Subhas Chandra Pattanayak
The Communist approach to 1942 Quit India call has remained an enigma to many even today. While supporting the preamble of the August Resolution of the All India Congress Committee, all the 13 Communist members in the AICC had, as per Party decision, opposed the operational part thereof so tellingly that, even though the amendment they wanted had failed, Mahatma Gandhi had, in his concluding speech, congratulated the Communists for their courage of conviction. The Communists had insisted that the decision should be addressed “to achieve all-in national unity for the purpose of forging mass sanctions to secure the end of British domination and the installation of a Provisional National Government and with this end in view to make an earnest effort to effect agreement and joint front with the Muslim League.”
This approach had evolved on deep study of the global situation vis-à-vis India. When the first phase of the war (September 1939 t0 22 June 1941) with USA-backed-Anglo-French ‘Allies’ in one side and German-Italian-Japanese fascist ‘Axis’ on the other side, notwithstanding which side wins, was to give victory to imperialism, the 2nd phase, precipitated by Hitler Germany’s malicious attack on the Soviet Union, had become a people’s war against fascism.
This war, however, was offering a great opportunity for emancipation of the peoples all over the world from autocratic dictatorial exploitation based on fascist terror. So the peoples were to gain their real freedom if fascism was defeated on the basis of united action of the peoples against the fascist forces in the second war.
This particular approach was most relevant to India as the mischief of some of the Congress top brass and Congress financiers had already drove a menacing wedge into its population comprising the Hindus and the Muslims, the naked picture of which is available to us in Pandit Motilal Nehru’s 1926 letter to his son, that forms a highly referable part of the book ‘A Bunch of Old letters’ published by Jawaharlal Nehru.
Unity of all the Indians, particularly of both the Hindus and Muslims as the major segments, and participation in the war as one people, was essential for safety of the territory of India on achieving her independence.
But the Congress played to the tune of the fascists and by the strength of majority in AICC, rejected the amendment advanced by the Communists and executed the foresightless resolution that ultimately, after the war, divided the people and precipitated partition of India, the ancient land of knowledge and humanitarianism, on communal lines, that still continues to deny emancipation to the people as bloody fascists have gathered unrestrained strength to even fight elections armed with brutal fascism to the extent of openly threatening to throw out into Pakistan whosoever opposes Narendra Modi!
The correctness of the 1942 stand of the Communist Party of India has been fully proved by political independence of India in 1947 and liberation of China in 1949 and also by emergence of socialist states belonging to the peoples that gave birth to a new era. This was possible only because of victory over fascism that had weakened imperialism by the end of the war. Had the Communists’ advice to join the peoples of the world in the war as an united people against fascism been heeded to by the Congress in 1942, fascism in India could have been completely extinguished by August 1947 and the pack of Giriraj Singhs could not have raised their fangs of fascism and the country could have been saved from capitalistic terror.
The passionately patriotic appeal of the Communists to the Congress not to discard the historic responsibility of uniting the people of India with the peoples of the world then fighting fascism, instead of pushing the country into chaos by a Quit India call to the British when it was in war against fascism, attracts our attention in the pages of “Forward to Freedom” (February 1942) published by the underground headquarters of Communist Party of India.
In clarifying the Communists’ stand, it notes, “There has been a shift within the vicious circle of stalemate itself, from the policy of Gandhian negation to a policy of political inaction. The compromising tendency of the national bourgeois leadership expresses itself in waiting for imperialism to make a move. Their reformist tendency expresses itself in not even thinking of a mobilization of the people. The national leadership leaves the nation without a lead, without a direction, without a course of action that will enable the nation to realize its destiny through its strength, through its own action”
This speaking piece of Communists’ collective wisdom, expressed through the pen of the legendary P. C. Joshi, unequivocally says, “We Communists opposed the slogan of National Government during the imperialist war. We advocate now as the only way out for the nation during the people’s war. This is so because of the different aims of the war in two periods, because of the changed objective reality.
“Formation of a National Government will mean the exact opposite to what it meant during the imperialist war. Then it would have been a Government of National Surrender, today it will be a Government of National Advance. A National Government during the peoples’ war enables the Indian people to tell the peoples of the world: We have brought India into your war, because it is our war too.”
Had the Congress leadership heeded to these words of political wisdom evolved in the underground headquarters of the Communist Party of India in 1942, the people of India, as a whole, could have joined that war against fascism. And, had it been so, and had a National Government in India been possible during the period of that war, the country would never have fallen in the trap of the “Malaviya-Lala gang” that Birla was funding, as Motilal Nehru had informed his son in 1926 (Jawaharlal Nehru, A Bunch of Old Letters, 1958, p.47) as well as the British bureaucrats; and partition of India could not have occurred and the occasion would never have come for fascists in hot pursuit of power to threat the Indians that do not subscribe to their notorious design with banishment from their motherland.
Reaching the crux and locating the soft threads of patriotism and responsibility for the peoples in the fabric of politics is not always easy. Yet, it is a patriotic necessity that whosoever loves India must try to fulfill.