MK Gandhi’s letter to Dr. Bidhan Ch Roy (1932)

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Yeravada Central Prison,
7th December, 1932.

Dr. Bidhan Roy,
Wellington Street,

Dear Dr. Bidhan,

I have had a long chat with Sjt. Ghanshyamdas Birla, as also Satish Baboo regarding the Anti-untouchability Board for Bengal. I have also several letters from Bengal complaining about the formation of the Board. Before it was formed Ghanshyamdas had told me that he was going to ask you to form the Board, and without giving any thought to the suggestion I at once endorsed it. But I see that the idea has not found favour in Bengal, especially so far as Satish Baboo and Dr. Suresh are concerned. They think that the Board is bound to have a party colour about it. I do not know how far this fear is justified, but I do know this, that the work of AntiUntouchability should not become a party affair in any way whatsoever. We want all who desire the reform to associate themselves freely and whole-heartedly with any organisation that may be formed. I would therefore suggest that you should call all the workers representing different groups and parties and place yourself at their disposal and let them then choose whomsoever they like as President, offering to give your whole-hearted co-operation to the President and Board of their choice. I know that this requires self-abnegation. If I know you well, I know that this is not beyond you. Of course if you feel that there is nothing in the complaints made and that you will be able to smooth down all the difficulties and that you will be able to bring all the parties together, I have nothing to say. In making the suggestions that I have made I have assumed the impossibility of securing the association of all parties with the Board as it is constituted at present. I have now placed the whole thing before you. You will do whatever is best in the interest of the cause.

Sjt. Khaitan gave me your message about Vasanti Devi. I told him that I wanted her to work effectively and ceaselessly in the cause of Anti-Untouchability. I am not enamoured of her accepting any office in any organisation. When I was there at the time of the Deshbandhu collections, both she and I had come to the conclusion that her job was not to run any organisation, but simply to work whenever she was free and had the mind for it.

You will please tell me all about Dr. Alam.

Yours sincerely,



Yeravada Central Prison,
15th December, 1932.

Dear Dr. Bidhan,

Your letter stuns me. I sent you a telegram immediately I read it. I had thought that we were so near
each other that you could never misunderstand a friendly
letter from me. But I see that I committed a grave
blunder. I ought not to have written that letter. I have
therefore unreservedly and unconditionally withdrawn it.
That letter being withdrawn, you need not take any of
the steps adumbrated in your letter. Do please, therefore, go on with the Board as if I had never written anything to you. The mental hurt that I have caused you,
you will generously forget. I shall not easily forgive
myself for writing that letter to you.

Someone had suggested, I cannot recall who, that you might misunderstand my letter, and I foolishly said that you would never misunderstand anything I wrote to you. ‘Pride
goeth before destruction, and vanity before a fall’. After
these amends, I hardly think you need to publish the
correspondence between us. But, if, for the sake of the
cause, you think it necessary to publish it, you have my
permission, in so far as it may be necessary.

Please tell me how Kamala and Dr. Alam are doing,
and ask Kamala’*’ to write to me.

Yours sincerely,

*Kamala-wife of Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru.



Yeravada Central Prison,
17th January, 1933.

Dear Dr. Bidhan,

I enclose herewith a letter from Sjt. Rasik Lal Biswas.
I have advised him to see you. Do please invite him to see you.
What is this agitation against the Yeravada Pact? I
would like you to give me the inwardness of the opposition. How can there be any injustice in the Pact, simply because of reservation of more seats for Harijans than
had been provided in the British Government decision?
Are they not also Hindus? was there not always the
cry on our part that the Harijans could take as many
seats as they liked, even cent per cent? This opposition,
if it is popular, is likely to estrange Harijans and to
justify the fears often expressed on their behalf as to the
attitude of caste Hindus. But you know the local situation infinitely better than I do. You will correct me
if I have erred in putting the argument. I have given
no public reply, because I felt that any reply from me
at the present stage might increase the resentment of the
Harijans. In any case, I did not want to say anything
without first understanding the situation through you.

Please guide me.

I hope Kamala and Dr. Alam** are making steady progress.

Yours sincerely,

Dr. Alam- A Congress leader.



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