Delhi Agreement 1931

Mr. Gandhi participated, on behalf of the Indian National Congress, in a very formal meeting with Lord Irwin to negotiate the terms of constitutional reforms. On March 5, 1931, the pact between M.K. Gandhi and Lord Irwin, the Viceroy of India, was signed. The pact led to the british government admitting certain demands that were mentioned below: at the end of 1930, thousands of Indians, including Jawaharlal Nehru, were in prison. The movement had attracted world opinion, and Irwin was looking for a way to end it. Gandhiji was released in January 1931 and the two men began negotiating the terms of the pact. For many Conservatives in England, meetings and discussions seemed unacceptable. They found it inappropriate for the viceroy, who was the representative of the British monarch, to receive their nemesis. Lord Irwin, who wore the last power of attorney for executions, hesitated until the last day. Gandhi was certainly aware of the viceroy`s dilemma and so doubled his efforts to save Bhagat Singh and his comrades.

Robert Bernays17 of the News Chronicle (London) wrote in his diary of 21 March 1931: “Gandhi postpones his departure (for the Karachi Congress) here for further interviews with the Viceroy”18 on the issue of the execution of Bhagat Singh. On 21 March, Gandhi met with Irwin and reiterated his request for a review of the impending executions.19 Gandhi met again with Irwin on 22 March to discuss the subject.20 The Viceroy promised to review Gandhi`s submission. Gandhi felt a little hope, and on the morning of the 23rd (Monday) he wrote a personal letter to the viceroy. In his last effort, Gandhi tried to do his best to convince the viceroy (who appealed to him as a dear friend) for the transformation of the death penalty by invoking public opinion, inner peace, the revolutionaries` offer to pour violence, his own position, the possibility of judicial error and Lord Irwin`s appeal to Christian sentiments. The above is confirmed by Asaf Ali himself in a statement published in Bhavisya of March 27, 1931: Gandhi Irwin`s talks began on February 17, 1931 and lasted until March 5, when Gandhi Irwin`s pact or the Delhi Pact was reached. Gandhi entered the discussions without making the question of Bhagat Singh a prerequisite. Gandhi stated in Young India: The Round Table Conference: India`s Demand for Dominion Status: Speeches by the King, the Premier, the British Party Leaders and the Representatives of the Princes and People of India (Madras: G. A.

Natesan – Co., 1931) Why did Gandhi ask for a postponement of executions rather than a blunt appeal to grace? To be fair to Gandhi, one could argue with some force that a simple call for conversion to the viceroy in February 1931, following a privy council ruling, was doomed to failure. After all, Bhagat Singh`s patriotism was not judged. The court ruled on a political crime and a premeditated murder. No one denied the guilt of Bhagat Singh and Bhagat Singh and his comrades were the last to do so. On the question of the pardon and the death penalty of Bhagat Singh the own opinion was clear…