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 Bardoli Satyagraha | Bardoli Movement

In the Bardoli taluk of Surat district (Gujarat), there was a kind of non-cooperation movement in 1928 AD when the farmers decided not to pay the rent.

Bardoli Satyagraha | bardoli movement

   In 1922, Mahatma Gandhi had decided to start the non-cooperation movement from this Bardoli taluk, but after the Chauri-Chaura incident, this decision could not be implemented. In 1922, the non-cooperation movement could not start from here, but preparations were being made for the civil disobedience movement.

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Why is Bardoli famous? Background of Bardoli Movement

Bardoli had become the center of political activities since 1922. Some of the local leaders there – Kalyanji and Kunwarji Mehta (both brothers) and Dayalji Desai had contributed a lot in preparing public opinion for the non-cooperation movement. It was these people, seeing their efforts, Gandhiji chose Bardoli instead of Kheda to start the non-cooperation movement. These people were active in political awareness and social service since even 10 years before the non-cooperation movement. These leaders were highly respected among the two major castes of the region, Anabil Brahmins and Pattidars. These leaders established Anabil and Pattidar ashrams (hostels). These leaders organized movements against social evils.

Non Cooperation Movement and Bardoli

The sudden withdrawal of the non-cooperation movement had broken the morale of the Congress workers, but they soon engaged in constructive work.

     In 1922, Gandhiji told the Congressmen of Bardoli that you have not done anything for the tribal, low and untouchable castes. Accepting Gandhiji’s suggestion, the local leaders there worked between the untouchables and the tribals, who were called ‘Kapilraj’ (black people).

    “The upper castes or upper castes were called ‘Ujalipraj’.”

In Bardoli taluk, the population of Kaliprajas was 60%. These volunteer workers (who were upper castes) opened six ashrams among ‘Kapilraj’ i.e. untouchables. Through these ashrams, education was spread among these castes (tribal and backward). Many of these ashrams still exist today.

Krishnaji Mehta and Keshavji Ganeshji learned the language of the tribals and created “Kapilraj Sahitya” with the help of educated people of Kapilraj community. Through poems and prose, he attacked against the social evils and superstitions prevalent in the Kapilrajas. Raised voice against bonded labor (Hali system).

      In 1927, a school for Kapilraj children was opened in Bardoli town, in front of the workers of the ashram, many times landlords and upper caste people protested. After 1922 every year ‘Kapilraj Sammelan’ was held. Gandhiji presided over the annual movement of 1927 and constituted an inquiry committee to study the economic-social condition of the ‘Kapilraj’ community.

       “Gandhi changed the name of Kapilraj to ‘Raniparaj’. Which means ‘dweller of the forest’. In Gandhi’s view, the word ‘Kapilraj’ (black) was derogatory.”

Many well-known and well-known leaders of Gujarat like Narhari Parikh and Jagatram Dave studied the economic and social conditions of the Kapilraj community and in their interim report said that the ‘Hali method’ is very inhuman. According to the report, moneylenders and landlords exploit the poor Kapilraj public along with sexual exploitation. The women of the poor Kapilraj community are the victims of rape by the landlords. These actions created a strong Congress base among the Kapilraj community (perhaps this was Gandhi’s goal as well).

Bardoli inquiry committee constituted

      When the rent revision officer increased the rent by 30 percent in 1926, the Congress leaders strongly opposed it and formed the ‘Bardoli Inquiry Committee’ to investigate the matter. The Inquiry Committee submitted its report in July 1926 and called the hike in rent a surprise. After this Bahratiya newspapers started writing against it. And it was started by Young India and ‘Navjeevan’ followed by Bombay Chronicle, Bombay News’ Navakal’ Deshbandhu’ Maratha’ Jam-e-Jamshed’ and ‘Parjabandhu Prajabandhu’ protested a lot.

The regional leaders who believed in the constitutional struggle, including the members of the Legislative Council, took up this issue with the British government. In March 1927, a delegation of farmers led by Bhimbhai Naik and Shivdasani met the Chief Revenue Member of the Revenue Department of the Government of Bombay. After increasing pressure, in 1927, the government reduced the rent increase from 30 to 21.97 percent. But the farmers were not satisfied with this, eventually the farmers decided not to pay the rent. Decided to pay only the same rent as they used to pay earlier.

Sardar Patel’s entry in Bardoli movement

The local leaders gradually started withdrawing from this anti-rent movement. Now the Congress approached Vallabhbhai and urged him to lead the Bardoli movement. A meeting of 60 village representatives was held in ‘Bamano’ village of Kadod division in which Vallabhbhai Patel was formally invited to lead the movement. In January 1928, a member of the Kisan Samiti and a local leader went to Ahmedabad to invite Vallabhbhai Patel to visit Bardoli. Vallabhbhai accepted the invitation and assured to come to Bardoli before 5th February 1928 ( the date from which the rent was due ) . Local leaders met Gandhiji and when Gandhiji was convinced that the farmers were with this movement So Gandhiji also gave his support to the Bardoli movement.

Vallabhbhai Patel reaches Bardoli

On 4 February, Vallabhbhai Patel reached Bardoli and talked to the representatives of the farmers. After several rounds of talks, Patel made it clear what could be the consequences of the proposed movement. Returning from Bardoli, Patel wrote a letter to the Governor of Bombay. In this letter, he termed the government’s rent calculation as flawed and threatened that if it was not investigated fairly, he would instigate the farmers to not pay the rent. The secretary to the governor told Patel that his letter had been sent to the revenue department.

When did Bardoli Satyagraha start

On February 12, Patel returned to Bardoli and told the matter to the farmers’ representatives. After this a meeting of the farmers of Bardoli taluk was held and it was decided that till a fair investigation is not done, the entire payment of rent will be considered as the rent already paid. The farmers took an oath of ‘Bhagwan’ and ‘Khuda’ that they would not pay rent. After the resolution was passed, Gita and Quran were recited and Kabir couplets were sung to express Hindu-Muslim unity. Satyagraha started.

Who gave the title of Sardar to Vallabhbhai Patel?

   Vallabhbhai Patel, born in 1847 AD, could have been the rightful head of this movement. Through ‘Kheda Satyagraha’, ‘Nagpur Flag Satyagraha’, and ‘Balsad Satyagraha’, he had become a well-known and respected leader of Gujarat. Patel used to come second only after Gandhi. He was given the title of ‘Sardar’ in the Bardoli movement. He was given this title by the women of Bardoli.

Contribution of Sardar Patel in Bardoli Movement

Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel divided the entire taluka into 13 worker camps and an experienced leader was deputed to run each camp. About 100 political activists and 1500 volunteers, most of them students, from different parts of the province were the soldiers of this movement.

    A Publications Division was also created from where ‘Bardoli Satyagraha Patrika’ was published daily. The volunteers used to take this magazine to every part of the taluka.

Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel’s daughter and women’s contribution to the movement

The role of women in this movement was also very important. To spread awareness among women, Parsi women of Bombay Meethuben Petit, Bhaktiba (wife of Darbar Gopal Das), Maniben Patel (daughter of Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel), Shardaben Shah and Sharda Mehta were specially engaged. The effect of this was that many times the number of women in the meetings was more than the number of men. Thus farmers, students, women played an important role in this movement.

During the movement, there were many people who were secretly thinking of paying rent to the government or even giving it. To persuade and threaten such people, the agitators threatened caste boycott, which had an effect and people joined the movement.

The government had never seen such a movement; the government officials were also socially boycotted.

The Servants of India Society in its report justified and supported this movement.

By July 1928, even the Viceroy Lord Irwin began to feel that the matter was wrong. He pressured Governor Wilson to settle the matter as quickly as possible. Questions were also being raised on this matter in the British Parliament.

success of bardoli movement

      Gandhiji reached Bardoli on 2 August 1928. With the intention that if the government arrests Patel, he can take over the reins of the movement. Now the government started finding excuses for itself as to how to deal with this matter.

The government has found an excuse to hide its face. The members of the Legislative Council of Surat wrote a letter to the Governor in which it was written, “The conditions you have put for the investigation will be accepted.”

What those conditions were, there was no mention in the letter. In fact, the government had agreed that it would not insist on recovering the increased rent.

    A judicial officer, Broomfield, and a revenue officer, Maxwell, investigated the entire matter and in their report found the 30 per cent hike in rent to be incorrect. It was reduced to 6.03 percent. The ‘New Statesman’ published from London wrote in its issue of 5 May 1929–

    “The report of the Inquiry Committee is a slap on the face of the Government… It will have far-reaching consequences.

      Gandhiji said in relation to this movement-

   “Whatever the Bardoli struggle may be, it is not a struggle for the attainment of Swaraj. But every such struggle, every effort is bringing us closer to Swaraj and perhaps in taking us to the destination of Swaraj, this struggle may be a straight struggle for Swaraj. Could prove to be more helpful than ever.”

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