Passive Resistance in Natal 1946-48
Natal Indian Congress (N.I.C.), after a prolonged struggle, in October 1945. However, their fall from power was due not only to the segregation issue but also to those religious, economic and cultural schisms inherent in South African Indian society at the time and to changes which that society had been undergoing during the previous decade. Urbanization and improvementsin education had made the politicization and organization of a significant proportion of the South African Indian lower classes, who had tended to be ignored as a political factor by the more conservative Accommodationist leadership, by the Confrontationists, who saw the political advantage to be gained from such a strategy. The widening of the membership of the existing Indian political organizations - both in Natal and the Transvaal - to include those people, thus gradually altered the elitist nature of those organizations and served to undermine the entrenched Accommodationist leaderships' claim to be representative of the majority of Natal and Transvaal Indians.
However, despite their 1945 electoral defeat, the Accommodationist leadership in Natal continued to be a politically important factor both because it remained in possession of a small but secure power base, particularly
in rural Natal, and because it retained control, together with the Transvaal Accommodationist leadership, temporarily at least, of the Federal South African Indian Congress (S.A.l.C.) executive.
Although Smuts agreed, at a November 1945 meeting with the new executive of the N .l .C ., that their demands for a common roll franchise and social equality "were indisputable on ethical grounds" ,2 he realised that a
compromise agreement with them that would enable him to repeal the "Pegging Act" and thus remove the diplomatic difficulties it was causing him and that would, at the same time, be acceptable to his increasingly
restive White electorate, would be impossible of achievement. His previous attempts to limit the issue to Natal having failed, Smuts therefore, on 21 January 1946, had finally to gamble on a legislative "compromise", the
Asiatic Land Tenure and Indian Representation Bill.