Socialist and Communist groups came into existence in the 1920s. M. N. Roy became the first Indian elected to the leadership of the Communist International.
In 1924, the Government arrested Muzaffer Ahmed and S. A. Dange, accused them of spreading Communist ideas, and filed a case against them along the others involved in the Kanpur Conspiracy case.
In 1928, under the leadership of Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel, the peasants organized a “No Tax Campaign” and won their demand.
The trade unionism had grown during the early 1920s under the leadership of the All India Trade Union Congress.
All India Trade Union Congress was established in October 1920 at Bombay.
Resurgence of Terrorist Movement
The failure of the first non-cooperation movement had led to the revival of the terrorist movement. Therefore, after an All India Conference, the Hindustan Republican Association was founded in October 1924 to organize an armed revolution.
The terrorists soon came under the influence of socialist ideas; in 1928, under the leadership of Chandra Shekhar Azad, changed the title of the organization from the “Hindustan Republican Association” to the “Hindustan Socialist Republican Association.”
Bhagat Singh and B.K. Dutt threw a bomb in the Central Legislative Assembly on 8 April 1929 to protest against the passage of the Public Safety Bill, which would have reduced civil liberties.
The bomb did not harm anyone, as it had been deliberately made harmless. The aim was not to kill but, as a terrorist leaflet put it, “to make the deaf hear.”
Bhagat Singh and B. K. Dutt could have easily escaped after throwing the bomb, but they deliberately chose to be arrested for they wanted to make use of the court as a forum for revolutionary propaganda.
In April 1930, a raid was manipulated on the government armory at Chittagong under the leadership of Surya Sen.
The remarkable aspect of the terrorist movement in Bengal was the participation of young women.
To protest against the horrible conditions in the prisons, Jatin Das sat on hunger strike; as a result of which, he attained martyrdom after 63 days of epic fast.
In spite of huge protests, Bhagat Singh, Sukhdev, and Rajguru were executed on 23 March 1931.
In February, 1931, Chandra Shekhar Azad was killed in a shooting encounter with the police in a public park; later this park renamed as Azad Park (located at Allahabad in Uttar Pradesh).
Surya Sen was arrested in February 1933 and hanged soon after.
In March 1929, thirty-one prominent trade union and communist leaders (including three Englishmen) were arrested and after a trial (known as Meerut Conspiracy Case) lasting four years, sentenced for long periods of imprisonment.
Boycott of Simon Commission
In November 1927, the British Government appointed the Indian Statutory Commission to work on the constitutional reform, named as ‘Simon Commission,’ after the name of its Chairman John Simon.
All members of the Simon Commission were Englishmen, which was unanimously protested by all Indians.
At its Madras Session in 1927, presided over by Dr. Ansari, the National Congress decided to boycott the Simon Commission “at every stage and in every form.”
On February 3, 1928, the day the Simon Commission reached Bombay, an all India strike was proclaimed. Wherever the Commission went, it was greeted with strikes and black-flag demonstrations under the slogan ‘Simon Go Back.’
An All Parties Conference was convened for the purpose first at Delhi and then at Poona. The Conference appointed a sub-committee headed by Motilal Nehru and included among its members Ali Imam, Tej Bahadur Sapru, and Subhash Bose.
In August 1928, the sub-committee submitted its report known as the “Nehru Report.”
The Nehru Report recommended that
The attainment of Dominion Status should be considered the “next immediate step;”
India should be a federation built on the basis of linguistic provinces and provincial autonomy;
The executive should be fully responsible to the legislature;
The elections should be by joint electorates and on the basis of adult suffrage; and
The seats in the legislatures should be reserved for religious minorities for a period of 10 years.
Unfortunately, the All Party Convention, held at Calcutta in December 1928, failed to pass the Nehru Report.
Objections were raised by some of the communal-minded leaders belonging to the Muslim League, the Hindu Mahasabha and the Sikh League.
The Muslim League was itself split on the issue along nationalist and communal lines. Mohammed Ali Jinnah put forth his “fourteen points” demands at this time, claiming, among other things −
One third of the seats in the central legislature for the Muslims;
Reservation of seats for the Muslims in Bengal and the Punjab in proportion to population; and
The vesting of residual powers in the provinces.
The Hindu Mahasabha denounced the Nehru Report as pro-Muslim. Thus the prospects of national unity were foiled by communal groups.