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    Real Strategy Requires Cunning

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I feel sorry for Mahadev, always having to bring the latest news out of breath to Gandhi. Never having or been given a break it seems...
 

stnylan

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If I were serving Gandhi at times I think I would become incredibly irate at his apparent mild manners to almost everything.
 

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I feel sorry for Mahadev, always having to bring the latest news out of breath to Gandhi. Never having or been given a break it seems...
Well, he did get time off to visit his aunt :p And there's a lot of time in between the scenes where he could be relaxing for all we know.
If I were serving Gandhi at times I think I would become incredibly irate at his apparent mild manners to almost everything.
Gandhi, in my mind, is the embodyment of stoïcism. His time in Britain certainly has accustomed him with the British stiff upper lip.
 
Chapter III: The Mahatma and the General

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Chapter III: The Mahatma and the General
16th of August – 31st of December 1936

16th of August, just before sunrise.

General Lakshmi Saghal was moved profoundly by Madame Cama’s funeral yesterday. Gandhi’s words had made her rethink the choices she had made in her life. Her entire military career had been at the side of Field Marshall Bose. Until yesterday, there was no doubt that her loyalty was with him. But now, she started doubting every word the Field Marshall had ever said to her. Was it all a big lie to get her to his side? Was the Field Marshall preparing for a devastating civil war in case Gandhi won the upcoming presidential election? If that was the case, then Lakshmi had to tell Gandhi about this. That’s why just before sunrise on the 16th of August, the young female general of the Commune army stood at Mahadev Desai’s door. When Mahadev opened the door, he was scared at first. Was this the day Bose sent someone to get rid of him in order to get to Gandhi? Lakshmi pushed Mahadev inside and started talking: “Your name is Mahadev Desai, right? Gandhi’s secretary? I have an important message for your employer. It is a matter of life and death.” “And why would I believe you?” Mahadev asked. “Look, we don’t have time for this. I must inform the Mahatma of what is happening in the army”, General Saghal said. “Tell me, I’ll pass it on to my employer if I deem it worthy enough”, Mahadev replied. “Fine, that’s what I was counting on. Field Marshall Bose is preparing for a civil war. If he doesn’t get the support of the Indian National Congress in the upcoming elections, he will start one. Gandhi must be prepared. I’m afraid he stands no chance if he pursues his peaceful way. Mahadev, I know you are concerned with his safety all the time. Listen to me, you know I speak the truth”, Lakshmi said. “Alright, you have my attention,” Mahadev replied, “What more can you tell my about Bose’s plans?” “He’s collecting a massive amount of weapons at the border with the Dominion. He plans to incite his rebellion there. At his current strength, he has half of the Commune’s army behind him. But I know how to decrease those number”, General Saghal said. “Tell me, how do you plan to do that?” Mahadev asked, slightly worried about what this revelation meant for the Commune. “Most of the soldiers don’t want a civil war, it’s mostly the generals loyal to Bose who want to keep you from getting to power. What we need to do is station our most valuable and loyal troops in defensive positions and put a general in command who is loyal to Gandhi”, the General said with a subtle tone in her voice. Mahadev picked up on the subtlety and replied: “I assume that you refer to yourself when talking about this loyal general.” “At the moment, I’m the only general Gandhi can trust. None of the others have to you to talk about this, have they? Think about that, I’m the only one”, Saghal said. “I’ll think about it, and I’ll let the Mahatma know about this. He’ll be the better judge for this”, Mahadev said, while leading the General back out the door of his house.

16th of August, around noon.

Mahadev was still a bit shaky after what had happened in the morning. But nevertheless, Gandhi had to be informed, even if the General was lying, or worse, sent by Bose himself. The Mahatma was spinning some cloth on his porch when his secretary arrived at his residence. “It’s time I had some new clothes, isn’t it?” the Mahatma asked, “I mean, a little bit of change can’t be that bad, can it?” Mahadev ignored Gandhi’s question and went straight to business: “Bapu, something has come to my attention. Early this morning General Saghal payed me a visit. She has shared with me some information that, if true, is quite troubling.” Gandhi had stopped spinning by now and was paying full attention to his secretary: “Mahadev, I’m listening. What could be so troubling that you’re shaking all over?” Mahadev hadn’t even realized that he was doing that and said: “According to the General, Field Marshall Bose is preparing for a rebellion in case you win the presidency. She talked about a massive amount of weapons being stored at the border.” Gandhi’s eyes turned towards the courtyard, where children were playing some kind of game. “We must not allow the Commune to be torn apart by civil war. Did the General give any reason why she shared this with you?” Gandhi asked. “She said she can prevent Bose from getting too strong. She estimates that currently half of the forces are in his control. If she could take personal command of the troops, she promises to half Bose’s numbers and giving us the upper hand”, Mahadev explained. “And why would we do that?” Gandhi asked. “She said that she is the only general you can trust”, Mahadev replied. Gandhi thought for a moment, going through everything he knew about the young female general. “If what she says is true, she has risked her own career by coming to you. Bose would certainly get her killed if he found out. If she’s telling the truth, she must be really scared right now. I will have her followed to see if her behaviour corresponds with someone who is scared. Then I will make my decision”, Gandhi said. Mahadev agreed that this was the best way to move forward and left Gandhi and his spinning wheel to make the arrangements.



7th of September, late in the evening.

Gandhi, accompanied by his secretary Mahadev Desai and his friend Rabindranath Tagore, stood at the door of General Lakshmi Saghal. The past few weeks, the Mahatma’s loyal eyes and ears on the street had followed her, gathering information on her behaviour. She had no meetings with Bose outside of the usual military schedule and she regularly asked for reports on the western border behind Bose’s back. Gandhi and Tagore deemed this behaviour as proof of her truthfulness. So one day, Mahadev decided to arrange a meeting between the Mahatma and the General. The Mahatma insisted that Tagore and Mahadev come along. That brought them to this moment. Mahadev was a bit nervous, remembering his last encounter with the General. The Mahatma was his usual self, calm and confident. Tagore was lost in thoughts, probably thinking about a poetic way to introduce himself to the General. Lakshmi let the three men enter into her reasonably sized house. She made some tea and started talking business: “Mahatma, I am honoured with your presence. Your speech at Madame Cama’s funeral touched something in me. I started doubting Bose’s every word. Just after the funeral, I checked the logistics of the Commune’s army and they didn’t make sense. Weapons were disappearing from the record. At that moment I realized that Bose was preparing for a coup or a rebellion of some kind. I had to inform you of this and that is why I went to visit Mahadev the next day.” “Tell me General, how do you propose to halt Bose’s plan?” Tagore asked. “Bose’s strength is based on how many soldiers are willing to die for his cause. Our strength will be based on how many soldiers are not willing to die in a civil war and how many soldiers are willing to defend the ideals of the Mahatma with their lives. If you think about it, we actually have the numeral advantage. The problem is that currently, many soldiers are under Bose’s direct command. They would rather follow his commands than be court-martialled. But once you are President, Mahatma, you can remove him from his position and put someone there that can convince enough soldiers not to join Bose.” “And of course you are referring to yourself”, Tagore assumed. “It would only be fair to give the General this position after what she has risked to help us”, the Mahatma said. “Are you sure about this?” Tagore asked Gandhi. “Mahadev was right about bringing this issue to me. A warned man is worth two. Now, we should not ask ourselves whether General Saghal should lead the Commune’s forces or not. We should rather seek a way to reduce casualties in this upcoming war as much as possible. The less lives are lost, the more believable our cause of non-violence is to the rest of the world”, Gandhi replied. “I agree with the Mahatma. If we trust you, General Saghal, you must promise us that you will see to a minimal amount of casualties in the coming conflict”, Mahadev said. The General, the Mahatma, the Poet and the Secretary continued to discuss how to act in the face of rebellion. In the end it was decided; the General would lead under the banner of non-violence and effectively halt Bose’s uprising before it had even started.

3rd of October, in the evening.

“So is it true then? Is the war over?” Gandhi asked Mahadev, referring to the conflict in China. A month ago, one would think that the Ma Clique was lost, driven back to the most southern area of the Gobi Desert. Their supplies would not have lasted any longer in the hostile environment. But on the 10th of September, Qing China chose to intervene on behalf of the Ma Clique. The Emperor of China was supported by Russia, a strong sign to both Mongolia and Tibet that no-one had the right to redraw borders in East Asia without asking either Russia or China. Soon, it became obvious to Mongolia that they were outflanked by the Chinese army. In a matter of days, the Great Khan sounded the retreat. With pressure being relieved in the north, the Ma Clique could now focus all its manpower against Tibet, and soon, they were fighting at the foot of the Himalayas. The Great Khan knew he could no longer win this war. Qing China simply had way more access to goods and military equipment than Mongolia and Tibet combined. “Yes, it’s true,” Mahadev answered, “I’ve received a telegram from our ambassador in the Legation Cities. He informs me that China has entered a cease-fire with Mongolia and Tibet. At the same time, our spies across the Himalaya’s have told the National Congress that China will probably annex the Ma Clique soon.” “It was to be expected,” the Mahatma said, “The return of the Qing dynasty is indissolubly connected to the waning power of the Germans in the region. I expect that Japan will soon challenge the Qing for control in the region. I do hope that whatever happens in the region will not affect India too much. International instability is the last thing we need. Now if you’ll excuse me, my friend, I must prepare myself to bath in the holy Ganges river.” “At this time? A bit unusual isn’t it?” Mahadev asked. “It’s always calm at this time of the day. It helps me clearing my mind”, Gandhi said. As Gandhi left, so did Mahadev, off to resume working on Gandhi’s election campaign.


Qing China after the Mongolia-Tibet-Ma Clique War, due to interference by Japan, Qing China wasn’t able to demand Inner Mongolia, previously Chinese territory.

7th of October, in the afternoon.

Mahadev and Gandhi went to visit Tagore once again. Apart from discussing Bose’s coming uprising, the Mahatma, the Poet and the Secretary discussed the politics of the Dominion. The way Jinnah’s social democrats handled the Indian economy would impact how a unified India would handle its economy once East and West were united. Black Monday didn’t impact India directly, but that didn’t take away the fact that the effects could be felt on export sales and that the Indian economy was already a mess. Today, a broad coalition of social democrats and social liberals implemented the Indian Economy Act, turning the Dominion into a single market. After Mahadev explained the outlines of the Act, the Mahatma shared his vision: “I have doubts about the benefits of a uniformed economic legislation. After all, the local needs must dictate the economy, not the international fluctuations of capitalism.” Tagore was more in favour of the Act: “I can imagine that the establishment of government offices to review the state of the economy will also benefit the local level, if of course they are put to good use. If these government offices are used to impose national legislation, they will not be beneficial. Their true value lies within the ability to bring local needs to the attention of the national government.” “I agree, but I must add that these offices will all come to the same conclusion,” Gandhi argued, “namely that the soul of India is her villages and that agriculture is the biggest and most important sector in the economy.” Mahadev picked in on this issue: “Bapu, I know your biggest selling point is your support for agricultural communities, but you must also take into account the countless pockets of industry dotted across the Indian subcontinent. Some within our own National Congress want to develop the industry rather than the countryside, we have to at least listen to their proposals.” “And we will,” Gandhi said, “At the current level, our industry isn’t developed enough to provide for everyone’s needs. Think of it, an improved industry could provide farmers with the means to modernize and increase production. Now, the real danger is to not go to far in increasing production. We must always produce just enough for everyone’s need, not for anyone’s greed. True wealth lies in self-sufficiency, not in what a country exports to foreign countries. Look at for example the United States. Before the Great Depression, one could arguably say that the US was the biggest exporter. But nevertheless, the gap between the rich and the poor increased day by day. And now we’ve come to the point where another American Civil War might be coming.” By mentioning a possible future civil war in America, Gandhi unintentionally triggered a debate between Tagore and Mahadev about the upcoming US presidential elections. Gandhi took mental notes on their comments, while the Poet and the Secretary talked for the rest of the afternoon.



17th of October, around noon.

The Mahatma was visiting Jawaharlal Nehru and his family, mainly to discuss the coming elections and a possible alliance between Gandhi’s Agrarians and Nehru’s more moderate group of trade unionists. While strolling through the big garden of Nehru’s estate, an elephant had entered through one of the more tree covered areas. The majestic beast had no idea it was in the presence of the two great men, but the elephant itself did not go unnoticed by the Mahatma. Gandhi had a tremendous respect for all living creatures. Each and every one occupied a special place within the realm of God. So did the elephant. Someone like Nehru, who cared about the beauty of his garden, would rather see the elephant gone, but Gandhi pointed out the inherent beauty the elephant added to the garden. This was a moment to cherish, but alas it did not last for long. A young boy soon came out of the path of trampled shrubbery which the creature had created. The elephant was apparently a runaway from a local lumber mill, now to be taken away by the mahout. Just as the boy disappeared again behind the big shape of the elephant, Nehru’s daughter, Indira, approached the two men with a telegram. “Father, this message arrived for you. It is from our consul in Burma”, the young girl said. Nehru first read the telegram himself before sharing the content with the Mahatma: “It says here that a large crowd of young people are rioting and protesting at the Rangoon University. Probably because they have no say in Burma’s politics because of the corruption and autocratic rule of the Konbaung dynasty. The foreign policy of the Commune is beginning to pay off.” Gandhi knew quite a lot about Burma and the importance of its rice fields. As famines were very common in India, who knows one might occur within the next ten years, the importance of the Burmese rice paddies would prove themselves valuable once again. “These students simply need to find a way to cooperate with the discontent workers at the oil fields and a government change could happen, maybe even leading to a socialist regime”, the Mahatma said. “The current Burmese government won’t be happy with the Commune though”, Indira, Nehru’s daughter, said. “Indira, this is a topic which you shouldn’t talk about”, Nehru said to his daughter. “It’s alright, my friend. Your daughter is the future of India. It’s a good trait to show interest in politics and current events, it’s a sign of intellect. You should encourage rather than discourage such things in your children”, Gandhi said. The three continued to discuss things, Indira closely listening to every word the Mahatma said.



16th of December, late at night.

Mahadev entered Gandhi’s residence in Calcutta with good news. “Bapu, I have some good news from the Dominion.” Gandhi was slightly surprised by Mahadev’s sudden appearance in his house. “Tell me, my friend, what did Jinnah do this time?” Gandhi asked. “Today, they enacted the Indian Industry Act. It might sound like the next legislation in line concerning their industry, but this time it’s different. Do you remember those lobbying labour activists and trade unionists I told you about? Well, their concern about the Indian Economy Act was picked up by Jinnah and his social democrats and they’re taking protective measures in favour of these workers”, Mahadev explained. “That is good news indeed,” Gandhi said, “Although Jinnah probably enacted this to steer the trade unions away from syndicalism. Nevertheless, it makes a good step towards ending class struggles. Now, my friend if you’ll excuse me, you’ve come at quite a late time. I was actually just about to end the day and go to sleep. If you wish to, we can resume this conversation tomorrow morning.” And with that, the two men each went their own way, one going to sleep and one going to set another foot in the nightlife of Calcutta.



-----------
NOTES

1) Ingame, if you take the 'Path of Peace' and try to reunite India peacefully, Bose's Maximists rise up and you end up in a civil war. General Saghal, along with other Maximist generals, get deleted and join the other side. I liked the idea of a strong female general for this AAR, so what I did was change it up a little bit. Lakshmi Saghal, in this AAR, will not join Bose but will fight on Gandhi's side.

2) Indira Nehru, or more famously known as Indira Gandhi, daughter of Nehru, in OTL became premier of India. So when Gandhi said to Nehru that his daughter is the future of India, you can take that quite literally.

3) Of course the mod doesn't include a way for Qing China to annex the Ma Clique in the manner that was described here, but a resurgent Qing dynasty is far more interesting regarding the Chinese-Japanese dynamics which will happen later in this timeline.​
 
Last edited:

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Gandhi will have to face down Bose sooner or later. And it sounds like it will be sooner.
 

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Gandhi will have to face down Bose sooner or later. And it sounds like it will be sooner.
The special session of the Indian National Congress is indeed in the near future.
 
Chapter IV: The 1937 Indian National Congress

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Chapter IV: The 1937 Indian National Congress
2nd of March – 4th of March 1937

2nd of March, in the afternoon.

Calcutta was steaming with excitement in the face of the 1937 Special Session of the Indian National Congress. The red flag fluttered boldly from the Writers' Building to the General Post Office and Indians from all over the Commune had come to Calcutta to follow the debates. Inside the Calcutta High Court, the collected leadership of the republic's government convened for the ensuing election of Lala Lajpat Rai's successor. It was expected that the appointment of a new head of state would mean a change within the nation's cabinet, prompting the various factions to vie for the most influence in all the various commissaries and committees that managed the country. Three wings had emerged within Congress over the years: Bose's Maximists who emulated Mosley's British Totalitarian Socialism and regarded military force as a necessary revolutionary act for India's unification while Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi lead a pacifist, egalitarian and agrarian wing - striving for a negotiated end to the subcontinent's fragmentation. Standing between the two extremes was a coalition of trade unionists and ardent proponents of industrialism led by A. K. Fazlul Huq and his young protege, Jawaharlal Nehru. As the opening speeches began to ring across the floor, the 1937 Special Session seemed bound to change the path of free India in the next years.

The Calcutta High Court, seat to the Indian National Congress.

First, Bose came to the stage, accompanied by a thunderous applause. In full military uniform he looked like a General preparing to pep talk his soldiers before battle. With a loud voice, Subhas Chandra Bose started his speech. “There is a truly terrible system which still lingers in our countryside. Truly terrible. Lingering in the villages and the smaller cities, the Zamindar system of the old days continues to shape the days and lives of those who should have been lifted into prosperity by the glorious revolution almost a decade ago. This feudal instrument of oppression still remains today. We must ask ourselves why this has been allowed to still exist. I blame the previous administration. They did not have the courage or the will to subjugate these landlords and implement complete state control. These landlords continue to live in big mansions and oppress the communities which they depend on. This feudal practice must be eradicated! Some parties in this Congress will disagree with me, and it is their fair right. Some want to improve upon agriculture, but don’t dare to touch the Zamindars. Others want to improve our industry and aren’t interested in the Zamindars. If you elect me as your next President, I promise to work in both fields. I will subjugate the Zamindars and improve our industry. I will transform the Commune into a true modern industrial state. Long have the British taken away our jobs and our income by importing cheap British made clothes into India. That system ended with the Revolution, but still our industry can’t provide our people with sufficient amenities. I will change that, I promise. Now to talk about the elephant in the room, and no I’m not talking about the Mahatma, how do I see the reunification of India? Many people have asked this. In my opinion, there is only one valid answer. The princes and British lapdogs must and will be driven out at bayonet point! And if they try to attack us, I’ll make sure they’ll regret it. I want to build a great wall of fortifications along our western and southern border. A wall they will pay for with their blood.” Bose continued to rant about his enemies for another couple of minutes. When he was finally finished, a lot less people applauded him than when he had come onto the stage. Apparently, his radical ideas had turned some people away.



Next was Nehru, a moderate voice who hoped to sway the least radical elements of the Congress in his favour. Nehru clearly sought to bring elements from both the Maximists and the Agrarians together in his speech. “My brothers, politicians rarely agree with their opponents, but Bose is right about the Zamindar system. It is indeed a terrible, ancient system which must be eradicated. But at the same time, many Zamindars have integrated into our new syndicalist society. We must strive to nationalize those big estates, which up until today refuse to cooperate with the regime and still oppress the working classes. My brothers, the Moderates stand for a strong and stable government. A strong and stable government which seeks to manage the economy and better the lives of all Indians. We must do this by making industry our priority. If we want to make a difference in the world, we must be a modern industrialized state. My travels to syndicalist Europe have shown me that with foreign help, the Commune can industrialize on a five-year basis. Five year plans would be the foundation of economic policy under a Moderate regime. By building up our industry, we can also build up our army. A strong industry means a strong army. A strong army means we can unite our beautiful motherland again. Unification is paramount, the methods used are not. If somehow the opportunity presents itself to unite India without using violence, then so be it. But I will not hesitate to unify India by means of war. We will defend the ideals of the Commune against the princes to the south and the British imperialists to the west. Together with the French Commune and the Union of Britain, India will become a beacon of syndicalism.” Nehru clearly aligned himself with other syndicalist nations in his speech. This might’ve turned away some of Bose’s supporters, who were disappointed in Bose for not openly talking about foreign alliances. In the end, Gandhi’s speech left a bigger mark on Indian politics than any speech had done ever before.



The Mahatma took the stage after Bose and Nehru had done the same before him. Old as he may be, his words still echoed throughout the High Court and shook the Congress members to their bones. “This Congress tells the world it represents India. My brothers, India is 700 000 villages. Not a few hundred politicians in Calcutta. Until we stand in the fields with the millions who toil each day under the hot sun, we will not represent India, nor will we be able to challenge the British as one nation. The soul of India is her villages, therefor we should focus on agriculture. The average Indian will benefit more if we invest in the countryside. Rationalisation is paramount in this endeavour, as it will ensure that our nation can provide for itself. Industrialisation of our cities on a massive scale will only lead to exploitation, the very thing we are opposed to. My brothers, not industrialization, but rationalisation is the road to self-sufficiency. Now, some of you have already touched on the subject of the Zamindars, the feudal landlords which in some parts of our nation still have a big influence. Some of you have proposed we should seize their lands so that our nation can finally become what is has strived to be: a truly socialist society. My brothers, seizing land is wrong, as it is an act of violence. Moreover, what does the government get from owning so much land? Is the land not better looked after in the hands of the farmers themselves? I propose a different solution to the problem of the Zamindars. I propose to implement the system of Bhoodan, the Zamindars should gift the majority of their lands and agricultural resources to their tenant farmers. It is a peaceful solution and does not require the use of violence, we simply give these landlords something in return. I already hear the critics among you ask what we would give these landlords. To them I say, private property is a gift these landlords will learn to appreciate. They in turn will learn that the earth has an abundance of goods and resources for everyone’s need, but not for everyone’s greed. Now, my brothers, there is one last issue I’d like to touch. It is the simple reality that we are heading towards uncertain times. In Burma to the East, students have become restless. Violence is spreading in China as both governments and subjects are picking up arms against each other. In Indochina, a rebellion against the colonial establishment is brewing, the same might be true for Indonesia. We must show them there is another way, we must show them that non-violence is a stronger weapon. For one thing is sure, non-violence doesn’t needlessly spill Indian blood. There is a path of peace for India. Our brothers and our sisters across the border know this. War is not the way to reunify our glorious nation. An eye for an eye will only make the whole world blind. I stand before you today with just one message. A vote for the Agrarians is a vote for peace. A vote for the Agrarians is a vote for reunification. And a vote for the Agrarians is a vote for the future.”



Debates continued to run high in the High Court. The members of several smaller factions in the Congress also took the stage, mainly to ask their supporters to vote for one of the three major factions. After what seemed like an eternity, President Rai took the stage to give a final speech, before announcing the official start of the vote. One by one, members of the Congress came to the voting booth at the front of the big room, putting a piece of paper in a box. It took at least an hour for everyone to have casted their vote. Counting all the votes lasted even longer. It wasn’t until late into the night that Rai’s successor was known. At 11 PM, the Chairman of the INC announced that Gandhi had won with 52% of the votes, while Bose had 31% and Huq 17%. Gandhi was relieved, but at the same time worried. 52% was a narrow victory, one of which Gandhi would probably be reminded every day of his presidency, certainly with Bose preparing for a rebellion. Gandhi would need to do some concessions to win over the Moderates. He had to show them that Bose was a common enemy.

4th of March, just before noon.

Gandhi had gathered some of the most prominent members of his party and loyal followers of his doctrine. His election just two days ago required him to form a new government cabinet, also called the Working Committee. Gandhi as President was Head of State, but the political system of the Commune also required a Premier who would be Head of Government. Gandhi’s choice for Premier had been an easy one. Rabindranath Tagore, the famous Indian poet, was made for the job. Gandhi had often shared his thoughts with him and they both strongly agreed about unifying with the Dominion in a peaceful way. With the Mahatma as President and the Poet as Premier, the Commune now had two leaders who were immensely popular among its people. The next position to fill in was that of Minister of Foreign Affairs. Again, this was an easy choice for Gandhi. After all, who had been informing him about foreign affairs for the last decade and who had been in contact with various consulates and agents in other countries. Gandhi’s secretary Mahadev Desai was the ideal choice, no-one had a better understanding of what was going on in Asia at the time than him. Next on the list was the Minister of Economy. For that position, Gandhi looked to Bhogaraju Pattabhi Sitaramayya. Sitaramayya had been a member of the previous Working Committee and supported Gandhi’s approach to the Indian economy. As Minister of Interior, Gandhi chose Amrit Kaur. Amrit Kaur was a staunch follower of Gandhi and had been living in his ashram since 1934. Gandhi’s choice for Kaur was also influenced by her prominence within female activism in the Commune. Her expertise on health and safety would greatly benefit the country according to Gandhi. As Head of Military Intelligence, Gandhi chose Abdul Razak. Razak would mainly handle the preparations for countering Bose’s future rebellion. In doing so, he would work together with General Saghal. The first act of this new Working Committee would be to limit the power of the Field Marshall and give more power to the Generals, resulting in Bose’s position becoming weaker. Gandhi’s presidency could now fully take off.



----------
NOTES:

And with that, Gandhi is President of the Commune. Getting this ingame was fairly easy, but what follows will be a tedious process of reunifying India.
 

ThaHoward

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So Bose will build a wall and make the British pay for it?

At least Gandhi is reasonable. He advocate cooperation and private property. Perhaps Bengal is not lost to the true capital located in the Dominion.
 

stnylan

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One imagines a deal with the moderates should certainly be possible. They are not so far apart as to be inimical to each other, and Bose and his militarism threatens them both.
 

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So Bose will build a wall and make the British pay for it?

At least Gandhi is reasonable. He advocate cooperation and private property. Perhaps Bengal is not lost to the true capital located in the Dominion.
So you caught on to the little reference I dropped there :p The question now is how far Gandhi can push his policies without hitting opposition.
One imagines a deal with the moderates should certainly be possible. They are not so far apart as to be inimical to each other, and Bose and his militarism threatens them both.
A civil war started by Bose would certainly bring the Moderates and the Agrarians together, but in terms of economic policy there's actually quite a difference between the two.
 
Chapter V: The 1937 Spartakiade

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Chapter V: The 1937 Spartakiade
17th of April – 9th of May 1937

17th of April, in the afternoon.

While the United States was embroiled in Civil War and Belgium just had a successful anti-German revolution, the first Spartakiade was held in Paris. The Spartakiade was similar to the Olympics, from which the syndicalist world was banned. Amongst the many international dignitaries present was also Gandhi, who had left the Commune for the first time since his presidency. Gandhi enjoyed sports as they embodied purity and truth. Athletes from all over the socialist world would compete against each other, while respecting each other and the rules of the discipline they competed in. But before all the different competitions would begin, the opening ceremony took place. The French team carried the torch and the British team the hammer. They performed a well-trained choreography, while other nations, like the Bharatiya Commune, carried pieces of the cog towards a central stage. There, workers from all over the socialist world assembled the pieces to form the international symbol of syndicalism. It was truly the pinnacle of international cooperation and peace.


18th of April, in the afternoon.

Gandhi mainly attended the Spartakiade to follow the Commune’s field hockey team. Field hsockey was one of those sports which became very popular under British rule and when the British left Bengal, it very much stayed the same. Professionalism in the sport even increased as the Commune’s government took an interest in developing a good hockey team. Gandhi was never really an athlete himself. In his youth, he enjoyed reading much more than he did enjoy physical effort. Nevertheless, the Mahatma did enjoy watching two teams competing for victory. It was a sign of peace, competing in sports on a field of grass rather than fighting a battle on a barren plain. India’s hockey team was one of the main contestants for the golden medal. Only England’s team proved a challenge. Other competing countries were the Commune of France, Georgia, Patagonia, Centroamerica and Mexico. The seven competing teams were divided into two groups. Group A included the Bharatiya Commune, the Commune of France, Mexico and Centroamerica while Group B consisted of the Union of Britain, Georgia and Patagonia. This afternoon, the Indians had to kick off the field hockey matches by playing against Mexico. Gandhi watched the game from the VIP area and was sitting next to the President of Mexico, Pancho Villa. The Mahatma was quite surprised that the President of Mexico was present at the Spartakiade and not busy preparing for an intervention in the US Civil War. Gandhi decided to address the topic of the Civil War: “Mr. President, it is to my understanding that the Combined Syndicates of America are gaining terrain against President Curtis. With the US being so weakened, were you perhaps considering intervention yourself?” Gandhi’s question was translated into Spanish by an interpreter and Villa’s answer was then translated back into English: “The President says that the Mexican government is currently overlooking all the possibilities in accordance with Jack Reed. Reed might be worried that the US is preparing for a coup against the Mexican government, but as of now we have no evidence supporting his fears.” The President’s answer was ambiguous to say the least. Before Gandhi could delve deeper into his motives, Pancho Villa’s attention was taken away by a goal made by the Indian team. The rest of the game was typified by a strong Indian attack, succeeding in breaking the weak Mexican defences more than once. President Pancho Villa felt humiliated with the eventual 7-0 defeat and refused to talk to Gandhi for the rest of the Spartakiade. So much for peaceful international competition. That same day, the Commune of France won against Centroamerica 3-1.

The Bharatiya Commune’s field hockey team.

22nd of April, in the morning.

A quick glance at the scoreboard on the 22nd of April showed that the Bharatiya Commune and the Commune of France were both in the lead in Group A (both having secured two victories), while England was taking the lead in Group B, also with two victories. Today’s match was between India and France. It was the biggest showdown as of yet in the field hockey tournament of the 1937 Spartakiade. It was also the ideal opportunity to talk to Sébastien Faure, President of the French Commune. While Faure only held a ceremonial function, his influence within the government could still be felt. After thanking him for the beautiful opening ceremony and for the effort he put into organising the Spartakiade, Gandhi asked Faure about his opinion regarding German imperialism and what France is willing to do against it. “Currently the Commune of France isn’t really in a position to do anything against German imperialism,” President Faure said, “Our priorities currently lie in establishing a stable syndicalist system in Europe. We can only weaken the German giant if we ourselves are standing atop of rock and not sand. As President of France, I can only hope that India supports this vision and will cooperate with us in the future against the forces of capitalism.” “It is in the interest of India to weaken or even remove German influence in East Asia, but I strongly believe that India should not seek open confrontation with Germany. As long as they are in control over Ceylon, they pose a direct threat to the Commune and the vital rice imports from Burma”, Gandhi replied. For a moment, President Faure thought about proposing a trade deal to Gandhi, but he soon realised that French convoys could never reach the Commune. Suez was controlled by the Germans, as was half of the African coast, not to forget the significant portion of Africa controlled by the reactionaries in Algiers. The two men continued to discuss other things, such as economics and how much Gandhi was impressed by the Notre Dame during his previous visit to Paris in 1890. In the end, neither of the two men payed much attention to the hockey game, which the Bharatiya Commune won with ease in a 10-0 victory.


Sébastien Faure, President of the French Commune.

28th of April, in the afternoon.

The Bharatiya Commune made it all the way into the final of the Spartakiade field hockey tournament after beating Patagonia 9-0 in semi-finals. It’s opponent was now England. Gandhi, as always, spectated from the VIP area. But this time, he had very special company. This time Oswald Mosley, leader of the Union of Britain, was seated next to him. Of all the heads of state at the Spartakiade, Mosley was the only one Gandhi had met before. Gandhi had met Mosley back in 1924 during the latter’s visit to the Raj, but more importantly, Gandhi had sent him a very critical letter. When Gandhi arrived in the VIP area of the stadium, Mosley greeted him, referring to the content of the Mahatma’s letter: “Mahatma, I offer you an open hand, not a clenched fist. After all, we are here to celebrate the victory of syndicalism around the world, not to wage war with words.” The Mahatma shook Mosley’s hand in a slightly awkward manner, given the fact that shaking hands is not an Indian custom. “Mr. Mosley, I see you have remembered my letter”, Gandhi said. “How could I forget it,” Mosley said with a smirk on his face, “A letter by the Mahatma, sold very well in the People’s Auction House of Britain. But not enough to rival the selling price of the Rubens from the Royal Collection.” Gandhi tried to hide the fact that he was offended by this, but the discontent was clearly visible on his face. So this was what Mosley’s Maximists stood for, instead of opening up the Royal Collection to the public, like the previous government of the Union of Britain had done, they sold the pieces in their socialist auction houses. Gandhi could only hope that Mosley’s arrogance would blow up in his face. Gandhi decided to probe for Mosley’s plans: “Mr. Mosley, how exactly do you expect to win a future war against the Entente?” “Once syndicalism prevails in the American Civil War, Canada will be a pushover. We don’t expect the Entente cooperating with Germany to defeat us, so our French comrades should be able to deal with them,” Mosley said, “and of course you will make sure the Crown Jewel of the Empire stays out of the war.” “You do have a point, Mr. Mosley, I do not intend to wage war on Indian soil and spill Indian blood needlessly, certainly not to please some madman in Europe.” Oswald Mosley picked up the insult and then had a quick glance at the scoreboard. “It is time I go back to attend state matters in London”, Mosley said. “You mean that the Royal Art Collection doesn’t sell itself?” Gandhi asked mockingly, while noticing that his team just beat England in the finale. Mosley didn’t even bother to answer Gandhi and walked away angrily.


Oswald Mosley, Chairman of the Trade Union Congress of the Union of Britain.

9th of May, in the evening.

The Indian delegation was now gathered around Gandhi and the few other Indian politicians who had come to Paris for the Spartakiade. The closing ceremony was about to begin and Gandhi wanted to personally congratulate all those athletes who had either won medals or competed for them. The Mahatma had tried to memorize all of their names, but still his wife had to whisper them into his ears. In the end, most of the athletes were pleased to have the Mahatma’s blessing. In the closing ceremony which followed, new “world” records were announced and medals were distributed. At the end of it all, the giant symbol of syndicalism was disassembled again and taken away, probably to be put on some Parisian square. Despite the several failed conversations with other world leaders, the Mahatma thoroughly enjoyed his visit to France.

----------
This chapter is a bit of an odd one, not really moving the story forward for Gandhi. But nevertheless, I felt this was the ideal opportunity to show the malpractices of the British syndicalists and the international politics in the red world.​
 

stnylan

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Several failed conversations ... those three words do not presage anything good.
 

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Several failed conversations ... those three words do not presage anything good.
Indeed, it just shows how isolated the Bharatiya Commune really is from the "Western" syndicalist powers.
 
Last edited:
Chapter VI: The Question of Bengal's Elites

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Chapter VI: The Question of Bengal’s Elites
1st of June – 23rd of July 1937

1st of June, in the afternoon.

One of the issues which dominated the Indian National Congress ever since the presidential elections in March was finally being addressed. The remnants of the old social order, mainly through the Zamindar system, were about to be dealt with. But before Gandhi took a decision in the matter, he decided to pay a visit to some of the still existing feudal regions. The Zamindars had neither the influence nor the wealth they once had, but they were not without resources. It was not uncommon for the lower classes to give them deference even when the law was in their favor. These elites often ignored laws requiring them to work with those they saw beneath them and held onto precious resources even when they were required to give them up. Gaining compliance would be tricky, considering many of the Commune’s citizens took a blind eye to their transgressions. This was were Gandhi came in. He was keen on showing his people that respect should be earned by one’s actions, not by one’s heritage. And so Gandhi found himself in the Orissan countryside, trying to persuade landlords into gifting land to the landless. Gandhi’s entourage travelled through the jungle on elephants, something the Mahatma had requested himself. Instead of taking a fast train, the Mahatma insisted on resorting to these more traditional ways of travel. Part of his reasoning was that the Zamindars would respect him more if he adhered to their customs. After being welcomed by an entire village worth of children, the Mahatma and his entourage were led to a big mansion on a hill. There they met with the local landlord. While an entire team of bureaucrats were reviewing how much property the Zamindar owned and how much landless people were in the area, Gandhi and the landlord were talking about land redistribution. “Mahatma, not to be disrespectful or anything, but how do you expect us to just gift away centuries of inheritances. I mean, much of the land you see here has been in my family for generations”, the Zamindar said. Gandhi knew this would be an issue and replied: “Are you familiar with the works of Tagore?” The Zamindar nodded and Gandhi continued his explanation: “Tagore comes from a family much like yours, embedded within the Zamindar system. But unlike your family, he has accepted the social reality of today and has adapted to it. I’m not sure if you’re aware of it, but he even made it to the position of Premier. Now imagine what your family could achieve in the future if they work with the government and not against it.” “Are you threatening me and my family?”, the Zamindar asked. “That’s not what I’m trying to say,” Gandhi answered, “Allow me to take you for a walk. Let me show you why India needs its Zamindars to help build the future.” The landlord gave in and agreed to accompany the Mahatma on his walk.

Zamindars were still very influential in the rural areas in Bengal.

The two men, followed closely by a curious mishmash of advisors and servants, arrived in the village at the foot of the hill. The Mahatma greeted a woman and entered her house with the Zamindar. The house was a simple, typical house one would find in the Indian countryside. A single room, divided by curtains in smaller sections, contained everything the woman and her family owned. Behind one of the curtains lay a sick man on a makeshift bed. A person educated in medicines would conclude that he was suffering from some sort of tropical disease, but unfortunately neither the Mahatma nor the Zamindar had enjoyed such an education. Gandhi began explaining why he had brought them to this house: “This man is suffering from sickness and out here, there is no way for him to get better. He will most probably die and everything you have seen in this house will then belong to his offspring. Much of what you see in this house has been in his family for generations. It is not much compared to what your family has gathered over the centuries. Yet this man and his family have to work on your land day in and day out to provide for his kin. As a result, he has become susceptible to disease. In the meantime, you sit in your mansion upon the hill, looking down on the working classes. I assume you are familiar with the teachings of the Gita: the one who receives without giving is stealing, the one who eats food which he himself hasn’t worked for is a thief. Do I ask too much from the Zamindars, who grow rich on the work of others, if I ask them to give something in return to their people? The Zamindar system is often still prominent in those areas which are difficult to reach and which cannot profit from healthcare and other services provided by the state. There are those who say that all Zamindars should be arrested, their property seized and their influence ended. I would rather prefer to solve this issue without violence and conflict and find a peaceful solution. The Zamindars do have a future in India, but that future requires them to work for the people just as much as those people work for the Zamindars.” The Zamindar realized what Gandhi tried to show him and after the group returned to his mansion, he joined Gandhi’s bureaucrats who were still discussing how to tackle the issues in this particular village and offered them his service. Gandhi had succeeded in his task. And while initially he still had doubts about how to change the system, he now knew what the solution should be.



15th of July, in the evening.

Gandhi had finally returned to the capital after his visit to the Indian countryside. After more than a month of meeting landlords and local feudal rulers, he and his advisors had finished the final outline of how to implement Bhoodan. Now gathered with Premier Tagore, Minister of Economy Sitaramayya and Minister of Internal Affairs Kaur, the Mahatma outlined his vision. “The state, unwillingly, needs the Zamindars and their wealth. They hold the key in developing the remote parts of India. At the same time, the local population suffers from poverty and a lack of services such as health care and education. Now, we could just seize the property of the landlords and use it to fulfill the needs of these people, but that is a violent solution and one which would not only anger the Zamindars, but also the Dominionists in the west and the Princes in the south. We are in need of a more peaceful and democratic solution. During one of my visits, the local landlord joined the experts while they were debating about land redistribution and agricultural development. At that moment I realized that this was the way to move forward. The Bhoodan Act in front of you proposes just this: the founding of local councils in those communities where the Zamindar system still exists. These councils are headed by the old Zamindars, but the real power is with locally elected officials. These ‘Bhoodan Councils’, as I call them, will see to the development of local public services, agricultural development and ending poverty. Over time, they will evolve into something similar to the ashram, a commune of like-minded people who work towards self-sufficiency and equality.” Minister of Economy Sitaramayya was somewhat skeptical and asked: “And you believe the Zamindars will voluntarily share their power and wealth with elected officials?” The Mahatma had thought about this already and said: “Of course they will. Through the Bhoodan Act, their power is institutionalized. They will have a piece of paper to refer to when they and the rest of the council reach a decision. Of course these councils will have to be monitored, so that the Zamindars don’t use their power to enrich themselves. That is why you, Amrit, will create a new ‘National Bhoodan Committee’, or NBC, under the wing of the Ministry of Internal Affairs. The NBC will be the effective countermeasure should any corrupt Zamindars arise. The Zamindars must know that corruption is unacceptable, so if the NBC deems someone guilty, they will be removed permanently from office. This means they will lose control over their own property, a risk I expect most of them won’t be willing to take.” Minister Amrit Kaur nodded and put her signature under the legislation. “Bapu, I think this will positively change the country. That is why I put my signature down on this piece of paper. I hope my colleagues here will do the same and enact this reform”, she said. Minister Kaur was followed by Premier Tagore and eventually by Minister Sitaramayya with much reluctance. “Thank you my friends,” the Mahatma said, “This Act will change the Commune.” Gandhi then put his signature on the Bhoodan Act and gave it to one of his assistants.

Mahatma Gandhi reading the final draft of the Bhoodan Act to Mahadev Desai.

23rd of July, in the afternoon.

Minister of Foreign Affairs, Mahadev Desai, entered Gandhi’s presidential office with some important news from Europe. A drought in the Balkans led to a food shortage in Illyria, leading to protests and even a small rebellion against the Habsburg rulers. More importantly, the unrest quickly spread to other areas in the Austrian sphere of influence. In the meantime, the Belgrade Pact countries, Serbia, Greece and Romania, were fighting a war against Bulgaria and Albania. “Bapu, I have some interesting news from Europe. Do you want to hear it?” Mahadev asked. “Of course I do. Tell me, what developments have occurred in Europe?” Gandhi replied. “There are reports of unrest from several countries in Southern and Eastern Europe. In the past week, these revolts have already made some major changes to the map of Europe. For example, while the Austrian army was busy putting down a major uprising in Hungary, the Serbian army entered Illyria and ‘liberated it from the Austrians’, their words. The Austrians have issued an ultimatum, but without the backing of Germany, and with Serbia in the Belgrade Pact, I expect the Austrians to take this loss. The unrest has also spread to Trento and Trieste. There, Italian nationalists have risen up and demanded for re-annexation into Italy. The local Austrian police forces are putting all effort in quelling this movement, but the Republic of Italy might be bold enough to copy Serbia and occupy their former territory.” The Mahatma seemed surprised and said: “And this all happened in one week? Austrian hegemony over the region seems to be at an end?” Mahadev nodded and said: “The situation in Italy and Illyria certainly seems at a loss for the Austrians, but they were quick to act in Hungary and Bohemia still is firmly under their control. In the meanwhile, Germany is still recovering from the economic crisis. They have recently sold some of their possessions in the Mediterranean including Crete to the Ottomans and Gibraltar to the Spanish. As long as the Germans are struggling, we could have free range in Asia.” “One more thing, Mahadev. I’ve been hearing about the possible reunification of Italy lately. What can you tell me about that?” Gandhi asked. “Well ever since the Republicans defeated the Syndicalists in 1919 the possibility has been there. As of now, Italy is divided between the Republic of Italy in the North, the Kingdom of the Two Sicilies and the Kingdom of Sardinia in the South and the Papal State right in the center. With Austrian influence dwindling, talks between Sardinia and the Two Sicilies have been going on. I’ve heard that even the Pope has been involved in these talks.” “If Italy were to be united peacefully, that would set an important example for India. Even more so if the opposing views of the Republicans in the north would find common ground with the Royalists in the south”, Gandhi said. The two continued discussing foreign matters until late in the afternoon, when it was time for Gandhi to review the results of the Bhoodan Act.

The situation in the Balkans seemed unstable, no surprise there.
 

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One can always rely on the Balkans.

Nice to see Gandhi taking a more moderate path.
 

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One can always rely on the Balkans.

Nice to see Gandhi taking a more moderate path.
Gandhi's way of non-violence puts him on a more moderate path than many others in the Commune.
 
Chapter VII: The Question of Burma

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Chapter VII: The Question of Burma
9th of August – 15th of August 1937

9th of August, in the evening.

Gandhi had called for a crisis meeting after recent events in neighbouring Burma. Premier Tagore, Minister of Foreign Affairs Desai, Head of Military Intelligence Razak and General Saghal had all gathered in Gandhi’s small office. Reason of this sudden meeting was the new regime in Burma. After the Royal Burmese Army had fired on protesting students and workers, the entire country turned against the monarchy and rose up. A newly founded National Council worked quickly to form a syndicalist government. Mahadev Desai was expecting a request for a military alliance at any moment now, part of the reason why he asked Gandhi to call for this meeting. A discussion quickly arose about whether or not the Commune should accept their request, but it soon turned into a discussion about geopolitics in Southeast Asia. General Saghal was the first to put forward her vision: “We should not only discuss a possible military alliance with Burma, we should also consider adopting them into our glorious Commune.” Abdul Razak was quick to respond: “I fully agree with the General on this point. Our intelligence services have informed me that the current government is led by U Ottoma, who has been very vocal about reunification with the Commune. I am certain that their request for a military alliance will also include some sort of possible annexation deal. It would be wise to accept that deal.” General Saghal then added: “The additional manpower from Burma would also greatly improve our chances of beating Bose if he were to rise up. Sure, we lack the equipment to make them combatworthy, but just the sheer number of extra recruits would be enough to scare the Maximalists back into the cave where they came from.” Tagore shook his head in disagreement and said: “You’re talking about this as if the Commune and Bengal are the only two countries in the world. Don’t forget why we’re all in this office in the first place. The INC elected us because they believed we could unite India peacefully. Now think of what the Dominion and the Federation would do if suddenly their syndicalist neighbour annexes a country after a successful revolution. There are already those who think that somehow our government is behind the unrest in several Southeast Asian countries, not all of them are wrong. I think the safest thing we could do here is entering a military alliance with them, but nothing more.” Mahadev saw how General Saghal and Abdul Razak clearly disagreed with Tagore and tried to convince them that Tagore was right: “I must agree with Tagore when he says outright annexation might provoke other nations in the region, but I must also agree with the contribution Burma would be to our military and our economy. I think the best way to handle this is to not rush things into unknown territory. We could use a military alliance with a neighbour, yes, but we must not lose whatever relation we have with the Dominion and the Federation.” The Mahatma had been listening to both sides very carefully, and as the votes were tied, he decided to step in: “Mahadev, prepare a deal for when the Burmese delegation arrives. A military alliance along with some sort of economic union should do for now. Also include an article which allows for future negotiations on reintegration. In the meantime, Razak and Saghal, establish contacts with your Burmese counterparts and prepare them for some joint military operations. That should be enough to make them ready for the fight against Bose. Do not, under any circumstance, mention Bose’s name. We don’t know whether or not he has contacts in the Burmese army or government.” Everyone in the room was surprised by Gandhi’s sudden outburst of authority, but with Bose breathing down the government’s neck, decisive actions were needed more than ever.



12th of August, in the afternoon.

The Burmese delegation had arrived in Calcutta and Minister of Foreign Affairs Mahadev Desai had presented them the deal he had been working on for the past few days. The Burmese were somewhat disappointed that outright annexation was out of the question, but Mahadev put a positive spin on it. The people of Burma could now take matters into their own hands and improve their own future. And besides, the Bharatiya Commune would always be there to insure Burma’s safety and stability. On the other side of Calcutta, Field Marshal Bose held a gathering with his supporters, including General Saghal who was in fact working for Gandhi now. “We have a problem,” one of the military advisors said, “with the founding of the Eastern Syndicalist Union, Gandhi might bring the Burmese armed forces into a future civil war. Which brings the numbers even further into his advantage.” Bose took a good look at the map in front of him. Red pins dotted the map wherever one of his secret training camps was located. He then noticed that some of them were inside Nepal’s borders. He then asked Saghal: “How many men can we mobilize inside Nepal’s borders?” Saghal checked her numbers and said: “If we can remain under the radar, we should be able to at least form three divisions worth of soldiers. That would give us a slight advantage again. More so if the Indian government doesn’t suspect an attack from Nepal.” “It’s settled then,” Bose replied, “double our recruiting effort in Nepal. I expect that Gandhi and his government will soon send the invitation to the Dominion to negotiate reunion. We must act before them, a rebellion in Nepal will be the starting shot for our coup here. We cannot allow the Mahatma to sell our souls to the imperialists!” General Saghal nodded and gave out the order to one of her assistants. The gathering disbanded and Saghal prepared for her secret meeting with Razak.

General Lakshmi Saghal and Field Marshal Bose inspecting a female volunteer corps in Calcutta.

12th of August, late at night.

Lakshmi Saghal sneaked out of her house, trying to avoid waking up her husband. She imagined what he would think if he saw her like this. He might suspect she had an affair of some sort, but the truth was far more important than her personal feelings. After making sure she wasn’t followed, she entered Razak’s house. Abdul Razak, Head of Military Intelligence, was waiting for her in his lounge. Saghal immediately came to the point: “I now have all the information we need to end Bose’s uprising right in its tracks. I know when he intends to rise up, but more importantly I know how we can sabotage his cause and force his hand. Bose wants to incite a rebellion in Nepal and use that as a distraction to take control in the Commune.” Razak took this information in and said: “But the Mahatma was thinking about sending the invitation next month. If Bose rises up then, we are not ready yet. The situation in Burma has strained our military forces.” “Burma is not our worry now. We have to keep an eye on Nepal. If we can stop the rebellion there without straining our military too much, Bose will be forced to rethink his strategy. That will buy us some more time and will give us the opportunity to continue Gandhi’s reunification plans”, Lakshmi said. “And how do you propose to do that?” Razak asked. “We leak the information to Nepal. Let Nepal deal with Bose’s troops for us. And who knows, maybe we can even retake the land they stole from us. We can spin things in our favour. Leak information about rebels to Nepal. When they suppress them, we can let it seem like Nepal is committing atrocities against Indians. Then we can use this as a pretence to move in and occupy the area”, Saghal explained. Razak thought about what the Mahatma would do in this situation and replied: “I don’t think Gandhi would agree to this plan. It involves too much violence and conflict. He will never sign the order to invade Nepal.” “But Mahadev might. If we don’t intervene in Nepal, we will never win the war against Bose. This is our chance to get the upper hand. This one time, we might need to go behind Gandhi’s back.” Razak reluctantly agreed and said: “Alright, prepare the damn leak, I’ll go and talk to Mahadev tomorrow.”

13th of August, around noon.

Razak and Mahadev met in a secluded office in the Commune’s Presidential Palace. Gandhi often spend his time in other parts of the city and only used the Palace to invite foreign visitors or hold important meetings with his cabinet. Today was one of those days when the Mahatma was out in the city addressing the daily issues of his people. The ideal moment, Razak thought, to fill in Mahadev with the details about Bose’s plan and how to stop it. “Mahadev, you’re not going to like what I’m about to say, but just hear me out. We’ve recently discovered that Bose intends to use a rebellion in Nepal as a distraction to commit a coup in the Commune. General Saghal and I have thought this through and we believe that the best course of action here is to leak this information to Nepal. Let them deal with the Maximists in Nepal. Once they’re done, we can move in and occupy the Ganges-Yamuna Basin.” “And you came to me with this plan because you knew that Gandhi wouldn’t approve of the occupation? I must say that I disagree with the plan. It’s just too risky. How could we be sure that Nepal actually acts on the information? And how do we know that they will just let us take the Basin? It might even cause a war and if Bose rises up then, we’ll find ourselves at war with two factions”, Mahadev said. Razak was afraid that Mahadev would react this way. He needed something more to convince him. “And what if we also leaked the info to the Dominionists? According to the General, Bose also had training camps in Dehradun near the Dominion border. If we can make them think that Bose intends to use these camps in a future invasion, they might try and deal with it themselves. With Nepal busy on two fronts, it’ll be more likely that they will cave to our demands”, Razak reasoned. Mahadev still wasn’t entirely convinced, but getting the Dominion on their side might be useful. “Alright, you have my approval. Let’s hope the Dominion and Nepal do exactly what you think they’ll do. But just so you know, if Nepal refuses to retreat from the Basin, I won’t go behind Gandhi’s back and declare war on them. Until that point, you better make sure the Mahatma doesn’t hear a word about this. I hate to keep things secret from him, let alone lie to him in his face.”

15th of August, in the afternoon.

“Bapu, we’ve got news from the Princely Federation,” Mahadev said, “They made a deal with Germany and it has some major consequences. You remember last month when I told you Germany was selling some of their overseas territories like Malta and Cyprus? Well they’ve now sold Ceylon, the Maldives, the Seychelles and the Andaman and Nicobar Islands to the Federation. This essentially means that the Germans are largely gone from the Northern Indian Ocean. Their influence is still felt on the African coast, but that’s it. That’s the good news, but there’s also a bad side to it. The Princely Federation now has the ability to cut off our trade in case of war.” Gandhi looked at the map which Mahadev had put on the coffee table and said: “I see what you mean. We need alternative routes to supply our country with the goods that we can’t produce ourselves. Why don’t we build a road network through Burma to connect us to the Chinese market? I’m sure the warlord in the Yunnan Clique would be open to trade with us? Mahadev, my friend, send out an invitation to the President of Burma and to whoever is leading the Yunnan Clique right now. The Burma Road sounds like the perfect distraction from all the troubles in the region right now.” And with that, Mahadev left the Mahatma alone. Gandhi waited to make sure Mahadev was gone and then called in his new secretary Sarala Devi Chaudhurani, a niece of Tagore and an old friend of Gandhi. Only three years younger than the Mahatma, she knew him through and through. At one point in time, it might even have seemed like the two were married, even though both of them already were to someone else. “Sarala, my dear, have you done what I asked?” Sarala handed out a dossier to the Mahatma and said: “These are the documents that the Ministry of Foreign Affairs has leaked to Nepal and the Dominion.” Gandhi quickly read through them and asked: “Why would Mahadev go behind my back and leak these to foreign governments without even informing me about it? He isn’t working for Bose, is he?” Sarala reassured the Mahatma: “If he was working for the Field Marshall, he wouldn’t leak sensitive information about his training camps to the enemy, would he?” “You’re right, I might be slightly overreacting. Yet I’d like Mahadev to be honest to me, even though I wouldn’t like the truth,” Gandhi said, “Maybe I shouldn’t go behind his back either. Sarala, my dear, would you do me a favour and just ask Mahadev about the leak?” Gandhi’s secretary nodded and said: “Of course, Bapu. I’m sure he has the best intentions for the country.” “Let us hope so,” the Mahatma sighed, “At this moment in time, people we can trust are the most valuable resource in the Commune . You know what, my dear, have the rest of the day off. I think I’ll head home early and attend to some private matters.” The two said goodbye and both of them went home.

Sarala Devi Chaudhurani

----------
I'm finally back with another chapter. Took me a while because of real life stuff. But I thought I'd add in some more political intrigue in the Commune itself before we move into the big effort of reunifying the Indian subcontinent.
 

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So much potential for everything to go wrong.
 

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So much potential for everything to go wrong.
I'm sure there's a guy called Murphy who would have something to say about this.
 
Chapter VIII: The Question of Nepal

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Chapter VIII: The Question of Nepal
15th of September – 16th of November 1937

15th of September, Delhi, Dominion of India.

Maharaja Singh had called Prime Minister Ali Jinnah to his palace for an urgent meeting. Military intelligence had received an alleged report from the Bharatiya Commune about Maximist training camps in Nepal. It was unclear why this report had suddenly surfaced, but the Maharaja suspected that someone in the upper ranks of the Commune government had leaked it on purpose. The Maharaja had invited Ali Jinnah to discuss the matter. “Prime Minister, sit down. Have you had the time to read the report I sent to you?” Singh asked. “Yes, Your Highness, I’ve read it on the way here. If those training camps do exist, we must act on it. We cannot allow the Commune to surprise us with an attack from Nepal in case of war”, Ali Jinnah replied. “That’s just the thing, Prime Minister. I do not believe the Commune is preparing for a war against us. I think they’re preparing for a war against themselves. Our spies have indicated that Field Marshal Bose is preparing for a coup. I suspect Gandhi’s government is also aware of this and is trying to prevent it. By deliberately leaking this information to us, they hope we will deal with the Maximist camp in Nepal for them” the Maharaja said. The Prime Minister read through the report again and asked: “If a civil war is truly imminent, why are we not preparing for an invasion?” The Maharaja understood Ali Jinnah’s concern and said: “In ideal circumstances, we would. But we do not have the approval from Ottawa. As you know, the situation in South Africa is steaming towards a civil war. The King has tasked us with recruiting Indians who live in South Africa into a volunteer army.” “Yes, I’m aware of this,” the Prime Minister said in response, “But I do not understand how this would stand in the way of a war with the Commune.” The Maharaja took out a cigar box and offered a cigar to the Prime Minister, who kindly refused. “Prime Minister, I assume you know Mr Gandhi?”, Singh asked. Ali Jinnah nodded. “Well, our friend, the President of the Commune, is very popular among the Indians in South Africa because of his time there. As soon as we declare war on the Commune, all those volunteers, who we’ve trained and equipped with weapons, will then travel back to India and fight with the Commune against us. With the situation in South Africa looking not too good for the Dominionists, they can use all the Indians we can recruit. And as long as the hatred for the Afrikaner racists dominates over their hatred for the Dominionist imperialists, those Indians will eagerly help in case of a South-African civil war”, the Maharaja said. Ali Jinnah now understood, but perhaps there was still a way of getting something good out of a civil war in the Commune. “If a civil war breaks out in the Commune and if Gandhi comes out victorious, he will be left with a divided nation and with some areas probably devastated by warfare. If he then approaches us to unify peacefully, we could use that devastation against him,” the Prime Minister said, “I’m not against the idea of a peaceful reunification, but I’m not going to sell the Dominion off to the syndicalists. If Gandhi is faced with devastation, the Dominion could propose to help in the repairs. But Gandhi will have to agree with my terms and conditions. In particular those who guarantee the rights of Muslims throughout India.” The Maharaja put down his cigar and said: “We will discuss this matter when, or rather if, reunification becomes an issue. I invited you here because of the question of Nepal. Tell me, Prime Minister, what do you think we should do with this information?” “Well it is clear to me,” Ali Jinnah said, “As soon as this rebellion in Nepal begins, we send an ultimatum to Nepal, demanding the return of Dehradun.” A smile appeared on the Maharaja’s face. “I’ll prepare the army then”, Singh said.

Muhammad Ali Jinnah, Prime Minister of the Dominion of India.

30th of October, in the evening. Darbhanga, Ganges-Yamuna Basin, Nepal.

The Dewali festivities in town were now at their height. It was time to initiate the plan. All over the Basin, Maximists would take up their arms and start uprisings against the Nepalese authorities. The Hindu festival of Dewali was the ideal moment to recruit more nationalist Hindus to liberate their land. On one of the squares in Darbhanga, the Maximists had spread out within the gathering and had started to shout anti-Nepalese slogans. Soon, other people started joining them. The crowd now started becoming violent and began to march towards the local municipal building, where the Nepalese flag was waving in the wind. The local police forces, who had heard of the approaching protesters had set up a road block to prevent them from destroying the building. Suddenly a gun shot could be heard from the crowd. One of the Maximists had fired on the police commander, but had missed. In response, the commander lost his nerve and ordered his troops to fire on the demonstrators. With nowhere to run to, the ordinary people were caught in between the police and the Maximist rebels. A bloodbath followed, leaving 50 civilians dead. Darbhanga was just one of many places that evening where innocent lives were lost.

The press reports on the Nepali Atrocities, unaware of the Maximist involvement.

9th of November, Calcutta, Bharatiya Commune.

In the west, the Dominion had occupied Dehradun in response to the massacres which occurred in the Ganges-Yamuna Basin. The Nepalese army retreated and the government gave in to the Dominion’s demands. In the meantime, the Maximist uprising in the Basin was still ongoing. Gandhi had called together a meeting with Premier Tagore, General Saghal, Abdul Razak and Mahadev Desai. Gandhi was still somewhat mad at Desai for leaking the information without telling him. But there were more important matters at hand right now. The goal of this meeting basically revolved around convincing Gandhi to send an ultimatum to Nepal. Mahadev was the first to speak: “Bapu, I know you’re still angry, but if we do not act on this, Bose will rise up within a few days. We need to send that ultimatum to Nepal now, or we risk a Maximist coup.” Gandhi sighed and said: “You know how I think about violence. An ultimatum by threatening war to seize land, that is not the non-violent way.” General Saghal then stood up and said: “Bapu, the Dominion has already seized land, it is more likely that the Nepalese will just admit their defeat and leave. No violence involved at all.” “But what if they don’t? If I don’t act on my threats then, I will look weak. I’ll just give more ammunition to Bose and his followers who already criticize me for being to weak”, Gandhi said in response. The General sat down again, trying to think of another way to convince the Mahatma. Tagore then tried a different approach: “We need to send that ultimatum, my friend. If not in your name, do it in mine. I don’t care if they call me weak. We do not only have to think of the Maximist threat, we must also think about all those innocent civilians in the Basin who are caught between two fires right now. Sure an ultimatum might be a violent action, but it is essential in ending the spiral of violence in Nepal right now.” Razak, carried away by Tagore’s words, shouted out: “The Indian Red Army shall sweep into the Ganges-Yamuna Basin! There will be no violence as the Nepalese will be too scared to fight!” Gandhi, not entirely convinced, gave in to Tagore’s request: “Fine, send the ultimatum. But I won’t sign it. If this goes wrong, it is all because of your doing.”



11th of November, Calcutta, Bharatiya Commune.

“We’ve received word from Nepal,” Mahadev said, “They have caved to our pressure and surrender the demanded territories back to us. Not a single shot has been fired!” “I’m glad to hear this”, Gandhi replied. “The army has already begun with rounding up the Maximist rebels in the area. We can celebrate this as a victory, Bapu. No need to be sad.” Gandhi looked up to his old secretary and said: “I’m not sad because of Nepal, Mahadev. I’m said because it has become clear to me that this job has changed you. Sometimes, I’m afraid you no longer uphold the path of peace and non-violence.” Mahadev looked surprised and replied: “Of course I still do, Bapu. But this job has changed all of us. When we took on this office, we could have never imagined what it would bring to our lives. We all knew the job wouldn’t be a walk in the park, but the constant threat of a coup or of assassination attempts has been hard on most of us. And the hardest thing is yet to come. We’ve not even begun thinking about how we will approach reunification with the Dominion.” Gandhi agreed and said: “Mahadev, I think it is time we finally started figuring out how we will approach the enemy in peace. Why don’t you and Minister Kaur sit together sometime and write down all the possible issues that could arise about reunification. In the meantime, Tagore and I will draft a new constitution for a unified India. Of course Prime Minister Ali Jinnah will have some remarks about it, but it is good to be prepared when we will finally meet the Dominionists.”

16th of November, Port Said, Suez Canal, Ottoman Empire.

A loud explosion woke Hermann Felt from his deep sleep. The Commanding Officer of the Suez Division in the German Army put on his uniform as quickly as possible. As he came out of his room, the alarm of the military base began sounding. He was not the only one awakened by the explosion. Felt hurried towards the communications station. “What in the Kaiser’s name is going on here?” he asked one of the operators. “Commandant, Egypt has just declared war on the Ottoman Empire. They have crossed the Suez Canal and are now engaging with a small Ottoman garrison in Port Said”, the operator explained. “Establish contact with the German Mediterranean fleet. Inform them that we are still operational. Ask for reinforcements and the deployment of a battleship. We must show the Egyptians that the Germans are here to stay”, Felt ordered. As the operator was sending the message in Morse code, Felt left to have a look outside. A large black smoke plume filled the nights sky. The oil tanks at the canal must’ve been hit. How could they have missed this? An Egyptian army wasn’t something you just overlooked. The diplomatic fallout of this conflict would be huge. All Felt could hope for was that the Egyptians weren’t actually stupid enough to try and take the canal from the Germans. As sounds from far away explosions continued, Felt went back inside and decided to check in on comms again. “Commandant, we have received a telegram from the German ambassador in Teheran. It seems that Persia and Rashidi Arabia have joined Egypt in their war against the Ottoman Empire”, the operator said when he saw Felt entering. “So is this how the Sick Man of Europe dies?” Felt wondered. The Great Middle Eastern War of 1937 had begun.

Smoke rising from burning oil tanks in Port Said on the Suez Canal.