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SWARAJISTS AND NO- CHANGERS

SWARAJISTS AND NO- CHANGERS

  • After Gandhi’s arrest (March 1922), there was disintegration, disorganisation and demoralisation among nationalist ranks. A debate started among Congressmen on what to do during the transition period, i.e., the passive phase of the movement.
  • One section led by C.R. Das, Motilal Nehru and Ajmal Khan wanted an end to the boycott of legislative councils so that the nationalists could enter them to expose the basic weaknesses of these assemblies and use these councils as an arena of political struggle to arouse popular enthusiasm.
  • They wanted, in other words, to ‘end or mend’ these councils, i.e., if the Government did not respond to the nationalists’ demands, then they would obstruct the working of these councils.
  • Those advocating entry into legislative councils came to be known as the Swarajists, while the other school of thought led by Vallabhbhai Patel, Rajendra Prasad, C. Rajagopalachari and M.A. Ansari came to be known as the ‘No-changers’.
  • The ‘No-changers’ opposed council entry, advocated concentration on constructive work, and continuation of boycott and non- cooperation and quiet preparation for resumption of the suspended civil disobedience programme.
  • The differences over the question of council entry between the two schools of thought resulted in the defeat of the Swarajists’ proposal of ‘ending or mending’ the councils at the Gaya session of the Congress (December 1922). C.R. Das and Motilal Nehru resigned from the presidentship and secretaryship respectively of the Congress and announced the formation of Congress-Khilafat Swarajya Party, with C.R. Das as the president and Motilal Nehru as one of the secretaries.                  SWARAJISTS AND NO- CHANGERS

SWARAJISTS ARGUMENTS

  • The Swarajists argued that entering the councils would not negate the non cooperation programme; in fact, it would be like carrying on the movement through other means opening a new front.                                    SWARAJISTS AND NO- CHANGERS
  • In a time of political vacuum, council work would serve to enthuse the masses and keep up their morale Entry of nationalists would deter the Government from stuffing the councils with undesirable elements who may be used to provide legitimacy to government measures.                    SWARAJISTS AND NO- CHANGERS
  • Their only intention was to use the councils as an arena of political struggle; they had no intention to use the councils as organs for gradual transformation of colonial rule.

NO-CHANGERS’ ARGUMENTS

  • The No-Changers argued that parliamentary work would lead to neglect of constructive work, loss of revolutionary zeal and to political corruption.
  • Constructive work would prepare everyone for the next phase of civil disobedience.
  • But at the same time both sides wanted to avoid a 1907- type split and kept in touch with Gandhi who was in jail.
  • Both sides also realised the significance of putting up a united front to get a mass movement to force the Government to introduce reforms, and both sides accepted the necessity of Gandhi’s leadership of a united nationalist front.                                      SWARAJISTS AND NO- CHANGERS
  • Keeping these factors in mind, a compromise was reached at a meeting in Delhi in September 1923.

The Swarajists were allowed to contest elections as a group within the Congress. The Swarajists accepted the Congress programme with only one difference- that they would join legislative councils.                                                                  SWARAJISTS AND NO- CHANGERS

The elections to the newly constituted Central Legislative Assembly and to provincial assemblies were to be held in November 1923.        SWARAJISTS AND NO- CHANGERS

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