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>>

Extracts from Sj Subhas Bose's Recent Utterances, published in Forward Bloc

Our quarrel is with imperialism and not with the people of England. If British imperialism was destroyed, imperialism in other countries would vanish in a short space of time. Although British people said that they were out to obtain freedom for the oppressed peoples of the world, they cared not to give freedom to India and they talk of some understanding with us all the same. But no understanding was possible between freedom and slavery. Indians should, however, avail of the present situation and this was an opportune time when we should press our claim. In fact, if the people of India wanted to live, they must secure Swaraj, which would be a real source of happiness. Democratic Swaraj was what was wanted. In these days of advancement, foundation of old imperialism had been severely shaken. Its prestige and strength had gone.

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Apart from the question of the coming struggle what was causing anxiety was as to how the Leftists should frustrate the attempt at a compromise with the British Government involving the restoration of the Congress Ministries. They had no hope that the Congress High Command would launch a national Struggle of an uncompromising character. All that they hoped and prayed for was that they might not enter into a compromise with British Imperialism. If the official Congress did not launch a struggle then some other organisation had to do it. That task could for instance be undertaken by the Forward Bloc. In those circumstances it would naturally inform the Congress High Command, the British-Government and the public at large before taking any final step. It was possible that such an act might be regarded as an act of indiscipline by the High Command with its consequences including expulsion from the Congress.

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What has caused us the greatest concern is not the unfair and improper tactics but the present policy which is drifting towards an unworthy compromise as evinced by the substitution of the National Demand for what I call a faked Constituent Assembly.

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The British foreign policy is responsible for the present state of things in Europe. But for that, things that were happening there now would not have happened. Today it was not France's foreign policy that dominated Europe but it was British foreign policy that did it. Britain is today on the horns of a dilemma. Hitler's victory or Hitler's fall — none could be welcome to England. With the fall of Hitler there might be a chance for the whole of Germany, and, after that, France going Communist. And England could never welcome the idea of being threatened with the menace of Communism. So far as Soviet Russia was concerned, it had pursued a peace policy for the last fifteen or sixteen years.

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The members and sympathisers of the Forward Bloc in different parts of the country are now engaged in taking stock of the present situation in the country and in the Congress and are also doing a bit of heart-searching. Reports have been reaching us from several provinces that our members are not getting a square deal at the hands of the Rightists. My own belief that by honest hard work we shall be able to convert the majority in the Congress to our point of view has been considerably shaken of late. We now find that the Rightists are determined to maintain their present ascendency in the Congress by hook or crook. And they will not scruple to go to any length in order to suppress or persecute us. The Congress is therefore becoming the close preserve of the Rightists — even as the Indian Association of Calcutta has been the close preserve of- the Liberals for a long time.

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We could have voluntarily submitted to the domination of the Congress by the Rightists if they had pursued the correct line and had taken country forward along the path of struggle. But not only are they not doing so, they are, in addition, adopting wrong measures and wrong tactics which are confounding the public mind and which will ultimately land the country in disaster. I am referring among other things to a demand for a faked Constituent Assembly and to the introduction of the Spinning clause in the Independence Pledge.

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The political significance that is being given to spinning now and the manner in which it has been quickly converted by the Congress High Command into a method of political struggle, need unequivocal condemnation. Consequently members of the Forward Bloc would be perfectly justified in organising separate meetings and demonstrations on the Independence Day.