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This article was first published 2 years ago  » News » Bhagat Singh's Advice For Bhagwant Mann

Bhagat Singh's Advice For Bhagwant Mann

March 16, 2022 17:24 IST
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As Bhagwant Mann repeatedly invokes Bhagat Singh in his speeches, Utkarsh Mishra picks five takeaways from the legendary revolutionary's thoughts that may help Punjab's new chief minister identify his goals.

IMAGE: Bhagwant Mann takes oath as Punjab chief minister at Khatkar Kalan, the birthplace of Shaheed Bhagat Singh, in Nawanshahr near Jalandhar, March 16, 2022. Photograph: PTI Photo

In a symbolic gesture, the Aam Aadmi Party's Bhagwant Mann took the oath of office as Punjab chief minister at Khatkar Kalan, the ancestral village of Bhagat Singh.

Mann said the whole state has taken oath 'to fulfil the dreams of Shaheed Bhagat Singh and Babasaheb (Dr B R Ambedkar)'.

Hoping that these are not merely some sugary words of a politician, and that he actually wants to work in the direction of 'fulfilling the dreams of Bhagat Singh', here are some excerpts from Bhagat Singh's writings that could guide Mann along his path.


1. Religion and politics

Sacrilege has been a big issue in Punjab over the years. It was one of the reasons why then Punjab Congress chief Navjot Singh Sidhu raised a banner of revolt against then chief minister Captain Amarinder Singh. During his election campaign in various states, AAP national convenor Arvind Kejriwal had promised free trips to several religious shrines. It is in this light that Mann must understand what Bhagat Singh thought about religion:

'Religion stands before us like a mountain... why should we not rid ourselves of this entire problem? If religion is separated from politics, then we can all come together in politics, even if we belong to different religions.'

'I have been convinced as to the non-existence of a conscious supreme being who is guiding and directing the movements of nature. We believe in nature and the whole progressive movement aims at the domination of man over nature for his service. There is no conscious power behind it to direct. This is what our philosophy is.'

2. What the youth of Punjab need

Bhagat Singh wrote extensively about what the youth of India needs to do. He often lamented that the youth of Punjab don't have good literature to read to improve their worldview. Today, when drug abuse has become a major problem for the youth of Punjab, Bhagat Singh's advice of providing them a mental stimulus needs to be followed.

'An attempt is being made today to make idiots out of the youth who will hold the reins of the country in the future... We agree that the main purpose for a student is to gain education... but is it not a part of education to develop the capacity to reflect upon the conditions in the country and think of ways to improve it?... At this point in time, Punjab is in dire need of mental stimulus.'

3. What Bhagat Singh would have done after getting power

What kind of government would Bhagat Singh have made? Stating that the revolutionary party following his ideas 'must spread the word of equality and egalitarianism', Bhagat Singh writes:

'We will have to give strength to the weak, freedom to the slaves, education to the illiterate, a ray of hope to the despairing, food to the hungry, homes to the homeless...'

Among the notes he took in his jail dairy, Bhagat Singh wrote down this quote by 'Earl of Balfour' under the title 'Definition of a Good Government':

'We are convinced that there is only one form of Government, whatever it may be called, namely, where the ultimate control is in the hands of the people.'

The result of Punjab elections makes one thing clear that no one should take their victory in the state for granted. As Bhagat Singh wrote in one of his articles:

'One should keep in mind that Punjab has always been a very emotional region. People become enthused very quickly and fall flat like froth equally swiftly.'

4. Revolution

Reacting to the Punjab mandate, Kejriwal called it a 'revolution' that will 'spread in the whole country'. Beyond the rhetorical use of the word, it's pertinent to mention what Bhagat Singh understood by 'revolution':

'Revolution does not necessarily involve sanguinary strife, nor is there any place in it for individual vendetta... By revolution we mean that the present order of things, which is based on manifest injustice, must change. By revolution we mean the ultimate establishment of an order of societ... in which the sovereignty of the proletariat should be recognised.'

'Revolution necessarily implies the programme of systematic reconstruction of society on new and better adapted basis, after complete destruction of the existing state of affairs... Revolution means the complete overthrow of the existing order and its replacement with socialist order.'

5. How to work to achieve the revolutionary goal

'Crush your individuality first. Shake off the dreams of personal comfort. Then start to work. Inch by inch you shall have to proceed. It needs courage, perseverance and very strong determination. No difficulties and no hardships shall discourage you. No failure and betrayals shall snuff out the revolutionary will in you. Through the ordeal of sufferings and sacrifice you shall come out victorious.'

Note: All references to Bhagat Singh's articles and statements are kind courtesy Chaman Lal's Bhagat Singh: A Reader, published by Harper Collins India.

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