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Nationalist Movement Phase 2 (1915-1922) - (Part 1) Notes | Study History for UPSC CSE - UPSC

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NAGPUR SESSION OF CONGRESS

  • The Nagpur session of Congress is also memorable for the new Congress Constitution that was adopted. It brought about a revolutionary change in Congress organization.
  • The Congress aim of swaraj was reaffirmed but now explained to mean “Self-Government within the Empire if possible and outside if necessary”.
  • Further, the earlier emphasis on the use of ‘constitutional means’ was substituted by “all peaceful and legitimate methods”.
  • The organizational changes in the Congress included:
    (a) Formation of working Committee of fifteen members. This working Committee was to act as the chief executive of the party.
    (b) Formation of an All-India Committee of 350 members to discuss important issues. It was also to be the apex body having the power to review the decision and working of the working Committee.
    (c) Formation of Congress Committees from towns to village level.
    (d) Reorganization of Provincial Congress Committees on linguistic basis. This was done to popularize the ideas of Congress in local language. Congress, also, as far as possible emphasized on the case of Hindi so that the gap between the educated groups and the masses may be filled up.
    (e) Opening of Congress member-ship to all men and women of age twenty-one or more on payment of four Annas as annual subscription.

The Nagpur session of the Congress in December 1920 is important because of

  • Changed Aim: Though the Congress aim of Swaraj was reaffirmed but now explained, to mean Self-Government.
  • Changed Methods: The earlier emphasis on the use of ‘constitutional means’ was substituted by ‘all peaceful and legitimate methods’.
  • Changed Leadership: After the death of Tilak in August 1920, the leadership went into the hands of Gandhi and it marked the beginning of Gandhian era in Indian Politics.
  • Structural Change: The Congress party was organised on modern lines with local Congress Committees at the grass root village level through sub-divisional, district and provincial Committees with the All-India Congress Committee at the apex.

SWARAJ PARTY

  • The suspension of the Non-Cooperation Movement led to a split within Congress in the Gaya session of the Congress in December 1922.
  • Leaders like Motilal Nehru and Chittranjan Das formed a separate group within the Congress known as the Swaraj Party on 1 January 1923.
  • The Swarajists wanted to contest the council elections and wreck the government from within. Motilal Nehru, C.R. Das and N.C. Kelkar (called Pro-changers) demanded that the Nationalists should end the boycott of the legislative councils, enter them and expose them.
  • No-changers like Rajendra Prasad and Rajagopalachari adhered to the Gandhian programme of Boycott of legislatures.
  • Elections to Legislative Councils were held in November 1923 in which, the Swaraj Party gained impressive successes.
  • In the Central Legislative Council Motilal Nehru became the leader of the party whereas in Bengal the party was headed by C.R. Das.
  • The Swaraj Party demanded the setting up of responsible government in India with the necessary changes in the Government of India Act of 1919.
  • The party could pass important resolutions against the repressive laws of the government.
  • When a Committee chaired by the Home Member, Alexander Muddiman considered the system of Dyarchy as proper, a resolution was passed against it in the Central Legislative Council.
  • After the passing away of C.R. Das in June 1925, the Swarj Party started weakening.
  • The Swarajists were split by communalism. The ‘responsivist’ group including Madan Mohan Malviya, Lala Lajpat Rai and N.G. Kelkar offered cooperation to the government to safeguard Hindu interests.
  • The Swarajists finally walked out of legislature in 1930 as a result of the Lahore congress resolution and the beginning of the civil disobedience movement. The two sections were reunited in 1930 after the Lahore session. 
  • The great achievement of Swaraj Party lay in their filling the political void at a time when the National Movement was recouping its strength and this they did without getting co-opted by the colonial regime.
  • They worked in the legislatures in an orderly disciplined manner and withdrew from them whenever the call came.
  • Above all, they showed that it was possible to use the legislatures in a creative manner even as they promoted the politics of self-reliant anti-imperialism.
  • They also successfully exposed the hollowness of the Reforms Act of 1919 and showed the people that India was being ruled by ‘Lawless Laws’.
  • The time when the No-Changers were busy in the constructive programme and Gandhi was leading an isolated life, the Swarajists took over the command of the National Movement.
  • Even the Simon Commission, accepted that, at that time it was only the Swaraj Party which was an organised and disciplined party having well defined objectives and programmes.

SIMON COMMISSION (1927)

  • In 1927, the British government appointed Simon Commission to look into the working of the Government of India Act, 1919. All its seven members were Englishmen.
  • Almost all the political parties including the Congress opposed the Commission because there was no Indian member in the commission.
  • On 3 February 1928 when the Commission reached Bombay, a general hartal was observed all over the country and were greeted with black flags and the cries of ‘Simon go back’.
  • At Lahore, the students took out a large anti-Simon Commission demonstration on 30 October 1928 under the leadership of Lala Lajpat Rai. In this demonstration, Lala Lajpat Rai was seriously injured in the police lathi charge and he passed away after one month.
  • The report of the Simon Commission was published in May 1930.
  • It was stated that the constitutional experiment with Dyarchy was unsuccessful and in its place the report recommended the establishment of autonomous government.
  • The Simon Commission Report became the basis for enacting the Government of India Act of 1935.

NEHRU REPORT (1928)

  • The Secretary of State, Lord Birkenhead, challenged the Indians to produce a Constitution that would be acceptable to all.
  • The challenge was accepted by the Congress, which convened an all party meeting on 28 February 1928.
  • A committee consisting of eight was constituted to draw up a blueprint for the future Constitution of India.
  • It was headed by Motilal Nehru.
  • The committee comprised of Tej Bahadur Sapru, Ali Imam, M.S. Aney, Mangal Singh, Shoaib Querishi, G.R. Pradhan and Subash Chandra Bose.
  • The Report favoured: – Dominion Status as the next immediate step. – Full responsible government at the centre. – Autonomy to the provinces. – Clear cut division of power between the centre and the provinces. – A bicameral legislature at the centre.
  • The report had a different chapter on minority rights apart from the Fundamental Rights.
  • During the presentation of the report before the All Parties Convention in Calcutta, a violent clash took place between Jinnah (representing the Muslim League) and M.R. Jayakar (who put forth the Hindu Mahasabha viewpoint) on the former’s demand of one-third of the total seats in the central legislatures for Muslims.
  • Consequently, Jinnah’s proposed amendments were overwhelmingly out-voted and the Report proved to be a non-starter and became a mere historical document.
  • The leader of the Muslim League, Mohammad Ali Jinnah regarded it as detrimental to the interests of the Muslims.
  • Jinnah convened an All India Conference of the Muslims where he drew up a list of Fourteen Points as Muslim League demand.

JINNAH'S FOURTEEN POINTS

  • At a meeting of the Muslim league in Delhi in March 28, 1929, M. A. Jinnah announced his ‘fourteen Points.’
  • Rejecting the Nehru Report, he maintained that no scheme for the future Government of India would be acceptable to the Muslims until and unless following basic principle were given effect to:
    (a) India required a federal system and Constitution in which the Provinces would have complete autonomy and residuary powers.
    (b) All legislatures and other elected bodies should be constituted on the principle of adequate representation of minorities in every Province.
    (c) A uniform measure of autonomy should be granted to all Provinces.
    (d) In the Central legislature, Muslim representation should not be less than one-third.
    (e) The Representation of communal groups through the system of electorate should continue as long as rights and interests of Muslims were not safeguarded in the Constitution.
    (f) Any future territorial redistribution should not affect the Muslim majority in Punjab, Bengal and the North-West Frontier Province.
    (g) Full religious liberty should be granted to all communities.
    (h) No bill should be passed in any elected body if three-fourth of the members of any community in that particular body were to oppose such a bill. (i) Sindh should be separated from the Bombay Presidency.
    (j) Reforms should be introduced in the North-West Frontier Provinces and Baluchistan as in other Provinces.
    (k) Muslims should be given an adequate share in all the services.
    (l) Adequate safeguards should be provided for the protection of Muslim culture.
    (m) No Cabinet should be formed without at least one-third Muslim ministers.
    (n) No change should be made in the Constitution except with-out the concurrence of the federation States.
  • The above mentioned demands suggested a total rejection of Nehru Report due to two reasons-
    (a) A unitary Constitution was not acceptable because it would not ensure Muslim domination in any part of India. A federal Constitution consisting of a Centre with limited power and autonomous Provinces with residuary powers would enable the Muslims to dominate five Provinces-North-West Frontier Province, Baluchistan, Sindh, Bengal and Punjab.
    (b) The solution to the communal problem as suggested by Nehru report was not acceptable to the Muslims.

LAHORE SESSION, 1929

  • Under the Presidentship of Jawaharlal Nehru, the INC at its Lahore session declared Poorna Swaraj as its ultimate goal on 19 December 1929.
  • The newly adopted tri-colour flag was unfurled on 31 December, 1929 and 26 January, 1930 was fixed as the First Independence Day, which was to be celebrated every year.
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