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

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Partition, Congress Secularism and Hindu Communalism

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The contradictory nature of the reality of August 15, 1947 continues to intrigue historians to this day. Freedom was won but was accompanied by a bloody and tragic partition that tore apart the emerging new nation. The history of partition still evolves around two questions – why did the British finally quit? Why did the Congress accept partition? Evocative questions, still more profound as the history of post-independence India too begin with partition – the problems of today often being interpreted by hindsight as emanating from and because of partition. Partition seemed to signify a watershed in the struggle between secular and communal forces.

The imperialist answer is that independence was the fulfilment of Britain’s mission to assist the Indian people to self-government. Partition was the unfortunate consequence of the long Hindu-Muslim rift, of the two communities’ failure to agree on how and to whom power was to be transferred. The radical view is that independence was finally secured by the mass actions of 1946-47 led by the communists. But the bourgeois Congress, frightened by the revolutionary upsurge, struck a deal with the imperialist power by which power was transferred to them and the nation paid the price of partition.

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