LETTERS BY GANDHI TO A LEADING SATYAGRAHI ENGAGED IN A DISPUTE THAT WOULD HELP TO SHAPE THE FUTURE STATE OF INDIA. The addressee of these letters was G. Ramachandran (1904-1995), who had first met Gandhi in 1921, later lived at Sevagram Ashram, and whose niece, Saraswati, was married to Gandhi's grandson Kantilal. In 1940 Ramachandran was back in his native Travancore where he was a leading figure in the State Congress. Travancore in southern India was one of the wealthiest and – in some respects – most progressive of the patchwork of princely states that covered vast swathes of British India. Since 1936 the Dewan had been the formidably accomplishing lawyer Sir C. P. Ramaswami Iyer, who had been a member of Congress in his earlier years but who was by 1940 a strong critic of Gandhi and the independence movement, and who had no wish to see Travancore subsumed into a future Indian state. He was intent on suppressing the Travancore State Congress, especially as it included large numbers of Communist members.
These letters give personal support to Ramachandran and his followers, but they also make stop short of promising public support. Iyer had earlier promised to visit Sevagram Ashram to discuss the situation in Travancore and Gandhi did not wish to attack Iyer in public until he was satisfied that their disagreements could not be settled in private. On 28 March 1940 Gandhi writes that he is "losing all hope" that this meeting would take place, but he nevertheless explains that he is writing to Iyer again and would refrain from publishing Ramachandran's articles on Travancore "& doing what other things I can" until he has received a reply. Gandhi was, of course, as good as his word: after Iyer sent him a telegram stating that a meeting would be pointless Gandhi not only published articles by local activists but also himself wrote a series of editorials in Hajijan attacking the "police raj" (23 July 1940) of Travancore that was "determined by all means at their disposal to crush the movement for liberty" (4 August 1940).
One of these letters appears in Gandhi's Collected Works, from a retained copy, but the other two letters appear to be unpublished.
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