The government had taken the adamant position that no constitutional advance could be made till the Congress came to an agreement with the Muslim leaders. It issued ordinance after ordinance taking away the freedom of speech and that of the press and the right to organise associations.
Towards the end of 1940, the Congress once again asked Gandhi to take command. Gandhi now began taking steps which would lead to a mass struggle within his broad strategic perspective. He decided to initiate a limited satyagraha on an individual basis by a few selected individuals in every locality.
The aims of launching individual satyagraha were :
- To show that nationalist patience was not due to weakness;
- To express people’s feeling that they were not interested in the war and that they made no distinction between Nazism and the double autocracy that ruled India; and
- To give another opportunity to the government to accept Congress’ demands peacefully. The demand of the satyagrahi would be the freedom of speech against the war through an anti-war declaration. If the government did not arrest the satyagrahi, he or she would not only repeat it but move into villages and start a march towards Delhi, thus precipitating a movement which came to be known as the ‘Delhi Chalo Movement’. Vinoba Bhave was the first to offer the satyagraha and Nehru, the second. By May 1941, 25,000 people had been convicted for individual civil disobedience.
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