Poona Pact of September 1932

Poona Pact was an agreement between Dr. Bhimrao Ambedkar and Mahatma Gandhi signed on September 24, 1932. This pact ended Gandhi’s fast unto death.


The British Government had announced Communal Award, a proposal on minority representation in the provincial legislatures of India. It was about to declare the depressed classes / dalits or untouchables as minorities. The award would result in separate electorates for Muslims, Europeans, Sikhs, Indian Christians, Depressed classes etc. Gandhi perceived the separate electorates for depressed classes as an attempt to divide Hindu society. He wrote a letter to Prime Minister McDonald to take back the proposal of separate electorates for depressed classes and warned of a fast unto death.

On 20 September 1932, Gandhi sat on Fast unto Death in Yarawada Jail where he was lodged at that time. A negotiation went on Hindu leaders and Dr. Ambedkar and resulted in this agreement. It was also signed by Madan Mohan Malviya and some other leaders.

Key Points

The essence of Poona Pact was more seats to depressed classes in return for their acceptance to continuance of joint electorate.  Joint electorate meant that all the members of the depressed classes registered in the general electoral roll in a constituency would form an electoral college which would elect a panel of four candidates belonging to the depressed classes of the reserved seats by the method of the single vote. The four members getting the highest number of votes in such primary election would be candidates for each such reserved seats by the general electorate.

  • While communal award promised 71 seats to depressed classes, the Poona Pact asked for allocation of 148 seats to depressed classes.
  • Certain percentage of the seats allotted to the general non-Muslim electorate would be reserved for the depressed classes.
  • Congress agreed that adequate representation would be given to the depressed classes in the civil services.
  • The depressed classes agreed to adhere to the principle of Joint Electorate.

The seats reserved for the Depressed Classes out of the general Non-Muhammaden seats in the provincial legislatures were as follows:

  • Madras 30
  • Bombay plus Sind: 15
  • Punjab : 8
  • Bihar & Orissa : 18
  • Central Provinces: 20
  • Assam : 7
  • Bengal : 30
  • United provinces : 20

Key outcomes

The Poona pact had both short term and long term outcomes. Gandhi was able to persuade the Dalit leaders to discard separate electorates but then this pact was more generous to depressed classes in comparison to the communal award.  From the jail itself, Gandhi lunched the All India Untouchability League (1932), and virtually retired from active politics after coming out of jail to pursue the cause of untouchability removal. For depressed classes, this pact brought double the number of seats reserved for them.

However, biggest gainers were British. Their intention was to deviate the leaders from CDM and sustain dissension amongst Hindus, and they were fairly successful in that. In this process, the larger issues fade into the background for the time being. The common man was confused with the compromise formula of Poona pact. They thought that the agreement on communal award is the end of the movement, and thus brought a halt in the pace of the movement.

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  • deepak

    i feel u creating anti-reservation feelings………

  • bharat chauhan

    Yes, I agree with deepak.

  • Vicky

    obviously this fellow is creating anti-reservation feeling among the youth. Socially illiterate people like this misguide youths these days.

  • simmy

    Noone is giving any kind of feeling it’s just a perspective.Rather then criticising analyse things.

  • Ashwani

    I feel the person who has posted this article do not have any clue about the ill effects of the casteism being followed in India for centuries. Probably that is the reason he/she has linked Civil Disobedience Movement (CDM) with Poona Pact. CDM is a general movement initiated against British Government/laws for independence whereas Poona Pact was about the human equality, to uplift the long trodden citizens of the country…those who have been exploited for years and denied basic human rights just because they were born in low caste (created by upper castes to satisfy their ulterior motives) families. They were denied education so that even their generations to come could never compete with upper class. You need to see the graveness and extent of exploitation, which is even worse than what Britishers did, of these low caste people…then you might understand and respect what Dr. B. R. Ambedkar did in the Poona Pact.

  • chetan KUMAR TIWARY

    U fools… The author is giving significance regarding the topics as is asked in d mains..u preparing for civils?? Have a open minded n don’t behave like.morons..
    As far as this is concerned it’s good.. We r against reservations..it has ruined d country n infusing idiots like u in d system.

  • sekar

    Mr.Tiwari u dont know the history of India. If u born any one of the low caste then u will not tell like this.

  • Tripathi

    Mr. Sekar reservations should be for those who are still not able to have any access to entitlements, and privileges like the Internet through which we are criticising each other. Those who are born of low caste are still today redeeming and encashing the benefits of reservations while those who are in dire need of reservation are still aloof. So rather than being a pro or anti reservationists we should be a good Indian and make people aware of their rights and privileges. It will not hamper anybody’s growth instead it would instill positive values in the person you are helping.

    @admin – Thanks admin for throwing light upon all the critical aspects of the topic and its relevance in the contemporary times.

  • Aspirant

    After reading all these comments i feel funny…. how much success British were in their policies… See still we are fighting …. Still we are divided… ha ha ha….

    • pranati

      U r right

  • Shepherd

    Dosto you like or not ……but reservation better say representation is our birth right and we will not give it up there is vital difference between reservation and representation…and who does carry doubts may came for open discussion..

    • Saurabh Malhotra

      reservation should be stopped.instead of that govt should provide better facilities to poor students

  • Tomba Ashem

    From competition point of view especially civil services, seat reservation is good according to ncert.never write against seat reservation in mains dear…dreamers

  • K. Pandar

    Very informative one. Good.

  • P.K.Subramanian


    The true spirit of Reservation is jeopardized now. After celebration of 71th year of independence majority of the Scheduled Cast and full of the Adivasi people are living under the plastic covered tends without proper food and cloths. The funds provided in the budgets for uplifting these people are eaten away by the politician for their political milage. Education to their children are still far away. These section of the society is groping in the darkness for their genuine needs only because they born in this lower cast. These society was always cheated and marginalized. Cast Hindus become restless when the first generation of this section got education and engaged in employment. Now these people are exploited by the politicians for their political activities. EDUCATION AND EMPLOYMENT IS THE ONLY WAY OUT TO THESE PEOPLE TO COME TO THE MAIN STREAM AND SOCIAL EQUALITY. Keep away politicians and join with organisation of our own people . Fight for rights.

  • Hemantkumar Baddy

    It was also agreed in Poona Pact Agreement that it will be responsibility of Hindus to remove untouchability

    Unfortunately untouchability is still continuing even after 85 years of signing the agreement.

    Now Hindus are demanding Abolishing the Reservation.

    Reservations for SCs & STs should be abolished but create separate states for SCs & STs in every State proportionate to their (SCs & STs) population

    Naa Bans rahega Naa Been Bajega

  • ian

    There is zero representation of sc/st in parliament .all sc /st candidates(mla/mp) represents general people who elected them…they dont represent dalit voice or dalit vote…to abolish this “ownership” right of dalit (i.e.71 seats) and increasing reservation seats in ias/ips/jobs or seats of joint electorate is infact pushing them in more slavery…even ias/ips cant purchase descent 10 acre fertile land with his lifetime income!!!dont fool people with your article.

  • vasan

    Before posting such foolish and idiotic message chetan KUMAR TIWARY should visit some villages and analyze the condition and survival problems faced by the village people of SC/ST communities. By posting such idiotic message it clearly shows how you behave with lower cast people and your caste dominating behavior against the illiterate and poor innocent people belongs to SC/STs.