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Sherman Stanley

India’s Left Wing Is on the March

(30 March 1940)

From Socialist Appeal, Vol. IV No. 13, 30 March 1940, p. 3.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’Callaghan for the Encyclopaedia of Trotskyism On-Line (ETOL).

At the end of last week’s session of the 5,000,000-strong Indian Nationalist Congress one clear fact had emerged from the deliberately confused reports appearing in the American press.

If not formally, then in reality, the Indian Nationalist movement is split. It is split sharply between its conservative, Gandhi-led right wing and its left-wing headed by ex-President of the Congress, Subhas Bose.

Hundreds of thousands of Indian workers, peasants and Congress organizers had travelled to Ramgarh from all parts of the Indian sub-continent to attend these historic sessions. They found that the sessions constituted one of the briefest Congress meetings ever held, lasting apparently less than three days. All of the work of the Congress was done prior to the full sessions by the Gandhi dominated Subjects Committee and Executive Committee.

The resolution of the Subjects Committee, adopted by the Congress delegates in great haste, called attention to Gandhi’s unwillingness to begin an anti-war or independence campaign at this time. It therefore follows that the Congress can do nothing – until Gandhi chooses to be “willing.”

Action Voted Down

All amendments – demanding a complete break With England, urging a revolutionary, mass action program and the launching of the independence campaign now – were voted down by the Gandhi followers. It was politely hinted that no action by Gandhi and the Congress could be expected for at “least three months.”

The meaning of this is that no action can ever be expected from Gandhi because if another three months drones by without anything occurring, the Congress will fall into an even more demoralized state than today and will lose all its support among the masses.

Emergence of Bose

Obviously, the most significant fact about the Ramgarh sessions was the dramatic emergence of the left wing nationalist, Subhas Bose.

Rump Session Acts

Speaking at the rump Congress session he organized in an adjoining field, Bose declared the aim of his Anti-Compromise Congress. “Before parting we must establish permanent machinery for waging an uncompromising war. The hope of this conference is that it will prelude a nationwide struggle along an all-India front.”

As a first step in his program of action Bose organized a dramatic demonstration of 5,000 men and women which marched through the Gandhi Congress shouting, “Down with Compromise.” The impotent supporters of Gandhi could only retort with “Long live Gandhi.”

The split in the Congress ranks at Ramgarh and the emergence of an anti-compromise wing is a decisive event, to be welcomed and supported as a major step forward in the struggle against British imperialism.

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