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>>

Press Statement on All India Students' Conference

I have noticed in the press several reports about the recent Delhi Session of the All India Students Federation Conference which are not wholly correct. The comments on such reports are even more misleading. Since I presided over that Conference, it would be well to say a few words about the deliberations and the resolutions of that Conference.

In the first place what struck me at the outset was that the vast majority of the students were Leftist in their political persuasions. The followers of the Rightist leaders were comparatively few in number.

Apart from resolutions on non-controversial student problems, there were a few resolutions on what one may call political topics. These related to War, Constituent Assembly, Independence Day and Revolutionary Leadership. I participated only in the debate on the War Resolution. On no other resolution did I speak.

The original War Resolution contained a paragraph demanding the speedy termination of the present war. Though a large number of Leftist students pressed for this paragraph in accordance with their conception of peace, I considered it to be based on a wrong notion of peace and I therefore advised its deletion. My point of view was ultimately adopted by the Conference.

The resolution on Constituent Assembly which was ultimately adopted was a condemnation of the recent resolution of the Congress Working Committee and of the new and strange interpretation of Constituent Assembly now being put forward by the CWC. The preamble to the original resolution contained a clause to the effect that a confusion was being created in the minds of the people by a section of the national leadership. This preamble was amended to the effect that confusion prevailed in the minds of the public regarding the meaning of a Constituent Assembly. The Amendment to the preamble which was carried was supported by some Leftists of Communist and Socialist persuasion as well as by the Rightists. The intention of the amendment was to avoid casting any reflection on the present Congress Working Committee and naturally took many people by surprise.

The same desire to avoid criticising the Congress Working Committee revealed itself when the resolution on Independence Day was moved and discussed. There was a clause in the resolution to the effect that the Conference deplored the stress laid on spinning in the Independence Pledge. This clause was deleted by the joint votes of members of Communist, Socialist and Rightist persuasion. This sort of voting on the part of members of Communist and Socialist persuasion naturally gave rise to both surprise and adverse criticism. One could understand the Rightists who openly stood for the spinning clause in the Independence Pledge, but one could not understand the Communists and Socialists who did not believe in it.

The resolution on Revolutionary Leadership contained a paragraph which criticised the present Leadership of the Congress and its weak and vacillating policy. This paragraph was omitted by the joint votes of Communists, Socialists and Rightists.

The voting on the political resolutions did not indicate by any means the strength of the Rightists among the students. They were comparatively few in number and would not consequently have been able to carry any resolution or amendment with their own votes. That is why they invariably joined hands with Communists and Socialists over the above amendments.

What gave me the most unpleasant surprise was the argument put forward by some students of Leftist persuasion to the effect that the platform of the Students Federation should be a non-party and non-political one. As long as political resolutions sponsored by them were carried by the house, no such argument was thought of. But the argument was preferred when a political resolution was moved which they did not approve of. Personally I hold the view that students are not only entitled to participate in Politics but to discuss political resolutions at their Conference if they so desire.