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Sherman Stanley

India Congress Meets
as British Begin New Terror

(March 1939)

From Socialist Appeal, Vol. III No. 16, 17 March 1939, pp. 1 & 2.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’Callaghan for the Encyclopaedia of Trotskyism On-Line (ETOL).

The 52nd Annual Convention of the Indian Nationalist Congress – the mass movement of Nationalist India – is now in session in the tiny village of Tripuri in Central India.

The British slave-masters of India are openly signifying their desire to install throughout the country their brutal military dictatorship which they disguise under the name of Federation. Lord Linlithgow, the Chamberlain-appointed viceroy of India, openly states his intention to impose the new Slave Constitution upon the country within the next few months.

Prior to the Congress sessions the country was swept by a series of bloody religious and communal outbreaks between Hindus and Moslems. These riots are the clearest possible symptoms of the major battles that approach. Their meaning is equivalent to that of a falling barometer at sea. They are deliberately organized, planned and provoked by the British in an effort to relieve the powerful pressure of mass discontent. Already they have resulted in hundreds of deaths and thousands of wounded in some of India’s major centers – Lahore, Cawnpore, Calcutta, Benares, etc.

The action of the British in instigating these riots between men who really have the same interest in driving out the foreign oppressors, reveals the desperate position of the imperialist overlords. They are determined to hold on to India no matter how much slaughter and bloodshed is required. In the next few months even the most cynical bourgeois will be unable to talk of British “democracy.” The British and Scottish troops of His Majesty’s Colonial Army will be giving lessons in pillage and destruction to Franco’s Moors!

Ghandi [sic] Strengthens Right Wing

Over 6,000 delegates from the most distant corners of British India’s 11 Provinces are assembled at Tripuri. They are meeting on a rough plain where a temporary village of bamboo huts has been erected. Will they furnish the revolutionary leadership eagerly sought by the workers and peasants? The 500,000 workers, peasants, students and middle class Indians who are attending the open-air Congress impatiently await the answer.

Early reports indicate that a sharp and bitter struggle between the conservative followers of Gandhi on the one hand and the radical-minded Congress socialists on the other hand is now going on. Gandhi – who is now held in high favor by the British imperialist circles, and who is looked upon (with complete justification!) as England’s best friend among the Indian people – is determined that the Congress shall not pursue revolutionary methods. Apparently he has succeeded by his recent demagogic fast in strengthening the hand of the Congress right-wing. The furthest thought from Gandhi’s mind is to embarrass the British by launching a direct mass struggle for power. It is with little wonder that we learn of his nomination as “Britain’s best policeman” in India. He, along with his middle-class and capitalist following, do not oppose the Slave Federation of Britain, provided certain milk-and-honey reforms are adopted.

Liberal Leads Left

As for the Congress left-wingers, no doubt many of them are putting up a serious and militant struggle against the compromisers. But they too suffer from the false notion that national unity at any price is preferable to a split in the Congress ranks. They have pinned their hopes on a false leader who differs in no respect from any of the numerous middle-class “friends of labor” who always end up by going over to the other side. Subhas Chandra Bose, newly-elected Congress President, is a liberal, cloaking his vacillations in loud-mouth phraseology. But nobody can expect a revolutionary lead from him. This “friend of labor” wrote in a recent issue of the Indian Stalinist paper, “The unity of the national fight for Independence must be maintained. Let this be clearly understood that we of the Left do not hanker for positions, we do not want to capture the Congress and to oust the Right. We want to retain them, even at the very front of our movement.” To depend on Bose for leadership is equivalent to going into battle with hands tied and eyes blindfolded.

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