In the mid-1930s, Congress Socialists sought to alter the ideological orientation of the Indian National Congress. They launched an extensive campaign to radicalize Congress programs, thereby attempting to guide both Congress leaders and the organization’s rank-and-file towards a comprehensive social reorganization of the country. As members of a Marxist party within the national movement, Congress Socialists drew very deliberate inspiration from the deliberations of the World Congresses of the Communist International. This paper highlights some of the broad-stroke viewpoints articulated by delegates to the Communist International, by Congress Socialist theses and by Jayaprakash Narayan, the party’s General Secretary and primary ideologue. Comparison of these two components of broader Marxist ideological trends suggests that the definitions that were articulated by Comintern theoreticians and that were mirrored in Congress Socialist doctrine proved too rigid for any seamless application to Indian conditions. Congress Socialist definitions constrained the party’s ability to achieve its goals.
Dr. William F. Kuracina is Assistant Professor of History at Texas A&M University–Commerce and a Fulbright–Nehru scholar. He has published a research monograph, The State and Governance in India: The Congress Ideal, (London, 2010), and articles in Modern Asian Studies and Journal of Asian and African Studies. Over a five-year period, he has drafted three monograph-length pieces examining interactions between the Congress Socialist Party and the Indian National Congress. His current research project is a detailed examination of Congress Socialism. This paper draws from his ongoing and current research.