Lahore, Thursday, January 13, 1921

Mrs. Besant’s Four Reasons

IN the letter addressed by her to the Secretaries to the All-India and Provincial Congress Committee, Mrs. Besant gives four reasons why she can no longer belong to the Congress. As the matter is of some importance, it is worthwhile examining these reasons at some length. The first reason, that Mrs. Besant is a firm believer in the British connection and a strong opponent of the programme of non-co-operation, is obviously inconclusive, because a good many — we believe the large majority of those present at the Nagpur Congress itself — believe in the British connection, just as strongly as she does and there are some, like Pandit Malaviya, who do not accept the non-co-operation programme any more than she does. If there is room in the Congress for those, why not for Mrs. Besant also? The second reason, that the Congress has narrowed the basis of its former Constitution, is the reverse of the truth. The Congress has not narrowed but has rather widened the basis of its former Constitution, inasmuch as under the present Constitution not only is there room in it for all who were formerly of it, but there is room also for those who formerly would have had no place in it, men who believe in isolated independence or are inspired by republican ideals. We have already expressed our opinion that either this will mean no change in practice, or the union will prove short-lived, and will come to an end the moment methods are devised, as they must be before long, that are calculated to lead to one of the two ends to the necessary exclusion of the other. But that is not what Mrs. Besant says; nor would it be a sufficient reason in itself for anyone to leave the Congress. This disposes of also that part of the third reason which says that the Congress has rejected its former ideals.

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