Swaraj Party: Founders, Members, Importance, Aim & Objectives

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The Congress Khilafat Swaraj Party, commonly known as the Swaraj Party, emerged as a political entity in India during the period from late 1922 to early 1923. It was established by members of the Indian National Congress following the Gaya annual meeting in December 1922. The term “Swaraj” translates to “self-rule,” and the party actively participated in the movement for India’s independence from British rule. Key leaders included Motilal Nehru, representing North India, and Chitta Ranjan Das, hailing from Bengal.

Several historical events, such as the withdrawal of the non-cooperation movement, the enactment of the Government of India Act in 1919, and the 1923 elections, played pivotal roles in the formation of the Swaraj Party. During the 1923 elections, Swaraj Party members secured significant representation in both provincial legislatures and the central legislative assembly. Their primary focus was staunch opposition to the unjust policies of the British government. This article provides comprehensive insights into the Swaraj Party, covering details about its members, political ideologies, objectives, contributions, and more.

What is Swaraj Party?

  • Established on January 1, 1923, a political party aimed at achieving self-rule.
  • The term “Swaraj” reflects the core objective of the party.
  • Key leaders: Chittaranjan Das and Motilal Nehru.
  • Consequences of the Chauri-Chaura movement led to the withdrawal of the Non-Cooperation movement by Mahatma Gandhi.
  • Difference of opinion within the Congress members emerged regarding the continuation of the Non-Cooperation Movement.
  • Some members advocated for the movement’s continuation, while others favored entering the legislative council to challenge British rule from within.
  • C.R Das proposed the legislative council initiative in Gaya, but it was rejected.
  • Dissatisfaction with the rejection led to the disbandment of the Congress party, paving the way for the formation of the Swaraj Party.
  • These events ultimately culminated in the establishment of the Swaraj Party.
Also Read: First and Last Viceroy of India, List of Viceroy of India (1857 to 1947)

Swaraj Party – Historical Background

The emergence of the Swaraj Party can be traced through the following events:

  • Following the Chauri Chaura incident in 1922, Mahatma Gandhi called off the Non-Cooperation Movement.
  • Disagreements arose among Congress Party leaders regarding the decision to end the movement.
  • Two factions emerged within the Congress – the “no-changers” who advocated for continuing non-cooperation, and the “pro-changers” who sought to enter the legislative council to obstruct the British government from within. Notable no-changers included Rajendra Prasad, Sardar Vallabhai Patel, C Rajagopalachari, while pro-changers included C R Das, Motilal Nehru, Srinivasa Iyengar, among others.
  • In the 1922 Gaya session of the Congress, presided over by C R Das, a proposal to enter the legislatures was defeated. Subsequently, Das and other leaders broke away from the Congress, forming the Swaraj Party.
  • C R Das assumed the role of President, and Motilal Nehru became the Secretary.
  • Key figures within the Swaraj Party included N C Kelkar, Huseyn Shaheed Suhrawardy, and Subhas Chandra Bose.

Swaraj Party Founders

  • Members of the Swaraj Party comprised notable leaders united by the common goal of achieving self-rule and the right to frame the Indian constitution.
  • They agreed to participate in elections as a distinct entity within the Congress, with the overarching objective of securing absolute provincial autonomy.
  • The key leaders of the Swaraj Party took the significant step of leaving the Congress Party to establish the Swaraj Party. This decision was prompted by the rejection of the proposal to enter the legislative council.
  • Notable founders of the Swaraj Party include: Chittaranjan Das, Motilal Nehru.

History and Formation of Swaraj Party

  • The formation of the Swaraj Party unfolded through a series of events, with several leaders actively involved in the process of establishing self-rule in the country.
  • In 1922, Mahatma Gandhi decided to withdraw the Non-Cooperation Movement following the unfortunate incident in Chauri Chaura.
  • During the Gaya session of the Congress in 1922, C.R Das, serving as the session’s president, advocated for a proposal to join the legislatures. However, this proposal faced defeat.
YearKey Events Releted to Formation of the Swaraj Party
1922Narasimha Chintaman Kelkar, Chittaranjan Das, and Motilal Nehru initiated the formation of the Congress Khilafat Swaraj Party, where Das assumed the role of president and Nehru served as secretary.
1923In the Indian general election, Swarajist members secured 45 out of 145 seats in the councils. The party’s general council strongly advocated for the establishment of a responsible government in India.
1925The strength of the Swaraj Party significantly diminished following the passing of Chittaranjan Das and the reintegration of Motilal Nehru into the Congress.

Influential Swaraj Party Members

The leaders of the Swaraj Party played a crucial role in shaping and fostering the concept of self-rule in the nation. Among the distinguished members of the party were the following.

  • Narasimha Chintaman Kelkar
  • Motilal Nehru
  • Chittaranjan Das
  • Huseyn Shaheed Suhrawardy
  • N C Kelkar
  • Subhas Chandra Bose
  • Vithalbhai Patel.

Importance of Congress Khilafat Swaraj Party

  • Swaraj Party’s aim: Systematically obstruct governmental actions through protests and vocalizing grievances in the Legislative Assembly.
  • Abstaining from receptions and official functions associated with the Government to emphasize dissent.
  • Collaboration between advocates for change and those resistant to change, working alongside Mahatma Gandhi for securing amendments from the Government.
  • Swarajists gained the privilege to participate in elections as an independent faction within the Congress.
  • In 1923, Swaraj Party achieved victory in 42 out of 104 seats in the Central Legislature.

Aim and Objective of Swaraj Party

  • Investigate the new Central Legislative Assembly elections in 1923.
  • Disrupt and obstruct the British Raj in India through anti-Government sentiments in council sections.
  • Attain self-rule or Swarajya.
  • Gain control to draft a constitution.
  • Obtain power over the administration.
  • Achieve status of sovereignty.
  • Attain complete regional independence.
  • Ensure individuals have the right to control the machinery of the Government.
  • Manage municipal and provincial bodies.
  • Categorize farming and industrial labor.
  • Participate in productive programs organized by Congress.
  • Establish a tool or agency for international promotion.
  • Foster partnerships with Asian countries to encourage trade.

Contribution of Swaraj Party

  • Successfully defeated the Public Safety Bill in 1928.
  • Delivered passionate speeches on civil freedom and self-rule in the Assembly.
  • Swarajist Vithalbhai Patel became the speaker of the Central Legislative Assembly in 1925.
  • Effectively disclosed the drawbacks of the Montagu-Chelmsford reforms.
  • Garnered higher votes than the Government in budgetary allocation issues.

Swaraj Party’s Response to the Simon Commission (1928)

The initiation of the Simon Commission in 1928 sparked widespread outrage among Indians, as the prospect of a British committee formulating proposals for the Indian constitution without the involvement or consultation of any Indian representative was deemed unacceptable. Within the Swaraj Party, two distinct factions, the No Changers and Pro Changers, shouldered specific responsibilities during this crucial period.

No Changers of Swaraj PartyPro Changers of Swaraj Party
Fought against the end of compulsory requirements for spinning Khadi cloth and social service for Congressmen, aligning with Gandhi’s supporters.Advocated for the nationalist boycott of Legislative councils and their disclosure.
Key Members: Vallabhbhai Patel, Rajendra Prasad, Jawaharlal Nehru.Key Members: Motilal Nehru, Srinivasa Iyengar, Chitta Ranjan Das.

Madras Regional Swarajya Party

The Madras Regional Swarajya Party was founded in 1923, with S. Srinivasa Iyengar and S. Satyamurti at its helm. Despite being recognized as the predominant party in the Assembly elections from 1926 to 1934, it abstained from the formation of the regional government.

Madras Province Swarajya Party PresidentsStart YearEnd Year
S. Srinivasa Iyengar19231930
Sathyamurthy19301935

Madras Provincial Swarajya Party – Election Performance

The Madras Party contested elections from 1923 to 1934 and secured a peak of 98 seats in the Madras Assembly.

In 1930, their absence from the elections was attributed to their engagement in the Civil Disobedience Movement.

ElectionsSeats in Madras AssemblyTotal seats of CouncilAssembly Seats wonParty President
1923982920
1926983441S. Srinivasa Iyengar
19349829

Drawbacks of Swaraj Party

  • Acknowledgment among Swarajists that resistance against government measures inadvertently obstructed societal benefits.
  • Failure to consistently obstruct British rule, leading to a decline in the party’s effectiveness.
  • Heavy dependence on newspapers for communication.
  • Significant setback with the demise of C.R Das.
  • Internal conflicts, specifically the segregation between responsivists and non-responsivists.
  • Disbandment of the Swaraj Party by non-responsivists.
  • Struggle to reject the benefits associated with participating in the council, weakening the party.
  • Surge in communal politics contributing to the party’s decline.
  • Later alignment of the Swaraj Party with Congress for the pursuit of absolute independence.

Decline of Swaraj Party

  • Initial enthusiasm of Swaraj Party in 1924 weakened over time.
  • Between 1925-1927, the Swarajists experienced a decline marked by discouragement.
  • Inability of Swaraj Party members to adhere to the approach of ‘constant, persistent regular interference.’
  • Primary reason for the party’s weakening was the death of C.R Das in 1925.
  • New political ideas of the Swaraj Party gained traction, especially after Lord Birkenhead’s challenge to create a constitution acceptable to all and the announcement of the Simon Commission in 1927.
  • Congress in Calcutta declared its intent for complete independence if the British did not accept the Nehru Report by December 31, 1929.
  • Internal divisions among Swarajists, leading to a separation into responsivist and non-responsivist factions.
  • Responsivists (M.M. Malaviya, N.C. Kelkar, Lala Lajpat Rai) aligned with the government and held offices, while non-responsivists (like Motilal Nehru) exited from legislatures in 1926.
  • Ineffectiveness of Swaraj Party in the 1926 elections due to extreme chaos.
  • Loss of support from several party members as the party failed to assist peasant casualties in Bengal.
  • In 1935, the Swaraj Party finally joined the Congress.

FAQs about Swaraj Party

1. What is a Swaraj Party?

  • The Swaraj Party was a political entity formed in India during the late 1922–early 1923 by members of the Indian National Congress, aiming for self-rule.

2. Who were the founders of the Swaraj Party?

  • The prominent founders of the Swaraj Party were Motilal Nehru from North India and Chitta Ranjan Das from Bengal.

3. When was the Swaraj Party formed?

  • The Congress Khilafat Swaraj Party was established on 1 January 1923, arising from the aftermath of the Non-Cooperation movement’s withdrawal.

4. What were the major achievements of the Swarajists?

  • The Swarajists defeated the Public Safety Bill in 1928 and made impassioned speeches advocating civil freedom and self-rule in the Assembly. They also highlighted the shortcomings of the Montagu-Chelmsford reforms.

5. How many seats did the Swarajist Party win in 1923?

  • In the 1923 elections, the Swaraj Party secured 42 seats out of 104 in the Central Legislature, gaining the right to contest elections independently within Congress.

6. Who was the President of the Swaraj Party?

  • Chittaranjan Das served as the President of the Swaraj Party, playing a crucial role in its establishment alongside Motilal Nehru.

7. Why was the Swaraj Party formed?

  • The Swaraj Party emerged due to a disagreement within the Congress party regarding the withdrawal of the Non-Cooperation movement. Leaders like C.R Das and Motilal Nehru formed the Swaraj Party to pursue their objectives after facing defeat in their proposal to enter the legislative council.

8. What were the major objectives of the Swaraj Party?

  • The Swaraj Party aimed to achieve self-rule, enter legislative councils to obstruct British rule, gain control over constitution framing, administer, and attain regional independence. They also sought governance over municipal and provincial bodies and the separation of farming and industrial labor.

9. What is the Madras Regional Swarajya Party?

  • The Madras Regional Swarajya Party, established in 1923 and led by S. Srinivasa Iyengar and S. Satyamurti, was a significant political entity in the region, although it declined to form a regional government.

10. What is the distinction between “responsivist” and “non-responsivist” in the context of the Swaraj Party?

  • After C.R Das’s demise, Swarajists were divided into responsivists, who sought collaboration with the government and holding positions in the office, and non-responsivists, exemplified by Motilal Nehru, who retired from the assembly in 1926.

More Notes On Indian History


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