The Viceregal Announcement
His Excellency the Viceroy’s announcement on the future of Indian Constitutional Reform has produced greater smoke than fire, from the various political leaders and constitutional brains in India. With very rare exceptions, almost all the leaders who will have “nothing short of complete independence” for India have said “amen” to the Viceroy’s statement. Both the so called extremists and moderates of the political stage have unreservedly praised the dawn of the new millennium a flicker of which they seem to perceive in the Viceregal statement. As expected and foreseen by Lord Irwin, that under the present situation of the “forget-me-not” policy of the Indian National Congress, any statement of his will fetch the full support of the Indian politicians, the “leaders” and the ring-leaders of the Congress have rushed with their encomiums of the tremendous pronouncement of the Viceroy. They have dotted the ‘I’s and dashed the ‘T’s of the Viceroy’s statement, with the full hope of shielding their violent and fire-eating promises that they have hitherto indulged in. The Congress at Lahore, in spite of its young, energetic president, who once would have “nothing short of Full Independence,” but who has himself given his assent to the statement will have naturally to lose as much attraction as it originally intended to show.
But this much is assured, that the midnight of 31st December will not be as much ferocious as it ought to have been. Indeed, India owes a great deal to the politicians who honoured and accepted the Viceroy’s statement, agreed for a Round Table Conference, and thus saved a good amount of arms and ammunition which would have been otherwise lavishly spent on the morning of 1st January 1930.
We are naturally led in this connection to say a word about the Round Table Conference for which a predominant representation is claimed for the Congress, as being “numerically representative of the largest political group in the country.” If this claim is granted for the mere choice of possessing a high-sounding name, which is most likely under the existing circumstances, we are sure, that will ring the death knell of the representation of the minority communities in our country. As it is, the Congress is made up of a network of leaders and semi-leaders who are either Varnashramites whose eyes have never seen downtrodden millions in India, or aristocrats and landlords whose heads have never known a nod towards the working classes in our country. Worst of all, there is the predominance of leaders in the Congress who coolly say that the “Sarda Bill” is not a party question. There is the Tamil Nadu Congress, which very often exerts its filthy influence over the general body, which has recently “pledged to religious neutrality” at Cuddalore. That is the “recognition of women’s rights” found today in the ”numerically largest representative body in India”. Its attitude to problems of “untouchablity” and “Hindu-Muslim Unity” is more evident in their practical achievement than in their traditional resolutions.
Whether the Round Table Conference is going to be of any material benefit to the nation itself is a question which we leave it to the future. But we fear “the loaves and fishes of office,” the nauseating smell of which very often provokes the wrath of the “patriots” and “nationalists,” will soon become rich dishes to the battling boycotters of the Simon Commission.
– Revolt, 24 November 1929