Gandhi Versus the Empire

By Haridas T. Muzumdar | Go to book overview

CHAPTER XVI
THE CONGRESS MANDATE

This is Mahatma Gandhi's maiden speech at the Second Round Table Conference delivered before the Federal Structure Committeeon September 15, 1931.

In this speech Gandhi introduces his principals, the Congress. He makes clear that the Congress is the people of India. He puts four-square the Congress demand for full freedom for India, partnership with Britain at will, mutual advantages of voluntary association of India and England. His ringing characterization of himself as a rebel, not as a subject, is destined to go down in history as a momentous utterance.

He presents his credentials as the duly accredited representative of the most important organization--"a poor humble agent acting on behalf of the Indian National Congress." Speaking of his principals, Gandhi says: "The Congress represents, in its essence, the dumb, semi-starved millions scattered over the length and breadth of the land in its 700,000 villages." Then he reminds the Federal Structure Committee of the Congress mandate which permits him to participate in the Second Round Table Conference and to "accept such adjustments as may be demonstrably necessary in the interests of India."

A comparison of the way the British press and the American press covered the Gandhi news is most illuminating. The continental edition of the Tory Daily Mail of London had not a word to say regarding this epochmaking speech of Gandhi's in its issue of September 16, 1931. The London papers, including the Times, did scant

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