The arrest of Gandhiji in March 1922, and his conviction and incarceration for six years for promoting dissension against the government, followed the withdrawal of the Non-Cooperation Movement in February 1922. As a result, fragmentation, disorder, and demoralisation spread across the nationalist ranks. There was a danger that the movement might become complacent. Many people began to doubt the Gandhian strategy as a whole. Others began seeking for a way out of the stalemate.
PRO-CHANGERS AND NO-CHANGERS:
• C.R. Das and Motilal Nehru advocated a new course of political engagement that would maintain the spirit of opposition to colonial rule. Nationalists should halt their boycott of legislative councils, infiltrate them, expose them as "sham parliaments" and "a mask worn by the bureaucracy," and oppose "every work of the council," they advised.
• They maintained that by expanding non-cooperation to the councils themselves, they would not be giving up non-cooperation but rather making it more effective. It would be a new front in the conflict.
• At the Gaya session of the Congress in December 1922, C.R. Das, as President, and Motilal, as Secretary, proposed this policy of "either mending or ending" the councils. A section of the Congress led by Vallabhbhai Patel, Rajendra Prasad, and C. Rajagopalachari opposed the new proposal, which was defeated by 1748 votes to 890 votes.
• Das and Motilal resigned from their positions in the Congress and announced the foundation of the Congress-Khilafat Swaraj Party, subsequently known as the Swaraj Party, on January 1, 1923. Das was the new party's President, while Motilal was one of its Secretaries. Those who supported the council admission programme became known as "pro-changers," while those who opposed it became known as "no-changers."
• The Swaraj Party agreed to the Congress's platform in its entirety, with one exception: it would run in elections later this year. It declared that it would present the national demand for self-government to the councils, and that if it was rejected, its elected members would engage in a "policy of uniform, continuous, and consistent obstruction within the councils, with the goal of making government through the councils impossible." As a result, the councils would be shattered from within, with deadlocks on every proposal that came before them
Das and Motilal Nehru: Both were prominent lawyers who had been Moderates before accepting the boycott and non-cooperation tactics in 1920. They had given up their law business, joined the cause full-time, and offered their splendid homes in Calcutta and Allahabad to the nation.
• They were Gandhiji's political equals as well as fervent admirers. They were both intelligent and effective legislators. Both were secular to the core, one passionately religious and the other virtually agnostic. They were dissimilar in many respects, but they complimented one other and made a renowned political team.
• Das was a remarkable orator with the ability to inspire and reconcile friends and rivals. He was inventive and emotive. Motilal was a strong leader who was also a terrific organiser and disciplinarian.
• They had such complete trust and confidence in each other that they could make any remark in the other's name without consulting each other first.