Aims of Swaraj Party and its Work
Swaraj Party was formed by Motilal Nehru and Chittaranjandas and was named as "Congress-Khilafat Swarajaya Party"in 1922.It also claimed to be an integral part of the Congress and professes its adherence to Non-Violence & Non-Cooperation Movement and decided to boycott the legislatures. One group led by C.R. Das, Motilal Nehru and Vithalbhai patel wanted that the congress should take part in the elections and wreck the working of legislatures from within. The other group which was led by Vallabhbhai Patel, C. Rajagopalachari and Rajendra Prasad, was opposed to this. They wanted the congress to be engaged in the constructive programme.
In 1922, the congress session held at Gaya and presided over by C.R. Das rejected the proposal for entering the legislatures. The supporters of this proposal formed the congress Khilafat Swarajya party, popularly known as the swaraj party, in 1923. At a special session held at Delhi under the presidentship of Abul kalam Azad, the congress permitted the swarajists to contest the elections. The swarajists won a large number of seats in the central and provincial legislatures. In the absence of mass political activities in this period, the swarajists played a significant role in keeping the spirit of Anti-British protest alive. They made it almost impossible for the British rulers to get the approval of the legislatures for their policies and proposals. For example, in 1928, the government introduced a bill in the legislative assembly which would give it the power to expel from the country those non-Indians who supported India’s struggle for freedom. The bill was defeated. When the government introduce this bill again, Vithalbhai Patel who was the president of the assembly refused to allow it. The debates in the legislatures, in which Indian members often outwitted the government and condemned the government, were read with interest and enthusiasm throughout the country.
The boycott of the legislatures was started again when the mass political struggle was resumed in 1930. Gandhiji was released in February in 1924, and the constructive programme which was accepted by both the sections of the congress became the major activity of the congress. The most important components of the constructive programme were the spread of Khadi, promotion of Hindu-Muslim unity and the removal of untouchability. It became compulsory for anyone who was a member of any congress committee to wear hand-spun and hand-woven Khaddar while engaged in any political or congress activity, and spin 2000 yards of yarn every month. The all India spinner’s association was set up and Khaddar Bhandars were opened all over the country. Gandhiji considered Khadi as the key to the liberation of the poor from their misery and to the economic well-being of the country. It provided means of livelihood to millions of people and enabled spreading the message of the freedom struggle to every part of the country, particularly in the rural areas. It brought the common people of the country close to the congress and made the uplift of the common people an essential part of the work of the congress. The charkha became the symbol of the struggle for freedom.
After the withdrawal of the Non-Cooperation movement, communal riots had broken out in some parts of the country. The fight against the poison of communalism was essential for maintaining and strengthening the unity of the people and for carrying on the struggle for freedom. Gandhiji’s work against untouchability was important for removing the worst evil from the Indian society as well as for drawing the downtrodden and oppressed sections of Indian society into the struggle for freedom.