Pages From History : The Quit India Movement A Critical Appraisal


(EXTRACT from  People’s Democratic Revolution in India – An Explanation of the Programme—By DV Rao,1971

  1. The Third National Struggle (1930-1934)

It was the period when the world capitalist system was caught in the grip of a crisis, and fascism raised its ugly head. The German, Japan and Italian imperialisms had established a fascist system to suppress revolutions in their country and in the world, to destroy the socialist Soviet Union, which was the centre of world revolution, and to wage a war of aggression, to re-divide among themselves the colonies of other imperialist powers. The British and French imperialists, while playing a subservient role to the fascist countries, were aiding and abetting their wars of aggression, directly and indirectly. The Indian national revolution, which was directed against the British imperialism, had been a part of the world peoples’ struggl6 against world imperialism and world fascism. The Congress leadership, instead of advancing the revolution, utilised the economic crisis and the consequent people’s discontentment, to strengthen their influence and compromise with the British imperialism. This was the reason why the national struggle (1930-1934) has ended in a failure.

By this time, the Communist Party was formed, and had got a foothold among the working class. It had carried on a stubborn struggle against the compromising policies of the Congress leadership, and had mobilised the leftist forces inside the Congress. Thus the revolutionary proletariat had come to the fore with its independent political party, in the Indian National Movement. The Party had led the working class strikes, by the year 1926, and then political struggles like the Boycott of the Simon Commission. The British imperialists had arrested the leadership of the Party in March 1929, in connection with the Meerut Conspiracy case which is known to one and all. It should be noted that the State Government under the directions of the Central Government had foisted a case against us under the same sections as of the Meerut Conspiracy case, exactly after 40 years. What more evidence is required to prove that the present Government is following in the footsteps of the British imperialists?

The struggle between the leftists and the rightists was all about their respective slogans of Complete Independence, and Responsible Government within the British Empire. The British imperialists had not accepted even the latter demand, which was that of the liberals. As a result the Congress leadership, including Gandhiji, declared that complete independence was their objective. Complete independence has been the objective ever since. But no attempt was made to define its form and content. All this happened in 1929. A Civil Disobedience Movement was started in 1930, ostensibly for this purpose. There was no harm either for the British imperialism or feudalism, since it was a non-violent Satyagraha. Yet, the Congress leadership could create illusions among the people that they can achieve complete independence through Satyagraha, thus diverting their revolutionary consciousness.

On some occasions, the people’s movement had gone beyond the limits fixed by the Congress leadership. The workers went on strike. There were people’s demonstrations. The tenants in Uttar Pradesh refused to pay rents to the feudal landlords. Thus, the mass of the people have participated in the movement. The revolutionaries had raided the armoury in Chittagong (an important post in East Bengal) and had seized arms. The Garwali soldiers in Peshawar (West Pakistan) refused to fire on the people. Being Hindu soldiers, they exhibited a high degree of revolutionary consciousness, by refusing to fire on the Muslim population. Consequently, the soldiers had to undergo various terms of imprisonment ranging from ten years to life term. By condemning this action, Gandhiji had exhibited his counter­revolutionary and pro-imperialist nature.

The British imperialists had resorted to severe repression to suppress the mass movement. They did not stop at arresting people and their leaders, which was quite common. Lathi-charges, torture and shooting down unarmed people to kill were the order of the day. Though the people continued the struggle in spite of the repression, the Congress, under the leadership of Gandhiji, had unconditionally withdrawn the movement, without having any independence complete or incomplete. He had gone to the extent of blaming the people for not observing the principles of Satyagraha.

This struggle had made it clear that the peasantry was ready for the agrarian revolution, and the mass of the people for overthrowing imperialism. It was also clear, that a revolutionary struggle of a protracted nature was necessary. As a result of this struggle, the desire for independence and anti-imperialist consciousness had grown enormously.

  1. The Quit India Movement (August 1942)

This was the fourth struggle of the people of India against British imperialism. It was a country-wide struggle, which was revolutionary, and crossed the limits of non-violence, after the arrests of the Congress leaders in August 1942.

The Congress, in its foreign policy statements condemned fascism, and expressed solidarity towards the people in Russia and China, who were fighting against fascism. It had helped China in its fight against fascism by sending a Medical Mission. It had in turn received the help and cooperation of the people of other countries.

It is to be noted that it had started the ‘Quit India Movement’ in August, 1942, after the breakdown of compromise talks with the British imperialists. Though the ostensible aim of Quit India’ slogan was that British imperialism should quit India, in fact the Congress leadership aimed at a compromise. They started the movement at a time when the Japanese fascism, after occupying Malaya and Burma were knocking at the gates of India. This shows their inconsistent attitude towards opposition to fascism. This struggle got itself isolated from the anti-fascist struggle of socialism and democracy, since it was started at a time when world fascism was marching ahead. Taking advantage of this situation, the imperialists could isolate and suppress it.

It was a country-wide revolutionary movement. The revolutionaries in Satara district of Maharashtra, established village republics, i.e., ‘Patri Sarkar’ (parallel local government) and carried on the administration for some time. This is a clear example to show that the revolutionary situation was mature to complete the National Democratic Revolution in India against imperialism.

The policies adopted by the Communist Party of India in the period of anti-fascist war, and towards this movement have been, ever since, a controversial subject. The British imperialists removed the ban on the Communist Party, when the latter supported the anti­fascist war. It should not be forgotten that the Congress had also supported the anti-fascist war. Yet, it was wrong on the part of the Communist Party to think that imperialism leaves the country with the defeat of fascism and without a national democratic revolution. It was wrong to say that the anti-fascist war had become a People’s War, even before the fascists entered India and the people began to resist. It was wrong to renounce the anti-imperialist struggle for these reasons. This was a period when class collaborationist policies were adopted and practised by the Communist Party so openly and so nakedly. The Indian communists should have prepared the people for revolution by continuing the anti-imperialist struggle, according to their independent policies. The struggle should have been intensified, after the defeat of the Nazis in the Stalingrad Battle (February 1943).

India can attain independence through the revolution of the Indian people. The international situation, such as the defeat of fascism, and the victory of socialism and democracy only helps the revolution, but it cannot be a substitute for the revolution, nor can it complete the tasks which a revolution does. The Indian communists of those days had deviated from this fundamental point. This laid the basis for class collaborationist policies.

The communists in Burma, Malaya and Indonesia organised armed struggle, had their share in defeating fascism, thus established the hegemony of the proletariat in the National Democratic Revolution, and grew into a strong force.

The communist revolutionaries in Telangana organised an anti-feudal revolutionary movement in the rural areas through the Andhra Maha Sabha. They mobilised the broad masses, and won the sympathy and support of the national elements. They could achieve this only because they acted according to the principle of class struggle. It was this revolutionary movement which gradually developed into the armed struggle of the Telangana people in the post-war period.

It was correct on the part of the Indian communists to support the anti-fascist war during the Second World War. At the same time, it was wrong to abandon anti-British imperialist struggle. All the theories which led to such policies are class collaborationist.

The Second World War ended in 1945, with the total defeat of fascism and victory to socialism and democracy.

(EXTRACT from Pages-44- 48 of


People’s Democratic Revolution in India – An Explanation of the Programme—— By DV Rao.

This book was originallywritten during  1970-71,  and read out in full  as a Defence Statement, on  Dec 14 to 18, 1971,  in the Special Court that tried DV Rao T. Nagi Reddy and 40 others in the famous  Hyderabad Conspiracy Case , the  first of its kind after 1947.) 

(Com  DV Rao : July 12 is the death anniversary, and 2016 marks the beginning of the centenary,  of  Com DV Rao. Devulapalli Venkateswara Rao (Born 1917 June 1- died on 1984 July 12),  prominent communist revolutionary (CR) of India ,  known for his unique role in leading the Telangana People’s Armed Struggle (1946-51), was the youngest member of the Central Committee of  undivided Communist Party of India, and closely associated with the authorship of the Andhra Party Secretariat’s  Andhra Thesis (1948) that  raised, for the first time ever,  the relevance of Mao and  Chinese path  to the Indian revolution, i.e., 20 years before Naxalbari. He developed their Indian application subsequently as depicted in his extensive writings published in English and Telugu.  DV Rao along with his closest comrade-in-arms TN,  Tarimela Nagi Reddy (1917-1976) , the latter known for his magnum opus India Mortgaged,  represented the trend of revolutionary mass line in the Indian communist  movement. 

DV Rao  was a Member of the Loksabha during 1957-62. He  was the Founder-Editor of Proletarian Line, journal of CRs, being published since 1978-79.)

(See also : published a detailed tribute to DV Rao on July 12, 2016)

Compiled by M.K.Aditya (Media Person)

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