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Posted at: Mar 8, 2018, 12:35 AM; last updated: Mar 8, 2018, 12:35 AM (IST)

Lenin, too, inspired our freedom struggle

Our leaders of the freedom movement used Lenin's ideas for the cause of independence. An attempt is being made to do violence to that glorious legacy by pulling down his statue.
Lenin, too, inspired our freedom struggle

SN Sahu
OSD and press secretary to the late President KR Narayanan 

The pulling down of the statue of Lenin in Tripura and its defence in a disparaging tone by some well-known public figures occupying high positions in a way constitutes the denunciation of the legacy of freedom struggle concerning Lenin, Lokmanya Tilak, Mahatma Gandhi and Bhagat Singh who had the progressive vision woven around ideals of liberation and freedom from foreign rule and exploitation. 

Lenin admired Tilak

Lokmanya Tilak, who electrified the nation by his slogan "Swaraj is my birthright", commanded admiration from Lenin for his role in standing against British imperialism and colonial rule which devastated India. When Tilak was charged with sedition and sentenced to six years' imprisonment in Burma, Lenin described it as "infamous sentence pronounced by the British jackals on the Indian democrat Tilak." In hailing Tilak as a democrat and condemning his unjust treatment at the hands of the British, Lenin made invaluable contributions in recognising the leadership of India in the first decade of the 20th century for the cause of India's freedom. In fact, Lenin was one of the top ranking global leaders of that time who could discern the emerging phase of the freedom struggle marked by large-scale participation of masses under the leadership of Tilak and wrote that the "British regime in India is doomed." And, the appreciative remarks of Lenin on Tilak underlined the global stature of Indian leadership in fearlessly standing up to the mighty British empire in the early part of the 20th century. 

The Bolshevik revolution of 1917 cast a spell all over the world and fired the imagination of the exploited sections of humanity. Like many leaders of India who were impacted by the revolution, Lokmanya Tilak reflected on it and wrote an editorial in his newspaper Kesari under the caption "The Russian Leader Lenin". He appreciated Lenin as a lover of peace and held him in high esteem for his uncompromising stand against the upper classes who, according to him, were engaged in military conflicts and wars to promote their selfish motives and interests. Tilak particularly flagged Lenin's contributions in distributing the land of the nobility to the peasantry and hailed it as a landmark step for the cause of the uplift of the exploited and suffering people. 

Indian poets lauded Lenin

Lenin occupied a prominent place in the poems and prose of literary geniuses of country who were fired by the spirit of freedom struggle and who contributed to it by their creative writings and revolutionary action. One such fine representative of litterateurs was Subramanya Bharathi who wrote a poem "New Russia" in Tamil, extolling the role played by Lenin in spearheading the landmark Russian revolution. 

It is well known that leaders of the freedom movement, cutting across the political spectrum, were influenced by the legacy of Lenin and used his ideas for the cause of independence. Lenin, in that sense, was there in the core ideals of our remarkable liberation movement which has remained distinguished in the annals of human history for its attributes rooted in non-violence, reconciliation, understanding. 

With such a record of linking Lenin with the ethos of the freedom struggle, it is strange that an attempt is being made to do violence to that glorious legacy by pulling down his statue. It is nothing but vandalism and violence which is equal in importance to the Taliban destroying the Bamian Buddha statues in Afghanistan. The tragic pulling down of Lenin's statue has triggered another regressive reaction in Tamil Nadu, where a public figure aims at pulling down the statue of the revered Periyar, a key figure of the Dravidian movement which stressed on equality and equal opportunity, irrespective of caste status. 

Many years back, Prof Hiren Mukherjee had said that there was hoodlum politics in the periphery of the Indian public life. Unfortunately, the "hoodlum politics" in the periphery of Indian politics is getting mainstreamed. The legitimacy it acquires spells danger to the public life of the nation. Dr Ambedkar had cautioned that any attempt to eschew constitutional method on the part of people and political formations would result in the grammar of anarchy. The dismantling of the statue of Lenin is an affront to the ethos of the freedom struggle and our Constitution.


Bhagat Singh’s last wish was to finish reading Lenin’s work

Our revolutionary leader Bhagat Singh read Lenin's works extensively and it shaped his outlook and action not only for India's independence but also for nation-building and social reconstruction. The biographer of Bhagat Singh, Gopal Tagore, affirms that a few days before his hanging, when Bhagat Singh was asked to spell out his final wish, he famously stated that he was engaged in reading Lenin's writings and he was keen to complete them. While in jail, he asked a friend to send him some books for reading and one of the books specifically asked for was Lenin's "Collapse of the Second International." In 1930, Bhagat Singh is said to have celebrated Lenin day and heroically stepped into the courtroom by putting on a red scarf and pleaded the authorities to convey his greetings to the leaders of Russian revolution.

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