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Striking a deal

On March 5, 1931 before the second Round Table Conference in London, on March 5, 1931 before the second Round Table Conference in London signed the Gandhi–Irwin Pact. This was a political agreement.

Reasons for unrest

In October, 1929 Lord Irwin made an unclear offer of a ‘dominion status’ for India. It marked the end of a period of civil disobedience in India against British rule. Gandhiji and his followers had initiated the Salt March between March and April 1930. Gandhiji’s arrest and imprisonment at the end of the march, for making salt, sparked off one of his more effective civil disobedience movements.

By the end of 1930, thousands of Indians, including Jawaharlal Nehru, were in jail. The movement had generated worldwide publicity, and Irwin was looking for a way to end it. Gandhiji was released from custody in January 1931, and the two men began negotiating the terms of the pact. For many conservatives in England, the meetings and talks seemed unacceptable. They thought it was inappropriate for the Viceroy, who was the representative of the British Monarch, to receive their arch-enemy.

Gandhiji was authorised by the then President of the Congress, Sardar Vallabh Bhai Patel, to negotiate with Lord Irwin. Gandhiji said he would attend the Conference in the true spirit of a Satyagrahi. He advised the nation to wait, watch, pray and hope for a better prospect for India. He was full of admiration for the people, their heroic struggle and hard suffering. Though many were unhappy that Gandhiji had stopped his movement especially when the people were in high spirit of victory, he had a different perspective. He told the people that the nation had suffered a great deal and needed an interval to fight the next phase with more vigour.

The outcome of these talks was the Gandhi Irwin pact. They had eight meetings which lasted for a total of 24 hours. Gandhiji was impressed with Irwin’s sincerity and on behalf of the Indian National Congress agreed to discontinue the Civil Disobedience movement. The Congress agreed to join the second Round Table Conference to chalk out constitutional reforms. Some of the other conditions were that the British would withdraw all orders imposing curbs on the activities of the Indian National Congress. They also agreed to withdraw trials relating to several offences except those involving violence and release of prisoners arrested for participating in the civil disobedience movement. It was also agreed that the British would remove the tax on salt, which allowed Indians to produce, trade, and sell salt legally and for their own use.

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Printable version | Nov 25, 2021 5:06:13 PM |

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