Of Movements, Compromises and Retreats:
In the phase following the Civil Disobedience Movement in Orissa, out of the disappointment with its withdrawal, there emerged a Socialist trend, as well as a realisation among the youthful Socialists of the need to have a fighting front for the peasants. The stage was, thus set for the birth of the Kisan Sangha (1935).
The Province of Orissa was born on 1 April 1936. It was in this context that the colonial government decided to implement the 1935 Act and have the elections in 1937 in order to create legislatures in the provinces, including Orissa. The election was preceded by hectic election campaigns, with the Congress and the zamindars wooing the electorate. Under pressure from the Kisan Sangha the Provincial Congress Committee incorporated the abolition of the zamindari system in its election manifesto. This paved the way for the Kisan Sangha to play a crucial role in the election campaign of the Congress. It was this interaction that enhanced the prestige of both the Congress and the Kisan Sangha and stirred the countryside.
The elections led to the victory of the Congress and the installation of the first Congress ministry in Orissa. At the same time the peasant movement attained new heights. The strong militancy of the peasant movement led to a struggle between the 'left* and the 'right* wings of the Congress over the Kisan Sangha's relationship with the Congress. Thus, whereas the 'right* wing advocated a total merger of the Kisan Sangha with the Congress, the 'left' wing upheld that the Kisan Sangha should maintain its independent identity as a fighting front of the peasants, and also maintain close links with the Congress. This tussle contributed significantly to the birth of the Communist Party in Orissa (1938).
The post-election phase also saw a shift in the Congress* position. It toned down its radical thrust, compromised its anti-feudal position and became more a ccommodating to the landlords. This produced consid
Department of History, Sri Venkateswara College, Delhi University. This paper focuses on the coastal districts of Cuttack, Puri and Balasore and the Jeypur zamindari.
Social Scientist Vol. 20, Nos. 5-6, May-June 1992