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HVK Archives: The Communist role in the Quit India Movement

The Communist role in the Quit India Movement - The Organiser

M V Kamath ()
8 December 1996

Title : The Communist Role in Quit India Movement
Author : M V Kamath
Publication : The Organiser
Date : December 8, 1996

August 7, 8 and 9 should be three dates indelibly etched
in the minds of all truly patriotic citizens. For, during
those three days the Indian National Congress made final
preparations for what turned out to be the last fight
against the British. 44 ears ago. August 9, 1942, was
the start of the Quit India Movement which shook the
nation as nothing else did. Only one party sought to
sabotage the Movement-and that was the Communist Party of
India (CPI) whose representative-irony of ironies-is now
the Home Minister of India! Shri P.V. Narasimha Rao may
support the United Front Government. That is his privi-
lege. Shri Vishwanath Pratap Singh may sing hosannas to
the work of his proteges. But it is necessary at this
stage to point out the nature and character of the Com-
munist Party of India-one of the constituent parties of
the United Front-and its role as a betrayer of the free-
dom movement in 1942. As K.K. Chaudhari notes in his
brilliantly researched book (Quit India Revolution: The
Ethos of Its Central Direction, Popular Prakashan.
Mumbai. pp. 440. Rs 500): "There are indeed startling
facts and truths borne out by vast documents to prove the
charge that the Communists had betrayed the cause of
Indian Independence in 1942-1944."

The story of Communist betrayal of the freedom movement
is sickening. The CPI newspaper kept denouncing Gandhiji
and Subhas Chandra Bose as "blind Messiahs" and accused
them of decadence. In February 1941 the Communist wrote
that "the national movement under bourgeois leadership
has entered into a blind alley". The Communists heaped
abuse on Gandhiji, the Congress. Jayaprakash Narayan and
Subhas Babu, and denigrated the clarion call of "Do or
Die" as an indication of bankruptcy of thought. Not long
after Hitler attacked the Soviet Union. the Communist
leader, P.C. Joshi went on his bended knees to Sir Regi-
nald Maxwell, the Home Secretary, pledging his help to
sabotage the Quit India Movement. Chaudhari says that "on
many occasions the Communists were indeed more royalist
than even the King of England". In submissions to Sir
Reginald Joshi showed what a splendid job he and his
party were doing to break up the Quit India Movement.
Chaudhari writes that the 120-page report "could not have
been improved by any other collaborator of the British or
by any quisling". Joshi was so anxious to prove the
CPI's utility to the British rule that he claimed that he
was doing a better job of stemming the Quit India Move-
ment, of denouncing Subhas Babu and leaders of the Con-
gress underground. than the government itself! Notes
Chaudhari: "The tone and contents of Joshi's performance
report reveal crystal clear what the CPI had done to
sabotage the 1942 movement."

In order to win over British support, the CPI indulged in
the most disgusting acts of self-abasement. A party
convention, held in Mumbai from May 23 to June 1, 1943
came out abusing the Congress to its heart's content.
Subhas Babu was called a Fifth Columnist. Assistance was
offered to the bureaucracy in intelligence work against
underground Congressmen. In the process several of these
underground workers were betrayed by the CPI to the
police, who subjected them to exquisite torture.

Worse still, the CPI felt impelled to support the Muslim
League in its demand for the vivisection of India.
Writes Chaudhari : "By incessant and vociferous repeti-
tion Communists proclaimed the thesis that (1) India was
not one nation but a collection of several separate
nationalities. (2) the demand for Pakistan is a just and
democratic one because Hindus would oppress them in
future; (3) the Muslim League itself has become progres-
sive and secular and Jinnah himself was secular and anti-
religious and (4) the Congress must concede to the Mus-
lims the right to self-determination."

It is this CPI which is now part of the United Front
which the Congress is pledged to support. What this
speaks of the other parties which constitute the 'Front'
and, even more importantly, what it says of the Congress
is best left to the imagination. What is interesting is
that though the Muslim League was strongly opposed to the
Congress. Muslim Leaguers in Mumbai did not betray the
Congress in the sense the Communists did. Chaudhari
writes: "A scrutiny of documentary evidence in the form
of Bombay Congress Bulletins and newspapers makes it
amply clear that no Muslim in Bombay was found to help
the CID in the matter of investigation of sabotage activ-
ity or arrest of Congressmen, as was done by the Commun-
ists. The conduct of Muslims was not identified by na-
tionalist eyes as pro-British. though it might not be
pro-Congress. Congregations of Bombay Muslims were pray-
ing for Gandhiji's life during his epic fast."

Chaudhari asserts that a good many Muslims not merely
supported but suffered imprisonment during the Quit India
Movement. The Jamiat-ul-Ulema-i-Hind positively support-
ed the Congress campaign as also being conducted for the
independence of Muslims. The only traitors were the
Communists. They became determined lackeys of the Brit-
ish who then ruled over India.

The then Hindu Mahasabha was opposed to the Congress, but
it did not betray the Congress as the Communists did. at
any stage. According to Chaudhari: "Several Sabha mem-
bers did participate in the (Quit India) Movement in an
individual capacity. while others helped underground
workers in many ways." The differences between the Hindu
Mahasabha and the Congress, according to him "were indeed
more marked at the leadership level than amongst the rank
and file". If the Mahasabha encouraged young men to join
the armed forces. the reason was very clear. As Veer
Savarkar said in a letter to the Bombay Chronicle: "The
first duty we owe to our Motherland and community is to
utilise the war time for training our people into up-to-
date military efficiency." The only saboteurs-and it is
necessary to emphasize it again and again-were the Com-
munists. Throughout the forties, they were anti-national
to the core.

Dr K.K. Chaudhari who has written this scholarly study of
the Quit India Movement is Executive Editor and Secre-
tary. Gazetters Department of the Government of Maharash-
tra and writes with authority. Every comment is but-
tressed with appropriate sourcing. And he won't be
easily faulted. Those who opposed the Congress are named
as those who supported it. Quit India Revolution is the
first book to tell the full story with proper documenta-
tion. Comrade Indrajit Gupta should read it, as also the

various supporters of the United Front government, in-
cluding Congressmen. And, incidentally, the scholar
would also benefit from reading Quit India: The American
Response to the 1942 Struggle by M.S. Venkataramani and
B.K. Shrivatsava. The Indian Communist showed their true
anti-national character in 1942. Their support now to
sub-communalism and casteism is par for the course. The
tragedy lies in their success in fooling others.

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