Arch-imperialist Mr (now, Sir) Winston Churchill, who firmly believed that "the loss of India would mark and consummate the downfall of the British Empire" and that "that great organism would pass at a stroke out of life into history", and who had declared, "We have ' no intention of casting away that most truly bright and precious jewel in the crown of the King, which more than all our other Dominions and Dependencies constitutes the glory and strength of the British Empire," could not contain himself when he saw the Viceroy of India, Lord Irwin, carrying on negotiations with Mahatma Gandhi for a political truce after the latter had launched a countrywide campaign of civil disobedience. He vented his spleen against the Mahatma as well as the Viceroy in these terms in an address to the Council of the West Essex Unionist Association on February 23, 1931: "It is alarming and also nauseating to see Mr. Gandhi, an Inner Temple lawyer, now become a seditious fakir of a type well known in the East, striding half-naked up the steps of the Viceregal Palace, while he is still organizing and conducting a defiant campaign of civil disobedience, to parley on equal terms with the representative of the King-Emperor."
He had also thundered: "I am against these conversations and agreements between Lord
Irwin and Mr. Gandhi. . . The truth is that Gandhi-ism and all it stands for
will have to be grappled with and finally crushed." It was no wonder that
Churchill should have refused to meet Gandhiji when the latter had gone to
England towards the end of the same year as a delegate to the Second Round Table Conference.
An echo of Churchill's thunder against Gandhiji was heard thirteen years after the
latter's release from detention from the Aga Khan's Palace in May 1944. Gandhiji,
who was recouping his health at Panchgani, wrote the following letter to
Churchill, who was then Prime Minister of Great Britain: