Rise of Left and Revolutionaries Notes



  • The ideas of Marx and Socialist thinkers inspired many young nationalists, inspired by the Soviet Revolution and dissatisfied with Gandhian ideas and political programme, began advocating radical solutions for economic, political and social ills of the country.
  • These younger nationalists were critical of both Swarajists and No-Changers
  • Advocated a more consistent anti-imperialist line in the form of a slogan for purna swarajya (complete independence)
  • They stressed the need to combine nationalism and anti imperialism with social justice and simultaneously raised the question of internal class oppression by capitalists and landlords.


  • Communist Party of India (CPI) was formed in 1920 in Tashkent (now, the capital of Uzbekistan) by M.N. Roy, Abani Mukherji and others after the second Congress of Commintern.
  • M.N. Roy was also the first to be elected to the leadership of Commintern.
  • In 1925, the Indian Communist Conference at Kanpur formalised the foundation of the CPI.

Kanpur Bolshevik Conspiracy Case

In 1924, many communists—S.A. Dange, Muzaffar Ahmed, Shaukat Usmani, Nalini Gupta—were jailed for conspiring against the government.

Meerut conspiracy case

In 1929, the government crackdown on communists resulted in the arrest and trial of 31 leading communists, trade unionists and left-wing leaders for organizing an Indian Railway strike.

Activism of Indian Youth

All over, students’ leagues were being established and students’ conferences were being held. In 1928, Jawaharlal Nehru presided over the All Bengal Students’ Conference.

Peasants’ Agitations

  • Peasant agitations took place in the Rampa region of Andhra, in Rajasthan, in ryotwari areas of Bombay and Madras.
  • In Gujarat, the Bardoli Satyagraha was led by Vallabhbhai Patel (1928). Growth of Trade Unionism
  • Trade union movement was led by All India Trade Union Congress (AITUC) founded in 1920.
  • Lala Lajpat Rai was its first president and Dewan Chaman Lal its general secretary.

Caste Movements

  • These movements could be divisive, conservative and at times potentially radical.
  • Justice Party (Madras), Self-respect movement (1925) under “Periyar”—E.V. Ramaswamy Naicker (Madras)
  • Satyashodhak activists in Satara (Maharashtra)
  • Bhaskar Rao Jadhav (Maharashtra)
  • Radical Ezhavas under K. Aiyappan and C. Kesavan in Kerala


Revolutionary Activity with a Turn towards Socialism

  • This line was adopted by those dissatisfied with the nationalist strategy of the political struggle with its emphasis on non-violence.
  • Two strands developed—Hindustan Republican Association (H.R.A.)—in Punjab-UP-Bihar Yugantar, Anushilan groups and later Chittagong Revolt Group under Surya Sen—in Bengal

Revolutionary Activity During the 1920s

Major Influences

  • Upsurge of working class trade unionism after the War
  • Russian Revolution (1917) and the success of the young Soviet state in consolidating itself.
  • Newly sprouting communist groups with their emphasis on Marxism, socialism and the proletariat.
  • Journals publishing memoirs and articles extolling the self-sacrifice of revolutionaries, such as Atmasakti, Sarathi and Bijoli.
  • Novels and books such as Bandi Jiwan by Sachin Sanyal and Pather Dabi by Sharatchandra Chatterjee (a government ban only enhanced its popularity).

Punjab-United Provinces-Bihar

  • Revolutionary activity in this region was dominated by the Hindustan Republican Association/Army or HRA (later renamed Hindustan Socialist Republican Association or HSRA).
  • The HRA was founded in October 1924 in Kanpur.-
  • The younger revolutionaries, inspired by socialist ideas, later reorganized Hindustan Republic Association at a historic meeting in the ruins of Ferozshah Kotla in Delhi (September 1928) and renamed it as HSRA. Kakori Robbery (August 1925)
  • The most important action of the HRA was the Kakori robbery where in a train was looted off its official railway cash.
  • Bismil, Ashfaqullah, Roshan Singh and Rajendra Lahiri were hanged.

Lahore Conspiracy Case, 1928

  • The death of Sher-i-Punjab Lala Lajpat Rai due to lathi blows received during a lathi- charge on an anti-Simon Commission procession (October 1928) led Bhagat Singh, Rajguru and Azad to shoot Saunders who was the Assisstant Supritendent of Police. Bomb in the Central Legislative Assembly(April 1929)
  • Bhagat Singh and Batukeshwar Dutt were asked to throw a bomb in the Central Legislative Assembly on April 8, 1929 to protest against the passage of the Public Safety Bill and Trade Disputes Bill aimed at curtailing civil liberties of citizens in general and workers in particular.
Azad was involved in a bid to blow up Viceroy Irwin’s train near Delhi in December 1929.

Action against the Revolutionaries

  • Bhagat Singh, Sukhdev and Rajguru were tried in the Lahore conspiracy case.
  • Jatin Das became the first martyr on the 64th day of his fast.
  • Azad died in a police encounter in a park in Allahabad in February 1931.
  • Bhagat Singh, Sukhdev and Rajguru were hanged on March 23, 1931.


  • After Das’s death (1925), the Bengal Congress broke up into two factions, oneled by J.M. Sengupta (Anushilan group joined forces with him) and the other led by Subhash Bose (Yugantar group backed him).
  • The actions of the reorganized groups included an assassination attempt on thenotorious Calcutta Police Commissioner, Charles Tegart (another man named Day got killed) by Gopinath Saha in 1924. Chittagong Armory Raid (April 1930)
  • Surya Sen decided to organize an armed rebellion along with his associates— Anant Singh, Ganesh Ghosh and Lokenath Baul.
  • The raid was conducted under the banner of Indian Republican Army— Chittagong Branch.

Women Revolutionaries

  • Pritilata Waddedar was an associate of Surya Sen.
  • Kalpana Dutt who was arrested and tried along with Surya Sen and given a life sentence.
  • Santi Ghosh and Suniti Chandheri, school girls of Comilla, who shot dead the district magistrate.
  • Bina Das who fired point blank at the governor Jackson while receiving her degree at the convocation.

Changing Ideology of Revolutionaries

  • The famous statement of the revolutionary position is contained in the book, The Philosophy of the Bomb, written by Bhagwaticharan Vohra.
  • The revolutionaries were now shifting from individual heroic actions and started believing in mass struggle.
  • Bhagat Singh helped establish the Punjab Naujawan Bharat Sabha (1926) as an open wing of revolutionaries to carry out political work.
  • He also started Lahore Student Union.


Appointment of the Indian Statutory Commission

  • November 8, 1927 : An all-white, seven-member, Indian Statutory Commission, popularly known as the Simon Commission (after the name of its chairman, Sir John Simon), was set up by the British government under Stanley Baldwin’s as Prime Minister.
  • Its aim was to suggest further constitutional reforms.

Indian Response

  • Congress session in Madras (December 1927) meeting under the presidency of M.A. Ansari decided to boycott the commission “at every stage and in every form”.
  • Other Groups-Those who decided to support the Congress call of boycott of the Simon Commission included Hindu Mahasabha and the majority faction of the

Muslim League under Jinnah.

  • The commission landed in Bombay on February 3, 1928.
  • Wherever the commission went, there were black flag demonstrations, hartals and slogans of ‘Simon Go Back’.
  • The protestors were severely repressed by the police.

The Simon Commission Recommendations

  • It proposed the abolition of dyarchy and the establishment of representative government in the provinces which should be given autonomy.
  • It suggested that the North-West Frontier Province and Baluchistan should get local legislatures.
  • It recommended that Sindh should be separated from Bombay, and Burma should be separated from India.

Impact of Appointment of Simon Commission on the National Movement

  • Lord Birkenhead challenged the Indian politicians to produce an agree constitution.
  • This challenge was accepted by various political sections, and thus prospects for Indian unity seemed bright at that point of time.


  • All Parties Conference met in February 1928 and appointed a subcommittee under the chairmanship of Motilal Nehru to draft a constitution.
  • The report was finalized by August 1928.
  • The recommendations of the Nehru Committee were unanimous except in one respect—while the majority favored the “dominion status” as the basis of the Constitution, a section of it wanted “complete independence” as the basis.

Main Recommendations

  • Dominion status on lines of self-governing dominions as the form of government desired by Indians
  • Rejection of separate electorates which had been the basis of constitutional reforms so far; instead, a demand for joint electorates with reservation of seats for Muslims at the Centre and in provinces where they were in minority in proportion to the Muslim population there with right to contest additional seats.
  • Linguistic provinces and secular state-
  • Nineteen fundamental rights including equal rights for women, right to form unions, and universal adult suffrage.
  • Responsible government at the Centre and in provinces


Delhi Proposals of Muslim League

  • The proposals, which were accepted by the Madras session of the Congress (December 1927), came to be known as the ‘Delhi Proposals’.
  • One-third representation to Muslims in Central Legislative Assembly
  • Representation to Muslims in Punjab and Bengal in proportion to their population
  • Formation of three new Muslim majority provinces— Sindh, Baluchistan and North-West Frontier Province.

Hindu Mahasabha’s Opposition

  • The Hindu Mahasabha was vehemently opposed to the proposals for creating new Muslim-majority provinces and reservation of seats for Muslims majorities in Punjab and Bengal Concessions to Hindu fundamentalists
  • Joint electorates proposed everywhere but reservation for Muslims only where in minority
  • Sindh to be detached from Bombay only after dominion status was granted and subject to weightage given to Hindu minority in Sindh
  • Political structure proposed broadly unitary, as residual powers rested with the centre.

Amendments Proposed by Jinnah

At the All Parties Conference held at Calcutta in December 1928 to consider the Nehru Report, Jinnah, on behalf of the Muslim League, proposed three amendments to the report

  • One-third representation to Muslims in the central legislature
  • Reservation to Muslims in Bengal and Punjab legislatures proportionate to their population, till adult suffrage was established
  • Residual powers to provinces