The Poona Pact is an agreement between M K Gandhi and B R Ambedkar signed in the Yerwada Central Jail, Poona on September 24th, 1932. This Pact ended the fact that Gandhi had undertaken in the jail to protest against British Prime Minister Ramsay Macdonald’s award of a separate electorate to the Depressed Classes.
The agreement was signed by Pt Madan Mohan Malviya and Dr B. R. Ambedkar and some Dalit leaders at Yerwada Central Jail in Pune, to break Mahatma Gandhi’s fast unto death.
Why did Mahatma Gandhi go on a fast unto death?
In 1932, the Britishers announced ‘The Communal Award’ which was considered as one of the tools of divide and rule in India. Mahatma Gandhi understood their move and knew that this was an attack on Indian nationalism. Therefore, Mahatma Gandhi went on a hunger strike and objected to the provision of separate electorates for the Dalits. Gandhi opposed the British since he felt that their policies would divide the Hindu society.
What were the terms of the Poona Pact?
- Seat reservation for the Scheduled Castes (SC) and Scheduled Tribes (ST) in the provincial legislature
- The STs and SCs would form an electoral college which would elect four candidates for the general electorate
- The representation of these classes was based on the standards of joint electorates and reserved seats
- About 19 percent of seats were to be reserved for these classes in the legislature
- The system of election to the panel of candidates in both, Central and Provincial Legislature should come to end in 10 years unless it ends on mutual terms
- The representation of the classes through reservation should continue as per clauses 1 and 4 until determined, else by mutual agreement between the communities
- The franchise for the Central and Provincial Legislatures of these classes should be indicated in the Lothian Committee report
- There should be a fair representation of these classes
- In every province, the SCs and STs should be provided with sufficient educational facilities.