Chronology: Event Detail Page

You are here

Background to the Salt Satyagraha

Date Place Significant Event(s) Noteworthy Letter(s)/Interview (s)
26-28 December, 1927 Madras Indian National Congress' forty second annual session. It was resolved to boycott the Statutory Commission which the British Government had appointed "in utter disregard of India's right of self-determination."

A committee, headed by Motilal Nehru, was entrusted with the task of determining the principles of the Constitution. The report, known as the Nehru Report, was published in August. Its call for Dominion Status with full responsible government evoked a mixed response but was adopted by the Conference and received Gandhi's qualified support.
December, 1928 Calcutta The Nehru Report had been totally rejected by the Muslim League. Gandhi stepped in as mediator at the Calcutta Congress, proposing that the report be accepted conditionally for two years. If at the end of that time, the Government had not accepted it, a new campaign for Independence would be commenced. Two years was too long for the radicals in the party; eventually the wait-and-see period was reduced to one year. The resolution read:
Subject to the exigencies of the political situation, this Congress will adopt the Constitution if it is accepted in its entirety by the British Parliament on or before 31 December 1929, but in the event of its non-acceptance by that date or its earlier rejection, the Congress will organise a campaign of non-violent non-cooperation by advising the country to refuse taxation and in such other manner as may be decided upon.Consistently with the above, nothing in this resolution shall interfere with the carrying on, in the name of the Congress, of the propaganda for complete independence.
October 31, 1929   Viceroy, Lord Irwin, after a four month visit to England, announced a proposal for a Round Table Conference of British and Indian statesmen to meet in London to air the views of the various parties. On 31 October he added:
In view of the doubts which have been expressed both in Britain and India regarding the interpretation to be placed on the intentions of the British Government in enacting the statute of 1919, I am authorised on behalf of His Majesty's Government to state clearly that in their judgement, it is implicit in their declaration of 1917 that the natural issue of India's constitutional progress as there contemplated, is the attainment of dominion status.
December 23, 1929 Delhi Meeting between Gandhi and the Viceroy. Gandhi asked the Viceroy if the proposed Round Table Conference would proceed on the basis of full Dominion Status. The Viceroy's non-assurance led to the failure of the meeting. Gandhi headed for Lahore  
29-31 December, 1929 Lahore At the Lahore Congress, the scheme of the Nehru Committee's Report was declared to have lapsed and in line with the Calcutta resolutions of the year before, it was declared that "the word 'Swaraj' in article one of the Congress constitution shall mean Complete Independence" and that the Congress "hopes that all Congressmen will henceforth devote their exclusive attention to the attainment of complete Independence for India."
The plan of action was to include boycotting elections, resignation of government political positions and a zealous prosecution of the constructive programme of the Congress. 
Speech at Congress Session,  Lahore-I and II,
CWMG Vol. XLII, pp. 341 - 356
January 1, 1930     Interview to the Press,
CWMG Vol. XLII, p. 360
January 30, 1930   Gandhi's eleven points published in Young India

Clearing the Issue, 
CWMG Vol. XLII, pp. 432 - 435

February 14-16   Congress Working Committee meets at Sabarmati Ashram, decision to launch Civil Disobedience campaign taken. Gandhi invested with full powers to launch the campaign as and when he thinks fit.  
March 2, 1930   Gandhi wrote a long, detailed letter to the Viceroy which set out India's grievances as he saw them and proceeded to telegraph his punches in advance.It explained his reasons for breaking the salt law. It amounted to an ultimatum yet was addressed "Dear Friend". Letter to Lord Irwin, 
CWMG Vol. XLIII, pp. 2 - 8
March 5, 1930   After evening prayers at Ashram, Gandhi announces intention to march to Dandi.  
March 7, 1930   Vallabhbhai Patel arrested at Ras.  
March, 1930   Viceregal acknowledgement.
Mr Cunningham, Private Secretary to the Viceroy wrote,
"His Excellency the Viceroy desires me to acknowledge your letter of the 2nd March. He regrets to learn that you contemplate a course of action which is clearly bound to involve violation of the law and danger to the public peace.
March, 1930   Gandhi's reply to the reply sent by the Viceroy's office sealed the fate of the nation.

Gandhi wrote "On bended knees, I asked for bread but received a stone instead. The English Nation responds only to force and I am not surprised by the Viceregal reply. The only public peace the Nation knows is the peace of the public prison. India is a vast prison house. I repudiate this law and regard it as my sacred duty to break the mournful monotony of compulsory peace that is choking the heart of the Nation for want of free vent."

Begging the Question, 
CWMG Vol. XLIII, pp. 51 - 52

March 12, 1930   Gandhi alongwith his band of followers commenced the Salt March from the Sabarmati Ashram.