Two weeks before Gandhi's arrest and the launch of the 'Quit India Movement'
ALS signed “M. K. Gandhi,” one page, 3.75 x 6, May 24, 1942. Addressed from ‘Sevagram,’ a brief handwritten letter to Tofail Ahmad, in full: “Though your argument is good I am afraid no good will come out of publishing it at the present juncture.” In good to very good condition, with multiple small holes, irregular toning, and apparent complete separation along the central horizontal fold, which has been repaired on the reverse.
During the early 20th century in India, various groups fought to gain better representation in the British government, resulting in a patchwork of separate electorates in different regions (e.g., Hindus and Muslims, rural and urban tribes, caste groups, each electing candidates drawn from their particular group). Gandhi tended to support a joint electorate where possible, but the summer of 1942 had become a period of important and sometimes conflicting political priorities for Gandhi. Ahmad's letter (to which the present letter is Gandhi's reply) included a tract arguing in favor of joint electorates and a request that it be published in the weekly political journal, Harijan (which Gandhi founded). In the offered letter, Gandhi declines to endorse publication at the moment, likely because the Indian National Congress had begun to abandon hope of negotiation with Britain for improved representation and was contemplating complete independence. The Congress Working Committee met in Wardha weeks later (June 14th) to declare that ‘British rule in India must end immediately’ and to authorize Gandhi to lead the campaign of mass resistance that became known as the ‘Quit India Movement.’ Roughly two months later on August 9, 1942, and mere hours after his speech in Mumbai, Gandhi and members of the Congress Working Committee were arrested under Defense of India Rules. He was held in the Aga Khan Palace in Pune for two years; his wife, Kasturba, who was also imprisoned there, died after 18 months on February 22, 1944.
This letter was published in The Collected Works of Mahatma Gandhi (Electronic Book), (New Delhi: Publications Division Government of India, 1999), 82:320.