Puran Chand Joshi

Indian politician

Puran Chand Joshi (14 April 1907 – 9 November 1980) was one of the early leaders of the communist movement in India. He was the general secretary of the Communist Party of India from 1935 to 1947.



Netaji and the CPI

Quoted from Sita Ram Goel - Netaji And The CPI-Voice of India (1970)
  • ‘We are the Indian Party of Lenin and Stalin, the great leaders of the people whose teaching and work finds living expression in the epic resistance of the Soviet people which the peoples of the world seek to emulate in their own lands’.
  • On our young shoulders to-day has fallen the great task of upholding the noble heritage of the Congress. It is the policy of our national leadership which would break this up and scatter it away. ”
  • “ The defeat of Nazis at Stalingrad had made it clear that Hitler could not come to India. In May-June 1943, Subhash Chandra Bose left Berlin and came to Singapore (p. 158). We discussed the new situation. We called for fight against sabotage. We named the Congress Socialists, the Forward Bloc and the Trotskyites as groups that made the fifth-column, the agents of the Jap invader (p. 159). ”
  • We, therefore, quote from Joshi’s pamphlet. The Government circular stated: “ In the Party Congress held in Bombay from May 23 rd to June 1 st , 1943, there was an attack on the negative policy of the Congress and the resolution openly identified for the first time the Congress Socialists and Forward Bloc with the fifth-column elements who are accused of taking advantage of the Congress resolution of August 1942 to lead the country to the brink of disaster. Not only are the Communists almost the only Party which fought for victory; they alone have criticised the Congress defeatism from a political point of view as opposed, for instance, to the fundamentally communal criticism of the Congress policy by the Muslim League etc., and have openly attacked as traitors the off-shoots of Congress, the Forward Bloc and the Congress Socialists Party.
  • Joshi wrote editorially : “ The Army is the one instrument that stands between our unarmed nation and the Fascist invaders. Fraternal relationship between the Army and the people, in all threatened zones, is the need of the hour. To-morrow, when actual invasion begins, the army will have to reap the harvest ; it will find that the apathy of the kisan has turned to hostility, his patriotic will to resist broken by defeatist Gandhian phrase-mongers, the flames of his grievances fanned by the Fifth-Columnists, by the traitor Forward Blocists. ”
  • In People’s War dated August 23, 1942 Joshi came out with an editorial appeal-Tsolate the Fifth Columnists : “ True to their black role, the Fifth-columnists suggest blows that help their masters. The Boseites who till yesterday with their ‘nation wide struggle’ and ‘non-compromise’ slogans were the objects of every Congressman’s contempt as national disruptors, find that the present situation means half their job done. How are we to isolate and nail down this black crewl For isolate and nail them down, we must. Keep the peace. Isolate the Fifth-columnist as the arch goonda that trades on people’s blood. ” Joshi was too thick-headed to understand that the one and only Fifth-column, the Communist Party of India, had already been isolated, though elsewhere in the same issue of the People’s War he had admitted: “ The Boseites stood isolated as unscrupulous disruptors inside the national movement ; to-day they are coming back as ‘honest patriots’. The hidden Jap agents dared not show their faces ; to-day they are active among the patriots !” Of course, the Russian agent could see nothing but agents all around himself !
  • The Boseites stood isolated as unscrupulous disruptors inside the national movement ; to-day they are coming back as ‘honest patriots’. The hidden Jap agents dared not show their faces ; to-day they are active among the patriots !”
  • P. C. Joshi wrote in People’s War dated July 18, 1943 : “ The Axis Radio reports that Bose is no more in Berlin but has reached Singapore. On July 6, Bose himself announced that he has been appointed the ‘Commander-inChief of ‘Indian Independence Army’ and is coming with the Jap invasion force. The arch-traitor to India’s freedom and independence calls upon Indian patriots to open a ‘Second Front’ against British, to intensify ‘struggle’ and start a ‘Revolution’ in India while he, the ‘Commander in-Chief with Tojo’s grace, marches in with Japanese invading forces to ‘liberate’ India. But his lieutenants here in India know that here is no ‘struggle’ to be intensified and so they are making a trial start for this game on August 9. Their programme for August 9 must be looked upon as a dress rehearsal for the ‘Revolution’ which has to be started when ‘Commander-in Chief Bose comes to liberate India with the Jap Army. It will be suicidal blindness to celebrate August 9 th as we do any protest anniversary, e.g. Jallianwalah Bagh Day. ”
  • Addressing the ‘patriots’ Joshi appealed : “ August 9 is coming again. Memory inevitably goes back to August 9 last year. Shame overwhelms one when one remembers that from that day the fifth-column spoke and acted in name of the Congress. To celebrate August 9 is to hand over the initiative to the fifth-column. Subhash Bose is already in Singapore, the Japs have made him Commander-in-Chief of their ‘Indian Independence Army.’ ‘Marshal’ Bose is looking to India to see what happens on August 9. It is for him a test of the mobilising capacities of his own gang and its links with the patriotic masses. If any widespread demonstrations take place or any serious disturbances start, ‘Marshal’ Bose will report to Tojo, his master, that India is rotten ripe for invasion. There is no time to lose. Last August Bose was in Berlin. This time he is much nearer, at Singapore. The traitor Bose will never touch the golden soil of Bengal if we make up our mind about August 9.”
  • Let no Indian patriot ignore Bose as an adventurer. His adventure can become India’s ruin. Let us set our own house in order before Bose sets it afire. All patriots! Rush aid to Bengal now, it has to fight Bose tomorrow. Let every Bengali feel that every Indian is behind him while Bose is coming with rice which is not food for the people but snare for Jap slavery. All ! Help the Indian and Allied armies to hold the front. They will hurl back Bose’s puppet army. ”
  • Joshi warned : “ In the world of to-day, with the great political awakening in India the British imperialists dare not directly and openly deny Indian freedom. Their present-day strategy is based on their firm belief that Indian parties will never come together and they will be able to impose their own plan for the future constitution of India. It is against this danger that our Party will rouse the people. In the extremely critical and difficult period that is coming ahead, we will ceaselessy work for CongressLeague unity as also for Congress-Communist united front inside one joint front for India’s freedom. ”
  • P. C. Joshi issues a statement on August 27, 1945, “ on the reported death of Subhash Chandra Bose. ” He said: “ It is the British overlordship of our country that creates a Bose. But much worse has happened. The severity of post-August repression and the continued denial of power to the people has to-day led a great majority of our political leaders and the press to glorify Bose as a patriot and martyr ; some, of course, qualify by stating that he was misguided. To think only of his motives and forget the pro-fascist policy that he pursued is to lose the confidence and respect of the democratic elements abroad for the Indian freedom movement. Our differences with Bose and his Forward Bloc have been political. But we are against a foreign Government keeping them in prison. We demand and support the campaign for the release of his followers. ” (Communist Reply to Congress Working Committee Charges, p. 298).

Whom, How And Why Does Bose Fight

P.C. Joshi in his article, Whom, How And Why Does Bose Fight, issued by the CPI in March 1940. The article is included in the book Unmasked Parties and Politics
  • “ From its very inception Forward Bloc as an organisation was a flop. To support Bose politically tens of thousand came. Inside his organisation were a handful of disgruntled elements from Dr. Kar’s supporters to renegade communists like N. Dutta Mazumdar. Coming events were casting their shadows before.
  • “ There was surging atmosphere of struggle. Left had been campaigning for a nation-wide struggle, under the Congress, for achievement of national freedom. When war broke out, the question of national struggle became an immediate issue, a practical question.
  • “ The national leadership did not pursue the path of struggle but of settlement. The Working Committee would not give a call for struggle. ‘Let us demand a national struggle from the national leadership’, said the Forward Bloc, ‘but we must be prepared to start a struggle on our own.’
  • “ The Communists argued that a national struggle today was a practical possibility only through the Congress. The Congress had to be led into action. To think otherwise was to be blind. The course of action the communists suggested was an immediate organisation of local mass struggles against the economic and political effects of the war. The Congress must unify all these struggles as people’s united organisation for an immediate national struggle. Through struggles to a national struggle. This was our line.
  • “ The situation in Bengal since the very outbreak of war had become intolerable. Huq through an ordinance of his own had sought to make Bengal proof against struggle. A province-wide mass struggle in Bengal would have transformed the situation. Bengal Congress was under Left leadership and a struggle through Bengal Congress would have shown the path of struggle to millions of Congressmen. A province-wide struggle in Bengal would have rendered a national struggle inevitable. These were the great possibilities. Their successful realisation depended particularly upon Bose. He was the unquestioned leader of Bengal Congress and the Forward Bloc was the strongest single group inside Bengal Congress. Bengal was the strongest sector of people’s front of struggle. Exactly for the same reason Bengal invited the wrath and special attention of the anti-struggle national leadership.
  • “As a part of their general drive against the Left, they imposed the three years ban on Bose. The first reaction of the Forward Bloc was to defy it. We counselled against it on the ground that a defiance of the Working Committee on the organisational issue would be playing into its hands. Then came the trouble over the Election Tribunal. Once again we took our stand against those who suggested a revolt. Blows from the right came raining in.
  • “ There were two ways of fighting the offensive from the Right—the bourgeois and the proletarian. The bourgeois way meant making constitutional arguments against the unconstitutional acts of the Working Committee. The bourgeois leadership could not be fought in the bourgeois way. The proletarian alternative was not a constitutional but a Political alternative ; it was based not on demonstrating a lawyers’ skill but initiating a people’s struggle. To adopt the bourgeois way meant creating Left disruption against Right disruption, not avoiding a split but creating a split and rendering a struggle itself more difficult thereby.
  • “ Rapidly marching events left no choice for Bengal Congress. In December we communists broke with the Forward Bloc. Bose wanted to give a call for national struggle for Swaraj and was against an immediate struggle for civil liberties and against a call for satyagraha for Swaraj either through the Forward Bloc or the Left. Bengal Congress under Left leadership had stomached more imperialist terror than the Congress had ever done under Right leadership. What was such Leftism worth ? Was it Leftism? Was it not just using Left slogans to escape struggle ?
  • “ After the appointment of the Ad Hoc Committee the B.P.C.C. had to choose its course of action finally. The Forward Bloc sought an agreement with us. We agreed to defy the Ad Hoc Committee provided the existing B.P.C.C. launched a struggle for Civil Liberties beginning from 26 th January—Independence Day. No preparations for struggle were made. The Central Council of Action was hardly functioning.
  • “ What would we say of a Congress leadership that attacks the Working Committee for being anti-struggle and does not itself launch a struggle ? Is it actual struggle or a paper resolution that related an immediate struggle to the ultimate struggle? To refuse to launch an immediate struggle when it would have brought the ultimate struggle itself nearer is to refuse to be serious about any struggle at all. Promise of struggle in the future and immediate disruption. Bourgeois politics produces the same result—whether it works its way from the Right or the Left.
  • “ We would whole-heartedly participate in any call for satyagraha given by the Congress. We would oppose, if it ever gave, the Forward Bloc call of satyagraha for Swaraj because it would be qualitatively a different thing. Workers, peasants, students have already adopted the proletarian technique of struggle—mass action. They have already come under the influence of Socialism. The effort of the Forward Bloc to win over these movements for its satyagraha or political policy has to be resisted as the infiltration of bourgeois influence over the masses. Before the working class, Kisan and student workers, the Forward Bloc has to be opposed not as being too Left but as being the disruptive agency of the bourgeoisie. In fact the Forward Bloc exactly does what the Right wants done—remove their fear of the growing unity of the working class and kisan movements with the Congress.
  • “ One can tear off the hair of one’s head looking for some scientific system in Bose’s politics. He is happy without it. Gandhi relies on his ‘inner’ voice—Bose goes by intuition. We get behind Messiahs who are prepared to lead provided we follow them in their blindness. Such is the debacle to which bourgeois leadership, whether Right or Left, is reduced.
  • “ Left nationalism, organised under the Forward Bloc, was born as an independent political force five months before the war. Five months of rapidly marching events after the outbreak have turned it into its very opposite and left it neither as genuine leftism nor good nationalism. It acts not as a progressive but as a retrogressive force. Its words are Left, its practice is anti-struggle, anti-unity, its aim remains settlement with imperialism.
  • “ For a national struggle, Bose wants another Congress. In the name of struggle he disrupts the very organ of struggle and thereby renders struggle itself impossible. He only scatters to winds the achievements of the past struggles—the national unity they created and which is today embodied in the Congress. To raise the slogan of another Congress is not to be pro-struggle but just a disruptor, pure and simple. The slogan of another Congress is not only a cover for an anti-struggle policy, is not only disruptive of national unity but is an alternative road to compromise.
  • “ He does not struggle against compromise ; he seeks to canalise the anti-compromise feeling towards himself. Instead of fighting against compromise he is only waiting to take advantage of it. On the basis of neo-Swarajyism, Bose cannot create a breach between the bourgeoisie and the existing bourgeois leadership, nor can he win the abiding loyalty of the masses. He can only shoot a racket and see it going up, in smoke. ”

Unmasked Parties and Politics

Unmasked Parties and Politics.
  • With the outbreak of the war, the world seems to have turned upside down, slogans changed sides, friends became foes and so on. Ours is a colonial slave country. The fundamental contradiction is between imperialism on the one hand and the entire nation on the other. The very outbreak of the war deepens this antagonism. National struggle becomes a practical proposal. But it is an explosive struggle with gloves off. The division between the Indian people becomes between those that stand for struggle and those that don’t. We do not have a national struggle because the bourgeoise is at the top of the national movement. The obvious course would be to free the national front from the influence of bourgeois reformism and develop the political strength of the proletariat within the common front so as to develop the forces of struggle in a manner so as to make a national struggle inevitable and overw’helm and isolate the cowardly bourgeoisie. ”

Communist Reply to Congress Working Committee’s Charges

P.C. Joshi in his pamphlet Communist Reply to Congress Working Committee’s Charges published by People’s Publishing House Ltd. Bombay in December, 1945.
  • Hitler’s aggression against the USSR immediately upset the balance of forces in the Allied camp; the isolation of the Soviet Union was replaced by the Anglo-Soviet and the American-Soviet alliance (p. 42).
  • All open-eyed and serious people saw the change but there were two groups in our country who did not—the Congress Socialists and the Forward Blocists (p. 40). We took time to discuss the new world situation. The result of our discussion and collective opinion was embodied in a resolution of the Politbureau of our Party and a booklet by P.C. Joshi, Forward to Freedom. We came to the conclusion that it was an entirely new situation, demanding a new Policy, new strategy. We said: ‘We are a practical party and in a new situation it is our task not only to evolve a new form of struggle for it, but also to advance new slogans appropriate to the new stage, suiting the new form of our national movement. The key slogan of our Party which guides all our practical political activity is : ‘Make the Indian people play a people’s role in a People’s War.’ The second feature in the new situation was the entry of a new Power in the war, a power of a new type, a People’s Power, the Soviet union. We saw the new prospect for humanity that opened through the Soviet entry into the war (Pp. 44-45).
  • We called it a transformation in the situation and not a mere change of degree. We said that the war which was so far an imperialist war now became a people’s war because of the changed re-grouping of forces, changed prospects before the world (P- 49).
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