ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Not Revolution, but Restoration

Not Revolution, but Restoration Revolution through Ballot by Anirudha Gupta; Ankur Publishing House, New Delhi, 1977; pp viii + 164; Rs. 40. I REMEMBER having had an interview with Jayaprakash Narayan at Banaras sometime in early 1950, along with some other teachers of the Banaras Hindu University. The discussion centred on whether there was any possibility of a China-type revolution in our country, considering that the Constitution as such did not permit any fundamental socio-economic reconstruction. Jayaprakash Narayan had by then left the Congress along with other members of the Socialist group and had not yet joined the Sarvodaya movement. The Socialist party, of which he was a leading member, was active in opposition to the ruling Congress party. His reaction to our question was clear and straightforward. He believed, as he said to us in his characteristic, soft tone, that an armed revolution of the Chinese variety was not possible in our country, nor was it necessary. He agreed that there were similarities in the situation in the two countries. But, he argued, there were dissimilarities also, which were serious. The army in China, which Mao Tse-tung and his followers fought was decentralised. Each unit could thus be taken separately and overpowered. India, on the other hand, had a centralised, well-disciplined army which the Central government was controlling, having inherited it from the British. It was not within the power of any revolutionary body in India, whatever its urge, to cope with it; an armed revolution was not a practicable proposition. Nor, he continued, was is necessary, in view of the fact that the Constitution provided for adult suffrage and that it was open to any party seeking a socio-economic revolution to work it out through ballot. If you wanted to change the socioeconomic structure in favour of the masses, it is the masses to whom you could appeal for votes; adult suffrage provided enough opportunity to the Socialist party, operating within the Constitution, to snatch power and then to effect changes. But he added, with his voice as serene as ever, that if the ballot at all failed, he would not hesitate to lead a movement towards a revolution, even though he would eschew violence.

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