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All India Forward Bloc

All India Forward Bloc
Chairperson N. Velappan Nair
Secretary-General Debabrata Biswas[1]
Founded 3 May 1939 (1939-05-03)
Headquarters 28, Gurudwara Rakab Ganj Road, New Delhi 110001
Newspaper Towards Socialism, Lokmat
Ideology Left-wing nationalism,
ECI Status State Party[2]
Alliance Left Front
Politics of India
Political parties

The All India Forward Bloc (AIFB) is a left-wing nationalist political party in India. It emerged as a faction within the Indian National Congress in 1939, led by Subhas Chandra Bose. The party re-established as an independent political party after the independence of India. It has its main stronghold in West Bengal.


  • History 1
    • Formation of the Forward Bloc 1.1
    • Nagpur conference 1.2
    • Arrest and exile of Bose 1.3
    • Post-war reorganisation 1.4
    • Arrah conference 1.5
    • Split between Yajee and Ruikar 1.6
    • 1952 elections 1.7
    • Expulsion of Yagee and Singh 1.8
    • Socialist unity 1.9
    • Death of U.M. Thevar 1.10
    • Progressive Front in Tripura 1.11
    • 1968 split in Tamil Nadu 1.12
    • West Dinajpur clashes 1.13
    • Split in the Indian National Congress 1.14
    • 1971–72 elections 1.15
    • Realignment in Tripura 1.16
    • 1977 elections 1.17
    • Recent history 1.18
    • 2014 election 1.19
  • Forward Bloc today 2
  • Eastern India 3
    • West Bengal 3.1
    • Tripura 3.2
  • Northern India 4
    • Uttar Pradesh 4.1
    • Haryana 4.2
  • Southern India 5
    • Andhra Pradesh 5.1
    • Tamil Nadu 5.2
    • Kerala 5.3
  • Mass organisations 6
  • Notes 7
  • External links 8


Formation of the Forward Bloc

The Forward Bloc of the Indian National Congress was formed on 3 May 1939 by Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose, who had resigned from the presidency of the Indian National Congress on 29 April after being outmaneuvered by Mohandas K. Gandhi. The formation of the Forward Bloc was announced to the public at a rally in Calcutta. Bose said that who all were joining, they had to never turn their back to the British and must fill the pledge form by cutting their finger and signing it with their blood. First of all, seventeen young girls came up and signed the pledge form. Initially the aim of the Forward Bloc was to rally all the leftwing sections within the Congress and develop an alternative leadership inside the Congress. Bose became the president of the Forward Bloc and S.S. Cavesheer its vice-president. A Forward Bloc Conference was held in Bombay in the end of June. At that conference the constitution and programme of the Forward Bloc were approved.[3] In July 1939 Subhas Chandra Bose announced the Committee of the Forward Bloc. It had Subhas Chandra Bose as president, S.S. Cavesheer from Punjab as its vice-president, Lal Shankarlal from Delhi, as its general secretary and Pandit B Tripathi and Khurshed Nariman from Bombay as secretaries. Other prominent members were Annapurniah from Andhra Pradesh, Senapati Bapat, Hari Vishnu Kamnath from Bombay, Pasumpon U. Muthuramalingam Thevar from Tamil Nadu and Sheel Bhadra Yajee from Bihar. Satya Ranjan Bakshi, was appointed as the secretary of the Bengal Provincial Forward Bloc.[4]

In August the same year Bose began publishing a newspaper titled Forward Bloc. He travelled around the country, rallying support for his new political project.[4]

Nagpur conference

The following year, on 20–22 June 1940, the Forward Bloc held its first All India Conference in Nagpur. The conference declared the Forward Bloc to be a socialist political party, and the date of 22 June is considered as the founding date of the party by the Forward Bloc itself. The conference passed a resolution titled 'All Power to the Indian People', urging militant action for struggle against British colonial rule. Subhas Chandra Bose was elected as the president of the party and H.V. Kamath the general secretary.[5]

Arrest and exile of Bose

Soon thereafter, on 2 July, Bose was arrested and detained in Presidency Jail, Calcutta. In January 1941 he escaped from house arrest, and clandestinely went into exile. He travelled to the Soviet Union via Afghanistan, seeking Soviet support for the Indian independence struggle. Stalin declined Bose's request, and he then travelled to Germany. In Berlin he set up the Free India Centre, and rallied the Indian Legion.[6]

In August 1942 the British authorities banned the Forward Bloc. Its offices around the country were ransacked. In 1943 Bose was transported to Asia, where he took over the leadership of the Indian National Army. During the final phase of the war the INA fought alongside the Japanese against the British army.

Inside India, local activists of the Forward Bloc continued the anti-British activities without central co-ordination. For example, in Bihar members were involved in the

External links

  1. ^
  2. ^ "List of Political Parties and Election Symbols main Notification Dated 18.01.2013". India: Election Commission of India. 2013. Retrieved 9 May 2013. 
  3. ^ Ghosh, Asok (ed.), A Short History of the All India Forward Bloc. Kolkata: Bengal Lokmat Printers Pvt Ltd., 2001. pp. 29–30
  4. ^ a b Banglapedia
  5. ^ Ghosh, Asok (ed.), A Short History of the All India Forward Bloc. Kolkata: Bengal Lokmat Printers Pvt Ltd., 2001. pp. 32–4, 55
  6. ^ Ghosh, Asok (ed.), A Short History of the All India Forward Bloc. Kolkata: Bengal Lokmat Printers Pvt Ltd., 2001. pp. 36, 39
  7. ^ Ramayan Singh was involved in these activities
  8. ^ Ghosh, Asok (ed.), A Short History of the All India Forward Bloc. Kolkata: Bengal Lokmat Printers Pvt Ltd., 2001. pp. 42–3
  9. ^ The members of the Working Committee at the time were Subhas Chandra Bose (Sr. Founder President), S.S. Cavesheer (President), R.S. Ruikar (Vice-President), Sheel Bhadra Yagee (Vice-President), Hari Vishnu Kamath (general secretary), Mukundalal Sarkar (Secretary), Vishwanbhar Dayal Tripathi (Secretary), Prof. Bidesh Kulkarni (Secretary), Rajmannar Chity (Secretary), Satyanarayan Bajaj (Treasurer), Mian Akber Shah, Alim T. Gidwani, Lala Shankarlal, Ramgati Ganguly, Mathura Prasad Misra, Lila Roy, Harendra Nath Ghosh, Ashrafuddin Ahmad Chowdhury, A.M.A. Zaman, Satyanarayan Bakshim, Kusum Ranjan Chowdhury, Senapati M.P. Bapat, H.J. Khandekar, V.V. Subedar, Dr. S.G. Patwardhan, B.P. Bappaya, U. Muthuramalingam Thevar, R.A. Mandgi, Giridhar Thakkar, K.N. Joglekar, Ram Bhaw Nishel and Sardar Niranjan Singh Talib. Ghosh, Asok (ed.), A Short History of the All India Forward Bloc. Kolkata: Bengal Lokmat Printers Pvt Ltd., 2001. pp. 43–5.
  10. ^ Ghosh, Asok (ed.), A Short History of the All India Forward Bloc. Kolkata: Bengal Lokmat Printers Pvt Ltd., 2001. p. 45
  11. ^ Ghosh, Asok (ed.), A Short History of the All India Forward Bloc. Kolkata: Bengal Lokmat Printers Pvt Ltd., 2001. p. 55
  12. ^ H.K. Kamath, a Forward Bloc executive committee member and delegate in the Constituent Assembly, refused to go along with this order. He kept his seat in the Constituent Assembly and resigned from the party.
  13. ^ Bose, K.; Forward Bloc. Madras: 1988, Tamil Nadu Academy of Political Science. p. 85
  14. ^ Notably, the Forward Bloc faction led by Ruiker and Cavesheer was the last group in the West Bengal left to raise the slogan of a united Bengal. Ahead of the 1952 general election, the Ruiker-led Forward Bloc called for "a Bengali Union of Socialist Republics ... a people's state unifying all shades of difference and autonomy in a federal government."Communism and Regional Politics in East PakistanFranda, .
  15. ^ a b Ghosh, Asok (ed.), A Short History of the All India Forward Bloc. Kolkata: Bengal Lokmat Printers Pvt Ltd., 2001. p. 56.
  16. ^
  17. ^ Basu, Pradip Kumar; The Communist Movement in Tripura, Calcutta: Progressive Publishers, 1996. pp. 98, 100
  18. ^ Ghosh, Asok (ed.), A Short History of the All India Forward Bloc. Kolkata: Bengal Lokmat Printers Pvt Ltd., 2001. p. 57
  19. ^
  20. ^ Velayudham Nayar was the Forward Bloc candidate. His candidature was supported by the Swatantra Party, the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam and the Indian Union Muslim League. Nayar was defeated by the Congress candidate R.K. Dorai (brother of the Raja of Ramnad). Nayar got 131 281 votes, against 138 358 for Dorai. 2 independent candidates were also in the fray. [1]
  21. ^ Basu, Pradip Kumar; The Communist Movement in Tripura, Calcutta: Progressive Publishers, 1996. p. 124.
  22. ^ ECI
  23. ^ At the time, the AIFB members of the Tamil Nadu legislative assembly sat in the same legislative group as the Swatantra members. The leader of the Forward Bloc in Tamil Nadu, P.K. Mookiah Thevar, was considered as very close to the Swatantra leader C. Rajagopalachari. Moreover, Thevar was leading the Swatantra group in the assembly. Bose, K.; Forward Bloc. Madras: 1988, Tamil Nadu Academy of Political Science. pp. 163, 189, 193
  24. ^
  25. ^ a b c Now two poles emerged in Tamil politics. Congress(R) formed a 'Progressive Front' with Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam, Communist Party of India, Praja Socialist Party, Muslim League and Tamil Arasu Kazhagam in November 1970, ahead of the municipal elections. The Progressive Front would also contest the 1971 Lok Sabha and Tamil Nadu state legislative elections. The Swatantra Party and the Congress(O) formed a 'Democratic Front'. Bose, K.; Forward Bloc. Madras: 1988, Tamil Nadu Academy of Political Science. pp. 193–95
  26. ^ a b Bose, K.; Forward Bloc. Madras: 1988, Tamil Nadu Academy of Political Science. p. 196
  27. ^ Thevar got 208 431 votes (58.16%), defeating the Congress(O) candidate S. Balakrishnan. ECI Statistical Report 1971.
  28. ^ Dhote got 125 552 (37.09%). He was challenged by four other candidates, including A.B. Bardhan of the CPI who got around 10%. ECI Statistical Report 1971.
  29. ^ As mentioned the party won the Nagpur seat. Moreover it came second in the Ramtek (14.32%) and Yeotmal (44.69%, also with Dhote as the candidate) constituencies. ECI Statistical Report 1971.
  30. ^ The Hindu 16 March 2004.
  31. ^ Rediff 12 October 2006.
  32. ^ a b ECI.
  33. ^ ECI
  34. ^ After the elections, P.K. Mookiah Thevar decided to retain his Lok Sabha seat. Thus a by-election was held for the Usilampatti assembly seat. The Forward Bloc nominated its Tamil Nadu state secretary K. Kandaswamy who was challenged by S. Andi Thevar. Kandaswamy won with 36351 votes against 16362 for Thevar. By-election results, ECI.
  35. ^ ECI.
  36. ^ Mihir Kumar Ray won the Mekhliganj seat, Apurba Lal Majumdar in Bagdaha and Saral Deb in Barasat. ECI.
  37. ^ Man Mohan Paul of the AIFB stood in the Lumding constituency. He got 2403 votes (6.37%), trailing behind both CPI(M) and CPI candidates. The election was won by the Congress Party. Assam 1972, ECI.
  38. ^ In total the AIFB candidates in Bihar got 20 525 votes. Ghanshyam Mahto came second with 7560 votes (21.68%) in the Ichagarh constituency. Satya Narayan Yadav came fourth in Sarath with 6535 votes (17.44%), and Ramayan Singh came fourth in Bikram with 4662 votes (7.96%). ECI.
  39. ^ R.K. Haldulkar came third in the Chhindwara constituency with 2656 votes (8.99%). His party colleague Basantrao Shivajee got 875 votes (1.87%) in Pandhurna. ECI.
  40. ^ ECI
  41. ^ ECI
  42. ^ The front had been formed by CPI(M) and CPI on 2 November 1973. AIFB and the RSP joined the front on 14 November.
  43. ^ Basu, Pradip Kumar; The Communist Movement in Tripura, Calcutta: Progressive Publishers, 1996. pp. 146, 149.
  44. ^ Amrendranath Roy Pradhan won in Cooch Behar with 226 521 votes (64.69%), Chitta Basu won in Barasat with 203 694 votes (56.15%) and Chittaranjan Matara won in Purulia with 200 985 votes (68.33%). 1977 ECI.
  45. ^ K.K. Toofan of the Forward Bloc contested the Mahendragarh seat in Haryana. Toofan got 2444 votes (0.53%). Statistical Report 1977, ECI.
  46. ^ Basu, Pradip Kumar; The Communist Movement in Tripura, Calcutta: Progressive Publishers, 1996. pp. 156–57, ECI
  47. ^ SJP leader Ramsunder Das was chosen as the convenor of the front. A 13-member committee was formed to coordinate the political activities of the front. Tribune 28 August, 1999
  48. ^ L. Santhanam had argued that the party should take part in the election as an ally of All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (AIADMK). After his departure from the party, the AIADMK allotted one seat for him to contest in the election. Hindu 6 February 2006.
  49. ^ Telegraph India.
  50. ^ According to the national party leadership, Karthik had failed to turn up for Central Committee meetings and had generally acted on his own. Moreover he had been accused of nepotism by sections of the Tamil Nadu unit. Chennai, Kerala Global.
  51. ^ New Kerala.
  52. ^ Majumder, Benimadhab; The Legislative Opposition in Tripura, Agartala: Tripura State Tribal Cultural Research Institute & Museum, 1997. p. 19
  53. ^ Mohanta, Bijan. Tripura – In the light of socio-political movements since 1945. Kolkata: Progressive Publishers, 2004. p. 15
  54. ^ ECI
  55. ^ The Telegraph 26 July 2005.
  56. ^ Excelsior 14 February 2003.
  57. ^
  58. ^ ECI
  59. ^ The Hindu, 9 May 2006.
  60. ^ The Hindu, 19 July 2005.
  61. ^ The Hindu : Pro-AIADMK shift visible among Thevar youth. (23 April 2001). Retrieved on 6 December 2013.


It has also formed an "India – China Friendship Association".

Mass organisations

In Kerala, the party is working in all the fourteen districts. The party is seeking an entry into Kerala's Left Democratic Front. The party supported LDF in the last Assembly and Parliament elections. But in the local body election the party contested separately. The mass fronts of the party is also working in the state. V. Ram Mohan is the State general secretary. AIFB national Secretary G. Devarajan (politician) and chairman N. Velappan Nair are from Kerala.


South Indian film star Karthik (actor) was appointed as the Secretary of the Tamil Nadu state unit of the party. He led the party during its electoral campaign in 24 September 2006. Now V.S. Navamani as a CHAIRMAN announced by All India General secretary D.BISWAS.[61]

Tamil Nadu

In Andhra Pradesh the party had significant presence during the 1950s, but then declined sharply. In 2005 the party took an initiative to revive its Andhra Pradesh State Committee. A.K. Biswas became the secretary of the Andhra Pradesh State Committee. Other State Committee members includes G. Appa Rao, Malla Reddy, K. Narender, Konda Dayanand and D. Venkatesam. The party is opposed to the Congress-led state government.[59][60]

Andhra Pradesh

Southern India

In Legislative Elections to be held on October 15, 2014, AIFB is fielding a social activist Sagar Yadav from Gurgaon seat.

AIFB has a small state unit in Haryana. The chairman of Haryana state committee is Naveen Antil. In the 2005 election to the Haryana legislative assembly AIFB ran a single candidate, Mukhtiar Singh Kaushik in the Nilokheri constituency. Kaushik got 442 votes (0.44%).[58]


In the 2007 assembly election in Uttar Pradesh AIFB launched three candidate, Ram Lakhan in Bisalpur (732 votes, 0.51% of the votes in the constituency), Samar Singh in Fatehpur (870 votes, 0.69%) and Jabar Singh in Hastinapur (503 votes, 0.42%).[57]

In Uttar Pradesh the party had raising during the 1960-70s by Com. Rameshwar Dayal Sharma (Ex. State President) and Late Rajendra Kumar Tata (Ex. State Vice-President) of Western UP. Now Com. Shiv Narayan Singh Chauhan is the General Secretary of the Uttar Pradesh State Committee. Other members are Dr. Harish Kumar Gupta, Hasraj Akela Jatav, Netra Pal Sharma Advocate, anf Mohan Singh Rajput. National Vice-President Com. (Late) Dr. Amar Singh Kushwaha from Kanpur and Com. Sanjay Bhattacharya is National President of All India Youth League from Banaras.

Uttar Pradesh

Northern India

The Forward Bloc established its presence in Tripura in 1944, founded by Kamala Ranjan Talapatra. Bengali immigrants like Sailesh Sen, Gopi Ballav Saha, Dwijen Deu, Anil Dasgupta, Hiren Nandi and Sati Bhardwaz are the other active members of the party. They took part in various political campaigns. However, around 1955–1956 most of the founding core of the party in Tripura joined the RSP.[52][53] Today, AIFB is a member of the ruling Left Front coalition, but since they've failed to win any seat in the state legislative assembly they don't have any minister in that government. In the 2003 Tripura legislative election the Tripura State Committee president Brajagopal Roy contested the Town Borowali constituency on behalf of the Left Front. Roy got 9844 votes (43.57%), but was defeated by a Congress candidate.[54] The secretary of the Tripura State Committee of Shyamal Roy (who replaced the former state committee secretary Nisith Das).[55][56] The AIFB state unit publishes Tripura Bani.


The current general secretary of AIFB is Debabrata Biswas. N. Velappan Nair is the chairman of the party, Dr. Amar Singh Kushwaha the deputy chairman and Ashok Ghosh the financial secretary. Additional secretaries of the party are Subrata Bose (MP), Dr. Barun Mukherjee, G. Devarajan, Naren Dey, Hafiz Alam Sairani, Bir Singh Mahato, V.P. Saini, Shyamal Roy, G.R. Shivashankar.

AIFB has branches throughout the country, but the main strength of the party is concentrated in West Bengal. It is part of the Left Front government in there, and Forward Bloc has various ministers in the state government. Notably though AIFB is co-operating with CPI(M) in West Bengal, Tripura and on the national level, AIFB is not part of the Left Democratic Front in Kerala.

West Bengal

Eastern India

AIFB campaigns for socialism in India but they consider that their ideology differs from that of Communist Party of India (Marxist) (CPI(M)) and Communist Party of India (CPI), as they build their socialism on foreign ideologues as Karl Marx and Vladimir Lenin, whereas the socialism of AIFB is the Indian socialism of Subhas Chandra Bose.

Forward Bloc today

2014 election

Ahead of the 2006 West Bengal legislative election, a section of the party led by Jayanta Roy, former AIFB Rajya Sabha member, and Chhaya Ghosh, former West Bengal Minister of Agriculture, broke away and formed the Indian People's Forward Bloc. This party aligned itself with the Indian National Congress.

Just before the 2006 Tamil Nadu legislative election, the party was joined by the actor Karthik. Karthik was given the post of president of the Tamil Nadu state unit by the national party leadership and was put in charge of the election campaign of the party in the state. The party decided to contest a large number of seats without joining either of the two major political blocs in Tamil Nadu. The appointment of Karthik as the new leader of the state unit provoked the sole Forward Bloc legislator and secretary of the state unit, L. Santhanam to leave the party.[48][49] In the election the party lost its representation in the assembly. A few months later the party leadership expelled Karthik on the grounds of 'anti-party activities'.[50][51]

In the Lok Sabha elections 2004 the party received 0.4% of votes and three seats (All from West Bengal).

In 2002 AIFB was one of four leftwing parties that nominated Lakshmi Sehgal as a candidate for the presidency of India. Sehgal, who challenged the main candidate A.P.J. Abdul Kalam, got around 10% of the votes.

Ahead of the 2000 Bihar legislative election AIFB took part in building a front together with the Bharatiya Jan Congress, the Bihar Vikas Party, the Janata Dal, the Samajwadi Janata Party and the Nationalist Congress Party. The front vowed to maintain equidistance towards the two major blocs in Bihari politics, the Rashtriya Janata Dal and the National Democratic Alliance, condemning them as 'casteist and communal'.[47]

Recent history

In Tripura a Left Front was formed consisting of the CPI(M), RSP and the Forward Bloc. The Front launched one Forward Bloc candidate, Brajagopal Roy in the Town Bordowali constituency. Roy won the seat with 7800 votes (62.76%). In the beginning of 1978 the Left Front formed a majority government in the state, with Brajagopal Roy appointed minister in the state government.[46]

1977 was a crucial year in Indian political history. For the first time in independent India, the Congress Party was routed in a national election. The Forward Bloc had contested four seats in the Lok Sabha election. In West Bengal it had three candidates which were supported by the Left Front, out of whom all three were elected.[44] Moreover, the party contested one seat in Haryana.[45]

1977 elections

[43] The front demanded clear-cut policies for procurement and distribution of food grains, stop to sprilalling prices of essential commodities, a land reform legislation for [42] After having contested the 1972 elections on its own, the Forward Bloc decided to join a 'United Front' led by the communist parties in Tripura.

Realignment in Tripura

In the 1972 state legislative assembly election, the Forward Bloc presented one candidate in Assam,[37] 5 in Bihar[38] and 2 in Madhya Pradesh.[39] In Maharashtra the party contested 26 seats. Like in the 1971 Lok Sabha elections the party did well in the interior areas of the state. It won the Nagpur North and Yeotmal seats, and came second in several others. In total the AIFB candidates in Maharashtra got 363 547 votes (2.4% of the state-wide vote).[40] In West Bengal, were fresh elections to the state assembly were again held in 1972, the Forward Bloc launched 18 candidates. It got 331 244 votes (2.48% of the state-wide vote), but could not win a single seat.[41]

On 28 March 1972 the party was able to win a seat in the Tamil Nadu Legislative Council (the upper house of the regional parliament) for the first time. S. Sakthi Mohan, the editor of the regional party organ Kannagi, was elected with the votes of the AIFB, DMK, PSP, Muslim League and the Tamil Arasu Kazhagam.[26]

In the 1971 state legislative assembly election in Odisha, the party contested four seats. It got 8393 votes (0.19% of the state-wide vote), but was not close to winning any seat.[33] In Tamil Nadu the party contested 9 seats in the southern part of the state within the framework of the Progressive Front.[25] Out of these nine candidates, seven won. In total its vote stood at 268 721 (1.71% of the state-wide vote). One of its candidate came second and in the Mudukulathor constituency (that had been the centre of the violent 1957 Ramnad riots) the AIFB candidate R. Rathina Thevar came third with 17244 votes (31.02%). The most spectacular victory was that of P.K. Mookiah Thevar (who contested Lok Sabha and assembly elections simultaneously) who got 49292 votes (74.46%) in the Usilampatti constituency, defeating S. Andi Thevar of the Revolutionary Forward Bloc.[34][35] Lastly in West Bengal the party contested 52 constituencies, but could only win three seats. Its vote stood at 374 141 (2.90% of the state-wide vote).[36]

Moreover the party contested three seats in Bihar, one in Haryana, 1 in Madhya Pradesh, 4 in Uttar Pradesh and 1 in Delhi. In total the candidates of the party obtained 962 971 votes (0.66% of the national vote).[32]

In West Bengal the party contested 10 Lok Sabha seats. The party obtained some significant voting in constituencies like Cooch Behar (22.17%) and Birbhum (19.70%), but in general it was defeated by the CPI(M) candidates.[32]

In Tamil Nadu the party contested one seat, Ramanthapuram, with the support of its allies in the Progressive Front (most notably the Congress(R) and Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam). Meanwhile the Forward Bloc played an important role in securing Mukkulathor votes for its Progressive Front allies.[25]

In the 1971 Lok Sabha election, the Forward Bloc launched 24 candidates around the country. Two were elected, P.K. Mookiah Thevar from Ramanthapuram[27] and Jambuwantrao Dhote from Nagpur.[28] The party contested 3 seats in the interior of Maharashtra, were it performed well. Dhote, who was then known as Vidarbha ka Sher (the Lion of Vidarbha), had joined the Forward Bloc and campaigned for a separate Vidarbha state with the Forward Bloc as his platform. Dhote was hugely popular in the region at the time, and could draw crowds of hundreds of thousands to his meetings.[29][30][31]

On 20 February, just ahead of the 1971 general elections, the All India Forward Bloc chairman Hemantha Kumar Bose was murdered in Calcutta. An emergency central committee meeting was held on 24 February, which appointed P.K. Mookiah Thevar as the new chairman of the party.[26]

1971–72 elections

In 1969 a major split in the Indian National Congress. Indira Gandhi had entered into open conflict with the traditional Congress leadership. Effectively two separate Congress parties appeared, the Congress(R) led by Indira and the Congress(O) led by Kamaraj. The split was in many ways a left-right one, with Indira whipping up populism against the established party elites. The Forward Bloc did in some ways welcome the new developments. It appreciated Indira's stands and reformulated its anti-Congress line to focus mainly opposition to the traditional Congress elite (i.e. the Congress(O)). In the 1969 presidential elections, AIFB supported Indira's candidate V.V. Giri. This caused an abrupt break-up of the Swatantra-AIFB alliance in Tamil Nadu, as the Swatantra Party sought to align itself with the Congress(O).[25]

Split in the Indian National Congress

In July 1969, violent clashes erupted in West Dinajpur district, West Bengal, between peasants aligned with the of Communist Party of India (Marxist) and East Pakistani refugee cultivators, who supported the Forward Bloc. CPI(M) leader Hare Krishna Konar characterised the events as a degeneration of the agrarian struggles in rural West Bengal.[24]

West Dinajpur clashes

In 1968 two influential party leaders in Tamil Nadu Velayudham Nayar (then a central committee member of the party) and S. Andi Thevar broke away from AIFB and founded the Revolutionary Forward Bloc. Nayar and Thevar accused the Forward Bloc of having deviated from its socialist principles through its co-operation with the rightwing Swatantra Party.[23]

1968 split in Tamil Nadu

In 1965 the party joined a 'Progressive Front' in Tripura. The front consisted of the Communist Party of India, Communist Party of India, the Forward Bloc and a break-away faction of the Socialist Party. The front demanded nationwide land reforms, strengthening of the national defence, withdrawal from the Commonwealth, nationalisation of foreign capital, a rational food policy, release of all political prisoners and scrapping of the Indo-American agreement of food supply. Existence of the new front was declared at a meeting in Agartala on 17 November. Mass rallies of the front were held in Belonia on 28 November and then in Birchandra Bazar (near Belonia) on 1 December.[21] The front did not last, though, as in the 1967 election the communist parties aligned with a splinter group of the Congress Party. The Forward Bloc did not present any candidates in that election.[22]

Progressive Front in Tripura

A by-election for the Aruppukottai Lok Sabha constituency seat vacated by U. Muthuramalingam Thevar's death was held in 1964, in which the Forward Bloc was defeated for the first time.[20]

The party stalwart in Tamil Nadu, U. Muthuramalingam Thevar, died on 30 October 1963. Following his death a power-struggle began between two of his disciples, Sasivarna Thevar and P.K. Mookiah Thevar. Mookiah Thevar emerged victorious and Sasivarna Thevar left to form his own party, the Subhasist Forward Bloc.

Death of U.M. Thevar

In 1964 a unity process was initiated by the Praja Socialist Party, which eventually resulted in the formation of the Samyukta Socialist Party. The Forward Bloc was invited to join the new party, and the Delhi unit of the party did take part in a joint socialist anti-Nehru campaign conference in April 1964.[19] However, the party did not merge into the SSP.

Socialist unity

Following the 1955 split the party would enjoy a relatively long period without any major splits.

In 1955 the Indian National Congress adopted socialism as its policy. Thus leaders like Yagee and Singh then proposed that as the Congress had become a socialist party, the Forward Bloc ought to merge with it. Singh and Yagee, without consulting the Central Committee nor the party membership, declared the unification of the Forward Bloc into the Congress. Many sections of the party disagreed with this move, and a Central Committee meeting was held in Nagpur 11–15 May. The Central Committee decided to expel Singh and Yagee. Hemanta Kumar Bose was elected as the new chairman and R.K. Haldulkar as general secretary.[18] This team would continue in their posts until Bose's murder in 1971. U. Muthuramalingam Thevar from Tamil Nadu was elected as deputy chairman of the party.

Expulsion of Yagee and Singh

In 1953 a group of party leaders from West Bengal, like Amar Bose, Satyapriya Banerjee and Suhurit Chaudhury, were expelled for breaking party discipline. The expellees formed the Marxist Forward Bloc.

The 5th party conference (a 4th party plenum had been held in Ingota, U.P. in 1949) was held in Puri, Odisha on 28–31 December 1952. Mohan Singh was elected chairman and Dhillon as general secretary.[15]

In Tripura a united front was formed by the Communist Party of India, Tripura Ganatantrik Sangha, Ganamukti Parishad, Ganatantrik Nari Samiti and independents to contest the election to the Tripura electoral college (whose function was to appoint a Rajya Sabha delegate from Tripura) jointly. The Forward Bloc participated in mass rallies on 2 October and 2 December 1951. However, just before the election the Forward Bloc withdrew from the front and decided to contest three of the 30 seats on their own. None of the Forward Bloc candidates were elected.[17]

In the 1952 general election the party contested as 'Forward Bloc (Marxist)', a denomination that differentiated it from the rump 'Forward Bloc (Ruiker)'.

1952 elections

The Yajee-led party did however survive Joglekar's departure. Yagee was able to push through a merger between the Forward Bloc and the Desh Sevak Party, led by INA officers General Mohan Singh and Colonel Gurbaksh Singh Dhillon, in October 1949. Both had worked closely with Subhas Chandra Bose. They had both been amongst the accused in the Red Fort trials. Now, Mohan Singh was appointed chairman of the Forward Bloc and Dhillon was appointed as its general secretary. This merger gave a considerable moral boost to the party. In June 1951 the majority of the Ruiker-led Forward Bloc reunified with the party. A joint central committee meeting was held on 23 June, which confirmed the merger of the two parties. Mohan Singh and Dhillon were re-elected as the party chairman and general secretary.

The same year Yajee's party decided to join the Sarat Chandra Bose. Joglekar revolted against this decision. His followers, which were found in West Bengal, Bihar, Maharashtra and Uttar Pradesh, rallied to form the Forward Communist Party.

Roughly speaking the Yajee's party had its main base in Bihar, Punjab and West Bengal, whereas the Ruiker-led group had its strongholds in Madhya Pradesh and West Bengal.[16]

The split was now a fact. The 'Subhasist' group, led by Ruiker and Cavesheer, called for a conference in Chandranagar, Forward Bloc led by Ruiker and the Forward Bloc led by Yajee. Yajee was elected general secretary and K. N. Joglekar, chairman of the Yajee-led group.[15] Notably, the Yajee-led group adopted a red flag with a leaping tiger and a hammer and sickle.

Following Independence and Partition, the party national council met in Varanasi February 1948. The national council meeting was also preceded by a decision of the Indian National Congress in the beginning of the year to expel all dissenting tendencies within the Congress, including the Forward Bloc. Thus the party decided to renounce any links with the Congress once and for all, and reconstruct itself as an independent opposition party.[13] Moreover, it passed a resolution that the party be divided into a Forward Bloc for India and a Forward Bloc for the new nation of Pakistan. This would soon prove to be very controversial. The general secretary Yagee did, in line with the Varanasi resolution, dissolve the Bengal committee of the Forward Bloc and set-up ad hoc committees for West Bengal and East Bengal. Now the division between 'Marxists' and 'Subhasists' resurfaced. The 'Subhasists', and S. S. Cavesheer in particular, criticised Yajee's actions.[14] Yagee resigned from the post of general secretary.

Split between Yajee and Ruikar

The Bloc held its 2nd All India Conference in Arrah, Bihar on 12–14 January 1947. S.S. Cavesheer (a leading member of the Subhasist sector) was elected president and Sheel Bhadra Yagee (a leading member of the Marxist sector) was elected general secretary.[11] The party took the name 'All India Forward Bloc'. The conference denounced the understanding between the Congress and the British government for the Independence of India, and called upon the Forward Bloc members present in the Constituent Assembly to withdraw from it.[12] Subsequently, a national council was held in Bauria, West Bengal, which reaffirmed the demand of boycotting the Constituent Assembly as well as issuing a decree that Bloc members of state legislatures would resign.

Arrah conference

However, the Bloc was clearly divided along ideological lines. One section was influenced by Marxism whereas the other upheld 'Subhasism', a syncretic ideology consisting of socialism, nationalism and Indian spiritualism.

Elections to the Constituent Assembly and to provincial legislatures were held in December 1946. The Forward Bloc contested the elections. H.V. Kamath won a seat in the Constituent Assembly and Jyotish Chandra Ghosh, Hemantha Kumar Basu and Lila Roy were elected to the Bengal Legislative Assembly.[10]

The Ahead of the 1946 assembly elections the ban on the Bloc was lifted in June that year. The Working Committee of the Forward Bloc met on 10 June.[9]

At the end of the war, the Forward Bloc was reorganised. In February 1946 Jabalpur, Madhya Pradesh. The conference declared the formation of the 'FB Workers Assembly', in practice the legal cover of the still illegal Forward Bloc. Notably some leading communists from Bombay, like K.N. Joglekar and Soli Batliwalli, joined the 'FB Workers Assembly'. The Workers Assembly conference declared that the "Forward Bloc is a Socialist Party, accepting the theory of class struggle in its fullest implications and a programme of revolutionary mass action for the attainment of Socialism leading to a Classless Society."[8]

Post-war reorganisation


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