This speech was originally broadcast in Bengali, of which this is a translation.
Comrades-in-revolution! Last night I wanted to prove that by accepting the Wavell offer we stand to gain nothing. On the other hand, we stand to spoil our nation’s future. If we accept the offer we will undoubtedly secure some high posts for the nominees of the Congress, but that is all. We as a nation will be doomed, and the Congress will have to discard all that it has stood for all these years.
When revolutionary movements gain strength in any independent country, the foreign dominating Government always tries to come to some understanding with the revolutionaries so that it might retain its hold intact by agreeing to afew superficial concessions. When the Sinn-Fein Party launched a revolution in Ireland, the British Government proposed a national convention of all parties to draft a future Irish Constitution. But the Sinn-Fein Party boycotted the so-called national convention saying that only those who fight for freedom have the exclusive right to frame a constitution for their country. They continued their national revolution and sometime later the British Government was forced to come to terms with the Sinn-Fein Party to the exclusion of all other parties.
You may recall that when the question of participating in the Round Table Conference in 1931 arose, I said that the Congress alone had the right to join the conference and none else. Those who do not fight for freedom cannot claim the right of participating in such conferences. Congress leaders did not pay any heed to my words then. The Second Round Table Conference was attended by Mahatma Gandhi along with other reactionary delegates, but soon after he realised that the British Government wanted to pitch Indians against one another in that conference. Mahatmaji never forgot the lesson he learnt there. That explains why he did not join the Simla Conference. He has enhanced his prestige by refusing to attend the Simla Conference, and I have no doubt that his non-participation will ultimately lead to good results. Though he supported the Desai-Liaqat Ali Pact, which prompted Lord Wavell to go to England and return with a new offer, Mahatmaji has done the right thing by not participating in the Conference. He alone can save the Congress and the country from impending humiliation. I am of the opinion that the Congress has committed the same blunder by joining the Simla Conference, as Mahatmaji did in 1931 by joining the Round Table Conference. The Congress today is the same Congress which has been fighting for freedom for the last half a century. It is, therefore, the exclusive right of the Congress to make and arrive at a settlement with any power. The Congress will, therefore, lower its prestige by attending conferences along with diverse political elements. The Congress is the only national and representative organisation of India, and it alone has the right to speak for and represent the people of India as a whole. The plan, however, betrays the Viceroy’s designs. He has allowed parity between the Hindus and Muslims in his Council He has invited both the Congress and the Muslim League, thereby reducing the status of the Congress to that of a sectarian organisation, but Mahatmaji has played his hand well. He has forced the Viceroy to invite Maulana Azad to the conference, and has himself remained away from the conference. Thus, he has defeated both Wavell and Jinnah in their subtle and evil designs.Jinnah, however, will not feel comfortable with Maulana Azad, a Muslim, representing the Congress. So he carries on parleys withPandit Pant and not with Maulana Azad.
The proposed Executive Council will have Muslim League and Congress representatives; besides this, the minority communities like the Sikhs, Anglo-Indians and others will also be represented. The Congress representatives will, of course, remain loyal to the cause of the country, but the Leaguers might be won over by the Viceroy. In that case, he can have his own way. Even if the Congress and League nominees agree on anything, the Viceroy’s veto will always be there to nullify it. So almost in all cases he will have his own way. And when we remember that he wants 500,000 troops to fight Japan, we can realise that it is a blunder to take part in the Simla parleys.
The British authorities hold out assurances that the Viceroy’s veto will be seldom exercised, but the very treatment meted out to the Congress belies such hopes. In the first instance, the first seat was given to the President, not of the Congress, but of some other organisation. Everywhere the first seat is given to the representative of the greatest organisation. According to the Delhi Radio the Congress President was given a seat not to the right of the Viceroy but to his left. This is not a question of personal prestige. It is an insult to the institution we all love. I want to know if any protest has been lodged against this arrangement. If not, the Congress proved to the country that it is only too eager to accept even if it has to put up with this insult.
Some of our countrymen praise Lord Wavell for his sincerity and goodwill. In the inaugural speech before the conference he is reported to have said, â€œI have invited you to help me bring India nearer her goal of self-government. We must not disperse without coming to a settlement. I am responsible to His Majesty’s Government for the peace and welfare of India. I appeal to you to help me in my task.â€ It is really strange that Wavell still considers himself an arbiter of India’s destiny. It should be made clear to him that Indians are the arbiters of their own destiny. The day is long past when Indians felt proud of such compliments, now they feel humiliated at being patted on the back by the British.
Friends, we make the following suggestions to our countrymen to rectify the wrong done by the Congress by participating in the Simla Conference. Bring home to our countrymen that the Working Committee has no right to decide such a grave issue. This right belongs to a plenary session of the Congress. The present Working Committee contains no Leftist elements, which should be duly consulted.
Friends, I have finished. Remember we are revolutionaries. We are optimistic. We must carry on our struggle despite all allurements, and we must succeed.