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Gandhi Journal Article-I: Gandhi and Churchill

Mahatma Gandhi and Winston Churchill

 

By Vishwanath Tondon

 

 

Most students of India’s fight for independence may only be aware of Churchill’s famous 1931 remarks on Gandhi, when he went to meet the Viceroy, Lord Irwin, in his usual dress. Churchill had said: “It is alarming and also nauseating to see Mr. Gandhi, a seditious Middle [Inner] Temple lawyer, now posing as a fakir of a type well known in the East, striding half-naked up the steps of the Viceregal palace, while he is still organizing and conducting a defiant campaign of civil disobedience, to parley on equal terms with the representative of the King-Emperor.”1

One may also be aware that while in London to attend the Round Table Conference, Gandhi wanted to meet Churchill but the latter had refused to see him, though his son Randolph met Gandhi. And then later in July 1944, Gandhi had written to Churchill a letter saying, “Dear Prime Minister, You are reported to have a desire to crush the simple ‘naked fakir’ as you are said to have described me. I have been long trying to be a fakir and that [too] naked - a more difficult task. I, therefore, regard the expression as a compliment though unintended. I approach you then as such and ask you to trust and use me for the sake of your people and mine and through them those of the world.”2

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