Gandhiji returned to India from South Africa on 9th of January 1915 the day we celebrate as Pravasi Bhartiya diwas . By 1920, Gandhiji attained the place of supreme leader in India’s freedom struggle ,so one could wonder how Gandhiji attained so much popularity among Indian people in such a short time . What were the reasons of his popularity we need to find out –
The stories of his success in struggle against south African white regime had already reached every corner of India through news papers and by Gokhle who was on a tour of India and was briefing Indians about Gandhiji and his style of struggle so Gandhiji had already became popular before he put his foot on Indian soil in January 1915 .
A situation of leadership vacuum had developed in India by 1919-1920 .Most of the prominent leaders like Gopal Krishna Gokhle and Feroz Shah Mehta were no more ,Bal Gangadhar Tilak died in August 1920 the day ,Non cooperation movement was started ,also the Indian nationalists were looking for a new form of struggle & new leadership that could be effective against British government. This quest for alternative had also played an important role in the rapid rise of Gandhiji.
The early successes of Gandhian movement in India in the form of Champaran and Kheda satyagrah, where Gandhiji fought for the rights of poor peasants and in Ahmdabad where Gandhiji fought for the mill workers,convinced the masses that only Gandhian methods could succeed against British government.
The charismatic personality of Gandhiji attracted millions towards him. He was a living saint. He practised what he preached like during Non Cooperation Movement there was a complaint at a students meeting Gandhiji addressed in Madurai that Khadi was too costly,Gandhiji retorted that the answer lay in wearing less clothes and from that day he discarded his dhoti and kurta in favour of a langot for the rest of his life he remained a “half-naked fakir”.
Gandhiji lived like a most ordinary Indain citizen.He used the language of commons.He was easily accessible to all.His movement attracted every section of Indian population towards it as anybody could participate in Gandhian struggle without difficulty. As a result of this the faith of the masses continued to increase in his leadership.
So we can say that there were many factors behind the rise of Gandhiji as supreme leader but at the same time we can not ignore his unique style of leadership and the way he changed his strategies according to the demand of situations .We can also say that it was destiny of India that we got freedom through his leadership.