History Archive: Communist Party of India’s resolution on Pakistan and National Unity, September 1942

Pakistan and National Unity is an important position paper of the Communist Party of India, and a far-reaching text in the history of the Indian communist movement. The resolution dated September 19, 1942 contains an outline of the CPI’s support for what it called the ‘just essence of the Pakistan demand’; and the Report by Gangadhar Adhikari is a detailed explanation of the resolution. The resolution was confirmed by the First Congress of the CPI in May 1943. Its arguments may be contrasted with the pamphlet titled Who Rules Pakistan? published in Bombay in August 1948, as a ‘Communist Party publication’ – and is one of the earliest position documents of the Communist Party of Pakistan. 

The document is titled File CPI-31/1942; and forms part of the P.C. Joshi Archives at Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi. The text of the resolution and report is also available in the book entitled Remembering Dr Gangadhar Adhikari: Selections from Writings, Part 2; edited by Amar Farooqui, published by Peoples Publishing House, New Delhi, 2000. Both the Preface to this book, and the Introduction by A.B. Bardhan refer to the Pakistan resolution, and discuss it in detail.

The chapter entitled ‘The Communist Movement in India up to 1947: A Historical Reappraisal” (pages 150-182) is part of Dr Adhikari’s report to the Seventh Congress of the CPI held in Bombay in 1964. In it, the author of the 1942 Pakistan resolution recounts the changes in the party’s position on the war brought about by the German attack on the USSR in 1941; the CPI’s demand for a united front with the Muslim League for a national government and its ‘unconditional support  to the anti-fascist war’. 

Adhikari records the CPI’s opposition to the Quit India movement of 1942; and its use of its new-found legality ‘to build the movement for national unity’. He adds,The logic of our stand led to Rightist mistakes like support to Pakistan, rigid anti-strike and anti-peasant struggle stand. Despite certain achievements… this stand did serious damage to the Party by isolating it for a time from the rest of the anti-imperialist elements in the national movement and also split our mass base… It is agreed that our slogan of ‘Peoples War’, our campaign against fifth-column, our rigid anti-strike attitude, our stand on Pakistan – were all serious errors. But the question whether our negative attitude to ‘Quit India’ struggle, our non-participation in it were right or not, that has not been settled (p 173). 

It is likely that the CPI’s support to the Muslim League (which in 1939 had been given a veto over future constitutional negotiations by the Viceroy), was viewed by it as a means of supporting the Allied cause in World War 2. This is also indicated by the phrase ‘the logic of our stand’, and the fact that the Pakistan resolution was adopted in the midst of the Battle of Stalingrad, arguably the single most significant battle of the war. Scholars interested in researching the issue could read these commentaries.

The downloadable PDF file (click the link below) contains five parts: http://www.sacw.net/article5487.html

1./ Article titled National Unity Now, Peoples War, August 8, 1942; pages1 to 11
2./ Declaration on Pakistan and Unity of India (resolution proposed by the CPI to be adopted by the Indian National Congress; pages 12-13
3./ On Pakistan and National Unity (Resolution passed at the Enlarged Plenum of the CPI on September 19, 1942; pages 14 to 16
4./ Pakistan and National Unity, being the Report by Comrade Gangadhar Adhikari on the foregoing resolution, pages 17 to 48
5./ Work for Congress League Agreement, pages 49 to 54

My recent essay The Law of Killing: a brief history of Indian fascism, contains an analysis of the Report’s significance. The relevant section is entitled: The nation-state and the ‘minority question’: the contrasting assessments of Ambedkar and the Communists. Here is a link to another important text on the same theme, B.R. Ambedkar’s Pakistan or the Partition of India (Bombay, 1940, republished 1945)

Extracts from B. R. Ambedkar’s book on Pakistan (1940, 1945)

ANIL NAURIYA: Manufacturing Memory