Forward Bloc

Forward Bloc a political party set up by subhas chandra bose. On his resignation from the Congress presidentship, he formed it in 1939 as a radical faction within the framework of the Congress. He declared that the object behind the formation of the new party was 'to rally all radical and anti-imperialist progressive elements in the country on the basis of a minimum programme representing the greatest common measure of agreement among radicals of all shades of opinion'. He, however, hoped that all radicals ie socialists, communists and Kisan Sabhaits etc would respond to his call.

The first All-India Forward Bloc conference was held in Bombay in July 1939. The conference approved the formation of a 'Left Consolidation Committee'. In July 1939 Subhas Bose announced the Committee of the Forward Bloc. It included: Subhas Bose, president; Sardul Singh Caveeshar (Punjab), vice-president; Lal Shankarlal (Delhi), general secretary; Pandit B Tripathi and KF Nariman (Bombay), secretaries. Other prominent members were Annapurniah (Andhra Pradesh), and Senapati Bapat, and HV Kamnath (Bombay). Satya Ranjan Bakshi, one of the trusted confidants of Subhas Bose, was appointed secretary of the Bengal Provincial Forward Bloc.

In early August 1939, the Forward Bloc began publishing its mouthpiece- Forward Bloc. Subhas Bose wrote its editorials regularly. He toured throughout India and called upon the people, particularly the young, to join him in his fight against all the reactionary forces of imperialism and within the nationalist platform.

Some left-leaning Congress leaders were highly critical of the steps taken by Subhas. Jawaharlal Nehru branded the Forward Bloc as an evil. JP Narayan was opposed to the formation of factions in the Congress. He urged upon the socialists to march shoulder to shoulder in common fight against the British. S Satyamurti, a member of the Central Legislative Assembly, observed that the Forward Bloc was not helping the movement against the British imperialism; rather it was helping the enemies of the Congress and of India.

In March 1940 Subhas Bose arranged an 'Anti-Compromise Conference' at Ramgarh, Bihar. It was convened under the joint auspices of the Forward Bloc and the Kisan Sabha. It was resolved in the conference that a worldwide struggle should be initiated in April 1940 urging upon the people not to co-operate the British during the War either with men, money or materials. The conference further resolved to oppose stubbornly the exploitation of Indian resources for preserving the interests of the British empire. The Indian people took part spontaneously in large number in the struggle launched throughout the country by the Forward Bloc.

The second session of the All India Forward Bloc was held in June 1940 at Nagpur. At this session the stand of the 'Anti Compromise Conference' of Ramgarh was reiterated. The Forward Bloc came forward with a demand for the formation of a Provisional National Government in India without delay. In 1941 after Subhas Bose's disappearance from his home in Calcutta where he was kept under house arrest, the Government of India imposed restrictions upon the Forward Bloc. The leaders and workers of the party took part in the quit india movement led by MK Gandhi and many of them courted arrest. At the end of the War, the restriction upon the Forward Bloc was lifted. The Working Committee of the party thereafter took decision to continue relentless struggle to put and end to the colonial rule in India. The Forward Bloc was opposed to the 3 June (1947) plan for the partition of India. The Bengal chapter of the Forward Bloc responded favourably to H.S. Suhrawardy's United Independent Bengal Plan, but the plan finally fell out and Bengal was partitioned according to radcliffe award. [Chitta Ranjan Misra]