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Gandhi's intended to emancipate people from British, preserve capitalist-feudal structure

By Harsh Thakor 

On January 30th in 1948, Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi fell to the bullets of fascist communal forces, as martyr who fought for communal amity. Every secular democrat should salute his efforts in the final stages to combat and nullify communal violence, reject the Mountbatten Settlement and offer moral support to Pakistan. With RSS sponsored Hindu fascism flowing at an ebb it is imperative to resurrect a figure like Gandhi. Ironic that even Marxists like late Suniti Kumar Ghosh, Rajni Palme Dutt and Stalinist Vijay Singh, hailed role of Gandhi in the final stages.
The democratic forces of India should strive to carry Gandhi’s mantle to overpower the Hindutva fascists. Gandhi, though dead, continues to shimmer his soul to India and the world. Significant that today many Gandhians leave no stone unturned in condemning the Indian constitution being thrown at the mercy of Hindutva fascists, and stripped of it’s secular sanctity. Many have boldly raised their voices in the saffron colour penetrating every rung of society, suppression of dissent and unlawful attacks on minorities. They have also resisted projects sponsored by globalisation, denying habitation to the tribal community.
At the ripe age of seventy-eight years might well he unhesitatingly flung himself into the breach, when others failed or faltered, and gave every drop of his blood to save India from the wrath of communal carnage and reaction that had followed on the ill-omened August settlement against whose consequences he had warned.
The record of his last duel, and the manner of his death, must be archived in a museum of history of liberation. The last phase of Gandhi was the crowning moment of his life. Bravery confronting religious fascism or communalism transcended zones rarely penetrated in history.

Analysis of Contradictory Character and role of Gandhi

Gandhi’s unmatched achievement in the sowing of the Indian national movement is commendable. He lit the spark of upsurge against imperialist domination. He extricated the national movement form the narrow boundaries of liberal constitutionalism to the masses. He strove for democratic unity in extinguishing communal divisions. Like his great predecessor, Tolstoy, he fostered rebellious animosity towards the shackles of a false civilisation, even though he offered no precise social theory alternative.
Gandhi’s relentless spirit, his honesty, courage and love of humanity reverberated in the mist of many inconsistencies and contradictions and failures of leadership, which were the expression of the social conditions of his era, of the still contradictory, immature, transitional stage of popular and national awakening that he at once knit and manifested.
I do not tag the label of ‘Pro-British’ on Gandhi nor do I hail him as a soldier of ‘liberation.’ His intention was to emancipate Indian people from the British by preserving the capitalist or feudal structure, offering no concrete agenda of abolishing landlordism, establishing rule of workers, or confiscating imperialist capital. 
I am critical of the Communist Party of India in 1948 classifying Gandhi as an anti-imperialist liberator but disagree with the tag the Communist Revolutionary party and intellectuals tagged Gandhi, as an ‘agent of British Imperialism. ‘I do not ascribe to the analysis of Suniti Kumar Ghosh that Gandhi tailored types of movements only to nullify or bend anti-imperialist resistance and masking them as anti-British.
Gandhi was the equivalent of a Tolstoy in India, being a master in devising forms of mass mobilisation. He understood the idioms or language of the people better than the Communists and was genius in tapping the creative energy of the Indian people. His predominant weakness was that he galvanised people on basis to Hindu sermons like ‘Ram Rajya ,giving the movement a religious shape.
Often he spoke on behest of the Industrialist class like in the Round Table conference and morally compromise with Indigo planters in Champaran or with Mill Owners in Ahmedabad. In crucial junctures,Gandhi frustrated the revolutionary energy of the masses.
His weaknesses followed from the transitional stage of the movement he represented. When he took service in the uniform of imperialism, even though only as a stretcher-bearer, in its war against the Boers, or, even worse, in its war against the Zulus, he was still tied by old conceptions of ‘loyalty’ which appeared again in the First World War.
Like his predecessor, Tilak, he established bridge between militant nationalism and Hindu revivalism, even though he sought to refine Hinduism and relentlessly confronted communal and caste separatism.However this combination of nationalism and Hindu revivalism paved the way for imperialist policies to play on religious divisions, and helped to plant the seeds of the terrible harvest that finally resulted also in his own death at the hands of a Hindu chauvinist.
His lack of any clear social theory, and combination of idealisation of the abstract ‘peasant’ with the preaching of the doctrine of ‘trusteeship’ of the landlord and capitalist, inevitably made his social teaching and practical leadership an instrument of the big propertied interests which in fact moved to capitulation to imperialism. He felt threatened by mass violence, and perceived in the rising revolt of the workers and poor peasantry only the menace of ‘red ruin and anarchy’.
He was unable to comprehend how much the real menace of violence and anarchy had its roots not in the left, but from the Hindu right wing. His theories of ‘non-violence’ morally in practice patronised he coffers of the propertied classes, and, in the final resort, of imperialism.
Gandhi was one of the most complex and contradictory characters in history. He aspired for India to establish freedom, but dreaded any militant confrontation with the British Empire. He strived to better the lot of the workers and peasantry but felt threatened by the crystallisation of any struggle waged against landlords or industrialists, advocating ‘trusteeship.’ Gandhi abhorred untouchability, but staunchly defended the caste system or the varnas. He condemned violence but failed to support Hindu soldiers refusing to lay down arms in Garwahali in 1938, the Indian naval ratings strike in 1946 or to commute the death sentence of Bhagat Singh ,Sukhdev and Rajguru..Gandhi gallantly led the Dandi march boycotting manufacture of salt in 1930, but vehemently opposed movements of non payment of rent o tax to landlords. After embarrassing the British rulers in crucial junctures, Gandhi would derail movements when they took on a militant turn. Be it non-cooperation or Quit India Movement. He even contradicted his non –violent philosophy, calling for the Indian army to be deployed in Kashmir and, talking of declaring war between India and Pakistan. Gandhi also never openly condemned the fascism of Adolf Hitler, advocating that a German Nazi victory was inevitable and any resistance would bear no fruit. In Noakali during the riots in 1946 Gandhi told a Hindu contingent “not to discard arms” in confronting their Muslim brethren.
For over a quarter of a century Gandhi shimmered the spark of the Indian national movement. It was the era when the real content and conscious direction of the movement could only manifest the striving of the Indian bourgeois revolution. The mass upsurge which propelled the movement was illustrated by first evolution from century-old slumber of the masses of the peasantry. It was still entangled by a hundred ties of ancient traditions, religious and social conservatism, naïve and fanciful backward-looking or utopian yearnings trapped in language of mythological legend, but aspiring towards basic social change. Vietnamese revolutionary Ho Chi Minh considered himself a pupil of Gandhi while American journalist praised Gandhi as being mascot of the masses.
Quoting Rajni Palme Dutt in ‘India Today', “No other leader than Gandhi could have bridged the gap, during this transitional period, between the actual bourgeois direction of the national movement and the awakening, but not yet conscious masses. Both for good and for evil Gandhi achieved this, and led the movement, even appearing to create it. Only to the modern working class, born of factory industry, and to its philosophy, Marxism, Gandhi was a stranger. This role only finally comes to an end in proportion as the masses, with the emergent leadership of the working class, begin to reach clear consciousness of their own interests, and the actual class forces and class relations begin to stand out clear, in the Indian scene, without need of mythological concealment.
Gandhi’s death, in a manner of speaking, was a manifestation of contradictions within an individual. The apostle of the ‘simple life’, perished in the princely mansion of the most unscrupulous arch-profiteering multi-millionaire of the new Indian ruling moneyed class. He could never break his ties with the comprador bourgeoisie., protecting interests of foreign capital.
Quoting Rajani Palme Dutt “The apostle of ‘non-violence’, fell a victim of the hideous orgy of murder and gang-ridden violence which was in the main the reflection of long years of imperialist and reactionary intrigue and fomentation of divisions, but was also in part the nemesis of a quarter century’s preaching of ‘non-violence’ frustrating the revolutionary energy of the masses.
Ironic that when the greatest national upsurge swept India after the Second World War, in the days of the glorious Indian naval revolt, when Hindu-Moslem unity ruled the streets, Gandhi was shaken stating ‘delivering India over to the rabble’, and propounded a compromise settlement with imperialism.

Gandhi’s efforts in final Stages of his life

When the compromise settlement emerged in the form of the Mountbatten Award, and was revealed to bring the partition of India, communal conflict and the strengthened domination of right-wing reaction in the national movement, Gandhi was the first of the front rank national leaders to challenge it.. Already in July of last year, when other leaders were dancing to the so called glory of ‘freedom’, Gandhi proclaimed that ‘Dominion status for India would stink to the nostrils if Britain left India split and at war within herself’. In September he rang the bell of warning of the tyranny of war of India and Pakistan.
As in the wake of the Mountbatten ‘settlement’ the horrors of communal conflict and massacre spread over wide areas of India, Gandhi was left in a state of agony. The private record of a friend illustrated the sheer anguish and disillusionment faced by Gandhi when so many superficial politicians of India and Britain were singing their little songs of triumph. Gandhi said, according to this record:
‘I do not understand how all these terrible things are happening in our country. For many years the Congress has struggled and grown, and it has grown stronger and stronger, and advanced higher and higher; but now, after we have reached the pinnacle, somehow these horrible things are happening, and the Congress is not able to do anything effective to stop them. What mistakes have we made, for we must have made mistakes? Otherwise how could all these things happen? It seems that while we were building the Congress, at the same time it was decaying; and today it is obvious that it has decayed, because it is not able to fight all the bad things that are going on in India today.’
And he went on in words that spoke the agony of his soul:
‘Everything looks dark to me, very dark, and I see very little hope. Some people say that after the dark night comes the bright dawn; but I only see the darkness of the night; I do not know when the dawn will come.’
Gandhi simply threw his frail body and indomitable will into the very heart of the fight for communal unity .He took on the communal forces at their strongest point, posing a thorn in the flesh towards them. In this last heroic fight he began to find his friends, no longer on the right, but on the left. In his great campaigns in Calcutta and in Delhi he worked in close collaboration with the Communists. The Communists exposed to him the full sinister role of the reactionary communalist organisations, of the R.S.S., which has at last been banned only after Gandhi’s death, and of the Hindu Mahasabha. At first Gandhi, as he himself he later said publicly, refused to believe it; he had met the leaders of the R.S.S., and they had told him they were only pious Hindus with the most innocent objectives. However after concrete evidence was placed before him on the table. Gandhi diagnosed t’s fascist character.
With Gandhi to be convinced was to act. He went to the All India Congress Committee in November and launched his rearguard offensive. He denounced the R.S.S. He denounced by name the backers of the R.S.S. and of the Hindu Mahasabha in the Congress and in the Government. He declared:
‘I met an R.S.S. leader some days ago, and even praised the R.S.S. because of what he said. But soon I came to know that I was deceived. Those who are in the R.S.S. cannot remain in the Congress.’
He spoke of Dr. Shyama Prasad Mookerjea, Minister for Industry and Supplies in the Indian Central Government: ‘Is Dr. Shyama Prasad here? He is not here. I wish he was here. He is in the Mahasabha. The Mahasabha is an enemy of the Congress. And therefore he can have no place in the Cabinet. Or else he must leave the Mahasabha.’
In January Gandhi got his final act together – his fast. When Gandhi proclaimed his fast on January 12, he declared: ‘Death for me would be a glorious deliverance rather than that I should be a helpless witness to the destruction of India’.
He proclaimed his fast, not only for communal unity, but against what he described, quoting a friend’s letter from Andhra in Madras, as ‘factionalism in Congress circles, money-making activities by several members of the Legislative Council and Assembly, and the weakness of Ministers’, and went on to say:
‘The corruption described by him is no monopoly of Andhra. Let us beware.’ Gandhi even named Patel, the right wing dictator of the Congress machine, when he declared that he was no ‘Yes-man’ of Patel, and added: ‘If Sardar Patel is the official enemy of the Moslems, Pandit Nehru can ask him to retire.’
With this open operation waged against the dark forces in India Gandhi sealed his doom. It was commonly harboured in the voices f the right wing: ‘The old man is going mad; he would be better out of the way.’ Leaflets of the reactionary communalists openly called for the assassination of Gandhi and Nehru.
Hardly had Gandhi’s fast ended than the first attempt on his life was made. Police investigations investigated a widespread plot. Yet it appears that no precautions were taken to protect Gandhi’s life. Patel, as Minister of the Home Department, was in charge of the police.
On January 30 Gandhi was assassinated.
Patel stood over the dead body of Gandhi; then he broadcast to the people. He declared in his broadcast the cold words: ‘How good it would have been if he had passed away during his fast rather than have this thing happen today.’
Gandhi’s death opened India into awakening. At last the popular demand has compelled the banning of the R.S.S., although the effectiveness of this will depend on the action of the authorities. The offensive against the dark forces goes forward. A serious test of strength between the left and the right, between democracy and reaction, between the fighters for independence and the allies of imperialism, is developing. The need for democratic unity of the left is greater than ever.
Quoting Marxist writer Suniti Kumar Ghosh, “No doubt, Gandhi’s role in fighting the conflagration and trying to save Muslims in Delhi after the transfer of power deserves unstinted praise.”
---
Harsh Thakor is a freelance journalist who has extensively studied Indian liberation struggle for Independence and Gandhi

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