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Mainstream, VOL LVIII No 29, New Delhi, July 4, 2020

Page from History: Nehru and Dange | Nitin Deshpande

Saturday 4 July 2020


by Nitin Deshpande

This is just a note on a piece of history that no one seems to remember in the ongoing debate on the issue of the Chinese problem facing India today. Surprisingly even the media seems lost in endless debate on whether the government was ready or not and so on.

In the year 1962 when China attacked India, there was an intense debate the world over about the line the Chinese Communist Party had taken especially in the Socialist countries when the then USSR had declared that China is their brother and India their friend.

This was a second body blow for Pandit Nehru after he fell for the ‘Hindi Chini bhai bhai’ [Indians and Chinese are brothers] slogan.

In India too there was a heated debate within the Left, over the issue. So a National Council meeting was held as a section of the party (which is today’s CPI M) was of the view that it was an opportune time to carry out a revolution with the aid of the Chinese army and overthrow the ‘imperialist’ government of Pandit Nehru.

It was Com. S A Dange who vehemently opposed this line in the meeting. Panditji was anxiously awaiting the outcome of the meeting as he was worried whether Com. Dange would win if the issue was put to vote.

Com. Dange didn’t let him down and got the majority to support his Nationalist line.

In 1963 Dange organised a huge rally outside Parliament from where he called on Nehru to come and see the lakhs of communists standing in support of their country.

It was then that Panditji asked Com. Dange to help him convince the Socialist block about India’s standing as a peaceful democratic nation and that China was an aggressor. As always a staunch nationalist all through the freedom movement, having undergone 18 years of imprisonment under British rule, and taken stands at times against the official party line, Dange accepted Panditji’s request and immediately left for the USSR where he met the then General Secretary of the Soviet party and after a long discussion that went on for hours managed to convince Khrushchev of the non-Marxist-Leninist role of the Chinese party. Completely convinced, Khrushchev immediately announced that China was indeed the aggressor and India had been wronged.

Com. Dange from there went to all the countries of the Socialist block and successfully convinced them of India’s stand.

This sudden turn of all the Socialist countries stunned Mao and led to the end of Mao’s adventurist course against India in 1962 coinciding with the Cuban missile crisis at that time.

It is interesting to mention here that Com. Dange’s book India From Primitive Communism To Slavery was part of the curriculum on ancient Indian history in Chinese universities.

This part of history is probably not known or maybe purposely ignored by the media and today’s established opposition parties.

As Com. Dange’s grandson I thought it prudent to remind the media among others of this part of history in the light of today’s problem with China

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