43. AT NAGPUR
The resolutions adopted
at the Calcutta special session of the Congress were to be confirmed at
its annual session at Nagpur. Here again, as at Calcutta, there was a great
rush of visitors and delegates. The number of delegates in the Congress
had not been limited yet. As a result, so far as I can remember, the figure
on this occasion reached about fourteen thousand. Lalaji pressed for a
slight amendment to the clause about the boycott of schools, which I accepted.
Similarly some amendments were made at the instance of the Deshabandhu,
after which the non-co-operation resolution was passed unanimously.
The resolution regarding the
revision of the Congress constitution too was to be taken up at this session
of the Congress. The sub-committee's draft was presented at the Calcutta
special session The matter had therefore been thoroughly ventilated and
thrashed out. At the Nagpur session, where it came up for final disposal,
Sjt. C. Vijayaraghavacharia was the President. The Subject Committee passed
the draft with only one important change. In my draft the number of delegates
had been fixed, I think, at 1,500; the Subjects Committee substituted in
its place the figure 6,000. In my opinion this increase was the result
of hasty judgment, and experience of all these years has only confirmed
me in my view. I hold it to be an utter delusion to believe that a large
number of delegates is in any way a help to the better conduct of the business,
or that it safeguards the principle of democracy. Fifteen hundred delegates,
jealous of the interests of the people, broad-minded and truthful, would
any day be a better safeguard for democracy than six thousand irresponsible
men chosen anyhow. To safeguard democracy the people must have a keen sense
of independence, self-respect, and their oneness, and should insist upon
choosing as their representatives only such persons as are good and true.
But obsessed with the idea of numbers as the Subjects Committee was, it
would have liked to go even beyond the figure of six thousand. The limit
of six thousand was therefore in the nature of a compromise.
The question of the goal of
the Congress formed a subject for keen discussion. In the constitution
that I had presented, the goal of the Congress was the attainment of Swaraj
within the British Empire if possible, and without if necessary. A party
in the Congress wanted to limit the goal to Swaraj within the British Empire
only. Its viewpoint was put forth by Pandit Malaviyaji and Mr. Jinnah.
But they were not able to get many votes. Again, the draft constitution
provided that the means for the attainment were to be peaceful and legitimate.
This condition too came in for opposition, it being contended that there
should be no restriction upon the means to be adopted. But the Congress
adopted the original draft after an instructive and frank discussion. I
am of opinion that if this constitution had been worked out by the people
honestly, intelligently, and zealously, it would have become a potent instrument
of mass education, and the very process of working it out would have brought
us Swaraj. But a discussion of the theme would be irrelevant here.
Resolutions about Hindu-Muslim
unity, the removal of untouchability, and Khadi too were passed in this
Congress, and since then the Hindu members of the Congress have taken upon
themselves the responsibility of ridding Hinduism of the curse of untouchability,
and the Congress has established a living bond of relationship with the
'skeletions' of India through Khadi. The adoption of non-co-operation for
the sake of the Khilafat was itself a great practical attempt made by the
Congress to bring about Hindu-Muslim unity