People's Democracy

(Weekly Organ of the Communist Party of India (Marxist)


No. 15

April 11, 2004

CPI(M) Statement On Vajpayee's 

Role In Freedom Movement


Launching his ‘Bharat Uday yatra’ at Kanyakumari, L K Advani had repeated the shop-soiled RSS propaganda that the communists betrayed the freedom struggle. Comrade Prakash Karat, CPI(M) Polit Bureau member and the Tamilnadu state committee of the CPI(M) released a list of communist leaders who, in Tamilnadu, alone had gone to the jail during the freedom struggle and challenged Advani and RSS to provide a list of RSS leaders who had participated in the freedom struggle. Till date, neither Advani nor any of his cronies have met this challenge. 


One need not go into the details of the already richly documented history of the role of the Left in India’s struggle for freedom. It would suffice to note that when the country was celebrating the 50th anniversary of the Quit India Movement in August 1992, the then president of India, Dr Shankar Dayal Sharma, addressing the midnight session of the Parliament said: “After large scale strikes in mills in Kanpur, Jamshedpur and Ahmedabad, a despatch from Delhi dated September 5, 1942, to the Secretary of State, in London, reported about the Communist Party of India: “the behaviour of many of its members proves what has always  been clear, namely, that it is composed of anti-British revolutionaries.”


On the contrary, the role of the RSS during India’s freedom struggle is an open secret. The Bombay Home Department, during the 1942 Quit India Movement, observed, “The Sangh has scrupulously kept itself within the law and in particular has refrained from taking part in the disturbances that broke out in August 1942.”


It is also no secret that the Hindutva icon, V D Savarkar, soon after his incarceration in the cellular jail in Andamans and after whom Advani named the Andaman airport only last year had begged the British to set him free.  Savarkar had said in a letter dated November 14, 1913, “I am ready to serve the (British) government in any capacity they like, for as my conversion is conscientious so I hope my future conduct would”. This is the same Savarkar who before his conversion to Hindutva was a staunch supporter of Hindu-Muslim unity and a firm opponent of the British rule. 


The BJP and its earlier formation, the Jan Sangh, have always operated under the strange topic that whenever facts are made public about them and their leadership, they start crying foul and with a sense of injured innocence call for a “dignified campaign”. Why can’t the BJP leaders be reined in when they dish out their cherished myths having no basis in reality, is understandable only as an underhand election tactic. But they should also face up to facts about their `supreme leader’ with 52 photographs in 48-page “Vision Document 2004”.


In 1942, Atal Behari Vajpayee, around 16, as an active member of the RSS not only did not participate in the freedom movement (as decreed by the RSS which did not want to oppose the British) but gave a statement of his non-participation in the militant events in his home village of Bateshwar on August 27, 1942. Not only that, he also named the other participants in these events who bravely faced the punishment for the same.  Vajpayee had himself accepted that the enclosed letter was signed by him.  (Frontline, February 20, 1998)


It may be noted that before the investigation by some journalists in this episode, A B Vajpayee and his hangers-on had been claiming that Vajpayee’s initiation in politics had started with Quit India movement.  A sponsored article on Vajpayee’s birthday on December 25, 1997 had asserted, “….it was the Quit India movement that fired his nationalist zeal. He was arrested in 1942 for lending his voice to this mounting demand for freedom……..”  (Frontline, February 20, 1998)


On January 21, 1998, Vajpayee himself issued a statement which had claimed, “It was my involvement in the Quit India movement and my imminent arrest at Gwalior that I was sent to my ancestral village, Bateshwar, about 60 miles from Agra. But I got involved in the Quit India movement in Bateshwar too.”


It is more than apparent that Vajpayee not only did not participate in the freedom struggle incident but falsely kept claiming the contrary, till some enterprising journalists brought the facts out. (see pages 8-9 of this issue). It is so typical of the RSS.      (April 5, 2004)