‘British Bolé Baap Re Baap’ - World War II and the Prospect of ‘Quit India’ in Bengal: ‘War’ Rumours and ‘Revolutionary’ Parties

This talk will look at the years 1940–42 in Bengal with a view to analyse the social fuel that made the Quit India Movement possible in the province. War-time colonial policies created multiple disruptions and intrusions in the lives of the people of Bengal, building up anxieties and mass discontent. Coupled with widespread rumours, this profoundly reconfigured the image of the colonial state. This paper attempts to tap into the psyche of colonised minds in Bengal in the early stages of the war, which began to question British invincibility in the face of serious reverses in Southeast Asia. When a potent mix of mass discontent and rumour was combined with ‘revolutionary’ political activism in the countryside, it acted as an explosive catalyst, animating the Quit India Movement.