For a Balanced Approach on Gandhi and the National Movement
Irfan Habib's article on Gandhi and the National movement in the Social Scientist No. 263-265 is a valuable contribution to the discussion on Gandhi and his role in Indian history. It helps the process of correcting the 'leftist critique* of Gandhi which has appeared in the Communist Press. The author has done well to bring out the onesidedness of the writings of Communist authors including R.P.D. and myself. I agree with the author that this 'leftist* mistake should be corrected.
I am however afraid that this correction of the 'leftist* mistake has led Professor Habib to the rightist mistake, i.e. blindness to the negative contributions made by Gandhi to our national movement.
It will be instructive in this context to note that the emergence of Gandhi as a national leader and the coming into existence of India's Communist movement coincided with each other. The earliest writings of Communist writers including those who were abroad like M.N. Roy and those who were in India like Dange and Muzaffar Ahmed—point out the inseparable connection between India's freedom movement and the agrarian revolution. This meant that the securing of Indian independence is not a matter of negotiations between the British rulers and the upper crust of India's bourgeois-landlord classes. It is a question of industrial and agricultural workers, working peasants, the toiling middle classes and others who are moved by feelings of Indian patriotism joining together in a solid anti-imperialist united front.
It was therefore important that the young working class and its party should have a policy of united front with, and ideological political independence from the bourgeoisie. The effort of Indian communists should be to develop India's toiling millions headed by the working class, taking a lead in anti-imperialist and anti-feudal
Polit Bureau Member, Communist Party of India (Marxist)
Social Scientist, Vol. 23 Nos. 6-9^July-September 1995