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“A petition, without the backing of force, is useless”

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“It is a fact beyond dispute that a petition, without the backing of force, is useless….A petition of an equal is a sign of courtesy; a petition from a slave is a symbol of his slavery. A petition backed by force is a petition from an equal and, when he transmits his demand in the form of a petition, it testifies to his nobility.”

Well, here, by force, Gandhi means, the capacity to say this: “If you do not concede our demand, we will be no longer your petitioners. You can govern us only so long as we remain the governed; we shall no longer have any dealings with you”.

I have myself signed tens of petitions in recent months, but do we have this “force” in us? And still we continue petitioning! YA BASTA!

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Written by Pratyush Chandra

May 14, 2010 at 11:42 am

Posted in Gandhi, Politics

Gandhian subversion and parliamentary deviation

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Gandhi advised his colleagues and subordinates on 7 August 1937 when the then Congress contested the elections and were ready to accept office under the Government of India Act 1935:

These offices have to be held lightly, not tightly. They are or should be crowns of thorns, never of renown. Offices have been taken in order to see if they enable us to quicken the pace at which we are moving towards our goal.

(The Collected Works of Mahatma Gandhi, Vol.72, pp 99-100)

Again on 21 August 1937, Gandhi said,

Indeed the triumph of the congress will be measured by the success it achieves in rendering the police and the military practically idle. And it will fail utterly if it has to face crises that render the use of the police and the military inevitable. The best and the only effective way to wreck the existing Constitution is for the Congress to prove conclusively that it can rule without the aid of the military and with the least possible assistance of the police.

(The Collected Works of Mahatma Gandhi, Vol.72, pp 148-49)

On 17 July, 1937:

The Government of India Act is universally regarded as wholly unsatisfactory for achieving India’s freedom. But it is possible to construe it as an attempt, however limited and feeble, to replace the rule of the sword by the rule of the majority. The creation of the big electorate of three crores of men and women and the placing of wide powers in their hands cannot be described by any other name. Underlying it is the hope that what has been imposed upon us we shall get to like, i.e., we shall really regard our exploitation as a blessing in the end. The hope may be frustrated if the representatives of the thirty million voters have a faith of their own and are intelligent enough to use the powers (including the holding of offices) placed in their hands for the purpose of thwarting the assumed intention of the framers of the Act. And this can be easily done by lawfully using the Act in a manner not expected by them and by refraining from using it in the way intended by them.

(The Collected Works of Mahatma Gandhi, Vol.72, pp 35)

It is known that Marx’s and Lenin’s words (against officialdom) don’t attract the offici-al revolutionaries in India today, except when they could be used to justify their “two steps backward”. Hope they could learn something from Gandhi. Our leaders do recognise exactly 70 years later,

[T]he Constitution we have adopted reflects some of the ambiguities of the ruling classes. The Constitution declares India as a socialist republic. In reality, the State power rests with the bourgeois-landlord class led by the big bourgeoisie.

(Jyoti Basu, “60 Years Of Our Independence And The Left: Some Thoughts”, People’s Democracy, August 19, 2007)

But then have they tried to judge if their act of “accepting and running office” stands at least the Gandhian test of subversion? Have they devised “the best and … effective way to wreck the existing Constitution”? What happened recently in West Bengal – SEZ, Singur, Nandigram…- at least shows that they will definitely not succeed in passing the Gandhian test as defined here.

Written by Pratyush Chandra

August 4, 2008 at 12:39 pm

Posted in Gandhi, India, Politics

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