the Andhra capital and some other place the Capital for the residuary Madras Province was made at the Nellore Conference of Andhra Maha Sabha by O.V. Rangayya Pantulu, the Chairman of the Reception Committee.

Importance of the City

Madras developed owing to the efforts of all the linguistic groups in the city, particularly the Tamils and the Telugus, the largest groups. Since the founding of the Fort St. George, it was the headquarters of the Presidency and so a number of Government buildings were located in the city. It was a centre of business, had the port, aerodrome and other facilities. It was the educational centre of the Presidency. The post-graduate and Professional colleges were almost concentrated there. Giving up the city would mean giving up these educational advantages.

The inclusion of the city was demanded on financial grounds too. Excluding the city, the Telugu districts had, on the basis of 19848-49 accounts, a deficit of Rs. 201.01 lakhs, and the non-Telugu districts a deficit of Rs. 179.44 lakhs. The Madras city had a surplus of Rs. 208.96 lakhs.

Various Suggestions

In view of these claims and counter-claims over the city, various suggestions were made, mostly by the Andhras, as to the status of the city in the even of the formation of linguistic provinces. The suggestions were:

1) To make it the common capital for both the Andhra and Tamil provinces

2) To make the city itself or with the inclusion of some surrounding areas into a separate province

3) To divide the city into North Madras and South Madras with river Couum as the boundary and making North Madras the capital of Andhra and South Madras the capital of Tamil Province.


At a very late stage there was more or less a unanimous opinion among the Andhras that the city be made a Part C state (Union Territory). They repeatedly pleaded for arbitration of the disputed issues including the status of Madras city. The Tamils did not even consider these suggestions. With one voice all of them demanded the inclusion of the city in the Tamil Province.

It is doubtful that the creation of Madras as a Part C state (Union Territory) would have solved the problem. Creation of Andhra and Tamil Provinces would naturally have increased the demand for other linguistic provinces in the post-independent India. Madras was not the only city having significantly large groups of people speaking different languages. Bangalore, Trivendrum, Hyderabad, Bombay, and Calcutta are some of the cities in this category. If the principle of linguistic provinces and the creation of disputed cities into Part C States are both accepted it may be demanded that all these cities be made Part C States. And the question of finding new capitals for Andhra, Tamilnad, Kerala, Karnataka, Maharashtra, to give only a few examples, would arise. May be, the new states might have to depend upon their own resources or seek central grants to have new capitals. The Government of India would not allow all these new problems to crop up simply because it could not take a firm decision to allow Bombay and Madras cities to be included in unilingual provinces. So the status-quo continued.

* Article extracted from the book ‘The Emergence of Andhra Pradesh” by Sri. K.V. Narayana Rao.  

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