Recollections and reflections

Reminiscences, Rafi Ahmad Kidwai

I first came in contact with Subhas Bose in 1923 at Delhi when the Congress was divided into two groups over the question of what was known as 'Council Entry.'...Subhas Babu, as the favourite lieutenant of Deshabandhu, was playing a prominent part in the controversy. more>>

Why I Left India, Speech at a public meeting in Singapore

Sisters and brothers! Let me first of all thank you for the exceedingly warm and enthusiastic welcome that you have given me today. I am particularly thankful to my sisters who have boldly come forward in such large numbers to give expression to their patriotic feelings. From what I see today, I feel confident that in the coming fight my countrymen in Syonan and in Malaya will play a leading part. What was once a bulwark of British imperialism has now become a bulwark of Indian nationalism.

Next, I would like to tell you quite frankly what made me leave home and homeland on a journey that was fraught with danger of every kind.

You know that I have been actively working in the independence movement ever since I left the portals of the university in 1921. I have been through all the civil disobedience campaigns during the last two decades. In addition to this, I have been repeatedly put in prison without trial, on the suspicion of having been connected with a secret revolutionary movement — whether non-violent or violent — with which I have been familiar. I may also assert without the slightest exaggeration that there is no nationalist leader in India who can claim to possess the many-sided experience that I have been able to acquire. In the light of this experience, I came to the conclusion that all the efforts that we could put forward inside India would not suffice to expel the British from our country. If the struggle at home had sufficed to achieve liberty for our people, I would not have been so foolish as to undertake this unnecessary risk and hazard.

To put it briefly, therefore, my object in leaving India was to supplement from outside the struggle going on at home. Without this supplementary help from outside, it is impossible for anybody to liberate India. On the other hand, the supplementary help from outside which the national struggle at home so urgently needs is in reality very small. This is because the defeats inflicted on the British by the Axis Powers have shattered British power and prestige to such an extent that our task has been rendered comparatively easy.

The help that our countrymen at home needed and still need is a two-fold one — moral and material. Firstly, they have to be morally convinced that their victory is assured in the long run. Secondly, they have to be given military help from outside. In order to do the first, one had to study objectively the international war situation and thereby find out what the result of the war was going to be. To do the second one had to find out what Indians outside India could do to help their countrymen at home and also if it was possible to obtain help from the enemies of British Imperialism, should that need arise. Friends! I am now in a position to tell you that both these objectives have been fulfilled. By travelling abroad, I could see things for myself and could study the respective positions of the belligerent Powers. Thereafter, when I came to the conclusion that the defeat of Anglo-American Imperialism was assured, I conveyed that information to my countrymen at home. Then, I was delighted to find that my countrymen all over the world were wide awake and were anxious to undertake their share of the national struggle. I was also gratified to find that the Axis Powers, and Japan in particular, were really eager to see India free and they were prepared to render any help that was within their power, should the Indian people desire it. Moreover, I can ask you to trust me. Not even my enemies will have the audacity to say that I am capable of doing anything against the interests of my country. And if the British Government could not demoralise me or deceive me or allure me, no other power on earth can do so. Therefore, believe me when I say that if you want any external help in your struggle against British Imperialism, the Axis Powers will come to your aid. But whether you do need any help or not is for you to decide, and it goes without saying that if you could do without any help, it would be the best course for India. At the same time, I should add that if the almighty British Government can go round the whole world with the begging-bowl asking for help everywhere — even from the enslaved and impoverished people of India — there is nothing wrong in our taking help from outside, if we are forced to do so.

The time has come when I can openly tell the whole world, including our enemies, how it is proposed to bring about our national liberation. Indians outside India, particularly Indians in East Asia, are going to organise a fighting force which will be powerful enough to attack the British Army in India. When we do so, a revolution will break out, not only among the civil population at home but also among the Indian Army which is now standing under the British flag. When the British Government is thus attacked from both sides — from inside India and from outside — it will collapse and the Indian people will then regain their liberty.

According to my plan, therefore, it is not even necessary to bother about the attitude of the Axis Powers towards India. If Indians outside and inside India will only do their duty, it is possible to throw the British out of India and liberate 388 millions of our countrymen.

There may be croakers who will ask how, if 388 millions of Indians cannot expel British power from India, three millions living abroad hope to do so. But, friends, look at the history of Ireland. If three million Irishmen living under British domination — under a form of martial law — could with the help of five thousand armed Sinn Fein volunteers bring the British Government to its knees in 1921, why cannot three million Indians, backed by a powerful movement at home, hope to throw the British out of India when the aid of powerful Japan is readily available?

I must, however, say that Indians living abroad and particularly in East Asia must put forward their maximum effort. In order to do so effectively, it is my intention to set up a provisional Government of Free India. The task of this Government will be to mobilise all the resources of the Indian people and lead the fight against the British Army in India. When the campaign succeeds and India is free, the Provisional Government will make room for the permanent Government of Free India, which will be set up in accordance with the will of the Indian people.

Friends! You will now realise that the time has come for the three million Indians living in East Asia to mobilise all their available resources including money and manpower. Half-hearted measures will not do. I want Total Mobilisation and nothing less, for we have been told repeatedly, even by our enemies, that this is a total war.

You see before you today a part of India's Army of Liberation, the Azad Hind Fauj or the Indian National Army.

They held their ceremonial parade the other day in front of the Town Hall. Thereafter, they resolved that they will not rest till they hold their victory parade before the Red fortress of ancient Delhi. They have adopted the slogan — "Onward to Delhi." Friends! Let the slogan of the three million Indians in East Asia be “Total Mobilisation for a Total War.”

Out of this total mobilisation I expect at least three hundred thousand soldiers and three crores of dollars. I want also a unit of brave Indian women to form a death-defying regiment who will wield the sword which the brave Rani of Jhansi wielded in India's First War of Independence in 1857.

Friends! We have for a long time been hearing so much of the Second Front in Europe. But our countrymen at home are now hard-pressed and they are demanding a Second Front. Give me Total Mobilisation in East Asia and I promise you a Second Front — a real second Font for the Indian struggle.