After the withdrawal of the Non Cooperation movement, there was wide spread demoralization and disorganization in the nationalists rank. Many nationalist began to question the efficacy of Gandhian leadership.
During this time a new political strategy; to carry forward the struggle against the colonial rule; was advocated by C.R. Das and Motilal Nehru. These leaders were of the view that the nationalists should end the boycott of legislative councils (as introduced by the Montague Chelmsford reforms). These leaders advocated that the nationalists should enter these councils, in order to expose these councils as “sham parliaments”.
C.R. Das and Motilal Nehru put forward this changed strategy in Gaya session (1922) of the Congress. There were leaders in Congress like Vallabhbhai Patel, Rajendra Prasad and C.Rajgopalacharya who opposed these changes of council entry. The group within the Congress which supported the changed strategy of council entry was called “Pro-Changers” while those opposing the changes were called “No Changers”. However the proposal of the council entry was defeated in the Gaya session. C.R. Das and Motilal Nehru resigned from the Congress and formed the Swaraj Party.
The Swarajist claimed that they would transform the councils into the theatre of political struggle. The councils would thus be wrecked from within by creating deadlocks on every measure.
The elections for the legislative councils were held in November 1923, the Swarajist performed well in the election. They won 42 out of 101 seats in the Central Legislative Assembly, got a clear majority in the Central Provinces, they were the largest party in Bengal; and did well in Bombay and U.P. However their performance was not good in Madras and Punjab.
The Swarajists demanded the release all the political prisoners, provincial autonomy, repealing of the repressive laws imposed by the government. However, after the death of C.R. Das in 1925 they drifted towards a policy of cooperation with the government. This led to dissension and the party broke up in 1926.
The Conservative Government of Britain in 1927 feared the victory of Labour Party in the forthcoming elections suddenly decided that Labour Party would give Congress more than they desire. The Conservative Government formed Indian Statutory Commission, popularly known as the Simon Commission to recommend whether India was ready for the further constitutional progress and on which lines.
The peculiar feature of this commission was that no Indian was included in this commission which was about to play a crucial role in deciding the future of India.
The Commission was boycotted in India, not only by Congress but also by Liberal Federation, Hindu Mahasabha and large section in Muslim League.
Lord Birkenhead, the Conservative Secretary of the State challenged Indians that they were not capable to formulate a concrete scheme of the constitutional reforms which had the support of wide section of political parties. He was of the view that a scheme of constitutional reform made by one political party in India would be opposed by the others and Indian political parties lacked the capabilities to form a consensus.
To meet this challenge All Parties Conferences were held in 1928. A scheme was finalized which is popularly called “Nehru Report” as Motilal Nehru was its chief architect.
Features of the report:
Jinnah, the leader of Muslim League, did not accept the Nehru Report. Jinnah thereafter drew up a list of demands, which was called ’14 points of Jinnah’.
At its annual session held in Lahore in Dec. 1929, under the presidentship of Jawaharlal Nehru, the Indian National Congress passed a resolution declaring ‘Poorna Swaraj’ (Complete Independence) to be the goal of the national movement
On Dec. 31, 1929, the newly adopted tricolor flag was unfurled and Jan 26 fixed as the Independence Day which was to be celebrated every year, pleading to the people not to submit to British rule any longer
Phase “I” of Civil Disobedience Movement
In 1929 at Lahore Session, Congress made the “Purna Swaraj” or the complete independence as the aim of the Congress.
On 31st January 1930, Gandhi gave his ultimatum to Lord Irwin with his 11 point demand. The Gandhi asked Irwin either to accept the 11 point demands else the Congress will launch Civil Disobedience.
The demands were ignored by the British government. Thus Gandhi launched the Civil Disobedience Movement with the Dandi march. It was from Sabarmati to Dandi . Gandhiji along with his 78 followers broke the Salt Act.
The course of events
While the Civil Disobedience movement was continuing the Simon Commission submitted its report in 1930, the report nowhere talked about even Dominion Status. In a conciliatory gesture, the Viceroy suggested the Round Table conference.
The first Round Table Conference was held on 9th July under the chairmanship of the then Prime Minister of Britain, Ramsay Macdonald. The congress along with most of the business leaders (except Homi Modi) kept away from the conference. Muslim leaders like Muhammad Ali, Muhammad Shafi, Aga Khan, Fazlul Haq, Jinnah etc, Hindu Mahasabha leaders like Moonje and Jayakar, liberals like Sapru, Chintamani and Srinivas Shastri were present.
The government made a gesture of goodwill by releasing Gandhi and other Congress leaders. The Viceroy Irwin directly held talks with Gandhi. In Feb. 1931, the talks ended with the famous Gandhi-Irwin Pact.
Terms and conditions of the pact
In return the Congress agreed to withdrew the Civil Disobedience Movement and participate in the second Round Table Conference
Second Round Table Conference was held on September 7, 1931. Gandhi was the sole representative of the Congress. Gandhi demanded that a responsible government must be established, immediately and in full, both at the Centre and in the Provinces. There was a deadlock on the minority issue. The separate electorates were now demanded not only by the Muslims but also by the depressed classes, Indian Christians and Europeans.
Phase “II” of Civil Disobedience Movement
After the failure of Second Round Table Conference, the working committee of the Congress resumed Civil Disobedience in. The second phase of the Civil Disobedience movement comprised of the wide range of activities, partly because the list of the activities declared illegal by the Government had lengthened and civil liberties were almost suppressed.
The government took strong repressive measures to curb the movement.
Macdonald’s announced the communal awards in August 1932. This communal award provided separate electorates for each minority i.e. Muslim, Christians and Sikhs. Apart from these minorities the awards also provided the separate electorates to depressed classes.
Gandhi began the fast unto death in opposition of the separate electorates for the depressed classes. He demanded that representatives for the depressed classes should be elected by the general electorates under a wide, if possible universal, common franchise. At the same time he also didn’t object to the demand for a larger number of the reserved seats for the depressed classes.
In the end the agreement known as Poona Pact broke the impasse; this agreement took place between Gandhi and Dr B.R. Ambadkar (the leader of depressed class). As per this Pact the idea of separate electorates for the Depressed Classes was abandoned but the seats reserved for them in the provincial legislatures were increased from 71 in the award to 147 and in the Central Legislature to 18% of the total.
The Simon Commission report submitted in 1930 formed the basis for the Government of India Act, 1935. The new Government of India Act received the royal assent on Aur. 4, 1935. The continued and extended all the existing features of earlier constitutional reforms. But in addition there were certain new principle introduced. It provided for a federal type of government. Thus, the act:
Made ministers responsible to the legislative and federation at the centre. The Act of 1935 was condemned by nearly all sections of Indian public opinion and was unanimously rejected by the Congress. The Congress demanded itself the convening of a Constituent Assembly elected on the basis of adult Although the Congress opposed the Act, yet it contested the elections when the constitution was introduced on April 1, 1937; and formed ministries, first in 6 provinces and then in another 2. The Muslim League was however, not happy with the Congress rule, esp. Mr. Jinnah, who described it in those words: ‘Congress was drunk with power and was oppressive against Muslims’.
The World War II broke out in September 1939 when Germany invaded Poland. Britain and France after the attack on Poland were force to aid Poland. The British Government of India immediately declared India to be at war with Germany without consulting the Congress or the elected members of the Central Legislature.
The Congress ministries in the seven provinces resigned on 1st November 1939 to manifest their protest as India was declared to be at war without any consultations from the nationalists. Muslim League celebrated the resignation of Congress ministries as “Day of Deliverance” from the rule of Congress.
It was 1930 that Iqbal suggested the union of the Frontier Province, Baluchistan, Sindh and Kashmir as Muslim state within the federations. This provided to be a creative idea which germinated during the early thirties to burst into vigorous life with the advent of the new reforms. The idealist Chaudhry Rehmat Ali developed this conception at Cambridge, where he inspired a group of young Muslims and invented the term ‘Pakstan’ (later ‘Pakistan’) in 1935. His ideas seemed visionary during that time, within 7 years they had been turned into a political programme byJinnah with the new name as its slogan or banner. The ideology of Iqbal, the vision of Rehamat Ali, and the fears of Muslims were thus united by the practical genius of Jinnah to blind Muslim together as never before during the British period and lead effect an act on political creation, i.e. Pakistan. Pakistan Resolution was an important landmark in this context. The Lahore session of the Muslim League, held on March 24, 1940, passed Pakistan Resolution and rejected the Federal scheme an envisaged in the government of India Act, 1935.
In order to win the public opinion in India, Linlithgow put up an offer to get the support of the nationalist in the World War “II”. The following were the major features of the August Offer
The August offer shocked nationalists, and the Congress launched the individual Satyagraha. As per the strategy of this limited Satyagraha the few individuals would be selected in every locality that would mobilize people for the goal of complete independence and preach against the participation in War.
Vinobha Bhave was the first Satyagrahi while Nehru was second.
The Congress objected the proposal of Cripp’s Mission on the following grounds:
The causes for the launch of Quit India Movement were:
Course of Events
Gandhiji undertook a 21-day fast in jail. His condition deteriorated after 13 days and all hopes of his surviving were given up. However, as a result his moral strength and spiritual stamina, he survived and completed the 21-day fast. This was his answer to the government which had been constantly exhorting him to condemn the violence of the people in the Quit India Movement. Gandhi not only refused to condemn people resorting to violence but unequivocally held the government responsible for it.
In 1994, Chakravarti Rajagopalachari (C.R.) proposed to appoint a commission to demarcate the district in North-West and East where Muslims were in majority. In such areas, a plebiscite to be held on the basis of adult suffrage to decide the issue of separation. They would be given freedom in they favoured a sovereign state. In case of acceptance of partition, agreement to be made jointly for safeguarding defence, commerce, communications etc. Muslim League was to endorse Congress demand for independence and cooperate in formation of provisional government. Jinnah objected, as he wanted Congress to accept two-nation theory and wanted only Muslims of the North-West and East of India to vote in the plebiscite. Hindu Leaders led by V.D. Savarkar condemned the plan.
The war situation in Europe improved in the beginning of the year 1945. India’s goodwill was, however, needed as the war against Japan was expected to last for about two years. The situation within the country worsening day by day as a result of deteriorating economi9c situation and famines. The British Government was compelled to come forward with some sort of plan to satisfy the Indians. After consultations with the British Government on the Indian problem, Lord Wavell, the Viceroy of India, issued a statement known as Wavell Plan. The Plan, which chiefly concerned Viceroy’s Executive Council, proposed certain changes in the structure of the council. One of the main proposals was that the Executive Council would be constituted giving a balanced representation to main communities in it, including equal representation to Muslims and Hindus.
Soon after the Wavell Plan was issued the members of the Congress Working Committee were released from jails. A conference of 22 prominent Indian leaders called at Shimla to consider the Wavell Plan, reached no decision. What scutted the conference was Mr. Jinnah’s unflinching stand that Muslim approved only by the Muslim League should be included in the Executive Council. Communalism thus again became a stumbling block. For the Britishers, however, the dissension between the Congress and the Muslim League was a source of happiness.
The Cabinet Mission which came to India on 19th March, 1946 comprised of three members:
The provisions as per the plan were:
Direct Action Campaign (Aug, 16, 1946): Provoked by the success of the Congress (in the voting for Constituent Assembly), the Muslim League launched a ‘direct action’ campaign on Aug. 16, 1946, which resulted in heavy communal riots in the country.
Interim Government (Sept, 2, 1946): On Sept. 2, 1946, an interim government was formed. Congress members led by Pt. Jawaharlal Nehru joined it but the Muslim League did not as it withdrew its earlier acceptance of the Cabinet Mission Plan.
Formation of Constituent Assembly (Dec. 9, 1946): This Constituent Assembly met on Dec. 9, 1946, and Dr. Rajendra Prasad was elected its President. The Muslim League did not join the Assembly.
Attlee’s Announcement (Feb. 20, 1947): On Feb. 20, 1947, British Prime Minister Attlee announced that the British would withdraw from India by June 30, 1948 and that Lord Mountbatten would replace Wavell.
The Bill containing the provisions of the Mountbatten Plan of June 3, 1947, was introduced in the British Parliament and passed as the Indian Independence Act, 1947. The Act laid down detailed measures for the partition of India and speedy transfer of political powers to the new government of India & Pakistan.
By Aug. 15, 1947, all states except Kashmir, Junagadh & Hyderabad had signed the Instrument of Accession with India. The Maharaja of Kashmir acceded to India in Oct., 1947 when irregular Pakistani troops invaded his state. The Nawab of Junagadh was a Muslim whereas most of its people were Hindus. In Feb. 1948, through a referendum the people of this state decided to join India. The Nawab of Junagadh, therefore, left for Pakistan. The Nizam of Hyderabad was forced to accede to the Indian Union under the pressure of internal anarchy and military action against him in Sep., 1948.
French Colonies: By the end of 1954, French colonial rule in Pondicherry, Chandranagar, Mahe, Karaikal and Yanam came to an end. These territories were integrated with India.
Portuguese Colonies: The Portuguese colonies in India were Goa, Daman, Die, Dadra and Nagar Haveli. In 1954, Dadra and Nagar Haveli were liberated by freedom fighters. Indian troops liberated Goa, Daman and Diu from the Portuguese in 1961.