Socialists have always cautioned about ‘imminent and long-standing threat from Chinese’

Mulayam Singh Yadav (left) and George Fernandes. File   | Photo Credit: The Hindu

Soon after the news of the violent clash in East Ladakh had hit the airwaves, former Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav tweeted portions of a speech by his father, also former Chief Minister, Mulayam Singh Yadav in the Lok Sabha about the imminent and long-standing threat from the Chinese. The tweeted portions were then followed, by other handles, of interviews by then Defence Minister in the Vajpayee government George Fernandes, who made no bones about the fact that he considered China the biggest threat to our security architecture.

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Both the leaders belong to the political clan of socialists, who maintain that they have remained the holdout hawks on China, through much of independent India’s history.

Shivanand Tiwari, who announced his retirement from politics last April after serving as vice-president of the Rashtriya Janata Dal, told The Hindu that it was in fact socialist leader and ideologue Ram Manohar Lohia who first crystallised this position especially through the Himalaya Bachao Andolan, that combined the social, political and ecological preservation of the areas and communities that lived cheek by jowl with the Himalayas. “He was a staunch supporter of the Tibetan cause, the Himalaya Bachao Andolan touched upon all the countries like Nepal, Bhutan and at that time Sikkim [not yet a part of India] in its imagination and yes, the Indo-China war of 1962 also had a strong influence on him,” said Mr Tiwari.

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Late author Mastram Kapoor who published, in nine volumes, the collected works of Lohia, recalls several instances of this imagination. “When China grabbed Tibet, Lohia declared it an infanticide. Late in 1962, in view of China’s attack on India, Lohia declared his Himalaya Policy, which aimed at establishing intimate relations with the people of Kashmir, Nepal [with whom the Indian socialists still have the best of terms], Bhutan, Sikkim and other northeastern regions to strengthen the northern borders,” Kapoor writes in the Collected Works of Dr Rammanohar Lohia: I.

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“He gave a call to ‘Save the Himalayas’ and called a conference which was also attended by former President Rajendra Prasad. Lohia said in his speech the Himalaya was no longer our protector, it needed our protection. The aim of the Save the Himalayas movement was specified as preparing for a long-term plan for strengthening the long Himalayan border from Kashmir to Urvasiam [his name for Arunachal Pradesh] and working to implement the plan.”

For most of India’s independent history, socialists have remained out of power at the Centre but even in the Vajpayee government, George Fernandes retained the hawkishness towards China. It is now a matter of conjecture whether Lohia’s plans were workable or not, but there is some verity to his views now.

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Printable version | Mar 3, 2021 8:26:22 AM |

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