Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi was an experienced agitator. He had led movements against the British Government in South Africa. But he was an agitator of a different kind. It was by the virtue of peaceful and non-violent satyagraha that led to the rise of Gandhi as a great leader. Satyagraha was a kind of passive resistance in which there was no violence; no arms were needed to carry it out.
Gandhiji took to fast unto death in 1918 at Ahmadabad to settle a dispute between the mill-owners and the workers. He was successful and the dispute was settled.
A year before that Gandhiji had led a satyagraha at Champaran in Bihar to improve the lot of the indigo peasants there.
In 1919 Gandhiji led the movement against the “Rowlatt Act”.
Gandhiji correctly understood that the Indians could not be cowed down so easily. There were agitations all over the country. But the most important agitation was in the Punjab. There Gandhiji inspired meetings and processions. From February to April numerous meetings and processions were organized there. In 13th April 1919 a very pathetic incident tool place. The British General Dyer ordered firing on an unarmed and peaceful crowd at Jallianwalla Bagh in Amritsar. Thousands of men and women were killed. The Congress was thinking of a new technique of movement.
At this time Gandhiji seemed to the country to be the natural leader. His satygahras brought him into close touch with the masses. The peasants and workers were not unknown to him. On the contrary, it was for poor people who Gandhiji wanted to lead a movement. For the first time a leader of the people appeared who was not cut off from the masses. And this is one of Gandhiji most important contributions to India’s politics.