Entry into the Congress Party:

Seth Govinddas on his 
entry in Congress Party

It was the contemporary wave of national movement, which captivated the heart of young Govind Das at the of just 24 years and led him to join National Congress party in the year 1920. It was a period during which there was great unrest and anguish among the people of the nation due to the Jalliawala Bagh incident which saw the death of hundreds of innocent Indian lives at the hands of the British. It was the platform, which laid the foundation for the Non-Corporation Movement. People were geared up to fight the British Oppressors.

The work pertaining to Non-Corporation Movement began in the Central Province with the visit of Mahatma Gandhi to Jubbulpore. Gandhiji stayed at the house of Shayam Sunder Bharagava at Bada Bazaar, since he wanted to come in contact with the maximum number of people. To get a glimpse of the Mahatma was like a feast for the people of Jubbulpore. All gathered to hear the Mahatma and donated jewellery and other valuables for the Swaraj Fund. He collected a total of Rs. 20,000. But went back with a heavy heart, as people could not hear him due to lack of loudspeakers in the city.

Coming of Satyagrah Inquiry Committee to Jubbulpore:

A decision was taken by the National Congress Party committee to form a Satyagrah Inquiry Committee. The objective of the committee was to carry out a survey across the nation to ascertain if the country was ready for a Satyagraha movement. The committee comprised of 6 members viz. Motilal Nehru, Dr. Ansari, Vitthalbhai Patel, Rajgopalacharya, Kasturi Ranga Ayangar and Hakim Ajmal Khan (Chairman).

The questionaire prepared by the committee was forwarded to all Congress committees and answers were demanded. This was followed by tours of all regions and interaction with the party workers.

For the committees visit to Jabalpur, Seth Govind das ji decided that arrangements for the boarding of the members would be done at Govind Bhavan, his townhouse in the Civil Lines area of Jabalpur, during their stay in the city.

But this raised problems for Diwan Bahadur Jeevan Das ji as he had friendly relations with the British Government. Sir Frank Sly, who was then the Governor of Central Province, called Jeevan Das ji and expressed his concern at an anti-British government committee staying at his townhouse. Jeevan Das ji tactfully handled the situation by explaining, ‘Well Sir, Govind Das has as much right upon Govind Bhavan as I do. Therefore, its beyond question on my part to prevent any of his guests from staying at Govind Bhavan.’ But Sir Sly was not an easy person to give up. He said, ‘it seems that both father and son are playing games with the government. One is with while other is against. This would not be tolerated.’ He then gave Jeevan Das an ultimatum that either you disown your son or you leave the side of British. Both the options were difficult for Jeevan Das ji,  on the one hand he was as loyal to the British as before and his business interests linked to them and on the other Govinddas ji was his only son. So, Jeevan Das ji wrote a letter to the higher British authorities criticising the whole interaction with Sir Sly and so the incident was taken care off.

The committee came to Jubbulpore and the members stayed at Govind Bhavan. People come in long queues to give in their statement. Many public programmes were organised during their stay. An interesting incident took place when Jubbulpore Municipality gave a letter of appreciation to Hakimji, the Chairman of the committee. A tri-colour flag was hoisted on this occasion at the Town hall, which a government building. The matter caught such prominence and notice that it was a subject of debate in the House of Commons in England. The British Government of India was thereafter asked to bear in mind that such incidents are not repeated in future.

The report of the Satyagrah Inquiry Committee made it clear that the country was not ready for a combined Satyagrah, but it recommended that Regional committees would have the right to carry out Satyagarh on their own.

During this period a rift developed between the senior members of the congress party and this deepened during the Gaya Session of the Party. As a result, Deshbandhu, who was the President, resigned from the party. Futile efforts at reconciliation were made by Jawaharlal Nehru and Maulana Aazad.. Ultimately the rift resulted in the formation of a new party -  the ‘Swaraj Party’. Deshbandu Das was elected as President, Motilal Nehru-General Secretary and Govind Das ji was made the treasurer of this new party.

The school headed by Motilal Nehru advocated a new line of political activity under the changed conditions. They said that nationalists should end the boycott of the Legislative Councils, enter them, obstruct their working according to the official plans, expose their weakness, and transform them into arenas of political struggle. Sadar Vallabhbhai Patel, Dr. Ansari, Babu Rajendra Prasad and others known as ‘no-changers’ opposed Council entry.     

The Election of 1923 and Swaraj party’s clean sweep:

A special conference of the Congress party was convened at Delhi, which was presided over by Maulana Abdul Kalam Azad, to reconcile the differences between various factions of the party. A settlement was reached which allowed independence to the different groups to carry on their work in their own way. Those who wanted to stand for the council election could do so while those who were criticising, were asked to stop doing so, if they could not openly support it.             

The elections of 1923 were more successful in Central Province and Berar as compared to other regions. The Party registered a clean sweep. Most of the leaders like Raghvendra Rao, Pt. Ravishankar Shukla, Thakur Chedilal, Durgashankar Mehta, Ghanshayam Singh Gupta and Shayamsunder were elected unopposed or through majority votes. But besides Central Province and Berar and Bengal, Congress party failed to come to majority. While in the centre, it was Motilal Nehru’s Swaraj party, which emerged as one major party.

Significant events of 1924 and 1925

Recommendation for the high profile post for Govind Das ji and his refusal

Spilt in Swaraj Party

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