JP Narayan’s Opposing Partition of India and Differences with Congress

The Biography of Famous Personalities of India will tell you about the controversies, the dark sides of a person that you may have never heard of.

JP Narayan’s Opposing Partition of India and Differences with Congress

Opposing Partition of India

Violence becomes superfluous and harmful where Lokashakti has been aroused, and in the absence of the latter violence proves to be sterile and cruel.

On 16th May 1946 the Cabinet Mission published its plan rejecting the division of the country into two separate and sovereign states. Yet taking into account the fears of the communal minority by devising three separate bodies to draw up a constitution, Britain was to transfer power to India soon after the Indian constituent assembly had framed a constitution. Meanwhile, the administration was to be carried on by an interim government consisting of the representatives of the Indian political parties.

There could be no agreement on the composition of the interim Government, though the Congress Working Committee accepted the mission’s long term plan on the 25th June, 1946. On the 7th July that year, the All India Congress Committee met in Bombay to endorse the Working Committee’s resolution of the 25th June, 1946. It was at this meeting that Nehru took over the Congress presidency from Mauiana Azad. On the same day the Congress Socialists attacked the cabinet mission plan, calling it a trap laid by the British imperialist, and asked the Congress Committee to reject it.

Nehru with the intention of defending Congress’s acceptance of the plan chose to make an equally fiery and provocative speech which led to immediate misconstructions. Jinnah saw Nehru’s statements as a complete repudiation of the cabinet mission plan, and condemned Congress for its “petty fogging and hagging attitude”. Immediately, he called for 16th August 1946 as ‘direct action’ day and a wave of communal rioting began. 5000 people were killed in Calcutta in 48 hours of rioting. It was the beginning of a tidal wave of killing that reached gigantic proportions of half a million.

Jai Prakash Narayan and the Congress Socialists were aghast at the developments. Now that there was a real chance of establishing a Government that was not merely a figurehead, the Congress and the League were frittering away their energies in bitter conflict. Jai Prakash Narayan made it clear that he had no truck with either of the two bodies. He castigated Congress sharply for sacrificing its revolutionary goats, and the League for stabbing the objective of complete independence in the back.

Soon, however, it became apparent that the ‘working arrangement’ between Congress and CSP had outlived its utility. The CSP had served as a useful counterfoil to the forward block and the communities. The relationship had now worn threadbare and this was becoming painfully obvious to the Socialists.

Differences with Congress

You will tell me that this endless insistence on peaceful means is our Gandhian fad. But let me tell you that no such thing is being foisted on you. It is the strategy off the people’s struggle that dictates this line of action.

In February 1947, the Congress Socialist Party (CSP) had a session at Kanpur to weigh the consequences of the ‘shift in Congress’ attitude: smarting under the implications of ” a recent Congress resolution that ‘now the members of other parties can no longer be counted as Congressites’ the CSP responded dropping the ‘Congress’: now it was merely the ‘Socialist Party’.

On February 20, 1947 the British Labour Government announced its plan that power would be transferred to indians by a date not later than June 1948. Lord Wavell, the Viceroy returned to England and the last of British Governers-General in India, Lord Mountbatten arrived in India with a definite mission: to wind up the 182 year old British Indian Empire in 15 months.

Mountbatten spent his first few weeks in the country meeting the Indian leaders individually. The first interview with Nehru was rewarding, and mutual confidence and friendship were established between them. On the thorny question of a United India versus Pakistan the decision was made for the latter. The Congress High Command— specifically Nehru and Patel—had reconciled themselves to partition in some form by the end of 1946. Now that they were at the threshold of power they felt inclined to accept Pakistan rather than go back and continue the struggle for India’s unity. Mahatma Gandhi fought a rear guard battle to save India from partition but the Congress did not accept his plan.

At one point knowing Jai Prakash Narayan’s identical feelings about partition, Mahatma Gandhi asked Nehru to elect Jai Prakash Narayan as Congress president in June 1947. Nehru did not agree, and Dr. Rajendra Prasad became the President of the party instead.

Mahatma Gandhi bowed to the feeling against him, and urged unity. What was the CSP to do? Once again as at Tripura it declined to vote on the Issue. In later years this was a course which the Socialists were to bitterly regret. Sovereignty at midnight, the exact moment of India’s independence. The midnight hour struck and celebrations started all over India. The British Raj had reached its last moment. It was a glorious event, one for which men like Jai Prakash Narayan had fought—but it also meant tragedy and bloodshed on an unparallelled scale. Bengal, Bihar and Punjab were aflame, millions lost their homes and their families. And as a bitter climax to this terrible event, Mahatma Gandhi the apostle of peace, was shot dead on the 30th January, 1948 in New Delhi.

The heart of Jai Prakash Narayan was broken at the behaviour of Congress during 1946-47. He refused the partition of India, as far back as the middle of 1946 and he was also aggrieved to note that Congress was engaged not in avoiding the partition but in getting the political power from the Britishers.

Jai Prakash openly condemned the power usurping policy of Congress and stood in the front line along with Mahatma Gandhi to avoid the partition but Pakistan was the foregone conclusion of the political situation at the time. Jai Prakash was utterly dismayed at this attitude of Congress. He now decided to divorce from Congress ideology and party and forming of an independent socialist party to pursue socialist ideas in India accordingly.

In 1947 at Kanpur, Socialist Party of India was formed with a concrete programme of its own for bringing socialism in India.

Just one day before Gandhiji’s assassination, Prabhavati had left his side to join Jai Prakash Narayan in Patna. Two days later she was back in Delhi, Jai Prakash Narayan stood next to her, his eyes clouded with grief and sorrow.

Those days, the constitutional foundations of a new India were being laid. For weeks, the Constituent Assembly put together the fabric of a document which would shape the destiny of a new nation. Jai Prakash Narayan however did not accept the membership of the Assembly. He felt that its members did not represent the people of India.

The party of Jai Prakash Narayan survived till 1952 General Election when the socialists suffered a setback in a crushing defeat. It was actually the policy of Congress to defeat socialist candidates in the general election. Jai Pakash cited many examples of sabotage by Congress against the socialist candidates. In 1952 itself Jai Prakash had to come out of the Socialist party formed by him because of differences and putting of all blames for the defeat in 1952 general election on his shoulders by other leaders of the party.

This shows the idealogical hollowcast of socialist thinking in India. Though Jai Prakash Narayan could not be blamed for the defeat but it can be said that Jai Prakash lacked the political patience and he went on experimenting with this or that party till the end of his life.

In 1952-53 Jai Prakash Narayan was instrumental in formation of a new party namely ‘Praja Socialist Party’ with the help of break away fraction of Socialist party and a small group of Socialists namely the peasants and workers party in Maharashtra. But this experiment also could not materialise. Then a turning point came in Jai Prakash’s political life which can be easily termed as the second phase of his political career from 1952 to 1970.

Jai Prakash Narayan was then not in active politics and engaged himself in ‘Bhoodan’ work of Vinoba Bhave and Sarvodaya work of ‘Sarva Sewa Sangh’ formed by Mahatma Gandhi. In the second phase of Jai Prakash’s political life, he made an assessment of the social evils in India and tried to provide a solution to various social problems mainly through hard conversion. This period observes him mainly engaged in Sarvodaya work.