Nehru - Toward Freedom (1936).pdf

It was well known that government was not likely to

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It was well known that Government was not likely to accept the conditions laid down by us, and our posi tion would thus be stronger and we could easily carry our Right wing with us. It was only a question of a few weeks; December and the Lahore Congress were near. And yet that joint manifesto was a bitter pill for some of us. To give up the demand for independence, even in theory and even for a short while, was wrong and dangerous; it meant that it was just a tactical affair, something to bargain with, not something which was essential and without which we could never be content. So I hesitated and re fused to sign the manifesto, but, as was not unusual with me, I allowed myself to be talked into signing. Even so, I came away in great dis tress, and the very next day I thought of withdrawing from the Con gress presidency, and wrote accordingly to Gandhiji. I do not suppose that I meant this seriously, though I was sufficiently upset. A soothing letter from Gandhiji and three days of reflection calmed me. Just prior to the Lahore Congress, a final attempt was made to find some basis of agreement between Congress and the Government. An interview with Lord Irwin, the Viceroy, was arranged. I do not know who took the initiative in arranging this interview, but I imagine that Vallabhbhai Patel was the prime mover. Gandhiji and my father were present at the interview, representing the Congress viewpoint. The in terview came to nothing; there was no common ground, and the two main parties the Government and Congress were far apart from each other. So now nothing remained but for the Congress to go ahead. The
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year of grace given at Calcutta was ending; independence was to be declared once for all the objective of the Congress, and the necessary steps taken to carry on the struggle to attain it. During these final weeks prior to the Lahore Congress I had to at tend to important work in another field. The All-India Trade-Union Congress was meeting at Nagpur, and, as president for the year, I had to preside over it. It was very unusual for the same person to preside over both the National Congress and the Trade-Union Congress within a few weeks of each other. I had hoped that I might be a link between the two and bring them closer to each other the National Congress to become more socialistic, more proletarian, and organized labor to join the national struggle. It was, perhaps, a vain hope, for nationalism can only go far in a socialistic or proletarian direction by ceasing to be nationalism. Yet I felt that, bourgeois as the outlook of the National Congress was, it did represent the only effective revolutionary force in the country. As such, labor ought to help it and co-operate with it and influence it, keeping, however, its own identity and idealogy distinct and intact.
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  • Fall '16
  • Alan Kolata

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