ON 9 November 1947, Gandhi sent a wedding gift for Princess Elizabeth through Mountbatten:‘(A) little thing…made out of double yarn of my own spinning.’ The khadi tablecloth was prominently displayed amidst the jewels and expensive artefacts fit for a queen laid out for public view in London after the royal wedding on 20 November.
By this time Gandhi had developed some serious misgivings about Congress. The Congress would either have to change its party leader or itself. He thought that a socialist like Acharya Narendra Dev or Jayaprakash Narayan as president might restore the Gandhi culture and commitment to a party now fully absorbed by power.
But Nehru and Patel preferred Acharya Kripalani as the new president at the Meerut session in November 1947.
According to his secretary Pyarelal’s two-volume account, Mahatma Gandhi: The Last Phase, Gandhi had lost faith in Congress. Any patchwork treatment would only prolong its agony; the solution lay in a complete revamp. Premonition is too familiar a phenomenon for us to ignore.
Something did impel or compel Gandhi to complete a task that had been on his mind: to write a new constitution for Congress. Pyarelal says that 29 January 1948 was ‘so cram-full with work that at the end of the day Gandhiji felt utterly fagged out. “My head is reeling. And yet I must finish this,” he remarked to Abha, pointing to the draft constitution for the Congress which he had undertaken to prepare and then, “I am afraid I shall have to keep late hours.”’
Gandhi set down between 29 and 30 January 1948 what was been appropriately described as his last political will and testament.
He made some alterations on the morning of 30 January and asked Pyarelal to go through it carefully and fill in any ‘gaps in thought that there might be’ for he had written the document under ‘heavy strain’. His thesis was that the political role of the Congress had ended with the freedom, and it should now turn into an organisation committed to the social, moral and economic resurrection of India, especially in its 700,000 villages. Gandhi wrote what would have been the party’s last resolution: ‘For these and other similar reasons, the AICC resolves to disband the existing Congress organization and flower into a Lok Sevak Sangh.’
The basic unit of LSS would be a group of five adults, male and female, with interlinked units across villages, bound by strict code. Members would wear khadi, abjure alcohol, fight untouchability, treat every religion equally and reject race or gender bias. Finance would come from rural donations with special stress being laid on collection of poor man’s pice’.
The document, signed ‘M.K.G.’, was handed over to Acharya Jugal Kishore, general secretary of Congress ‘on the fateful forenoon of 30th January’. Kishore released the ‘full draft’ to the media on 7 February 1948 (Gandhi 1970, vol. 98, 332-335).
If Gandhi had lived, the Congress would have been disbanded.