Changes in Congress to Attain the New Objective and Assessing the Withdrawal

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Changes in Congress to Attain the New Objective

  • At the Nagpur session in 1920 changes in the Constitution of Congress were made.

  • The goal of congress was changed from the attainment of self-government by constitutional and legal means to the attainment of Swaraj by peaceful and legitimate means.

  • The Congress now had a Working Committee of fifteen members to look after its day to day affairs.

  • Provincial congress committees were now organized on a linguistic basis.

  • Mahalla and ward committees were formed.

  • The membership fee was reduced to 4 annas a year to enable poor to become members.

  • This was not without opposition, however. Some members still believed in the traditional methods. Leaders like Jinnah, GS Khaparde, Bipin Chandra Pal and Annie Besant left congress during this time.

  • Gandhiji, along with the Ali brother, undertook a nationwide tour to address people.

  • Thousands of students left government schools and joined national schools.

  • The most successful item of the programme was the boycott of foreign cloth.

  • Picketing of toddy shops was also very popular.

  • Students let government schools and colleges. IT was during this time that Jamia Milia Islamia of Aligarh, the Bihar Vidyapith, the Kashi Vidyapith and the Gujarat Vidyapith came into existence.

  • Lawyers such as Deshbandhu CR Das, Motilal Nehru, Rajendra Prasad, Saifuddin Kitchlew, C Rajagopalachari, Sardar Patel, T Prakasam and Asaf Ali gave up their legal practice.

  • Tilak Swarajya Fund was started to finance the NCM.

  • In 1921, Khilafat Committee issued a resolution that no Muslim should serve in the British Indian army.

  • The visit of the Prince of Wales on 17th November 1921 was observed as a day of Hartal all over the country.

  • The Congress Volunteer Corps emerged as powerful parallel police.

  • By December 1921, the government felt that things were going too far and announced a change of policy by declaring the volunteer corps illegal and arresting all those who claimed to be its members.

  • Thousands of peasants and tenants participated in the movement.

  • In Punjab, the Akali movement to remove corrupt mahants from the Gurudwaras was started.

  • Assam: Tea plantation workers went on strike. Midnapore: peasants refused to pay Union Board taxes. Guntur (Chirala): Agitation led by Duggirala Gopalkrishna Malabar: Mohlahs (Muslim peasants) created a powerful anti-zamindari movement.

  • As the government refused to yield, Gandhiji announced that mass civil disobedience would begin in Bardoli taluqa of Surat.

  • However, in Chauri Chaura, Gorakhpur on 5 February 1922 crowd set fire on a police station and killed some policemen. On hearing this, Gandhiji decided to withdraw the movement.

  • The congress working committee ratified his decision. Thus, on February 12, 1922, the non-cooperation movement came to an end.

Assessing the Withdrawal

  • Some scholars say that Gandhiji withdrew the movement because he wanted to protect the interests of the propertied class.

  • Some argue that there was no logic why a small incident should lead to withdrawal of the movement itself.

  • However, government could use Chauri Chaura to justify its repression of the movement.

  • If movement were started at that time, it would have been defeated due to the repression of the government.

  • Gandhiji was protecting the movement from likely repression, and the people from demoralization.

  • Mass movements tend to ebb in some time. Hence, withdrawal is a part of the strategy of mass movements.

  • Gandhiji was tried in 1922 and sentenced to six years’ imprisonment.

  • He invited the court to award him “the highest penalty that can be inflicted upon me for what in law is a deliberate crime, and what appears to be the highest duty of a citizen”.

Positives Out of the Non-Cooperation Movement

  • Congress started commanding the support and sympathy of vast sections of the Indian people.

  • Millions of Indians became politically involved. Women were drawn into the movement.

  • Muslims participated heavily and communal unity was maintained.

  • Strengthened the national movement. Nationalist sentiments and the national movement had reached the remotest corners of the land.

  • People gained tremendous self-confidence and self-esteem.

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