Skip to main content

Parallel govts: How unity of various streams of freedom movements took shape in India

By Bharat Dogra 

In one of the most inspiring examples of highly courageous spontaneous actions based on the unity of people, parallel governments were formed by freedom fighters in several parts of India in the course of the Quit India Movement in 1942. Although generally four such leading efforts have been identified in Satara (Maharashtra), Talcher (Odisha), Tamluk (West Bengal) and Ballia (Uttar Pradesh), there were some other smaller efforts as well such as those in Bhagalpur (Bihar) and Gurpal (Balasore, Odisha).
It is very interesting to see in most of these efforts (also very significant for understanding the freedom movement) that there was constant merging of the various streams of the freedom movement, with more militant activities openly taking place with the help of quickly mobilized militias and this being combined with various constructive programs emphasized by Mahatma Gandhi such as anti-liquor efforts and anti-untouchability movements. In addition we see actions in accordance with peasants and workers’ movements as well.
This can be very clearly seen in the great upsurge at Ballia during August 9 -- August 21 1942. Once Mahatma Gandhi had given his Quit India call the colonial rulers unleashed their full-fledged repressions and the most senior leaders including Mahatma Gandhi and Jawaharlal Nehru were immediately arrested. Angry people at several places now took the matter in their hands. In Ballia a man at the centre of the spontaneous movement was Chittu Pandey, who had been a part of the Gandhian freedom movement for nearly 17 years and in the course of numerous struggles had won the confidence of people. Both Jawaharlal Nehru and Subhash Bose have referred to him as the Lion of Ballia or Sher-e-Ballia.
Starting from August 9 there were several mobilizations of people with students playing an important role and women also coming forward in significant numbers. There was a big effort to unfurl the tricolor at Berriah police station which led to several freedom fighters being martyred. Next day people came out in even higher numbers and even more of them were seen to be marching from various villages with the stated aim of freeing their leaders from jails. The collector panicked and went to personally free Chittu Pandey and appealed to him to exercise such control over the increasing gatherings as to avoid loss of life.
So for some time control passed from the hands of the collector as the representative of the colonial government to a people’s government or a parallel government. As Jawaharlal Nehru has written, “In Ballia the British rule ceased to exist. The whole structure of British rule collapsed, from top to bottom.” Quickly the freedom fighters made efforts to start governance and declared the formation of a national government to operate temporarily from Ballia!
However this was too important and central a place for the British to lose control and huge armed forces were sent around August 22-23. Although an armed unit had been formed by the freedom fighters to defend the town, this was hardly adequate to face the strong army of colonial rulers. What followed was cruel repression and revenge.
However the parallel government or Patri Sarkar formed in Satara could resist and continue for a much longer time, maintaining at least some form of existence for almost three years or so. Nani Patil was an important leader here. This movement of freedom fighters succeeded in setting up village community organizations, contributing to durability. These led efforts for return of mortgaged land to peasants in some places.
In Tamluk, near Midnapur, again the parallel government could last longer and helped people to survive during devastation caused by a cyclone by distributing food grain among them.
In Odisha, in Talcher but also to a letter extent in Basudevpur the movement was strong in villages for some time and identified with the toiling people and working class.
It is remarkable that despite strong likelihood of the administration unleashing cruel repression sooner or later many, many people work very actively and with continuity for the success of these parallel governments and within all their limitations these governments could implement several welfare and reform activities. Combining both militant efforts and Gandhian constructive programs, these remind us of significant levels of unity of various streams of freedom movements, in several contexts, in critical times.
---
The author has contributed several articles, booklets and books on the freedom movement. His recent books include ‘When the Two Streams Met' and ‘Azadi Ke Deewanon Ki Daastaan'

Comments

TRENDING

A Hindu alternative to Valentine's Day? 'Shiv-Parvati was first love marriage in Universe'

By Rajiv Shah*   The other day, I was searching on Google a quote on Maha Shivratri which I wanted to send to someone, a confirmed Shiv Bhakt, quite close to me -- with an underlying message to act positively instead of being negative. On top of the search, I chanced upon an article in, imagine!, a Nashik Corporation site which offered me something very unusual. 

'Anti-poor stand': Even British wouldn't reduce Railways' sleeper and general coaches

By Anandi Pandey, Sandeep Pandey*  Probably even the British, who introduced railways in India, would not have done what the Bhartiya Janata Party government is doing. The number of Sleeper and General class coaches in various trains are surreptitiously and ominously disappearing accompanied by a simultaneous increase in Air Conditioned coaches. In the characteristic style of BJP government there was no discussion or debate on this move by the Indian Railways either in the Parliament or outside of it. 

Why convert growing badminton popularity into an 'inclusive sports opportunity'

By Sudhansu R Das  Over the years badminton has become the second most popular game in the world after soccer.  Today, nearly 220 million people across the world play badminton.  The game has become very popular in urban India after India won medals in various international badminton tournaments.  One will come across a badminton court in every one kilometer radius of Hyderabad.  

Swami Vivekananda's views on caste and sexuality were 'painfully' regressive

By Bhaskar Sur* Swami Vivekananda now belongs more to the modern Hindu mythology than reality. It makes a daunting job to discover the real human being who knew unemployment, humiliation of losing a teaching job for 'incompetence', longed in vain for the bliss of a happy conjugal life only to suffer the consequent frustration.

Faith leaders agree: All religious places should display ‘anti-child marriage’ messages

By Jitendra Parmar*  As many as 17 faith leaders, together for an interfaith dialogue on child marriage in New Delhi, unanimously have agreed that no faith allows or endorses child marriage. The faith leaders advocated that all religious places should display information on child marriage.

How embracing diversity enriched my life, brought profound sense of joy

By Mike Ghouse*  If you can shed the bias towards others, you'll love the connections with every human that God or his systems have created. This gives a sense of freedom and brings meaning and joy to life. Embracing and respecting how people dress, eat, and practice their beliefs becomes an enriching experience.

Ayurveda, Sidda, and knowledge: Three-day workshop begins in Pala town

By Rosamma Thomas*  Pala town in Kottayam district of Kerala is about 25 km from the district headquarters. St Thomas College in Pala is currently hosting a three-day workshop on knowledge systems, and gathered together are philosophers, sociologists, medical practitioners in homeopathy and Ayurveda, one of them from Nepal, and a few guests from Europe. The discussions on the first day focused on knowledge systems, power structures, and epistemic diversity. French researcher Jacquiline Descarpentries, who represents a unique cooperative of researchers, some of whom have no formal institutional affiliation, laid the ground, addressing the audience over the Internet.

Banned Maoist party protests in Jharkhand, Chhattisgarh, claims support across globe

By Harsh Thakor*  Despite being a banned and designated as terrorist organisation under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act since 2009, the Communist Party of India (Maoist) is said to have successfully implemented a one-day bandh across Kolhan division in Jharkhand on July 10th, with repurcussions in the neighbouring Chhattisgarh. The bandh was called to protest against alleged police brutality in the Kolhan-Saranda region.

Hindutva economics? 12% decline in manufacturing enterprises, 22.5% fall in employment

By Bhabani Shankar Nayak*  The messiah of Hindutva politics, Narendra Modi, assumed office as the Prime Minister of India on May 26, 2014. He pledged to transform the Indian economy and deliver a developed nation with prosperous citizens. However, despite Modi's continued tenure as the Prime Minister, his ambitious electoral promises seem increasingly elusive.