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Left movement in 1934 44 Document Transcript

  • 1. Social ScientistRise and Growth of the Left Movement in Andhra, 1934-1939Author(s): A. SatyanarayanaReviewed work(s):Source: Social Scientist, Vol. 14, No. 1 (Jan., 1986), pp. 34-47Published by: Social ScientistStable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/3520420 .Accessed: 20/02/2013 10:28Your use of the JSTOR archive indicates your acceptance of the Terms & Conditions of Use, available at .http://www.jstor.org/page/info/about/policies/terms.jsp.JSTOR is a not-for-profit service that helps scholars, researchers, and students discover, use, and build upon a wide range ofcontent in a trusted digital archive. We use information technology and tools to increase productivity and facilitate new formsof scholarship. For more information about JSTOR, please contact support@jstor.org..Social Scientist is collaborating with JSTOR to digitize, preserve and extend access to Social Scientist.http://www.jstor.orgThis content downloaded on Wed, 20 Feb 2013 10:28:18 AMAll use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions
  • 2. A. SATYANARAYANVARiseand GrowthoftheLeftMovementinAndhra,1934-1939IN THE GENERAL logic of the nationalisthistoriograpnythe anti-imperialistmovementledbyCongressisregardedasdrawingtogetherallthe"people"againsttheBritish.The "people" is hereviewedas an undifferen-tiatedcategoryeitherin termsofclassesor communities.Whatremains,however,insufficientlystressedisthefactthatthebroadmassofpeople hadtheirown intereststo safeguard,along witha concernwhichled themtocooperatewiththeCongressintheanti-imperialiststruggle.Therefore,theiractionsinvolvedthemina particularrelationwiththenationalistleadershipand frequentlytheydeveloped conflictswiththeirprogramme,strategyand tactics.In thispaper an attempthas been made to studysuch actionsof thegroupscomprisingthepeasantry,theagriculturallabourand theworkingclassas representedbytheleft,i.e.,theCongresssocialistsand CommunistsinAndhraduring1934-39and theiraims,objectivesandstrugglesinthecon-textofa particularpoliticaldevelopment.IThe abandonmentof the Civil Disobedience Movementhad lefta"residue of bewilderment"and disillusionamong theyoungerCongressmembers,an entiregenerationofwhomhadenteredthepoliticalarenadur-ing 1930-32 and theywere dissatisfiedwith the Gandhian methodsofstruggleand leadership.A majorityofthemalso feltthattheGandhi-IrwinPactdidnotgiveadequateprotectiontothepeasantryandothersectionswhohadsufferedin themovement.Thisfeelingof"neglect"wasthebackgroundforthe"socialistmindedmen" meeting(in May 1934) at Gokhale PublicHall, Patna,whientheCongressSocialistPartycame intobeing. Forthem,independencedid notmerelvmean theoverthrowof theBritish,but theliberationof the common masses fromeconomic exploitationand theremovalof exploitationthroughtheachievementofsocialism.DuringthisperiodAndhrawitnessedtheriseofseveralrevolutionarvsocieties,such as theHindustanSocialistRepublicanPartv(HSRP) whliihlaimed "to attainSwarajt}iroughrevolutionarvmeans" . In fact,scoresof* Depanment of History,Osmania UTiversity,Hyderabad.This content downloaded on Wed, 20 Feb 2013 10:28:18 AMAll use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions
  • 3. LEFTIN ANDHRA 35theserevolutionarieslaterbecameesocialistswho intendedto convertCon-gressintoan instrumentofstrugglefromwhattheyregardedas "merelvaforumforcompromisewithimperialism".Meanwhile,ii 1934AmirHaiderKhan,"a MoscowtrainedBolshevikpropagandist",attemptedto formthieProvincialCommitteeoftheCommunistPartvofIndia(CPI) inMadras. Hewasinternedbeforehe could achievehispurposeand inJuly1934,theCPIwasdeclaredan "unlawfulassociation-.Nevertheless,someofhisfollowerswereable toformtheAndhraProvincialCommunistParty(APCP)withlocalbranchesin Madras,Guntur,Krishnaand WestGodavari.The firstsecretcommunistconferencewas held at Kakinada,whereP. Sundarayya.-Lwaselectedas GeneralSecretary.SincetheCPI wasdeclaredillegal,theprovincialpartycouldnotcarryoInopenpublicactivitiesinAndhra.However,theCPIs"UnitedFront"strategyenabledtheentirepartytojoin theAndhraProvin-cial CongressSocialistParty(APCSP). In factmostof thecommunistsinAndhrawhowereactiveinthelabourorganisations(theLabour ProtectionLeagues)joined theAPCSP to use itas a platformfortheiractivities.AfterthedecisionoftheAllIndia CongressSocialistParty(AICSP) thatprovincialpartiesshouldbe organised,theAPCSPwasformedinJune1934,by "Congressmenof socialistviews". The main objectiveof the partyaccordingtoN.G. Rangawas,"toconverttheCongresstosocialism".Itwasalso resolvedtoexpandthepartyorganisationthroughoutAndhra.Accor-dingly,brancheswereestablishedatEluru,Guntur,Gudivadaand Bezwada.Initially,theactivitiesofthepartywereconfinedtoorganisingvariouscon-ferences;holdingmeetingsin furtheranceof socialistpropaganda; andorganisingtours-of national leaders such-as Jaya Prakash Narain, Y.Mehrauli,M.R. Masani,S.A. Dange andJawaharlalNehruwho addressedmeetingsat severalplaces. Duringhisvisitin 1936,Nehruobserved: "InTamilnadI hadnoticedconsiderablesympathywithsocialisticideas...Here,inAndhraDesa, thisis stillmorenoticeable.The peasantry,as wellas theyoungpeople, haveexpressedthemselvesverydefinitelyin favourofthesesocialistideas."5.Variousresolutionswerepassed condemningtheban ontheCPI; callingon YouthLeaguesand socialistorganisationstoagitatefor"thereleaseofAmirHaiderKhanandotherpoliticalprisoners;recommend-ingtheformationofactioncommitteestopropagateanti-imperialistideals;advocatingtheadoptionofsocialisticmethodstoachieveindependence;and;appreciatingNehrusattempttostartcivillibertiesunions."Anti-imporialist,Day",and "Russia Day" werealso celebrated.A secretreportnotedthat,"witha viewtocapturingthesocialistpartiesinAndhraandcarryingon theiractivitiesthroughthem,;P. SundararamaReddi and his followersin theTelugudistrictsconcentratedtheirenergiesorganisingthepartyon effilcientlines"".The communistswere successfulin expandingthe organisationthroughoutAndhraand theireffortsresultedin the socialistsand com-munistssecuringmoreseatsintheAndhraProvincialCongressConmmittee(APCC) and All-IndiaCongressCommittee7(AICC). Withina shortperiodthecommunistinfluencein thesocialistpartybegan to growsteadily.By1937,communistscame todominateboththedistrictand provincialcom-This content downloaded on Wed, 20 Feb 2013 10:28:18 AMAll use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions
  • 4. 36 -SOCIAL SCIENTISTmitteesoftheAPCSP. Availableevidencealso suggeststhatbytheend of1937, the ExecutiveCommitteeof the APCSP was dominated by thecommunists.8Threepointsneedtobe notedhere.Firstly,fromtheverybeginningtheleftmovementinAndhrawassubjectedtodivergentpulls.Peopleand par-tieswithdifferentideologieswereattemptingto controlit.Boththecom-munistsand non-communists,viz.,theCongresssocialistswantedtocapturethe APCSP and impose theirleadershipon it. Secondly,the growingiAfluenceofthecommunistsinsidethepartycaused concernto theright-wingled bvV.JaggamRaju and B. Rangasai.Forinstance,whenthecom-munists decided to organise some districtconferences under thepresidentshipof S.A. Dange, B. Rangasai who was thecjoint secretaryresignedfromthepartyinprotest.The socialistsdidnotliketheideaofinvit-ingthecommunistsfromotherpartsof India. Theyopenlycriticised;theAndhratourofDange. In 1936,M..R.Masani,thegeneralsecretaryoftheAICSP unsuccessfullytriedto bringabout reconciliationbetweenthetwofactions. Thirdly,despitetheoppositionoftheright-wing,thecommunistssuccessul ymaintainedtheirleadershipovertheagriculturallabourassocia-tion,thepeasantorganisations,thelabourunionsand theyouthleagues.Aswe shall see later,the communistsindeed dominatedth+workingclassorganisationsin all theTelugu districtsof theMadras Presidency.Bylate1930s, majorityof the districtKisan Sabhas Wereunder theirexclusivecontrol.Inordertopropagatetheidealsofsocialismthefeftorganised"SummerSchoolsofPoliticsand Economics"and taughtMarxissm.Inl 1937,thefirst"well attended"school was startedbyKameswar R.ao"a Rtussiantraiit(dcommunist"at Kothapatam(Guntur),whererevolutioniarysocialism1wasleing taught."The basic functionoftheschoolswas to recruitlocal partycadreandexpandtheorganisation.ThegovernmentviewedthieKottiapatarnchool as "highlydangerous" and decided "to take drasticaction".Therefore,withina shortperiodoftimetheybannedtheschoolanddeclaredit an "illegaland unlawfulassociation".Theyarrestedand imprisonedthemembersoftheschool.The banningoftheschoolledtowidespreadprotestmeetingsthroughoutAndhra.Itwascondemnedas an "unwarrantedattackoncivilliberties"."ThoughallleftorganisationsandlocalCongresscommit-teesprotestedagainstthebanandarrests,theCongressleadershipinAndhraremainedsilent.SntheAPCC meetingtherewasstrongopposition(ledbyT.Prakasam)to theproposalthatCongressshoulddefendthe,accu-sed-anditwasresolved"to disapprovetheain oftheschoolindisobeyingthebanr".Thus,therewasa considerablediferenceofopinionbetweentheCongressleadershipand theleft-wing,withinthepartyregardingtheban. Itsignalledthebeginningofa confrontatidnbetweentheleftand theCongressright-wing.Bydisapprovingoftheschoolthey(theCongressleaders)actedconwtrary,to the Karachi resolutionwhich guaranteed"freedomof speech,freeQomofassociationand combination".However,hostilitybetweentheconskrv4tiveCongressleadershipand theleftincreasedduringtheCon-This content downloaded on Wed, 20 Feb 2013 10:28:18 AMAll use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions
  • 5. LEFT IN ANDHRA 37gressMinistry(1937-39).Whilereleasingtheorganiserof the school,theCongressgovernment"warned" the socialiststhat"theywill nottolerateviolenceorclasshatred".The PrimeMinister,C. Rajagopalacharrydeclared,"whileGovernmentwillnotinterferewiththelawfulpreachingofanypoliti-cal,socialoreconomicdoctrine,theycannottolerateand willtakeall stepsnecessarytopreventthedisseminationofclasshatredandideasinvolvingtheuse ofviolence..."12. The leftdeploredthenegativeattitudeoftheCongress.The Congresssocialistswrotethus:"To suppressthedisseminationofideaswhateverbe theirnature,istosowtheseedsoftyranny.Itmay,however,be quitelegitimateforthegovern-mentto nip any attemptto translatesuch ideas intoaction....These areobviouslydangerousdeparturesfromthe old accepteddefinitionof freespeech,departureswhichleftthefreedomofindividualwithoutsufficientprotection.To denythecitizentherightofspeechistodeprivethestateofinformedcriticism"."Nevertheless,theoppositionoftheCongressMinistrydid notstopthegrowthofsummerschoolsanddisseminationofsocialistideas.During1937-39 a numberofsuchschoolshadsprungup throughoutAndhra."Therewasconsiderable influxof communistsfrom the northof India to theseschools"," noted the FortnightlyReport. Importantcommunistleadersaddressed"failrlywellattended"meetingsand lectures.The generalten-dencvofthelectureswas"to disparagethephilosophyand practiceofnon-violence". The schools intendedto directthe studentstowardsactiveparticipationinvariousmovementsand theyweresuccessfulin"excitingthesvmpathiesofthestudents".The influenceofMarxianideas wasgraduallyspreadingthroughtheseschools.Andhracommunistswere"suppliedwithasufficientquantityofMarx,Engelsand Leninsstandardworksand also anumberofbookson SovietUnion". BasicMarxisttextsweretranslatedintoTeluguandwerebeingcirculated.Therefore,thesummerschoolsbecame"asourceofdisseminationofprohibitedliterature"."Thereareindicationsthatsuchliteratureisenjoyinga considerablecirculationinAndhradistrictsandthereis also a tendencyto extendthepublicationofbooks ofthistype","revealeda secretreport.Growingcommunistinfluenceand socialistpropagandadisturbedtheMadrasgovernment.Theyweregrowingincreasinglyapprehensiveoftheincreasingactivitiesofthe"extremeleft-wing",viz.,thecommunists.ThegovernmentofMadrasnotedthat,"socialistthoughtwas noticeablyto thefore...Governmenthavenowa moredifficultprobleminthespreadofcom-munism....Thereismuchpropagandagoingon...".IITherefore,theycameto theconclusion"thatsome actionhad betterbe takento showthatthegovernmentwere not preparedto allow freespeech...andto givea clearwarningthatstrongmeasureswouldbe takenagainst...seditionists....".iXInan attempttocurbleftactivity,thevbegantoarrestindividuals.DuringhistourBatliwala,a communistleader,wasarrestedand convicted."ThearrestofBatliwalahascertainlvhadan excellenteffect", remarkedtheGovernorofMadras.Itledtoinnumerableprotestmeetings,atwhich resolutionswereThis content downloaded on Wed, 20 Feb 2013 10:28:18 AMAll use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions
  • 6. 38 SOCIAL SCIENTISTpassedcondemningttheCongressministrv.Naturallv,thearrestsofBatliwalaandothiersinfuriatedthesocialistsand increasedantagonismbetweenthiemand thieCongress. The sentimentof the leftwas summed up bv theNelloreVoice:"The publicfearisthatthisprosecution...isbuta preludeto a policvofsuffocatingpublicopinionand denyingtherighltoffreespeechwhichiouglhttobe zealouslvguardedas an elementarvrightunderanycivilisedgovern-ment.The publicis greatlvperturbedat theidea thiatthisactionis highlyvincompatiblewiththeCongressgovernmentand withthedeclaredpolicvofprotectingtheelementarvcivillibertiesofthepeople".MajoritvofthelocalCongresscommunitiesalsoexpressedthieir"strongdiscontentand disapproval"oftheactionofthegovernment.ThlustheCon-gressleadershiphad offended"a largesectionofopinion"thatsupportedthem.However,theleftdeterminedtocarrvon "incessantstruggle"againstthetendencvoftheCongresstocompromisewithcolonialismianldotlierves-tedinterests.To be able tocompeltheCongresstoattendtotdenieedsofthepeasantrv,theyintensifiedthiepeasantmovement.IIThegovernmnentofMadrasobservedin 1936that"agrarianiagitationona considerablescaleisnow heginning,particularlyintheTelugudistrictsandlthatthepersonspromotingtheagitationsare in manvcases knownColl-gressmenofextremistviews"."."Thesocialistsand communistsdevelopedabasic interestin theagrarianquestionagainstthe backgroundofa deepagrariancrisis.TheAPCSPdecided"todevotefullattentiontopeasantwork"and itmanagedtoorganisepeasantassociations(KisanSabhas)thiroughoutAndhra.Thus a communistpaperremarked:"An irressibleenthlusiasmfororganisationcaughtthepeasantrv....KisanSabhas sprangup in numerousvillagesand thedistrictorganisationsgoton theirfoot.The membershipofAndhraProvincialRvotsAssociationhasleaptfrom20,000lastvear(l937) to56,000in 1938." Meanwhileunrestamongthepeasantrvwasgrowing.By1940 KisanSabhaswereformedin 11outofthe12AndhradistrictsoftheMadrasPresidency.Peasantmarcheshad becomnea popularweapon.As inKerala,2 in Madras also peasant processionswereevolvedas one of theeffectivetechniquesofpeasantmobilisationfortheredressalofgrievances.Andhrapeasantmarchesweresaid tobe "biggerthanthebiggestthateverhad happened in England.""2The contextin whichpeasant movementexpanded was the worldeconomicdepressionand itsaftermath.When thiedepressionset in, thepricesslumped.Between1929-35a fallof 50-60 per centwvasa commonphenomenoninAndhra.The fallin thepricesobviouslvwasdisastrousforthepeasantrybecauseitdrasticallyreducedtheircashiincomes.The burdenof normalfinancialobligationwas increased. Peasants inabilityto pavrevenueand rentregularlyresultedin the large-scaleaccumulationofarrears.Peasantindebtednessalsogrew.Thierefore,theKisanSabhasdeinian-This content downloaded on Wed, 20 Feb 2013 10:28:18 AMAll use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions
  • 7. LEFT IN ANDHRA 39ded "liqiuidationofagriculturalindebtednessand substanitialreductionofrentand revenue"."Withthehopeand confidencethattiheCongressministrvwouldextenditssupport,theKisanSablbasundertheleftleadershiiplhadintensifiedtheanti-zamindariagitationbetween1937-39. Consequentlv,the zamindarshad problemsin collectingrents.Thierewereinstanceswherethegovern-menthad topostponetthecollectionofpeshkushofcertainzaimindars"owingtotheirdifficultiesincollectingtheirrents." In Challapalliestate,peasantslhadbegunsatyagrahain protestagainstthezaminidarsattemptto convertcommnunallandsintoserior home-farm.21The peasantassociationobjectedanddidnotallowthelandlordsagenitstooccupyland.Astilestrugglepersis-ted,thevfrighitenedand thireatenedthepeasantrv.The zamnindaralsosouglhtthehelpofpoliceand thlevcompelledthietenantstowithidrawthiesatyagraha.The Kisan Sabha effortsto mediateand seek thieprotectionlof Congressgovernmentfailed.In GuntupallyandTalasamudramestates,tenantmove-ment was developed over tthe(luestion of rentreduction.Thietenantslaunchiedrentstruggleiandboycottedthe cultivationof estatelands.Thelandlords joinedtogetherand threatenedtheexistenceofKisanSabliaandassaultedthelocal peasantleaders.Thev fabricatedcriminalcases againstKisanSabhialeadershiip.InTalasamudramestatea peasant"wascruellvdonieto deathbv thehooligansofthelocalsahukarsand landlords"./InsteadofhelpingtheKisanSabha, theMadrasgovernmenthad begunsecuritypro-ceedingsagainstthepeasantleadersand demandedthattheyshouldfurnishsecurity"forgood behaviour".The chargesagainstthemwerethatthey"preached socialismto themassesand createdclassconflict."The estateholders(in Krishnaand Godavaridistricts)persuadedthegovernmentto issue ordersundersection144 on tenantsagainstenteringcertaincommunallandsandgrazingfields.On theotherhand,thepetitionsofteriantsagainstthezamindarsoppressionwentunheeded.2"Atrocitiesonthetenantrvwerepilingup in otherestates.The Mokhasadas(Inamdar)ofNelamallurand Kondaparra(Krishnadistrict)attackedand disruptedpea-santmeetingswithlathisand gunsand severelyassaulteda kisan.A tenant,belongingtoanotherInam inVizagapatamwas so awfullyharassedbytheInamdarforgivingevidenceina courtagainsthimthat"he had tofleeforlife".SeveraltenantsintheVizianagaramestate"weretiedup withropetoapillarforone day...forinformingtheRevenueMinisteraboutcertaininjus-ticesoftheestateadministration".7 Landlordsservantsin Gampalagudemestateassaulteda tenantleaderforhavingstartedtheKisanSabha.The leftleadersdeplored thefailureoftheministryto interveneon behalfof thetenantrvand preventtheirpersecutionbyzamindars.TheycondemnedtheCongress: "The ChiefMinistervirtuallyaidingand abettingthediabolicalterrorofthezamindars."28During the mid-thirties,the left(particularlythe communists)suc-cessfullydeveloped the agriculturallabour movementin Andhra.In hisreporttotheCentralCommitteeoftheCPI in 1935Sundarayyastatedthat,"Stableunionstowhichpoorpeasantryand tosomeextentmiddlepeasantsThis content downloaded on Wed, 20 Feb 2013 10:28:18 AMAll use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions
  • 8. 40 SOCIAL SCIENTISTlookforthieirinterests.. . . havevetto be created.Partvis concentratinginruralareasatpresentmoreinorganisingagriculturallabourthanthepeasanl-try."""To begin with;he commenced workin Nellore and formedthe"AlaganipaduAgriculturalLabourUnion". Itsobjectivewas"to stanldardisebymeansoflegislation,dailvwages,annual salaries.... and to see thataminimumwage is given,facilitatinga comfortablelife".4"Meanwhile,in GunturJ. Ramalingaiahand otlhersalso workedout aprogrammeofworkforthedevelopmentofagriculturallabourmlovement.Itsoon spreadtootherdistricts.Severalvillageassociationswereformedandagriculturalworkersweremobilisedinlargenumbers.Asa result,niumerousstrikesand marchestook place throughoutAndhra.During 1935-37ttheagriculturallabourerslaunchedfivestrikesonlvtodemandthatthleirwagesshouldbe paid withproperand auttiorisedmeasures.In Nellore,KrislhniaandWestGodavariseveralthouszndlabourerswenton a striketodemand:"Kind wages should be paid byauthorisedmeasuresand tlhevslhouldbeincreased100 per cent,advancesshouldbe interestfree;Two hourlunch-break;Twentypaid holidaysper annum; Sick leavemustbe grantedandwagecutduringtheperiodofill-healthshould be abolished;AbolitionofNamu(compound interest)and currentdebts"." N.G. Ranga remarked:"The strikeshaddramacticallyopenedtheeyesoftheworkersoflargepartsofthedistrictto thepossibilitiesand potentialitiesoftheircombinedactionagainstthepersecutioncarriedon bytheiremployers".;2The richpeasantrvtriedtobreakthesolidarityoftheruralpoor. Occasionally,they"organisedbeatingsofthesocialistworkerswhowereresponsiblefortheorganisationand triedsystematicterorisation". The growingagriculturelabourmove-mentalso caused resentmentamong some oftheCongressmnenand thevaccusedthat,"theagriculturallabouragitation.... owedmuchtothe localpolitics". Italsocauseddivisionwithinthepeasantassociationsandsolmeofitsmembersresignedas a protestagainstwhatthevcalled "the latestanti-kisanattitude".DespitetheoppositionfromtheruralricthanidtheCongress,thieleftcontinuedthe strugglesof the ruralpoor. It was intensifiedduringtheSecond WorldWar. Between1939-44,pricesof foodgrainand othercon-sumergoods had risen.Itaffectedtheruralpoorconsiderably.In ordertoincreasetheirprofitstheruralrich,thetrade-merchlanttooktohoarding.Theriseinpricesofriceand paddywassaidtobe "largelyduetothefactthatrvotsand merchantscontinueto holdup theirstocks".Governmentsattempttocontrolthepricesofessentialcommoditiesdidnotbenefitthedowntrodden.The poorerclassesfoundthatthevwereunabletopavthieprices.; Therewasa greatdeal ofdiscontentamongthepooratthehighipricesofriceandothierfood stuffs.In desperationtheyresortedto lootingof the rice mills,firedepots andclothshops.In December1942inGunturdistricta crowdof400peoplelootedfourgrainshopsandcarriedawavriceand paddv.Atthesamnetime,inNellorefivecases oflootingbv"crowdsofpoor people" wasrepor-ted."16Consequently.therehadbeena "Markedincreaseincrimeandhome-breaking".The MadrasGovernorremarkedthus:"The risingpricesareThis content downloaded on Wed, 20 Feb 2013 10:28:18 AMAll use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions
  • 9. LEFT IN ANDHRA 41rathierworrvingmleand thiereare elemenitsof troublethiere.There aregrounLdsforbelievingthatleftistelemnenitswereto a considerableextentbehindthetrouble."38Communistswerereportedlytryingtoformenttrou-bleamongstvariouslabourers".Lootingsweresaidtobe"instigatedbvlocalconmmuniists"." Therefore,a numuberofcomtmunistandlabourleaderswerearrestedanidagriculturallabourunionswerebanned.Duirinigthe Second World War extensivehlutngermarclheswereorganiisedby c(mimiuniststhiroughoutAndlira.Thiousandsof agriculturallabourers)articipatedinthienand deimandedfoodand workfromthierichilandilords.Thiefirstlhunigermarchlwas organisedin Razole taluik(EastGod.avari)inMay1939. Itwasestimiiatedtlhattnlearivfivethousand labourerstookpart. In Narsapurtaltik(WestGodavari)tenthiousandlabourersfiomn80 villagesmiarchedto theDeputvCollectorsofficeto demnandwork.) InBhlimiiavaraiitaluikanotlhertenthiouisanidmilarchledtothegovernmentoffices.In Krishna district,two to six thousand labourers from six taluksdemotnstratedbeforethetalukoffices.Thievdemnandedemplovment,house-sites anid waste lands for cultivationi.In Krishinadistrict,"labour lhavehecomrerestiveundercommnuiist.... inspiration.Freedoles ofgrainarebeingdemlanidedofthiervots. .." remlarkeda governmentreport. Fromtwotaluks(Tenali and Repalle) of Gunturdistrict,twoto threethousandlaboourersstageda demonstrationinfrontoftie RevenueDivisionalOfficers.Comnmentinigonitheagricu!turallabourmlovementthiegovernmentnoted:"Thlerelhavebeen hiungermnarchesto thieDivisionialOfficers. . . anddemlancldson well-to-doryotsforrice.... Thevalso demandvariousreformsanidamiieniities.Itisknownthatthiisnmovementisinstigatedbycommunists...Thielabourersaretemptedwithpromisesoffreerice.... Naturally,thervotshlavebecome nervousof thepossibilitvoflooting".Thiiegovernmnentof Madras considered the agriculturallabourersdem-inds"impracticable"andwarnedthiemto"bewareof beingmisledbvcommunistagitators."As tImemnovementgrew,tlheyresortedtorepression.Manv of triecommiunistleaderswerearrestedand prosecuted.However,despitegovernmnentonslaughtand oppositionfronmthieruralrich,thecom-mlunistswereable toexpandunionisationamongsttheagriculturalworkers.UnliketheCongressmen,thecommunistswereable todevelopand sustaintheagriculturallabourmovementovertime.The prevailingobjectivecon-ditionsinAndhracountrvside,viz.,intensivestratificationwithinthepeasan-trv,also lhelpedthegrowthofthielabour movement.IIIApartfromthiepeasantrvand theruralpoor,thecommnunistshad alsborganisedtheworkingclass.In 1932,a workingclassorganisationcalled"theYoungWorkersLeague" was formned.SincetheCPI and othercommunistorganisationswere batnned,the League could not carrvon itsactivities.Thierefore,"Labour ProtectionLeagues"(LPL) wereformed,"as a coverforillegal anid undergrounidwork." Subse(luentlv,local branches wereorganised in inponrtanittowns suchl as Guntur. Teniali, Nellore andThis content downloaded on Wed, 20 Feb 2013 10:28:18 AMAll use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions
  • 10. 42 SOCIAL SCIENTISTVijavawada.Almostall tthemembersofthteleaguesjoined theAPCSP andworkedtlhroughlit.The initialactivitiesof thieLeagues wereconfinedtocelebrating"Labour Dav", "anti-irsperialistDav", "Russian RevolutionDav" etc.Thevcondemnedthebanon theCPI andurgedthiereleaseofcom-munists.Propagandameetingswereorganisedto stimiulateinterestamnonigthleworkersand inducethemtojointtheunions.Theyvalso heldstudvcirclesand conductednighltschools.Durinig1935-37theGuinturLPL,wasable toformnunionIs amnongthe press workers,jutemnillworkersandjutkadrivers.The Nellore LPL was formed"to safeguardttheriglhtsofworkersand thiepooranidto educate tte workers abLout IndliatnTraide t liion M(vemlent and pro-blemiisof world workers". Meaniwhtile,tile Vijavawada LPL organlised tilestrikeof press workers anid revived tfie activitiesof othlerulliOnlS. It le(d a"Black flag" demonistratioi (luril)g the visit of tde Conigress lpresi(ienit"toexpose thtereactionary role of the Conigress".Thlius in And(ilira thie leftwas active and(ibuilt up wvellkiiitorganisationsfortheworkinigclass. The Governor of Maidriasremiairked:"IniAnldilracoiln-vnuniiists l(l been trvin g to ima.lketrouble by utilizing anyvdislpte between theworkersand(lthieiremiplovers....Labour disputes aireincreasing aiid tteilocalsocialists are taking a keen interestin it. At some of theirmeetings,thesocialists induttilgedin objectionable and(i mischlievous spetehes." The leftappeLaledto the working(lass to follow the examl)le of Ruissiaancdpreservethe sanctityaniidintegrityofthe Red flagand to establislha "workersraj" onithe niodel of Russia, "eveniifit involved thieslheddinigof the last drop of thlebWoodof thieworkers."ThlievcriticisedthieCongressleadershiipforitsrefor-mist programme and explained to the working class that they could notaciiieve thiril emancipation unldertheleaderslhipoftheCongress. Thlereforethievurged dlieml"to organiisetlhemiiselvesintoa )olitical partvand devise pro-gramiimles to cruslhcapitalistsanidestablish theirrule. To propagate Marxistideals, comim-lunistliteratuire was publislied, communists also distributedleatfletsand(itie "KarmiiikaBliajanavali", comprising of Telugu sonigs comn-posed in popular formiidescribing the hlardslhipof workers and exhiortingthtemnto organiisethemiselvesinto uniontsand figlhtfor thieirrighlts.Thliespread ofthetradeunion movement withia radical programmeandleft-wingleadershiip caused concern to the governmnent.Therefore, thievresortedto repressiveimieasures.Important labour leaders and communistswerearrestedand prosecuted. Comnmunistliteraturewas seized. Thiegovern-miienitwas keenithiat"comlmunism should be nipped in tlhebud", because itwas "a real danger". Thlev found that the existing coercive powers wereinalde(uate to deal with the communists and wrote to thieGovernment ofInildia recommending special legislation. The government of MadrasinformnedthieCentre thus:+No judicial action has been possible inasmuch as their activitiesaresubterraneanancdleavenoroomforprosecution....Thismethodofattackismostdanigerousand effectiveandtheonlvwavtocheckthemenace...wouldbe topasstheproposedbill...Itseemsthatmneasuresshouldbe devisednowto preventthe deliberatecreationof an atmosplhereof mass discontentThis content downloaded on Wed, 20 Feb 2013 10:28:18 AMAll use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions
  • 11. LEFT IN ANDHRA 43iistead of waitingunltilte..-discont,entconfrontsthegovernmiilenitwitlhalhatr(dand(ifaistsittuation."Nevertlheless.theleftcontinue(d itsworkamIniongtheworkinig(lass alid itwa1sinitenisifiedlduirinigthe Congress governiinenlt(1937-39). In Februarv,1938,theworkersofIndianLeafTobacco DevelopmentCompany(ILTDC),Cliirala (Gtulltur)went on a i)roteststrikeagainistthe refuisalof thwemlaniage-milenitto recognise the labour uinioni.WheIn the inaiiagemilenitdismissed twoworkers,therestof tlie workersrefusedtowork. Consequently, the iaitante-llenllt declared a lock out. TIle lalb)or uinioniprotested atd observed p)eaceful)icketing. Thle Cotngress ministry initervened(but it was of no uise. Police wassenltto disrupt the strikeand helpltdhemiianagemlenltto reopen the factory.-ThevresOrte(1 to laltlii clharge and fire(d onl the strikinigworkers. As a result,thireeof thiemiiwverekille(l.Tlhegovernmiiienten(luirv comimiii ee justifiedthefirinigas "self (lefence . wlhilethienon-officialConigress commilitteecon-(len)necdit.Protestimieetilngsand largedemionstrationswere lield( tlirouiglhioutAni(iliraainlda "CliiralatFirinigDay" was ob)served. Rajagopalacliary sup-)orte(d tlhe government action an(i l)lamned thie workers for having"caused trouble".Aniotlherbig strikebeganiin the ChiittivalasaJuteNlillsto protestalgainstlaboturretrenchlinent. The entireworkersoftle inillp)artici)atc(din tie strike.The rctrenchlmentwas inconinlectioniwitlhtl-egeeral curtailm(cntofproduc-tonmdecided bv tlhe Iidiani jLIte Mills Association. Following tilem.a,inagemientsdecision to dismilissa weav(er2000 workerswenton at"stay-In1-strike".Arimiedpolice was sent"to (1c.artde inillprcemisec".The laboutr unllionIresisted aiid continiuied the strike. -1hicpolice fire(d fouir slhots and Lkille(datworker." Instead ofsyrnpathisingwiththestrikers,theCongress governmentexp)ressed"strongest (disapproval of tle wvorkersconduct in occupying theh)VCenis anid inidtlgin,g inl 1aStayV-in-strike atsatweapon f0rred(iessal of labotirgrievances." Tlle leftle(ad(c(rsflil)criticised the ncgatjve attittid(e oftIle111tinistrxtlhus:"FortheworkersofMadraswhetherinChittivalasaorChirala,thesitua-tioInis becoling utnb)carable. Th Niad.-(irasgoernmllenlt cn inciated .a policy ofsettlinigiduLstrial disputes ilnternlaliv.Btit this wishl remai.iinedi olv mi palper.In almiiostev(cryiil(itstr iaildispute- tle p)olice and b)ureautcracv,liave htttted inwithbullets,playinighavocwiththelives....In almosteveryinstancetheCon-gressmIninistrNeitlherexonerate( tlie bureaucracy or sub)mittc(d...to thIedictatsof the bosses."Fibre aiid Salt Workers at Kiakinladla begani a strike to demiandl(imiorewalges. Tlei Labour Commiiiiissionierof Madras declared thliat"thex wNere paidunduly low ratesof wiigesand slhotildbe raised." Yet thieemployers refuisedto comiply withlhlisrecommniendations.Protestmeetinigswere hIel(lh) tilelab)ourunlioil,where"intemlperatespeeclhes"were mladeandi"..s theworkcrsappeared to b( gettinigout of conitrolan order... was passed prolibiting allmnecitngs.l)rocessions anidi(lemnonstration." Thie leaders of tiheuniioti werearrested. Otlhei-locl lab)our uiniioniswenitonia synipathetic strike. Nlcanwihile,workersoftle Kaikinad.(laBoat anidSteamerWorkslatunclheda strikedeniand-This content downloaded on Wed, 20 Feb 2013 10:28:18 AMAll use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions
  • 12. 44 SOCIAL SCIENTISTiniglhiglherwages an(l securitv of eilnlovinent. Wilell tile mlilnilgellelltbroughtouitside workers,thiestrikinlgworkerssuccessfullypersuaded thlemiinot to work.Thiestrikewas supported bythe local Congress commnittee,stu-(lent unlioIns anid othler workers unlions. Tulle Vizag Port and Harbour workersexpressed solidarity and svym)pathiv witlh their fellow workers at Kakillada.Tle growthi and strengthienintgof thielaibour uniioIns becamle a serious)robleim forthe Madras governmilenit.It was also atnemlbarrassment to tileConigress. They regrettedthe contilued "labour trouble". Althiouglhtlhevpromlised workers righitto strike for wages, the ministrytook a lhostileatttittude.The Congress governml-ienittlhusauthlorised p)rosecution "forstirrillguipstrikebetweenidifferentclasses" and institutecdproceedings aiginitistthieleft-wingagitators.ThieGovernor of Madras observed : "Thlegeneral laboursittuationiis causin1g tie iiiinistn,a grett(tealofhanxietyaindtlev are well awarethatgreat(teal ofthe propaganda... is niotmiierelvanti-eniploverbut also very(lefinitelvanti-miiinistrv."Fttrthier,"Thieimiinistersare vervannoved.. .and tlhevare in no wav supportingtllestrikes....Comnmunistinflueniceis unitdoubtedlyvbehiind these disturbancesan1(dit mt1Ustbe said thatMinistersare. . . . losinlgconitrolof labouir.Tle pre-iiier is coming round to theview tlhattitis timiiesoimeaction was takellagailnstcoiiniinunists..anidI sliall niotbe at all surprised to see him agreeilig to somlleaIrrests... . The workinlg (lass movement was initetnsifiedduiring the Second WorldWar. The labotir uIIIioIns hiad tiakeniadvainitage of the rise in prices anddemanding higherwages. The Chittivalasajute Mill workerswenton a strikedemanding higher wages. It led to large scale internmentsof communistsunder the Defence of India Rules (DIR).it is clear from]the above discutssion that thiesocialists anid comimniiiistswereveryactiveinmlobilisingthe lhithiertoneglected sections of the mi-iassofthe people by ConIgress. 1Tndoubtedlyvthe communists lhad lalyved an imlipor-tilt role in thteformiiationaiid growthiofworkinigclass imiovemiienit.Thleleftasa wlhole hiad a consideralble b)ase withlin tthe working class anId launclhedimpressivestrikemovements. The communists were able toutilisethestrikestoexteltidtheirinfluenceover theworkingclass, wlhom1tlev initendie(dto edLu-(ate withiMarxist ideologv. Interestinigly,thleyliad ailsopenetrated initoani(lorganised the b)ackwardsectionisof the exploited class suchI as the rice millwsorkers,sweepers, tliejutka and cart drivers.To conclude, we liave triedto )resent a comprelhensiiveaccount of theleftiiioveiienitin Andidiraand analvse thtemanner in wlhichitinteractedwitlhthe doininant Congress leaderslhip. In this paper ani attempt hias also beeInmade todiscuss theoriginand growthofleftmilovemnentin a particulir politi-cal context,i.e.,thleperiodofthe"t TnitedFront".Durinigthisperiodalltheanti-imp)erialistforcesrepresentedby differenitp)olitical )arties folugtllulitedly aigainistthe Britishtaintdtheirsul)l)orters.Thleabrupt eindinigofCivilDisobediciwe miovemiientin And(ilra resulte(l in thtefoiiiiation of reo-This content downloaded on Wed, 20 Feb 2013 10:28:18 AMAll use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions
  • 13. LEFTIN ANDHRA 45lutioniarvterroristorgianisation(tlie HSRPN.Thioughltihet(rroristnlioveIlemetwassporadicanidshortlived,itdi(dprovideiniitialrecruitstotheleftmiiove-miienit.Mean-wlhile,someoftheyoungradicalConigressimenilikeSundarayvajoinedtheComnmiuxniistPairtv.He was mainlv responsil)lefortlhespreadofcommunismin Andhira.As a mnatteroffactt. uilike in othierpartsofInidia(Boilbav, Bengal, ITttarPradesli etc.) comminuitnismcame to Alndliralolyl inImnid-1930s.AlthouglhtheConimunist Partyw.asforimie(dinAntdlhratin1934,itcould notworkamongthemassesas itwas declaredan "unlawfulassocia-tionI". However, thleformationI of APCSP(in June, 1934) (tlabled tllhellhd(futilof Andlhracommunists to jOiin in it and carry on titeir activities altniOig tdieworke-rs and peamsanitsand act as a stronll eft-wiing ofthle CoIgress.Duirinig1!934-39, hewsocialists and (mlumntiiists wt)rlk( colle(1ctive1 tobuiildworkersaindpeasaitiassocittiaonslirotighiotittndhrm.ilidml na Shortperiod,leftistinfluenceintheCongressbegantogrowsteadilv.Conisequent-lv; thleywerlcable to hol(ldj)sts altth(eolistrict.P)Ovil(iCial.111(lAII-(li. (COII-gress (ominittecs. Bv thieend of1939 comimuit,1istinflutlecewt., 1et(clearl1atn0tig tew g( Tclass aniidyt ii. Fspcilally on the trad(e tilimi bioutufecOimmslltintSinlAnd(hliramad.1(lerapl)i(lpro(rss witlltii V(t shortl (I 1ofItime. While till 1934 communist influence tuotigworkingclass wcs iil)le, bythe end of 1938 theywere able to (Imllltt Var1.iou0slahmi tlint"lls.Likewise, theccommuiists were aware o{fthwegr1eatlOteIitial olfp)c-IS.i5t(clman(ls stuclisinaoraltoriuimll oni loans, revenuie aind rent(lemain.iid,tenancylegisflaItioll and s(o on, inl uilnitinlgthe entire ptasan1trvin an atiti-imiperialistinited fronit. T1lheywe(-reatlso able to single out ainiduitilisc otlher imnwiediate(letitandsof(lie p)ecasantry to integrate thiemiiinito l)olitical activity. iTndoub-tedlv, ill tdec(lnext ofIt convergence ofvarious leftforces in tle late 1930s,i.e., witl tlie forimationi of working classa.n-d peasant associations,agrictilttural labour uinioIIs, youthi lealgues and stuIdeInts tlnioIns and tieincreitsing influence of Conigress socialists the commiunists plaved an imnpor-tanlt ro(le in giviug tile anti-landlord, anti-cap)italist alid anti-imperialiststruglgolea (listinct lcftward orientation. Thlius it cotild )e seeni that the com-ltiltlists il a briefl)reriodl mnde a remilarkable imNpacton the political scene inAnd(litra..Startingfromiialmostniotlhingin 1934 tlhevcould,bvthleendlof1939,claim substantialinfluenceamilonigthieworkingclass, the peasantrvanidthleVouitlh.However,thedoiimianitCongressleadershtipwasgrowinigal)l)reltellsiveoftheincreasingpenetrationofthetradeunions,KisaniSabhiasandlYoutliLeaguesbvtthecommuniists.PeasantsatvagrahiasatKalipatamiandiMunlagalaand workingclassstrikesatChiiralaand Chiittivalasaarea case inpoint.ThteCongressleadership,infact,didnotappreciatethecrucialroleplavedbvtheleftingeneralandthecommunistsinparticular,inrousinigthiepeasantrvalndworkingclasstoorganisedpoliticalactioni.In thenameofmaintining "classlharmony"the Congressdiscouragedthteanti-landlor(lain(l aliti-capitaliststruggles.The Congressministrvfreelvand liberallyres(ortedto repressivemeasures to control thecomnmuni.stactivitv.Thlerefore,atcoiflict (develol)edhetweetntheCongressand theleftleadership.AltliotiglithieCongressfrus-This content downloaded on Wed, 20 Feb 2013 10:28:18 AMAll use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions
  • 14. .46 SOCIAL SCIENTISTtratedtheettortso()Ithie(co11ilsts to 1)Util anI efftive anti-imperialistUllited-front,thtelatter wvere able toI onsolidate workers nd peasantorganiisationlsbvradicillising ain(idwilitnigovertlheadvani(.edse(tiolns ofColl-gressSocialists towardsthem.Thus bytheend of 1930, theCommunist Partywas abl)e to mo1(bilisevairiouIs sections of the Anidhlras)cietv againlstthecolonialstate.Thatistosay,duringtheSecondWorldWar,thecommunistsplavedanactiverole inintegriatind(lifferenitsectionsofpeopleintothevortexof tlheatiti-imipcrialist Imlovemilenlt.Andhrain thispaperdenotesthe followingTelugu speakingdistrictsofthleerstwhileMadrasPresidencv:Nellore.Gunitir,Krislhna,WestGodavari,East Godavariand Vizagapatam1 . LP. Sinha,TheLeft-winginIndia,1919-47,Muzaffarnagar,1965,pp 304-5.2 . SarojiniRegani,HighlightsoftheFreedomStruggleinAndhraPradeskHyderabad,1972,pp 137-39.3 . SelectionsfromSecretFiles,AndhraPradeshStateArchives,Hyderabad,p. 2576.(HereafterreferredtoasSelections);M.Venkatarangaiah,FreedomMovementinAndhra,Vol.IV, Hyderabad,1965,p. 646.4 . FortnightlyReports,Madras,2nd halfofJune,1934.-Home pol. (NA!). (HereafterF.R.).5. M. Venkatarangaiah,o. cit.,p. 668.6 . Ibid.,p. 666.7 . In 1936,threesocialistswereelectedtotheAICC and 23 totheAPCC and in 1937,theirstrengthwentupto 7 and 47 respectively.8 . vernorsSituationReport,2nd halfofNovember,1937. LPJ/5/197,IndiaOfficeLibraryLondon. (HereafterGovernor?sReport).In 1934 therewereonly4 communistsin theworkingcommitteeof theAPCSP, but by 1937 theirstrengthincreasedto 11 out of17.9 . Selectionspp 4-5.10 . GovernorsReport,2nd halfofApril,1937,LPJ/5/197.11 . Con,gressSocialist,5 June,1937.12 . Cited in CongressSocialist,14 August,1937.13. Ibid.14 . ER. Ist halfofJune. 1938.15 . ReportfromtheSecretaryoftheMadras ProvincialCommitteeoftheCPI to CentralCommittee,(no date) in Selectionsp. 2596.16 . F:R.2nd halfofJune,1938.17 . Selectionsp.4.18 . GovernorsReport,2nd halfofSeptember,1937,LPJ/5/197.18a. Goes Repot,IsthalfofOctober,1937,LPJ/5197, wpapes, MSS EurF/12517,India OfficeLibasmy,LndoL This content downloaded on Wed, 20 Feb 2013 10:28:18 AMAll use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions
  • 15. LEFT IN ANDHRA 4719 . CongressSocialist,9 October,1937.19a. M. Venkatarangaiah,Freedom...op.cit.,p. 574.20 . NationalFront,24 April,1938.20a. PrakashKarat,"OrganisedStrugglesofMalabarPeasantry,1934-1940",inSocialScietist,Vol. 5, No. 6, 1972. pp 4-5.21 . MationalFront,24 April,1938.22 . Selections...p. 2605.23 . GovemorsReport,Ist halfofMarch,1938, LPJ/5/198.24 . AndhraPatrika,3 November,1937.25 . NationalFront,19 March,1939.26 . NationalFront,4 September1938 and 13 November,1938.27 . NationalFront,4 September,1938.28. Ibid.29 . Selectionsp. 2595.30 . Ibid, p. 2584.31 . ZaminRyot,8July,1937.32 . N.G. Ranga,Kisan...op.cit.,p. 17.33 . NationalFront,24 April,1938,34 . N.G. Ranga,Kisan,Op.cit.,p. 16.35 . Communist,November,1940.36 . GovernorsReport,Isthalfof December,1942, LPJ/5/205.37 . Ibid.38 . Ibid39 . Communist,November,1940,p. 12.40 . Ibid.GovenorsReport,2nd halfofSeptember,1940. LPJ/5/203.41 . Ibid.42 . GovernorsReport,1sthalfofOctober,1940, LPJ/5/203.43 . Selections,p. 2578.44 . CovernorsReport,2nd halfofSeptember,1937, LPJ/5/197.45 . Selections,p. 2593.46 . Ibid.,p. 2581.47 . AndhraPatrika,17 Fehruary,1938.48 . GovernorsReport,2nd March,1938. LPJ/5/198.49 . GovernorsReport,Ist halfof Februarv,1939. LPJ/5/200.50 . NewAge,March-April,1939.51 . GovemorsReport,Ist halfofApril,1939. LPJ/5/200.52 . NationalFront,19 February,1934.53 . GovernorsReport,Ist halfofMarch,1938, LPJ/5/198.54 . "The Communistactivitiesduringtheanti-waragitationwerewide-spread...TherewaslabourunrestthroughoutthePresidencv.Communistpartyplayeda vervdominantpartinthestrikesand labourdisputes.Variouslabourunionswerecontrolledbythem".Selec-tions,p. 716.This content downloaded on Wed, 20 Feb 2013 10:28:18 AMAll use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions