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HVK Archives: Freedom struggle and Indian Communists

Freedom struggle and Indian Communists - The Hindustan Times

Rakesh Sinha ()
October 12, 1998

Title: Freedom struggle and Indian Communists
Author: Rakesh Sinha
Publication: The Hindustan Times
Date: October 12, 1998

The party congresses of both the Communist parties, coincided with the
closing of the golden jubilee year of India's independence. This was an
occasion for them to pay tribute to the martyrs of the Quit India
movement and the best way to do this would have been to abandon their
oft-repeated justification of the pro-British "people's war" line. But
they did not do so. However, the CPI(ML) initiated "some serious
soul-searching and dared to take a stout-hearted fine by dissociating
themselves from the "blunder of desertion of the CPI from the freedom
movement... particularly during the Quit India movement of 1942."

The realisation of the CPI(ML) is an augmentation of the partial
self-criticism of the CPI's role in the 1942 movement made in the second
party congress in February, 1948, when it noted that "the total
underestimation of the role of imperialism in the period of people's war
made us lose sight of the task of exposing imperialism and fighting it
within the framework of support for anti-fascist war." The Liberation,
an organ of the CPI(ML) in its September 1997 issue, denounced leaders,
like Namboodiripad for camouflaging the mistakes committed by the
communists. It stated that "rather than carrying this self-criticism
further and deeper in subsequent years some veterans of the movement
have chosen to do the opposite." It said that the CPI ,leadership always
looked up to the Comintern for deciding the course of action in India"
and "this overdependence or uncritical acceptance of international
'suggestions' proved fatal in 1942."

Even in the post-Quit India period, the CPI(ML) feels "the party
headquarters, advantageously suited in Bombay, never tried to lead the
RIN (Royal Indian Navy) mutiny although the ratings were quite eager for
that. Nor did it have any plans to spread and heighten the
demonstration against INA trials taking place in different parts of the
country". It also categorically disowned the slanderous campaign by the
CPI against the national leaders, Subhas Chandra Bose, Jayprakash
Narayan and others.

The questions raised by the CPI(ML) on the ideological necessity of the
then party leadership to support the British war effort during the Quit
India movement in 1942 were, however, deliberately parried by the CPI
and the CPI-M and no attention was paid to this new approach of their
former colleagues, who were an integral part of the mainstream communist
movement in India till the split in the CPI-M in 1967. One of the
publications by the CPI, authored by the party general secretary A. B.
Bardhan, as a part of the 'Independence Golden Jubilee Series', claims
"to look back into the long history of our freedom struggle to asess the
contribution, made by various forces." However, none out of the dozens
of documents brought out by them made any departure from their orthodox
position or could draw strength to confront the CPI(ML) on the question
of the role played by their ideologically common predecessors during the
anti-colonial movement in India.

Besides, the Marxist historians, who more often than not call for a
'scientific approach to history', failed to inspire their fellow
comrades to follow Maharshi Valmiki's path of self-introspection. When
the BJP Government reconstituted the Indian Council of Historical
Research (ICHR), they deplored its 'saffronisation'. But the latest
publication by the ICHR, 'Towards Freedom', contains contributions by
the Left historians, who have distorted and manipulated the historical
facts regarding the role of the Indian Communists in the struggle for
India's independence. During the colonial period, the Indian communists
were the only organised group which consciously sabotaged the freedom
struggle, and also unblushingly legitimised their mischief, masquerading
as anti-fascists. Except three events, the Peshawar (1921). Kanpur
(1924) and Meerut (1929-30) conspiracy cases, the Indian Communists have
nothing to say or claim regarding their contribution to the freedom

The RSS, which is blamed by them foe its silence in the anti-colonial
struggle, welcomed the resolution of 'Complete Independence' passed by
the Lahore Congress (1929), and issued a circular to all its branches
stating, "knowing that the INC too has accepted our goal of Independence
naturally gives us immense joy and it is our bounden duty to cooperate
with any organisation working for this objectives". And they
unconditionally participated in the, civil disobedience movement
notwithstanding their ideological differences with the Congress.

The Congress was outlawed during 1930-34 and even the RSS, which then
did not have a significant following, faced severe repression. The
Government servants, teachers and employees of the local bodies and
their wards were strictly prohibited from participating in the
activities of the RSS. However, the CPI continued to be a legal body
during that period. The National Front, the official organ of the CPI,
in its very first issue conceded that "the Communists generally kept out
of the anti-imperialist struggle of 1930-32. We did not take part in the
battle and lead the people."

Finding increasingly difficult to intellectually defend their position
vis-a-vis national mainstream struggle against imperialism, the CPI and
the CPI-M are now trying to plagiarise the vision and actions of the
Congress Socialist Party (CSP). As the 'People's Democracy' (Aug. 16,
1998), the mouthpiece of the CPI-M, wrote, "in fact, the CSP and the
Communist Party together represented the mainstream of the left in the
national struggle." However, the historical facts do not corroborate the
CPI-M's theory. The left elements in the Congress including Jawaharlal
Nehru, Subhas Bose and others were described by the Communists as, "the
most harmful and dangerous obstacle to victory of the Indian revolution"
(Platform For Action of the CPI, 1930).

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