Tuesday, January 26, 2010



The Round Table Conference of 1929 was Gandhi’s Waterloo. He erred in going to London as the sole spokesperson of the Congress, pinning hopes on the appeals from British statesmen. There he was cornered by the chosen few from among the Muslims who asked him to justify how he could speak on behalf of their community, while Mauna Shasta Ali, former Khilafat leader, warned the Hindus: "If the Hindus don’t meet our demands this time, we’re going to make war on them. We ruled the Hindus once. We at least don’t intend to be ruled by them now." The British Government planned to announce the Communal Award B this time the Scheduled Castes were to be favored, as were the Muslims in 1909. In disgust, Gandhi returned home empty-handed, while the government armed itself for letting loose repression.

Gandhi failed to checkmate Jinnah’s dangerous moves. Jinnah had no influence with the Muslim Premiers of Punjab, Sind and Bengal. Even when Fall Hue from Bengal had proposed the Pakistan resolution, he had later turned anti-Jinnah; while Ghulam Hussain Hidayatullaha, Sind Premier, had opposed the resolution. Gandhi did not capture an opportunity to form an anti-Jinnah front along with them. That was against his spirit of compromise as against confrontation. He ploughed his lonely furrow. The landed Gandhi in a complex situation in 1942, which exerted pressure on him for action. There were the Communists and other Leftists who favored support for the war in view of Russia and Britain having become allies. On the other hand, there were lurking fears that Japan might occupy India. In April 1942, the first Japanese bombing of India took place and there was seizure of the Andaman Islands.

On his release from prison in 1944, Gandhi committed a great blunder in his talks with Jinnah, when all his colleagues were in jail. This boosted Jinnah’s prestige amongst the Muslims in two ways: as a wrecker, and as the Quaid-e Azam, Jinnah came on level with Gandhi, the Mahatma. The Gandhi-Jinnah talks had serious repercussions. Immediately Jinnah acquired the status of sole spokesmanship.