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OPINION/QUIT INDIA MOVEMENT : POLITICS OVER NATIONAL MOVEMENT

OPINION/QUIT INDIA MOVEMENT : POLITICS OVER NATIONAL MOVEMENT

Driven to the wall, the Congress’s attempt to politicise the Quit India Movement reflects its desperation to read history out of the context to malign the opponents

Aniruddh Subhedar

The 75th Anniversary of Quit India Movement, last week, was marked with celebrations of the historic Movement all over the country. Earlier, Prime Minister Narendra Modi, gave the slogan of Garibi Bharat Chhoro, Jaativaad Bharat Chhoro (Poverty leave India, Casteism leave India) in his Mann Ki Baat. But what struck many as odd was Congress President Sonia Gandhi’s speech in the Parliament on August 9. In a thinly veiled reference to RSS (and the followers of Hindutva) she said “Some organisations opposed the Quit India Movement” and “such organisations have no role in freedom struggle”. What she was trying to insinuate was that because RSS and Hindu Mahasabha did not participate in Quit India Movement, so they were traitors!
It’s well known that usually Communists make these allegations against the proponents of Hindutva; but since this time these allegations were made by Congress President in the Parliament on a very significant occasion, so one needs to set the records straight in this matter.
To start with, not participating in Congress’s Quit India Movement doesn’t amount to ‘treason’; one needs to listen to the other side of the story too. Secondly, respecting the noble ideals behind the Quit India Movement and those who made sacrifices for it is one thing; critically evaluating the Movement from a historical point of view is another.

Quit India Movement and Hindu Nationalists
When leaders of Congress were arrested by the British after August 8, 1942, Savarkar issued a statement on August 14, 1942, which stated, “THE INEVITABLE has happened; the
foremost and patriotic leaders of the Congress Party, including Mr. Gandhi, are arrested and imprisoned; the
personal sympathies of the Hindu Mahasabhaites, and Hindus in general, go with them in their suffering for a patriotic cause.”
He further “warns” the British in this statement that the “only effective way” to “appease the Indian discontent” is to give complete political freedom to India. At the same time, in this statement, Savarkar also points out the dangerous consequences of the Congress resolution.
This statement sums up the whole attitude of the proponents of Hindutva towards the Quit India Movement. They admired the patriotic spirit of their countrymen but strategically they found Quit India Movement to be a big mistake.
In many of his later statements Savarkar reiterated his views on the futility of this Movement at that time and vehemently criticised Congress for it. But he always respected Congress leaders for their patriotism. One example is his statement of February 4, 1960, in which he proposed to name Gujarat’s capital as “Vallabh-Nagar” in “memory of Shri Vallabhabhai Patel whose strong will and hand did so much to serve India”.
The stand of RSS was not different from Savarkar; moreover, being an apolitical organisation, dedicated mainly to cultural and social work, RSS’s decision of not participating in the Movement officially was very much justified.
It must be noted that not only Savarkar and Hindu Mahasabha but even a great revolutionary and visionary like Shri Aurobindo opposed the Quit India Movement of the Congress.
Also, in his book ‘Genesis and Growth of Nehruism’, historian Sitaram Goel writes how this step of the Congress proved detrimental to the nation. Goel writes, “The Congress refers with particular pride to the policies it pursued during the Second World War period, particularly after the Quit India Resolution was passed in Bombay in August 1942. To put it simply, we are asked to believe that British imperialism in India got frightened because some Congressmen in some parts of the country pulled down some telephone poles and broke a number of letter-boxes before they were herded into British jails.

But this is one of the big lies known to human history. And deep down in his own mind every Congressman knows that he is telling a lie. For, whatever might have been the merit or demerit of the Congress policies before the Second World War broke out, the policies which the Congress pursued during the War period were singularly barren and bankrupt. If these policies succeeded in achieving anything, it was the Partition of the country and the planting of the Communist Trojan horse squarely in our midst.”
What makes Goel’s assessment more credible is that he was an eye-witness to the whole movement. And that he was and always remained an admirer of Gandhji.

Same views are expressed by famous indologist Koenraad Elst too.

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One particular point which is raised against Savarkar is that he actively helped British in recruiting soldiers in British Army; this at the time when Subhash Chandra Bose was fighting against British Army to win India’s freedom. The real irony is that this ‘love’ for Bose is shown by those Communists who at the time of World War II called Bose a ‘dog’, a ‘quisling’ ‘donkey’, etc and even depicted this in the cartoons their magazine

“People’s War”.
On the other hand Bose himself publically praised Savarkar’s efforts in recruiting soldiers and reprimanded Congress leaders of their “whims and lack of vision”. On June 25, 1944, on Azad Hind Radio, Bose said, “When due to misguided political whims and lack of vision, almost all the leaders of the Congress party have been decrying all the soldiers in Indian Army as mercenaries, it is heartening to know that Mr Savarkar is fearlessly exhorting the youths of India to enlist in armed forces. These enlisted youths themselves provide us with trained men and soldiers for our Indian National Army.”
None of the allegations which Communists (and Mrs Sonia Gandhi) has put on RSS/the followers of Hindutva stand scrutiny.
Who Backstabbed?
Ironically, Sonia Gandhi was right when she pointed out that “Some organisations opposed the Quit India Movement” and that they have “no role in freedom struggle”. The only difference is that it was not RSS/Hindu Mahasabha, the ones who actually backstabbed the freedom movement were Communists; with whom Congress has close working relationship!

It was Communists who first decried World War II as an imperialistic war of Britain and opposed it. But the moment Stalin’s USSR changed sides in the War and teamed up with Britain, overnight the War became “People’s War”! British too were swift in uplifting the ban that was imposed on Communist Party. How Communists helped the British in sabotaging Quit India Movement and they acted as agents of Soviet Russia is too well known a fact to be
repeated here.
The followers of Hindutva did what they thought was the best in the nation’s interest. They made their own decisions of which they had every democratic right. Savarkar was unforgiving in his criticism of Congress but he also
acknowledged and respected those who were dedicated to nation’s interest. Communists on the other hand used filthiest of the words for their political opponents. As noted by Sitaram Goel Communists denounced “Sri Ramakrishna as a homosexual pervert, Swami Vivekananda as a Hindu imperialist, Sri Aurobindo as a dirty war-monger, Rabindranath Tagore as a pimp, and stalwarts of the freedom movement such as Sardar Patel as the progeny of pigs and bastards of Birla and Tata.”
Walking Leftwards
The intention of this article is not to prove whether Quit India Movement was a right step or not; that issue needs a much bigger debate. The intention here is to point out that many respectable scholars and great
leaders have criticised this Movement. And that this criticism can be done without insulting those who sacrificed their lives for the country like this way Savarkar did in his statement.
So when PM Modi gave the slogan of “Gareebi Bharat Chhoro, Jaativaad Bharat Chhoro” he was only following the tradition of respecting all the
patriots despite their ideological
leanings. He took the slogan of Bharat Chhoro out of history books and made it a matter of public policy. It was expected from Sonia Gandhi to
wholeheartedly welcome this gesture. But she chose to walk on the path of Left of mudslinging on political opponents. Left walked on this path and today it’s on the verge of extinction; if Congress choses to follow Left, the results won’t be too unpredictable.

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