The Bardoli Taluk in modern-day Gujarat was hit by floods and famines in 1925, which adversely affected crop yield. This affected the farmers financially.
Ignoring the condition of the farmers, the Bombay Presidency increased the tax rates by 22%.
In 1927, the local Congress Party published a report to show that the farmers could not carry the burden of the enhanced assessment. But the authorities did not budge.
So in January 1928, farmers in Bardoli invited Vallabhai Patel to launch the protest movement wherein all of them resolved not to pay taxes. They also assured Gandhiji of their commitment to non-violence.
Patel agreed to take on the leadership role only after getting assurances from the farmers of their resolve to the movement. He informed them of the possible consequences of their move such as confiscation of land and property and imprisonment.
A large number of women also took active part in the movement. It was these women who bestowed the title ‘Sardar’ for the first time.
Patel got in touch with the govt. and apprised it of the situation. He got the reply that the government was unwilling to make any concessions.
Patel then instructed all the farmers of Bardoli taluka to refuse payment of their taxes. Therefore, government forcibly seized their property including cattle and began to auction the houses and the lands. But not a single man from Gujarat or anywhere else in India came forward to buy them.
Members of the legislative councils of Bombay and across India were angered by the terrible treatment of the protesting farmers. Indian members resigned their offices, and expressed open support of the farmers.
Fearing things could go out of hand, the govt. set up the Maxwell-Broomfield commission to look into the matter.
Govt. agreed to restore the confiscated lands and properties, as well as cancel revenue payment not only for the year, but cancel the 30% raise until after the succeeding year.
The momentum from the Bardoli victory aided in the resurrection of the freedom struggle nationwide. It was after Bardoli that Sardar Patel became one of India’s most important leaders.
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