In this article we will discuss about the Role of Communist Party in India’s Struggle for Independence
The Communists too had very little impact on the freedom struggle of the country because their ideology and method of struggle did not suit the people of India. The Communist party and individual Communist leaders were practically nowhere in 1885, when Indian National Congress was founded and even long after that till 1924, when in September of that year Satya Bhatta founded Communist Party of India.
The party’s objective was to struggle for complete swaraj for the country in which there will be common ownership over all means of production and distribution. These will be used for the welfare of the masses. The Communists rejected Gandhian philosophy of non-violence and in 1925 expressed their desire for independence from the control of Comintern.
They made it clear that they were not their subordinates. They wanted that radical changes should be brought in Congress party programmes. They were critical of both the Congress and Swaraj party. They pleaded that the Congress party should follow policy of militant mass action and policy of surrender and compromise should be discarded.
They considered that Congress was at present under the influence of bourgeois leadership from which it should be liberated. In 1926, Communists decided to work under the guidance of Comintern and some Communist leaders even attended Sixth Congress of Communist International held in September, 1928.
It decided to fight on two fronts for country’s freedom namely National bourgeoisie on the one hand and British imperialism on the other. It was at this Communist International that about India it was resolved that, “The Communist must unmask the national reformism of the Indian National Congress and oppose all the phases of the Swarajists and Gandhists, etc., about passive resistance.”
The Communists should fight against Gandhian ideology. Accordingly they criticised Gandhian philosophy of Civil Disobedience movement for being not a struggle but a manoeuvre of the Indian bourgeoisie to obtain concessions from imperialism. They believed that Gandhian programme diverted attention of the workers and peasants from their main struggle against landlords and capitalists.
But even then when important Congress leaders were arrested in Meerut Conspiracy case Communist leaders did not favour this arbitrary move of the British government and formed a Civil Defence Committee which included such prominent leaders, as Moti Lal Nehru, Jawahar Lal Nehru, Dewan Chaman Lal and many others. Funds were also raised for fighting court case.
Because of their negative approach towards Satyagrah, the Communist lost the appreciation of masses and when their leaders were arrested in Meerut conspiracy case, they went out of national mainstream.
But those who were not arrested started a paper called ‘Workers Weekly’ which pleaded that working class must form a political party and that they can play effective role only if they are leaders in an organisation with which they are associated.
The Communists in India favoured complete independence of India not with the help of ahimsa or non-violence but with the use of violent methods. They wanted that all British factories should be confiscated and then nationalised. No compensation should be paid for confiscated lauds and other properties of landlords and other propertied classes.
They also favoured nationalisation of banks, railways and all other major industries. All debts, according to them, should be cancelled. The minorities should have right of self determination and native states should be abolished. An all India workers and peasants Soviet Republic should be created.
The government, however, did not favour the activities of the Communists in India and on 23rd July, 1934 it imposed a ban on the functioning of the party. The Communists now tried to infiltrate in the Congress and some of them pleaded for constituting a united front of all leftist forces so that a solid fight could be put against British empire.
They did not favourably view constitutional scheme embodied under the Government of India Act, 1935. They were opposed to Federal pattern for India and also scheme of provincial autonomy.
The Communists had all along been condemning British government as an imperialist and capitalist power which was exploiting the poor Indians. They wanted that the aim of India’s freedom struggle should be that of throwing Britishers out of India. But when Soviet Russia joined Second World war on the sides of the Allies, the war became all of a sudden people’s war.
They appealed to the people of India to extend whole-hearted support to Britain in war efforts. This completely alienated the sympathies of the people of India for the Communists of India.
They thus went out of main stream of national struggled. They also got a serious push out when they declared Subhash Chandra Bose as traitor and openly condemned Gandhian philosophy, particularly his policies of Satyagrah and Ahimsa. Thus, the party could not leave much impact during the difficult days when the country was fighting for winning freedom.