Remembering Bhagat Singh, Sukhdev and Rajguru

Today, is the 76th anniversary of the martyrdom of Bhagat Singh, Rajguru and Sukhdev. They were hanged on March 23, 1931 on flimsy, cooked up charges by the British colonial rulers. While they were interred in Lahore Jail during the period of their sham trial they were severely tortured and illtreated. While on the contrary whenever the Congress leaders were “jailed”, they were treated like royalty by the same foreign rulers. One wonders whether it was because the Congress was nothing but a British Weapon of Mass Delusion(WMD) aimed at fooling the Indian people.

Unfortunately, we are a country with a very severe problem of short term public memory. So as of today the only importance of this day for our people and our media is because the Indian Crikit team is on the verge of being eliminated from the World Cup Crikit.

Update- The Men in Blue just did it.

Update- Rajinder Puri writing in Samachar not only says that the Congress party was nothing but a British Weapon of Mass Delusion aimed at the people but goes one step further and calls it a traitorous party whose dissolution is imperative for the sake of the country’s future.

Contrary to the contemporary historian’s view that there would be no India without the Congress, I believe there will never be an independent India until the Congress –not Congress leadership –is buried fathoms deep. All political parties in India derive their culture from the Congress. The burial of the Congress would imply therefore burial of an all pervasive political culture. India’s political activity up to now has been in the shadow of the Congress. To justify burial of the Congress a brief outline seems necessary of the dissident view of recent history.

The Congress was created by the British to provide means for peaceful dissent after the violent Kuka revolt and the 1857 Mutiny. Free political expression by Indians enabled the British to govern wisely. Throughout the Congress’s freedom struggle, the British exercised influence over Congress leaders. There is no dearth of archival data to vindicate this fact.

Ravaged by the Second World War, dominated by US influence, intimidated by the Soviet threat, Britain granted India Independence in 1947. It did so wholly on its own terms. It partitioned the nation. It succeeded in transferring populations through engineered riots to create an overwhelmingly Islamic Pakistan which became later a member of the CENTO and SEATO defence treaties intended to contain Soviet and Red Chinese communist expansion.

Britain ensured that India and Pakistan would remain dominions of the British Commonwealth. It has been rightly said, therefore, that 1947 did not signify the sub-continent’s winning of independence, but a transfer of power from departing Englishmen to their brown understudies.

Accepting Partition was a brazen betrayal of the pledge given to the nation by the Congress. The Congress therefore lost the moral right to govern a free India. It ruled India as the appointee of the departing colonial power. Mahatma Gandhi faltered and allowed the betrayal. He later tried to undo the damage. He attempted to settle in Lahore and work against Hindu-Muslim division. His assassination aborted the attempt. His last will and testament, written on the day he died, sought dissolution of the Congress party.

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17 Comments

Filed under General, History, India, Neglected/Sidelined News, Opinion

17 responses to “Remembering Bhagat Singh, Sukhdev and Rajguru

  1. I wonder why so many Indians have an urge to denigrate the Indian National Congress which played a crucial role in the freedom movement. I think even Bhagat Singh and others would not condone such slander about the INC.

    It was the inherent strenght of a non-violent movement that prevented the Britishers from committing atrocities on the national leaders in an open way. This holds especially true when leaders of great mass appeal were involved (Gandhi, Nehru etc). While these leaders were still in the process of transforming into mass leaders they too were subject to inhuman acts (Gandhi in SA, Bal Gangadhar Tilak, Lala Lajpat Rai etc)

    In the case of our revolutionary leaders, the British Govt. used violence as the pretext for inflicting violence. In the case of non-violent movement, the Govt. would be damned in the eyes of the world if it used excessive violence. That is not to say that they did not use their power over Salt Satyagrahis or Quit India movement participants. But, to torture a national leader would be something totally different.

    Our understanding of India’s freedom movement is colored by our own political ideas of present day India. How many people actually know that Bhagat Singh was a sworn Socialist (just like Nehru), that later during his days, he appealed to people against individual heroic incidents?

  2. Not a fan, thanks for sharing your insight on this topic.

    Did the congress play a “crucial” role in India’s independence struggle?

    I don’t think so. because

    1) it is only with hindsight that we see all events before 1947 as leading to Independence. say for example someone living in 1931 or 1942 wouldn’t be ticking days in a calendar leading upto August 15, 1947.

    2) Victors get to write history and impose their own narrative on what happened. Since the Congress emerged the winner in the power game in 1947 it is their narrative that we get to hear.

    The fact is until August 2, 1942 the congress never asked for independence. It was either autonomy or dominion status within the British empire. And even then it was only in reaction to Bose’s efforts to free India by gaining Axis help. If the Congress had dilly-dallied then it could have lost its entire mass base.

    That shows the Congress never really fought for India’s Independence.It was just reacting to events as and when it happened to keep its political standing intact.

    The only other times that it came close to “challenging” the British rule was when it felt it had to do so since the passions were running high among the masses. the civil disobedience movement, which was launched after Jallianwallah bagh massacre in 1919 and the salt satyagraha, in the aftermath of Bhagat singh’s hanging in 1931.

    In both cases the congress just rode the waves and once the passions had cooled down it withdrew any demands for independence( if it had made any in the first place) or qutonomy or dominion status or whatever that could be said to be a”threat” to British rule.

    India got its independence in 1947 only because Britain had been totally devastated in WW2 and it could no longer hope to Pin India down. The Indian armed forces also were at the point of mutiny, partly because of the wartime efforts of Azad hind Fauj and their rising popularity among the Indian masses and in their own ranks. And the Brits knew their time was up. They could no longer rely on the Indian forces to pin India down and they exhausted by war couldn’t commit their own military resources to India if there was an popular uprising.They feared they would be massacred in the interiors of the country with no time for the nearly 100,000 europeans to escape to safety.

  3. INC’s role in the struggle for freedom is actively debated today in free India. That’s a hallmark of our great democracy.

    It’s factually incorrect that Congress never asked for total independence. In 1927, in the celebrated Lahore session, Jawaharlal Nehru moved the Poorna Swaraj resolution. Basically, it rejected any form of dominion and asked for complete independence. Bose was also actively involved, but Nehru’s youthful energy and oratorial skills made him the leader. They were both actively moving towards socialist ideas back then, but Nehru was able to get his ideas across more forcefully to the masses.

    It was in the 1927 session that Congress also resolved to start a civil disobedience movement, in case the Government did not accede to its demands. Salt Satyagraha was launched in 1930, before Bhagat Singh was hanged in 1931. In fact, the movement petered out in the days after Bhagat Singh’s death. Because, Gandhiji had by then, in view of the situation, signed an agreement with Lord Irwin to participate in the Second Round Table Conference for Indian independence.

    In 1919, the people at Jallianwala Bagh were actually peacefully assembling to protest the arrest of Satya Pal and Saifuddin Kitchlew, in the aftermath of the bandh called by Gandhiji. Gandhiji did “use” the situation to further the cause of independence though.

    The British couldn’t pin Indians down after the war. True. But, I am not sure of the relative roles of INA and INC. Quit India movement totally moved Indians. Civil servants, military personnel were all ready to participate. The British rule had lost all its legitimacy and it knew its days were numbered.

    I am allowed to rant on your blog, right? :)

  4. Not a fan,

    Ofcourse you are :).But i think there is no way your comments can be classified as rants.

    I give full credit to the very fact that the Congress went on to support the building of a democracy at a time when many newly independent countries turned despotic almost as a rule.

    Nehru could easily have done away with democracy, elections etc… and declared himself a dictator. On the flip side the Army could have taken over. None of that happened. Everyone kept their end of the bargain and played their part.

    But again going back to pre-independence period. The very reality that the Congress had to function as an overground political party meant that it couldn’t take a clear cut stand on the issue of Independence. If it had it would have been banned, its leaders forced to go underground and all the means of being a mass based party representing people from all corners of the country would have disappeared. So perhaps it was a conscious decision on the part of the party leadership to “moderate” its stand, and instead ask for repeal of draconian laws, seek autonomy, or at the most dominion status within British empire. I think that’s understandable.

    But what i object to is the Congress claims of having got independence for India on its own, EXCLUSIVELY. Which is definitely not true. There were clearly so many events, players and factors that began to work after 1941 when Bose escaped to Berlin, that it is impossible to say that any one player or event contributed to India’s freedom.So India’s freedom clock actually began to tick sometime in 1941 not from 1885 as the Congress would have us believe.

    Even from 1941 onwards the Congress did play its part, but so did other events like the devastation of Britain in WW2, the passions raised by the heroic efforts of Azad Hind Fauj and the fear in the minds of the Brits that a mass revolt was about to break out anytime if they tried to overstay their welcome and it would make it difficult for Europeans to extract themselves from the interiors of the country. If Churchill had been PM at the time instead of Attlee such a scenario might well have happened.

    So the only fact that the British left on their own ‘peacefully’ is trumped up by the Congress to say that they alone were responsible for India’s freedom using their non-violent means.In reality there were lot of other players and events which led to this outcome and the congress hagiography is written in a way to suppress their contributions and occupy all the glory for themselves.

  5. Rarely do blog discussions come to agreements. In this though, I have to agree with most of your points!

    About pre-independence Congress: It was being pulled in so many directions within itself — Gandhian, Leftist, Bose-version of leftism, Rightism and what not. And the country, true to it’s diversity presented a myriad of ideas. This point was strongly used by the British to deny any native representativeness. They started communal representation in legislatures, denied free entry into civil services etc. So, Congress tried to amalgamate all the different views and present a unified view to the common enemy. In that sense, Congress did “moderate” its views. But, after 1927, there was no backing-away from complete independence at all.

    I agree that school textbooks might paint a picture of Congress being the only party that struggled for freedom. While this isn’t true, Congress WAS the main unifying factor in the nation that was just (re)emerging after 1885. That this is true, is reflected in the 1937 elections to the provinces all over the country. Congress emerged as THE party, showing that people all over the country imposed their faith in this party alone. Congress’ achievement lies in nourishing the unity among the national diversity. Taking everyone along with it (capitalists, socialists, harijans, brahmins, Muslims, Hindus) in the national struggle.

  6. Not a fan, Even blog and online discussions can be fruitful if people want it to be and we certainly are :).

    I agree that the Congress in the pre-independence period made a conscious effort to be a pan-Indian party representing all views, regions, religions etc… that is to be considered good in one way.

    But there is a flip side to it. By trying to be everything to everyone the Congress not only reduced its own coherence within but also like a big overarching banyan tree prevented other parties/players from coming up and competing for the political center. This could be because of three reasons,

    1) Its very charter aimed at being a pan-national organisation and it took that a tad too seriously.

    2) There was a paranoia among its leadership that if any other player other than a pan-national organisation is allowed to come up then it could splinter ‘national unity’ and make the Indian position vis-a-vis the British rulers weak.

    3)It considered itself as the only possible such group and looked at all other political groups with suspicion.

    This explains why the Congress insisted on being a big umbrella group that represented all communities to the chagrin of the AIML, the marxists, dalits and the sangh parivar and some regional groups who claimed that they were better positioned to represent their respective constituencies.

    Even to this day the Congress stand officially remains the same though somewhat moderated in practice.

    And the reason why Congress did so well in the 1937 elections and in the post independence period till the 1980s is quite simple. It was the only organisation then which was wired down to the block level. A very strong grassroots presence unmatched by any other party not even the AIML even in areas that subsequently went on to be part of Pakistan.

    So effectively the Congress by monopolising the political center in the country left other political players with no other option but to take extreme positions and make their own dealings with the British rulers- Which each one of the above mentioned players did.

    And in the case of one i.e., the AIML led to horrific tragedy.

  7. RS

    By trying to be everything to everyone the Congress not only reduced its own coherence within but also like a big overarching banyan tree prevented other parties/players from coming up and competing for the political center.

    Apollo,
    Remember it is about the freedom struggle we are talking about.

    I dont think INC really used its popularity among the public to prevent other political parites from coming up. INC can’t be faulted if the then public trusted them more than others.

    If there were numerous equally strong political parties with different agendas, then IMO we still would have been under the British rule coz the Brits would have it easy playing off one against the other. See just what one Muslim league did to India – they took away a good chunk of our land and the Brits actively encouraged Jinnah to have it by dividing India.

  8. RS,

    I’am not saying that the pre-independence congress used its “popularity” to prevent others rising to occupy the centerstage.

    What i’am saying is that the Congress used its “position” to prevent others from rising to occupy the centerstage both during the pre-independence and post-independence period.

    The Congress party holds the record for the most number of dismissals of opposition governments in the states. And it also pulled down every coalition government it was involved in before the current UPA.

    During the pre-independence period when it did not have the political power it did this by positioning itself as the only possible “pan-national” organisation capable of presenting a united face to the British rulers.

    It treated any other political group which deviated even slightly from its “pan-national” position with suspicion and also encouraged that suspicion whether it was justified or not via the writings of its leaders and supporters, party propoganda and sympathetic journalists.

    It also tried to effectively pull the rug from under the feet of other political outfits by trying to appease their constituencies with the kind of stands which even those parties wouldn’t take and in the same breath branded those parties as narrow minded.Examples range from AIML to Dalits to Communists to RSS to many more.This left all these parties with no other option but to take more extreme stands to keep themselves relevant.

    I don’t agree that the Congress was the only possible way to rally around for the national cause.It is possible that all the above groups plus many others e would have moderated their stand and moved to the political center as they participated more and more in the political process and built stakes on a broad basis.

    And even the AIML fiasco wouldn’t have happened if the Congress was less paranoid. If it had let others a broader playing field there would have been more serious players.And it would have been difficult for the AIML to project itself as the sole representative voice of all the Indian muslims if say for example there was a regional party in Bengal or Punjab with large number of muslim and non-muslim members, perhaps even the socialists(I’am not taking about the treacherous CPI) with many members from different backgrounds, all this could have put paid to AIML’s agenda since then it would have been only one voice among the many and it could easily have been branded as “extremist and communal” and sidelined.

  9. I have to agree with RS. In the Second Round Table Conference when multiple parties (including Hindu Mahasabha, Depressed Classes Federation etc) participated, the British succeeded in giving us absolutely nothing.

    I think it’s weird to fault Congress for the lack of public support to other parties. Congress had no power or position. All it did was convince masses of its policies and methods.

    Had Congress not been “paranoid” about some parties, we would have ended up with a weak centre with large autonomous powers to at least some states.. And the country would have been pulled apart in a thousand directions in its initial years. Had it not been “paranoid”, Congress would have accused of diluting its ideological position too.

    If today, we are able to sustain our coalition polities and regional parties, it’s because of the way our constitution was written. And regional/religious parties did not have much say in it. Constitutionally, we have created a strong centre and weaker states. While the constitution may have been abused multiple times, the constitution’s intentions in keeping the country integrated with President’s rule are beyond question.

  10. A lot more personal research and reading and analysis should help more than throwing arguments here, especially of people known to have particular political leanings.

  11. Apollo

    not_a_fan,

    it is obvious that Rajinder Puri does not like the Congress. but that does not make him any more or less reliable source of information than say someone who likes the Congress.

    I would like to invite both yourself and RS to take this debate further along with me, check many sources, both online and offline and together lets come to a firm conclusion.

  12. No, my objection is that he seems to be putting in his value judgements more than facts. How is burial of the Congress going to help bury the “Congress culture”?

    From what I have studied, the “safety-valve” theory (i.e, Congress was created so that people don’t revolt violently, but only peacefully petition to the British) has long been de-bunked.

    Anyway, I like your idea. I think it is a worthwhile pursuit. However, I am busy with my civils preparation (!). Yeah, I should ideally not be surfing either :) So, my contribution could be very sparse till my exams.

    So, the debate is on the role of Congress in the freedom struggle, right?

    But, before we analyse all these issues, there should be a firmer framework for debating here, I think. For example, we should choose a basic issue, collect facts about that particular issue, settle it, and use that as data for future etc..

    ps: I should probably stop using the name not_a_fan now :) maybe something like Zeus to match my opponent :)

  13. not_a_fan oops Zeus,

    thanks for accepting my invitation :). yes, we should have some ground rules for the debate(also applicable to RS when he joins us).

    1. We all make our concluding arguments by April 15th.

    2. Since this is a huge topic we will narrow it down to focus on the formative years of the Congress and the period from 1885-1922, the disobedience movement and the rise of Gandhi as a national level leader.

    This is because we can then concentrate on the charter of the party and what the founding fathers of the congress intended.

    Thereafter there are two periods starting from Gandhi’s rise to prominence and the later post-independence period. we will leave out both of them unless we need to refer them to make some points relevant to the topic and even then only if absolutely necessary like for example we want to analyse the effects of a decision taken in 1918 perhaps for some reason that made sense then and had some other consequences in the later years.

    I would like to go first, i will post a brief on the beginnings of the Congress party and its charter in a short while.

  14. Sorry, I had been busy with a lot of personal work over the vknd. I will post a full comment by today evening. accordingly we can also adjust the end date.

  15. No problem dude, take your time. I have exams going on too.

  16. Surfing around reddit.com I noticed your web site bookmarked as:
    Remembering Bhagat Singh, Sukhdev and Rajguru | The State Of the Oldest Nation.
    Now I am assuming you bookmarked it yourself and wanted to ask
    if social book-marking gets you a good deal of traffic?
    I’ve been considering doing some social bookmarking for a few of my sites but wasn’t sure if it would generate any positive results.

    Thanks.

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