The withdrawal of non-cooperation and the subsequent arrest and imprisonment of Gandhiji led to stagnation in the congress. Here a new line of political activity emerged to continue the spirit of resistance this was suggested by CR “Deshbandhu” Das and Motilal Nehru. They wanted to participate in the legislative councils and obstruct their work completely from within.
Das and Nehru put this before the congress but it was defeated. They resigned and formed the Congress khilafat Swaraj party or later called as Swaraj party. They were called Pro-changers while their opponents became No-changers. The swarajist and the no changers differed on one issue: What to do during the inactive phase after the mass movement? This temporary void had to be filled by working in the council.
The no changers believed that council entry would lead to neglect of constructive work and working with the masses, loss of Zeal, and political corruption. The differences between these two groups would have led to a split but both agreed on mutual accommodation. The split was avoided as both sides knew that only mass movement and not parliamentary work would give Swaraj, both agreed importance of Gandhiji’s leadership, and also both realized importance of unity.
Hence in 1923, congress agreed to allow them to participate in the elections.
Although Gandhiji believed in the futility of council entry he too supported them in the interest of unity. In the Belgaum session of the congress which was presided by Gandhiji for the first and last time, he ratified their decision and ended the conflict between pro changers and no changers.
Work by the Swarajist:
- Forced government to take the executive route to enact legislation by defeating them in legislative councils at the center and state.
- Delivered powerful speeches which were widely reported and read.
- The defeated government on repressive legislation and regulations.
- Inspired politicized people and kept their spirits alive.
- Their popularity led the no changers to win many municipalities. The no changers believed these could be used for constructive work.
Drawbacks of the Swarajist:
- In the absence of mass movements communalism raised its head.
- The limits of the politics of obstruction had reached and further confrontations weren’t possible. The real concessions could be obtained by only mass movements. But the swarajist had no policy of backing their working in the councils with mass movements.
- They couldn’t convince their coalition partners on every matter.
- A few swarajist couldn’t resist the pull of parliamentary privileges.
The Swarajists lacked the policy to coordinate their militancy inside legislatures with the mass struggle outside. They relied totally on newspaper reporting to communicate with the public.
An obstructionist strategy had its limitations
They failed to support the peasants’ cause in Bengal and lost support among Muslim members who were pro peasant.
The aftermath of the Movement
During the second elections, the swarajist faced pressure from communalists and the liberals. It got a lesser majority in the center and the provinces. It resigned from the central and provincial councils in response to the Lahore sessions resolution and the beginning of civil disobedience.
The death of CR “Deshbandhu” Das also led to the decline of the Swaraj Party.