Gandhi Versus the Empire

By Haridas T. Muzumdar | Go to book overview

CHAPTER XVIII
THE CONGRESS AND THE MINORITIES

This is Mahatma Gandhi's third speech at the Round Table Conference, the first before the Minorities Committee, delivered on October 8, 1931.

This speech of Gandhi's is destined to go down in history as the "deep sorrow and deeper humiliation" speech. In it the Mahatma makes clear the reason for the breakdown of the informal negotiations for a settlement of the communal problem. First, he had to deal with government hand-picked nominees grandiloquently dubbed "delegates." Secondly, all the communalists, especially the Muslims, at the Round Table, pressed their special claims for all they were worth, with the tacit knowledge and abetting of the British government, particularly its Tory wing. Thirdly, Gandhi had to consider the viewpoint and legitimate aspirations of Nationalist Muslims who had hearing neither at the Round Table nor at the informal consultations in London. Fourthly, most important of all, the nation's spokesman was asked to sign away the oneness of the nation and to agree to an almost perpetual scheme of cantankerous communal representation without knowing whether India would have the right and privilege to set her own house in order without British interference--with the consent and good-will of the minorities in whose name the several alleged spokesmen in London took the stand for separate communal constituencies.

In fastening the blame for the communal tangle upon the shoulders of the British government Gandhi was

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