Mahatma Gandhi – Swaraj and the Salt Satyagraha

Gandhi stayed out of the limelight for most of the 1920s, preferring to resolve the wedge between the Swaraj Party and the Indian National Congress, and expanding initiatives against untouchability, alcoholism, ignorance and poverty. He returned to the fore in 1928. The year before, the British government had appointed a new constitutional reform commission under Sir John Simon, with not a single Indian in its ranks. The result was a boycott of the commission by Indian political parties. Gandhi pushed through a resolution at the Calcutta Congress in December 1928 calling on the British government to grant India dominion status or face a new campaign of non-violence with complete independence for the country as its goal. Gandhi had not only moderated the views of younger men like Subhas Chandra Bose and Jawaharlal Nehru, who sought a demand for immediate independence, but also modified his own call to a one year wait, instead of two.[10] The British did not respond. On December 31, 1929, the flag of India was unfurled in Lahore. January 26, 1930 was celebrated by the Indian National Congress, meeting in Lahore, as India’s Independence Day. This day was commemorated by almost every other Indian organization. Making good on his word, he launched a new satyagraha against the tax on salt in March 1930, highlighted by the famous Salt March to Dandi from March 12 to April 6, marching 400 kilometres (248 miles) from Ahmedabad to Dandi, Gujarat to make salt himself. Thousands of Indians joined him on this march to the sea. This campaign was one of his most successful at upsetting British rule; Britain responded by imprisoning over 60,000 people.

The government, represented by Lord Edward Irwin, decided to negotiate with Gandhi. The Gandhi–Irwin Pact was signed in March 1931. The British Government agreed to set all political prisoners free in return for the suspension of the civil disobedience movement. Furthermore, Gandhi was invited to attend the Round Table Conference in London as the sole representative of the Indian National Congress. The conference was a disappointment to Gandhi and the nationalists, as it focused on the Indian princes and Indian minorities rather than the transfer of power. Furthermore, Lord Irwin’s successor, Lord Willingdon, embarked on a new campaign of repression against the nationalists. Gandhi was again arrested, and the government attempted to destroy his influence by completely isolating him from his followers. This tactic was not successful. In 1932, through the campaigning of the Dalit leader B. R. Ambedkar, the government granted untouchables separate electorates under the new constitution. In protest, Gandhi embarked on a six-day fast in September 1932, successfully forcing the government to adopt a more equitable arrangement via negotiations mediated by the Dalit cricketer turned political leader Palwankar Baloo. This was the start of a new campaign by Gandhi to improve the lives of the untouchables, whom he named Harijans, the children of God. On May 8, 1933 Gandhi began a 21-day fast of self-purification to help the Harijan movement.

In the summer of 1934, three unsuccessful attempts were made on his life.

When the Congress Party chose to contest elections and accept power under the Federation scheme, Gandhi decided to resign from party membership. He did not disagree with the party’s move, but felt that if he resigned, his popularity with Indians would cease to stifle the party’s membership, that actually varied from communists, socialists, trade unionists, students, religious conservatives, to those with pro-business convictions. Gandhi also did not want to prove a target for Raj propaganda by leading a party that had temporarily accepted political accommodation with the Raj.

Gandhi returned to the head in 1936, with the Nehru presidency and the Lucknow session of the Congress. Although Gandhi desired a total focus on the task of winning independence and not speculation about India’s future, he did not restrain the Congress from adopting socialism as its goal. Gandhi had a clash with Subhas Bose, who had been elected to the presidency in 1938. Gandhi’s main points of contention with Bose were his lack of commitment to democracy, and lack of faith in non-violence. Bose won his second term despite Gandhi’s criticism, but left the Congress when the All-India leaders resigned en masse in protest against his abandonment of the principles introduced by Gandhi

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2 Comments

Filed under Mahatma Gandhi, Warrior of Light

2 responses to “Mahatma Gandhi – Swaraj and the Salt Satyagraha

  1. R.Sharma

    Was it not strange for Gandhi and Gandhian to complain that Subhas Bose was not democratric when Gandhi and Gandhian had refused to obey the verdict of a democratic election for the Congress President in 1939 where Bose was elected by the majority of the Congress delegates. Gandhi then made a conspiracy to force Bose to resign and expelled the elected President along with 200 of his followers from the Congress Party. Was Gandhi a Democrat.
    Gandhi himself was never elected but imposed himself as the leader with the suppprt of Ghokale after the unfortunate death of Tilak. Immediately after that Gandhi had expelled everyone who could challenge his dictatorial rule of the Congress Party. Since then none of the Presidents of the Congress Party was elected but selected by Gandhi himself. Bose was the first to be elected in a contest, but was expelled from the Congress Party as a result.
    Thus, Gandhi was a very dishonest person, a dictator, and a complete liar. When he had accepted the propsal of the partition of India in 1940 he went on to say in public that partition can happen only over his deadbody. He had refused to accept NWFP and Baluchistan in India in 1947. In 1938 he had refused to accept Fazlul Haque of Bengal in the Congress, ottherwise the whole of Bengal would be in India.
    It is a dreadful fact that India got ruined by Gandhi and Nehru.

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