Gandhi Begins Twenty-One Day Fast in an Attempt to Reconcile Hindus and Muslims
In September 1924, Gandhi went on a twenty-one day fast to "purify" himself and " to recover the power to react on the people." The fast had a soothing effect, but only for a while; India had not yet seen the last of communal wrangles.
The problem had really been reduced to the struggle for fruits of political power between the professional classes of the two communities. It was a scramble for crumbs which the British offered to political India. Gandhi had declared that "majorities must set the example of self-sacrifice." The blank cheque which he later offered to the Muslims was ridiculed by them and resented by the Hindus, but it epitomized his approach to this squabble for seats in legislatures and jobs under the Government. Unfortunately in the course of the negotiations, the Hindus tended to deal with Muslims as the British Government dealt with nationalist India: they made concessions but it was often a case of too little and too late.
Without Gandhi's uniting personality, the Indian National Congress began to splinter during his years in prison, splitting into two factions, one led by Chitta Ranjan Das and Motilal Nehru favouring party participation in the legislatures, and the other led by Chakravarti Rajagopalachari and Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel, opposing this move. Furthermore, cooperation among Hindus and Muslims, which had been strong at the height of the non-violence campaign, was breaking down. Gandhi attempted to bridge these differences through many means, including a three-week fast in the autumn of 1924, but with limited success.
Gandhi's Life, Part Ten