Communalism —The Liberal Phase At the end of 1907, the Al l India Musl im League was founded by a group of big zamindars, ex-bureaucrat s and other upper class Musl ims l ike the Aga Khan, the Nawab of Dacca and Nawab Mohsin-ul -Mulk, Founded as a loyal i st , communal and conservat ive pol i t ical organizat ion, the League supported the part i t ion of Bengal , rai sed the slogan of separate Musl im interest s, demanded separate electorates and safeguards for Musl ims in government services, and rei terated al l the major themes of communal pol i t ics and ideology enunciated earl ier by Syed Ahmed and hi s fol lowers. Viqar-ul -Mulk, for example, said: ‘God forbid, i f the Bri t i sh rule di sappears from India, Hindus wi l l
lord over i t ; and we wi l l be in constant danger of our l i fe, property and honour. The only way for the Musl ims to escape thi s danger i s to help in the cont inuance of the Bri t i sh rule.’ He al so expressed the fear ‘of the minori ty losing i t s ident i ty.’ One of the major object ives of the Musl im League was to keep the emerging intel l igent sia among Musl ims from joining the Congress. It s act ivi t ies were di rected against the Nat ional Congress and Hindus and not against the colonial regime. The Punjab Hindu Sabha was founded in 1909. It s leaders, U.N. Mukerj i and Lal Chand, were to lay down the foundat ions of Hindu communal ideology and pol i t ics. They di rected thei r anger primari ly against the Nat ional Congress for t rying to uni te Indians into a single nat ion and for ‘sacri ficing Hindu interest s’ to appease Musl ims. The fi rst session of the Al l -India Hindu Mahasabha was held in Apri l 1915 under the president ship of the Maharaja of Kasim Bazar. The younger Musl im intel lectual s were soon di ssat i sfied wi th the loyal i st , ant i -Hindu and slavi sh mental i ty of the upper class leadership of the Musl im League. They were increasingly drawn to modern and radical nat ional i st ideas. The mi l i tant ly nat ional i st Ahrar movement was founded at thi s t ime under the leadership of Maulana Mohammed Al i , Hakim Ajmal Khan, Hasan Imam, Maulana Zafar Al i Khan, and Mazhar-ul -Haq. In thei r effort s, they got support from a sect ion of orthodox ulama (scholars), especial ly those belonging to the Deoband school . Another orthodox scholar to be at t racted to the nat ional movement was the young Maulana Abul Kalam Azad, who was educated at the famous Al Azhar Universi ty at Cai ro and who propagated hi s rat ional i st and nat ional i st ideas in hi s newspaper Al Hi lal which he brought out in 1912 at the age of twenty-four. After an intense st ruggle, the nat ional i st young Musl ims came to the fore in the Musl im League. They al so became act ive in the Congress. In 1912, the bri l l iant Congress leader, M.A. Jinnah, was invi ted to join the League which adopted sel f-government as one of i t s object ives. In the same year, the Aga Khan resigned as the President of the League. From 1912 to 1924, the young nat ional i st s began to overshadow the loyal i st s in the League which began to move nearer to the pol icies of the Congress. Unfortunately, thei r nat ional i sm was flawed in so far as i t was not ful ly secular (except wi th rare except ions l ike Jinnah). It had a st rong rel igious and pan-Islamic t inge. Instead of understanding and opposing the economic and pol i t ical consequences of modern imperial i sm, they fought i t on the ground that i t threatened the Cal iph (khal i fa) and the holy places. Qui te often thei r appeal was to rel igious sent iment s. The posi t ive development wi thin the Congress — di scussed in an earl ier chapter — and wi thin the Musl im League soon led to broad pol i t ical uni ty among the two, an important role in thi s being played by Lokamanya Ti lak and M.A. Jinnah. The two organizat ions held thei r sessions at the end of 1916 at Lucknow, signed a pact known as the Lucknow Pact , and put forward common pol i t ical demands before the Government including the demand for sel fgovernment for India after the war. The Pact accepted separate electorates and the system of
weightage and reservat ion of seat s for the minori t ies in the legi slatures. Whi le a step forward in many respect s — and i t enthused the pol i t ical Indian — the Pact was al so a step back. The Congress had accepted separate electorates and formal ly recognized communal pol i t ics. Above al l , the Pact was taci t ly based on the assumpt ion that India consi sted of di fferent communi t ies wi th separate interest s of thei r own. It , therefore, left the way open to the future resurgence of communal i sm in Indian pol i t ics. The Swaraj i st s were spl i t by communal i sm. A group known as ‘responsivi st s’ offered cooperat ion to the Government so that the so-cal led Hindu interest s might be safeguarded. Lajpat Rai , Madan Mohan Malaviya and N.C. Kelkar joined the Hindu Mahasabha and argued for Hindu communal sol idari ty. The less responsible ‘responsivi st s’ and Hindu Mahasabhai tes carried on a vi rulent campaign against secular Congressmen. They accused Mot i lal Nehru of let t ing down Hindus, of being ant i -Hindu and an Islam-lover, of favouring cow-slaughter, and of eat ing beef. Many old Khi lafat i st s al so now turned communal . The most dramat ic shi ft was that of Maulanas Mohammed Al i and Shaukat Al i who now accused the Congress of t rying to establ i sh a Hindu Government and Hindus of want ing to dominate and suppress Musl ims. The most vicious expression of communal i sm were communal riot s which broke out in major North Indian ci t ies during 1923-24. The most wel l -known of such effort s was made during 1928. As an answer to the chal lenge of the Simon Commi ssion, Indian pol i t ical leaders organized several al l -India conferences to set t le communal i ssues and draw up an agreed const i tut ion for India. A large number of Musl im communal leaders met at Delhi in December 1927 and evolved four basic demands known as the Delhi Proposal s. These proposal s were: (1) Sind should be made a separate province; (2) the North-West Front ier Province should be t reated const i tut ional ly on the same foot ing as other provinces; (3) Musl ims should have 33 1/3 per cent representat ion in the cent ral legi slature; (4) in Punjab and Bengal , the proport ion of representat ion should be in accordance wi th the populat ion, thus guaranteeing a Musl im majori ty, and in other provinces, where Musl ims were a minori ty, the exi st ing reservat ion of seat s for Musl ims should cont inue. The Congress proposal s came in the form of the Nehru Report drafted by an al l -part ies commi t tee. The Report was put up for approval before an Al l -Party Convent ion at Calcut ta at the end of December
1928. Apart from other aspect s, the Nehru Report recommended that India should be a federat ion on the basi s of l ingui st ic provinces and provincial autonomy, that elect ions be held on the basi s of joint electorates and that seat s in cent ral and provincial legi slatures be reserved for rel igious minori t ies in proport ion to thei r populat ion. The Report recommended the separat ion of Sind from Bombay and const i tut ional reform in the NorthWest Front ier Province. The Report could not be approved unanimously at the Calcut ta Convent ion. Whi le there were wide di fferences among Musl ims communal i st s, a sect ion of the League and the Khi lafat i st s were wi l l ing to accept joint electorates and other proposal s in the Report provided three amendment s, moved by M.A. Jinnah, were accepted. Two of these were the same as the thi rd and fourth demands in the Delhi Proposal s, the fi rst and the second of these demands having been conceded by the Nehru Report . The thi rd was a fresh demand that residuary powers should vest in the provinces. A large sect ion of the League led by Mohammed Shafi and the Aga Khan and many other Musl im communal groups refused to agree to these amendment s; they were not wi l l ing to give up separate electorates. The Hindu Mahasabha and the Sikh League rai sed vehement object ions to the part s of the Report deal ing wi th Sind, North-West Front ier Province, Bengal and Punjab. They al so refused to accept the Jinnah amendment s. The Congress leaders were not wi l l ing to accept the weak cent re that the Jinnah proposal s envi sioned. Jinnah’s Fourteen Point s. The Fourteen Point s basical ly consi sted of the four Delhi Proposal s, the three Calcut ta amendement s and demands for the cont inuat ion of separate electorates and reservat ion of seat s for Musl ims in government services and sel f-governing bodies. The Fourteen Point s were to form the basi s of al l future communal propaganda in the subsequent years. The communal leaders got a chance to come into the l imel ight during the Round Table Conferences of the early 1930s. At these conferences, the communal i st s joined hands wi th the most react ionary sect ions of the Bri t i sh rul ing classes. Both the Musl im and Hindu communal i st s made effort s to win
the support of Bri t i sh authori t ies to defend thei r so-cal led communal interest s. In 1932, at a meet ing in the House of Commons, the Aga Khan, the poet Mohammed Iqbal and the hi storian Shafaat Ahmad Khan st ressed ‘the inherent impossibi l i ty of securing any merger of Hindu and Musl im, pol i t ical , or indeed social interest s’ and ‘the impract icabi l i ty of ever governing India through anything but a Bri t i sh agency.’ Moreover, in 1932, in an effort to bol ster the sagging Musl im communal i sm, the Bri t i sh Government announced the Communal Award which accepted vi rtual ly al l the Musl im communal demands embodied in the Delhi Proposal s of 1927 and Jinnah’s Fourteen Point s of 1929.
3 3 Jinnah, Golwalkar and Extreme Communalism Liberal communal i sm was t ransformed into ext remi st communal i sm for several reasons. As a consequence of the growth of nat ional i sm and in part icular, of the Civi l Di sobedience Movement of 1930-34, the Congress emerged as the dominant pol i t ical force in the elect ions of 1937. Various pol i t ical part ies of landlords and other vested interest s suffered a drast ic decl ine. Moreover, as we have seen, the youth as al so the workers and peasant s were increasingly turning to the Left , and the nat ional movement as a whole was get t ing increasingly radical ized in i t s economic and pol i t ical programme and pol icies. The zamindars and landlords — the jagi rdari element s — finding that open defence of landlords’ interest s was no longer feasible, now, by and large, swi tched over to communal i sm for thei r class defence. Thi s was not only t rue in U.P. and Bihar but al so in Punjab and Bengal . In Punjab, for example, the big landlords of West Punjab and the Musl im bureaucrat ic el i te had supported the semi -communal , semi -castei st and loyal i st Unioni st Party. But they increasingly fel t that the Unioni st Party, being a provincial party, could no longer protect them from Congress radical i sm, and so, during the years 1937-45, they gradual ly shi fted thei r support to the Musl im League which eagerly promi sed to protect thei r interest s. Very simi lar was the case of Musl im zamindars and jotedars in Bengal . He said that our principle of separate electorates was dividing the nat ion against i t sel f.’ From 1906 onwards, Jinnah propagated the theme of nat ional uni ty in the meet ings that he addressed, earning from Saroj ini Naidu the t i t le ‘Ambassador of Hindu-Musl im Uni ty.’
But he al so started assuming the role of a spokesperson of the Musl im ‘communi ty’ as a whole. These dual roles reached the height of thei r effect iveness in the Lucknow CongressLeague Pact of which he and Ti lak were the joint authors. Act ing as the spokesperson of Musl im communal i sm, he got the Congress to acceptseparate electorates and the system of communal reservat ions. But he st i l l remained ful ly commi t ted to nat ional i sm and secular pol i t ics. He resigned from the Legi slat ive Counci l as a protest against the passing of the Rowlat t Bi l l .
3 4 The Crisis at Tripuri to the Cripps Mission
Subhas Bose had been a unanimous choice as the President of the Congress in 1938. In 1939, he decided to stand again — thi s t ime as the spokesperson of mi l i tant pol i t ics and radical groups. Put t ing forward hi s candidature on 21 January 1939, On 24 January, Sardar Patel , Rajendra Prasad, J.B. Kripalani and four other members of the Congress Working Commi t tee i ssued a counter statement , declaring that the talk of ideologies, programmes and pol icies was i rrelevant in the elect ions of a Congress president since these were evolved by the various Congress bodies such as the AICC and the Working Commi t tee, and that the posi t ion of the Congress President was l ike that of a const i tut ional head who represented and symbol ized the uni ty and sol idari ty of the nat ion. Wi th the blessings of Gandhi j i , these and other leaders put up Pat tabhi Si taramayya as a candidate for the post . Subhas Bose was elected on 29 January by 1580 votes against 1377. Gandhi j i declared that Si taramayya’s defeat was ‘more mine than hi s.’ But the elect ion of Bose resolved nothing, i t only brought the brewing cri si s to a head at the Tripuri session of the Congress. There were two major reasons for the cri si s. One was the l ine of propaganda adopted by Bose against Sardar Patel and the majori ty of the top Congress leadership whom he branded as right i st s. He openly accused them of working for a compromi se wi th the Government on the quest ion of federat ion, of having even drawn up a l i st of prospect ive cent ral mini sters and therefore of not want ing a left i st as the president of the Congress ‘who may be a thorn in the way of a compromi se and may put obstacles in the path of negot iat ions.’ He had, therefore, appealed to Congressmen to vote for a left i st and ‘a genuine ant i -federat ioni st .’ Subhas Bose bel ieved that the Congress was st rong enough to launch an immediate st ruggle and that
the masses were ready for such st ruggle. He was convinced, as he wrote later, ‘that the count ry was internal ly more ripe for a revolut ion than ever before and that the coming internat ional cri si s would give India an opportuni ty for achieving her emancipat ion, which i s rare in human hi story.’ He,therefore, argued in hi s president ial address at Tripuri for a programme of immediately giving the Bri t i sh Government a six-months ul t imatum to grant the nat ional demand for independence and of launching a mass civi l di sobedience movement i f i t fai led to do so. The internal st ri fe reached i t s cl imax at the Tripuri session of the Congress, held from 8 to 12 March 1939. Bose had completely mi sjudged hi s support and the meaning of hi s majori ty in the president ial elect ion. Congressmen had voted for him for diverse reasons, and above al l because he stood for mi l i tant pol i t ics, and not because they wanted to have him as the supreme leader of the nat ional movement . They were not wi l l ing to reject Gandhi j i ’s leadership or that of other older leaders who decided to bring thi s home to Subhas. Govind Bal labh Pant moved a resolut ion at Tripuri expressing ful l confidence in the old Working Commi t tee, rei terat ing ful l fai th in Gandhi j i ’s leadership of the movement and the Congress pol icies of the previous twenty years, and asking Subhas to nominate hi s Working Commi t tee ‘in accordance wi th the wi shes of Gandhi j i .’ The resolut ion was passed by a big majori ty, but Gandhi j i did not approve of the resolut ion and refused to impose a Working Commi t tee on Subhas. He asked him to nominate a Commi t tee of hi s own choice. Subhas Bose refused to take up the chal lenge. He had placed himsel f in an impossible si tuat ion. But Bose would not resi le from hi s posi t ion. On the one hand, he insi sted that the Working Commi t tee should be representat ive of the new radical t rends and groups which had elected him, on the other, he would not nominate hi s own Working Commi t tee. He preferred to press hi s resignat ion. Thi s led to the elect ion of Rajendra Prasad in hi s place. The Congress had weathered another storm. Bose could al so not get the support of the Congress Social i st s and the Communi st s at Tripuri or after for they were not wi l l ing to divide the nat ional movement and fel t that i t s uni ty must be
preserved at al l cost s. Subsequent ly, in May, Subhas Bose and hi s fol lowers formed the Forward Bloc as a new party wi thin the Congress. And when he gave a cal l for an al l -India protest on 9 July against an AICC resolut ion, the Working Commi t tee took di scipl inary act ion against him, removing him from the president ship of the Bengal Provincial Congress Commi t tee and debarring him from holding any Congress office for three years. The react ion of the Indian people and the nat ional leadership was sharp. The angriest react ion came from Gandhi j i who had been advocat ing more or less uncondi t ional support to Bri tain. Point ing out that the Bri t i sh Government was cont inuing to pursue ‘the old pol icy of divide and rule,’ he said: ‘The Indian declarat ion (of the Viceroy) shows clearly that there i s to be no democracy for India i f Bri tain can prevent i t . . . The Congress asked for bread and i t has got a stone.’ Referring to the quest ion of minori t ies and special interest s such as those of the princes, foreign capi tal i st s, zamindars, etc., Gandhi j i remarked: ‘The Congress wi l l safeguard the right s of every minori ty so long as they do not advance claims inconsi stent wi th India’s independence.’ But , he added, ‘independent India wi l l not tolerate any interest s in confl ict wi th the t rue interest s of the masses.’ The Working Commi t tee, meet ing on 23 October, rejected the Viceregal statement as a rei terat ion of the old imperial i st pol icy, decided not to support the War, and cal led upon the Congress mini st ries to resign as a protest . Thi s they did as di scipl ined soldiers of the nat ional movement . But the Congress leadership st i l l stayed i t s hand and was reluctant to give a cal l for an immediate and a massive ant i imperial i st st ruggle. In fact , the Working Commi t tee resolut ion of 23 October warned Congressmen against any hasty act ion. Near the end of 1940, the Congress once again asked Gandhi j i to take command. Gandhi j i now began to take steps which would lead to a mass st ruggle wi thin hi s broad st rategic perspect ive. He decided to ini t iate a l imi ted satyagraha on an individual basi s by a few selected individual s in every local i ty. The demand of a satyagrahi would be for the freedom of speech
to preach against part icipat ion in the War. The satyagrahi would publ icly declare: ‘It i s wrong to help the Bri t i sh war-effort wi th men or money. The only worthy effort i s to resi st al l war wi th non-violent resi stance.’ The satyagrahi would beforehand inform the di st rict magi st rate of the t ime and place where he or she was going to make the ant i -war speech. The careful ly chosen satyagrahi s — Vinoba Bhave was to be the fi rst satyagrahi on 17 October 1940 and Jawaharlal Nehru the second — were surrounded by huge crowds when they appeared on the plat form, and the authori t ies could often arrest them only after they had made thei r speeches. And i f the Government did not arrest a satyagrahi , he or she would not only repeat the performance but move into the vi l lages and start a t rek towards Delhi , thus part icipat ing in a movement that came to be known as the ‘Delhi Chalo’ (onwards to Delhi ) movement . Thus, the Individual Satyagraha had a dual purpose — whi le giving expression to the Indian people’s st rong pol i t ical feel ing, i t gave the Bri t i sh Government further opportuni ty to peaceful ly accept the Indian demands. Gandhi j i and the Congress were, because of thei r ant i -Nazi feel ings, st i l l reluctant to take advantage of the Bri t i sh predicament and embarrass her war effort by a mass upheaval in India. More important ly, Gandhi j i was beginning to prepare the people for the coming st ruggle. As the war si tuat ion worsened, President Roosevel t of the USA and President Chiang Kai Shek of China as al so the Labour Party leaders of Bri tain put pressure on Churchi l l to seek the act ive cooperat ion of Indians in the War. To secure thi s cooperat ion the Bri t i sh Government sent to India in March 1942 a mi ssion headed by a Cabinet mini ster Stafford Cripps, a left -wing Labouri te who had earl ier act ively supported the Indian nat ional movement . Even though Cripps announced that the aim of Bri t i sh pol icy in India was ‘the earl iest possible real izat ion of sel f-government in India,’ the Draft Declarat ion he brought wi th him was di sappoint ing. The Declarat ion promi sed India Dominion Status and a const i tut ion-making body after the War whose members would be elected by the provincial assembl ies and nominated by the rulers in case of the princely states. The Paki stan demand was accommodated by the provi sion that any province which was not prepared to accept the new
const i tut ion would have the right to sign a separate agreement wi th Bri tain regarding i t s future status. For the present the Bri t i sh would cont inue to exerci se sole cont rol over the defence of the count ry. Negot iat ions between Cripps and the Congress leaders broke down. The Congress objected to the provi sion for Dominion Status rather than ful l independence, the representat ion of the princely states in the const i tuent assembly not by the people of the states but by the nominees of the rulers, and above al l by the provi sion for the part i t ion of India. The Bri t i sh Government al so refused to accept the demand for the immediate t ransfer of effect ive power to the Indians and for a real share in the responsibi l i ty for the defence of India.
3 5 The Quit India Movement and the INA ‘Qui t India,’ ‘Bharat Choro’. Thi s simple but powerful slogan launched the legendary st ruggle which al so became famous by the name of the ‘August Revolut ion.’ In thi s st ruggle, the common people of the count ry demonst rated an unparal leled heroi sm and mi l i tancy. Moreover, the repression that they faced was the most brutal that had ever been used against the nat ional movement . For one, the fai lure of the Cripps Mi ssion in Apri l 1942 made i t clear that Bri tain was unwi l l ing to offer an honourable set t lement and a real const i tut ional advance during the War, and that she was determined to cont inue India’s unwi l l ing partnership in the War effort . A fortnight after Cripps’ departure, Gandhi j i drafted a resolut ion for the Congress Working Commi t tee cal l ing for Bri tain’s wi thdrawal and the adopt ion of non-violent non-cooperat ion against any Japanese invasion. Apart from Bri t i sh obduracy, there were other factors that made a st ruggle both inevi table and necessary. Popular di scontent , a product of ri sing prices and war-t ime shortages, was gradual ly mount ing. High-handed government act ions such as the commandeering of boat s in Bengal and Ori ssa to prevent thei r being used by the Japanese had led to considerable anger among the people. The popular wi l l ingness to give expression to thi s di scontent was enhanced by the growing feel ing of an imminent Bri t i sh col lapse. The news of Al l ied reverses and Bri t i sh wi thdrawal s from South-East
Asia and Burma and the t rains bringing wounded soldiers from the Assam-Burma border confi rmed thi s feel ing. Combined wi th thi s was the impact of the manner of the Bri t i sh evacuat ion from Malaya and Burma. It was common knowledge that the Bri t i sh had evacuated the whi te resident s and general ly left the subject people to thei r fate. Let ters from Indians in South-East Asia to thei r relat ives in India were ful l of graphic account s of Bri t i sh bet rayal and thei r being left at the mercy of the dreaded Japanese. Was i t not only to be expected that they would repeat the performance in India, in the event of a Japanese occupat ion? In fact , one major reason for the leadership of the nat ional movement thinking i t necessary to launch a st ruggle was thei r feel ing that the people were becoming demoral ized and, that in the event of a Japanese occupat ion, might not resi st at al l . In order to bui ld up thei r capaci ty to resi st Japanese aggression, i t was necessary to draw them out of thi s demoral ized state of mind and convince them of thei r own power. Gandhi j i , as always, was part icularly clear on thi s aspect . Though Gandhi j i himsel f had begun to talk of the coming st ruggle for some t ime now, i t was at the Working Commi t tee meet ing at Wardha on 14 July, 1942 that the Congress fi rst accepted the idea of a st ruggle. The Al l -India Congress Commi t tee was then to meet in Bombay in August to rat i fy thi s deci sion. The hi storic August meet ing at Gowal ia Tank in Bombay was unprecedented in the popular enthusiasm i t generated. Gandhi j i ’s speech al so contained speci fic inst ruct ions for di fferent sect ions of the people. Government servant s would not yet be asked to resign, but they should openly declare thei r al legiance to the Congress, soldiers were al so not to leave thei r post s, but they were to ‘refuse to fi re on our own people.’ The Princes were asked to ‘accept the sovereignty of your own people,’ instead of paying homage to a foreign power.’And the people of the Princely States were asked to declare that they ‘(were) part of the Indian nat ion and that they (would) accept the leadership of the Princes, i f the lat ter cast thei r lot wi th the People, but not otherwi se.’ Student s were to give up studies i f they were sure they could cont inue to remain fi rm t i l l independence was achieved. On 7 August , Gandhi j i had placed the inst ruct ions he had drafted before the Working Commi t tee, and in these he had proposed that peasant s ‘who have the courage, and are prepared to ri sk thei r al l ’ should refuse to pay the land
revenue. Tenant s were told that ‘the Congress holds that the land belongs to those who work on i t and to no one el se.’ Where the zamindari system prevai l s . . . i f the zamindar makes common cause wi th the ryot , hi s port ion of the revenue, which may be set t led by mutual agreement , should be given to him. But i f a zamindar want s to side wi th the Government , no tax should be paid to him. The Government had been preparing for the st rike since the outbreak of the War i t sel f, and since 1940 had been ready wi th an elaborate Revolut ionary Movement Ordinance. The Government responded by gagging the press. The Nat ional Herald and Hari jan ceased publ icat ion for the ent i re durat ion of the st ruggle, others for shorter periods. Di sseminat ion of news was a very important part of the act ivi ty, and considerable success was achieved on thi s score, the most dramat ic being the Congress Radio operated clandest inely from di fferent locat ions in Bombay ci ty, whose broadcast could be heard as far as Madras. Ram Manohar Lohia regularly broadcast on thi s radio, and the radio cont inued t i l l November 1942 when i t was di scovered and confi scated by the pol ice. In February 1943, a st riking new development provided a new burst of pol i t ical act ivi ty. Gandhi j i commenced a fast on 10 February in jai l . He declared the fast would last for twenty-one days. Thi s was hi s answer to the Government which had been constant ly exhort ing him to condemn the violence of the people in the Qui t India Movement . Gandhi j i not only refused to condemn the people’s resort to violence but unequivocal ly held the Government responsible for i t . The severest blow to the prest ige of the Government was the resignat ion of the three Indian members of the Viceroy’s Execut ive Counci l , M.S. Aney, N.R. Sarkar and H.P. Mody, who had supported the Government in i t s suppression of the 1942 movement , but were in no mood to be a party to Gandhi j i ’s death. A signi ficant feature of the Qui t India Movement was the emergence of what came to be known as
paral lel government s in some part s of the count ry. The fi rst one was proclaimed in Bal l ia, in East U.P., in August 1942 under the leadership of Chi t tu Pande, who cal led himsel f a Gandhian. Though i t succeeded in get t ing the Col lector to hand over power and release al l the arrested Congress leaders, i t could not survive for long and when the soldiers marched in, a week after the paral lel government was formed, they found that the leaders had fled. In Tamluk in the Midnapur di st rict of Bengal , the Jat iya Sarkar came into exi stence on 17 December, 1942 and lasted t i l l September 1944. Tamluk was an area where Gandhian const ruct ive work had made considerable headway and i t was al so the scene of earl ier mass st ruggles. The Jat iya Sarkar undertook cyclone rel ief work, gave grant s to school s and organized an armed Vidyut Vahini . It al so set up arbi t rat ion court s and di st ributed the surplus paddy of the wel l -to-do to the poor. Being located in a relat ively remote area, i t could cont inue i t s act ivi t ies wi th comparat ive ease. 14 Satara, in Maharasht ra, emerged as the base of the longest -last ing and effect ive paral lel government . From the very beginning of the Qui t India Movement , the region played an act ive role. In the fi rst phase from August 1942, there were marches on local government headquarters, the ones on Karad, Tasgaon and Islampur involving thousands. Thi s was fol lowed by sabotage, at tacks on post offices, the loot ing of banks and the cut t ing of telegraph wi res. Y.B. Chavan, who had contact s wi th Achyut Patwardhan and other underground leaders, was the most important leader. But by the end of 1942, thi s phase came to an end wi th the arrest of about two thousand people. From the very beginning of 1943, the underground act ivi st s began to regroup, and by the middle of the year, succeeded in consol idat ing the organizat ion. A paral lel government or Prat i Sarkar was set up and Nani Pat i l was i t s most important leader. Thi s phase was marked by at tacks on Government col laborators, informers and talat i s or lower-level official s and Robin Hood-style robberies. Nyayadan Mandal s or people’s court s were set up and just ice di spensed. Prohibi t ion was enforced, and ‘Gandhi marriages’ celebrated to which untouchables were invi ted and at which no ostentat ion was al lowed. Vi l lage l ibraries were set up and educat ion encouraged. The nat ive state of Aundh, whose ruler was pro-nat ional i st and had got the const i tut ion of hi s state drafted by Gandhi j i , provided invaluable support by offering refuge and shel ter to the Prat i Sarkar act ivi st s. The Prat i Sarkar cont inued to funct ion t i l l 1945. Women, especial ly col lege and school gi rl s, played a very important role. Aruna Asaf Al i and Sucheta Kripalani were two major women organizers of the
underground, and Usha Mehta an important member of the smal l group that ran the Congress Radio. In fact , the erosion of loyal ty to the Bri t i sh Government of i t s own officers was one of the most st riking aspect s of the Qui t India st ruggle. Al so, there was a total absence of any communal clashes, a sure sign that though the movement may not have aroused much support from among the majori ty of the Musl im masses, i t did not arouse thei r host i l i ty ei ther. A st rict watch was kept on these development s, but no repressive act ion was contemplated and the Viceroy’s energies were di rected towards formulat ing an offer (known as the Wavel l Offer or the Simla Conference) which would pre-empt a st ruggle by effect ing an agreement wi th the Congress before the War wi th Japan ended. The Congress leaders were released to part icipate in the Simla Conference in June 1945. That marked the end of the phase of confrontat ion that had exi sted since August 1942. INA The idea of the INA was fi rst conceived in Malaya by Mohan Singh, an Indian officer of the Bri t i sh Indian Army, when he decided not to join the ret reat ing Bri t i sh army and instead went to the Japanese for help. Indian pri soners of war were handed over by the Japanese to Mohan Singh who then t ried to recrui t them into an Indian Nat ional Army. The fal l of Singapore was crucial , for thi s brought 45,000 Indian POWs into Mohan Singh’s sphere of influence. By the end of 1942, forty thousand men expressed thei r wi l l ingness to join the INA. It was repeatedly made clear at various meet ings of leaders of the Indian communi ty and of Indian Army officers that the INA would go into act ion only on the invi tat ion of the Indian Nat ional Congress and the people of India. The INA was al so seen by many as a means of checking the mi sconduct of the Japanese against Indians in South-East Asia and a bulwark against a future Japanese occupat ion of India. The outbreak of the Qui t India Movement gave a fi l l ip to the INA as wel l . Ant i -Bri t i sh demonst rat ions were organized in Malaya. On 1 September 1942, the fi rst divi sion of the INA was formed wi th 16,300 men. The Japanese were by now more amenable to the idea of an armed Indian wing because they were contemplat ing an Indian invasion. But , by December 1942, serious di fferences emerged between the Indian army officers led by Mohan Singh and the Japanese over the role that the
INA was to play. Mohan Singh and Ni ranjan Singh Gi l l , the senior-most Indian officer to join the INA, were arrested. The Japanese, i t turned out , wanted only a token force of 2,000 men, whi le Mohan Singh wanted to rai se an Indian Nat ional Army of 20,000. The second phase of the INA began when Subhas Chandra Bose was brought to Singapore on 2 July 1943, by means of German and Japanese submarines. He went to Tokyo and Prime Mini ster Tojo declared that Japan had no terri torial designs on India. Bose returned to Singapore and set up the Provi sional Government of Free India on 21 October 1943. The Provi sional Government then declared war on Bri tain and the Uni ted States, and was recogni sed by the Axi s powers and thei r satel l i tes. Subhas Bose set up two INA headquarters, in Rangoon and in Singapore, and began to reorganize the INA. Recrui t s were sought from civi l ians, funds were gathered, and even a women’s regiment cal led the Rani Jhansi regiment was formed. On 6 July 1944, Subhas Bose, in a broadcast on Azad Hind Radio addressed to Gandhi j i , said: ‘India’s last war of independence has begun . . . Father of our Nat ion! In thi s holy war of India’s l iberat ion, we ask for your blessing and good wi shes.’ One INA bat tal ion commanded by Shah Nawaz was al lowed to accompany the Japanese Army to the Indo-Burma front and part icipate in the Imphal campaign. But the di scriminatory t reatment which included being denied rat ions, arms and being made to do menial work for the Japanese uni t s, completely demoral ized the INA men. The fai lure of the Imphal campaign, and the steady Japanese ret reat thereafter, quashed any hopes of the INA l iberat ing the nat ion.
3 6 Post-War National Upsurge the Tebhaga Movement , the Warl i s Revol t , the Punjab ki san morchas, the Travancore people’s st ruggle (especial ly the Punnapra-Vayalar epi sode) and the Telengana Movement . These movement s had an ant i -imperial i st edge — as the di rect oppressors they chal lenged were al so the vested interest s that const i tuted the social support of the Raj — but they did not come into di rect confl ict wi th the colonial regime. The defence of the INA pri soners was taken up by the Congress and Bhulabhai Desai , Tej Bahadur Sapru, K.N. Kat ju, Nehru and Asaf Al i appeared in court at the hi storic Red Fort t rial s. The Congress organi sed an INA Rel ief and Enqui ry Commi t tee, which provided smal l sums of
money and food to the men on thei r release, and at tempted, though wi th marginal success, to secure employment for these men. The Congress authorized the Cent ral INA Fund Commi t tee, the Mayor’s Fund in Bombay, the AICC and the PCC offices and Sarat Bose to col lect funds. The growing nat ional i st sent iment , that reached a crescendo around the INA t rial s, developed into violent confrontat ions wi th authori ty in the winter of 1945-46. There were three upsurges — one on 21 November 1945 in Calcut ta over the INA t rial s; the second on 11 February 1946 in Calcut ta to protest against the seven year sentence given to an INA officer, Rashid Al i ; and the thi rd in Bombay of 18 February 1946 when the rat ings of the Royal Indian Navy (RIN) went on st rike. The RIN revol t started on 18 February when 1100 naval rat ings of HMIS Talwar st ruck work at Bombay to protest against the t reatment meted out to them — flagrant racial di scriminat ion, unpalatable food and abuses to boot . The arrest of B.C. Dut t , a rat ing, for scrawl ing ‘Qui t India’ on the HMIS Talwar, was sorely resented. The next day, rat ings from Cast le and Fort Barracks joined the st rike and on hearing that the HMIS Talwar rat ings had been fi red upon (which was incorrect ) left thei r post s and went around Bombay in lorries, holding aloft Congress flags, threatening Europeans and pol icemen and occasional ly breaking a shop window or two In the RIN revol t , Karachi was a major cent re, second only to Bombay. The news reached Karachi on 19 February, upon which the HMIS Hindustan alongwi th one more ship and three shore establ i shment s, went on a l ightning st rike. The RIN revol t remains a legend to thi s day. When i t took place, i t had a dramat ic impact on popular consciousness. A revol t in the armed forces, even i f soon suppressed, had a great l iberat ing effect on the minds of people. The RIN revol t was seen as an event which marked the end of Bri t i sh rule almost as final ly as Independence Day, 1947. When we examine these upsurges closely we find that the form they took, that of an ext reme, di rect and violent confl ict wi th authori ty, had certain l imi tat ions. Only the most mi l i tant sect ions of society could part icipate. There was no place for the l iberal and conservat ive groups which had ral l ied to the INA cause earl ier or for the men and women of smal l towns and vi l lages who had formed the backbone of the mass movement s in earl ier decades. Besides, these upsurges were short -l ived, as the
t ide of popular fury surged forth, only to subside al l too quickly. The communal uni ty wi tnessed was more organizat ional uni ty than uni ty of the people. Moreover, the organizat ions came together only for a speci fic agi tat ion that lasted a few days, as was the case in Calcut ta on the i ssue of Rashid Al i ’s t rial . Calcut ta, the scene of ‘the almost revolut ion’ in February 1946, according to Gautam Chat topadhaya , became the bat t le ground of communal frenzy only six months later, on 16 August 1946. The communal uni ty evident in the RIN revol t was l imi ted, despi te the Congress, League and Communi st flags being joint ly hoi sted on the ships’ mast s. Musl im rat ings went to the League to seek advice on future act ion, whi le the rest went to the Congress and the Social i st s; Jinnah’s advice to surrender was addressed to Musl im rat ings alone, who duly heeded i t . The view that communal uni ty forged in the st ruggles of 1945-46 could, i f taken further, have averted part i t ion, seems to be based on wi shful thinking rather than concrete hi storical possibi l i ty. The ‘uni ty at the barricades’ did not show thi s promi se. Event s in November 1945 in Calcut ta had the t roops standing by, but the Governor of Bengal preferred to and was able to cont rol the si tuat ion wi th the pol ice. Troops were cal led in on 12 February 1946 in Calcut ta and thi rty-six civi l ians were ki l led in the fi ring. Simi larly, during the RIN revol t , rat ings were forced to surrender in Karachi and six of them were ki l led in the process. Cont rary to the popular bel ief that Indian t roops in Bombay had refused to fi re on thei r count rymen, i t was a Maratha bat tal ion in Bombay that rounded up the rat ings and restored them to thei r barracks. The Amri t Bazaar Pat rika referred to the vi rtual steel ring around Bombay. Two hundred and twenty eight civi l ians died in Bombay whi le 1046 were injured. The Secretary of State’s New Year statement and the Bri t i sh Prime Mini ster’s announcement of the deci sion to send a Cabinet Mi ssion on 19 February 1946 spoke of Indian independence coming soon.
3 7 Freedom and Partition But after the Cripps Offer of 1942, there was l i t t le left to be offered as a concession except t ransfer of power — ful l freedom i t sel f. Bri t i sh pol icy in 1946 clearly reflected thi s preference for a uni ted India, in sharp cont rast to earl ier declarat ions. At t lee’s 15 March 1946 statement that a ‘minori ty wi l l not be al lowed to place a veto on
the progress of the majori ty’ was a far cry from Wavel l ’s al lowing Jinnah to wreck the Simla Conference in June-July 1945 by hi s insi stence on nominat ing al l Musl ims. The Cabinet Mi ssion was convinced that Paki stan was not viable and that the minori t ies’ autonomy must somehow be safeguarded wi thin the framework of a uni ted India. The Mi ssion Plan conceived three sect ions, A — compri sing Madras, Bombay, Ut tar Pradesh, Bihar, C.P. and Ori ssa; B — consi st ing of Punjab, NWFP and Sind; and C — of Bengal and Assam — which would meet separately to decide on group const i tut ions. There would be a common cent re cont rol l ing defence, foreign affai rs and communicat ions. After the fi rst general elect ions a province could come out of a group. After ten years a province could cal l for a reconsiderat ion of the group or union const i tut ion. Congress wanted that a province need not wai t t i l l the fi rst elect ions to leave a group, i t should have the opt ion not to join i t in the fi rst place. It had Congress-ruled provinces of Assam and NWFP (which were in Sect ions C and B respect ively) in mind when i t rai sed thi s quest ion. The League wanted provinces to have the right to quest ion the union const i tut ion now, not wai t for ten years. There was obviously a problem in that the Mi ssion Plan was ambivalent on whether grouping was compul sory or opt ional . It declared that grouping was opt ional but sect ions were compul sory. Thi s was a cont radict ion, which rather than removing, the Mi ssion del iberately quibbled about in the hope of somehow reconci l ing the i rreconci leable. The Congress and League interpreted the Mi ssion Plan in thei r own way, both seeing i t as a confi rmat ion of thei r stand. Thus, Patel maintained that the Mi ssion’s Plan was against Paki stan, that the League’s veto was gone and that one Const i tuent Assembly was envi saged. The League announced i t s acceptance of the Plan on 6 June in so far as the basi s of Paki stan was impl ied in the Mi ssion’s plan by vi rtue of the compul sory grouping. Nehru asserted the Congress Working Commi t tee’s part icular interpretat ion of the plan in hi s speech to the AICC on 7 July 1946: ‘We are not bound by a single thing except that we have decided to go into the Const i tuent Assembly.’ The impl icat ion was that the Assembly was sovereign and would decide rules of procedure. Jinnah seized the opportuni ty provided
by Nehru’s speech to wi thdraw the League’s acceptance of the Mi ssion Plan on 29th July, 1946. The di lemma before the Government was whether to go ahead and form the Interim Government wi th the Congress or awai t League agreement to the plan. Wavel l , who had opted for the second course at the Simla Conference an year earl ier, preferred to do the same again. But Hi s Majesty’s Government , especial ly the Secretary of State, argued that i t was vi tal to get Congress cooperat ion. Thus, the Interim Government was formed on 2nd September 1946 wi th Congress members alone wi th Nehru as de facto head. Thi s was against the League’s insi stence that al l set t lement s be acceptable to i t . The Bri t i sh in 1946, in keeping wi th thei r st rategic interest s in the post -independence Indian subcont inent , took up a stance very di fferent from thei r earl ier posture of encouraging communal forces and denying the legi t imacy of nat ional i sm and the representat ive nature of the Congress. They were frightened into appeasing the League by Jinnah’s abi l i ty to unleash civi l war. Wavel l quiet ly brought the League into the Interim Government on 26 October 1946 though i t had not accepted ei ther the short or long term provi sions of the Cabinet Mi ssion Plan and had not given up i t s pol icy of Di rect Act ion. The Secretary of State argued that wi thout the League’s presence in the Government civi l war would have been inevi table. Jinnah had succeeded in keeping the Bri t i sh in hi s grip. The League’s demand for the di ssolut ion of the Const i tuent Assembly that had met for the fi rst t ime on 9th December 1946 had proved to be the last st raw. Earl ier i t had refused to join the Const i tuent Assembly despi te assurances from Hi s Majesty’s Government in thei r 6th December 1946 statement that the League’s interpretat ion of grouping was the correct one. A di rect bid for Paki stan, rather than through the Mi ssion Plan, seemed to be the card Jinnah now sought to play. Thi s developing cri si s was temporari ly defused by the statement made by At t lee in Parl iament on 20 February, 1947. The date for Bri t i sh wi thdrawal from India was fixed as 30 June 1948 and the appointment of a new Viceroy, Lord Mountbat ten, was announced. The hope was that the date would
shock the part ies into agreement on the main quest ion and avert the const i tut ional cri si s that threatened. Besides, Indians would be final ly convinced that the Bri t i sh were sincere about conceding independence, however, both these hopes were int roduced into the terminal date not ion after i t had been accepted. The basic reason why the At t lee Government accepted the need for a final date was because they could not deny the t ruth of Wavel l ’s assessment that an i rreversible decl ine of Government authori ty had taken place. They could di smi ss the Viceroy, on the ground that he was pessimi st ic, which they did in the most di scourteous manner possible. Jenkins’ prophecy took immediate shape wi th the League launching civi l di sobedience in Punjab and bringing down the Unioni st Akal i – Congress coal i t ion mini st ry led by Khizr Hayat Khan. Wavel l wrote in hi s diary on 13th March 1947 — ‘Khizr’s resignat ion was prompted largely by the statement of February 20.’ The idea of a fixed date was original ly Wavel l ’s, 31 March 1948 being the date by which he expected a stage of responsibi l i ty wi thout power to set in. At t lee thought mid-1948 should be the date aimed at . Mountbat ten insi sted i t be a calendar date and got 30th June 1948. The Mountbat ten Plan, as the 3rd June, 1947 Plan came to be known, sought to effect an early t ransfer of power on the basi s of Dominion Status to two successor states, India and Paki stan. Congress was wi l l ing to accept Dominion Status for a whi le because i t fel t i t must assume ful l power immediately and meet boldly the explosive si tuat ion in the count ry. The early date, 15th August 1947, and the delay in announcing the Boundary Commi ssion Award, both Mountbat ten’s deci sions, compounded the t ragedy that took place. The Boundary Commi ssion Award was ready by 12th August , 1947 but Mountbat ten decided to make i t publ ic after Independence Day, so that the responsibi l i ty would not fal l on the Bri t i sh. The acceptance of Part i t ion in 1947 was, thus, only the final act of a process of step by step concession to the League’s int ransigent champioining of a sovereign Musl im state. Autonomy of Musl im majori ty provinces was accepted in 1942 at the t ime of the Cripps Mi ssion. Gandhi j i went a step further and accepted the right of sel f-determinat ion of Musl im majori ty provinces in hi s talks wi th Jinnah in 1944. In June 1946, Congress conceded the possibi l i ty of Musl im majori ty provinces
(which formed Group B and C of the Cabinet Mi ssion Plan) set t ing up a separate Const i tuent Assembly, but opposed compul sory grouping and upheld the right of NWFP and Assam not to join thei r groups i f they so wi shed. But by the end of the year, Nehru said he would accept the rul ing of the Federal Court on whether grouping was compul sory or opt ional . The Congress accepted wi thout demur the clari ficat ion by the Bri t i sh Cabinet in December, 1946 that grouping was compul sory. Congress official ly referred to Part i t ion in early March 1947 when a resolut ion was passed in the Congress Working Commi t tee that Punjab (and by impl icat ion Bengal ) must be part i t ioned i f the count ry was divided. The final act of surrender to the League’s demands was in June 1947 when Congress ended up accept ing Part i t ion under the 3rd June Plan.
3 9 The Indian National Movement — The Ideological Dimension At the Lahore Congress in 1929, a resolut ion sponsored by Gandhi j i condemning the Revolut ionary Terrori st s’ bomb at tack on the Viceroy’s t rain was passed by a narrow majori ty of 942 to 794. In 1942, thi rteen Communi st members of the AICC voted against the famous Qui t India resolut ion. The resolut ion on fundamental right s, passed by the Karachi Congress in 1931 and drafted by him, guaranteed the right s of free expression of opinion through speech and the Press and the freedom of associat ion. In August 1936, as a resul t of hi s effort s, the Indian Civi l Libert ies Union was formed on non-party, non-sectarian l ines to mobi l ize publ ic opinion against al l encroachment s on civi l l ibert ies. From 1921, the Congress organized i t s provincial or area commi t tees along l ingui st ic l ines and not according to the Bri t i sh-created mul t i -l ingual provinces. Gandhi j i was to some extent an except ion to thi s unanimous opinion, but not whol ly so. Nor did he counterpose hi s opinion to that of the rest of the nat ional leadership. Moreover, hi s stand on the use of machines and large-scale indust ry has been grossly di storted. He was opposed to machines only when they di splaced the labour of the many or enriched the few at the expense of the many. On the other hand, he repeatedly said that he would ‘prize every invent ion of science made for the benefi t of al l .’ He repeatedly said that he was not opposed to modern large-scale indust ry so long as i t augmented, and l ightened the burden of, human
labour and not di splaced i t . Moreover, he laid down another condi t ion: Al l large-scale indust ry should be owned and cont rol led by the state and not by private capi tal i st s. The nat ional i st s were ful ly commi t ted to the larger goal of independent , sel f-rel iant economic development to be based on independence from foreign capi tal , the creat ion of an indigenous capi tal goods or machine-making sector and the foundat ion and development of independent science and technology. Ever since the 1840s, Bri t i sh economi st s and admini st rators had argued for the investment of foreign capi tal as the major inst rument for the development of India. The Indian nat ional i st s, from Dadabhai Naoroj i and Ti lak to Gandhi j i and Nehru, di sagreed vehement ly. Foreign capi tal , they argued, did not develop a count ry but underdeveloped i t . It suppressed indigenous capi tal and made i t s future growth di fficul t . It was al so, the nat ional i st s said, pol i t ical ly harmful because, sooner or later i t began to wield an increasing and dominat ing influence over the admini st rat ion. Start ing wi th Dadabhai Naoroj i and Ranade, the nat ional i st s vi sual ized a crucial role for the publ ic sector in the bui lding of an independent and modern economy. In the 1930s, Jawaharlal Nehru, Gandhi j i , and the left -wing al so argued for the publ ic sector, especial ly in large-scale and key indust ries, as a means of prevent ing the concent rat ion of weal th in a few hands. In the late 1930s, the object ive of economic planning was al so widely accepted. In 1938, the Congress, then under the president ship of Subhas Chandra Bose, set up the Nat ional Planning Commi t tee under the chai rmanship of Nehru, to draw up a development plan for free India. During World War II, several other plans were devi sed, the most important being the Bombay Plan drawn up by the big three of the Indian capi tal i st world — J.R.D. Tata, G.D. Bi rla and Sri Ram. Thi s plan too vi sual ized farreaching land reforms, a large publ ic sector and massive publ ic and private investment . Final ly, in 1945, the Congress Working Commi t tee accepted the pol icy of the abol i t ion of landlordi sm and of land belonging to the t i l ler when i t declared: ‘The reform of the land system involves the removal of intermediaries between the peasant and the state.’ Gandhi j i did not accept a class analysi s of society and the role of class st ruggle. He was al so opposed to the use of violence even in defence of the interest s of the poor. But hi s basic out look was that of social t ransformat ion. He was commi t ted to basic changes in the exi st ing system
of economic and pol i t ical power. Moreover, he was constant ly moving in a radical di rect ion during the 1930s and 1940s. In 1933, he agreed wi th Nehru that ‘wi thout a material revi sion of vested interest s the condi t ion of the masses can never be improved.’ He was beginning to oppose private property and thus radical ize hi s theory of t rusteeship. He repeatedly argued for the nat ional izat ion of largescale indust ry. He condemned the exploi tat ion of the masses inherent in capi tal i sm and landlordi sm. He was highly cri t ical of the socio-economic role played by the middle classes. Hi s emphasi s on the removal of di st inct ion and di scriminat ion between physical and mental labour, hi s overal l emphasi s on social and economic equal i ty and on the sel f-act ivi ty of the masses, hi s opposi t ion to caste inequal i ty and oppression, hi s act ive support to women’s social l iberat ion, and the general orientat ion of hi s thought and wri t ing towards the exploi ted, the oppressed and the downt rodden tended in general to impart a radical ideological di rect ion to the nat ional movement . The most remarkable development was Gandhi j i ’s shi ft towards agrarian radical i sm.