Speech at the Calcutta Corporation on the attack on Writers' Building, Calcutta

Alderman and Councillors

I desire to associate myself whole-heartedly with the resolution that is before the House, and I do so not only as the Mayor of the Calcutta Corporation, but if I may say so, as the leader of the Congress party in this Province. It is incumbent on me to say a few words in this occasion to make clear to everybody concerned the attitude of Congressmen in this matter.

I sincerely deplore the tragic incidents of Monday last and I do so because I feel that they are a confession of the temporary failure of the Congress programme and also the temporary failure of the Congress leaders to influence cent per cent of the younger generation in the country.

I do hope that when our feelings calm down, we shall take the earliest opportunity to explore the deeper causes of the incidents that have given a rude shock to all of us. It will not do simply to brand as misguided the youths who are responsible for these incidents. The fact stares us in the face that there are people in this country, whatever their number may be, who want freedom not merely by following the Congress programme, but, if need be, they want freedom at any price and by any means.

So far as the Congress party is concerned, they have made it clear over and over again as to what their policy and programme are. The whole world knows today that the Indian National Congress stands pledged to non-violence but why is it that inspite of the best efforts of the Congress leaders and inspite of the best efforts of Congress workers all over the country, beginning from Mahatma Gandhi down to the ordinary village worker, we have so far failed to influence the minds and the judgment of the entire younger generation in this country? We have failed, because, so far, the Congress programme has not achieved freedom for India. I firmly believe that we shall achieve freedom in the long run, but until we can prove by our success that the Congress programme is the only programme that the country should adopt and follow, I don't see how it is possible to convert cent per cent of the population to the cult of non-violence.

There is another fact which I shall place before you. I should like you to consider whether the methods adopted by the Government during the last two years have had a salutary effect upon the minds of our countrymen. I am referring to the various ordinances that have been promulgated. I had occasion when I was in prison to talk frankly to several responsible members of the Government, and I made it perfectly clear to them that if these ordinances were promulgated one after another, if public meetings and processions were banned, if ordinances like the Press Ordinance were thrust upon us and if thereby every avenue of open activity was stopped, the Congress leaders would fail to prove that their programme was the only effective programme; the only effect of these Ordinances would be not to crush the spirit of freedom - because that was impossible - but to drive the movement underground. I am sorry that my worst anticipations seem somewhat justified today. I can assure everyone, whether he be my countryman or he be a Britisher, that India has chosen the path of non-violence as the best and the easiest path to follow for the achievement of India's freedom. I do believe that inspite of temporary lapses, our countrymen will adhere to this path and will be able in the near future to achieve freedom by following it. But until the goal is reached, I do hope that we shall not be content simply by passing resolution of condemnation or by branding youths a misguided, but we shall at the same time explore the deeper psychological causes which account for those tragic incidents.