Thus, the stage was set for the second major struggle led by the Congress. On 12th March 1930, Gandhi began his famous March to Dandi with his chosen 79 followers to break the salt laws. He reached the coast of Dandi on 5 April 1930 after marching a distance of 200 miles and on 6 April formally launched the Civil Disobedience Movement by breaking the salt laws.
On 9 April, Mahatma Gandhi laid out the programme of the movement which included making of salt in every village in violation of the existing salt laws; picketing by women before the shops selling liquor, opium and foreign clothes; organising the bonfires of foreign clothes; spinning clothes by using charkha fighting untouchability; boycotting of schools and colleges by students and resigning from government jobs by the people. Over and above all these, the programme also called upon the people not to pay taxes to the government.
Soon, the movement spread to all parts of the country. Students, workers, farmers and women, all participated in this movement with great enthusiasm. As a reaction, the British Government arrested important leaders of the Congress and imprisoned them.
Round Table Conference
The British government adopted the strategy of talking to different political parties by convening the Round Table Conferences. The first Round Table Conference was held in November 1930 at London and it was boycotted by the Congress. In January 1931 in order to create a conducive atmosphere for talks, the government lifted the ban on the Congress Party and released its leaders from prison.
On 8 March 1931 the Gandhi-Irwin Pact was signed. As per this pact, Mahatma Gandhi agreed to suspend the Civil-Disobedience Movement and participate in the Second- Round Table Conference. In September 1931, the Second Round Table Conference was held at London. Mahatma Gandhi participated in the Conference but returned to India disappointed as no agreement could be reached on the demand of complete independence and on the communal question.
In January 1932, the Civil-Disobedience Movement was resumed. The government responded to it by arresting Mahatma Gandhi and Sardar Patel and by reimposing the ban on the Congress party.