75 years of Quit India Movement: How Opposition grabbed the chance to target Modi govt
The discussion in Parliament on 75 years of the Quit India Movement turned into an opportunity for the Opposition parties to hit out at the Narendra Modi government. Leading the charge in the Lok Sabha was Congress President Sonia Gandhi who said that 75 years after the Quit India Movement, “India’s freedom is in danger once again”.
Without naming the BJP or Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Gandhi launched an attack against what she called the “forces of darkness” that were trying to destroy the roots of democracy in India. She said that “clouds of hate and division” hovered around India’s secular values.
“We will not allow the idea of India to be a prisoner to narrow mindedness and communal ideology. Today it looks as if secularism and free speech are in danger. If we have to preserve freedom, we'll have to defeat forces endangering it. We can't and we won't allow sectarian forces to succeed,” she said.
People have to fight for the India they believe in, which is loved by one and all and which was envisioned by our freedom fighters, she added.
She also took a veiled dig at the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh, the ideological fountainhead of the BJP.
“We must not forget that there were people and organisations that had opposed the Quit India movement and made no contribution in India’s freedom struggle,” she said.
This was clearly a dig at the RSS, which is said to have kept aloof from the movement. Historian Ramchandra Guha made the same point on Twitter by highlighting the questionable role of Hindutva icons during the movement.
Among Hindutva "icons", Savarkar opposed Quit India, Golwalkar stayed aloof, while SP Mookerjee helped the British rulers to suppress it.— Ramachandra Guha (@Ram_Guha) August 9, 2017
Gandhi used her speech to highlight the contribution of the Congress in the Quit India Movement.
"It is my honour to stand in this House and pay tribute to the numerous men and women from the Congress who made sacrifices in the Quit India Movement."
"On 8 August 1942, All India Congress Committee adopted the resolution proposed by Jawaharlal Nehru and supported by Sardar Patel."
Earlier, PM Modi spoke in the House and said used Mahatma Gandhi’s slogan “Do or Die” to stress on the need to tackle major national challenges.
From 2017 to 2022, when India turns 75, we need to create the same spirit that existed from 1942 to 1947: PM @narendramodi— PMO India (@PMOIndia) August 9, 2017
In 1942 the clarion call was 'Karenge Ya Marenge' - today it is 'Karenge Aur Kar Ke Rahenge.' These 5 years are about #SankalpSeSiddhi: PM— PMO India (@PMOIndia) August 9, 2017
Govt under attack
Sonia Gandhi wasn’t the only one who used the opportunity to attack the Modi government.
Trinamool Congress leader Sugata Bose, who is a historian as well as the grand-nephew of Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose, also took on the BJP during the discussion.
Stressing the need to protect minorities, Bose quoted what Mahatma Gandhi said in the first Congress session after Independence. "No Muslim in the Union of India should feel his life unsafe, Mahatma Gandhi had said”.
He further attacked the recent rise in Hindutva vigilantism by saying that these are a revival of hate-oriented movements from the pre-Independence era. "Today we're witnessing the revival of the hatred of cow protection, shuddhi and sangathan movements,” he said.
Speaking in the Rajya Sabha, CPI(M) General Secretary Sitaram Yechury countered accusations that Indian Communists did not participate in the Quit India Movement.
“The leader of the independent government in Satara during the Quit India Movement, was Nana Patil, a member of the Communist Party of India. Subhas Chandra Bose’s Rani Jhansi Regiment was led by Captain Lakshmi Sehgal who later became a member of the CPI(M),” Yechury said.
He also reminded the Modi government of the secular foundations of the freedom struggle. "It was Maulana Hasrat Mohani and Swami Kumarananda, both communists, who raised the demand for Poorna Swaraj. It was later adopted by the Congress," he narrated.
“What is the meaning of celebrating 75 years of Quit India when you can’t quit policies that increase unemployment and poverty?” Yechury asked.
“Instead of merely remembering the past, we should move forward and strengthen India’s secular and democratic values,” he added.