Comrades! During the last few days I have been speaking to you as a revolutionary addressing fellow revolutionaries in India as I would have done if I had been at home today. By revolutionary I mean a person who stands for the complete independence of his country and who is not prepared to compromise over the question of independence. Furthermore, a revolutionary believes that the cause for which he is fighting is a just one, and that cause, therefore, is bound to triumph in the long run. A revolutionary can never get disheartened or depressed over any failure or setback, for his motto is, ‘Hope for the best, but be prepared for the worst.’ As revolutionaries fighting for the freedom of India our faith in our final victory is unshakable, just as our determination to fight on under all circumstances is unflinching. It is with this invincible spirit that we face the British and look forward to the future. For us as revolutionaries the independence of India is a settled fact. There is no power on earth that can stand between us and our goal of freedom. The only uncertain factor is the time factor.
On that question I should like to say that the exact time as to when India will attain her freedom depends on two factors: Firstly, how much effort we can put forward and how much sacrifice we are prepared to make. Secondly, how we are prepared to utilise the present war situation to our advantage. And from this standpoint we have to do at least three things. Firstly, whether inside India or outside, we have to assert India’s right to freedom with arms. Secondly, inside India we have to keep up resistance, at least moral resistance, and prevent a compromise with Britain by all means. Thirdly, we have to make India an international issue and put India’s case before the bar of world opinion.
I have already said in my previous talk that we in East Asia will continue to assert India’s right to freedom with arms. So long as we do so, India will remain an international issue, provided people at home do not let us down by compromising with British imperialism and thereby make India a domestic issue of the British Empire. By a combination of military successes and lying propaganda the British have managed to create an atmosphere in India which is favourable for a compromise. Among a certain section of our countrymen the British have been able to create the impression that the Anglo-American Powers are going to win this war, and that India has no hope of achieving her independence duringthe course of the present war, and further, therefore, the Indian people should accept what they are now being offered.
As soon as the British realised that their propaganda in India was becoming effective, they struck while the iron was hot, and they put forward an offer which is in essence and in substance the old offer of Sir Stafford Cripps, with very slight modifications. Under normal circumstances, not one single genuine Congressman would have looked at Lord Wavell’s offer, or would have touched it with a pair of tongs. But because of their defeatist mentality, some of our countrymen, thinking that everything is lost, are trying to grab at this offer just as a drowning man catches at a straw.
Since our enemies have suddenly thrown an obstacle in the path of our independence, our task as revolutionaries is to remove the obstacle by all means at our disposal, so that the forces now working inside India and outside may carry us forward towards our destined goal. Though the time at our disposal is short I am nevertheless hopeful that we can succeed in the effort, provided we can open the eyes of our countrymen in time to the danger that will overtake us if we accept Lord Wavell’s offer and agree to give material support to Britain in her war against Japan. Because, on the one hand, Lord Wavell’s offer, if accepted, will divert us from the path of independence,on the other hand, the acceptance of that offer will create a situation in which the Congress will cease to be the representative of the Indian masses, reducing itself to the position of one party among many parties in the country, and at the same time it will make the Congress refute its national character as an organisation representing Indians of all religious creeds.
I am surprised and pained to find that there are some Indians today who do not realise that the Viceroy and his masters have laid a trap for the Indian people. These gentlemen go so far as to believe in the bona fides of Lord Wavell and praise his sincerity, but I find that the Viceroy has himself exposed his own character; his motives and intentions. While opening the Simla Conference on June 25, Lord Wavell delivered a sermon to the Indian leaders and said, â€œYou must accept my leadership for the present until there is some agreed change in the constitution. I am responsible to His Majesty’s Government for the good Government and tranquillity of India.â€ But that is not all. Earlier in his speech Lord Wavell said, â€œI have called you together from all parts of India at this critical moment in our history to advise and help you in advancing India towards prosperity, political freedom and greatness.â€
It is impossible for a sell-respecting Indian to put up with this type of patronising. As far as I am aware, nobody has appointed Lord Wavell as the guardian of India, nor has anybody placed India’s destiny in his hands. I should like very much to know if the Congress Working Committee accept this role of Lord Wavell as the arbiter of India’s destiny. While the whole world is talking today of aggression and the Anglo-American Powers in particular claim to be fighting aggression in this world, let us not forget that British rule in India is based on aggression, brute force, plunder and loot. Let us not forget also that the British have no right to be in India and that it is high time that they had shown some repentance for all their misdeeds in India, instead of posing as our well-wishers or as the saviours of India. Only vanity of the meanest order will explain Lord Wavell’s sanctimonious attitude at the Simla Conference.
Another interesting fact, which reveals Lord Wavell’s real intentions, is that in the arrangement of seats at the Conference table, the seat to his right, which should have been given to the representatives of most important party attending the conference, was not given to the Congress President, Maulana Abul Kalam Azad. This was announced over Radio New Delhi yesterday; but it was not stated if a protest has been lodged on behalf of the Congress. If no such protest has yet been lodged then it must be assumed that the Congress representatives are so keen about attending the Simla Conference that they are prepared to forget any insult or humiliation in doing so.
I wonder if your attention has been drawn to another relevant and interesting fact. While Lord Wavell was making an announcement about the new offer of the British Government, the India Office in London was making an announcement to the effect that recruitment in England for the Indian Civil Service was being resumed. This is the clearest proof, if any further proof were needed, that Britain has no intention of relaxing her hold on India. Commenting on this, Prof Harold Laski, Chairman of the Labour Party of Great Britain, said in a statement issued from London on June 25, â€œIt suggests to the Indian nationalist mind and the nation that the British seem to envisage a considerable lapse of time before they quit India for alternatively saddling India for many years with the payment of considerable sums of money of Britishers as compensation for possible loss of office.â€
I do not know if any of my listeners have felt intrigued as to why Lord Wavell has converted the Simla Conference into a secret conference behind closed doors. I am told that something like an oath of secrecy has been administered to allthe gentlemen attending this conference. Why is it so? I have never heard of a conference in which the fate of a country is going to be decided being held in camera. The only explanation I can find is that Lord Wavell is afraid of public opinion in India. Behind closed doors he is trying to bamboozle the Indian leaders and he is apprehensive that if the proceedings are made public, public opinion in India might assert itself in time and spoil all attempts to lead India’s leaders into his trap.
While talking of the Simla Conference, I must offer my respectful congratulations to Mahatma Gandhi on the wise step he has taken in not attending the Simla Conference. To me it is a clear indication that Mahatma Gandhi remembers how the British Government threatened him at the Round Table Conference held in London in 1931. Then it was so manoeuvred that Mahatma Gandhi’s position as the sole representative of the Congress was brought down to the level of the representatives of the other parties attending the conference. In the present case by refraining from attending the Simla Conference, Mahatma Gandhi has been able to keep himself above party level. His non-attendance not only enhances his personal prestige, but may even be ultimately helpful to the cause of India.
Comrades! We have now to consider what to do about Lord Wavell’s offer. First of all, though the time at our disposal is short, we will have to do everything possible to prevent the acceptance of this offer by the Congress Working Committee. We should carry on a raging and tearing campaign against Lord Wavell’s offer throughout the length and breadth of the country. You will also have to see to it that an organised opposition is put up. From this distance I gather the impression that there is plenty of opposition in the country to Lord Wavell’s offer. But the oppositionists do not seem to be joining hands in a common campaign for preventing the acceptance of that offer. In your campaign for the rejection of the offer it will help you considerably if you challenge the Congress Working Committee to produce a programme which the new Executive Council will carry out. The country will then be able to judge from that programme whether the task of the new Executive Council will be to fight Britain’s imperialist war in the Far East and provide 500,000 Indian lives as cannon-fodder, or to help India along the path of prosperity, political freedom and greatness as Lord Wavell promises.
It is essential that before the Congress Working Committee accepts Lord Wavell’s offer, it should place before the Viceroy the programme which the new Executive Councillors will work out. This programme, if approved by the Viceroy,will be the acid test as to whether the new Executive Council will be able to serve the interests of India or not. If you fail to prevent the acceptance of the offer, you will then have to create a situation which will force the Congress representatives to resign from the Viceroy’s Council. This will not be difficult. You will have to insist on the release of all political prisoners, which will, in itself, bring about a crisis between the Viceroy and the Congress members of the Executive Council, as in 1938 when the Congress Ministries in Bihar and the United Provinces demanded the release of all political prisoners and there was a conflict with the Governor. Further, there is no doubt that when the new Executive Council is formed the Viceroy will begin to exploit India’s resources in men, money and material for fighting Britain’s imperialist war in the Fai East. This will naturally raise numerous issues in which India’s interests will clash with those of Britain. If you keep up your agitation and propaganda against the Congress members of the Executive Council, the Congress members will be forced to stand up for India’s interests against those of Britain. A conflict with the Viceroy will be inevitable. Then you will have to agitate in order to prevent Indian troops being sent as cannon-fodder to the Far East. If you fail in that you will have to undertake sabotage in order to prevent war production, interrupt transport and disrupt lines of communication.
As you are aware, during the last five years the British have been giving valuable instructions for organising and carrying on an underground movement in countries which went out of their control, for instance, France, Belgium, Holland, Denmark, Yugoslavia and Greece. There are people in India, as in Britain, who have been trained in underground activities in other countries. If you can utilise these men, or if you can at least make use of the instructions for underground activity in other countries issued by the British authorities and apply them against the British in India you will achieve valuable results.
Last but not the least, you will have to do propaganda work in order to incite a revolt within the Indian armed forces, and thereby prepare for a revolt from within. The Indian Army of today is not the Indian Army of 1939. The Indian Army according to British reports is 2,500,000 strong. In this Army there are many who are politically-minded and nationalist in thought. The time for an armed revolt will have come when this Army is demobilised and if India is not free by then. Thanks to this war, 2,500,000 Indians have been trained in the use of arms. When the time comes for their disbandment you can raid the armoury and get the arms with which to fight our British rulers. The Chittagong armoury raid in 1930 was an excellent example of how arms belonging to our enemy can be procured and then used against them.
I am confident that if we fight on, refusing to compromise with British imperialism, and if we play our cards well in the international field, we shall win our freedom by the end of this war. But, that does not mean that if by any chance we fail to succeed we should be disheartened or depressed. Outwardly, if the worst happens and India does not emerge as an independent state by the end of this war, our next plan should be for a post-war revolution; and if we fail in that too, then there will be World War No. 3 to give us another opportunity to fight for our freedom. I have no doubt that World War No. 3 will break out within ten years of the end of this war and perhaps much earlier, in case all the suppressed nations of the world are not liberated during the course of the present war.
As I have already said, India’s independence is certain, the only uncertain factor is the time factor. At the worst â€” at the very worstâ€”it may take a few more years for India to be free. Why then should we be so eager to rush to the Viceroy’s House for a compromise? Your task as revolutionaries will be to keep the flag of independence flying and to keep it flying until such time as the masses of India rise in open rebellion and hoist the tricolour National Flag over the Viceroy’s House in New Delhi.