Interview with Free Press on the eve of leaving Bombay

I have nothing special to add to what I have been saying during the last few months. Today when I analyse the situation in the country, I find that on the Right there is a drift towards constitutionalism while on the Left there is a drift towards irresponsibility and indiscretion.

The acceptance of office has undoubtedly enhanced the strength and prestige of the Congress, but simultaneously it has helped to accentuate the weaker elements in the national character. I find that today there are many people who are thinking and dreaming of progress towards our goal of Purna Swaraj without any further fight.

Other people are now coming into the Congress who have their own axes to grind or who consider the Congress to be a safe organisation. This is what largely accounts for the tendency towards enlisting bogus members which one finds in several provinces.

On the Left I find that there are far too many groups who have their petty differences and dissensions. The Left elements in the Congress have during the last few months lost ground instead of gaining it. Individuals have, on certain occasions, been behaving in such a way as to enable their critics to say that they are consciously or unconsciously promoting violence.

I am definitely of opinion that the present opportunity of pushing on towards the goal of Purna Swaraj should not be lost, for such an opportunity is rare in the lifetime of a nation. To that end the Left should cooperate with the Right, so long as it is possible for them to do so. But what cooperation can they offer when they are so disorganised and indisciplined? Those who believe in Leftism would do well to consider what steps they could take to organise and discipline all radical elements in the Congress on the basis of a clear-cut programme. When they are so organised and disciplined, they will be able to offer real cooperation to the Right in the task of winning Purna Swaraj. The first thing that we need is that all Congressmen should speak with one voice and think with one will. I regret that of late there has been a tendency on the part of certain individual Congressmen to whittle down the Congress resolution of uncompromising hostility to Federation. I desire to make it perfectly clear that no Congressman has any authority to do so. I hope that such an attempt will not be made in future. I also hope that nobody will be misled by the uncalled-for advice given to the British Government by such irresponsible individuals.

I should like to add that if the Federal Scheme is forcibly introduced, a fight will have to be waged on all fronts and if such a fight does begin, I am sure it will not be confined to the people of British India. We have, however, reached a stage when the main problem is not how we shall fight Federation, but what we should do if the Federal Scheme is quietly dropped over us or its promulgation postponed sine die. That there is every possibility of Federal Scheme being quietly shelved is not only my personal opinion but it is also the view hinted at the other day by Lord Meston. To this question the Tripuri Congress will, I hope, give a proper reply. My own view on this point is perfectly clear and I have already given expression to it. All those who honestly believe that Swaraj will not be won without a fight, should consider it their sacred duty to prepare in everyway for the coming developments in accordance with the fundamental principles of the Congress. This will mean preparation for greater service and sacrifice, self-purification, sinking of all petty differences and organisation of all the anti-Imperialist elements in the Congress on the basis of a minimum clear-cut programme. Such organisation will materially help to stem the tide towards constitutionalism on the one hand and irresponsibility and indecision on the other.