The Swarajist & No-changers

The no-changers argued for the continuation of the entire boycott and non-cooperation programme, successful implementation of the constructive programme, and quiet preparations for the resumption of the suspended civil disobedience, despite Gandhiji's imprisonment. 


•    The pro-changers and the no-changers quickly became embroiled in a bitter debate. Of course, there was a lot in common between the two of them. Both agreed that civil disobedience could not be carried out immediately and that no major movement could be sustained continuously. 
•    Both agreed that anti-imperialist forces needed to be rested and reenergized, that demoralisation needed to be overcome, that politicisation needed to be intensified, that political participation and mobilisation needed to be expanded, that organisation needed to be strengthened, and that cadre recruitment, training, and morale needed to be maintained. 
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•    In truth, the national movement was confronted with the same challenge that any mass movement faces.
The Swarajist & No-Changers


Work in the councils, according to the Swarajists, was vital to fill the interim political void. This would boost the morale of politically active Indians, fill empty newspaper columns, and inspire the general public. 
•    Electioneering and council speeches will open up new channels for political agitation and propaganda. The Swarajists said that the councils would continue to function even if Congressmen were absent, and that a huge number of people would vote. 
•    By becoming a member of the councils and interfering with their work. Congressmen would prevent unsavoury characters from causing trouble or the government from gaining legitimacy for its legislation.
•    In other words, the Swarajists claimed that they would turn legislatures into arenas of political struggle, rather than using them as organs for the gradual transformation of the colonial state as the Liberals desired, but as the ground on which the struggle for the colonial state's overthrow would be carried out.


The no-changers argued that legislative labour would lead to a lack of productive and other activities among the masses, as well as a loss of revolutionary zeal and political corruption. The legislators who would go into the councils with the intent of destroying them would eventually abandon obstructionist politics become enmeshed in the imperial constitutional framework and begin collaborating with the government on minor adjustments and piecemeal legislation on the other side, constructive labour among the masses would prepare them for the next cycle of civil disobedience.
The Battle: The atmosphere of dismay in nationalist ranks thickened as the pro-changer no-changer battle progressed, and they began to be tormented by the possibility of a repeat of the tragic split of 1907.
•    The leaders were under increasing pressure to put a stop to their public squabbles. Both groups of leaders began to back away from the precipice and work toward mutual agreement. Several reasons contributed to this tendency. To begin with, all of the Congressmen felt a tremendous desire for togetherness. 
•    Both the no-changers and the Swarajists knew that, however useful legislative activity may be, the true penalties that would force the government to embrace national demands could only be formed by a mass movement outside the legislatures and that this would require unity. 
•    Finally, both groups of leaders saw Gandhiji's leadership as critical. As a result, in a special session held in Delhi in September 1923, the Congress ceased all anti-council propaganda and allowed Congressmen to run for office and utilise their right to vote in upcoming elections.


Gandhiji was freed from prison on February 5, 1924, due to ill health. He was adamantly opposed to council admission as well as obstruction of council activities, which he saw as incompatible with nonviolent non-cooperation. 
•    The government had hoped for and counted on a split like this. When the Mahatma was released, the Bombay government said he would "denounce the Swarajists for their defection from the pure principle of non-cooperation, and thus significantly reduce in legislatures their power for harm." 
•    He gradually moved closer to an agreement with the Swarajists. In fact, his treatment of the Swarajists at this point reveals some of the fundamental characteristics of his political style, particularly when dealing with co-workers with whom he disagreed, and is thus worth discussing, albeit briefly.
•    Gandhiji's starting point was that, even when opposing Swarajist leaders, he had complete faith in their good intentions. He referred to them as "the most valued and respected leaders" who "have made great sacrifices for the country and who yield to no one in their love of the motherland's freedom." 
•    Gandhiji refused to publicly comment on council-entry until he had met with Swarajist leaders shortly after his release. Even after meeting with Das and Nehru he remained convinced that public opposition to the ‘settled fact' of council-entry would be counterproductive, despite his belief in the futility and even harmful nature of the Swarajists' programme.
•    The Swarajists' courageous and uncompromising behaviour in the councils convinced Gandhiji that, however politically incorrect, they were not becoming a limb of imperial administration. 
•    Gandhiji was also irritated by the squabbles between the proponents of the two schools.
Government response:  In the name of fighting terrorism, the government launched a full-scale assault on civil liberties and Swarajists in Bengal. On October 25, 1924, it issued an ordinance under which it raided Congress offices and conducted house searches, arresting a large number of revolutionary terrorists and Swarajists, as well as other Congressmen, including Subhas Chandra Bose and two Swarajist members of the Bengal legislature, Anil Baran Roy and S.C. Mitra.
The Swarajist & No-Changers


When Gandhiji saw a direct threat to the national movement, he became enraged. ‘The Rowlatt Act is dead, but the spirit that prompted it is like an evergreen,' he wrote in Young India on October 31. As long as Englishmen's interests are opposed to those of Indians, there must be anarchic crime or the fear of it, and an edition of the Rowlatt Act in response.'
•    He decided to show his solidarity with the Swarajists by ‘surrendering' before them in response to the government's offensive against them. 
•    Gandhiji put an end to the feud between the Swarajists and the no-changers on November 6, 1924, when he signed a joint statement with Das and Motilal pledging that the Swarajist Party would continue to work in the legislature on behalf of the Congress and as an integral part of it. This decision was ratified in December at the Congress session in Belgaum, which Gandhiji presided over. He also made the Swarajists the majority of his Working Committee members.

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