By Manju Gupta
Congress: Angrez Bhakti se Rajsatta Tak (Hindi), Prof Satish Chandra Mittal, Akhil Bharatiya Itihaas Sankalan Yojana, Pp 167 (PB)
Written by a history professor who retired from Kurukshetra University, this book traces the history of Congress party. In the beginning itself the author clarifies that in the Independence war of 1857 till August 15, 1947 and the Partition of the country, the history of India is story of a long and bitter struggle for freedom in which people of all castes, divisions and classes contributed their bit. Hence, in such a scenario, giving importance to any organisation or party the credit for it would be not only irrelevant or controversial, but a falsehood and myth too. This long struggle saw some seeking pardon from the British imperialists at times and on other occasions, launching a strong campaign for freedom and trying to escape through narrow and dangerous terrain followed by the police and the valour shown by many youth who became martyrs for the sake of their country’s freedom.
Through the book, the author tries to show that though the Congress played a significant role in the country’s struggle for freedom, it was not the only one; many revolutionaries made a successful contribution to it, especially many Hindu organisations. Apart from the English-educated middle class, many peasants, dalits, workers and ordinary citizens played an important role and so did villagers and Vanvasis.
Secondly, according to the author, the claim made by many Congressmen that the country’s freedom to a considerable extent was the outcome of a non-violent struggle is a myth and is tantamount to hiding your face from the truth. On contrary, the killing of thousands of people in1933 at Moplah, in 1940 at Kohat and in the following decade at Calcutta, Noakhali, Bihar, Punjab and Delhi following Partition and the transfer and exchange of more than a crore of people, the killing of 10 lakh men, women, and rape and kidnappings along with the loss of property worth millions of rupees, were the world’s most shocking disasters. Hence, he refuses to call this as a non-violent struggle for freedom.
He says that Mahatma Gandhi launched the struggle but with the imprisonment of all important Congress leaders, it was the Congress Socialist Party which led the struggle which soon became violent due to the British Government’s policies of repression. He says that it was due to the changing world scenario that the British decided to leave and launched the policy of two dominion states by partitioning India. This amounted to half or incomplete freedom, with the British handing over the reins of the country to the Congress. Gandhiji, on seeing the eagerness of the Congressmen for power, disassociated himself from the party and launched the Lok Seva Sangh, but by then, no one was prepared to listen to his voice.
The author says that the Congress followed a policy of partial nationalism based on British nationalism, which in turn was based on British-led Hindu-Muslim unity and appeasement of Muslims and not on driving the British out through force if need be.
(Akhil Bharatiya Itihaas Sankalan Yojana, Baba Saheb Apte Bhawan, Keshav Kunj, Jhandewalan, New Delhi – 110 055.)