. In the wake of inconclusive Round Table Talks, British government had declared that, if a consensus was not reached on separate representation of minorities, a unilateral communal award will be made. Government kept its promise in form of Communal Award of 1932.
The Communal Award was by the British Prime Minister Ramsay McDonald on 4 August 1932 to grant separate electorates to minority communities in India, including Muslims, Sikhs, and Dalit (then known as the Depressed Classes or Untouchables) in India (during Round Table Discussions, separate electorate was demanded by not only Muslim Leaders but by Ambedkar and other minorities as well). The depressed classes were assigned a number of seats to be filled by election from special constituencies in which voters belonging to the depressed classes only could vote.
The award was opposed for provision of separate electorate by Congress and other nationalist leaders and was viewd as a part of ‘Divide and Rule’ policy of Britain. The Award was highly controversial and opposed by Mahatma Gandhi. Gandhi called the award as – ‘English Attack on Hindu-Muslim Unity’. He argued that what Dalits need is eradication of untouchability and discrimination and not further division. In the award he saw similar consequences of Muslim having separate electorate and ultimately demanding a separate nation. He began an indefinite hunger strike at Yerwada Central Jail from September 20, 1932 to protest this Award.
Communal Award was supported by many among the minority communities, most notably the Dalit leader, Dr. B R Ambedkar. Madan Mohan Malviya acted as a mediater between Gandhi and Ambedkar and after lengthy negotiations, Gandhi reached an agreement with Dr. Ambedkar to have a single Hindu electorate, with Dalits having seats reserved within it (in fact, seats for Dalits were increased after the Pact). This is called the Poona Pact. Electorates for other religions like Muslim and Sikh remained separate.