Bhagat Singh and the Revolutionary Movement

Linked with Bhagat Singh – India (1907 – 1931), and with Why I am Atheist.

Published on Revolutionary Democracy, around April 1997, by Niraja Rao.

Bhagat Singh was an outstanding revolutionary and martyr of the Indian anti-colonial movement. He represented the youth who were dissatisfied with Gandhian politics and groped for revolutionary alternatives. Bhagat Singh studied the European revolutionary movement and was attracted to anarchism and communism. He became a confirmed atheist, socialist and communist.

He realised that the overthrow of British rule should be accompanied by the socialist reconstruction of Indian society and for this political power must be seized by the workers. Bhagat Singh and B.K. Dutt enunciated their understanding of revolution in a statement made in connection with the Assembly Bomb case on 6th June, 1929.

‘By Revolution we mean that the present order of things, which is based on manifest injustice must change. Producers or labourers, in spite of being the most necessary element of society, are robbed by their exploiters of their labour and deprived of their elementary rights. The peasant who grows corn for all, starves with his family. The weaver who supplies the world market with textile fabrics, has not enough to cover his own and his children’s bodies. Masons, smiths and carpenters who raise magnificent palaces, live like pariahs in the slums. The capitalists and exploiters, the parasites of society, squander millions on their whims.’

They argued that a ‘radical change’ was necessary ‘and it is the duty of those who realise it to reorganise society on the socialistic basis’. For this purpose the ‘establishment of the dictatorship of the proletariat’ was necessary (ed. Shiv Verma, Selected Writings of Shaheed Bhagat Singh, New Delhi, 1986, pp. 74-75).

That Bhagat Singh and his comrades had passed over to the positions of Communism is also apparent from their actions and slogans in the Lahore Conspiracy Case on January 21, 1930. The accused appeared in court wearing red scarves. As soon as the magistrate took the chair they raised the following slogans: ‘Long Live Socialist Revolution’, ‘Long Live the Communist International’, ‘Long live the people’, ‘Lenin’s name will never die’, and ‘Down with Imperialism.’ Bhagat Singh then read the text of the following telegram in the court and asked the Magistrate to transmit it to the Third International.

‘On Lenin Day we send hearty greetings to all who are doing something for carrying forward the ideas of the great Lenin, we wish success to the great experiment Russia is carrying out. We join our voice to that of the International working class movement. The proletariat will win. Capitalism will be defeated. Death to Imperialism’. (Ibid., p. 82).

Bhagat Singh was critical of the individual terrorism which was prevalent among the revolutionary youth of his time and realised the need for mass mobilisation by the Communist Party. In his final writings he argued that the party had to organise the workers and the peasantry. The fight around the small economic demands through the labour unions were the best means to educate the masses for a final struggle to conquer political power. Apart from this work it was necessary for the Communist Party to organise a military department.

He stated: ‘I am not a terrorist and I never was, except perhaps in the beginning of my revolutionary career. And I am convinced that we cannot gain anything through these methods. One can easily judge it from the history of the Hindustan Socialist Republican Association. All our activities were directed towards an aim, i.e., identifying ourselves with the great movement as its military wing. If anybody has misunderstood me, let him amend his ideas. I do not mean that bombs and pistols are useless, rather the contrary. But I mean to say that mere bomb throwing is not only useless but sometimes harmful. The military department of the party should always keep ready all the war-material it can command for any emergency. It should back the political work of the party. It cannot and should not work independently’. (Ibid. p. 138) … (See the long rest on revolutionary democracy).

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