Nehru - Toward Freedom (1936).pdf

Besides three weeks or more of conversations between

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Besides, three weeks or more of conversations between Gandhiji and Lord Irwin had led the country to expect that a settlement was coming, and a final break would have been a disappointment. So all of us in the Working Committee were de cidedly in favor of a provisional settlement (for obviously it could be nothing more), provided that thereby we did not surrender any vital position. Two matters interested me above all others. One was that our ob jective of independence should in no way be toned down, and the second was the effect of the settlement on our United Provinces agra rian situation. Gandhiji had made this point quite clear to Lord Irwin. The peasants were unable to pay the taxes demanded by the Govern ment. He had stated that, while the no-tax campaign would be with drawn, we could not advise the peasantry to pay beyond their capacity. The question of our objective, of independence, also remained. I saw in that Clause 2 of the settlement that even this seemed to be jeopard ized. Was it for this that our people had behaved so gallantly for a year? Were all our brave words and deeds to end in this? The inde pendence resolution of the Congress, the pledge of January 26, so often repeated? So I lay and pondered on that March night, and in my heart there was a great emptiness as of something precious gone, almost be yond recall. This is the way the world ends, Not with a bang, but a whimper. Gandhiji learned indirectly of my distress, and the next morning he asked me to accompany him in his usual walk. We had a long talk, and he tried to convince me that nothing vital had been lost, no sur render of principle made. He interpreted Clause 2 of the agreement in 193
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a particular way so as to make it fit in with our demand for independ ence, relying chiefly on the words in it: "in the interests of India." The interpretation seemed to me to be a forced one, and I was not con vinced, but I was somewhat soothed by his talk. The merits of the agreement apart, I told him that his way of springing surprises upon us frightened me; there was something unknown about him which, in spite of the closest association for fourteen years, I could not under stand at all and which filled me with apprehension. He admitted the presence of this unknown element in him, and said that He himself could not answer for it or foretell what it might lead to. For a day or two I wobbled, not knowing what to do. There was no question of opposing or preventing that agreement then. That stage was past, and all I could do was to dissociate myself theoretically from it, though accepting it as a matter of fact. That would have soothed my personal vanity, but how did it help the larger issue? Would it not be better to accept gracefully what had been done, and put the most favorable interpretation upon it, as Gandhiji had done?
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  • Fall '16
  • Alan Kolata

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