Gandhi Sets Sail for England to Represent the Indian National Congress at the Second Round Table Conference
On August 29, 1931, Gandhi sailed for England in the SS Rajputana to attend the Second Round Table Conference, He went as the sole representative of the Indian National Congress.
All the delegates were nominees of the British Government; they had a sprinkling of able individuals, but most of them were drawn from the princely order, the landlords, the titled gentry and the leaders of communal groups and vested interests.
What with its composition and what with its procedure, which the British Government controlled, the conference side-tracked its energies into secondary issues and particularly the communal problem. Gandhi was prepared to give a "blank cheque" to Muslims and other minorities to remove their legitimate fears, provided they were willing to press the national demand for freedom. Most of the Hindu delegates were not ready for this gesture, and the Muslim nationalists were not represented at the conference.
Gandhi stayed out of active politics and as such limelight for most of the 1920s, preferring to resolve the wedge between the Swaraj Party and the Indian National Congress, and expanding initiatives against untouchability, alcoholism, ignorance and poverty. He returned to the fore in 1928. The year before, the British government had appointed a new constitutional reform commission under Sir John Simon, which did not include any Indian as its member. The result was a boycott of the commission by Indian political parties. Gandhi pushed through a resolution at the Calcutta Congress in December 1928 calling on the British government to grant India dominion status or face a new campaign of non-cooperation with complete independence for the country as its goal. Gandhi had not only moderated the views of younger men like Subhas Chandra Bose and Jawaharlal Nehru, who sought a demand for immediate independence, but also reduced his own call to a one year wait, instead of two. The British did not respond. On 31 December 1929, the flag of India was unfurled in Lahore. 26 January 1930 was celebrated by the Indian National Congress, meeting in Lahore, as India's Independence Day. This day was commemorated by almost every other Indian organization. Gandhi then launched a new satyagraha against the tax on salt in March 1930, highlighted by the famous Salt March to Dandi from 12 March to 6 April, marching 400 kilometres (248 miles) from Ahmedabad to Dandi, Gujarat to make salt himself. Thousands of Indians joined him on this march to the sea. This campaign was one of his most successful at upsetting British hold on India; Britain responded by imprisoning over 60,000 people. The government, represented by Lord Edward Irwin, decided to negotiate with Gandhi. The Gandhi–Irwin Pact was signed in March 1931. The British Government agreed to set all political prisoners free in return for the suspension of the civil disobedience movement. As a result of the pact, Gandhi was also invited to attend the Round Table Conference in London as the sole representative of the Indian National Congress. The conference was a disappointment to Gandhi and the nationalists, as it focused on the Indian princes and Indian minorities rather than the transfer of power. Furthermore, Lord Irwin's successor, Lord Willingdon, embarked on a new campaign of controlling and subduing the movement of the nationalists. Gandhi was again arrested, and the government attempted to negate his influence by completely isolating him from his followers. However, this tactic was not successful.