Participation in the elections at central and provincial

v  Election to the central legislature(1934)

o   After the end of CDM there were three options or perspectives which were put forward to the congress on what they should work: -

1.      To undertake constructive work in Gandhian line.

2.     To resume Constitutional agitation and participate in elections of the central legislature of 1934.

3.     To resume extra – Constitutional mass struggle. (propounded by the left Wing of the Congress, led by J. Nehru).

Ø  Nehru’s Vision: -

He considered the withdrawal of the CDM and Council Entry “A Spiritual defeat”, “A Surrender of ideals”, and “A Retreat from Revolutionary to Reformist Mentality”.

Ø  Nehru’s opposition to Struggle-Truce-Struggle Strategy.

§  Nehru criticised the S-T-S Strategy.

§  He agreed that the Indian National Movement had reached a stage, in which there should be a continuous confrontation and conflict with Imperialism till it was overthrown.

§  Against a n S-T-S Strategy, he suggested a Struggle-victory strategy or S-V Strategy.

Ø  Finally, Yes to Council Entry

§  Gandhi said that the withdrawal of CDM did not mean bowing down before opportunists or compromising with Imperialism.

§  In May 1934, the All-India Congress Committee (AICC) met at Patna to set up a Parliamentary Politics.

§  In October 1934, Gandhi resigned from the congress as he disagreed with Parliamentary Politics.

§  In the Election to the Central Legislative Assembly held in November 1934, the congress captured 45 out of 75 seats reserved for Indians. 

  • v  Elections to the Provincial Assembly (1937)

§  In early 1937, Elections to Provincial Assemblies were announced.

§  Everyone in the congress agreed to oppose the 1935 Act but they were not clear that how they would do that.

§  Congress was fighting this Election with a detailed political and economic programme but what to do after election was not yet clear.

§  Jawaharlal Nehru, Subhash Chandra Bose, and Congress socialist and communists opposed office acceptance.

§  Leftists proposed entry into the councils with an aim to create deadlocks to making the working of the 1935 Act impossible.

Ø  Gandhi’s Position

§  Gandhi opposed office acceptance in the CWC meeting, but later in the beginning of 1936, he gave his approval.

§  In Lucknow Session of 1936 and Faizpur Session of 1937, Congress decided to fight elections and postpone the decision of office acceptance till the election.

§  In February 1937, elections to the provincial assemblies were held in 11 provinces – Madras, Central Provinces, Bihar, Orissa, United Provinces, Bombay Presidency, Assam, NWFP, Bengal, Punjab, and Sindh.

§  An estimate 30.1 million population, including 4.25 million women, had been enfranchised (14% of the total population) and 15.5 million of these including 9,17,000 women actually exercised their franchise. 

Ø  Congress Manifesto for Elections

The Congress manifesto reaffirmed: -

1.      Totally rejection of the 1935 Act.

2.     Removal of disabilities on the basis of gender and caste.

3.     Radical transformation of the agrarian system.

4.     Substantial reduction of rent and revenue.

5.     Promised release of political prisoners.

6.     Scaling down of rural debts.

7.     Cheap credit.

8.     Right to form trade unions and to strike.

(Gandhi did not attend a single election meeting.) 

Ø  Congress Performance

§  The Congress won 716 out of 1161 seats it contested. (there were 1585 seats in the legislative assemblies of the 11 provinces).

§  Congress emerged as the largest party in Bengal, Assam, and the NWFP.

§  The prestige of the Congress rose and the Nehru was reconciled to the dominant strategy of Struggle-Truce-Struggle (S-T-S) strategy.

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