In this article we will discuss about the role of Nehru during Leftism in Congress.
Nehru was known for his leftist views in the Congress. He favoured non-co-operation and civil disobedience movements but did not appreciate Swarajists views and policy of wrecking Assemblies from within. He believed that there should be no difference in Congress party between rich and poor, classes and masses and towns and villages.
In 1928, he along with Subhash Bose founded India League with the objective of achieving complete independence for India and reconstruction of Indian society on the basis of social and economic equality. He strongly stood for complete independence of the country.
He said that the Congress should aim at economic, social and political swaraj and its economic goals should be clearly specified. He felt that it was wrong to believe that main cause of India’s poverty was foreign exploitation. It was very much linked with economic structure of our society as well.
For removing poverty and misery of the people of India Nehru felt that it was essential that far-reaching changes should be introduced in social and economic structure of the society. He wanted that present wide existing social and economic inequalities should be reduced. He tried to link freedom movement with social and economic conditions of the people.
He had his own reservations about Gandhian technique of non-co-operation and non-violent method of struggle. He could carry Karachi Session of Congress held in 1931 with him when he could get his Resolution on Fundamental Rights and Economic Policy passed.
The Rightists in the Congress including Sardar Patel and Dr. Rajendra Prasad did not very much appreciate Nehru’s Leftist views. But even then they nicely pulled on with him because of his respect for Gandhiji and Gandhian philosophy.
He accepted Congress policy of joining Ministries by Congress men on the basis of elections held under the Government of India Act, 1935. He was moving spirit behind the election manifesto prepared for contesting these elections.
His views in the Congress were appreciated by the peasants and the workers. Congress programme of reforming land tenure system, reduction in land revenue system and liquidation of rural indebtedness proved very appealing.
It was under Nehru’s influence that Congress party included in its programme demand that hours of work of the workers should be regulated and their working conditions improved. His programme and approach had mass appeal and it was amply reflected when Congress party won 1937 elections.
But when Congress Ministries failed to keep promises made to the people during election days he criticised these for their lapses. When Leftist forces began to gather round Subhash, Nehru instead of joining him sided with Gandhiji.
He did not support communist view point of supporting British government in its war efforts to fight against Fascism. He believed in Gandhian philosophy that objectives achieved with violence could not produce lasting results.
Though his views were those of Leftists yet these were so flexible that even the Rightists could be adjusted in these. That is perhaps the reason that as a leftist he succeeded in bringing changes in Congress while others failed.
The Leftists in India did not succeed much in changing the cause of freedom struggle. Their efforts to capture leadership of the Congress failed. But even then it cannot be denied that it was because of their presence that the Congress party adopted the goal of complete independence for India.
It was again because of them that at its Karachi session Congress passed a resolution on Fundamental Rights and Economic Policy. Progressive elements in Congress election manifesto of 1937 were incorporated because of their influence.
The Leftists, however, failed because they were badly divided and their extra territorial loyalties were disliked by the people of India and so also their appeal to the people to support British government in its war efforts.
Their adverse criticism of Subhash, Gandhiji and Quit India movement threw them away from nation’s main stream. They were over shadowed by the Rightists, including Gandhiji, in the freedom struggle. Thus, in spite of many brilliant thinkers, Leftists could not get mass support.