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Mainstream, Vol XLVI, No 17

P.C. Joshi : Organiser of Historic Movements

Monday 14 April 2008, by Anil Rajimwale


[(On April 14 this year the birth centenary celebrations of P.C. Joshi, the legendary Communist leader and General Secretary of the undivided CPI (1935-48) in one of the most momentous periods of the communist movement in India, will come to an end. He was born on April 14, 2007. On this occasion we are carrying the following article written some time ago.)]

It would be appropriate to examine the role of P.C. Joshi as the organiser and inspirer of memorable mass movements in the context of his birth centenary.

It is to be noted that the period of the stewardship of P.C. Joshi (1935-47) was one of widespread mass movements, many of them leaving an indelible mark on history. Of course, he alone cannot be credited with the organisation of the movements. But he had a knack of catching the right moment to give appropriate slogans for people’s movement. He also had a great talent for developing and discovering mass leaders and cadres. During his leadership, the CPI produced the greatest number of mass leaders.

Mass Movements

A cursory glance at history will tell us that the CPI led and participated in great many mass movements/struggles: of workers, peasants, agricultural, labourers, students, youth, children, women, adivasis, untouchables, middle class intelligentsia, writers, artists, policemen, armed forces, and so on and so forth. These struggles were both unarmed and armed.

The movements of the industrial workers in Kanpur, Bombay, Calcutta, Madras and innumerable other places are well known. The formation of the Girni Kamgar Union was a historic moment. The CPI and AITUC played a memorable role in the period 1926-29 in organising the textile workers of Bombay and elsewhere. S.A. Dange, S.S. Mirajkar and others emerged as the outstanding leaders. During this period, P.C. Joshi himself was emerging as a trade unionist and Communist leader. He began his work as a student and then TU leader.

The railway workers were, along with the textile workers, the advance guard of the Indian working class movement. They unleashed many a memorable movement in the various railways and areas—GIP Railway, BNR, MSM, BB & CI, and several other railways. Their struggles often went on for weeks and months, and that was under the British Raj.

The postal, port and dock workers were another crucial contingent, operating in the nerve-centres of the British colonial rule and its communications. The port and dock workers’ movement is almost as old as the industry itself. P.C. Joshi and other leaders imparted to it a critical role.

Formation of Mass Organisations

IT is well-known that three important mass organisations were formed in 1936—the AISF, AIKS and PWA. They were joint mass organisations of various trends in the national movement including the Communists. What is little known is the active role of PCJ and other leaders in making these organisations possible. The organisations played an outstanding role in the anti-imperialist national united front and united national movements.

Simultaneously, the growing unity and activity of the AITUC immensely strengthened the people’s movement.

National and Class, People’s Movements

THIS question has always perplexed the revolutionaries. But P.C. Joshi was clear about it. One of his greatest contributions was his skilful combination of the mass people’s and class movements with the national freedom movement as part and parcel of the latter. The thirties was a period of intensification of the colonial and imperialist crisis. There was growing danger, on a world scale, of fascism. This aspect of his political approach has often been misunder-stood.

In such circumstances, the CPI, led by PCJ, worked hard for united action by all the anti-colonial, anti-imperialist forces for freedom. The thirties were a period of enhanced actions by the CPI, CSP, Royists, FB, Left Congressmen, and so on. The Left was consolidating within the Congress, and it unleashed great mass sruggles all over the country.

It was also a period when the CPI’s influence grew by leaps and bounds.

The CPI played one of the greatest roles in the post-war people’s upsurge of 1945-47. The main credit for this would undoubtedly go to P.C. Joshi.

Peaceful and Armed Struggle

P.C. JOSHI has often been branded as ‘reformist’ by his opponents. It was on this ‘ground’ that he was removed in 1947-48. Even today articles are appearing in some quarters, branding him as reformist and ‘renegade’.

But the irony of history is that some of the most memorable armed struggles took place under PCJ’s leadership. In fact, the greatest number of armed actions took place during his period, and with his and the leadership’s permission. Many of them he guided personally. Advocates of ‘armed struggle’ today should know this.

It is also the irony of history that it was under the ‘reformist’ P.C. Joshi that a lasting base of the communist movement and mass organisations was built, which functions even today.

P.C. Joshi was a master of forms of party and mass organisational activities, be it open and mass, press, strikes, etc. or ‘underground’ and secret, even armed organisation. The CPI was illegal or semi-legal during the better part of his tenure. PCJ, therefore, skilfully created a countrywide underground organisational machinery and ‘tech’ apparatus. Both types of organisations functioned simultaneously. He was the creator of massive secret apparatuses in most of the armed and underground struggles. RIN, Tebhaga, Telangana and many other struggles, conferences, strikes and so on bear witness to it.

He was as skilful in open and flexible activities as in underground and secret organisation and discipline, including armed struggle; also in an intricate combination of the two types of work. The present-day ‘armed struggles’ are no match before what he organised.

He never shirked from mass revolutionary activity and organisation of any kind.

Some of the outstanding armed sruggles are etched forever on the memory of history: Kayyur, Tebhaga, Punnapra-Vayalar, Nilgiri (in present-day Orissa), Kashmir, in several other princely states, formation of anti-Japanese armed squads, anti-feudal land struggles led by the CPI and AIKS, ‘Bakasht’ struggles in Bihar, RIN Revolt, Air Force revolt in Jabalpore, naval mutiny in Madras and in a remote place in Gujarat, armed struggles of joint Praja Mandals in various princely states, and the greatest and the most memorable of them all: the Great Telangana Armed Struggle, about which we will talk separately. They all took place during his period.

Armed struggles during his period helped the movement, while those being carried on today are destroying it.

P.C. Joshi, and the then CPI leadership, played a crucial role in most of these and many others.

PCJ and the CPI leadership generally did not adopt a mechanical approach towards forms of struggles. The form depended on the concrete situation. The CPI differed from the extreme anarchist-revolutionary movement, that had made a cult of arms. The CPI, led by PCJ, believed in mass movements, strikes, processions, occupation and distribution of land etc. The 1945-47 upsurge proves this.

The CPI also did not make a cult out of non-violence and satyagraha. Here, it differed from Gandhism. Many on both sides were convinced of the CPI’s correctness through dialogue and their own experience. Here P.C. Joshi played an exceptional role. The CPI, therefore, had leaders like Ajoy Ghosh from Bhagat Singh’s group, and leaders like Sardesai and EMS from Congress background.

The CPI, under P.C. Joshi, also led and organised any number of peaceful and semi-peaceful mass people’s and class movements of workers, peasants, students and middle classes. They are as memorable as the armed struggles.

Cooperative Movement

BY the way, it is little known that it was P.C. Joshi, who way back in 1946, gave a call for the formation of handloom and textile workers’ and producers cooperative. Various small coops began to be formed in the areas of Cuddapah (now Kadapa in AP), Madurai, Trichy (present-day Tamil Nadu) and so on. It is interesting to find that some of them continue to exist even today. There are still surviving workers and leaders who testify to this fact. These cooperatives had a two-fold task: on the one hand, they fought for workers’ and producers’ rights; on the other, they struggled to create their own producing and selling organisations.

Struggles in the Princely States

INDIA during the British period had nearly 575 or so princely states. Some of them were very big—Nizam’s Hyderabad, Bhopal, Kashmir, Jodhpur, Kathiawar, Patiala, etc.Others were very small, some of them as small as half-a-mile or even less! A big number of these States, more than 250 or so, were in Saurashtra (now in Gujarat) alone.

As is well known, the princely states were not directly under British rule. A British Resident used to reside there, and often some British troops. But the states were fully subservient to the British rulers. Besides, they were almost fully dominated by feudal relations of production. There were no political and socio-economic rights for the people, hardly any press and other democratic rights, including those of voting. Parties were either non-existent or very weak, and with little or no rights. People had no rights of organising mass movements, meetings, strikes etc.

The worst among them were Hyderabad, Dhenkanal, Nilgiri, Jodhpur, Travancore-Cochin, Kathiawad, Junagadh, Darbhanga, and many others. Only a few like Kolhapur, Travancore, Baroda etc. were to an extent affected by modern developments. The princely states were living in the darkness of the Middle Ages. They were far backward, compared even to the British India. There was hardly any industrial development.

These divisions were deliberately created by the British rulers, who wanted to weaken the freedom movement and to fragmentise India. These states stood against the freedom movement and crushed struggles most brutally whenever they broke out. It was with their help that the British colonialists tried to balkanise India into hundreds of ‘independent countries’, and not just into two.

Most of them refused to join India, when it gained independence in 1947. That is why a hard struggle ensued when India became independent, to persuade them to join India. So, whether to join India—this became a major question and plank for struggle in the princely states. This took several years.

The CPI led by P.C. Joshi playedextreme an outstanding part in these great struggles.

Great Telangana Struggle and PCJ

TELANGANA is the name of a particular region in present-day Andhra Pradesh. It was at that time, before independence, a part of the state of Hyderabad. The Hyderabad state was the biggest among the princely states of the country, with a population of over one crore sixty lakhs, ruled by the Nizam. Linguistically, it was divided into three regions: Telangana (Telugu-speaking), Marathwada (Marathi) and Karnataka (Kannada-speaking). Forty per cent of the region was governed by jagirs. The Nizam ruled like a feudal dictator in the most brutal manner. His armed gangs, known (infamous) as the Razakars, had a strong fascist tendency, looting, beating, raping, burning and killing people and opponents at will all over the state.

The famous Telangana struggle was mainly led by the Andhra Mahasabha. The roots of the Andhra Mahasabha go way back to the early 1920s. Its first conference was held in 1930. The Andhra Mahasabha was a kind of joint mass organisation consisting of Communists, Congressmen, nationalists, independents, many local and non-affiliated leaders etc.

The Mahasabha led many a historic anti-feudal mass struggle and activity, mostly secret and underground. Ravi Narayan Reddy, C. Rajeswara Rao, K.L. Mahendra, Swami Ramanand Tirth and many others were among the leading figures of activities of the Mahasabha (or ‘Praja Mandal’) and later of the Telangana struggle.

Communists and Telangana

THE Communist influence and organisation began to grow on the eve and at the outbreak of the Second World War (1939-45). A ‘Comrades’ Association’ was functioning in Hyderabad with Makhdoom Mohiuddin, Raj Bahadur Gour and others as active figures.

Socialist-minded youth participated in the ‘Vande Mataram’ movement. D. Venkateswara Rao and S. Ramanathan were the active figures.

A section of the Andhra Mahasabha was getting radicalised. That included Ravi Narayan Reddy, Baddam Yella Reddy, Arutla brothers and others.

The Maharastra Parishad had socialist-oriented leaders like Chandragupta Choudhary, V.D. Deshpande and others.

Later, in 1939, these four groups were ortanised as the Nizam State Communist Committee. Its backbone was the Andhra Communist Committee. It was one of the strongest units of the CPI.

It has to be clearly understood that, somewhat later, it was the Andhra unit (‘Andhra PC’) that became the main party organisation in the area we are talking of. There was technically or administratively speaking, no Andhra State or province as such. So the Andhra PC was a party unit. It organised the first underground party unit in the Telangana part of the Hyderabad state. A CPI unit was also formed in the Marathwada region. Telangana and Marathwada units also organised the All Hyderabad Trade Union Congress, which later spread to the Karnataka region. Other mass organisations too came into existence.

The CPI leadership led by P.C. Joshi was keeping a close watch on the events in Telangana and Hyderabad. It was in livewire contact with the Andhra PC and other units, including in Hyderabad city, giving them continuous advice and leadership. The CPI’s central organ, People’s War and later People’s Age, were regularly reporting events in Hyderabad and Telangana.

People’s Upsurge in Telangana

THE people of Telangana and the state of Nizam’s Hyderabad as a whole had long been fighting against his autocratic and brutal policies. In socio-economic and political terms, they had been struggling against a highly oppressive feudal order. The entire people of the Hyderabad state wanted a speedy end to the Nizam’s rule. The Asafjahi dynasty was already ruling for more than three centuries. It was a classical case of feudal exploitation and oppression. The CPI organ People’s Age compared the oppression to that in Poland. Hyderabad was the biggest state in India, with 17 districts and 17 million people at the time. Forty per cent of area was under feudal estates known under various names. The Nizam himself had a jagir for personal maintenance, as big as a district. The remaining 60 per cent were directly under state feudal exploitation of the worst inhuman kind. But there were any number of direct and indirect intermediaries.

Mass people’s movements spread like wildfire in 1946 throughout the Telangana region, as also in the rest of the state. What was the reason for the Telangana mass upsurge to break out in 1946?

The CPI went into the details of the situation in the various princely states, including the Nizam’s Hyderabad. This was basically the result of the post-Second World War crisis of British colonialism in India. The writing on the wall for the British rule was there for all to see. While the Indian people were preparing to struggle for their final liberation, the British rulers were seeking ways to divide and balkanise India.

People not only in British India but also in the princely states all over the country were coming out in huge numbers for their demands as well as for independence itself. The freedom movement and its upsurge got intertwined with the prolonged anti-feudal struggles that were going on since long. The anti-feudal movement entered a qualitatively new stage. People were demanding overthrow of feudal kings and princes of the feudal-princely states with India.

The CPI leadership was closely watching and analysing these momentous events, and was supporting the people’s upsurge.

By the middle of 1946, mass people’s revolts broke out in many states: Nilgiri, Jodhpur, Dhenkanal, Travancore-Cochin, Hyderabad, etc., The revolt in Hyderabad was the biggest and latest the longest.

The Nizam of Hyderabad began active preparations against the people’s movement. He and his gangs of ‘armies’ began to store and import arms. The Nizam began secret and separate negotiations with the British Government. He contacted other countries like the USA, Portugal, Czechoslovakia, etc. to obtain latest arms and ammunition. Arms were actually imported on a large scale from the Portuguese colony of Goa, and from other places. The fascist Razakar gangs were strengthened and let loose on the masses.

Taking advantage of the growing communal tension in the country, the Nizam and his Muslim communal gangs became active. They began to bring the communal gangs from outside in the name of ‘refugees’, who were then recruited in the Nizam’s army to be unleashed against the people.

The Nizam’s Hyderabad actually began preparations to secede from India as a separate “country” (!) with the active connivance of the British imperialists.

Brutal Terror in Telangana

THE Telangana region of the Hyderabad state was especially targeted by the fascist terror gangs of the Nizam. This was because the people’s, Communist and Praja Mandal (or Parishad) and Andhra Mahasabha-led, movements were very strong in this region.

The central leadership of the CPI led by P.C. Joshi, and the Andhra and Telangana units of the party finally decided to take to large-scale armed struggle. The central leaders took the decision after a proper study of the situation. Ravi Narayan Reddy went to Bombay to the CPI headquarters and appraised the leadership of the situation in Telangana.

The CPI and other democrats decided to take up the challenge thrown by the Nizam.

The Nizam’s Razakars and other forces launched a huge offensive against the people in the most brutal display of force and the districts of Telangana were particular targets of the Razakar offensive. Villages were looted and burnt down in Kadivendi, Devaruppula, Patasuryapet in Jangaon and Suryapet taluks. Jangaon and Suryapet became synonymous with brutal terror. Razakars targeted the women and children with particular ferocity, and indulged in brutal mass rapes on a wide scale.

Serious incidents took place on July 4, 1946 in Kadivendi (or Kadavendi), in which people clashed with the goondas of Visnuru Deshmukh, the notorious local henchman of the Nizam. Several comrades were murdered, including Doddi Komarayya, a young Samgham leader who was leading a procession. He was shot down.

Doddi Komarayya went down as the first martyr of the Telangana struggle. His murder led to a new upsurge in the struggle of the people of Telangana. He appeared as an immortal hero.

Mass struggles spread like wildfire to a large number of villages, talukas and areas of Bhongir, Ramannapet, Nalgonda, Huzurnagar and Balemula.
Patha Suryapet was the centre of battles in November 1946. The police had to bring in the (Nizam’s) army in strength, realising the strength of the people’s armed resistance. People even resisted with sticks and stones.

Heroic resistance was offered in Akhnoor and Machireddypalli villages. People resisted the Nizam’s police and army.

There were innumerable other struggles and armed incidents.
The CPI reviewed the situation and decided to channelise and organise the struggle into proper mass armed resistance, including guerilla struggle. Volunteers’ armed squads began to be formed on a large scale equipped both with traditional and new weapons. At first, people were organised to fight with whatever weapons and materials they could lay their hands upon to beat back the goonda gangs of the Nizam.

The CPI, Andhra Mahasabha and the trade unions jointly observed October 17, 1946 as Anti-Repression Day. Students and youths too came out on a big scale in the movement. Mass demonstrations were organised in Suryapet and other areas. Suryapet was transformed into an army camp. By November 1946, more than 200 villages of Suryapet were converted into virtual fortresses to defend the people’s struggle. As many as 25,000 textile workers in Hyderabad, Aurangabad, Gulbarga, Nanded and Warangal struck work. Electricity, PWD, telephone and other workers walked out and began movements and strikes lasting weeks and months. During 1946-47, huge numbers of coal mining (Singareni, Kothagudem etc.) railways, textile, MSK Mills, cement, Allwyn and other workers took to mass movements.

It has to be remembered that the working class movement in the state worked in close coordination with the Telangana armed peasants’ struggle. The fact is generally overlooked that the industrial and transport workers helped the struggle of the Telangana peasant in various ways, including collection of arms and money. Leaders like Raj Bahadur Gour, K.L. Mahendra, Jawad Razvi and others of the Hyderabad city and state party were among those who organised this. They also helped the Telangana movement by direct participation in it. They assisted in creating the huge under-ground network of struggle and coordination.

K.L. Mahendra was the UG tech organiser of the movement, along with others. The Razakar police attacked the TU offices on September 30, 1946 and arrested hundreds of leaders and cadres.

Soon, the Nizam announced a ban on the Andhra Mahasabha and the CPI. He also attacked the Congress, which was cooperating with the Communists and Andhra Mahasabha and Praja Mandal in the Telangana struggle. A large number of Congress leaders were also arrested. The Congress had rejected the proposals of “reforms” put forward by the Nizam.

India’s Independence and Struggle in Princely States

THE year 1946-47 were those of intense struggles for independence. The British rulers were, simultaneously, preparing to divide India into not just two but several pieces. It was also a period of one of the most heinous mass genocides that history has seen—the communal carnage between Hindus, Muslims and Sikhs, instigated by the communal and imperialist forces.

An interim government, with Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru as the Prime Minister, was already formed in the middle of 1946. The government oversaw the difficult transition of power. The CPI lent full support to all the efforts for India’s independence. It also opposed the communal division of India and the bloody and barbaric communal carnage.

P.C. Joshi, and the CPI, in several statements and articles in the first half of 1947, welcomed the impending freedom of India. The CPI assured all support to the positive measures of the new government meant at consolidating the liberation.

It was in these conditions that the anti-national and anti-Indian role of some of the major princely states became clearer. The Nizam of Hyderabad, and some other rulers of a few major states, whether Hindu or Muslim, declared that they would not join India after independence. They would either remain “independent” or some of them would join Pakistan. Nizam’s Hyderabad declared its own “independence”, with the connivance of the Britishers, even before August 15, 1947.

P.C. Joshi and the CPI warmly welcomed the declaration of Indian independence on August 15, 1947. With the freedom, the movement in the princely states reached a qualitatively new stage. Now the main question was their accession to and assimilation in India. P.C. Joshi emphasised the need to intensify the struggle in this direction. The CPI, in cooperation with other democratic, anti-feudal and anti-imperialist forces, stepped up the mass people’s movements in the states including Hyderabad and Telangana.

The movement against the Nizam, especially in Telangana, was intensified, demanding, in particular, integration with India.

It should be especially noted, and it is a matter of great pride, that it was the CPI under PCJ’s leadership, which led and participated in the movements for hoisting the Indian tricolour in the princely states. P.C. Joshi has to be especially credited with this and similar movements elsewhere too in the country. P.C. Joshi was a firm advocate and formulator of the policy of National Front.

His action fully accorded with this concept. He laid particular emphasis on the cooperation and unity of all nationalist forces, including in the princely states (for example, Praja Mandals or Parishads or Sabhas etc.).

Consequently, it was the Communist Party which first took the initiative to hoist the national flag over important buildings and places in Hyderabad. The CPI, Andhra Mahasabha, All Hyderabad Trade Union Congress, All Hyderabad Students’ Union and other organisations hoisted the national flag in the distant villages and towns and squares, offered Satyagraha, brought out processions held meetings etc. in observance of Indian independence and calling for merger of the Hyderabad state with India.

The Nizam’s flag was removed and the national flag hoisted in village after village.

It has to be borne in mind that hoisting the national flag in many princely states, including Hyderabad, was a punishable crime! So much for the patriotism and nationalism of many of these princely rulers ! Not all the princely rulers, though, were opposed to the tricolour and the accession with India.

As a mark of their freedom, the people in Telangana and Hyderabad state captured and took hold of official documents and papers of the Nizamshahi in many places, and burnt many of those incriminating against the people, such as records or false records of debts and loan of the peasants.

It was a historic movement led by the CPI.

The Nizam of Hyderabad, under the force of mass pressure, had to retract his position on accession, at least seemingly, and to conclude a “Standstill Agreement” with the Government of India in November 1947. Though this, no doubt, was a partial victory of the anti-Nizam forces, the Nizam began to misuse it. The wavering and indecisive policies of the Indian Government were also responsible for it.

The Agreement was concluded for one year. The Nizam had to give up his plans of setting up embassies in foreign countries and seceding from India, etc. But the Standstill Agreement had too many loopholes. The Nizam began to consolidate his positions in order to secede from India after one year. The fascist Kasim Rizvi was put in-charge of the Razakar forces, acting almost as independent armed troops. Arms began to be collected on a large scale. Rizvi was the leader of the Majlis, and he put his forces as ‘auxillary’ to the state’s armed forces.

Nizam hatched a conspiracy to ‘import’ Muslims from other parts of India, taking advantage of communal tensions. They were unleashed as part of the auxiliary forces to perpetrate massacres and repressions of the people. The population of the state was sought to be divided on communal lines. A call was given to drive out Hindus and increase the population of Muslims—typical fascist slogans.

The Nizam also advertised the state as a “Muslim paradise”, and even dreamt of making Hyderabad a “southern Pakistan”!

The communal RSS propaganda was utilised by the Nizam to serve his designs.

But the masses did not fall prey to these designs.

New Stage of Telangana Struggle

THE post-independence period, particularly that following the Standstill Agreement with Hyderabad, witnessed a new stage in the Telangana armed struggle, and in the struggle in Hyderabad state in general.

Obviously, the Nizam was preparing to crush the people’s struggle, and broad sections of people intensified their resistance. Various anti-Nizam forces like the CPI, Congress, Andhra Mahasabha were now getting organised to fight better.

The CPI’s central leadership noted this change in the situation. It decided to change its tactics and raise the struggle in Telangana and Hyderabad to higher levels. The Communist Party in Andhra and Telangana properly assessed the situation. It was decided to unleash large-scale guerrilla warfare. The Andhra PC kept in close touch with the Telangana party unit. The Andhra area practically became the supply base of the Telangana struggle, and a number of leading cadres from Andhra were sent to Telangana. Similarly, the party unit in Marathwada also got help from the Maharashtra PC of the CPI from across the border.

The CPI and allied organisations gave a rousing call for widespread mass guerrilla warfare. The party was not alone. The Andhra Mahasabha and local Congressmen also participated. The mass peasants’ guerrilla warfare spread like wildfire.

It should be noted that these were not individual and isolated armed actions of a few armed groups operating secretly. It was an open revolt and upsurge of the whole masses themselves, led by the CPI and others.

Older and traditional arms could not do. Now regular and well-organised armed squads and their network began to be formed on a big scale. The earlier struggle was mainly economic and based on self-defence. It was, of course, fast growing into a political battle against the Nizam’s rule. Now it had become a struggle for, and people were demanding, Hyderabad’s accession to India. Thus, it had become a struggle for political liberation and consequently for the abolition of the feudal order itself.

The Andhra Mahasabha spread to new areas. The guerrilla squads were now functioning openly, and moved like fish in water. The mass movements and liberation squads began to liberate large areas and establish their own sway. The Congress also understood the situation and began to cooperate in their own rule.

The armed struggle was particularly strong in Nalgonda and Warangal districts. Nearly 2500 villages were liberated. They constituted nearly 15,000 square miles of territory, consisting of a population of about three million. The liberated area later spread to about 4000 villages. About one million acres of land were distributed among the people. These villages were spread over Warangal, Nalgonda, Medak and Karimnagar. Lakhs of people participated in the fight. Thousands could be mobilised at a moment’s call. Nearly 4000 guerrilla fighters, 15-20 thousand village defence volunteers and other cadres were organised. Modern weapons were collected. Funds began to be raised on a massive scale.

The result of the people’s mass struggle was that the Nizam’s administration came to a standstill. Officials and landlords and middle feudatory oppressive figures ran away to towns, to the Hyderabad city or the Indian Union territory.

People’s administrations led by the CPI carried out a number of unprecedented, radical measures. We can’t go into the details because of lack of space.

The Nizam was still hoping to get British imperialist help to come out of his crisis.

Entry of Indian Troops into Hyderabad State: Surrender of Nizam

AT last the Indian Union Government has to send its troops into Hyderabad state to force the Nizam to surrender. He was postponing the final decision on joining India on some pretext or the other, and was making preparations to secede from India. He was also violating various points of the Standstill Agreement.

The Indian Army entered Nizam’s Hyderabad on September 13, 1948. The Nizam’s administration and forces could not face the “Army and Police Action”, and he surrendered within three days, his army and administration collapsing quickly. The Razakar armies disintegrated and disappeared. Kasim Rizvi was arrested. The Nizam’s government was dismissed.

New Situation and CPI

A new political and social situation arose in Hyderabad and Telangana after the collapse of the Nizam’s government. The autocratic feudal rule ended and the feudal socio-economic order received a rude shock. Conditions were created for land reforms and other anti-feudal measures and for the establishment of democratic institutions.

A new path and possibilities for democratic advance opened up. The mass of people welcomed the arrival of the Indian Army widely. They now found no reason and basis for the continuation of the armed struggle. Masses of peasants gave up the armed struggle. Only a small section of poor peasants and the landless remained, that too not everywhere.

Armed Struggle gets Isolated

IT is at this juncture that PCJ was badly missed. The CPI had welcomed India’s independence, but very soon there was a change of course and a complete about-turn in its policy. Attack within the party was mounting on Joshi, he was being isolated, and was practically removed from from his post in December 1947. B.T. Ranadive took over as the party General Secretary officially in February 1948, at the Second Congress in Calcutta.

The result was disastrous for the party, for the mass movement, and for the Telangana armed struggle. The party refused to recognise that India had become independent, and this understanding had its own consequences.

The entry of the Indian troops in September 1948 called for a basic change in the course of the Telangana armed struggle. Its utility was over. But the BTR leadership looked upon it as the entry of the troops of the lackeys of imperialism and counter-revolution and therefore decided to fight it!

In fact, later the CPI realised that the armed struggle should have been withdrawn at that particular juncture, that is, on September 13, 1948. The party should have then shifted to mass peaceful movements to put pressure on the Congress Government. But the narrow theoretical view tried to justify not only the continuation but even intensification of the armed struggle. After all, as per this view, the Nehru Government was a lackey of imperialism and feudalism, and therefore in the same category as the Nizam!

Consequently, while the people and other organisations began to withdraw from the armed struggle, the party persisted with it. Therefore, it had to shift from the villages, from “among the people”, to “deep within the forests”. Thus, the armed struggle was isolated, surrounded by armies and ultimately smashed. Even sympathetic people could not help it. Masses of ordinary people began to withdraw from it. It became a struggle, not of the people, but of the party, and for the sheer survival of a handful. And therefore it was bound to fail.

The people, though, were not averse to mass struggle for their day-to-day demands and issues.

It is a little-known fact of history that P.C. Joshi had saved the famous Tebhaga movement (1946) from precisely such a disaster. He had also guided and given timely direction in several other armed struggles, not to talk of non-armed ones.

A section of the Tebhaga movement also wanted to take to large-scale armed struggle and to “fight to the finish”. PCJ and other saner elements intervened and prevailed upon them not to take up such a course. Tebhaga had already achieved much through mass struggles, sometimes even using arms for defence. But any recourse to regular armed struggle would have destroyed it. An inner-party debate took place on this point, particularly in the areas concerned.

How sad that P.C. Joshi was not available at the top party leadership in 1948! The whole movement and mass and party strength could have been preserved for the next phase of struggles. Telangana would have gained much, rather than destroy its own gains.

That also would have contributed far more to the CPI’s gains in the 1952 elections. The Telangana events underlined the need for a well-considered Marxist policy. That is where P.C. Joshi would have made a difference had he continued in his post as the party General Secretary and not summarily been removed at the end of 1947.

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