New Delhi: The success of the non-violent movement for Independence involving the Congress can be attributed to the “fire of patriotism ignited by armed revolution”, Union Home minister Amit Shah said Wednesday. Shah made the remarks at the launch of ‘Revolutionaries — The other story of how India won its freedom’, a book by economist Sanjeev Sanyal who is a member of the Prime Minister’s Economic Advisory Council.
Speaking at the event, Shah said the book can be summarised by the words ‘the other story’ in its title. “Because one story has been established in public under one narrative. A perspective has been imposed on the public through history education, writings,” he said.
The book by Sanyal will help counter that narrative, he said, adding that revolutionaries had mooted the ideas of total independence and universal adult franchise before the Congress made these demands in 1930.
Shah was quick to clarify that he was not implying that the non-violence movement led by Mahatma Gandhi had no role in the freedom struggle or that it is not part of history. “It is a part of history and has a huge contribution,” he said. Adding, however, that without the “parallel” armed struggle, attaining Independence “would have probably taken many more decades”.
Independence, he said, was the outcome of the “collective efforts” of “various individuals, organisations, thoughts, ideologies and paths” aligned with attaining the same goal.
Invoking the example of historian R.C. Majumdar, Shah suggested that there was a “deliberate attempt” to sideline Indian scholars who wrote about the role of revolutionaries in the freedom struggle. History, he added, “should not be written solely on the basis of victory or defeat but by judging the efforts and struggles of all”.
Shah also hailed Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s call from the ramparts of the Red Fort on 15 August last year when he urged Indians to “shed” their colonial past and “take pride” in their roots. “To rid the country of this colonial mindset, the biggest work, I feel, needs to be done in the field of written history, to free India’s written history of the colonial mindset,” Shah said at the event in Delhi.
Delving deeper into the issue, the Union Home minister said those responsible for recording the “holistic history” of the freedom struggle did not do so from an Indian perspective.
“Many times, we blame Left ideology or the Congress for ignoring the contribution of other revolutionaries but now nothing can stop us from writing about freedom fighters who were ignored,” he said.
Shah then called upon students and teachers of history to identify 300 personalities and 30 empires that made India a great country. He added, “We were told Mughals were the first empire but that is not the case, there have been empires who ruled this country for more than 200 years.”
He went further to say that the revolt in 1857 was the first battle for Independence which laid the foundation for the Congress-led freedom struggle.
Targeting those he accused of “ignoring revolutionaries”, Shah said, “those people don’t know that when Bhagat Singh was hanged, no fire was lit in kitchens from Lahore to Kanyakumari”.
“Now, if you write history saying the country was not free when Bhagat Singh was martyred, that is not the right judgement,” he asserted.
Building on his argument, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader said Bankim Chandra Chatterjee — the author of Vande Mataram — “awakened India’s conscience through his song, but history had not given him his due”.
(Edited by Amrtansh Arora)
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