Gandhiji went to England in September 1931 to attend the 2nd Round Table Conference. But in spite of his powerful advocacy, the British Government refused to concede the basic nationalist demand of freedom based on the Dominion Status. Meanwhile, peasants were restless in many parts as they found that the fall in prices of farm products due to depression had made the burden of land revenue and rent unbearable. With all-round repression, the Civil Disobedience Movement gradually waned and was discontinued in 1934. Many leaders including Subhash Bose and VB Patel felt that the Mahatma had failed as a leader. A true measure of the real impact of the movement was the heroes’ welcome given to political prisoners on their release in 1934.
In 1932, Ramsay McDonald announced the Communal Award which provoked all Indians and the Congress to protest against it. The Communal Award aimed at dividing the Indians along communal lines. It provided for a system just like separate electorates. Gandhiji felt that all his work among the harijans would come to zero if this award was implemented. He sat on a fast in Poona, as a result of which the British had to revoke the step.
A powerful left-wing group emerged in India in the late 1920s and 1930s. It made the movement radical and the goal of independence could now be stated in clear socio-economic terms. Socialist idea became an accepted creed of the youth symbolized by JL Nehru and Subhash Bose, who did the most to popularize these ideas. Jawahar Lal Nehru visited Russia and was quite impressed with the progress it had made under socialism He wanted to duplicate that kind of model in India after independence. In 1928, he joined hands with Bose to form the Independence For India League to fight for complete independence. In 1934, a separate party within the Congress, called the Congress Socialist Party took shape to propagate and fight for socialist ideas. Its prominent leaders were Acharya Narendra Dev, Jai Prakash Narain, Minu Masani, Ram Manohar Lohia, Asaf Ali etc.
Many Indians, on the other hand, worked abroad in this direction. The most notable among them was MN Roy who evolved the policy of the Communist International. Most of these Indians met in Kanpur in 1925 and founded an all-India Communist Party of India (CPI). Later, these two parties did a lot to bring the peasants, workers and trade unions into the national movement.
In 1935, the British Parliament passed the Government of India Act, 1935. The Act provided for Provincial Autonomy, a Federation of India and transference of some powers to provinces while retaining the others with the Governor-General. The Act was thoroughly condemned by all and the Congress demanded, instead, a convening of the Constituent Assembly to frame a Constitution for independent India.
After much internal wrangling, the Congress decided to contest the Assembly elections in 1937. The Congress got a majority in most provinces. This changed the whole political atmosphere in the country. The people felt as if they were breathing the air of victory and could foresee what independence would mean in practice. In the limited framework and time, the Congress ministries did a positive job of alleviating the people’s difficulties.
During this decade, a strong wave of communal propaganda unleashed by both the Muslim League and the Hindu Mahasabha, surfaced. The Muslim side was spearheaded by Mohammed Ali Jinnah, who later gave the theory of Pakistan and MS Golwalkar, a prominent RSS leader. It contributed much to a communal atmosphere later, which ultimately led to the tragic event of India’s partition.