A condition approaching famine had arisen in the Kheda district (Gujarat) owing to a widespread failure of crops, and the Patidars of Kheda were considering getting the revenue assessment for the suspended year.
Under the Land Revenue Rules, if the crop was four annas or under, the cultivators could claim full suspension of the revenue assessment for the year. According to the official figures the crop was said to be over four annas. The contention of the cultivators, on the other hand, was that it was less than four annas. But the Government was in on mood to listen.
Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel and his colleagues such as Narhari Parikh, Mohanlal Pandya and Ravi Shankar Vyas organized a major tax revolt , and all the different ethnic and caste communities of (Kheda) rallied around it. The peasants of Kheda signed a petition calling for the tax for that year to be scrapped in wake of the famine.
The government in Bombay rejected the charter. They warned that if the peasants did not pay, the lands and property would be confiscated.
The tax was withheld, government’s, collectors and inspectors sent in thugs to seize property and cattle, while the police confiscated the lands and all agrarian property. The farmers did not resist arrest, nor retaliate to the force that employed with violence.
The revolt was astounding in terms of discipline and unity. Even when all their personal property, land and livelihood were seized, a vast majority of Kheda’s farmers remained firmly united in the support of Patel.
The Government finally sought to foster an honourable agreement for both parties. The tax for the year in question, and the next would be suspended, and the increase in rate was reduced, while all confiscated property would be returned.
According to Gandhi, “Besant’s Home Rule agitation had certainly touched the peasants, but it was the Kheda campaign that compelled the educated public workers to establish contact with the actual life of the peasants. It marks the beginning of an awakening among the peasants of Gujarat, the beginning of their true political education”.
The greatest success of the movement was that it was non-violent, farmers got apprised about their rights, and the community stood firm on the plea for cancellation of taxes.