Swaraj Party and No Changers
After Gandhi’s arrest (March 1922) and suspension of the non-cooperation movement (After the Chauri Chaura incident ), there was disintegration, disorganisation and demoralisation among nationalists and debate started among Congressmen on what to do during the transition period, i.e., the passive phase of the movement. Some wanted to go for the council entry while some wanted to continue with the constructive work.
Swaraj Party and No Changers:
- C R Das, Motilal Nehru and Ajmal Khan wanted an end to the boycott of legislative councils so that the nationalists could enter them and fight from within the system.
- The Swaraj Party, Swarajaya Party or Swarajya Party, established as the Congress-Khilafat Swarajaya Party. It was inspired by the concept of Swaraj
- It was a political party formed in India in January 1923 after the Gaya Annual conference in December 1922 of the National Congress.
- It sought greater self-government and political freedom for the Indian people from the British Raj.
- Advocated entry into legislative councils came to be known as the Swarajists or Pro-changers, while the other school of thought led by Vallabhbhai Patel, Rajendra Prasad, C. Rajagopalachari & M.A. Ansari came to be known as the ‘No-changers’.
- C R Das and Motilal Nehru resigned from the presidency and secretaryship respectively of the Congress
- C R Das and Motilal Nehru announced the formation of Congress-Khilafat Swarajya Party, with C R Das as the president and Motilal Nehru as one of the secretary.
- Both sides wanted to avoid a 1907 type split and realised the significance of putting up a united front to get a mass movement to force the Government to introduce reforms
- Both sides also accepted the necessity of Gandhi’s leadership of a united nationalist front.
- Keeping these factors in mind, a compromise was reached at a meeting in Delhi in September 1923.
- The Swarajists were allowed to contest elections as a group within the Congress.
- The Swarajists accepted the Congress programme with only one difference—that they would join legislative councils.
- The elections to the newly constituted Central Legislative Assembly and to provincial assemblies were to be held in November 1923.
- The Swarajist Manifesto for Elections Released in October 1923, the manifesto took a strong anti-imperialist line. It said—
- the guiding motive of the British in governing India is to secure selfish interests of their own country
- the so-called reforms are only a blind to further the said interests under the pretence of granting a responsible government
- the real objective being to continue exploitation of the unlimited resources of the country by keeping Indians permanently in a subservient position to Britain
- the Swarajists would present the nationalist demand of self-government in councils
- if this demand was rejected, they would adopt a policy of uniform, continuous and consistent obstruction within the councils to make governance through councils impossible;
- councils would thus be wrecked from within by creating deadlocks on every measure.
- In the November 1923 elections, the Swarajists had managed to win 42 out of 141 elected seats and a clear majority in the provincial assembly of Central Provinces.
Objectives of the Swaraj Party
- Attaining dominion status.
- Obtaining the right to frame a constitution.
- Establishing control over the bureaucracy.
- Obtaining full provincial autonomy.
- Attaining Swarajya (self-rule).
- Getting people the right to control government machinery.
- Organising industrial and agricultural labour.
- Controlling the local and municipal bodies.
- Having an agency for propaganda outside the country.
- Establishing a federation of Asian countries to promo
Major Achievements of Swarajists or Pro-changers
- With coalition partners, they outvoted the Government several times, even on matters relating to budgetary grants, and passed adjournment motions.
- A noteworthy achievement was the defeat of the Public Safety Bill in 1928 which was aimed at empowering the Government to deport undesirable and subversive foreigners
- As the Government was alarmed by the spread of socialist and communist ideas and believed that a crucial role was being played by the British and other foreign activists being sent by the Commintern.
- But by 1924, the Swarajist position had weakened because of widespread communal riots, split among Swarajists themselves on communal and Responsivist, Non-responsivist lines; the death of C.R. Das in 1925 weakened it further.
- Led by Vallabhbhai Patel, Rajendra Prasad, C. Rajagopalachari & M.A. Ansari
- The ‘No-changers’ opposed council entry.
- They advocated concentration on constructive work, and continuation of boycott and noncooperation
- They also advocated quiet preparation for resumption of the suspended civil disobedience programme
Constructive Work by No-Changers
- Ashrams sprang up where young, men and women worked, among tribals and lower castes (especially in Kheda and Bardoli areas of Gujarat), and popularised charkha and khadi.
- National schools and colleges were set up where students were trained in a non-colonial ideological framework.
- Significant work was done for Hindu-Muslim unity, removing untouchability, boycott of foreign cloth and liquor, and for flood relief.
- The constructive workers served as the backbone of civil disobedience as active organisers.
- They could not coordinate their struggle inside the Assembly with the mass freedom struggle outside.
- They totally relied on newspapers to carry their work and message in the Assembly to the outside world.
- Some of them could not resist the perks of power. Motilal Nehru was a member of the Skeen Committee and A Ramaswamy Iyengar was a member of the Public Accounts Committee.
- Their policy of obstructionism had its flaws and limitations.
- The death of C R Das in 1925 further weakened the party.
- There were internal divisions among the Swarajists. They were divided into the responsivists and the non-responsivists. The responsivists (M M Malaviya, Lala Lajpat Rai, N C Kelkar) wanted to cooperate with the government and hold offices, whereas the non-responsivists (Motilal Nehru) withdrew from legislatures in 1926.
- The party was in shambles when it went into the 1926 elections, and as a result, did not fare well.
- The party’s failure to support the peasant cause in Bengal led to a loss of support of many members.
- The party merged with the Congress in 1930.