NCM and Khilafat Agitation Notes

Run up to Non-Cooperation Movement

The year 1919, in particular, saw a strong feeling of discontent among all sections of Indians for various reasons:

  • Economic situation of the country in the post- War years had become alarming with a rise in prices of commodities, decrease in production of Indian industries, increase in burden of taxes and rents etc.
  • Rowlatt Act, the imposition of martial law in Punjab and the Jallianwalla Bagh massacre exposed the brutal and uncivilized face of the foreign rule.
  • Montagu-Chelmsford Reforms with their ill conceived scheme of dyarchy failed to satisfy the rising demand of the Indians for self-government.

The post-First World War period also saw the preparation of the ground for common political action by Hindus and Muslims

  • Lucknow Pact (1916) had stimulated Congress-Muslim League cooperation
  • Rowlatt Act agitation brought Hindus and Muslims, and also other sections of the society, togethee
  • Radical nationalist Muslims had now become more influential than the conservative Aligarh school elements who had dominated the League earlier.

The Khilafat Issue

  • In India, Muslims demanded from the British that the Khalifa’s control over Muslim sacred places should be retained, and the Khalifa should be left with sufficient territories after territorial arrangements.
  • In early 1919, a Khilafat Committee was formed under Ali brothers, Maulana Azad, Ajmal Khanand Hasrat Mohani. Development of the Khalifat-Non-Cooperation Programme
  • At All India Khilafat Conference held in Delhi in November 1919, a call was made for the boycott of British goods.

Development of the Khalifat-Non-Cooperation Programme

  • Gandhi, who was the president of the All India Khilafat Committee, saw in the issue a platform from which mass and united noncooperation could be declared against the Government.
  • Congress Stand on Khilafat Question-The Congress felt inclined to support a non-cooperation programme on the Khilafat question because—
  1. it was felt that this was a golden opportunity to cement Hindu-Muslim unity and to bring Muslim masses into the national movement
  2. Congress was losing faith in constitutional struggle and was aware that the masses were eager to give expression to their discontent.

The Non-Cooperation Khilafat Movement

  • May 1920: Treaty of Sevres with Turkey, signed in May 1920, completely dismembered Turkey.
  • August 31, 1920: The Khilafat Committee started a campaign of non- cooperation and the movement was formally launched.
  • September 1920: At a special session in Calcutta, the Congress approved a non- cooperation programme

The Non-Cooperation Khilafat Movement February 1920

The programme was to include

  1. boycott of government schools and colleges
  2. boycott of law courts and dispensation of justice through panchayats instead
  3. boycott of legislative councils
  4. boycott of foreign cloth and use of khadi instead
  5. renunciation of government honors and titles
  6. the second phase could include mass civil disobedience including resignation from government service, and non-payment of taxes

December 1920 At the Nagpur session of the Indian National Congress—

  • Programme of non-cooperation was endorsed.
  • Important change was made in the Congress creed: now, instead of having the attainment of self government through constitutional means as its goal, the Congress decided to have the attainment of swaraj through an extraconstitutional mass struggle.
  • A congress working committee (CWC) of 15 members was set up to lead the Congress from now onward
  • Provincial congress committees on linguistic basis were organised
  • Surendranath Banerjea founded the Indian National Liberal Federation and played a minor role in national politics henceforward.

Spread of the Movement

  • Educational institutions were organised under the leadership of Acharya Narendra Dev, C.R. Das, Lala Lajpat Rai, Zakir Hussain, Subhash Bose (who became the principal of National College at Calcutta) and included Jamia Millia at Aligarh, Kashi Vidyapeeth, Gujarat Vidyapeeth and Bihar Vidyapeeth.
  • A no-tax movement against union board taxes in Midnapore (Bengal) and in Guntur (Andhra) was going on.
  • Tilak Swaraj Fund was organized
  • In Assam, strikes in tea plantations, steamer services and Assam-Bengal Railways had been organised. J.M. Sengupta was a prominent leader in these strikes.
  • In November 1921, the visit of the Prince of Wales to India invited strikes and demonstrations.
  • The spirit of defiance and unrest gave rise to many local struggles such as Awadh Kisan Movement (UP), Eka Movement (UP), Mappila Revolt (Malabar) and the Sikh agitation for the removal of mahants in Punjab.


a) Middle Class (limited), Business Class, Peasants, Students, Women

b) Hindu-Muslim Unity

The Last Phase of the Movement

  • Gandhi was now under increasing pressure from the Congress rank and file to start the civil disobedience programme.
  • The Ahmedabad session in 1921 appointed Gandhi the sole authority on the issue.
  • On February 1, 1922 Gandhi threatened to launch civil disobedience from Bardoli (Gujarat) if- political prisoners were not released, and press controls were not removed

Chauri Chaura Incident and Abrupt End of NCM

  • Chauri-Chaura (Gorakhpur district in United Provinces) has found a place in history books due to an incident of violence on February 5, 1922 which was to prompt Gandhi to withdraw the movement.
  • Congress Working Committee met at Bardoli in February 1922 and resolved to stop all activity that led to breaking of the law and to get down to constructive work
  • In March 1922, Gandhi was arrested and sentenced to six years in jail.
  • In November 1922, the people of Turkey rose under Mustafa Kamal Pasha and deprived the sultan of political power.
  • In 1924, the Caliphate was abolished.


Swarajists and No-Changers

  • Those advocating entry into legislative councils came to be known as the ‘Swarajists’, while the other school of thought led by C. Rajagopalachari, Vallabhbhai Patel, Rajendra Prasad and M.A. Ansari came to be known as the ‘No-changers’.
  • ‘No-changers’ opposed council entry, advocated concentration on constructive work, and continuation of boycott and non-cooperation, and quiet preparation for resumption of the suspended civil disobedience programme.
  • Congress-Khilafat Swarajya Party or simply Swarajist Party, with C.R. Das as the president and Motilal Nehru as one of the secretaries was organized in 1923.

Swarajists’ Arguments

  • Entering the councils would not negate the non-cooperation programme.
  • Entry of nationalists would deter the government from stuffing the councils with undesirable elements who may be used to provide legitimacy togovernment measures.

No-Changers’ Arguments

  • No-Changers argued that parliamentary work would lead to neglect of constructive work, loss of revolutionary zeal and to political corruption.

Common Opinion

  • Both sides also realized the significance of putting up a united front to get a mass movement to force the government to introduce reforms, and both sides accepted the necessity of Gandhi’s leadership of a united nationalist front.
  • Keeping these factors in mind, a compromise was reached at a meeting in Delhi in September 1923.
  • The elections to the newly constituted Central Legislative Assembly and to provincial assemblies were to be held in November 1923.

Gandhi’s Attitude and 1923 Election results

  • Gandhi was initially opposed to the Swarajist proposal of council entry.-
  • But after his release from prison on health grounds in February 1924, he gradually moved towards a reconciliation with the Swarajists.
  • He felt public opposition to the programme of council entry would be counter- productive.
  • In the November 1923 elections, the Swarajists had managed to win 42 out of 141 elected seats and a clear majority in the provincial assembly of Central Provinces.


  • With coalition partners, they out-voted the government several times, even on matters relating to budgetary grants, and passed adjournment motions.
  • They agitated through powerful speeches on self government, civil liberties and industrialisation.
  • Vithalbhai Patel was elected speaker of Central Legislative Assembly in 1925.
  • Defeated of the Public Safety Bill in 1928 which was aimed at empowering the Government to deport undesirable and subversive foreigners.
  • However, they failed to support the peasants’ cause in Bengal and lost support among Muslim members who were pro-peasant.

Constructive Work by No-Changers

  • The No-Changers devoted themselves to constructive work that connected them to the different sections of the masses.
  • Ashrams sprang up where young men and women worked among tribals and lower castes, and popularised the use of charkha and khadi.
  • National schools and colleges were set up where students were trained in a non-colonial ideological framework.
  • Significant work was done for Hindu-Muslim unity, removing untouchability, boycott of foreign cloth and liquor, and for flood relief.

Exit from Councils

  • Internal fights and growth of communalism among council leaders made Gandhi oppose Council entry.
  • Moreover in the 1926 elections Swarajists were unable to form a national coalition.
  • In 1930, the Swarajists finally walked out as a result of the Lahore Congress resolution on Purna Swaraj and the beginning of the Civil Disobedience Movement.