Prof. Dr. Yogendra Yadav
Gandhi Research Foundation, Jalgaon, Maharashtra, India
Contact No. – 09415777229, 094055338
A reliable correspondent writes to me saying that in Allahabad and Benares the volunteers have been enlisted without regard to their qualifications. Hardly 50 could be found dressed in hand-spun khaddar from top to toe. Some more could be found wearing khaddar for outer covering, all the rest being foreign cloth. The same correspondent says that some of the volunteers do not mind an occasional drink and that they are not tested as to their belief in non-violence and that in many instances the local Congress officials have lost control over them. It has been officially reported that there are 96,000 volunteers enlisted in the United Provinces. If it is a fact that there are so many volunteers on the roll and that the vast majority of them do not conform to the Congress conditions, they are worse than useless. The complaints mentioned by me are formidable, yet as a matter of fact, I have not exhausted them all. The same news comes from Calcutta, again from a reliable source. My informant tells me that hundreds who have gone to jail know nothing about the pledge, are not dressed in khaddar, are not dressed even in Indian mill cloth but have gone to jail wearing foreign cloth, and that they have had no training in non-violence.
A correspondent from Rohtak writes bitterly complaining that in many parts of that district the volunteers do not obey instructions and make the position of Congress officials most difficult and embarrassing. If one-tenth of these complaints is true I fear that we have not been able to cope with the wonderful awakening and to bring under control all the new additions to the Congress organization. It is possible that it is nobody’s fault that this is so. The Government precipitated a crisis by hurling the notifications about public meetings and volunteers at us. The challenge had to be and was taken up. New and inexperienced men found themselves clothed with office and they were called upon to deal with a crisis which would have taxed to its utmost the capacity even of the experienced leaders withdrawn from public guidance. There is much-to be said in favour of this argument. No one need therefore be blamed, but we must not blink the facts. On the contrary we must face them sternly, boldly and set our own house in order. No army in the world has yet marched to victory, which has not consisted of soldiers possessing the qualities expected of them. An army of peace has greater need to exhibit the qualities laid down for its soldiers. It would not do to retort that the standard is too high. A recruiting officer who takes recruits below the standard renders himself guilty of dishonesty; in he takes such recruits knowingly. All he can do is to report to the headquarters that he cannot get recruits on the conditions’ prescribed, but on no account will he be justified in departing from them.
The conditions laid down by the Congress were read by me in detail to the whole audience last December in the Congress pandal. They were exhaustively discussed by the All India Congress Committee and the Working Committee and then they were explained by me to the delegates and visitors from the different provinces at numerous informal discussions. The plea of impossibility of fulfillment cannot therefore be accepted. The delegates knew what they were about. They were nearly 6,000. They came to represent their respective constituencies and there should have been no difficulty about the fulfillment of the conditions. I should personally be satisfied with 300 volunteers thoroughly understanding and complying with the conditions, but I should not care to lead a struggle with 30,000 volunteers who know nothing of and careless about the conditions. The reason is obvious. In the one case I have at least 300 stalwarts to support me, in the other case I have to carry a burden of 30,000 men, not volunteers, who are a drag upon me. The 300 would help me, would obey instructions, but 30,000 will certainly not carry out instructions and may throttle me. We must therefore once for all make up our minds that all the resolutions which are passed by the Congress Working Committee have to be fulfilled literally. They are part of a swift and practical programme upon whose due fulfillment rests the future of India, the redress of the Khilafat and the Punjab wrongs and the attainment of swaraj Resolutions by themselves mean nothing if they are not to be carried out in full. We used to complain when our resolutions which were in days gone by addressed to the Government were not carried out by it.
Who is to complain when the resolutions voluntarily and deliberately passed by us are not carried out by ourselves? I, therefore, strongly advise all Congress and Khilafat organizations to see that they are strictly enforced in their respective jurisdictions. If they do not, it is they who will endanger the movement and no one else. It is for us to make or mar the future.