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Home Political History of India How the political ambitions of the Congress silenced the contributions of freedom fighters

How the political ambitions of the Congress silenced the contributions of freedom fighters

There are many passionate Indian citizens and NRIs who want to know and find out more about the unsung Heroes of Indian freedom fight but cannot do so due to lack of resources and dedicated time required for it.

On the occasion of Vijaya Dashmi, the entire country celebrates the victory of Shree Ram over Ravana, the victory of good over evil. We know about this victory in detail through various versions of the Ramayana like Valmiki Ramayana, Ramcharitramanas, Kamba Ramayanam, Sri Ranganatha Ramayanamu, Saptakanda Ramayana,  Krittivasi Ramayan.

No version of Ramayana claims that Shree Ram won the battle against Ravana single handedly due to his divine power. In fact, each version of Ramayana states that Shree Rama achieved victory with the help and contribution of Laxman, Hanuman, Sugreev, Angad,  Vibhishan, Jamwant, Jatayu, Sampati, Nal, Neel,  Bheels, Vanars and Bhallus of Vanar Sena. Everybody, including the Vanars who fought the battle is accorded due credit in Ramayana. 

Whenever we watch a movie or a TV program, at the start and end of it we can see the credits running on the screen. These running credits display the names of the Director, Producers, Actors, Distributers, Print and electronic media partners for publicity, Chorographers, Technicians, Musicians and other artists who were involved in making of film and contributed to deliver a fully completed movie to the viewers. Even though everybody gets paid for their work, but it is customary and well established norm  to recognize everybody’s role, whether small or big, in presenting a completed film. 

Whenever a school or college students make a project report, it starts with a note of thanks for Teacher/professor, Lab In-charge and Lab assistants. It will be conspicuously surprising if anybody deviate from this norm. Now imagine how one will feel if somebody gives his/her whole life for a cause and his/her contribution is never mentioned proportionately anywhere. Yes, it has happened in the case of biggest and toughest project ever taken by our countrymen, that is, to get rid of the oppressive British rule in India.

When India was reeling under the exploitative and oppressive regime of the Britishers, millions of Indians were fighting in their own way for the country’s independence. Out of these millions, thousands of Indians from the various corners of India had dedicated their whole life for this cause and had given the supreme ‘Aahuti’ of their life in the ‘Yagna’ of India’s independence. But it is really disheartening that only a few of them are known to masses and rest of them still remains the unsung Heroes with stories of their valor buried deep in the annals of history. Hardly any detailed information is available in public domain about their life and the activities they carried out for freedom.

When India got independence and Indians formed the government, there was a hope that the contribution of all uncelebrated freedom fighters and martyrs would be brought to the public discourse for inspiring the next generation. But this hope was soon belied. The Congress party ruled the country after independence for decades. To advance the interest of one family, further it had put the dirt of sponsored history on the remarkable contribution of unsung Heroes.

The fight against the Britishers was fought in myriad forms and at multiple fronts. Some supported the way of cooperation and negotiation with Britishers for slow progress towards participation in government and self rule. Some were disillusioned with the policy of submitting memorandums, petitions, appealing and believed in “Tit for Tat”. They favored use of arms against brute force of Britishers. Some believed in working clandestinely to attack British Raj by organizing revolutionary associations inside and outside India.

When policies of Britshers were rendering million of Indians poor and hungry, for some, working for the upliftment of poor brothers and sisters, was the way of fighting the Britishers. When the plight of the society was totally ignored by the Britishers, striving for social reforms for the betterment of fellow countrymen was the way of fighting the British Raj for some freedom fighters.

Amidst all the efforts against the foreign rule, Centre stage and spotlight was occupied by the congress, it claimed to be representative of whole India [1]. In congress also, particularly by a faction who believed that if the needs of Indians were properly conveyed and explained to Britishers, good sense would prevail to English masters and they would show mercy [2][3][4][5]. This faction within congress believed in submitting Memorandums, Addressing Letters, Appeals, Fariyads and Invitations (Let’s say this faction as Maafi lobby of congress) [6].

This Maafi lobby grew closer to the British Raj in India. The British Raj also treated Maafi lobby as the representative of whole India and considered the requests and pleas received from them only as legitimate form of raising grievances by Indians. This lobby did not want to enrage the Britishers, professed loyalty to the British Raj and preferred to go slow on small incremental basis towards representation of Indians in government [7].

This proved conducive to prolong the British rule in India and British Raj granted the members of this Maafi lobby with awards, titles and participation in government [8]. Whenever any member of this lobby was taken under symbolic arrest, he received special treatment as a political prisoner unlike other nationalist leaders.   

All other freedom fighters of different ideology, even the nationalist members of Congress were seen as ‘unrest creators’ and were treated differently by the Britishers [9]. They were met with harsh repression, sedition cases and severe punishment without court trials [10]. Even Morley, Secretary of state, confessed “I must confess that I am watching with the deepest concern and dismay the thundering sentences that are being passed for sedition, etc. We must keep order, but excess of Severity is not the path to order. On the contrary, it is the path to the bomb” [11].

In 1907, during the Surat split of Congress, the moderates expelled the ‘extremists’ including Bal Gangadhar Tilak. After his expulsion he was sent to Mandalay Jail for 6 years under sedition case. Britishers brutally repressed the nationalist leaders of congress and members of various revolutionary organizations [12].

Any nationalist leader who did not fall in the line of Maafi lobby suffered at the hand of Britishers [13]. In 1939, nationalist leader Subash Chandra Bose was ousted from congress even after winning the election of congress president. Subsequently he was put under house arrest by Britishers [14]. This lobby exercised huge clout as one side it was close to the British Raj and on the other side it used face of Mahatma Gandhi for Mass appeal [15].

Nehru was a prominent member of the Maafi lobby who was very close to the British Raj especially with the last Viceroy Lord Mountbatten. Nehru’s proximity with Lord Mountbatten and a special favor from Mahatama Gandhi where he preferred Nehru over Sardar Vallabh Bhai Patel ignoring the mandate of 12 Pradesh Congress committees got him the PM post in interim government [16][17].

After independence, in order to usurp the legacy of freedom movement and to make the PM post feudatory forthe Nehru family, Congress eulogized only those freedom fighters who fell in the definition of ‘Moderates’ and suited the political convenience of Nehru. Congress led by Nehru deliberately adopted the systematic approach of ignoring and belittling the contribution and valor of freedom fighter belonging to different ideology. This helped in achieving larger than life image for Nehru and advancing the Congress’s electoral prospects. To ensure that his coming generations would keep on appropriating the inheritance of Freedom Fight, Nehru added ‘Gandhi’ surname to the name of her daughter Indira [18].

The Freedom fighters of national level whose contribution was brushed under carpet by congress government were Subash Chandra Bose, Sardar Vallabh bhai Patel, Bal Gangadhar Tilak, Bipin Chandra Pal, Lala Lajpat Rai, Bhagat Singh, Khudi Ram Bose, Veer Savarkar, Laxmi Sehgal, Shyam ji Krishan Verma, Batukeshwar Dutt and many more. There were no attempts by the government which was formed after independence to spread their ideas and vision.

Apart from these national level Heroes, there were other hundreds of freedom fighters who shown exemplary courage and fought the Britishers in their own region. Vasudev Balwant Phadke from Maharastra, Sushila Chain Trehan Madan Lal Dhingra, Swami Shradanand and Kartar Singh Sarabha from Punjab, Kumwar Basawon Singh from Bihar, Titumir and Matangini Hazra from Bengal, U. Muthuramalingam Thevar and Velu Nachiyar from Tamilnadu, Dhan Singh Gujar from U.P., Karnad Sadashiva Rao from Karnataka, Rani Gaidinliu from Nagaland. This list can go on and on endlessly. When we try to find more about these freedom fighters from credible sources, we cannot find even more than few lines. 

On the day of victory of Shree Ram, who patted even a tiny squirrel for its attempts to empty the ocean which stood between him and Lanka, I sincerely request Narendra Modi led BJP government to get these unsung heroes their due credit.

In my opinion, based on birthplace, twenty of such freedom fighters should be identified from each of the current state and union territory. After the partition, birthplace of many freedom fighters now lies in Pakistan and Bangladesh; there should be provision to include them also. Then evidence based and objective research oriented project should be assigned to post doctoral scholars of various universities of India. The source of research can be archives of British Raj, Provincial government, official records of princely states, Revenue records, police diaries and intelligence gathered by special branch of that era.  

There are many passionate Indian citizens and NRIs who want to know and find out more about the unsung Heroes of Indian freedom fight but cannot do so due to lack of resources and dedicated time required for it. In India, the number of research project undertaken in field of Arts is far less than that of in field of science. To promote research projects on various unsung freedom fighter, suitable grants should be allotted by UGC for universities and research Scholars researchers undertaking these projects. 

Such projects will provide more insight about the lives, ideas, sacrifices and contributions of these freedom fighters. After knowing more about forgotten freedom fighters, Government Schemes, offices, Public spaces, Roads, Airports and civic amenities should be named after them contrary to current scenario where members of a single family have a sort of copyright on them. 

Vested political interest of one family made congress to sideline the contribution of many freedom fighters. But reason for requesting the government now to undertake this project is to get justice for unsung Heroes of freedom movement by giving them due credit for their sacrifices. This reason is much bigger than the clamor of electoral politics. 

A nation, which does not remember and respect its heroes of previous generations who had given their blood for its foundation, can never inspire the coming generations to sweat for its safety and prosperity.    

References

[1] https://ncert.nic.in/ncerts/l/hess205.pdf , page 143, Text written under heading Source-1 
[2] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Early_Nationalists#cite_ref-TotalModerates2_8-0
[3] Kundra, D. N. (2012). History & Civics PART II. Goyal Brothers Prakashan. pp. 91, 93, 98–106, 111
[4] Sequeira, Dolly Ellen; Raj, S. Irudaya (2009). History & Civics. Morning Star Publishers. pp. 27, 35–41, 45. ISBN 978-8131-7033-11
[5]. Stein, Burton. A History of India. I. New Delhi: Oxford University Press. pp. 254–255. ISBN 978-0-19-565446- 2.Avoiding confrontations, the early Congress leaders were patient, moderate and conciliatory in their demands
[6]. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Surat_Split , Heading – History, Line – 2. 
[7]. Stein, Burton. A History of India. I. New Delhi: Oxford University Press. pp. 254–255. ISBN 978-0-19-565446- 2.Avoiding confrontations, the early Congress leaders were patient, moderate and conciliatory in their demands
[8] https://ncert.nic.in/ncerts/l/hess205.pdf , Page 144, Heading – Source 2
[9] http://vsktelangana.org/father-of-indian-unrest-bal-gangadhar-tilak
[10]  http://indiansaga.com/history/bengal_split1.html
[11] https://shodhganga.inflibnet.ac.in/bitstream/10603/94895/10/10_chapter%206.pdf Page 184
[12] https://shodhganga.inflibnet.ac.in/bitstream/10603/94895/10/10_chapter%206.pdf
[13] https://shodhganga.inflibnet.ac.in/bitstream/10603/94895/10/10_chapter%206.pdf
[14] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Subhas_Chandra_Bose#cite_note-FOOTNOTEChattopadhyay1989-91 [Chattopadhyay, Subhas Chandra (1989), Subhas Chandra Bose: man, mission, and means, Minerva Associates]
[15] https://www.gktoday.in/gk/subhash-chandra-bose-and-congress-tripuri-session-1939/
[16] https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/07075332.2014.900812?src=recsys&journalCode=rinh20
[17] https://www.sundayguardianlive.com/opinion/patel-not-nehru-prime-minister
[18] https://www.business-standard.com/article/news-ani/congress-ignored-freedom-fighters-to-promote-nehru-gandhi-family-ram-madhav-118102200054_1.html

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Sharad Yadav
I am a working professional basically from Haryana and currently settled in Bangalore. I love to write comentary on current social , economic and political issues.

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