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
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.