Second Round Table Conference 1931
The Second Round Table conference was held in less auspicious environment. In India, Lord Irwin was replaced by Lord Wellingdon, who remained India’s Viceroy till 1936. In England, The Labor Government was now replaced by a National Coalition Government. Samuel Hoare was the Secretary of State for Government of India. Meanwhile, there was a strong reaction in India against the statement of Winston Churchill who called Gandhi a “Naked Seditious Fakir“. There were political and financial pressure on the Imperial Government. The period of 1928 to 1931 also marked the large number of revolutionary activities in which many Europeans were killed.
The Second Round Conference opened on September 7, 1931. Gandhi represented Indian National Congress and Sarojini Naidu represented Indian women. Madan Mohan Malaviya, Ghanshyam Das Birla, Muhammad Iqbal, Sir Mirza Ismail Diwan of Mysore, S K Dutta and Sir Syed Ali Imam were other people that attended the conference. This conference saw an overwhelming number of Indian delegates. These included loyalists, communalists, careerists, big landlords, representatives of the princes etc.
Due to wide scale participation, the Government claimed that the Congress did not represent the interests of All India. But, Gandhi claimed that Congress Represented India. Gandhi iterated the need of a partnership between Britain and India as between two equal nations. His demands were :
- A responsible government must be established immediately and in full, both at the centre and in the provinces.
- Congress alone represented political India
- The Untouchables were Hindus and should not be treated as a “minority”,
- There should be no separate electorates or special safeguards for Muslims or other minorities.
But these claims of Gandhi were rejected by the other Indian delegates. The conference was deadlocked on the minorities’ issue for; separate electorate was now being demanded by the Muslims, Dalits, Christians, Anglo Indians, and Europeans etc.
The result was that the Conference ended on December 11, 1931 and Gandhi came back to pavilion without any score.
Outcome of the Second Round Table Conference
With the advent of the coalition Government in England, the whole atmosphere of the Second Round Table conference got changed and the sole outcome of this session was the widening of the gap between the Congress and the minorities. Except Sikhs, all of the minorities (including Dalits) wanted to get their own separate electorates.
So, on the one side, Minorities were in opposition, who wanted to reach at an agreement among them. On the other side, it was the antagonistic British Government, which was for anything opposite to the Indian aspirations. Result? Gandhi came back, disappointed, without any achievement.