Mahamana Madan Mohan Malaviya

Mahamana Madan Mohan Malaviya

Fighter For Country’s Freedom


Acharya Sitaram Chaturvedi

Eminent Writer & Prof. BHU


After the Surat session, the Indian National Congress entered into a new phase of its ideology. It was unanimously resolved in the Surat session that the aim of the Congress hence forward was to achieve Dominion Status through constitutional means. But the era was much under the magic spell of Bal, Lal and Pal (Bal Gangadhar Tilak, Lala Lajpat Rai and Bipin Chnadra Pal), the patriot trio belonging to the extremist group, who had a strong hold on the Indian masses and who were held in very high esteem by all sections of the Indian people. There was great awakening among the people for national rejuvenation in those days. A number of national institutions were coming up through-out the country. The Swadeshi and Boycott movement had already gained strength. Malaviyaji had taken up the cause of Swadeshi in right earnest and was making an effort to establish Swadeshi manufacturing centres at Prayag and other places. On the one hand, he was sounding grave warnings to the British Government through the legislatures and on the other he was busy in establishing centres for the development of indigenous industries.

The British Government was bent upon giving a crushing blow to the movement. As a first step towards this repression nine leaders of Bengal were arrested and exiled. A new stir was noticed in the Punjab against enhancement of taxes on the use of the Chenab canal water. As Lala Lajpat Rai and Sardar Ajit Singh were the main leaders of the agitation, they were secretly arrested in the dark hours of the night and exiled. The young blood could not tolerate this high-handedness, injustice and repression by the British Government. They grew wild with rage. Secret organizations to terrorists soon sprang up in all the provinces of India. Two English women by chance became the victims of the terrorists at Muzaffarpur in Bihar on 30 April 1908. Khudiram Bose, a young lad of eighteen was arrested, tried and hanged for the offence. Bhuppendra Nath Dutta, brother of Swami Vivekanand, was openly preaching violence through his Yugantar in Bhopal. Lokmanya Tilak was arrested on 13 July 1908, and was transported to Mandalay in Burma for six years after a summary trial and brief hearing lasting six days. Shri Hari Sarvottam Rao of Andhra met the same fate and was sentenced to imprisonment for nine months.

The underground revolutionaries and terrorists became more active and stray cases of assassination of Englishmen responsible for repressive acts were often reported from all over the country. Just then, Madan Lal Dhingra shot down Curzon Wylie in an open public meeting in London. In this way, the younger generation was expressing its indignation and openly revolting against the British regime and was resorting to violent means, whereas the older leaders were still trying to achieve Dominion Status through constitutional and peaceful means.

During these turbulent days, Malaviyaji was requested to preside over the U.P. Provincial Political Conference at Lucknow in 1908. The same year, in December, the Indian National Congress met in Madras. The next session was held in Lahore in 1909. Though the name of Pherozeshah Mehta was sponsored for Presidentship of the Lahore session, he denied the offer just six days before its commencement. All eyes turned towards Malaviyaji and he was called upon to guide the destinies of the Nation in those critical days. The Manchester Guardian wrote thus about the new Congress President:


“The President of the Indian National Congress, which meets at Lahore, is not so prominent a man as either Dr. Rash Behari Ghose, the President of last year, on Sir Pherozeshah Mehta, who has just withdrawn. Nevertheless, Mr. Madan Mohan Malaviya is a politician of high standing and of notable ability. He is a self-made man, having made his way at the Bar after and apprenticeship as school teacher and journalist. For some years past he has sat in the Council of the United Provinces as an elected member and has been active in educational and social reform. Long before Mrs. Besant’s days, he worked for the establishment of a National university at Banaras. In politics, he belongs decidedly to the moderate school and despite his enthusiasm in the Swadeshi cause, has always kept at a long distance from the extreme nationalists. With the exception of Mr. Surendranath Banerjee himself, there is no Congress orator more generally admired than Mr. Malaviya. His age is 47.”


Malaviyaji’s speech at the Lahore Session was a masterly synthesis of passion and moderation. He criticized the repressive policies of the British Government and called upon all Indians to work with sincere devotion for achieving the goal of independence. As he did not belong to the extremist group of the Indian politicians, it was not possible for him to agree with the political views of Lokamanya Tilak. His fluent and forceful address was full of apt quotations from the Gita, Bhagawata, Mahabharat and Manu Smriti.

When his preceptor Pandit Adityaram Bhattacharya read the speech in the papers, he remarked, “It rightly behoves him. He is after all the son of a Vyasa (religious exponent). How can he afford to avoid the scriptural basis of his education.”

Soon, Lord-Minto was replaced by Lord Hardinge as the Viceroy and the Governor-General of India and Lord Crew assumed the office of Lord Middlet as the Secretary of State for India. Bengal was again unite on the occasion of the coronation of George the V in 1911.

As Lord Hardinge was passing through the streets of Delhi on the back of an elephant on the eve of the Delhi Durbar, an unknown hand threw a hand-grenade at him. Though he escaped the catastrophe by hair’s breadth, the British Government used the occasion for assuming a stiffer attitude towards the nationalists. The Government made the fullest use of the notorious Press Act to suppress public opinion.


The First World War broke out in Europe with Germany threatening the peace of the whole world in 1914. The exceptional valour and gallantry shown by the Indian Army by the British generals. It was the bravery of the Indian soldiers that had ensured victory for the British allies.


The Madras session of the Indian National Congress met in 1914. It resolved that all those countries who ousted Indians from their lands should be economically boycotted. Consequently, Mrs. Besant, along with Lord Pentland, launched her Home Rule Movement. V.P.Wadia and C.P.Ramaswami Aiyer, were the top-ranking leaders of the Home Rule League and the New India was the organ of the movement. The British Government resorted to their usual repressive measures. Mrs. Besant, Arundale and Wadia were held under detention at Ootacamund. Malaviyaji did not lag behind. He took up the banner of the Home Rule Movement fearlessly, for, he could not tolerate to see the movement so recklessly crushed by the British Government though he did not agree with Mrs. Besant on many issues.

The detention of Mrs. Besant added fuel to the fire. Mohammad Ali Jinnah also joined the team. Mrs. Besant continued contributing radical articles to the New India and the Common Weal throwing dust into the eyes of the British Intelligence Department and against the order of the Government. Her detention caused such a great stir and commotion in the country that Lord Montague put an interesting note in his dairy comparing this event with a curious Puranic anecdote. He wrote: “Lord Shiva sliced the body of Sati into fifty-two pieces but when he looked at it again, he found that there were fifty-two satis present. The same was the state of the British Government when it put Dr. Besant under detention.”

The demand for self-government had become more and more insistent from the very day of the Lahore session of the Congress in 1909. In 1916, Malaviyaji signed along with other non-official members of the Imperial Council, what is known as the ‘Memorandum of the Nineteen’, a very important document in the history of our freedom struggle demanding independence in open terms and censure of the British Government for its repressive policies.

It was resolved by the Working Committee of the Congress in April 1917 to send a delegation to England to press its demands. The name of Malaviyaji was also proposed to be included among the members of this delegation.

Just before this event, the Lucknow Session of the Congress was held under the Presidentship of Shri Ambika Charan Majumdar. This session is considered to be very great importance from the political point of view. A joint meeting of the members of the Congress and the Muslim Leauguewas held at Prayag at the residence of Pandit Motilal Nehru from April 22 to 24, 1916. After a prolonged discussion, the resolution for Hindu-Muslim unity was unanimously adopted. The Lucknow session of the Congress promised a bright future for India, for, Lokamanya Tilak, Khaparde, Rash Behari Ghosh and Sir Surendranath Banerjee happened to meet once again on the Congress platform after the year 1907. The special future of this session was that Sir James Meston, the Governor of U.P. and lady Meston also attended this session along with a number of other Government officials.

A number of Provinces had expressed their determination to offer Satyagraha but Mrs. Besant did not approve of it because she hoped that Lord Montague would soon assume the office of the Secretary of State of India. This created the great hope among the Indian people and in fact, Lord Montague did proclaim on 20 August 1917 the British Government’s intention to give responsible Government to India. Mrs. Annie Besant was soon at liberty and the Calcutta session of the Congress was held on 26 September 1917, under her Presidentship.

When in July, 1918, the joint report of the Indian constitutional reforms by Mr. Montague and Lord Chelmsford was published, a great difference of opinion arose among the Indian politicians. Some of them wanted to reject it in to while others felt it could be accepted with certain modifications. Malaviyaji stated his views in a lengthy memorandum which was widely circulated throughout the country. His opinion was, “There is much in the proposal that is liberal, and that will mean a real and beneficial changes in the right direction, which we must welcome and be grateful for; but there are also grave deficiencies which must be made up before the reforms can become adequate to the requirements of the country.” He urged that the Indian public should take steps to see that the Montague-Chelmsford proposals were expanded and modified.

The Congress met in Bombay in September 1918 to consider the proposal. Despite the assurances given by Mrs. Besant and her endeavours to make peace, moderate leaders felt that it would be difficult to make the Congress accept the proposals. They, therefore, abstained from the special Congress as a body and resolved to convene a separate conference. But Malaviyaji attended the session and tried his best to tone down the resolutions of the Congress. But in spite of his efforts the Congress pronounced the scheme as “disappointing and unsatisfactory.”


The next session was held at Bombay, followed by another session at Delhi under the Presidentship of Malaviyaji. His written speech on the merits and demerits of the Montague-Chelmsford reforms offered a detailed analysis of the whole scheme. It was in this Congress Session that the farmers and the cultivators of India found free admission into the open session of the Congress where none was permitted to enter without payment for tickets. It was in this session that the cultivators of India felt that they also had an important place in the Congress and were active participants in the activities relating to the fight for freedom.


On 6 February 1919, William Vincent came forward to introduce the notorious Rowlatt Bill. Malaviyaji opposed the Bill tooth and nail with full vigour and ability at his command. He spoke for full four-and-a-half hour in the Legislative Council, and delivered one of the lengthiest speeches ever delivered in the history of Indian Legislature. But in spite of all apposition, the first part of the Bill was carried and the second part withdrawn. Mahatma Gandhi, thereupon announced that if the recommendations of the Rowlatt Commission were accepted, he would not hesitate in launching his Satyagraha Movement. He toured the country and was accorded the rousing reception wherever he went. 30 March 1919, was fixed for an All-India strike which was afterwards changed to April 6. But a procession was taken out in Delhi on the 30th March which was welcomed with bullets. The whole country expressed its indignation by observing complete strike and organized processions against the British high-handedness.

What Lord Curzon could not do by the partition of Bengal, Michael O’ Dyer did it by his atrocities in the Punjab. On 11 November 1918, the treaty of Versailles was consummated. The Great War came to an end with the fall of Germany. The Prime Minister of England, Mr. Loyd George, praised Indians for their bravery and co-operation in very high terms. India expected that her loyalty to the British Crown would be amply rewarded. But suddenly, like the bolt from the blue, the infamous Rowlatt Bills came down upon the heads of the Indians. According to the first one, the revolutionaries were to be summarily tried and sentenced without any provision for further appeal. Those suspected of treason and sedition were to be arrested, detained, ordered to deposit security etc. on police report. According to the other, the publication and distribution of any matter encouraging any treason would be deemed a cognizable offence. As soon as the Bill was passed Gandhiji launched his Satyagraha movement in all earnestness. The whole country observed hartal on 6 April 1919. On 10 April 1919, the District Magistrate of Amritsar called Dr. Kitchlu and Dr. Satya Pal at his bungalow, arrested them and deported them to an unknown destination. The news spread in the city like wild fire. An uncontrollable mob of people proceeded towards the bungalow of the District Magistrate to express their resentment at the injudicious arrest of their leaders. The procession was stopped on the way. The police resorted to indiscriminate wild firing with the result that two young men were killed on the spot and a number of others seriously wounded. The crowd became wild with rage. Five Englishmen who happened to come in the way of the mob, were done away with and a number of Government buildings were set on fire.

Defiance of Government orders was witnessed at Kasur, Gujaranwala, Lahore and Calcutta. Gandhiji decided to rush to Punjab when he heard of these incidents but he was arrested on his way and entrained back to Bombay. This arrest of Gandhiji so enraged the people of Viramgam and Nadiad in Gujarat that they staged open rebellion against the British Government. Gandhiji was gravely shocked at these events and admitted that it was mistake on his part to launch Satyagraha without preparing the people for that kind of spiritual warfare.


The British officers in the Punjab had become wild with vengeance and they soon introduced Martial Law in the Province. Although the Martial Law was formally declared on 10 April 1919, it was made known to the public only on the 13th. It was the Samvatsar or the Baisakhi (New Year’s) Day of the Hindus. A large congregation was being held in the Jallianwala Bagh in the heart of the city of Amritsar. The ground was surrounded on all sides by high and had single narrow entrance on one side. The passage was so narrow that it was not possible for even one carriage to pass through it easily. About ten thousand men, women and children had assembled there. Suddenly, General Dyer blocked the passage with fifty English and about a hundred Indian soldiers. He ordered the assemblage to disperse immediately but the passage was blocked and there was no way to get out. At once General Dyer ordered the troops to open fire. Sixteen hundred rounds were fired indiscriminately and within minutes the whole garden turned into a pool of blood and a ghastly heap of dead bodies of men, women and children. The plight of the wounded was more touching as they lay in open for the whole night crying for water which could not be made available for them as water pipes and electric lines were disconnected. Worse than all this, respectable citizens were forced to crawl on the streets, were publicly caned and subjected to innumerable acts of tortures.


The Viceroy appointed the Hunter Committee to probe into the Punjab massacre in September 1919. Just after this, an Indemnity Bill was introduced in the Legislative Council to redeem the offences of the officers who were responsible for the murderous acts in the Punjab. Malaviyaji lead a very strong opposition to this move. He spoke for full five hours and used all his talents to prove the inappropriateness of the Bill. But all his efforts proved futile. This speech of Malaviyaji is considered to be the best and the most powerful speech in the history of Indian Legislatures. The British Government had no reply to the charges leveled by Malaviyaji against the British officers. But in spite of all this, the Bill was carried.

A member of the treasury benches, after hearing Malaviyaji’s speech on the Indemnity Bill, said: “Hon’ble Pandit Malaviya has chastised the British Government so severely but in such a placid manner as even Edmund Burke had not done while impeaching Warren Hastings.”

Malaviyaji and Pandit Motilal Nehru hastened to Punjab along with Mahatma Gandhi and Swami Shraddhanand. Their presence promised a great relief to the oppressed people of the Punjab. Malaviyaji manage to give relief to the people through the Seva Samiti and he arranged to afford sufficient help to those whose relations were killed in the Jallianwala Bagh massacre. Malaviiyaji sent telegrams to the Prime Minister of England, the Secretary of State for India and Lord Sinha that all those cases that were being tried under the Martial Law be postponed till the enquiry was over. An unofficial Committee headed by Malaviyaji began making enquiries quite independent of the Enquiry Committee set up by the Government, though in the beginning both of them were working together. While both the Committees were busy I conducting enquiries the Amritsar session of the Congress was announced to be held under the Presidentship of Pt. Motilal Nehru. Just a few days before the commencement of the session, a Government communiqué was issued on 24 December 1919 by which sanction was accorded to the Reform Bill and all those persons, who were sentenced to different terms in respect of the Punjab disturbances were released. A great sense of joy and jubilance was evinced in the Congress pandal when people saw in their midst their friends and relations, who had been arrested and sentenced. The reforms promised in the Reform Bill did not serve the purpose. People were already angry at the evidence given by General Dyer before the Hunter Committee. Even then, Malaviyaji and Gandhiji advised the people to be content with what was promised to them, however insignificant it was.

In the meantime, words given to the Muslims by the Prime Minister of England for the protection of the Turkey and other holy places of the Muslims were not respected. Consequently, the banner of Khilafat was raised high against the British. Gandhiji came forward to lead the movement, for, he realized by then that promises given by the Britishers had no meaning at all.

On 1 August 1920, Tilak died. The county was still reeling under the state of this sad news, when, the same year, Gandhiji launched his non-cooperation movement. The whole country rose with a firm resolve to drive away the Britishers from their sacred land. Malaviyaji did not think that the time was ripe for that kind of non-violent non-cooperation, because people were not at all trained for it.

When the Congress Session was held in Bombay on 27 July 1921, a long and heated discussion took place over the question of Satyagraha, boycotts and non-cooperation. A resolution was also carried to the effect that the visit of the Prince of Wales to India should be boycotted. But Malaviyaji did not agree to that and said that it was against our national etiquette and code of conduct to show disrespect to a guest and that welcome accorded to him did not mean any support to the British Government.

As a result of the non-cooperation movement, great Indian leaders like Pandit Motilal Nehru, Deshbandhu C.R.Das and Maulana Azad were sent jail. The Prince of Wales did visit India and Malaviyaji, in pursuance of the ancient traditions of India, welcomed the Prince of Wales at the Banaras Hindu University and conferred upon him the Degree of Letters even against strong public opinion.

During those trying days of non-cooperation, even the students of the Banaras Hindu University boycotted the University and walked out. A large congregation of the leaders of the country including Rajas and Maharajas was held on the old Central Hindu College grounds at Kamachha, Varanasi. Gandhiji and Malaviyaji both addressed the meeting. Malaviyaji exhorted the students not to be guided by sentiments but to prepare themselves in their colleges for the service of the nation; while Gandhiji advised students not to continue their studies in the University and College at all when the nation demands everyone to sacrifice his interests. All the Rajas and Maharajas walked out of the meeting when they heard Gandhiji preaching disloyalty. But Malaviyaji sat undisturbed by storm blowing around to uproot the very University he so dearly loved and worked for. Though he was vehemently criticized by everyone, he did not swerve an inch from his resolve.

Lord Reading, the then Viceroy of India, had a very great regard for him. Malaviyaji advised him to confer with Gandhji and avoid further conflict. He contacted Deshbandhu C.R.Das in the jail and brought Gandhiji aroundfor conference with the Viceroy. In the following December, Gandhiji met the viceroy and a number of matters were mutually agreed upon but no change was subsequently effected in the policy of the Government. Gandhiji then gave an ultimatum to the Government that if the policy of the Government did not shape itself within a week, in pursuance of his talks, he would immediately launch his Civil Disobedience Movement. These negotiations were still going on when an unruly mob set a police station on fire at Chaurichaura in the Gorakhpur district of U.P. burning a number of police constables to death on 4 February 1922. Malaviyaji was on his way to Bombay on that day. When he learnt of the incident he was greatly shocked. When the Congress Working Committee met at Bardoli, Malaviyaji described the Chaurichaura incident so vividly and eloquently that Gandhiji was convinced of the futility of the civil disobedience movement. Consequently, Gandhiji proclaimed the withdrawal of the non-cooperation and the civil disobedience movement. The whole country became wild with rage and furious at this sudden withdrawal and openly accused Gandhiji of committing a great blunder at such a critical hour when lakhs of young and old men and women had abandoned their services, studies and occupations and were thrown out of jobs. But Gandhiji was convinced that to put up a fight with untrained and unruly followers was not at all wise.

Gandhiji was arrested and sentenced to five years’ imprisonment. It was followed by the arrests of a number of other leaders. Though Malaviyaji did not approve of the non-cooperation movement, he could not tolerate the policy of repression adopted by the British Government. There was disorder and anarchy among the rank and file. Malaviyaji took up the cause boldly and toured the country encouraging, solacing and comforting the people who had become disheartened on account of being left leaderless. Malaviyaji went on a hurricane tour with his old fragile and emaciated body but with very young and dashing heart right up from Peshawar to Dibrugarh. His tour gave a great relief to the people who had lost all hopes and heart. Section 144 was clamped against him at Gorakhpur, Chaurichaura, Gauhati and several places in the Punjab but he paid heed to it and stuck to his programme.

The Swarajya Party had already come into existence when Gandhiji was arrested. In 1923, the Congress decided to contest the seats in the legislatures and put up a fight at the constitutional front also. Gandhiji was released in 1924. Suddenly, an unprecedented Hindu-Muslim riot broke out in Kohat. Malaviyaji hastened to the place and the stirring speech that he delivered there is still remembered with admiration by those who had heard him. This riot moved Gandhiji to observe 21 days’ fast. All this was going on when Martial Law was promulgated in Bengal. The next year two great Lions of Bengal, Deshbandhu C.R.Das and Shri Surendranath Banerjee passed away. Another riot broke out in Calcutta in 1926. Malaviyaji immediately decided to go there despite the Section 144 and his old age of 68 and highly deplored the action of the hooligans in an open meeting.

The Swarajya Party had begun to feel in 1926 that the legislatures would not serve any useful purposes and so they withdrew enbloc from the legislatures in protest against the indifference of the British Government towards their demands.

Then came the Simon Commission to look into the possibilities of transferring power to India and to find out if the Indians were capable and mature enough to shulder the burden of self-government. The Commission did not have a single Indian member. Hence, it was decided to boycott the Commission. Black flag demonstrations were held wherever the Commission went. When it reached Lahore on 31 October 1928, Malaviyaji and Lala Lajpat Rai led the procession at the Railway Station to demonstrate against its non-Indian composition. The British sergeants and the police began batoning the crowd so indiscriminately that Lala Lajpat Rai received serious injuries and succumbed to the on 17 November 1928. The death of Lala Lajpat Rai so enraged the younger generation of the Punjab that the first man to fall a prey to their anger was Saunders, the Police Superintendent of Lahore, who was mainly responsible for the death of their beloved leader.

The same year an All Parties’ Conference was convened at Delhi which had met again at Bombay in May and constituted a small committee for the purpose. When this Conference met in Lucknow, the aim of achieving Dominion Status had undergone some alterations. A great discussion ensued on the question of complete Independence versus Dominion Status but at last Pandit Motilal Nehru’s proposal was carried with a vehement majority at the Calcutta Session of the Congress with the provision that if the British Government did not concede to the demand, Satyagraha would be resorted to en masse.

On 24 April 1929, a bomb was thrown in the Assembly Hall when the Session was on. Bhagat Singh and Batukeshwar Datta were taken into custody. The whole country heartily hailed the valour and courage of these young men and they became immortal heroes in the history of India. When all this was happening, Malaviyaji managed to get the consent of Lord Irwin, the then Viceroy, for holding a Round Table Conference was announced. On 31 October 1929, the personnel of the Round Table Conference was announced. When the Congress Session was held at Lahore in 1929 under the Presidentship of Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru, complete Independence was declared to be the goal and January 26 was declared to be observed as Independence Day. Gandhiji launched his Satyagraha on the 12th March. The British Government resorted to its all measures of repression. A large number of men and women courted jail and arrests and faced batons and bullets with courage and determination. On account of the Imperial Preference policy of the British Government, Malaviyaji and several other leaders of the country bade good-bye to the Legislative Assembly and walked out. Twenty-two persons had lost their lives in the police-firing at Peshawar. Malaviyaji again rushed to Punjab to give solace to the people. The people of Punjab gave an unprecedented reception to the great leader wherever he went. People did not allow his train to pass until he came out and spoke to them. Malaviyaji was served with and order not to enter Peshawar but he boldly disregarded the order. When Malaviyaji learnt about the police excesses and firing in Peshawar, he at once rushed to the place. After staying in Rawalpindi for some time he started for Peshawar but was not allowed to go beyond the Attak bridge and was sent back by the next train to Rawalpindi. The British Government did not dare arrest him but sent him back by the next train.

Shri Vitthalbhai Patel, the Speaker of the Assembly, also resigned and vacated the Chair in protest against the repressive policy of the Government. Martial Law was again promulgated throughout the country. Gandhiji had already defied the Salt law. The whole country was engaged in preparing contraband salt at various places and courting arrest in defiance of the Government orders. Gandhiji was again arrested on 2 May 1930, Martial Law was clamped at Sholapur on 15 May and at Pehsawar on 10 August. The result was that a number of Englishmen fell prey to the rage of the people.


Lokmanya Tilak’s death anniversary was being observed at Bombay on 1 August 1930. It was raining hard but the processionists styed on their feet. They were stopped at the Dhobi Talab by an armed constabulary. Shrimati Hansa Mehta was leading the procession.


Just then forty leaders including Malaviyaji, Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel, Jairamdas Daulatram, Dr. Hardikar, Shri Tasadduk Ahmad Sherwani and many other members of the Bombay Congress Committee were put under arrest and sent to the Byculla prison in lorry. The police then used their batons and beat the processionists mercilessly to disperse them. All the leaders arrested there were presented before the Chief Presidency Magistrate who awarded Malaviyaji a fine of Rs. two hundred or simple imprisonment for fifteen days. When the students of the Banaras Hindu University learnt the news of the arrest of Malaviyaji, they became wild with fury and batch of 125 students started for Bombay to offer Satyagraha there. But when they reached the Byculla prison, they were astounded to see Malaviyaji coming out; someone had paid the fines and Malaviyaji was set free.

Dr. Bhagwandas had rightly remarked on the arrest of Malaviyaji in the public meeting called at Banaras to congratulate him. “The arrest of the Malaviyaji is last nail in the coffin of the British domination over India and that it is the final offering (ahuti) in the National Sacrifice (Rashtriya Yajna).” Malaviyaji felt very much aggrieved to learn that someone had paid up the fine imposed on him.

The meeting of the Working Committee of the Congress was held at the residence of Dr. Ansari at Delhi. After they had finished the business of the meeting they were chatting together, when suddenly, the police force reached there. The Working Committee had already been declared illegal. Hence, all the members were arrested, tried and sentenced for six months’ simple imprisonment each and lodged in the Delhi jail.

Malaviyaji was transferred to the Naini Central Jail where Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru and Shri R.S.Pandit were serving their terms of sentence. Malavyaji began to learn German from Shri R.S.Pandit and began reciting the Kathas of Bhagwat and Mahabharat to the fellow prisoners. But soon, he became seriously ill. He was shifted to the Government Hospital from where he was unconditionally released.

Next year, Bhagat Singh, Rajguru and Sukhdev were executed in the Lahore Jail on 23 March 1931. Karachi session of the Congress was held on 29 March under the shadow of the martyrdom of these young revolutionaries where Malaviyaji made such a moving speech  that all eyes began to shed tears.

In 1929, he toured the country and explained the real meaning of Swarajya to the people and when Lord Irwin was going to England, Malaviyaji handed over to him a long letter insisting that the Round Table Conference be called at the earliest and Dominion Status be declared for India. It was due to this letter that the Round Table Conference was called.

In the meantime, the First Round Table Conference had concluded in London. All the leaders were released on 25 December 1931. The Gandhi-Irwin pact was consummated as a result of the efforts of the Sir T.B. Sapru and M.R. Jayakar assisted by Malaviyaji. People became very much dejected but the congress supported the proposal and Gandhiji was selected to represent the Congress on the Round Table Conference. Malaviyaji also received an invitation for attending the conference and he made preparation for it also. It was a very great ordeal for Malaviyaji to accede to the idea of going abroad, for, it was not at all in consonance with the ways and conceptions of his life, but for the love of his country he set out on the journey at an advanced age of seventy along with Gandhiji on 29 August 1931. He was accompanied by his youngest son Pandit Govind Malaviya and his cook along with other provisions in conformity with his own orthodox ways of life.


The Indian Association of England gave them a rousing reception there. Malaviyaji gave complete accord to Gandhiji in all matters in the conference. His speech on the army and its maintenance is considered to be of great historical importance.


When he sought an interview with the Emperor George V in London on the occasion of the Round Table Conference, the Emperor asked him, “Are you a follower of Mr. Gandhi?” Malaviyaji said, “No, I am his colleague.” The Emperor then rather stiffly said, “Look here Mr. Malaviyaji; if even one Englishman is assaulted in India I will send one lakh of them from here.” Malaviyaji calmly said, “What is your Exalted Highness saying! If we are granted our rights and Dominion Status in a Darbar in India, Indian people will express their gratitude and the whole of Asia will sing songs of Your Exalted Highness’s glory. I have not come here to solve the problem of how a lakh of Englishmen are to be sent there if an Englishman is assaulted.” The Emperor changed the topic and began the talking on other matters.

In addition to the part he played at the Round Table Conference, he delivered a series of lectures in England on Hindu religion. Malaviyaji visited other European countries as well. He paid a visit to some of the Important Universities of Europe and met Dr. Sylvan Levi, the eminent French scholar of Pali and Sanskrit in France.

When Malaviyaji returned home on 14 January 1932 he found that the Indian leaders were behind the bars. The British Government had the audacity to boast that the Congress was crushed. ‘As soon as Malaviyaji landed and learnt all this, he immediately condemned the British Government vehemently and dispatched a lengthy telegram to England reporting the atrocities and highhandedness of the British Government in India. But the telegram was censored and allowed to cross the seas. Just then, the Delhi session was banned and Malaviyaji received an order of the Government prohibiting him from attending the same. But, as usual, he paid no heed to it and started for Delhi from Banaras. He detrained at Dankaur and proceeded to Delhi by car. But his car was held up at the Jamuna Bridge and he was sent to the Delhi jail. In spite of all precautions taken by the Government, the Congress Session was held in Delhi under the Presidentship of Seth Amritlal Ranchhodlal in the Chandni Chowk. Malaviyaji was sent back to Allahabad after being detained in the Delhi jail for three days.

The next Session of the banned Congress was declared to be held at Calcutta. Malaviyaji was again elected President of the Congress. This time he was arrested at Asansol and was set free after being detained there for a week.

Gandhiji was lodged in the Yervada jail when he was informed of the Communal Award by which the depressed classes of the Hindus were allowed separate electorate. Gandhiji decided to fast unto death if the notorious award was brought into force. A Conference of all the leaders was called at Poona. Not time was to be lost. Malaviyaji so successfully mediated that the catastrophe was averted and the depressed classes of the Hindus were not allowed to be thrown out of its fold.


This was followed by the task of achieving Hindu-Muslim unity. He toured Punjab, Bengal and U.P. At last a Hindu-Muslim Unity Conference was convened at Allahabad and the problem was solved with grace. He worked so hard for sixteen to twenty hours per day that the labour heavily taxed his health. It had hardly concluded when he was called upon to unknot the tangles of the Harijans of Kerala in the South.


On 15 January 1934, violent tremors of earthquake ripped the whole of Bihar, taking a very heavy toll of human lives, rendering thousands of people homeless and bringing destruction and devastation to a large tract of land making it completely barren. He hastened to Bihar and used his influence in sending timely and ample relief for the earthquake-stricken people.

The Patna Session of the Congress was held on 18 and 19 May 1934. Malaviyaji and Dr. Ansari were assigned the task of forming the Parliamentary Board, but owing to the sad indifference exhibited by the Congress on the question of Communal Award, Malaviyaji and M.S. Aney had to withdraw and a Nationalist Party was formed at Calcutta under his Presidentship on 18 and 19 August 1934. It was an apparent paradox that he was putting up a fight against the Congress and still continuing to be its member. Although the Nationalist Party could not achieve much success in the elections, Malaviyaji stood admant by his decisions.

Somehow, Gandhiji also decided to keep himself away from the fold of the Congress. A number of eminent men of India implored him not to do so but he stood firm by his decision and resigned from the membership of the Congress to work for the uplift of the Harijans. Though Gandhiji was out of the Congress, he was still the de facto guide of the Congress, which continued to receive his blessings and support.

The Congress was celebrating its Golden Jubilee in 1935 at Bombay. A memorial stone was laid in the Gokuldas Tejpal Sankrit Mahavidyalaya at Bombay by Pandit Madan Mohan Malaviya leader of the Congress at that time.

The Congress policies took a new turn now. They decided to contest the elections and put a fight inside the legislatures also. On 28 December 1936, the Congress Session was held at Faizpur in a rural atmosphere and Malaviyaji was watched with keenness and interest by the people while he worked shoulder to shoulder with the younger generation of the Congress. His speech at this Session was a forceful and powerful as his maiden speech fifty years as his maiden speech fifty years back at Calcutta in 1886.

Then the Second World War broke out on 3 September 1939, and Deutschland under her obstinate dictator Herr Hitler once more threatened world peace. India was also call upon to assist the British against her will, because she did not want to pick up quarrels with any other nation. India expressed her strong resentment against this forced participation in war but the Government was not prepared to hear anything. As a consequence, the Congress in the majority of the provinces resolved to resign. The Indian National Congress forced its demand for complete independence in 1940 and suggested the formation of an interim Government for the period. The British Government played a new political game and argued that the ten crore Muslims were against this. The Muslim League got a cue and in March 1940, the North Western Provinces with Muslim majority began demanding a separate Pakistan for themselves. Events took serious turn and Gandhiji announced individual Satyagraha in 1940 and collective Satyagraha against the war and the war efforts in 1942. The British Cabinet then deputed Sir Stafford Cripps on a mission to talk to Gandhiji on all issues. He put forward a scheme establishing a Federal India wherein the various Provinces were to enjoy the option of joining or keeping aloof from the Federation. The Indian States were also kept outside the scope and jurisdiction of the proposed Federation. Perhaps this could also have been acceptable but the talks failed on the issue of transferring Defence and of certain changes that were to be effected after the War was concluded. Gandhiji described the proposal of the Cripps Mission as ‘a post-dated cheque’. The Congress rejected the proposal on 10 April 1942 and the ‘Quit India’ Resolution of Gandhiji was carried unanimously at the Bombay Session of the Congress on 8 August 1942. All the leaders were arrested overnight and sent to different detention camps in India.

Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose had already baffled the British Intelligence Department and escaped their vigil on 26 January 1941. When the news of the ‘Quit India’ resolution was relayed outside India, the war prisoners under the Japanese organized themselves into an Indian National Army (Azad Hind Fauj) at Padang (Singapore) in September 1942 under the leadership of Captain Mohan Singh. A grand rally was organized on 2 October 1942 on the birth day of Mahatma Gandhi. Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose joined them after undertaking a perilous journey by German and Japanese submarines and took the command of the I.N.A. in his oown hands on 25 August 1943. ‘Chalo Dilli’ (March to Delhi) was their slogan but at Imphal he decided to withdraw to Moulmein against the wishes of his followers. After the fall of Rangoon, Netaji had to abandon Rangoon in April 1945. When atom bombs reduced Hiroshima and Nagasaki to barren spots on the 6 and 9 August 1945 respectively, Japan hoisted the white flag on 15 August 1945 and Netaji left for Tokyo by an aeroplane. The plan crashed at 2 P.M. on 18 August 1945 after taking flight from Taihoku and Netaji was killed in the crash.

The 1942 movement of ‘Quit India’ was joined by all sections of the people, including the student community of India. The students of the Banaras Hindu University were no exception. The city of Ballia took the lead and held the Government offices and the administration of the District in their hands for fifteen days. The British troops marched into the precincts of the Hindu University and seized the buildings. All the students were mercilessly driven out of the hostel. It pained Malaviyaji to learn that even the girl students were forced to leave the hostel and to remain outside the compound without anyone to look after them. As a result of the ‘Quit India’ Movement, a number of students were killed and a large number of them were put behind the bars for several terms of imprisonment. Soon after, the Indian Press, the industrialists and the liberal leaders raised their voice for the release of the leaders but the British Government turned a deaf ear to all such entreaties. Then, in spite of his old age and infirmity Malaviyaji challenged the British Government either to give a reply to the explanation given by Gandhiji to the charge-sheet or release him immediately.  Shri Pattabhi Sirtaramayya, the author of the History of the Congress has decided this bold move of Malaviyaji in the following words: “Then came forward pandit Madan Mohan Malaviya, the venerable old great man of India and ripe in age and intellect, who demanded the immediate release of Gandhiji and his colleagues and staked his demand on the reply sent by Gandhiji to the charge-sheet.

Malaviyaji wanted to convene an All Parties’ Conference in March but when he learnt that Sir Tej Bahadur Sapru had called a ‘No party’s Conference’ at Lucknow on 7 and 8 April he dropped the idea. As a result of all these pressures, Gandhiji was released on 6 May 1944 and when Lord Wavell returned from London on 15 June 1944, all the members of the Working Committee of the Congress were released. Another conference was held of old and existing Chief Ministers of various Provinces at Simla from 29 June to 14 July attended by members of the Muslim League, Congress, Sikhs and the Anglo-Indians. But at the end, Lord Wavell declared that compromise was not feasible. However, the events took such a turn that there was no option left for the British Government but to withdraw.

The I.N.A. (Azad Hind Fauj) Officers Shah Nawaz Khan, Prem Kumar Sehgal and Gurbaksh Singh Dhillon were arrested and brought to Delhi for trial which began in the Red Fort of Delhi on 5 November 1945. They were defended by legal luminaries like Sir T.B.Sapru and Bhulabhai Desai. However, the officers were found guilty and sentenced to transportation for life. But the G.O.C. took a more lenient view and excused them.

A serious revolt took place in the Talwar Training School, Bombay, on 18 February 1946. The rebellion spread over 20 ships, 12 naval camps and 20,000 dock workers. The union Jacks were removed from all the ships anchored there and the flags of the Congress and the Muslim League hoisted in their places. Just then, the Labour Party came into power in England and it was declared on 19 September 1946 that Provincial and Central elections would be allowed to be held, Legislative Council would be established and a joint interim Government of the prominent political parties of India would be formed. This Legislative Council was to have the power of including representatives from the Indian States and minorities communities also. The veto power of the Viceroy was also slackened and Malaviyaji saw before his own eyes the dawn of Indian Independence which he so sincerely cherished and worked for. But he could not live to see the celebrations of 15 August 1947 for it would have pained him to see the country partitioned and millions of people rendered homeless.

Mahamana Madan Mohan Malaviya