Vol. XLII No. 17 April 29, 2018

For A Strong CPI(M) With An All-India Mass Base

THE 22nd Congress of the CPI(M) held in Hyderabad discussed how to build a strong party with an all-India mass base  – the goal set out by the Kolkata Plenum on Organisation held in December 2015.  The Political-Organisational Report presented to the Congress reviewed the implementation of the organisational tasks set out by the Plenum.

The Plenum had pointed out that the expansion of the Party and its mass base requires the stepping up of the class and mass struggles conducted by the Party and the mass organisations.  There have been serious efforts in this direction. 

Apart from the all-India united actions by the trade unions and the kisan organisations, at the states’ level, there have been sustained campaigns and struggles. Notable among them were the 154-day Mahajana Padayatra in Telangana; the Maharashtra and Rajasthan kisan struggles; the march to Nabanna (Secretariat) braving police repression in Kolkata; the innumerable struggles against forcible acquisition of land and displacement of people in Andhra Pradesh; and the mass struggle against demonetisation in Kerala.

However, the call to adopt a mass line, by re-orienting the style of work of the Party at all levels and to establish live links with the people, is still to be fully implemented and needs to be pursued more seriously.

The crucial factor in building a revolutionary party organisation is the quality of Party membership. It is only a Party membership imbued with the requisite political-ideological level, working dedicatedly and in a disciplined fashion that can discharge the responsibility of building a Communist party with a strong mass base.

In this connection, the Plenum had called for implementation of a five-point criteria which should be fulfilled if a Party member is to be renewed.  This effort to improve the quality of Party membership has been undertaken seriously by some state committees while it is still to be implemented in others.  The enforcement of this guideline for improving Party membership has led to a fall in the membership of many states.  The total membership of the Party stands at 10,12,315 in 2017 as compared to 10,58,750 at the time of the 21st Congress. However, this is not a cause for concern as it is important to retain only those Party members who are capable of discharging the minimum political-organisational responsibilities.  It is by this process of streamlining the membership that the Party organisation will become capable of conducting the political and ideological work necessary to expand the Party. 

The Plenum had directed that more youth should be recruited into the Party to improve the age composition of the general Party membership.  All state committees were set a target to achieve 20 per cent of the membership below 31 years of age in three years time.  Some states have made progress in this direction.  Kerala, which has the biggest membership, has 23.45 per cent of its members being 31 years and below, i.e., 1,08,699 members.  Some of the states have also improved the age composition of their state committees with 10 to 15 per cent of the members being 45 years and below.

Similarly, there is some progress in increasing the membership of women in the Party. Though this is uneven and some states are lagging behind.  The overall percentage of women members in the Party is 16.63 per cent in 2017 as compared to 15.28 per cent in 2015 at the time of Plenum.  The Party Congress has reiterated that women must constitute 25 per cent of the membership within a prescribed period of time. 

The class composition of the Party membership has also shown a general improvement in terms of the composition of the basic classes – working class, poor peasant, and agricultural workers.  In terms of social composition, there is an improvement in the membership of dalits and adivasis while there is significant increase in membership of Muslim minorities is yet to be registered.

An important area of the Party organisation is cadre policy, training and equipping of cadres and their deployment.  Wholetime cadres are the mainstay of the Party organisation.  While some steps were taken in the states to formulate a cadre policy and providing them with minimum resources, there are major shortfalls in this regard. In the light of the expansion of the BJP-RSS organisation in new areas and the attacks on the Party in its strong bases, it has become imperative for the Party to develop a centralised cadre policy which can be applicable to all states.  The Political-Organisational Report has provided direction in this regard. 

The Organisational Report has noted that Party education has been more systematic and has been expanded in many states, though the aim of covering all Party members for basic education still remains unfulfilled.  The Party runs six daily newspapers and innumerable periodicals in various languages. The report has set out plans to start an online news portal and for greater intervention in the social media to strengthen the political-ideological work. 

The Political-Organisational Report adopted by the Congress will give an impetus to streamlining the Party organisation and taking forward the implementation of the tasks set out by the Kolkata Plenum on Organisation, so that a revolutionary party with a mass line can be built. 

(April 25, 2018)