M N Roy 1922

Letter to Singaravelu Chettiar
Moscow, 12.11.22

Dear Comrade Singaravelu,

According to the latest news a political labour party will be formed at the 3rd All India Trade Union Congress to be held at Lahore in the last week of December. It is useless to point out the disastrous effect of such a step in our struggle for national liberation which is the problem on whose solution depends the progress of our people in every walk of life. But the project is not unexpected for us. In fact we have been warning our leaders about such a danger. It is a danger because the motion if such a party (inspired by the labour imperialists of England) is to direct the working class of India into the blind alley of reformism and to deprive the national movement of its dynamic force. Their new development makes it doubly imperative for the Congress to mend its ways. So we must put the issue squarely at Gaya, either the Congress should adopt such a programme calculated to attract the working class under its banner, or run the risk of losing the backing of the masses.

We have in India to-day a similar situation that followed the great Chartist movement in England. The great revolutionary upheaval of the young British proletariat was directed into the wrong channel of liberal labour policies which eventually gave rise to the labour party, a useful handmaid of capitalism and imperialism. Now Col. Wedgewood Benn, Spoor, etc. through their friends, fellows like Joseph Baptista, Chaman Lal, etc. are endeavouring to tie the Indian masses to the chariot of Labourism of the British type.

If they succeed in their sinister design the movement for national Liberation will be practically killed for some time to come. By these Bardoli resolutions the Congress has broken the heart of the poor peasantry. The projected labour party will contend for the leadership of the city workers. It will hold out the things that are needed and understood by the ignorant hungry workers. It will fight for the recognition of Unionism, the 8 hour day, minimum wages, etc. Thus congress will be left without any dynamic following and the National movement cannot be carried very far with the lawyers, students and small traders. This ominous picture must be graphically held out before the Congress at Gaya and our programme should be pressed forward as the only remedy which can save the Congress. It is too late for us here to write a Manifesto about the labour party but I think you will give this question the proper interpretations at Gaya. As soon as the resolutions and the programme of the labour party are available we will mercilessly expose its sinister designs. But there must be an organisation of our own to capture the ground threatened by the labour party. Either the Congress must revolutionise its outlook and be a revolutionary organisation or a new party must be found with a programme in accordance with the needs and desires of the majority of the people with a revolutionary objective.

I am afraid that to revive the Congress is an almost hopeless task. It appears to be politically dead. Its future will be judged by its capability of mending its way at Gaya. Therefore we must prepare for the organisation of a new party to assume the lost leadership of the Congress. Our most important task is to prevent the masses from leaving the political struggle and sinking into a narrow economic movement which the labour party will inaugurate.

We must have a preliminary conference of those who understand the necessity of new mass party. I would be much pleased to receive your suggestions about the ways and means of holding such a preliminary conference. How is E.L. Ayyar? The last issue of his paper is very much improved. Can you induce him to take a trip to Europe? All his expenses will be paid. I propose a small conference in Europe in the beginning of the new year. Think over this matter and let us have your opinion and look out for the most suitable element. The financial side of the thing will be taken care of from here. We would like to have you in such a conference.

The International Congress is still going on and will last another 3 weeks. It is very interesting and we are much occupied. It is fine to feel oneself a part of the biggest force in the world, a force that is making history. I resolve the problem of India through this big world standpoint, so am very optimistic.

With greetings.
M.N. Roy.