chapter  13
12 Pages

Gandhian nationalism and mass politics in the 1920s

WithSugata Bose, Ayesha Jalal

Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi was simply the most famous Indian to have led and participated in movements that linked the politics of diaspora with territorial nationalism within India. The swadeshi movement against the partition of Bengal in 1905 had foreshadowed some of the Gandhian techniques of non-cooperation, but it paled in comparison with the sheer ferocity of the 1919 agitation. The Congress was conspicuously absent; it had no organizational machinery for agitational politics of the sort Gandhi had in mind. Congress was certainly altered from being a club of the educated elite to a more broad-based mass political party. A man likes Mohammed Ali Jinnah, who had tried forging Hindu–Muslim unity on a different basis, deplored Gandhi's mixing of religion with politics. The variegated symbols of religion as culture had enthused nationalists of many hues without embittering relations between religious communities until they became hostage to the bigoted politics of majoritarianism and minoritarianism.