- Mediations were taking place between Irwin and Gandhi, and the latter and the members of Congress Working Committee were released on 25 January 1931. From February 17, negotiations began between the Viceroy and the Congress and on March 5, 1931, the Gandhi-Irwin Pact was finally made. According to this Agreement, all political prisoners were to be released, the Ordinances were to be withdrawn, confiscated and forfeited property was to be restored to the owners and concessions to make salt in certain areas were to be provided.
Gandhi and Lord Irwin respectively
Reasons for Gandhi-Irwin Pact were:
- Government found Congress influence all-pervasive.
- Oppression cannot be limitless.
- Government’s keenness to associate Congress in constitutional negotiations. That is why conciliatory speeches by Viceroy, Secretary of State and British Prime Minister.
- Tempo of C.D.M. had slackened.
- The detailed terms of the Gandhi-Irwin Pact were as follows:
- The people living near sea-shores were to prepare salt without paying any duty.
- The confiscated property of participants in the Salt-Satyagraha was to be restored to them.
- All political prisoners were to be released, but not they against whom there were criminal charges.
- All ordinances promulgated during the Satyagraha were to be withdrawn.
- Peaceful picketing of foreign cloth shops was permitted.
- The Government was to be liberal in reinstating those who had resigned from service.
- The Congress agreed to suspend civil disobedience. Mahatma Gandhi agreed not to press his demand for enquiry into police excesses during the Satyagraha. The Congress also agreed to suspend boycott.
The Gandhi-Irwin Pact made the Tory leader Churchill exclaim that it was nauseating that the half-naked seditionist, a former barrister and now a Fakir was discussing on equal terms with the Viceroy, the representative of the King-Emperor. Indirectly, even that sarcastic remark is a tribute to the enormous soul-force of Gandhiji which had transformed him from a barrister to a Mahatma or Fakir.
Impact of the Pact were:
- Left-wingers and youth felt disappointed.
- Delhi Pact a victory both for Congress and Government.
- Enhanced the prestige of Gandhi.
First Round Table Conference
- Since 1921, the Congress leaders and the Swaraj Party were unsuccessfully demanding the holding of a Round Table Conference to settle India’s political and constitutional problems. When the fervour of nationalism rose high, the Government did agree to hold the Round Table Conference. The First Round Table Conference which met from 12.11.1930 to 19.1.1931 could not achieve any solid success because the Congress was not represented in it. Maulana Muhammad Ali and Jinnah had attended it. Some of the non-Congress participants debated the question of representation to the minorities.
Second Round Table Conference
- Gandhi attended the Second Round Table Conference along with Madan Mohan Malaviya, Sarojini Naidu and B.R. Ambedkar, but no agreed solution could be reached on the communal and national problems.
Sarojini NaiduIn spite of Gandhi’s insistence, Dr. Ansari was not nominated to the Second Round Table Conference. Gandhiji was in favour of unicameralism. He pleaded that Fundamental rights should be guaranteed in the Constitution and there should be judicial remedies for their enforcement.
He also demanded full control over the army and foreign affairs. The committees and sub-committees of the Round Table Conferences—the Franchise Committee, the States Enquiry Committee, the Federal Structure Sub-committee, the Minorities Sub-committee etc. were concerned with details of constitutional problems. But Gandhiji was all the time insistent on getting the substance of Swaraj.
Once this fundamental goal was realized, the details could be settled subsequently. Ramsay MacDonald, the British Prime Minister wanted that all members should agree to accept his verdict on the question of minorities. But Gandhi was of the firm view that the glow of the sun of independence alone would serve to melt the iceberg of communalism.
The declaration of MacDonald at the Plenary session of the Conference was immensely dissatisfying because it contained no reference to the grant of Dominion Status to India. There was no assurance for the establishment of responsible government in the provinces and at the centre.
The question of responsible government at the centre was so linked with the establishment of the federal pattern at the centre that without the consent of the Native States no progress could be achieved in the realization of the cherished goal of responsible government.
Moreover, there was no assurance regarding fundamental rights. The proposed constitutional reforms, as outlined by the British Prime Minister, in December 1931 totally reserved defence and military affairs for control by the British Parliament and the Viceroy.
Gandhiji could not agree to such proposals specially in the context of the Independence Resolution of 1929. He, all along, was concerned with the basic question of freedom and was disinclined to discuss the details of monetary and financial schemes.
Third Round Table Conference
- The Third Round Table Conference was held from November 17 to December 24, 1932 but it could not make any progress towards Swaraj. However, the deliberations at the three Round Table Conferences formed the basis on which the draft of the Government of India Act of 1935 was prepared.