Between Non-cooperationï¿½and Civil Disobedience
The Swaraj Party Gandhi’s suspension of non-cooperation movement could not but upset his own colleagues. Many of them were hurt and some were bitter with anger. Both Motilal Nehru and Lala Lajpat Rai wrote him letters from jail condemning his action. When the All-India Congress Committee met on February 24thï¿½ï¿½at Delhi, Gandhi was assailed for calling off the movement. C.R. Das coming out of the jail said in his speech at Amrati that Gandhi had “bungled and mismanaged”. Although the Mahatma defended his case quite firmly, yet his action widened the split between those who were already opposed to non-co-operation and boycott of Councils and those who blindly followed Gandhi.
The differences between the Gandhi-ites (non-changers)ï¿½and their opponents (pro-changers) became sharper at theï¿½Gaya session of the Congress held at the close of 1922 . On thisï¿½occasion, C.R. Das, the President of the Congress, elaborated hisï¿½scheme of entering the legislatures with a view to offer “uniform,ï¿½continuous and consistent obstruction” to the Government. Butï¿½his scheme was outvoted by the non-changers who clung to theï¿½conservative programme of spinning, weaving, temperance,ï¿½removal of untouchability, and similar other social reforms. Das,ï¿½thereupon, submitted his resignation as Congress President andï¿½announced his intention to form the Swaraj Party to contest theï¿½ensuring elections. Motilal Nehru supported him. Thus were laidï¿½the foundations of the Swaraj Party (1923) which proposed toï¿½remain within the Congress and carry forward the fight on theï¿½parliamentary plane within the new legislatures. The party wasï¿½also known as the Swarajaya Party as also the Congress-Khilafatï¿½Swarajaya Party.
The Swarajists and the Gandhi-ites continued as thoseï¿½opposing each other till Gandhi came out of the prison in 1924ï¿½and blessed the pro-changers. The Swarajists and the two wingsï¿½-the non-changers and the pro-chargers came together in theï¿½Belgaum session of the Congress.
The Swarajists believed in wrecking the Act of 1919 fromï¿½within, i.e., in the legislative councils. They believed in capturingï¿½seats. “Obstruction” to the Government in its working was theï¿½keynote of their policy, while mending or ending of the newï¿½constitution (1919) was their immediate objective. By rejectingï¿½all important legislative measures and budgets, they planned toï¿½bring the Government machinery to a stand-still. The Swarajistsï¿½also hoped to infuse enthusiasm among the masses by fightingï¿½elections.
The achievements of the Swaraj party were, indeed,ï¿½significant. In accordance with their programme, they foughtï¿½elections to the legislatures in 1923 . They emerged the largestï¿½and the best – disciplined group in the Central Legislativeï¿½Assembly with 45 members out of 145 . Although short ofï¿½working majority, the Swarajists were able to hinder the smoothï¿½flow of Government-inspired legislations, in co-operation withï¿½the Nationalist Party and some Independents. In the provincialï¿½elections, the Swarajists’ success was no less spectacular : theyï¿½won a clear majority in the Central Provinces and were theï¿½largest party in Bengal. In both the provinces, they succeededï¿½in wrecking the experiment of dyarchy by refusing to formï¿½ministers.
In 1924, the Swarajists moved an amendment inï¿½the Central Assembly urging the Government
(i) to take earlyï¿½steps for the revision of the new constitution
(ii) to call a Roundï¿½Table Conference including the native representatives
(iii) toï¿½recommend a new constitution for India, and to submit theï¿½same to the British Parliament for enactment.
The amendmentï¿½met with a great success and Muddiman Committee was appointedï¿½shortly after, to enquire and report as to how far the Reforms ofï¿½1919 had worked. The Muddiman Committee was appointed inï¿½1924 and completed its work, but was divided into a majority andï¿½minority views of the reports. The British Government, then,ï¿½appointed a commission, known as the Simon Commission, inï¿½1927.
Simon Commission, 1927
The Simon Commission, an all-white commission landed in Bombay on February 3, 1928. It was composed of seven British members of the Parliament with John Simon as its chairman. There was no Indian as a member of the Simon Commission and this made all sections of the Indian society agitated who resented the commission’s arrival. The boycott of the Commission wherever it went in India was its policy. The Congress and the Muslim League denounced the Commission as a body deliberately packed with Britons for the purpose of sabotaging India’s political advancement. The liberals and other moderate groups called for a boycott of the commission. Hence the commission was greeted with complete hartals, black flags and loud slogans of ‘Simon go back’. Despite these hostile demonstrations, the Simon Commission managed to tour the country with the help of a few bureaucrats and also carried on its investigations. On the basis of these investigations, the commission submitted its report in 1930.
Written by princy