Author, Burning for Freedom

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Wednesday, October 10, 2012

The truth behind the myth (Part III)

Hi, Everyone! Why then did Gandhi wait until the end of the year of Noncooperation to call off the Movement using Chauri Chaura incident as an excuse . . . ?

The answer lies here:

The Noncooperation Movement was carrying on without any serious reprisals from the Government; the British watched the antics indulgently. The crunch came with the scheduled visit of the Prince of Wales to India. It was a matter of pride for the Indian Government that the Prince of Wales be warmly welcomed and be graciously received in India. The Congress disagreed. His visit was boycotted by the Congress.

Now the Government unsheathed their swords and declared “open war against the noncooperators.” The Congress was not cowed. The movement grew from strength to strength. At this point (December 1921), the Viceroy Reading approached C. R. Das with a proposition. Netaji Subhas Bose’s account of it is recorded in R. C. Majumdar’s H of F M of I, V III, pages 143-45:

“Bose writes that Pandit Madan Mohan Malviya, who had kept away from the 1921 movement, ‘came to interview Deshabandhu Das in the Presidency jail with a message from the Viceroy’, thus clearly implying that it was the Viceroy who took the initiative. . . .

‘The offer that he [Malaviya] brought was that if the Congress agreed to call off the civil disobedience movement immediately, so that the Prince’s visit would not be boycotted by the public, the Government would simultaneously withdraw the notification declaring Congress volunteers illegal and release all those who had been incarcerated thereunder. They would further summon a Round Table Conference of the Government to settle the future constitution of India. . . .

Rightly or wrongly, he [Deshbandhu Das] said, the Mahatma had promised Swaraj within one year. That year was drawing to a close. Barely a fortnight was left and within this short period something had to be achieved in order to save the face of the Congress and fulfill the Mahatma’s promise regarding Swaraj. The offer of the Viceroy had come to him as a godsend. . . .

The above logic was irrefutable and I felt convinced. . . . a telegram was sent to Mahatma Gandhi recommending his acceptance of the proposed terms of settlement. A reply came to the effect that he insisted on the release of the Ali brothers and their associates as a part of the terms of settlement and also on an announcement regarding the date and composition of the Round Table Conference. Unfortunately, the Viceroy was not in a mood for any further parleying . . . Ultimately, the Mahatma did come round, but by then it was too late. The Government of India, tired of waiting, had changed their mind. The Deshabandhu was beside himself with anger and disgust. The chance of a lifetime, he said, had been lost. The feeling . . . was that the Mahatma had committed a serious blunder.’”

Through 1921, Gandhi had been reiterating his promise to the Indians of Swaraj in one year. He had even gone as far as to say “I should not like to remain alive next year if we have not won Swaraj by then. I am, in that event, likely to be pained so deeply that the body may perish—I would desire that it should.”[1]

It would be a disaster for the Congress and Gandhi, to say the least, to have nothing in hand—never mind Swaraj—to show the Indians at the end of the year.

·        The Congress was clearly looking for an excuse to end the Noncooperation Movement.

In the backdrop of this atmosphere in 1922:

·        February 1: Gandhi wrote a challenging letter to the Viceroy.

·        February 5: The Chauri Chaura incident took place.

·        February 6: The Viceroy came out with a press release—which was practically a Declaration of War—in reply to Gandhi’s letter.

·        February 6: Gandhi wrote a letter which indicates the Congress displeasure re his actions. “I observe that my action in writing to the Viceroy has not pleased the Committee.” CWMG, V 22 page 343.

·        February 9: Gandhi is strongly urged by prominent Congress members who had been endeavoring to bring about a Round Table Conference to suspend the Noncooperation Movement.[2]

·        February 10: Gandhi, in a speech to Congress workers in Bardoli, now declares re the Chauri Chaura incident that the “country at large has not at all accepted the teaching of non-violence. I must, therefore, immediately stop the movement for civil disobedience.”[3] The Congress rank and file objected to this “Mahatma’s retreat.” They thought it would disgrace India in the eyes of the world.

·        February 12: The Working Committee meets at Bardoli and passes the resolution to call off the Noncooperation Movement.

·        February 25: The resolution was adopted by the A.I.C.C.

And the myth was born!

The Congress and Gandhi had extricated themselves very cleverly from their promise of swaraj in one year to the Indians.

What was the consequence of this?

·        The Indian Independence Movement was brought to a screeching halt for many, many years to come.

·        And the British Raj reigned supreme, unthreatened.


Mahatma Gandhi Facts: Gandhi Revealed


[1] Mahatma Gandhi, Keer, page 405.
[2] R. C. Majumdar’s H of F M, V III, page 156.
[3] CWMG, V 22, page 377


  1. Dear Ma'am

    It will be very easy to reader if you put your posts in a list. It is difficult to find relevant post. Everytime we have to press 'back'. Please make your all post in a list format.

  2. Sir, I will definitely look into it.

  3. I have fixed the blog archives such that all posts in a month are listed individually. I haven't been able to list them in the categories yet.