Page:Speeches And Writings MKGandhi.djvu/53

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the Congress and the Home Rule League and the piles of books containing the monster signatures were duly presented to Mr. Montagu at Delhi.

Meanwhile Mr. Gandhi was not idle. On the 17th September he presided over the Bombay Co-operative Conference. On Nov. 3, he delivered a remarkable address as president of the Guzerat Political Conference and later, of the Guzerat Educational Conference. Then came the Congress week in Calcutta in December and he presided over the First Session of the Social Service League when he made a striking speech.

Mr. Gandhi has always travelled in the third class in all his journeyings and the grievances of the third-class passengers are driven home in this address to the Social Service League. But even before this he had already sent a letter to the press on the subject on the 25th September, 1917, in which he gave a vivid and true account of the woes of the third-class passengers.[1]


FAMINE IN THE KAIRA DISTRICT

After his return from the Calcutta Congress of Dec. 1917, Mr. Gandhi was occupied in connection with the famine in the Kaira district. The facts of the story can be easily told in Mr. Gandhi’s own words uttered at a meeting in Bombay on Feb 5, 1918.

The responsibility for the notice issued by the Guzerat Sabha of Ahmedabad was his; and nobody expected that the Government would misinterpret the objects of the notice. The Guzerat Sabha had sufficient proof of the plight of the people in the Kaira District and that the people were even obliged to sell their cattle to pay taxes, and the notice was issued to console those suffering from hardships. The Sabha’s request was to suspend the collection of dues till negotiations were over. If the Commissioner of the Division had not been angry with the deputation and had talked to them politely; such crises would not have happened. He fully expected that the deputation which would wait on the Governor would be able to explain the situation to His Excellency and the people’s cause would succeed in the end. Public men had every right to advise the people of their rights. He trusted that those who had given the people the right advice would stand by them and would not hesitate to undergo hardships in order to secure justice.

  1. Third Class in Indian Railways