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>>

Response to Gandhiji and Rajendra Prasad

Sj. Subhas Chandra Boao issued the following statement to the Press on October 29, last:

During the last few days a number of statements and articles of Mahatma Gandhi and other prominent Congress lenders have appeared in the Press which have given rise to acute controversy in certain Congress circles and some of my colleagues have urged me to give expression to my views in connection therewith. It is a most painful thing to engage in a public controversy with prominent Congress leaders, but if controversial statements are made which other Congressmen cannot possibly endorse, then we are left with no choice in the matter.

I am grieved to find Mahatma Gandhi remarking in Harijan that the refusal by the British Government to fulfil the Congress hope that they would make the expected declaration, is solely due to the weaknesses in the Congress organisations and Congressmen. In my humble opinion, this failure is due largely to bad leadership, both before the outbreak of war and after. May I ask what the Congress leaders were doing when we were crying ourselves hoarse several months ago in our appeal to the Congress to prepare for the coming crisis? To make matters worse for us, Mahatma Gandhi rushed to see the Viceroy without consulting anybody and seriously compromised the position of the Congress and the Indian public by announcing his attitude of unconditional cooperation towards the British Government. It is, to say the least, grossly unfair of him now to turn the tables and throw the responsibility for the failure on Congress organisations and Congressmen. Let Mahatmaji and the other leaders frankly own their responsibility as well as their mistakes of the past and try to mend matters in future.

Two voices" of Gandhiji
There’s another matter in which it is difficult to understand Mahatma Gandhi. In the article, headed "Causes", in the latest issue to the Harijan, he wrote in one place: “Though nothing is said in the resolution, the control and management of Civil Disobedience has been left in my hands at the will of the Committee.” This would naturally lead one to think that he is now thinking in terms of Civil Disobedience. But in the same issue of the paper he said in another place, “There is no question of Civil Disobedience for there is no atmosphere for it — at any rate there is no question of Civil Disobedience in the aggressive sense as we launched in 1930 and 1932. We might have to offer it if all constructive work was made impossible, that is to say, if grave irritation was given by Government. I fear no such things." Now which of these two voices should be regarded as conveying more accurately the real views of Mahatmaji?

We are now being sermonised from several quarters about the importance of discipline and unity within the Congress. If there' is lack of unity today, then who Is responsible for it? Undoubtedly it is the Congress Working Committee that has lost the confidence of the Left wing by its erstwhile weak and vacillating policy. The moment the Committee adopts a bold and dynamic policy, all differences will disappear and the. Congress will stand united. If the Working Committee really wants unity and discipline, it should take the Left-wing into its confidence about the future programme that is contemplated and call off the drive against the Left-wing. If this is not done, all these appeals will be futile and as already intimated to the Working Committee, we shall follow our own line of action and face the consequences thereof. Surely the Working Committee cannot expect our loyalty and support if it does not follow to its logical conclusion the decision to renounce Ministerial office in the provinces.

Rajendra Babu's Statement
The instructions issued by President, Dr Rajendra Prasad, have surprised me beyond measure. In one place he directs that prohibitory orders are to be obeyed and that Civil Disobedience in any form should not be resorted to without the special permission of the appropriate sub-committee. He has sought to usurp the authority vested in the Provincial Congress Committees in this behalf and I am sure that Congressmen of my way of thinking will reserve to themselves full liberty of action in such matters. In another place, Dr Rajendra Prasad has said, "That meetings public or private should avoid criticism of the British or those parties in the country that may be opposed to the Congress." How meetings can be held under such conditions passes my comprehension. Such instructions are not only unworkable but also undesirable.

In conclusion, I must say that since we are still not sure if the Working Committee intends adopting a forward policy and programme in future, we cannot find ourselves to follow the official direction. On major questions like War and Peace and Swaraj, people of my way of thinking must retain liberty of action and must think and decide for themselves and agree to follow the Working Committee only when it gives the correct lead. The sooner this realised, the better for all of us,