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The Socialist Opposition in Nehruvian India 1947–1964

Boris Niclas-Tölle

This book examines the political and developmental thought of the democratic socialist opposition party of India during the 1940s, 1950s and 1960s. It thereby contributes to a modern global history of political ideas and examines the role of Marxism, Gandhi and modernisation theory for the political development of India during the Cold War. The study focuses on the modernisation policies implemented by the Nehru government: Increasingly facing competing claims from Nehru to be pursuing socialist policies after the mid-1950s, the movement eventually broke apart and large numbers of socialists were assimilated by the Congress Party where they continued to shape Indian politics.
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2. The Socialist Movement before 1947


2.1 Introduction

In this chapter, I describe the formation of a socialist party within the National Congress before 1947. Therein, I consciously neglect a deeper discussion of significant events in the history of India’s independence movement40 in order to focus on the emergence of socialist ideas in Indian politics. The chapter thus provides an introductory perspective on the socialist movement which is necessary to understand its situation after 1947. After a short description of the establishment of the Congress Socialist Party (CSP) in 1934, I introduce six founding members of the CSP to illustrate their societal backgrounds and individual motives for their participation in the socialist movement. This focus on the party’s leadership personnel can be justified by the high relevance of individual authority in the organisation.

Narendra Deva, Jayprakash Narayan, Asoka Mehta and Ram Manohar Lohia are obvious choices in this regard since they became the most eminent socialist party leaders after 1947. I further introduce Kamaladevi Chattopadhyaya and Surendranath Dwivedy in this section to include an overview of two representatives of “second-line personnel” of the party. The choice to highlight them in particular is somewhat motivated by my personal impression that their biographies fruitfully complement the other biographies by adding new aspects from a more subordinate perspective. Additionally, in the case of Surendranath Dwivedy, this thesis regularly draws on his vividly written autobiography which, in its conciseness, is an abundant history of the ← 35 | 36 → socialist movement itself. Introducing him is to...

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