Our feelings of love or dislike must be based upon historical facts. Everyone knows that Gandhi was racist in South Africa before coming to India. Read racist quotes of so-called Mahatma.
How could Dalits ever love Gandhi?
1. Gandhi entered Indian politics in 1919 and soon captured the Congress. He made Congress a mass organization and launched a Constructive Programme of social amelioration known as Bardoli Programme, in 1922; to finance this programme he started a fund of one crore and 30 lakhs of rupees, known as “Tilak Swaraj Fund” out of which a sum of 49 1/2 lakhs was allotted to Bardoli Programme which included uplift of the untouchables also. The Congress proposed to start a separate fund of 5 lakhs and then reduced it to 2 lakhs for the amelioration of the untouchables. Only two lakhs for 60 million Untouchables! Yet, only 43,381 rupees were actually spent! Seeing that the Congress was not really sincerely interested in this programme Swami Shradhanand sanyasi resigned from the subcommittee which, not convened even once, was dissolved and then this task was handed over to Hindu Mahasabha which had the least interest in this programme of uplifting the untouchables. Thus the Congress washed away their hands from this program.
Ref. – Dr. Babasaheb Ambedkar Writings and Speeches, Vol 9., What Congress and Gandhi have done to the Untouchables, pages 17- 39
2. Pages of “War with Gandhi” of Dhananjay Keer’s Biography of Dr Babasaheb describes their first meeting at Mani Bhavan on 14.8.1931 and how Gandhi developed the animosity towards Dr Babasaheb. Later he opposed Dr. Babasaheb’s stand at the Round Table Conferences.
At the 2nd RTC Gandhi claimed that he was the only person qualified to represent and speak on behalf the untouchables, claiming that he had lived with them and shared their joys and sorrows with them. He refused to acknowledge Dr Babasaheb as the true representative of the Untouchables.
He said that the welfare of the untouchables was dearer to him than his own life! He said, “I will not bargain away their rights for the kingdom of the whole world.” But he agreed to give the Muslims, Sikhs and Christians separate electorates but other than an ordinary right to the adult franchise he vehemently refused to give any other special privileges such as separate electorate to the Depressed Classes. He secretly agreed to give the Muslims all their 14 demands; in return he wanted them to oppose Dr Babasaheb’s demands at the 2nd RTC. When finally they could not arrive at a decision as regards the minority problem, they submitted a memorandum to accept the British Prime Minister’s decision and Gandhi also signed it. But later when the PM gave his decision, Gandhi refused to accept it and went on fast unto death!
Ref. – Dr. Babasaheb Ambedkar Writings and Speeches Vol. 2, Pages 600 -672.
3. When Gandhi returned to Bombay on 28.12 1931, eight thousand untouchables, males and females at 2.30 in the shivering cold of early morning demonstrated with black flags against Gandhi at the Mole Station!
Ref. – Dhananjay Keer, Dr Ambedkar Life and Mission. Pages 191-192
4. After returning to Bombay, the only thought that fully occupied Gandhi’s mind was how to prevent the Untouchables from getting from the British what Dr Babasaheb had demanded. He voluntarily wrote to the then India Minister Sir Samuel Hoare on 11.3.1932. He wrote, “I respectfully inform His Majesty’s Government that in the event of their decision creating separate electorate for the Depressed Classes, I must fast unto death.” Sir Samuel Hoare replied that “we intend to give any decision that may be necessary solely and only upon the merits of the case.”
The Communal Award was announced on 17.8.1932, Gandhi wrote to the PM saying, “I have to resist your decision with my life. The only way I can do so is by declaring a perpetual fast unto death from food of any kind save water with or without salt and soda…”
The PM replied on 8.9.1932 explaining the Govt’s duty to “safeguard what we believed to be the right of the Depressed Classes to a fair proportion of representation in the legislatures…the Govt’s decision stands and that only agreement of the communities themselves can substitute other electoral arrangements…”Finally, PM urged, “ask yourself seriously the question whether it really justifies you in taking the action you contemplate.”
Yet Gandhi ignored the fact that as a signatory to the memorandum, he should accept whatever decision the PM had taken, and went on fast unto death!
Ref. – Dr. Babasaheb Ambedkar Writings and Speeches, Vol. 9, What Congress and Gandhi have done to the Untouchables, pages 77 -87.
5. Gandhi started his fast on 20.9.1932. Dr Babasaheb issued a statement on the 19th instant. Every Dalit must read those 6 pages of the statement issued to the press. What would have happened to the then 60 million Dalits, if anything had happened to Gandhi’s life? Dr Babasaheb said “whether he knows it or not, the Mahatma’s act will result in nothing but terrorism by his followers against the Depressed Classes all over the country…. If Mr Gandhi coolly reflects on the consequences of his act, I very much doubt whether he will find this victory worth having….the Mahatma is releasing reactionary and uncontrollable forces, and is fostering the spirit of hatred between the Hindu community and the Depressed Classes..” Dr Babasaheb ended his statement thus “I am prepared to consider the proposals of the Mahatma. I, however, trust the Mahatma will not drive me to the necessity of making a choice between his life and the rights of my people. For I can never consent to deliver my people bound hand and foot to the Caste Hindus for generations to come.”
To save Gandhi from sure death, a conference of Hindu leaders was held at the hall of the Indian Merchants in Bombay on 19.9.1932 under the president ship of Pandit Madan Mohan Malaviya. Dr Babasaheb Ambedkar said there, “…secure Gandhi’s alternative proposal… But one thing is decided. To save Gandhi’s life I would not be a party to any proposals that would be against the interests of my people”
The next day, when Dr Babasaheb was told that Gandhi had no personal objection to the reservation of seats for the Depressed Classes, he told the conference, “It has fallen to my lot to be the villain of the piece. But I tell you I shall not deter from my pious duty, and betray the just and legitimate interest of my people even if you hang me on the nearest lamp-post in the street…”
63 years old Gandhi was without food for three days, lying on the white color painted iron cot under the mango tree, at the Yeravda Prison, his body very weak, and his voice sinking low to muttering. The question of duration of primary election and referendum to decide the duration of reserved seats was hanging undecided. Dr Babasaheb insisted that the question of reserved seats should be settled by referendum of the Depressed Classes at end of 25 years. But Gandhi said with a tone of finality “Five years or my life!”
Later it was decided to make the agreement without the condition of the referendum. Thus the Poona Pact was signed. What Dr Babasaheb Ambedkar felt at that moment of Poona Pact sign?
Dr Babasaheb says, “No man was placed in a greater and graver dilemma than I was then. It was a baffling situation. I had to make a choice between two different alternatives. There was before me the duty, which I owed as a part of common humanity, to save Gandhi from sure death. There was before me the problem of saving for the Untouchables the political rights which the Prime Minister had given them. I responded to the call of humanity and saved the life of Mr Gandhi by agreeing to alter the Communal Award in a manner satisfactory to Mr Gandhi”
Gandhi wanted only 5 years to decide whether to extend or not to extend the period of reserved seats! Could untouchability or social slavery of untouchables be eradicated in five years? Now after 75 years the reservation needs still to be continued.
But Gandhi threatened “Five years or my life!” Are these the words of a Mahatma? A friend of the Dalits?
Ref. – Dhananjay Keer, Dr Ambedkar Life and Mission, Pages 204- 216.
Dr. Babasaheb Ambedkar Writings and Speeches, Vol. 9, What Congress and Gandhi have done to the Untouchables, Pages 311-317, 88.
Author – Dr Murugu Dorai