Did Indian Communists Align with The British During The Bengal Famine?

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Bengal famine
Bengal famine of 1942. Wikimedia
  • The British Government made arrangements and a pact was created in order to release the CPI members
  • Dr. Mookerjee was sincerely involved in service for famine- relief and at the same time, he also attempted to enhance the anti-government sentiment in the minds of the public
  • At one point of time, Subhash Chandra Bose was hit with severe criticism, jeering remarks, and taunting comments

August 13, 2017: A website with pro-Marxist agenda launched an attack on the founder and director of ‘Bharatiya Jana Sangh’, Dr. Syama Prasad Mookerjee. The attack went viral on 4th July 2016, that is, just two days before the 150th birth anniversary of Dr. Mookerjee who directed the political party that is the predecessor of today’s BJP party.

The comment was made in the context of the infamous Bengal Famine in the year 1943. The website is quoted as commenting that Chittaprosad, the artist toured in Bengal during the famine and his articles- complete with all the illustrations and sketches, was published in the newspaper of the Communist Party of India, of that time.

The website left out the information that the artist himself had the card of CPI and most possibly worked on the political propaganda during that time. His sketches invoke heart-rending emotions for sure, but being involved in a propaganda, one that especially focused on Dr. Mookerjee for skillfully extracting the British from the scene using complex logic is utterly unjust. British are also said to have seized the sketches which not only have a historic impact but also were used to further the political propaganda that is fueling the present day activities of such modern-day propagandists.

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The British Government made arrangements and a pact was created in order to release the CPI members, which legalized the party and gave them the power to voluntarily practice control over the trade unions. Gradually, they got supplies for publishing various papers and journals in which, ‘People’s War’. It has also been observed that ‘People’s War’ was fundamentally a propaganda publication that was sponsored by and run on behalf of the British. Therefore, Chittaprosad working as an artist for the magazine clearly makes him one of the British propagandist, mentioned Swarajyamag report.

Apart from focusing on the artist’s part of the story, it is to be noted that the communists of India of that time, attempted to orchestrate in Bengal, what Stalin had succeeded to engineer in Ukraine and earned his fame as the “father of scientific famines”.

Honestly, the extra-territorial alliance was not the single cause for the ignorant approach of the Marxists of India towards the genocidal and skillfully engineered famine of Bengal, but the other reason was that any sort of protest on the part of their party would have angered the Government- stated famous historian D.N. Gupta in his book ‘Communism and Nationalism in Colonial India’; reports Swarajyamag in its opinionated piece.

Dr. Syama Prasad Mookerjee
Dr. Syama Prasad Mookerjee. Wikimedia

Eventually, Dr. Mookerjee was sincerely involved in service for famine- relief and at the same time, he also attempted to enhance the anti-government sentiment in the minds of the public. Hence, he became the focused target for the propaganda attack.

It was obvious that the foundation for the famine was gradually built with the ongoing war at that time. In midst of an already heated situation, in spite of giving up, Mookerjee toiled without pausing to raise an anti-British agenda and further his activities with that. In 1942, a couple of letters were exchanged between him and the governor and the viceroy; and with a series of consequent events, the conflict kept rising. In the meanwhile, the communists were never reluctant to communalize the famine-crisis, but the willfully distorted and fabricated articles in ‘People’s War’ were applauded by the government; the Swarajyamag has observed.

In 1943, Dr. Mookerjee delivered a moving speech in the legislative assembly of Bengal, but to no worthy result, as the government stayed not only unperturbed but also passed comments mocking him with ridicule, mentioned the Swarajyamag report. Mookerjee did get back at the party with befitting intellect and quick-wit but the behavior of the Marxists was unbelievable in most of the cases. Even Subhash Chandra Bose was hit with severe criticism, jeering remarks, and taunting comments. ‘People’s War’ utilized every single opportunity to defame him in the eyes of the public. The signature in the corner of a page containing a sketch that ridiculed Bose, the name ‘Chittaprosad’ says enough of the unjustified acts of the communists and bears testimony to their actions in the famine-affected, war-torn, corruption-ruled Bengal during that period.

– by Antara Kumar of NewsGram. Twitter: @ElaanaC