SELECTED WORKS OF MAHATMA GANDHI >  VOL. IV - SELECTED LETTERS > SECTION ONE : SELECTED LETTERS > To Ramsay Macdonald
67. To Ramsay Macdonald1
Yeravda Prison,
August 18, 1932
DEAR FRIEND,
There can be no doubt that Sir Samuel Hoare has showed you and the Cabinet my letter to him of 11th March on the question of the representation of the depressed classes. That letter should be treated as part of this letter and be read together with this.
I have read the British Government's decision on the representation of the Minorities and have slept over it. In pursuance of my letter to Sir Samuel Hoare and my declaration at the meeting of the Minorities Committee of the Round Table Conference on the 13th November 1931, at St. James' Palace, I have to resist your decision with my life. The only way I can do so is by declaring a perpetual fast unto death from food of any kind, save water with or without salt and soda. This fast will cease if during its progress the British Government of its own motion or under the pressure of public opinion revise their decision and their schemes of communal electorates for the depressed classes, whose representatives should be elected by general electorate under common franchise no matter how wide it is.
The proposed fast will come into operation in the ordinary course from the noon of 20th September next unless the said decision is meanwhile revised in the manner suggested above.
I am asking the authorities here to cable the text of this letter to you so as to give you ample notice. But in any case I am leaving sufficient time for this letter to reach you in time by the slowest route.
I also ask that this letter and my letter to Sir Samuel Hoare, already referred to, be published, at the earliest possible moment. On my part I have scrupulously observed the rule of the jail and have communicated my desire or the contents of the two letters to no one save my two companions, Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel and Sjt. Mahadev Desai. But I want, if you make it possible public opinion to be affected by my letters. Hence my request for their early publication.
I regret the decision that I have taken. But as a man of religion that I hold myseif to be, I have no other course left open to me. As I have said in my letter to Sir Samuel Hoare, even if His Majesty's Government decided to release me in order to save themselves embarrassment, my fast will have to continue. For, I cannot now hope to resist the decision by any other means. And I have no desire whatsoever to compass my release by any means other than honourable.
It may be that my judgment is warped and that I am wholly in error in regarding separate electorates for the depressed classes as harmful to them or Hinduism. If so, I am not likely to be in the right with reference to other parts of my philosophy of life. In that case, my death by fasting will be at once a penance for my error and a lifting of a weight from off those numberless men and women who have a child-like faith in my wisdom. Whereas if my judgment is right, as I have little doubt it is, the contemplated step is but a due fulfilment of the scheme of life which I have tried for more than a quarter of a century apparently not without considerable success.
Your sincerely,
M. K. GANDHI
Famous Letters of Mahatma Gandhi, pp. 104-06

1 Macdonald, James Ramsay: (1866-1937)-British Politician; a leading Member of I.L.E (1893-1930); Secretary (1900-11) and leader (1911-14, 1922-30) of the Labour Party; Member of Parliament from 1906; Prime Minister and Foreign Secretary of the first Labour Government in Britain (Nov. 1924); In 1935-37 he was a Lord President under Mr. Baldwin.