History Optional Paper-2 Solution – 2011: Q.1 (c)
Q.1 (c) “The emergence of left-wing group in the congress redicalized its social economic agenda.” Critically evaluate.
The leaders of the Congress were aware of Socialism from the beginning. Dadabhai Naoroji, for example, had close contacts with British Socialists and attended the International Socialist Conference in Amsterdam in 1904. But still early leaders did not seriously concern themselves with the Socialist ideology as it encouraged class struggle.
The clear emergence of the left-wing group occured during the post-First World War years of recession – the period in which the rising prices of commodities and increasing repression of the Government played havoc with the lives of Indians. The sudden withdrawal of the Cooperation movement left many frustrated and some of them in Congress chose the path of socialism.
The emergence of left wing leaders like Nehru and Bose who were elected Congress presidents and the formation of Congress Socialist Party in 1934 within the Congress helped in turning the socio-economic agenda of the Congress to left.
Radicalisation of socio-economic agenda of Congress
(1) Radicalism, socialist vision and freedom defined in socio-economic terms become fundamental constituent of the policy of Congress. The Congress took radical stand on economic and class issues, it took up the cause of workers and peasants, it began to show concern for agrarian problem and problems of industrial labour.
(2) Gandhiji also turned radically to left in 1930’s and 1940’s. He talked about removal of vested interests, emphasised on economic equality, condemned exploitation of masses by capitalists and zamindars.
(3) The impact was also felt on the right wing of leadership and lower rung of Congress cadres. They also accepted that the poverty and misery of the Indian people was the result of not only colonial domination but also of the internal socioeconomic structure of Indian society.
(4) The impact of the left was reflected when Congress adopted resolution on Fundamental Rights and Economic Programme in its Karachi session in 1931.
(5) The Congress accepted Agrarian Programme in its Faizpur Session in 1936. Some important components of this Programme were: (a) reduction of land revenue (b) abolition of feudal levies (c) abolition of forced labour (d) fixity of tenure (e) fixation of wages for agriculture labour.
(6) Socialist impact also found expression in the election manifesto of the Congress in 1936 and 1945-46. The Congress formed in 1937 in several provinces took measures to ameliorate the conditions of the workers and peasants and protection of their rights and interests.
(7) National Planning Committee was constituted in 1938 under the presidentship of Nehru. This was the first step in the direction of initiating planning process in India with socialist vision.
(8) The Congress Working Committee accepted officially the policy of abolition of Zamindari in 1945. It also declared that removal of intermediaries was a significant part of the agrarian reforms.
(9) The convening of the first All India State’s people conference in 1936 and open support to the people of Princely States for democratic and socio-economic demands was also due to the inluence of left on the agenda of Congress.
However, in several aspects, the radicalisation in socio-economic agenda of Congress did not happen due to necessity to reach compromise among different sections within Congress. There were conflicts within Congress regarding socio-economic agenda. Many in Congress still had pro-zamnidar views and they opposed the radical agenda of the Congress. After the formation of Congress ministry, there was frustration among farmers and industrial workers as steps taken by Congress was not enough to satisfy them.