Signing of the Poona Pact

1918
  • July 13, 2020

Due to Ambedkars prominence and popular support among st the untouchable community, he was invited to attend the Second Round Table Conference in London in 1932.Gandhi fiercely opposed separate electorate for untouchables, though he accepted separate electorate for all other minority groups such as Muslims and Sikhs, saying he feared that separate electorates for untouchables would divide Hindu community into two groups.

When the British agreed with Ambedkar and announced the awarding of separate electorates, Gandhi began a fast while imprisoned in the Yerwada Central Jail of Pune in 1932 against the separate electorate for untouchables only. Gandhi’s fast provoked huge civil unrest across India, and orthodox Hindu leaders, Congress politicians and activists such as Madan Mohan Malaviya and Palwankar Baloo organized joint meetings with Ambedkar and his supporters at Yeravada. Fearing a communal reprisal and genocide of untouchables, Ambedkar agreed under massive coercion from the supporters of Gandhi. This agreement, which saw Gandhi end his fast, was called the Poona Pact. As a result of the agreement, Ambedkar dropped the demand for separate electorates that was promised through the British Communal Award prior to Ambedkars meeting with Gandhi. Instead, a certain number of seats were reserved specifically for untouchables (in the agreement, called the “Depressed Class”).

Poona Pact, Agreed to by Leaders of Caste-Hindus and of Dalits, at Poona on 24-9-1932

The following is the text of the agreement arrived at between leaders acting on behalf of the Depressed Classes and of the rest of the community, regarding the representation of the Depressed Classes in the legislatures and certain other matters affecting their welfare.