January 20, 1942
It is really pitiable to find that all the deliberations speeches and the main resolution itself of the All-India Committee of the Congress recently held at Wardha should bear the stamp of nothing else but despair and frustration. Behold, “we know not the way out of it! and can but wait for initiative, light and lead from the Government”, is the burden of the whole song.
I am surprised on the contrary to find why the Government should stubbornly refuse to respond to the overtures of the Congress which it has been making overtly and covertly ever since the Poona resolution. The Government has nothing to fear while the Congress is led by men like Gandhiji who have been, as I am aware, not only pro-Government but sincerely pro-English throughout their lives. Leaving aside the active participation with England of Gandhiji and his followers in the Zulu War, the Boer War, the Anglo-German War in 1914, it should be remembered that at the outbreak of this war itself almost all Congressite leaders, led by Gandhiji, took up an attitude which was pro-Government and pro-English not only as a matter of policy, but as they themselves declared, as a matter of principle. “If England and France fall”, declared Gandhiji in moving tones, ‘what does it profit us even if India gets independence’. He himself reported that he actually broke down and was moved to tears at the very thought of the prospective destruction of the Westminster Abbey, in the presence of Lord Linlithgow while Lord Linlithgow, an Englishman himself, to whose heart the Westminster Abbey must have been dearer, kept stoically witnessing the scene unmoved! Pandit Jawaharlalji was characteristically vehement and declared in a number of public speeches that while the ‘Great Democracies’, that is of course “England and France”, were fighting for their very life the only duty of India consisted in extending unconditional help to Great Britain in this war against those enemies of mankind,—the Nazis. The fun of it all was that, at that time the Russians whom Jawaharialji and the Congrcssites of his persuasion have ever been worshiping as saviors of mankind were themselves, hand in glove and in open alliance with those very enemies of mankind, the Nazis! But still, the Congress extended unconditional help to Great Britain as soon as the war broke out. It withdrew its ministries and left the British Government to centralize all power in their hands without incurring any risk or odium by dismissing the popular ministries. Even today Gandhiji declares again and again that he does not want to embarrass the Government, nor does he mean to picket the recruiting booths, nor does he ask the Congressite organizations not to cooperate with the A.R.P., the Police, the Post, the Railway, the tax-collectors, nor does he feel any compunctions in allowing his khadi bhandars and other industrial concerns to co-operate by providing the British military with food, boots, blankets and all other necessities to keep them well-fed and warm and only the other day he made it known to the European world that his sympathies, in spite of all and above all, were still with England.
All that the Congress, led by Gandhiji, insists on is that in spite of all this wholehearted co-operation they should be allowed to style themselves as non co-operators and in spite of their willingness to work out the ‘National Government’ as defined in the Poona Resolution which did not in any way postulate antagonism to the British Sovereignty itself, they should be allowed to maintain that unless and until India is independent, it cannot put forth its full strength to help the ‘Great Democracies’ which again means Great Britain and her allies.
Now these two phrases are not very cosily luxuries and it passes my comprehension why the Government should be so stingy as to deny them to the Congress. The words non co-operation, ahimsa or independence cannot but be harmless innuendos so long as they are taken in connection with the practical policy and principled faith of the Congress as depicted above. It is, consequently, up to the Government now that they should open negotiations and give the initiative to the Congress for which it is so breathlessly seeking.
Anyway, it fills my heart with delight to see that the leaders of the Congress have come to realize, as the latest speeches, resolutions of the A.I.C.C. show that after all there is very little difference between the Imperialism of Great Britain and the Authoritarian Cult of the Nazis so far, at any rate, as India is concerned.