Motilal Nehru (1861-1931); lawyer and politician; co-founder of Swaraj Party; elected to Central Legislative Assembly in 1923 and 1926; presided over Committee which drafted Nehru Report, 1928; President of the Indian National Congress, 1919 and 1928. Motilal Nehru was a prominent freedom fighter. He was much closed to Mahatma Gandhi. A several times Gandhi directed him. Sometimes he took his advice also.
Mahatma Gandhi wrote to Motilal Nehru on dated 20 February 1920 that On the 14th November 1919, the Punjab Sub-committee of the All India Congress Committee appointed yourself, the Hon'ble Fazlul Haq and Messrs C. R. Das, Abbas Tayabji3 and M. K. Gandhi, as ommissioners, with Mr. K. Santanam as Secretary, to examine, sift, collate, and analyze the evidence already collected by and on behalf of the Sub-committee regarding the events of last April in the Punjab, and to supplement such evidence where necessary, and to present their conclusions thereon.
On being nominated President-elect of the National Congress you considered it necessary to resign your office as Commissioner. The resignation was duly accepted by the Sub-committee and as the work of taking evidence was practically concluded when you resigned; no other commissioner was appointed in your place.
The Hon'ble Fazlul Haq was called away on important business immediately after his arrival. Mr. M. R. Jayakar of the Bombay Bar was therefore appointed in his place. We entered upon our work on the 17th November 1919.
We examined the statements of over 1,700 witnesses and we have selected for publication about 650 statements, which will be found in the accompanying volumes of our report. The statements excluded were mostly statements proving [the] same class of acts.
Every admitted statement was verified by one of us. This is the covering letter accompanying the draft report of the Commissioners appointed by the Punjab Sub-committee of the Indian National Congress. The draft prepared by Gandhi is not available. For the report, whose final manuscript for the press was prepared by Gandhi with the assistance of M. R. Jayakar, vide “Congress Report on the Punjab Disorders”. 25-3-1920.
2 Nationalist Muslim leader; Chief Minister of Bengal during World War II 3 1853-1936; nationalist Muslim leader of Gujarat accepted only after we were satisfied as to the bona fides of the witness. This does not apply to a few statements from Manianwala and neighborhood, which were mostly brought at our request by Mr. Labh Singh, M. A., Bar-at-Law. Every such statement bears his name at the foot thereof. No statement was accepted without sufficient cross-examination of the witnesses.
It will be observed that many witnesses are men of position and leaders in their own districts or villages. It will be further observed that some of the witnesses have made very serious allegations against officials. In each and every case the wit-nesses were warned by us of the consequences of making those allegations and they were admitted only when the witnesses adhered to their statements, in spite of the knowledge of the risk they personally ran and the damage that may ensue to the cause by reason of exaggeration or untruth. We have moreover rejected those statements which could not be corroborated although in some cases we were inclined to believe the witnesses. Such for instance were the statements regarding ill-treatment of women.
Needless to say that our inquiry was confined to the Martial Law area and to the districts in which it was proclaimed. The principal places were personally visited by us. In most places large public meetings were held and the public were invited to make their statements to us. The nature of the evidence already recorded was placed before the meetings and those who wished to challenge the occuracy of the statements made, were invited to send in their statements even under pledge of confidence if they so desired. No contradiction was received by us.
We have freely availed ourselves of the evidence led before the Disorders Inquiry Committee, in order to strengthen or correct our conclusions. It may be mentioned that the vast majority of the statements appended were received by us before Lord Hunter's Committee began its sittings.
The majority of the statements were given in the vernaculars. We have endeavored to procure the most accurate translations, but Amritsar, Lahore, Gujranwala, Gujarat and Lyallpur 2 Lord Hunter's Committee the statements appended to our report may be treated as original, as we checked the witnesses through the translations and made corrections or amendments ourselves, wherever necessary.
We have also studied the records of the trials by Martial Law Commissioners or Summary Courts, in so far as they were available to us, and we have studied the judicial records of several cases that arose during the recruiting period and out of recruiting methods. In conclusion we desire to place on record our great obligation to the leading men of every place we have visited and the many workers in Lahore and elsewhere who have rendered valuable assistance without which we could not have brought our labours to a close within the time at our disposal.
Mahatma Gandhi wrote to Motilal Nehru on dated 9 December 1921 that
This time the unexpected has happened.2 It is all for the good. I envy you and Jawaharlal. If we go at this rate swaraj may burst upon us even without warning. I think that Godbole3 should continue the routine work. I would like you to send your instructions, views and wishes as to the present and the future. I wrote today [to] Sarup4 and Ranjit saying, unless they had been advised by you otherwise and if they could, they should go to Allahabad.
Mahatma Gandhi wrote a letter to Motilal Nehru on dated 18 March 1924 that I have your telegram about rejection of the Finance Bill.2 I rejoice because the victory gives you joy, but I cannot enthuse over it, nor am I amazed at the victory. With proper discipline and tact it was not an impossible feat, and I never doubted your very great tactfulness and persuasive eloquence and your patience with threats, and I entirely agree with you that, if you had more time for organization and a larger backing from the country, you would have carried everything before you in the Provincial as well as the Central Legislature. What, however, I cannot get over I explained somewhat to Lalaji3. Since then my views have developed further along the same line, and at one time I thought of dictating a fairly long letter setting forth my views, but I held back for three reasons. I doubted the wisdom of the course. Knowing how busy you are, I felt I ought not to inflict a long letter on you, and thirdly, I wanted to conserve my energy for the things I must do from day to day. If you are able to carry out the original programme, we shall meet before long. I hope in the midst of your very wonderful activities you are keeping good health.
Mahatma Gandhi wrote a letter to Motilal Nehru on dated 13 April 1924 that Here is the draft as corrected by me. If you and other friends pass it, I can issue it as soon as you desire.2 I feel that I must remove the clause fixing the period of probation. But I can say to the friends definitely that I have no intention of moving the repeal of the Cocanada resolution. Only I do not know the implications of the clause as it stands. The rest of the corrections don’t call for any remark. But I draw your attention to the last two sentences added by me. Their meaning is plain. They are intended to embody somewhat the conversation of yesterday.
Mahatma Gandhi wrote a letter on dated 3 July 1924 that I have today read a letter which has upset me,1 was wondering whether, if I wrote to you about it, I would be abusing the privilege of friendship. The voice within me tells me I must not decide that question but must leave it to you. If you regard it as an abuse, you will forgive the offence and dismiss the letter from your consideration. The writer has sent me the enclosed cutting (from The Leader).3 I had not read it before. He says that at another dinner you are reported to have said: “Water has been called pure. But wine is made after being thrice distilled. It is, therefore, purer than water.”4 You will not misunderstand me. I have nothing to say to your return to wine-drinking, if you have. But, if the report is to be relied upon, I cannot but be grieved that you, who lead the anti-liquor campaign, should publicly drink it and, what is worse, chaff at teetotalism. I must not say more. Needless to say I shall await your reply with considerable anxiety.
Mahatma Gandhi wrote a letter to Motilal Nehru on dated 27 July 1924 that I thank you for your affectionate letter1. I would certainly have listened to you if you had not been the party to tell me that a certain very intimate friend of yours had, with high fever on, held on to his post in the Assembly and would not forsake his post in spite of medical advice. Even after the debate, he would not give himself rest.
If you could not prevail with such an intimate friend, how should you with me? Example is better than precept; say so many copy-books. But really there is no cause for anxiety about me. It is true that I have lost weight to an alarming extent, but I cannot eat under great pressure of work. The strain of sitting itself during those meetings was great. If there were not so many calls on my time, I would certainly have jumped at your offer of the Ganges retreat, but the Delhi people are worrying me. I have many delicate problems in the Ashram. I would love to write to you about them, if I had the time to disburden myself and you the time to give a friendly ear. But I must desist. I wanted to write an important letter to you today, but I must not as I have some friends waiting for me. I shall try tomorrow. I would like you not to hesitate to write on business matters whenever you feel you have anything to say to me. I have written to Mahomed Ali asking him to send you a reply.2 I have sent him copy of my answers to you.
Gandhi wrote a letter to Motilal Nehru on dated 9 August 1924 that I promised to write to you an important letter, but I have not been able up to now. I was ready four days ago when I received Mrs. Naidu’s letter informing me she was coming here. I, therefore, stopped the letter pending her arrival. I wanted to say that I was prepared to facilitate your securing the Congress machinery, actually assisting you to do so. In no case will I be party to vote-catching in the sense it is being understood at the present moment. I would be prepared to work outside the Congress but not in opposition to it. I have no interest in anything but promoting a peaceful atmosphere, khaddar, and Hindu-Muslim unity and removal of untouchability. In all this I know I should get your assistance. I would naturally have an organization for that work, but not with any desire whatsoever to capture the Congress ultimately. I would not like to waste the nation’s time in wrangling over getting a majority in an atmosphere such as is prevalent today.
If you are not prepared to take over the whole of the Congress machinery, I am quite prepared to facilitate your taking over those Provinces where you think you have no difficulty in running it. Short of my coming into your programme, I would like to place myself at your disposal.
Then there is the question of the Congress President. Rajagopalachari,
Gangadharrao and Rajendra Babu insist on my accepting the office. Vallabhbhai and Shankarlal approve of my idea of not accepting. Jamnalal is neutral and so is perhaps Mrs. Naidu. I forget to say that Shaukat Ali too is insistent that I should accept the office. The only condition that will make me reconsider my position would be your desire that I should accept. Will you please consult Messrs Das, Kelkar and others and let me know what you would advise me to do in both the matters referred to by me?
Mahatma Gandhi wrote a letter to Motilal on dated 15 August 1924 I am sharing with you my whole soul. The more I think of it the more my soul rises against a battle for power at Belgaum. But I do not want to be mixed up with the Councils programme. This can only happen by Swarajists’ manning the Congress or their not acting upon the Congress. I am quite willing to follow whichever courses commend it to you and our friends. With 1 This was in reply to a telegram from Hakim Ajmal Khan dated August 14, 1924, and received on the 15th, which read: “Wire health and when do you go Delhi.”
am in the Congress, the Councils, etc., should remain out of it. Then I can assist you. Or with them In the Congress, I must be practically out of it. I would then gladly occupy the place I did from 1915 to 1918. My purpose is not to weaken the power of the Swarajists, certainly not to embarrass them. Show me the way and I shall try my best to suit you. If there is anything not quite clear in this, please ask.
Mahatma Gandhi wrote a letter to Motilal Nehru on dated 30 August 1924 that You will have me therefore almost on your terms. The “almost” is necessary because there are some few things I hold dearer than life and all the ties of the world. But if you will let me have something willingly and whole-heartedly, i.e., knowing that it is right to give, then I want this:
1. Reiterate the Congress belief in the principle and policy of full non-co-operation including the boycott of legislative bodies;
2. But suspend them boycotts all save that of foreign cloth up to the end of 1925.
3. Should invite everybody to join the Congress.
4. Should exclude the boycott of Empire goods.
5. And should confine Congress activity solely to the spread of hand-spinning and hand-spun khaddar, Hindu-Muslim unity, and for Hindus the removal of untouchability. This means that Congress as such should have nothing to do either with Councils or boycotts but they may form their own organizations independently of the Congress to go on with Councils and other activities not inconsistent with the Congress activity. Therefore there can be no organization to prosecute the Council or other
Boycotts suspended under the resolution. Support of the existing national schools should continue and where possible new ones may be opened but they may not have any connection with the Government The four-anna franchise should be abolished and instead each person becoming a member of a Congress organization should be a khaddar-wearer, should contribute per month as a condition of membership at least two thousand yards of yarn of his own spinning, it being open to everyone to contribute the full quota for the whole year at a time.
I see no other way of making the Congress organization a real and living thing, nor can I see any hope for the poor of India without the spinning-wheel and we shall never fire their imagination unless we spin ourselves.
There are other alterations I should suggest in the Constitution but they need not be mentioned now. They are meant purely for effective and expeditious working. We should have a declaration that the Working Committees should be regarded as executive bodies and the A.I.C.C. a deliberative body and that should contain only those who are committed to the full programme of the Congress. But under my proposal, you would be as eligible for election to the Working Committee as I. What I mean is that if the four boycotts are suspended, Council-entry or practice in a law-court should by itself be no bar. As a matter of fact it may be inadvisable for a busy lawyer or a busy Councilor to come into Working Committee whose members would be expected to give their whole time and attention to the three things of the Congress programme.
Under my plan again there should be no exception in favour of Bengal. As a matter of fact Swarajists may organize themselves fully in every province without let or hindrance from the Congress. But the Congress organization everywhere should have only one programme.
Thus Das2 may convert the Congress organization into a Swaraj organization and form himself and permit others to form a Congress organization pledged only to the three things. The idea is this: The
Congress will neither help nor hinder other organizations but the latter should all, if their members are Congressmen, help the Congress programme. Conversely, Congressmen who believe in many other things not prohibited by the Congress may join other organizations for their other activities. . . .
Of the business part as far as I can see only the qualifications of membership may prove an obstacle but I hope you will see that if we all believe in khaddar even as an economic necessity, the acceptance of my proposition is a necessity.
You will observe that I have written the letter as the thoughts have come to me. I do not mind for my sake, as I wish, to live upon your sufferance. No more of domestic wrangling for me.
Gandhi wrote a letter to Motilal Nehru on dated 2 September 1924 that This is again early morning after prayer. I hope you received my long letter. I expect a wire2 from you. I was unable to revise it. I cannot now recall the exact wordings of the personal part. After all, Mrs. Naidu did not read it as the letter was posted before she could read it. But the business part, of which I have a copy, she and many others have read. This letter like the former is meant to be a plea for Jawaharlal. He is one of the loneliest young men of my acquaintance in India.
The idea of your mental desertion of him hurts me. Physical desertion I hold to be impossible. Needless to say Manzar Ali and I often talked of the Nehrus whilst we were together at Yeravda. He said once that if there was one thing for which you lived more than any other, it was for Jawahar. His remark seemed to be so true. I don’t want to be the cause direct or indirect of the slightest breach in that wonderful affection.
Mahatma Gandhi wrote a letter to Motilal Nehru on dated 6 September 1924 that I received your letter yesterday in Surat. To your telegram I sent a brief reply2 from Bombay. I sent a brief wire yesterday in reply to your letter. I am sorry my letter gave you offence. Pray forgive me. Was it not better that I told you what I heard than that I should have kept it to myself? Will you please believe me when I tell you that those who surround me hardly ever speak to me?
My offer, however, stands to be considered on its merits. Will you please consider it and oblige me? As you know I have already discussed it with Mrs. Besant and Messrs Jayakar and Natarajan. I have also discussed it with the Swarajists in Poona. Whether it is accepted or not, my decision is final that I shall not directly or indirectly be the cause of dividing the Congress by a vote. Whatever happens must be by agreement.
Gandhi wrote a letter to Motilal Nehru on dated 17 September 1924 that
I have your wire. I am in Delhi for some time at any rate. I shall therefore be delighted to see you and Mr. Das whenever you come. I have taken what might be the final plunge. My fast of 21 days commences from today. That is how I have learnt to understand religion.
Gandhi wrote a letter to Motilal Nehru on dated 27 September 1924 that
Moved by affection and pity the Conference guided by you has passed the resolution1, you kindly read to me last night. I would ask you to assure the meeting that if I could have complied with its wishes, I would gladly have done so. But I have examined and re-examined myself and I find it is not possible for me to recall the fast. My religion teaches me that a promise once made or a vow once taken for a worthy object may not be broken. And you know my life has been regulated on that basis for now more than 40 years.
The causes of the fast are much deeper than I can explain in this note. For one thing, I am expressing my faith through this fast. Non-co-operation was not conceived in hatred or ill-will towards a single Englishman. Its non-violent character was intended to conquer Englishmen by our love. Not only has it not resulted in that consequence, but the energy generated by it has brought about hatred and ill-will against one another amongst us. It is the knowledge of this fact which has weighed me down and imposed this irrevocable penance upon me.
The fast is therefore a matter between God and myself, and I would therefore not only ask you to forgive me for not breaking it but would ask you even to encourage me and pray for me that it may 1 This Conference places on record its deep grief and concern at the fast which
Mahatma Gandhi has undertaken.
The Conference is emphatically of opinion that the utmost freedom of conscience and religion is essential, and condemns any desecration of places of worship, to whatsoever faith they may belong, and any persecution or punishment of any person for adopting or reverting to any faith; and further condemns any attempts by compulsion to convert people to one’s faith or to secure or enforce one’s own religious observation at the cost of the rights of others.
The members of the Conference assure Mahatma Gandhi and pledge themselves to use their utmost endeavors to enforce these principles and to condemn any deviation from them even under provocation. This Conference further authorizes the President to convey personally to Mahatma Gandhi the solemn assurance of this Conference to the above effect as also the united wishes of this Conference that Mahatma Gandhi should immediately break his fast in order to permit the Conference to have the benefit of his co-operation, advice and guidance in deciding upon the speediest means of effectively checking the evil which is fast over-spreading the country.
I have not taken up the fast to die, but I have taken it up to live a better and purer life for the service of the country. If, therefore, I reach a crisis (of which humanly speaking I see no possibility whatsoever) when the choice lies between death and food, I shall certainly break the fast.1 But Drs. Ansari and Abdul Rahman, who are looking after me with the greatest attention and care, will tell you that I am keeping wonderfully fresh. I would therefore respectfully urge the meeting to transmute all personal affection of which the resolution is an index into solid, earnest and true work for unity for which the Conference has met.
Gandhi wrote a letter to Motilal Nehru on dated 30 October 1924 that Ever since the firing of the Vice regal bomb I have been taxing myself as to what we can do and our helplessness has preyed upon me. This is our conclusion! We must not do anything in haste or anger. We must therefore bow before the storm. For the time being we must revert to the old method of simply expressing our opinion and we should concentrate all-India opinion upon the lawless methods of the Government and therefore attack the principle of the Government adopting extra-ordinary measures and should therefore call upon the Government to repeal even Regulation III of 1818. If extraordinary powers are required by an extraordinary situation, they can be taken only upon a vote of elected representatives. I know that even this is tall talk and it jars on me. But I see no other way out at the present moment.
So much to the all-India work. If I could carry you, that is, you personally and Swarajists, with me, I would ask the Working Committee or the A.I.C.C. to concentrate its efforts upon the three items mentioned. Give me a compact disciplined Congress, and I can see my way again to answering Government action with popular action. But till then, and till Hindus and Mussalmans speak with one mind and till we show substantial work about khaddar and untouchability, I for one see no prospect of any effective direct action. Since the Bengal arrests, the idea of retiring from the Congress has possessed me, unless I receive the enthusiastic support of Swarajists in my proposals. I simply want to bring into being a compact organization which will respond to every call. I do not care how small that organization is. All other non-violent activities may go on. I can understand their utility up to a point. But I am convinced that they will all be a wasted effort, if nobody concerns himself with bringing into being a disciplined and effective organization. I feel deeply hurt and humiliated that we cannot take up with any degree of effect the Government challenge. I think I have told you all you can want to know from me. I am sending you the following telegram sent a little note to Das as he passed through Delhi. Please tell him it is not want of will which keeps me tied down to Delhi. I hardly looked at the newspapers before. But since the arrests. I have been eagerly scanning everything about them in all the papers that come under my notice. I was glad you were able to go to Nagpur and more so that you are able to get the parties to agree to your and Maulana’s arbitration.
Gandhi wrote a letter to Motilal Nehru on dated 15 June 1925 that I was distressed to learn from your letter of relapse and Jawahar’s fever. I hope both of you were free soon after your letter and that you are both now enjoying the bracing atmosphere. I have wired1 to you about Khwaja2. He is wrong in saddling me with responsibility. But if he must, what can I say but what I should do in his place? If the Jamia breeds intolerance, it is Khwaja’s fault. He is its head. It was started by the best of Mussalmans. It may be reformed, if it has become bad, but in my opinion it must not be allowed to die for want of care. It must, therefore, claim Khawaja’s undivided attention if it is to prosper. He is not a mere figure-head, but he is the soul of the movement. He is also administrator. I am therefore objecting not on the ground of principle but policy, that is, in the present case, more if possible even than principle. The only way Khwaja can seek election is by finding a substitute equally efficient for the college.
Moreover I am not the only party to advise. Khwaja has to consult Hakim Saheb and Dr. Ansari if he will not also consult the Ali Brothers. They are co-trustees with him. I hope you now appreciate my difficulty. I feel that I am helping the party with all my heart. This telegram am not available. M. Khawaja of Jamia Millia Islamia, Aligarh wants to help it more for my own satisfaction than for that of friends much as I prize their satisfaction.
Gandhi wrote a letter to Motilal Nehru on dated 19 July 1925 that During these few days I have been taxing myself what special exclusive contribution I can make to the memory of Deshbandhu and the situation created by Lord Birkenhead’s speech, and I have come to the conclusion that I should absolve the Swaraj Party from all obligations under the Pact of last year. The result of this act is that the Congress need no longer be a predominantly spinning association. I recognize that, under the situation created by the speech, the authority and the influence of the Swaraj Party need to be increased. I would fail in my duty if I neglected a single step within my power to increase the strength of the Party. This can be done if the Congress becomes a predominantly political body. Under the Pact, the Congress activity is restricted to the constructive programme mentioned therein. I recognize that this restriction should not continue under the altered circumstances that face the country. Not only do I, therefore, personally absolve you from the restriction, but I propose to ask the forthcoming meeting of the A.I.C.C. to do likewise and place the whole machinery of the Congress at your disposal so as to enable you to bring before that body such political resolutions as you may consider necessary in the interest of the country. In fact, I would have you regard me at your disposal in all such matters in which I can conscientiously serve you and the Swaraj Party.
Gandhi wrote a letter to Motilal Nehru on dated 24 November 1925 that
I would love the idea of Kamala going to Switzerland for treatment and taking Jawaharlal with her. The cure would be certainly more permanent than hoped to have here, but I suggest she should not be sent during winter, but only in April. At the present moment, therefore, I am quite clear in my mind that she should be sent to Lucknow and that Jawaharlal should give her as much time as it is possible for him. My whole heart goes out in your domestic troubles. I hope that Kamala would be soon restored to health. Even though it is owing to the domestic trouble, I do not mind this brief interruption in your toil, you do need some rest fromincessant toil. Political troubles and differences will be always with us. A brief interruption, therefore, will not matter much. I have not been reading the reports of all the meetings, but I have been reading the headlines and a few sentences here and there, and I was able to gather from this cursory reading that you were having a very successful time; of this I have no doubt.
You refer me to an interview I am said to have given, but I have been guilty of no such atrocity. Our friend. Sadanand1 approached me and I sent a message to him that I had nothing to say. The Associated Press correspondent had been to me more than once and I have given him the same reply. I have asked Devdas to let me know if anything has appeared in the Press. He too has seen nothing except an extract from some correspondent, which I think has been lifted from Mrs. Naidu was in Ahmedabad for one day, but she told me she broke her journey merely to see how I was looking, after having dropped some pounds of flesh in Kutch. She told me she was coming here at the end of the month to discuss the contents of her address.
She is at present in Bombay. I leave for Bombay Satyagraha Ashram on 7th December. I reach Bombay on 8th. I leave Bombay on 9th for Wardha reaching there on 10th. If you think it is not too late we can meet at Wardha, but Mrs. Naidu may herself find that to be too late. I am free whenever you can come here and certainly equally free in Wardha. If you hear that I have been fasting again, pray do not be alarmed, it is only a week’s fast of purification undertaken in connection with misbehavior on the part of youngsters who are undergoing training in the Ashram School attached to the Ashram.
Such fasting has become part of my need. It does me good and at least temporarily keeps the surroundings clean. Fast breaks on Tuesday morning, and I shall have no difficulty in regaining my strength almost immediately after. I have written to Dastane already. I have spoken to Gangadharrao personally because he was here. I hope you will keep good health in spite of extra worry and pressure that the crisis means for you.
Gandhi wrote a letter to Motilal Nehru on dated 17 February 1926 that
I have your letter. I know that it is a matter of shame for me to have become ill. I am taking now double precautions. I shall leave no stone unturned to present myself in a fit condition at the end of the year. And, if you have any homoeopathic pills that will guarantee an absolute cure and turn me into a youth of 26 instead of an old man of 56, pass those pills on to me and I shall take as many as you want me to every day!
I am so glad Jawaharlal and Kamla are going and with them Swarup and Ranjit. I am not surprised at Krishna not wanting to be left behind. I do hope it will be possible to squeeze her in somehow or other so that she can have as much outing as possible. I expect great results from this trip, not only for Kamla but also for Jawaharlal. Yes. I did take note of the fact that you were present at the Conference between the Viceroy and the leaders of the two Houses. I am glad that you were one of the party.
If all the Assembly Committees will have to be given up, I very much fear that the Skeen Committee1 will have to be treated likewise, though the technical distinction that you point out is there, it will not be enough for our purpose. Though personally I dislike the idea of the Skeen Committee having to be given up by you, if it is good to come out of the Councils, it will be necessary to come out of the Skeen Committee. I should be delighted if you could at all come even for a day during the month. As you thrive on difficulties, I hope that you are keeping perfectly fit and strong.
Gandhi wrote a letter to Motilal Nehru on dated 27 February 1926 that I have shown you M.2 Shaffi’s letter. Please tell him and other Mohammedan friends that in my opinion it would be wrong for the Swarajists to support the tabled resolution about the N.W.F. Provinces. At the same time I should support any proposal to include these Provinces in any scheme of self-government that the Congress ultimately agrees to. To that end I have suggested to you two draft resolutions which I hope the Mussalman friends will accept. If no agreement can be reached I feel that your embargo upon voting by the Swarajist members is the only dignified course.
Gandhi wrote a letter to Motilal Nehru on dated 19 March 1926 that I had your telegram about Devdas. Dr. Dalal suspected appendicitis and advised operation. I had no hesitation in agreeing and so the operation was performed in the presence of Jamnalalji and Mahadev. I was not present but I saw him on Thursday on my way to Mahabaleshwar and Deolali where I went to see Mathuradas who is ailing. Devdas is doing quite well and expects to be discharged about the 25th instant. There is no cause for the slightest anxiety. I am dictating this at Mahabaleshwar which I reached this afternoon at about 5 o’clock. I am to see the Governor on Tuesday.
Here is a copy of the letter2 from Vithalbhai. He came to the Ashram after writing the letter. I told him about the conversation we had about the Speaker’s salary. He told me that he knew nothing of any arrangement for giving half or any portion of the salary to the party funds. I thereupon told him that I must consult you before accepting the cheque. Will you please tell me what is to be done? Sir Chunilal Mehta told me as we were walking that you had decided not to go to England but to take rest at a hill-side station leaving the leadership of the party to Mr. Iyengar4. Are you not going to England?
Gandhi wrote a letter to Motilal Nehru on dated 24 May 1926 that I could never guess the reason you give me for cancelling your passage. But having known the reason, I don’t regret the cancellation. Krishna having gone to Jawahar relieves you of all anxiety. I know that you will get from your chamber practice all you need and more. I have not yet had your dictated letter. I can wait for it. All I can report to you about Mahabaleshwar is that I had pleasant three hours with the Governor. We talked mostly about the spinning-wheel and somewhat about the cattle of India. If there was anything more behind this interview, I did not fathom it. Nor did I try to. Devdas expects to be discharged in a week’s time and is likely to go to Mussoorie for convalescene. There is nothing yet decided about Finland. The odds are that I am not going. I should know in a week’s time.
Gandhi wrote a letter to Motilal Nehru on dated 14 May 1927 that I must dictate. Writing regularly with my own hand causes too much strain and it is not possible to sit up long. This, however, does not mean that I am not getting stronger, but the strength comes very slowly. And I do not want to be in arrears with such correspondence as I would like to attend to. I prize your first letter as a gift. It shows you in all your greatness and goodness. You are living for your children. I envy them. But Krishna’s wedding must not be after Jawahar’s type. It must be as humble as Sarup’s2. Otherwise I must apply for a warrant of attachment. Or, if I feel I must enter into collusion with Krishna.
I read the public printed report from beginning to end. And I have now read the confidential report3. Both are worthy of Jawaharlal. I appreciate the view he presents about foreign propaganda. But somehow or other I still feel that our way lies differently. I feel that we will not get the support of Europe beyond a certain point, because after all most of the European States are partners in our exploitation, and if my proposition is correct, namely, that we must resist this exploitation in every shape and form, we shall not retain European sympathy during the final heat of the struggle. However, for the moment my view is merely academic. And you will vote Congress funds as you please.
The idea of Jawaharlal presiding has an irresistible appeal for me. But I wonder whether it would be proper in the present atmosphere to saddle the responsibility upon him. It seems to me to be a thankless task. All discipline has vanished. Communalism is at its height. Intrigue is triumphant everywhere. Good and true men are finding it difficult to hold on to their position in the Congress. Jawahar’s time will be simply taken away in keeping the Congress house tolerably pure and he will simply sicken. Till your letter came, I had no thought of interfering this year in the choice of the President.
My instinct still goes that way. But, being out of touch, I may be taking too gloomy a view of the situation. You know better. And seeing that you are taking your head, and I suppose heart also, to Bombay, you will know the situation at first hand and guide me. There will be still time enough to move. I return Krishna’s copy of Jawahar’s confidential report as also the first page of his letter. I have only just received papers regarding Saklatvala which I shall go through in due time.
Gandhi wrote a letter to Motilal Nehru on dated 14 May 1927 that Jamnalalji delivered your letter to me and he told me you were sending a long letter. Ever since the receipt of your first letter, I have been constantly thinking over the matter. The President is here and he broached the subject yesterday. I mentioned Jawaharlal’s name. He had not thought of it. He, however, preferred Ansari and I told him that if Dr. Ansari could be induced to accept the honour, there was an end to all talk about Jawaharlal and that I thought it would be good luck if Dr. Ansari could be induced to shoulder the burden. However, I have written to Jawaharlal and I send you a copy of my letter1 to him. It expresses my opinion to date. At first I thought I would let you send my letter so that you could stop it if you liked; but I then thought that after all there was no harm in my letter going to Jawaharlal before you had seen it. You could add whatever you liked to my letter so as to enable Jawaharlal to form a correct judgment.
Gandhi wrote a letter to Motilal Nehru on dated 19 June 1927 that I must still dictate, though this dictating is not to be regarded as any indication of weakness of body. I am simply literally following doctor’s advice in order to store up energy for future use. Whether energy is being thereby stored or not remains to be known. I have your telegram. If you could have braved the travelling through the hot parts, you would certainly have been amply rewarded and forgotten the heat of central India. I wonder whether chamber work could not be done outside Allahabad. Pherozeshah used to drag clients after him. Of course it was cruel. I wonder whether for reasons of health you would not be justified in putting clients to the trouble of following you to a cool place. Things, as they are shaping in the Congress, confirm the opinion
In reply to his letter dated June 11that it is not yet time for Jawaharlal to shoulder the burden. He is too high-souled to stand the anarchy and hooliganism that seem to be growing in the Congress, and it would be cruel to expect him to evolve order all of a sudden out of chaos. I am confident, however, that the anarchy will spend itself before long and the hooligans will themselves want a disciplinarian. Jawaharlal will come in then. For the present, we should press Dr. Ansari to take the reins. He won’t control the holligans. He will let them have their way; but he may specialize in the Hindu-Muslim question and do something in the matter. It will be quite enough work for him in the coming year to solve the almost insoluble problem.
Gandhi wrote a letter to Motilal Nehru on dated 2 July 1927 that So I can’t have you in Bangalore, it appears. It will be cruel to have you follow me somewhere down South to melt there. But if you come even about the end of this month, I might be at some pleasant place in Mysore, because the whole of Mysore is Nature’s favoured spot in India’s plains.
About the time that Sarojini Devi wrote to you, she wrote to me also, and sent a peremptory telegram asking me to support her request, and even to “issue orders”. But I knew beforehand what you would say to the proposal kindly meant, but thoughtlessly made. I wrote to her almost in the same strain as you, and suggested that Dr. Ansari was the only possible president. I told her also that I did not at all believe that his occupancy of the presidential chair would in any way diminish the weight of any settlement arrived at by the Congress.
In my opinion, if Dr. Ansari is chosen, a reasonable settlement has a better chance of being adopted by the Congress. You did tell me about the appearance of Tara. What with Chand and Tara, there must be perpetual illumination in the house; and the appearance of Suraj to support Chand and Tara is, let us hope, a question merely of time. I shall readily forgive Sarup for never thinking of writing to me if she brings up her Suns and Moons and Stars for the service of the Motherland. I hope both the mother and the baby are making steady progress.
I make my first appearance tomorrow to open a Khadi Exhibition which has been arranged in Bangalore in order to keep my chief warders Gangadharrao and Rajagopalachari occupied. They are doing a brisk trade in khadi and are not ashamed to exploit their prisoner’s illness.
Gandhi wrote a letter to Motilal Nehru on dated 26 August 1927 that I had your letter as also your telegram. To the latter I sent a reply1 from Krishnagiri which I hope was duly received. Having been in the interior of Mysore and continuously touring, I am considerably in arrears. I have at last decided to issue a small note on Dr. Ansari’s statement. Having championed his election I thought that I could not observe absolute silence. I shall watch the movement of the barometer and wherever I can do anything or write anything to purpose, I shall not hesitate.
So far I am not inclined to favour Jawaharlal’s election, that is, assuming that Dr. Ansari retires. It is highly probable that he will take up the attitude suggested by you and me and merely become an impartial chairman. Nothing more will then remain to be done. If, however, a fresh election does become necessary, I shall watch events and Reuter’s cable will inform you of the result. Please however send me your address in London so that I may write or cable in case of need. But I want you to leave India with a light heart, as I know you will do without any coaxing from me. Evidently we have not yet reached the freezing point.
I am fixed up in the South almost for the rest of the year. I send you herewith a copy of my programme up to the end of September though it will be safer probably to use the Sabarmati address from where telegrams are quickly repeated and letters as quickly redirected. I hope you will have a nice time in Europe and return in time with Jawaharlal before the Congress week. You will please ask Indu whether she ever thinks of her old Indian friends and among them a frequent visitor to Anand Bhawan who would drink nothing but goat’s milk and will eat all the choicest fruits leaving none even for little children.
Gandhi wrote a letter to Motilal Nehru on dated 11 February1928 that I am again on my back, and I suppose these ups and downs will someday decide the final issue. The funny thing about the blood pressure this time is that I notice nothing myself. But I am obeying the doctors as far as it is possible.
I had your telegram. I was sorry we could not meet before you put yourself in harness again. But I suppose it was inevitable. Jawahar was telling me that you were keeping none too well. I hope however that you were thoroughly restored during the voyage.
Gandhi wrote a letter to Motilal Nehru on dated 29 February 1928 that Jawahar had prepared me for your letter.1 I am sorry that our meeting is delayed. But I am glad that you are staying there if per chance some tangible result may be achieved. What a sorry exhibition we are making of ourselves in the face of this organized insult to a whole people. But I suppose we have to make the best of a very bad job. I do hope that the Committee of twenty is being fully attended. We are engaged in an unequal duel; on the one hand are clever whole timers acting with one mind and with the greatest deliberation; on the other we are part-timers having many irons in the fire and having almost as many minds as our numbers. My hope however is in the justness of our cause I hope your eyes are not causing you much trouble.
Gandhi wrote a letter to Motilal Nehru on dated 3 March 1928 that I have your letter. I have discussed it with Jawaharlal, but he suggests, and I agree, that it will be better for me to reduce to writing the views I have expressed to him so that there may be no misunderstanding about the correct interpretation of my views, and so that he may also know whether he understood me correctly.
ELECTORATE: I am of the same opinion that I expressed years ago at Delhi that we should not be party to separate electorates or to reservation of seats, the latter should be by mutual voluntary arrangement if such is necessary. But unless the Mussalmans agree, there is no going back by us on reservation of seats. The Congress is committed to it. I think, therefore, that we must simply adhere to the Congress resolution and expect Hindus and Mussalmans to carry out that resolution. If the All-Parties Conference cannot discover another method acceptable to all, we must simply work out the Congress formula.
THE CONSTITUTION: Personally I am of opinion that we are not ready for drawing up a constitution till we have developed sanction for ourselves. Any constitution that we may arrive at must be a final thing in the sense that we may improve upon but we may not recede from it even by an inch. There seems to be no atmosphere for arriving at such a constitution. I would personally therefore prefer instead of a constitution, a working arrangement between all parties upon which all may be agreed. This would be not a constitution but chief heads of it, as for instance, the Hindu-Muslim arrangement, the franchise, the policy as to the Native States. If we are to make this thing popular, I should bring in total prohibition and exclusion of foreign cloth as an indispensable condition. Of course we should guarantee equality of treatment of all religions as also of the so-called untouchables. I am not exhaustive in the list of things on which there should be an agreement, but I have simply given a few things by way of illustration.
I think that if we go beyond such a general agreement, we would be making mistake. In any case, I do hope that the Conference will not break up without doing anything, and even if it does, the Working Committee should take the matter in its own hands and issue its own authoritative statement on behalf of the Congress on all the matters for which the Conference has been convened.
SANCTION: More important than the two foregoing things, in my opinion, is the sanction. Unless we have created some force ourselves, we shall not advance beyond the position of beggars, and I have given all my time to thinking over this one question, and I can think of nothing else but boycott of foreign cloth with the assistance of mills if possible, without if necessary. I hold it to be perfectly capable of attainment within a measurable distance of time if we can create sufficient public opinion in its favour. I would have exclusive concentration upon this thing if I had my way. Though I have said nothing in public, I do not at all like what is going on in Bengal. So far as I can see, it is doomed to failure and I can see much harm coming out of that failure; and unlike boycott of foreign cloth, it is valueless, unless it succeeds to the extent we want. Jawaharlal and I have given most of our time to a consideration of this question. And he will explain it all to you. As soon as he can be dispensed with, I would like you to send him back for further discussion of this problem if we do not finish before he leaves for Delhi.
Gandhi wrote a letter to Motilal Nehru on dated 27 March1928 that The expected letter being registered was received only today. It is a long letter. He1 would like me to go to Europe, but he himself is not likely to be in his place before June. I expect a reply to another letter from him. I am in no hurry to go. I would therefore like to await further news from him. Somehow or other I can’t put my heart into this proposed visit. My heart is in the boycott. If we cannot negotiate the boycott, I am supremely content to go on with the khadi programme. I would like you to visualize the marvelous effect that the khadi movement has produced. If the mill-owners had been honest, we should have made enormous strides. I have now got the figures for khadi production by the mills. You will observe how rapidly the mills have been progressing towards khadi. 94.3 million yards in one year! It means all that money taken away from the mouths of the paupers. It shows also the potentiality of the khadi movement.
Gandhi wrote a letter to Motilal Nehru on dated 12 April 1928 that I have your letter. I did not write without full knowledge of what was being done on behalf of mill-owners. They are starting a separate organization which will have nothing to do with us. However I am secured their full co-operation. I am doing all I can at this end and you will let me know what success you have with Sir Purushottamdas. But I would like you to study the possibilities of the charkha movement. It is not so hopeless as you seem to think. Let me put the position in a nutshell. Mills by themselves cannot achieve the boycott within the time that will satisfy the politician buy mills if they play the game together with charkha can do so within a time that will satisfy the most sanguine expectations of any patriot. The charkha by itself can achieve the boycott within a reasonable period, the pace being dependent upon intensity of the work put in by the politicians. And as a khadi manufacturer, I am open to negotiate with anyone for supplying almost an illimitable quantity provided he does not bind me to the quality beyond a certain limit and does not mind the cost.
The letter is not reproduced here. The concession was that subject to certain conditions the Union Government would “refrain from the full enforcement of section 10 of Act 22 of 1913 as amended by section 5 of Act 37 of 1927 in the case of an Indian who proves that he entered a province of the Union, other than the Orange Free State, prior to the 5th July, 1924”.
The condition was that those wives and children, who were not already
brought to the Union of South Africa before July 5, 1927, would not be admitted. I send you a copy of the report of the Spinners’ Association and a little pamphlet which latter you can read in 5 minutes but which gives you some very telling figures. The only thing that hampers the progress of khadi is the want of demand and want of capital. I am yet awaiting the expected reply from Romain Rolland. If he does not cable, I may get a letter from him next week.
Gandhi wrote a letter to Motilal Nehru on dated 20 April 1928 that I have your letter. I am daily making fresh discoveries which go to show that we may expect nothing from the mill-owners at the present stage. They will yield only to pressure and the pressure of the Government is more felt than that of the Congress. But we may not be impatient. We need not put boycott of Indian mill-made cloth in the same category as that of foreign cloth. A negative attitude about millcloth will be quite enough to keep the mills under wholesome check.
A positive boycott will only stir up bad blood without bringing us any nearer boycott of foreign cloth. We shall never, unless a sudden manifestation of mass energy comes into being, succeed in reaching the millions. In spite of all we may do, for the time being the latter will therefore be buying Indian mill-cloth and, further, there will be keen competition between Lancashire mills and Japanese on the one hand and Indian mills on the other. We have therefore to concentrate our effort on changing the mentality of the townspeople and those few villagers whom we are controlling and bringing them round to the adoption of khadi. If we set about doing this, the meassage of khadi will percolate the masses. Then both our and foreign mills will feel the brunt. That will be the time for our mills to come in line with us. The moment they do so we can complete boycott of foreign cloth inside of six months. The programme definitely therefore has to be this:
We leave Indian mills severely alone. We carry on a whirl- wind compaign for boycott of foreign cloth through khadi, asking people to count no sacrifice too great in adopting khadi. We must have faith in ourselves and in our people and believe that they can make this which appears to me to be small sacrifice. But I confess that at the present moment I do not visualize the organization that is needed to carry on the boycott. The political who are in possession of the platform do not mean to do any serious business. They will not concentrate on any constructive work. Jawahar in a letter truly describes the atmosphere when he says: “There is violence in the air.” We read and hear so much about the boycott of British cloth in Bengal, but the letters I receive almost every week show that there is no real boycott. There is no organization behind it, there is no will working behind it. All things considered, what will you advise me to do?
The expected letter from Romain Rolland is due next Tuesday at the latest. I must after that come to a decision quickly. Supposing that Romain Rolland predisposes me in favour of the European visit, what would you have me to do in view of the talk of the boycott? Would you want me for the sake of the boycott not to go to Europe? I shall accept your decision whatever it may be. I am not personally keen on the European visit, but if all is plain sailing in India and if Romain Rolland wants me to visit Europe, I should feel bound to accept the European invitations. Will you please wire your decision? Jawahar will be with you and probably you will know Doctor Ansari’s mind.
Gandhi wrote a letter to Motilal Nehru on dated 8 May 1928 that I have your letter. As I have no power in me to resist you, I have sent you just now a wire1 saying I would be in Bombay as desired by you. But as I have said in my wire, I have really no confidence in myself to render active service at the present moment. My views are like that of a mad man. Here, Maganlal’s death has cast upon me a tremendous burden; but it is a task which pleases me and which, if I can consolidate, is likely to be of great service to the country if not now certainly in the near future. And to tear myself away from that work even for a day in the vain hope of doing something in Bombay is not a pleasant contemplation. But unless you countermand your orders, you will find me in Bombay on 16th.
If none of these big political bodies which you mention want a constitution for swaraj, what can we do? We won’t be able to force the situation; for we have not the ability to carry things by storm. I have no faith in a legislative solution of the communal Meeting of the Working Committee on the 16th May. It will be for the Working Committee to go thoroughly into the various aspects of the situation and fully make up its mind as to what is in the best interest of the country to do at the present moment. When we have so made up our minds we can press our views on the all-Parties or some-Parties Conference whatever it is going to be with confidence born of conviction. I simply want you to be in Bombay, while these meetings are being held, to be accessible to those who might wish to consult you.” question. And who will listen to my drastic views on almost every matter? But apart from my views, will it be good statesmanship to have the meeting in Bombay unless we can be sure of a representative attendance? It might be as well to ascertain beforehand whether those whom we would like to attend the meeting would do so or not, and, in the event of negative replies, to convene a meeting of the Working Committee only to decide upon the future programme. I throw out this suggestion for what it is worth. As I am not a fait with the full situation, I know that my opinion should not carry much weight. You must be the sole judge.
Gandhi wrote a letter to Motilal Nehru on dated 12 May 1928 that As every day spent at the Ashram just now is precious to me, I propose to be in Bombay not on the 16th but the 17th instant. Jawahar expects me to be in Bombay not earlier. You yourself tell me in your wire that you will be in Bombay in the afternoon of the 16th. Unless therefore you want me in Bombay on the 16th, I propose to reach there on the 17th, that is, if you do not absolve me from the obligation altogether.
Gandhi wrote a letter to Motilal Nehru on 19 June 1928 that Sen Gupta writes to me saying that I should move the Gujarat Provincial Congress Committee to vote for you as President of the coming Congress. Of course the idea appeals to me. But be- fore I make any move at all, I should like to know your own opinion about it. Perhaps it is not yet time for Jawahar to occupy the throne. And if the Committee that you are managing brings up something substantial, it would be as well for you to wear the crown. Sen Gupta suggests Malaviyaji as an alternative. I will await your reply before writing to Sen Gupta.
I was disturbed about Kamala’s health. Jawahar gave me bad news. And he told me that doctors thought that Indu also required attention. Doctors never scare me. But I should like to feel that there is nothing wrong with Kamala and certainly nothing wrong with Indu.
Gandhi wrote a letter to Motilal Nehru on dated 15 June 1928 that I have your letter1. Fortunately Vallabhbhai came here for the District Conference. I had a full chat with him. He thinks that it is not possible for him to wear the crown at least for this year, as even if the Bardoli struggle is finished there will be an immense amount of consolidation work to be done which will require his undivided attention. I think he is right. He is therefore out of the question. The more I have thought about yourself, I feel the more that you should be reserved for a more propitious occasion and I thoroughly agree that we should give place to younger men. And amongst them, there is no one even to equal Jawahar. I have therefore telegraphed to you saying that I am recommending his name for adoption by provincial committees, unless I receive a wire from you to the contrary in reply to my wire.
I have your circular letter today to the members of the Committee. Indeed I should go further and under the constitution reserve for the future parliament the right to revise on the score of justice and equality the obligations that we might be called upon to shoulder. Whether we have the strength today to carry out even the milder suggestion made by you is another question. But as you say, we must at least speak out our mind.
Gandhi wrote a letter to Motilal Nehru on dated 16 August 1928 that Your report is a great document. I am hoping that the Conference that is to meet at Lucknow will give it all the serious consideration it deserves and not light-heartedly begin to tear it to pieces. The intrinsic merit of the report is so great as to ensure full attendance at Lucknow.
Before I got your warning I began to think out what could be done for the next year. But I must confess that I have not yet been able to hit upon anything to my liking. Lucknow might give me the inspiration.
Gandhi wrote a letter to Motilal Nehru on dated 21 August 1928 that I have your letter. I have written for this week’s Young India too on the forthcoming Conference1. But I thought it was better for me not to deal with the body of the report but rather emphasize the importance of avoiding theoretical criticism and appealing to the Mussalmans and Hindus not to insist upon the pound of flesh. What is the use of my dealing with the recommendations? My mind just now refuses to think of the form except when it is driven to it. For, I feel that we shall make nothing of a constitution be it ever so good, if the men to work it are not good enough. Anything reasonable therefore appears to me to be acceptable if only we have unanimity, because in the matter of the constitution, unanimity seems to be the most important thing. But I can say in general terms that you have succeeded wonderfully with Sir Tej Bahadur Sapru and Sir Ali Imam.
I was not prepared for the endorsement of the franchise for instance, or of your solution of the Native States. But I see that the Hindu-Muslim question is still to be a thorny question. With reference to myself I do not at all feel like moving out of Sabarmati just now. Indeed I should like to bury myself in Sabarmati and do whatever I can through writing in Young India and Navajivan and through correspondence. I have more than enough work for me in the Ashram; I do not know whether you are aware that Bardoli was possible because the Ashram was in existence. The majority of the workers in Bardoli owe their preparation to the Ashram directly or to its indirect influence. If I could but make of the Ashram what I want, I should be ready to give battle on an extensive scale.
Gandhi wrote a letter to Motilal Nehru on dated 30 September1928 that
Mahadev gave me your message. But as there was nothing definite to say and as I have been overwhelmed with work in connection with the Ashram, I did not write to you before now. Mahadev tells me that you want me to attend the All-India Congress Committee’s meeting. What shall I do there? What can I do? I know that that part of the national work is also useful, but my heart has gone out of it and I become more and more inclined to give my time to what is concisely understood as constructive work. I do not mention khadi alone, because I am giving such attention as I can to other items of constructive work not even mentioned in the Congress programme and I see that everywhere strength of mind has got to be evoked and to the extent that it is, the power of resistance is developed. Lucknow seems evidently to have left the masses untouched.
Today riots are going on in Gujarat which never before knew Hindu-Muslim rioting. News has just arrived that a brave Ashram lad was nearly done to death yesterday. Whilst he was in a press building, the goondas broke into that building, indiscriminately assaulted everyone not translated here. The scheme was to popularize Indian music, both vocal and instrumental, by arranging a weekly concert covering various ragas, and holding it at various times in the morning, in the evening or in the night, according as a raga demanded it. It was to start functioning after a hundred members had been enrolled at an annual fee of Rs. 12.
one who was in it and then set fire to it. A noted Vakil of Godhra was fatally wounded and Waman Rao who is a member of the Bombay Council and whom you know was seriously assaulted. Every day some fresh rioting news comes from some place or other. I know that in spite of all this, the constitution-building work must be done. I only want to tell you that these riots largely unfit me for such work. Indeed, I am contemplating absence even from the Congress if you could permit me to remain away. There is a double reason: the prevailing atmosphere and the decision of the Calcutta Committee to copy the Madras type of Exhibition.1 The Council of the All-India Spinners’ Association has decided to abstain from being represented at that Exhibition. Much though I feel the error in using Madras Exhibition as a type, I do not want to criticize it in the public.
If I go to Calcutta, my presence will either embarrass the Committee or my silence will embarrass me. I have now given you what is today oppressing my mind. You will now decide firstly, whether you want me for the All-India Congress Committee in Calcutta and secondly, whether you want me to attend the Congress in December. You and Vithalbhai worked wonders in Shimla.
Gandhi wrote a letter to Motilal Nehru on dated 3 November 1928 that You are now in the thick of the fight, but at the time you receive this letter, the fight will have been over. I am hoping and praying that 1 Vide “Speech at Khadi and Hindi Exhibitions, Madras”, 23-12-1927. you will come out just as successful in Delhi as you did in Lucknow. I enclose herewith a copy of my letter2 to Dr. Bidhan Roy about the Exhibition difficulty. I do not need to send you a copy of his letter, because what he writes was contained in the telegram that you read to me. My reply needs no explanation. How is Kamala faring now? You will keep yourself fit for the culmination in December.
Gandhi wrote a letter to Motilal Nehru on dated 28 November 1928 that
I have your letter of the 15th instant. I waited all these days for a confirmation from Dr. Bidhan Roy or Subhas, but I have none up to the time of dictating, that is, 28th morning. I wired on Monday to Dr. Bidhan. There is no reply. Meanwhile I have seen a cutting which I send you herewith. They are evidently inviting local Governments’ co-operation. Evidently now all distinction has vanished and the Exhibition will be a more spectacular display than an instructive effort designed to educate the poor cultivator and the other public.
There is a gratuitous mention there of khadi. But there is no room in this Exhibition for me or khadi in the real sense. Evidently it will not exclude either foreign cloth or foreign anything. I cannot say I am not grieved over this, but I do not want you to carry the matter any further. I write this letter merely for your information. I do not seek your intervention for a mechanical change of opinion or for a mechanical respect for my wishes. I must cut my way through these grievous difficulties with patient toil. After all Dr. Bidhan and Subhas represent a definite school of thought. Their opinion is entitled to my respect as I expect theirs for my own. That which is in the interest of the people will prevail in the long run. Who can decide beforehand which is the correct opinion in terms of the multitude? I see you are having no end of difficulties with Mussalman friends regarding your report. But I see you are unravelling the tangle with consummate patience and tact. May your great effort be crowned with full success?
From your note I gather that the Convention will meet not on the 22nd December but on the 26th, 27th and 28th, the dates on which the Muslim League is to meet. Or, am I to understand that the Convention will formally meet on the 22nd and continue its session till the 28th? I do not see the slip referred to in the note. Hence the little confusion in my mind. Surely, you do not want me to be in Calcutta all these days.
From our conversation at Sabarmati I had understood that you would want me for the Congress and not the Convention. For myself I do not know what possible service I can render at the Convention. There is utter confusion in my mind created by the kaleidoscopic scenes going on before one in the country. All I can say is that I do not envy your position. But I know you are as much at home with such things as I am with the charkha. And if you will agree to the arrangement, I should be content to remain at the wheel and leave you to the joys of meandering through the intricate paths of diplomacy.
But my fate is in your hands until you give your decision. Meanwhile I drink in the peace and the silence that Jamnalalji has provided for me in Wardha. You will have seen the appeal about Lalaji Memorial. After much telegraphing to the Punjab friends, I decided that there should be no more signatures to the Memorial than the three that have appeared. It would have taken a long time to have got the consent of all the men who were mentioned as signatories. They insisted upon at least your and my name appearing together with the three. But I vetoed the proposal anticipating your approval of the veto. You will however please do whatever you can for the Fund, due regard being had to your taxing appointments. I see that you have to begin with the first letter of the alphabet about Kamala’s treatment. I am glad, however, that she will be in Dr. Bidhan’s capable hands, and he will have Sir Nilratan at his beck and call in case of emergency.
Gandhi wrote a letter to Motilal Nehru on dated 7 December 1928 that I have your two letters. The last enclosing a copy from Subhas Bose. But before he wrote I had already capitulated on the receipt of Dr. Bidhan’s letter copy of which is in your possession together with my answer. You will have seen that I have also sent instructions to khadi organizations to take part in the Exhibition in so far as at this late time in the day, it is possible for them to do so.
Gandhi wrote a letter to Motilal Nehru on dated 17 Jan 1929 that I have both your letters1. No apology whatsoever is necessary for taking me to Calcutta. Of course I had never expected to have to take such an active part in the deliberations as circumstances forced me to take. But it was as well. I was quite happy over it and it gave me an insight into the present working of the Congress organization which I certainly did not possess. And after all, we have to battle both within and without.
The big Darbhanga case is a very heavy responsibility and it must take up a great deal of your time which would otherwise have been available for the constructive programme. Nevertheless, I am glad you have this case and if it relieves you of all financial burdens, it will be possible for you then to give much more time to public work and that without a load of anxiety behind you.
Now as to the second letter. If I am to finish the European programme, I may not put off the visit till May and I dare not keep the many friends who have invited me in a state of suspense up to the very time of my sailing. And if I go at all I have to go to Germany, Austria, Russia, possibly Poland, France, England and I would like to add Italy, Turkey and Egypt though I have no invitations as yet from the last three places. There are also pressing invitations from America to include America if I go to Europe. All these things I must settle now or not at all. And your letter leads me to think that I must not think of undertaking the European tour this year at all. The next will take care of itself. Subject therefore to your reply, I propose to announce cancellation of the tour and make no promise for next year. I have been asked to draw up a scheme for boycott of foreign cloth.
Gandhi wrote a letter to Motilal Nehru on dated 24 January 1929 that I have your telegram. After having written to you, I had almost reconciled myself to abandoning the proposed European tour and, now that you have reconsidered your decision, there is a disinclination on my part to undertake the tour. I feel that if we are to do anything next year,1 as we ought to, I may not absent myself from India during the year, but should do whatever I can to assist to make the way clear for next year’s battle. Having moved the constructive programme resolution, I almost feel it like running away if there is any work that I can do in the country. If I leave at the end of April, I do not expect to return before the middle of October. If then, that is, if I am to go through the long programme sketched by me in my previous letter, more especially if I am to throw in America. The more, therefore, I contemplate the European tour, the more disinclined I feel like facing it this year. Next year, of course, may be out of question. I am, therefore, just now on the horns of a dilemma. I do not want to tax you any further in the matter and I know that I must now decide for myself. But if anything occurs to you, you will please let me know. I am now conferring with Vallabhbhai, Jamnalalji, Rajagopalachari and others and hope to decide finally in a few days.
A Danish friend1, not knowing the inner working of the Congress, grows enthusiastic over our resolutions and says, ‘‘It is no use my going to Europe as a representative from an India in bondage, I should go next year as a representative of an India become free.” I wish that we could all share this belief and make an adequate effort to realize it. Are you doing anything about the Hindu-Muslim question? I am sending Jawahar a copy of my tour programme in Sind for which I leave on the 31st instant.
Gandhi wrote a letter to Motilal Nehru on dated 24 January 1929 that I have your telegram. You will have read what I have said in Young India about the European visit.1 I therefore need not enter into the reasoning that decided the matter for me. When I came to the final conclusion, it was like a weight lifted of my back. And your telegram confirms the correctness of my decision.
I sent the Sind programme to Jawahar and he must have shown it to you already. But to make assurance doubly sure I am sending you a copy. There is an alteration of dates somewhat because owing to the terrific [cold] that has overtaken the country they stopped me from leaving tomorrow morning. I enclose herewith Santanam’s letter. It speaks for itself. I wish you would send for the Punjab workers and adjust their differences. If we are to do any work at all the next Congress must be a genuine affair, a true register of elected representatives.
Gandhi wrote a letter to Motilal Nehru on dated 8 February 1929 that There has not been a moment to spare for writing work beyond what I have been able to snatch for Y.I. I have your wire today. I hope to reach Delhi on 17th instant via Marwar junction. The train reaches Delhi about 9.30 a.m. Rasik, my grandson, is lying on his deathbed in Delhi. He went there to teach carding to the Jamia boys. If he is still alive I shall drive straight to the Jamia and then attend the W.C. meeting. I do not know where I should stay this time. Usually I at Dr. Ansari’s. May I look to you to decide and fix up wherever it is the most convenient? You will not detain me there longer than two days, I hope. 18th is a Monday. I would like to leave Delhi on 18th night. I am under promise to finish Burma and Andhra before the end of April. I do not know how I shall cope with the two provinces now. There has been a very good response to the Lalaji Memorial appeal in Sind. Hope Kamala is better.
Gandhi wrote a letter to Motilal Nehru on dated 14 February 1929 that I have your wire. I know now where I am to be housed in Delhi. I shall remain there till Tuesday, but you will please make the way clear for me to leave Delhi on Tuesday night. You must have heard from some source that Rasik died on the 8th instant. Probably therefore I shan’t need to go to the Jamia before going to Vithalbhai’s place. But Devdas might want me for the sake of Mrs. Gandhi to go to the Jamia first. If so, I shall abide by his wish though I feel I am sure that she will not want me now to go to the Jamia merely for sentiment’s sake.
Gandhi wrote a letter to Motilal Nehru on dated 6 July 1929 that I have slept over your proposal. But I feel I must not shoulder the burden. I am sure that Jawahar should preside. Let young men have their innings. We must stand behind them. There are a hundred reasons why I must not preside. There are five hundred to show why Jawahar should preside. If you get this in time and if you approve I would deal with the matter in the next issue of Young India.
Gandhi wrote a letter to Motilal Nehru on dated 12 August 1929 that I had you letter about Jawaharlal. I hope the election1 will go through all right. The more I think over it, the more convinced I fell of the correctness of the step I have taken. But this is just to tell you I have seen Mr. Jinnah. He explained the 14 points of demands framed at Delhi. The chief however is the demand for one-third representation in the Central Legislature and separate electorate if the other 12 demands are not clearly accepted. How that can be done or whether it should be done,
You know best. My mind is in a whirl in this matter. The atmosphere is too foggy for me to see clearly. I hope Kamala will go through the operation bravely.
Gandhi wrote a letter to Motilal Nehru on dated 21 August 1929 that I have your second wire. I do not take the view you do about Jawahar. Jawaharlal would have been elected had I not been in the way. If the Congressmen concerned can be induced to think that I shall be of greater service without the chair they would surely have Jawahar. You may depend upon my not being unmindful of Jawahar’s self-respect. I would not on any account thrust him on the country. But let us see how things shape. I shall take no hasty step. I expect more news about Kamala. I hope she will now be entirely free from recurring pains and that this operation was all that was necessary to put her on her feet.
Gandhi wrote a letter to Motilal Nehru on dated 30 November 1929 that Messrs Jinnah, Vithalbhai and Vallabhbhai were with me this afternoon. The upshot of the conversation was that if there was an interview with the Viceroy, we would be free to discuss all the terms of the manifesto and that if the Viceroy was sure of our responding to his invitation he would invite us at the instance of Vithalbhai or Jinnah. The Viceroy will be free to see us on 23rd December. The proposal is that if the invitation is received we should meet in Delhi on 22nd December. The party is to be composed of you, Dr. Sapru, Jinnah, Vithalbhai and me.I feel that if the invitation is issued we should respond. If you agree please wire your yes to Vithalbhai at Delhi and to me at Sabarmati up to 5th. I leave for Wardha on 6th.
Gandhi wrote a letter to Motilal Nehru on dated 24 January 1929 that In Lahore there was no time to talk or to read the newspaper or to think of anything else but the next hour’s work. Here, in Delhi, on a cattle farm five miles away I saw the Hindustan Times and the Kelkar manifesto. It struck me immediately that it was absolutely necessary to have from you a brief statement to show why the boycott of Legislatures is an absolute necessity. The sooner you issue it to the Press, the better it would be. Jawahar surpassed all expectations. Even the critics were silenced. If we can but take some decisive step and come to grips this year it will be a fitting finish to the presidential year so well begun.
Gandhi wrote a letter to Motilal Nehru on dated 20 January 1930 that I have your letter. I did not realize you were so bad. In the circumstances there is no occasion for touring. After all we have said our say. Let those who wish seek election. I do not think they will begin arrests so soon. But if they do, the entire better. They are not likely to take all of us at the same time. If they do and if they put us all together, we shall have a rare time of it.
Gandhi wrote a letter to Motilal Nehru on dated 20 January 1930 that So Jawahar is to have six months’ rest. He has worked like a Trojan. He needed this rest. If things continue to move with the present velocity, he won’t have even six months’ rest. The Jambusar you saw the other day is different today. Whole villages have turned out. I never expected this phenomenal response. In many villages Government servants can get no service. The removal of some of our picked men has only stiffened the resistance of the people. But enough of this optimism. He will be a wise man who can say what will happen tomorrow. Accounts arriving from Bombay too are most encouraging.
Gandhi wrote a letter to Motilal Nehru on dated 23 July 1930 that My position is essentially awkward. Being temperamentally so built, I cannot give a decisive opinion on matters happening outside the prison walls. What I have therefore given to our friends is the roughest draft of what is likely to satisfy me personally. You may not know that I was disinclined to give anything to Slocomb and wanted him to discuss things with you. But I could not resist his appeal and let him publish the interview1 before seeing you.
At the same time I do not want to stand in the way of an honorable settlement, if the time for it is ripe. I have grave doubts about it. But after all, Jawaharlal’s must be the final voice. You and I can only give our advice to him. What I have said in my memorandum given to Sir Tej Bahadur and Mr. Jayakar is the utmost limit to which I can go. But Jawahar and, for that matter, also you may consider my position to be inconsistent with the intrinsic Congress policy or the present temper of the people. I should have no hesitation in supporting any stronger position up to the letter of the Lahore resolution. You need therefore attach no weight to my memorandum unless it finds an echo in the hearts of you both.
I know that neither you nor Jawahar were enamoured of the eleven points brought out in my first letter to the Viceroy. I do not know whether you still have the same opinion. My own mind is quite clear about them. They are to me the substance of independence. I should have nothing to do with anything that would not give the nation the power to give immediate effect to them. In restricting myself to the three only in the memorandum, I have not waived the other eight. But the three are now brought out to deal with civil disobedience. I would be no party to any truce which would undo the position at which we have arrived today.
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