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Friday, May 3, 2019

this day (3rd May) 80 years ago ! ~ political significance in India

The problem with Cine stars is – ‘after acting in a few films’ they feel they are Scientists, technologists, and .. … and start building-up political aspirations.  Not entirely their fault – the masses too hero-worship them and feel that they can do wonders in politics.  In a recent political meeting,  telling the audience why he joined the Congress after quitting the BJP, Shatrughan Sinha  said, "This Congress Parivar (family) was the party of Mahatma Gandhi, Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel, Mohammed Ali Jinnah, Jawaharlal Nehru, Indira, Rajiv Gandhi, Rahul Gandhi and Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose.   Was that simply  an apparent gaffe, or knowledge of history of  actor-turned-politician Shatrughan Sinha !
We read in our history books – of the role of Indian National Congress in freedom struggle, the role of Jawaharlal Nehru after whom every scheme of Govt was named after ! – how Mohandas Gandhi won freedom through his non-violent means .. never read on how to wrest sovereignty over a subcontinent from a world power? The British-Indian empire was built on bluff and on the dividedness of the population against itself. This was not threatened by the initial Congress movement, which was just a talking shop of lawyers pleading for native interests within the British empire. By contrast, it had really been threatened by the Mutiny of 1857, when different communities rallied around the Sepoys and came together to revolt against the British. At a time when their existence was threatened in two World Wars,  British were afraid of military revolt, particularly by the native mercenaries on whom they counted to uphold their imperial edifice, not of pious discourses and slogans.
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~ at the top of them, was the  man, the rebel with a cause, for sure was brilliant, innovative and out of the box – in 1942, in Berlin,  – six months after Adolf Hitler had assured Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose that he could travel to Japan, he was still stuck in Germany. It was at that time,  Emilie Schenkl gave birth to their daughter, Anita. But duty beckoned the warrior. On Feb 8, 1943, Bose bade them farewell and boarded a German U-180 boat. He would not see them again. 
Nethaji Subash Chandra Bose was the tallest leader about whom the Nation did not read in History books . . ..  not many would know that Nethaji Subash Chandra Bose was elected president of the Indian National Congress for two consecutive terms but resigned from the post following ideological conflicts with Mahatma Gandhi. .. .. .. and today (3rd May) is of National significance.
It was on this day, 80 years ago ! (on 3.5.1939) – the Forward Bloc was formed by Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose, who had resigned from the presidency of the Indian National Congress on 29 April after being outmanoeuvred by Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi. The formation of the Forward Bloc was announced to the public at a rally in Calcutta. Bose said that who all were joining, they had to never turn their back to the British and must fill the pledge form by cutting their finger and signing it with their blood.  The first among them were  seventeen young girls who stood up and  signed the pledge form.  It was to be a break-away group coming out of Congress questioning the ideals and more directly the functioning of the party and the tepid reaction against the ruling British.
In developing  an alternative leadership inside the Congress, Nethaji Bose became the president of the Forward Bloc and S.S. Cavesheer its vice-president. A Forward Bloc Conference was held in Bombay.   In July 1939 Subhas Chandra Bose announced the Committee of the Forward Bloc. It had Subhas Chandra Bose as president, S.S. Cavesheer from Punjab as its vice-president, Lal Shankarlal from Delhi, as its general secretary and Pandit B Tripathi and Khurshed Nariman from Bombay as secretaries. Other prominent members were Annapurniah from Andhra Pradesh, Senapati Bapat, Hari Vishnu Kamnath from Bombay, Pasumpon U. Muthuramalingam Thevar from Tamil Nadu and Sheel Bhadra Yagee from Bihar.  In August, the same year Bose began publishing a newspaper titled Forward Bloc. He travelled around the country, rallying support for his new political project.
In  June 1940,  Forward Bloc held its first All India Conference in Nagpur. The conference declared the Forward Bloc to be a socialist political party, and the date of 22 June is considered as the founding date of the party by the Forward Bloc itself. The conference passed a resolution titled 'All Power to the Indian People', urging militant action for struggle against British colonial rule.  Soon thereafter, on 2 July, Bose was arrested and detained in Presidency Jail, Calcutta. In January 1941 he escaped from house arrest, and  went into exile. He travelled to the Soviet Union via Afghanistan, seeking Soviet support for the Indian independence struggle. Stalin declined Bose's request, and he then travelled to Germany. In Berlin he set up the Free India Centre, and rallied the Indian Legion.
Without Nethaji, the party struggled to establish itself in India.  Ahead of the 1946 assembly elections the ban on the Bloc was lifted in June that year.  After Independence of the Nation, the party  renounced all  links with the Congress once and for all, and reconstruct itself as an independent opposition party. There was to be splits too - the 'Subhasist' group, led by Ruiker and Cavesheer, called for a conference in Chandannagar, West Bengal.  On  the same dates Yagee organised a conference in Calcutta. In 1955 the Indian National Congress adopted socialism as its policy.  Leaders  like Yagee and Singh then proposed that as the Congress had become a socialist party, the Forward Bloc ought to merge with it.  
 In Tamilnadu, the death of  Muthuramalingam Thevar in Oct 1963 saw a power-struggle  between two of his disciples.  In the by-election for the Aruppukottai Lok Sabha constituency seat vacated by  Muthuramalingam Thevar's death in  1964, Forward Bloc was defeated for the first time.
History is replete with many facts which were not represented properly in the history books and we read a different version altogether ! 
With regards – S. Sampathkumar
3rd May  2019.

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