Com. Sitaram Yechury's Speech in Rajya Sabha on the Commemoration of 75th Anniversary of Quit India Movement

August 10, 2017

Sir, the 75th Anniversary of the ‘Quit India Movement’ is a very solemn occasion when we recollect not only the history but also the purpose and what was it that made it a successful Movement. If you go into history, Sir, there was a reference to Satara, the Independent State in Maharashtra. The leader of that Satara Independent Government was Nana Patil who was a member of the Communist Party of India and who came into this House and into the other House. So, do you want to go into that history and the role?
Yes, Subhas Chandra Bose. But Rani Jhansi Regiment was led by Lakshmi Sehgal who was a member of the CPI(M) and a candidate for the Presidency that we had put up.If you go to the Cellular Jail today, eighty percent of the names that are written there in marble are all of the communists from Bengal or the undivided Punjab. There was Kalpana Dutta, the Chittagong Armoury Raid.

Sir, the history is there for all of us. We had Shankar Dayal Sharmaji, our hon. President of India. On the 50th Anniversary of the Quit India Movement, there was a Midnight Session. Those days, we used to have Sessions to commemorate our history and learn it, not to launch some project or the other like the GST that happened. Now, on that occasion, what did he say? What did he say, Sir? I am quoting from the speech he made in the Midnight Session. I quote, “After large-scale strikes in mills in Kanpur, Jamshedpur and Ahmedabad, a despatch from Delhi dated September 5, 1942, to the Secretary of State in London reported about the Communist Party of India: ‘the behaviour of many of its members proves what has always been clear, namely, it is composed of anti-British revolutionaries.’” Need anything more be said! So, what I am saying is that this is a Movement which had its one singular point. Of course, the leadership was with the Indian National Congress. We were all there. ‘We’ mean the ‘communists’. I was not born. But the communists were all there in the AICC. The first time a complete Independent slogan, a Resolution that was moved was in the Ahmedabad Session of the AICC in 1921. And it was moved by whom? It was moved on behalf of the Communist Party of India. And, today you may be wondering. Who were those two people who moved it? They were Maulana Hasrat Mohani and Swami Kumara Nanda. A Maulana and a Swami move a Resolution on behalf of the Communist Party of India asking for complete Independence! Mahatma Gandhi did not accept it then. But finally, in the Karachi AICC Session of 1929, Purna Swaraj Slogan was given. Lahore. I am sorry. The Purna Swaraj Declaration came in 1929. So, Sir, this is a history.

Now, there was a British chronicle by Edward Lowd. He was chronicling what was happening in India in 1857. He wrote in the Chronicle, “If the infanticide Rajput – this is according to the British; these are not my words – the bigotal Brahmin, the pig eater and the pig hater, the cow eater and the cow worshipper, all of them come together, there is no future for the British in India.” Sir, we achieved our Independence because of that unity. Today, we are paying homage to all those who created that history and made India independent, for which all of us are proud. A.K. Gopalan hoisted the National Flag in a jail, the Vellore Jail in Tamil Nadu, on 15th August 1947. So, it is that combined history, the uniqueness of which is this unity. Today, we are observing the 75th Anniversary of the Movement and looking into the future. The Hon. Prime Minister said outside in his ‘Man ki baat’...He chose the title. There he said, ‘from 1942 to 1947, these were the five crucial years and, therefore, from 2017 to 2022, let us achieve that objective.’ Now, Sir, what is that objective? In 1947, we became independent. We are all proud. We are all children of independent India. We have inherited that Indian nationhood, Indian nationalism. In those five years, we also saw the Partition of India. We saw the communal polarisation in those five years that led to this unfortunate Partition, aided by the British. So, if you are alluding to those five years, there is an ominous sign. It is a very dark cloud. The silver lining is here. There is a dark cloud, but these five years...Sir, I don’t know why my hon. friend and Minister is getting so excited. It is the Hon. Prime Minister who said that communalism must quit India. I am talking of that communalism. It was the Prime Minister of India and your Leader who said that communalism must quit India. I am asking, are we doing anything to make it quit?

That is the resolve I am talking of. Why am I reminding you, while talking about those five years, of the other factor of the unfortunate Partition of this subcontinent? What is the meaning of observing the 75th Anniversary of the Quit India Movement if today what has to quit India does not quit India? You have to quit these economic policies that are increasing unemployment, that are increasing poverty, that are increasing the divide between the rich and the poor, that are creating these two Indias. In the last three years, when Dr. Manmohan Singh was the Prime Minister, we used to have a lot of discussion here, saying that we are creating two Indias, one for the poor and one for the rich, that wealth amounting to 49 per cent of the GDP in 2014 was held by one per cent of the Indian population. Today, what is the situation? Nearly 60 per cent, 58.4 per cent -- that was last year’s figure; it would have gone up now – of our GDP is in the hands of one per cent of our population. Is this the India of the dreams of 1947 when we became independent?

Is that the India where we have the youth power today which is the biggest in the world? We are the youngest country. If there is anything that must quit India today on its 75th Anniversary, it is the neo-liberal economic policies that are impoverishing the mass of my people; it is this communalism that is dividing my country and disuniting our people in the struggle to create a better India. You, please, understand what should be the resolve. It is not just recollecting the memory of the past -- that is very good, we can recollect -- we can also apportion the blame; we can also say who did what. But the question is: Are we going to move forward or are we going to look backward?

I am concluding. You referred to the INA trials, you referred to all these instances and the Royal Naval Mutiny. During that period, there was a song which all of us have grown up with. I think we should re-sing that song today and make that our resolve. And that song was –
“मंदिर मस्ज़िद गिरजाघर में बाँट दिया भगवान को, धरती बाँटी, सागर बाँटा, मत बाँटों इंसान को I” And that is why, Sir, the movement forward should be for strengthening the secular democratic republic of India and not for creating a Hindu-Pakistan in India, and that is how we have to move together. So, let us observe Quit India by saying, quit neo-liberal reforms, quit communalism. Thank you.