(Online Course) GS Concepts : Mordern Indian History – The Left Movement

Subject : Modern Indian History
Chapter : The Beginning of The Gandhian Era

Topic: The Left Movement

Question :  Give a brief description of the Left
Movement in India?

Answer :

The emergence and growth of the leftist movement was the
result of a combination of factors development of Indian industries the economic
crunch caused by the two World Wars and the success of the Bolshevik Revolution
in Russia. The emergence of Indian Communism out of the shortcoming of the
mainstream national movement is quite undeniable. It was borne Out of mostly of
peasant and labour activists, Non-Cooperators, Khilafatists and revolutionaries
whose aspirations and participation in the national movement remained either
unfulfilled or insufficient. They sought alternate roads for their demands and
some joined the Left Movement.


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The founder of the Indian communism was Naren Bhattacharki
(alias Manabendra Mikhail Nath Roy), a Yugantar revolutionary. After meeting the
Bolshevik Mikhail Borodin in Mexico in 1919 and helping in the establishment of
a Communist Party, Roy attended the second Congress of Communist International
in Russia in 1920. Hereafter ensued a much celebrated dialogue between Naren
Bhattacharki and Lenin on the strategy of Communists in the colonial world. He
then founded the Communist Party of India in Tashkend in October 1920. Various
formal Communist bodies were formed in the period 1921-25 in different parts of
the country. Satyabhakta organised an All-India Conference of the communists at
Kanpur in December 1925. The convening of this Conference under the
President-ship of Singaravelu Chettiar of Madras is considered as the formal
beginnings of Indian Communism. Between 1992 and 1927 a number of organisations
cropped up, essentially to provide legal cover to workers and peasants. These
included Labour Swaraj Party of Bengal, Congress Labour Party in Bombay, Kirti
Kishan Party in the Punjab and Labour Kisan Party of Hindustan in Madras.
Ganbani, Mehnatkash, Kranti and Krantikari were some of the popular journals and
newpapers.

With the agreement of supporting the national movement as
encouraged by Lenin, the Communist Party of India (CPI) asked its members to
join the ranks of the Congress and to form a strong Left wing within it.

The labour movement was not far behind in its development. In
the first half of 1920 there were approximately 200 labour strikes. Under the
Presidentship of Lala Lajpat Rai All-India Trade Union Congress held its first
session in October in Bombay. Leaders like Jawaharlal Nehru, and Subhas Chandra
Bose were also Left inclined and brought Left-wing tint in Congress. The left
influences was very, strongly visible in the second, phase of revolutionary
terrorism between 1922 and 1928. In December 1928, a Conference of different
labour-kisan parties was called forth and they merged into All-India Workers and
Peasant’s Party (WPP). Its’ aim was to work within the Congress and infuse in it
a more radical orientation. Their programme comprised abolition of zamindari and
redistribution of land, development of the peasants and workers movement and
raising the general standard of the masses. Their presence in the Congress gave
the Communists a strong entrée point. However, the Government, ever paranoid of
socialism, grew alarmed at the increase in Left activities and subsequently
arrested 32 political and trade union leaders in March 1929 under Meerut
Conspiracy Case which dragged on for three odd years. These were defended by
Jawaharlal Nehru, M. A. Ansari and M. C. Chagla. 27 of the accused were
sentenced to rigorous imprisonment while Muzzafar Ahmed was given life
imprisonment.

In 1928 with the adoption, in CPI meet at Calcutta in 1929,
of the Comintern change of policy, the Congress was declared as the class party
of the, bourgeoisie and all connections with it were broken. There was another
shift when in 1934, the Communists were asked to join back the national
movements against imperialism. Many Communists joined the leadership of the
Congress Socialist Party (CSP). CSP was formed in 1934 in Pune under the
chairmanship of Narendra Dev with the aim of consolidating Leftist proposals
after gaining independence. It was geared towards moulding Congress along
socialist lines. Nehru and Bose supported CSP from outside. However, CSP could
not really gain much headway. Neither could it leave Congress that this point in
time as it would have weakened the CSP. Gradually, within Congress there emerged
two camps on account of the rowing socialist influence in INC. Congress got
divided along “Leftist” and “Rightist” predilections. The radical leaders like
G. B. Pant, P. D. Tandon and Sri Prakash joined CSP and harped on the local
Congress executives to implement radical measures like removal of middlemen;
cancellation of debts of peasants owed to the landlords and regulation of land
tax. This was criticized by the right wing leaders like Patel.

The Cabinet Mission Plan was rejected by the CSP and it
boycotted the Constituent Assembly. CSP dropped Congress from its nomenclature
in February-March 1947 and threw its door open to non-Congress members. Its
connections with the Congress were formally severed in 1948 after Patel’s
declaration that all political parties formed within Congress were outlawed.
Given the option to join or opt out, the Socialist Party chose the latter.
However, socialist influence was carried on by Nehru who did not agree with
forming a separate organisation or breaking away from Congress and severing the
ties with Gandhi and right wing nationalists.

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