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It is certain that whatever may have been their experience elsewhere, the Simon Commission is going to have a hearty welcome in Madras. Almost all the prominent political organizations in the city are busy making preparations at present to offer a warm reception to the Commission on their arrival on the 18th instant. It is true of course, that there are a few Congressmen intent on creating trouble of some kind or other with a view to make it appear that they are the only pebbles in the beach to a be reckoned with and that they have the whole province behind their back. But even these tub thumpers seem to be none too keen on the mission they profess so much fervour about. Already the air is thick with rumors that they have decided not to precipitate a hartal – they will be content, it is said, if a few urchins could be got hold of to “demonstrate” on the occasion.

go back simonNo doubt the Mussolini of Mylapore has excused himself from being present in the assembly on the occasion of the vote on the Public Safety Bill on the ground that his presence in the City at present is essential in the interests of the organization of a thorough boycott of the Commission. But those who are in the know about the doings of the local Congress clique are emphatic in their assertion that even the great Sriman is not without his misgivings about the prospect ahead. He is acutely aware, in the first place, of the fact that, apart from a handful of people, the rest of the citizens are at one in their desire to maintain the tradition of dignity and hospitality to the stranger when the Simonites arrive; and, secondly, he is also aware that, circumstances being what they are, it is quite likely that any excessive zeal on the part of himself and his followers for black flag processions and unruly demonstrations might possibly result in a repetition of the “Iron Bridge history” of last year. However, we shall wait and see how things will pan out in the end.

In this connection, it is worthy of note that in spite of Messrs. Satyamurti and Company, the Madras Corporation has decided on Simon Commission. This decision was arrived at by a clear majority of votes, and to a reader of the proceedings of the debate in the Council it is clear that, were it not for some unexpected happenings, the majority would have been even greater. In the first place, some of the Requisitionists for the special meeting turned tail at the last moment, possibly because of the “tremendous pressure” brought to bear upon them by the Swarajists. Secondly, some of the Europeans, taking the cue from Mr. A. A. Hayles of the “Madras Mail”, thought it was the better part of valour to stay away from the Corporation at the time of voting instead of participating in it. It is notorious that Mr. Hayles has for a long time past been posing himself as a great authority of civic affairs, and from the day the Justice Party came back into power in the Corporation, he has been feeling a certain amount of uneasiness and discomfort augmented, no doubt, by the notorious fact that, on the two occasions he interested himself actively in the election of the president, the horses he backed never reached anywhere near the winning post.

However, it is something to find that Mr. Reid one of the European members of the Corporation regards it as a “curious mentality” on the part of a European to dissuade his kith and kin from doing honour to a body of Englishmen who have come to India on a mission of great importance. For the moment, Mr. Hayles has become a favourite in Swarajist circle, because of his dubious politics but time alone can show how long the present European-cum-Swarajist game of tiger- hunting will go on in an amicable fashion.

Another equally absorbing topic of discussion at the present moment is the provincial Self-Respect Conference which is going to meet at Chingleput on the 17th and 18th instants. That the Conference is going to be a tremendous success goes without saying. Its organizers are sparing neither money nor energy so that the Conference may be made a memorable one. The present writer had an opportunity of witnessing the preparations on a very huge scale that are now going on at Chingleput for the holding of the Conference, and he is convinced that the impression of everyone who will be attending the session will necessarily be one of thankfulness and gratitude to the organizers for having given them the privilege of attending a function which is bound to be epoch-making both from the point of view of spectacular magnificence and that of public utility.

Written by Spectator

(From 'Revolt' weekly magazine, 13th February 1929)

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