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Marxist theories do not make history: Kerala historian

D Jose in Thiruvananthapuram

The Communists did a 'somersault' on the Quit India movement, the Punnapra Vayalar struggle was an 'unwanted adventure', and the Kayyur uprising is nothing to crave about.

That is the latest on the history-writing controversy which the Kerala government has landed itself in.

The revelations are part of historian Professor A Sreedhara Menon's soon-to-be published book, authored on a state government commission.

The E K Nayanar government had decided it would be a nice touch to get the history of the state's formation recorded in the 50th year of Indian Independence -- and assigned Menon the job. However, they were not happy with Professor Menon's finished work and had wanted him to rewrite the book, in consultation with Communist Party of India-Marxist veteran E M S Namboodiripad.

To which Menon had said a firm no, and walked out with his manuscript.

The book, now being published by the author himself, says the Communists initially supported the Quit India movement, but reversed their stance when (then) Soviet Union entered World War II. This, the historian claims, had sent confusing signals in Kerala and was the reason for its failure to become a mass movement there.

Professor Menon also believes the Punnappra Vayalar struggle had no bearing on the freedom movement (as the Communists claim). While the uprising had taken place in October 1946, the country got its freedom on September 2 when an interim government under Jawaharlal Nehru was installed in New Delhi. "It is difficult to take August 14, 1947 as the crucial date since all but legal formalities were completed before that," he says.

The historian is noncommittal about the uprising, which the Communists see as part of the freedom struggle.

Earlier, Namboodiripad had claimed that Professor Menon walked out because he was not ready to acknowledge the role these uprisings played in the Independance struggle.

"These are Marxist theories -- not facts," says Professor Menon."It is not an objective historian's job to collect facts to suit theories. A true historian is a judge and not a lawyer... politicians can act only as lawyers."

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