Gandhi Versus the Empire

By Haridas T. Muzumdar | Go to book overview

CHAPTER XVII
UNREALITY AT THE ROUND TABLE

This is Mahatma Gandhi's second speech at the Round Table Conference delivered before the Federal Structure Committee on September 17, 1931.

This speech reveals to us Gandhi the statesman, the realist. First, he challenges the representative character of the "delegates." Second, he asks England for a showdown, asking the British ministers "to place their own cards on the table." Third, he expresses his disapproval of the debating society into which they had resolved themselves at St. James's. Fourth, the gentle manner in which he deals with the Princes shows him to be the very personification of tact. Having full faith in the ultimate triumph of truth and justice, he does not wish to complicate issues unnecessarily at an early stage. Fifth, the statesman does not object to the words "moral turpitude" but proceeds forthwith to discuss voters' qualifications, direct and indirect elections, unicameral and bicameral legislature, special interests and constituencies.

The significance of the speech lies not so much in Gandhi's dealing with details as in his comparison of the Congress and the future government of India. To the charge that the Congress is "insolently setting up a parallel government" Gandhi subscribes in his own fashion. Then he points to the Congress organization and its machinery as a model for the future legislature of India. This is no accidental trick in thinking--it is the cherished ambition of all Congressmen. "We certainly aspire some

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