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MUSLIMS AND INDIAN COMMUNISTS - Strange Allies?

Paper NO. 1107                                                                     01/09/2004

by R.Upadhyay 

Ideologically, the Muslim communalists and Godless Communists are poles apart in their worldview. It is however said that Muslim communalists often used the cadres of the Communist Party of India (CPI) as their point men in furtherance of their communal grievances. Who used whom may be a debatable question but the experience of their political game in this country shows that they fought jointly against the nationalist forces, which were their common target.  

Communists are known for speaking in many voices if it suits their interest. Contrary to the Marxian dictum -'religion is the opium of people' their softness towards the religious obscurantism of the Muslims exposed their intellectual hypocrisy and puzzled the people of India. Gradually both of the Communists and Muslim communalists became strange allies perhaps due to some under mentioned resemblance in their character, which served as common link to bring them together:

Both the Communists and the Muslim communalists are internationalists in character. The Communists attempt to 'ape Russia and China' for everything. It is said, if there is rain in Moscow or China, Indian Communists open their umbrellas. The Muslim Communalists on the other hand are emotionally attached to Perso-Arabic socio-culture with Saudi Arabia as their international centre.  

None of them ever opposed collaborative relation between China and Pakistan, which was basically to precipitate chaotic conditions in secular India.  

None of them believe in the concept of common nationalism. ). For Communists Indian nationalism is bourgeois nationalism but Russian/Chinese nationalism for them is proletarian nationalism.  "Once the Marxist bug bites a person, he dumps nationalism and cuts himself off from his civilisational heritage" (Dina Nath Mishra in Pioneer dated August 22, 2004. For Muslim communalists Indian nationalism denotes religious nationalism of Hindus but Arab nationalism is Islamic nationalism for them. The Communists called the nationalist leaders of freedom movement as Hindu bourgeois whereas the Muslims called them Hindu leaders.

 The Communists believe only in state that is the legal and geographical association of people. Being the limbs of international Communist movement they do not recognise national boundary of India. The Muslim communalists too believe in pan-Islamism in which there is no place for motherland. As supranationalists they do not have faith in nationalism.  

Patriotic association that constitutes a nation with common heritage and culture in which hearts and minds move in one direction is not acceptable to either of them.  

For both of them the concept of nationalism is synonymous to Hinduism and therefore they opposed the efforts of nationalist forces to promote its spirit among the countrymen during freedom movement. Hate-Hindu campaign became a common link between them and they jointly targeted the nationalist forces as their common enemy.  

The Communists described the nationalist movement for freedom as collaboration of National Bourgeoisie with 'fascism' and therefore supported the war efforts of 'British Bureaucracy' ', which they had earlier called 'British Imperialist'. The Muslim League too supported the war efforts of the British.  

The Communists floated multi-national theory in support of two-nation theory propagated by the Muslim League

Theoretically both of them believe in social equality but in practice they purge their opponents once they are in political power. Both believe in social equality but consider their own concept on this issue perfect. "Both Muslims and Communists regard their own concept of social structure perfect" (Dalwai in Muslim politics in India). 

Both claim themselves to be democratic in character but do not allow freedom of thought.

Both of them justify use of violence to propagate their doctrine.  

While the Muslims are supposed to work for a united 'Ummat' (Muslim community) for whole world, the Communists' slogan is to 'unite the workers of the world'.  

The political objective of the Communists is to establish the 'dictatorship of proletariat' even though they have hardly produced any leader of proletariat origin in last over seven decades of existence in this country. For them, dictatorship of proletariat meant dictatorship of Russia or China. The political objective of the Muslim communalists on the other hand is to establish 'Dar-ul-Islam' which is possible only with religious dictatorship of Muslim world.  

Communists' leadership continued to remain confined to English educated minority group, who remained unconscious of the pre-medieval glorious history of India. The Muslim communalists too remained captive of their medieval mindset with obsession to the ascendancy of Islamic power as the only glorious history of India.  

To run down the pre-medieval heritage and culture of this ancient land emerged as their common programme.  

Communism failed everywhere in the world, but its followers in India are still hoping against hope to revive it by entrenching the Indian polity with their divisive tactics. Similarly the Islamic revivalists in India also believe that only Muslims are capable to govern this country and are hopeful of the revival of Muslim era. Late Dr.Sayed Mahmood, being projected by Muslim intelligentsia as a nationalist Muslim had said, "It is quite well known that Hindus are incapable of ruling a country. This is what history has proved adequately. We are going down the drain as a nation because Muslims in this country have no share in power. Only Muslims can save this nation from doom"(Muslim Politics in India by Hamid Dalwai, page 63) 

It was a historical coincidence that the Communist movement followed the Muslim communalists' movement for separatism launched during the freedom struggle against British colonialism. 

Ever since the Communist Party of India (CPI) was born in mid 1920s it had been trying to keep the Muslim mind confused over pre-Islamic past of this country. The Communists equated the controversial Aryan invasion theory as well as forceful eviction of Dravidians to the South that was propounded by the historians of the West with the Muslim invaders and persecution of the Hindus. Banking on the European account of Indian History the Communists argue that if Muslim invaders like Arabs, Turks, Central Asians, Afghans or Persians were outsiders, Hindus too were not the indigenous people of this land as they were also the descendants of Aryan invaders from outside? They rationalised the violent entry of Islam in India at the point of sword justifying the peace even with violent means. Their understanding of Indian history is that Islam gave new life to the broken antiques of Indian civilisation by providing social equality to oppressed masses (Selected Works of M.N.Roy edited by Sibnarayan Ray, Oxford, 2000, Volume IV).  

Controversial historical accounts worked as lifeline for Muslim communalists in their movement for a separate national and political identity. Running down the pre-medieval past of Hindu civilisation the Communists also wrote unrealistic history in favour of beef eating in Vedic period. Such anti-Hindu thesis encouraged the Muslims to maintain an uncompromising attitude towards the sentiments of the Hindu majority. Known for their strong opposition to the civilisational ethos of Bharat, both of them worked with common goal to dilute the collective consciousness of the Indian people of their glorious heritage, culture and thousands of years of traditions.  

M.N.Roy, one of the founder members of Communist Party of India (CPI) said that Indian masses oppressed under Brahmanical orthodoxy facilitated the Islamic invaders and "readily rallied under the banner of Islam which offered them social equality if not political equality" (Selected Works of M.N.Roy edited by Sibnarayan Ray, Oxford, 2000, Volume IV, page 398). He added, "the Mohammedan power was consolidated in India not so much by the valour of invaders' arms as owing to the propagation of the Islamic faith and the progressive significance of Islamic laws" (Ibid. Page 400). He accused the Hindus for allegedly being contumelious towards Islam. He said, "Hindus superciliousness towards the religion and culture of Muslims is absurd. It insults history and injures the political future of the country … Learning from the Muslims, Europe became the leader of modern civilisation … Unfortunately India could not fully benefit by the heritage of Islamic culture because she did not deserve the distinction …  Knowledge of Islam's contribution would shock the Hindus out of their arrogant self-satisfaction" (Selected Works of M.N.Roy edited by Sibnarayan Ray, Oxford, 2000, Volume IV, page 401).  

Historically, Stalin formulated the strategy to spread the hegemony of communists over West Asia to neutralise the influence of America in the region and wanted the support of Israel but the latter did not respond to him favourably. The followers of Stalin in India therefore started supporting the Muslim world against Israel.  Had Israel accepted Stalin's proposal the CPI might have taken a different stand on this issue. They opposed Israel's occupation of West Bank and Gaza but never raised any voice against Chinese occupation to Tibet or Russian occupation. Baltic countries. Similarly, they never raised the issue of Russian presence in Afghanistan.  

Communists wanted to convert the freedom movement into 'people's war' in alliance with the Muslim League against the nationalist forces. In 1940 the CPI came closer to All India Muslim League (AIML), when the latter emerged as a mass organisation of the second largest religious community in India. With hate-Hindu campaign as a common link they targeted the nationalist forces, as common enemy on the dictum of enemy's enemy is friend. "Since 1940 the CPI had tried to 'placate' the Muslim League, equating it with the Congress party as India's two mass political organisations" (Communism in Indian Politics by Bhabani Sen Gupta, Columbia University Press, 1972). The nationalist forces led by the Congress on the other hand evaluated the Communists as "anti-nationalist foreign agents" (Ibid), who followed the "just" demand of Muslim League for Pakistan.

Contrary to their strong reservation against religion based State the Communists supported the communal demand of AIML for creation of Pakistan. They provided intellectual support to the two-nation theory of AIML by floating multi-national theory.  

The CPI's resolution adopted in its central committee meeting in September 1942 suggests the conviction of the party on communal division of India. The resolution said: "Every section of the Indian people which has its contiguous territory as its homeland, common historical tradition, common language, culture, psychological make-up, and common economic life would be recognised as a distinct nationality with the right to exist as an autonomous state within the free Indian Union or federation and will have the right to secede from it if it may so desire" (Selected Works of M.N.Roy 1932-1936, Volume IV). Non-participation of the Communists in Quit India Movement against the colonial oppression was the opportunism of the worst kind. It was apparently their tactical alliance with Muslim League to "precipitate nation-wide disintegration". Their desired objective was not only to break India into Hindu India and Muslim India but also into various linguistic and ethnic nations with sovereign political entity. 

The main obstacle of the CPI against its movement was the Indian National Congress, a nationalist party that had a strong mass following during freedom movement. Therefore, it described the Congress as party of Indian National Bourgeoisie and preferred a tactical alliance with AIML, which it had also described a party of Indian Muslim Bourgeoisie. The CPI infiltrated its Muslim members into AIML with a view to weaken the greater bourgeois Congress by supporting smaller bourgeois. The All India Student Federation members of Aligarh Muslim University also joined All India Muslim Students Federation (Legacy of a Divided Nation by Mushirul Hasan, 1997, page 113). The Aligarh School of Muslim orthodoxy that supported the British imperialism against the forces of Indian nationalists got a natural political ally in CPI, which had also supported the war efforts of the colonial power. The experience of Muslim politics in India therefore, suggests that the modernist Muslims of Aligarh School were more prone to Muslim orthodoxy and communal politics than of Deoband School. 

"The most grotesque decision was to send its (CPI) Muslim members to enter the ranks of Muslim League"(Pakistan: Military Rule or People's Power by Tariq Ali, London 1970, page 31)". " The CPI had entered the Muslim League in order to strengthen the bourgeois faction in the League against the feudal landlords, a plan perfectly in keeping with Stalin's theory of revolution by stages" (Ibid. Page 32). "The manifesto of the Punjab Muslim League was written by a well known Indian Communist lawyer, Daniyal Latifi"(Ibid.).  

The CPI while supporting the division of India even appreciated the Muslim League's co-operative attitude towards the British war efforts against Hitler, which it had earlier termed as 'Imperialist War'. Its support to Pakistan movement therefore was a support to Muslim separatism. For the CPI loyalty to Soviet Russia was more important than to free the country from the British. Their support to British war efforts was factually a response to the call of Soviet Russia to the Communists all over the world following Hitler's attack on it. 

The CPI leaders supported Pakistan movement by organising processions and demonstrations in its favour. "In mid forties E.M.S. Namboodaripad led processions of Muslims along with A.K.Gopalan (both of them were leaders of the CPI) shouting 'Pakistan Zindabad' and 'Mophlastan Zindabad'. No wonder, therefore, that Khwaja Ahmed Abbas, himself a leftist, had to say that India was killed by the CPI which provided the Muslim separatists with an ideological basis" (Pakistan: From Jinnah to Jehad by S.K.Datta and Rajeev Sharma, 2002, Page 18). 

India was partitioned but the CPI did not get any dividend to establish dictatorship of proletariat. The party cadres were badly treated by Muslim League Government in Pakistan and were uprooted from there. "Pakistan dealt with Communists very sternly.

Dr.Ashraf and Mr. Sajjad Zahir who went to Pakistan from India to give a momentum to communist movement there landed up directly in jail. It took ten years to get out of jail and they chose to return to India" (Muslim Politics in India by Hamid Dalwai, Hind Pocket Books, page 58).  

The CPI did not take any lesson from the treatment its cadres received in Pakistan. Instead they adopted a new strategy to reiterate the dangers of Hindu nationalists in post-partition India and induced a fear psychosis in the Muslim masses, who stayed back in India. They carried forward the legacy of their alignment with AIML and launched a systematic campaign to mould national opinion to justify the communal grievances of the Muslims by maintaining a hard attitude against the cultural tradition of India. They continued supporting the historical violence perpetrated by Islamic invaders and subsequent Muslim rulers on the Hindu natives as a part of policy to placate the Muslim communalists. They never raised any voice against the obsessed mindset of feudal and elite section of Muslims for political domination over the Hindus rather preferred to glorify the Islamic rule in the country.  

The Congress exploited the so-called fear of Hindu Rashtra induced in Muslim masses and used them as their vote bank to remain in power. The Communists were however rewarded by Jawahar Lal Nehru the first Prime Minister of the country by accommodating them in various academic power plants as main operators. He took their help to uproot the concept of integrated nationalism for unity and integrity of the country and floated a concept of composite culture. Taking advantage of Nehru's benevolence and shelter in his 'secular' umbrella the Communists infiltrated their red cardholders into Congress to help the Muslim orthodoxy for reviving their movement for communal separatism in the name of religious identity. This attitude of the Communists also helped in obstructing the assimilation of Muslim masses in national mainstream.  

Marxist historians, who maintained their hegemony in authoring the school textbooks during long period of Congress rule, masked the barbaric role of Muslim invaders in India and were reticent to portray their bigotry against the Hindus. They preferred to paint destruction of Hindu temples more for economic motivation than iconoclasm. Portraying the exclusivist and totalitarian ideology of communalist Muslims as ideology for social equality they feel proud in tarnishing the cultural tradition of this country.  It became a ritual for them to denounce Hindu nationalists as major cause behind any communal riot. They however, closed their eyes when there was a nation level war cry against Supreme Court verdict in Shahbano case.   

In post-colonial India too the aspiration of the Muslim communalists for distinct and sovereign political identity remained intact. Both the CPI and the CPIM supported such mindset of Muslim communalists by giving substantial share of political power to Indian Union Muslim League (IUML), the post-partition incarnation of AIML in coalition Government in Kerala. They also "worked together with IUML to create a new Muslim majority district in Malabar and named it Malapuram"(Communism in Indian Politics by Bhabani Sen Gupta, Columbia University Press, 1972,Page 188). In 1980s Indian Muslims gave moral support to U.S.A. in its military adventure against Soviet occupation of Afghanistan but the CPI and the CPIM remained indifferent on this issue. They however, fully supported the Indian Muslims in their war cry against American attack on Taliban Government in Afghanistan in the new millenium 

The Muslims of West Bengal aligned with Communists particularly the CPIM since the decline of Congress in mid 1960s. On the eve of 1969 midterm Assembly election, the state secretariat of the party received reports from all of its district units, which "revealed one common feature - that the agriculture labour and poor peasants, non-Bengali workers, and Muslim masses have in a big way swung towards the United Front especially to the CPI (M)"(Communism in Indian Politics by Bhabani Sen Gupta, Columbia University Press, 1972,Page 247).   

The secret of Marxist Government in West Bengal lies with the electoral support of the Muslims, who constitute about twentyfive percent of the electorate. It recommended deletion of certain discussions about medieval period. "In 1989 the West Bengal Secondary Board under a Marxist Government issued a circular dated 28 April 1989 (Number Syl/89/1) which recommended the deletion of most discussions about the medieval period because it was too controversial" (Islamisation of Pakistan by Y.C.Ross, 2003, New Delhi, page 16-17). Its silence over unabated Muslim infiltration from Bangladesh is only to improve its votes even at the cost of national interest. Communist regime in West Bengal and Tripura allowed infiltration of Muslims from Bangladesh. Even today the Marxists are behaving like a proxy government and forcing the UPA Government for 'detoxification' of Indian history only to please the Muslims.  

The cozy relation of Communists with Muslim/Christians shows their preference to the authoritarian concept of religious exclusivism than the democratic concept of Hinduism that believes in the concept of religious inclusivism. "In an interview to the Hindu (Hindu dated 15 August, 2004) Communist Party of India (Marxist) Polit Bureau member Prakash Karat said, there was a national trend of various Christian denominations to talk to the CPIM and invites its leaders to forums of the Church". Even today the UPA Government under the pressure of Communists stopped the publication of a book on the contribution of primary teachers in freedom movement, which was to be published by the H.R.D. Ministry of previous NDA Government (Pioneer dated August 17, 2004). 

The agenda of the Leftists is seemingly not only to placate the communalist Muslims but also to provide uninterrupted lifeline to them for pursuing their movement for separatism. Their confrontation with nationalist historians on this issue still continues. Muslim historians of Pakistan on the other hand re-wrote the history textbooks for school with hate-Hindu actions of Muslims as triumph of Islam over Kafirs (Non-believers).  

The experience of over last 57 years of Independence shows that the Communists in alliance with Muslim communalists constantly believed "the medieval period of Islamic ascendancy in south Asia as part of their historical legacy". They did not like to understand the reality that Indian sub-continent had to pay heavy price of losing the lives of its 1.5 million population for it. They did not realise that creation of modern political nationality in India could be possible only due to preservation of the thousands of years of collective consciousness towards spiritual and cultural unity of this country which was a remote possibility in Islamic India. Instead of strengthening this reality they preferred to amalgamate the power hungry forces together as 'liberal bourgeois', who are popularly known as 'secularists'. As a part of power politics the forces of liberal 'bourgeois' encouraged the movement for Muslim communalism which provoked the traditionally tolerant Indian society to revive the movement for Hindutva.

(Email:ramashray60@rediffmail.com)

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