Nehru - Toward Freedom (1936).pdf

The actual details as to how the assembly is to be

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The actual details, as to how the Assembly is to be convened, must depend on the circumstances then existing and need not trouble us now. But it will be our function as the Congress to know exactly what we are after, to place this clearly and definitely before the Assembly, and to press for its acceptance. One of the principal reasons for our seeking election will be to carry the message of the Congress to the millions of voters and to the scores of millions of the disfranchised, to acquaint them with our future program and policy, to make the masses realize that we not only stand for them but that we are of them and seek to co-operate with them in removing their social and economic burdens. Our appeal and mes- 401
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sage will not be limited to the voters, for we must remember that hundreds o millions are disfranchised and they need our help most, for they are at the bottom of the social ladder and suffer most from exploi tation. We have seen in the past widespread official interference in the elections; we shall have to face that, as well as the serried and moneyed ranks of the reactionaries. But the real danger will come from our toning down our program and policy in order to win over the hesi tating and compromising groups and individuals. If we compromise on principles, we shall fall between two stools and deserve our fall. The only right way and the only safe way is to stand four-square on our own program and to compromise with no one who has opposed the national struggle for freedom in the past, or who is in any way giving support to British imperialism. When we have survived the election, what then are we to do? Office or no office? A secondary matter perhaps, and yet behind that issue lie deep questions of principle and vital differences of outlook, and a decision on that, either way, has far-reaching consequences. Behind it lies, somewhat hidden, the question of independence itself and whether we seek revolutionary changes in India or are working for petty re forms under the aegis of British imperialism. We go back again in thought to the clash of ideas which preceded the changes in the Con gress in 1920. We made a choice then deliberately and with determina tion discarded the old sterile creed of reformism. Are we to go back again to that blind and suffocating lane, after all these years of brave endeavor, and to wipe out the memory of what we have done and achieved and suffered? That is the issue, and let none of us forget it when we have to give our decision. In this India, crying aloud for radical and fundamental change, in this world pregnant with revolu tionary and dynamic possibility, are we to forget our mission and our historic destiny, and slide back to static futility? And, if some of us feel tired and hunger for rest and quiet, do we imagine that India's masses will follow our lead, when elemental forces and economic necessity are driving them to their inevitable goal?
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