July 05, 2020

Quest for the Path of Indian Revolution

THE various peasant struggles led by the Communists, particularly the glorious Telangana armed people’s struggle brought to the fore issues concerning the stage of Indian revolution, the strategy that needed to be adopted and also the tactics to be pursued. These questions led to various discussions and debates within the Party.

The political tactical line that was adopted in the Second Party Congress was subjected to minute analysis for answers to these questions that confronted the Indian communists. The Andhra committee of the Party, which was leading the Telangana armed struggle led this scrutiny and subsequent debates. They had submitted an elaborate note detailing the deficiencies they had identified in the political tactical line and also the way it was being implemented by the then leadership of the Party. The Polit Bureau that was elected at the Second Party Congress had rejected the entire theses of the Andhra Secretariat as gross reformism and characterised it as deviation from Marxism-Leninism.

The PB brought out three documents – ‘People’s Democracy’, ‘Agrarian Question’ and ‘Tactical Line’ – at the end of 1948, which developed Left-adventurist positions on the various theoretical questions that arose during the practical work and were confronting the Party.

Following on the line thus developed, a call was given to conduct all India railway strike on March 9, 1949. The government of India unleashed severe repression on the leaders of the Party and trade union. Thousands of comrades were arrested and put in jails in various states. The Party central leadership called for converting the prisons into ‘fortresses for class struggle’. Many comrades laid down their lives due to their loyalty to the Party and the cause of the revolution.

These calls, both of the strike and the ‘jail struggles’, given without considering the objective conditions and the readiness of the workers, showcase the Left-adventurist line pursued by the then Polit Bureau. Instead of self-critically analysing and accepting the factors that led to the lukewarm response to the strike call, the leadership labeled all those who were questioning them as cowards, betrayers and reformists. Many comrades were removed on this basis and state committees too were reorganised. Leading comrades in the Party who did not agree with the PB were directed to give in writing their ‘self-criticism’ and most of them submitted to these directions. As a result of these policies pursued by the leadership, membership of the Party fell from around 80,000 to 20,000. The overall atmosphere in the Party got vitiated and a sense of despondency set in, and the only saving factor was the agrarian struggles led by the Party.

In this background, an editorial, ‘For a Lasting Peace, for a People’s Democracy’ appeared in the organ of the Cominform (Communist Information Bureau). This editorial sharply criticised the political line that was being pursued by the top leadership of the Indian Communist Party and ignited a big internal debate in the Party. The Andhra committee of the Party took this publication of the editorial as an opportunity to further intensify the inner-party struggle that they had started against the Left-adventurist positions of the PB.

The functioning of the Polit Bureau, as a superior body to the Central Committee was severely criticised. The role of the general secretary of the Party in initiating and promoting the sectarian political line, pursuing wrong organisational principles, subduing any criticism emanating from any quarter, lack of self-criticism, failure to ensure collective functioning and convene meetings of the Central Committee were identified as some other important reasons for the adventurist line that had brought the Party to the verge of disruption.

In the background of the Cominform editorial, the Central Committee met in the middle of 1950 and after serious political discussions, criticism and self-criticism, arrived at certain political and organisational decisions.

BT Ranadive, general secretary elected in the Second Party Congress was replaced by C Rajeswara Rao. A new three-member Polit Bureau and eleven-member Central Committee was also elected. It had decided to hold a plenum of the new Central Committee, including the representatives of the provincial committees, within six-months to finalise political and organisational decisions.

On the political front, the Central Committee had adopted the note submitted by the Andhra committee on ‘Left Deviation inside the Communist Party of India’, with amendments. It also withdrew the three documents (People’s Democracy, Agrarian Question and Tactical Line) that were circulated by the PB and decided to review other documents. It had adopted four other documents – critique of the three Polit Bureau documents that were circulated earlier, Political Resolution, Resolution on Mao and Organisational Report on the Left-Sectarian Activities of the Polit Bureau – for inner-party discussion and adoption at the plenum that was scheduled.

The main change that had come was in deciding the path of Indian revolution. The PB elected in the Second Party Congress advocated that the Indian path should be the path of political general strike and armed workers’ uprising in the cities to capture power. The newly elected Party leadership, accepted the path suggested by the Andhra committee, the path of partisan war leading to the establishment of liberation areas and ultimately liberation of cities. It had rejected the thesis of single-stage revolution, that is, the theory of the intertwining of the democratic and socialist stages in Indian revolution. Accordingly, the strategy of class alliances during the course of revolutionary struggle was also redrawn. It was accepted that entire bourgeoisie, including the rich peasantry cannot be characterised as enemies of the people’s democratic revolution and efforts should be made to win certain sections among them.

The new political line that was adopted too erred in its assessment of the Indian situation and hence, in the revolutionary strategy that needed to be pursued. Its characterisation of Indian independence, the role of imperialism and its influence on the Indian ruling classes reflected this wrong assessment. As a result, the strategy and the path of revolution to be pursued also contained certain errors. The subsequent developments in Telangana and other regions of the country brought these limitations to the fore. Once again, intense inner-party discussion had started.

The right reformism that was a dominant tendency in the Party before the Second Party Congress, used this opportunity to raise its head. Party headquarters in Bombay became the centre of this new opposition, with SA Dange, Ajoy Kumar Ghosh and SV Ghate leading the charge. They used the legal freedom they enjoyed to spread confusion among the Party ranks. The central leadership, leaders of the Telangana armed struggle and other peasant movements were handicapped because they were underground. Again, the inner-party situation deteriorated and the Party was virtually split into different trends and factions.

Through all these experiences, Party had found out through the hard way that fighting right reformism with the sword of left adventurism or vice-versa will not help in entirely eliminating both these wrong tendencies in the Party.

Taking stock of this grave political-ideological disarray inside the Party, it was decided to seek the fraternal assistance of the Communist Party of Soviet Union (CPSU) and Comrade Stalin. The CPSU leadership readily agreed to this proposal. A delegation comprising C Rajeswar Rao, M Basavapunniah, Ajoy Kumar Ghosh and SA Dange, was deputed to discuss with the leaders of the CPSU and Comrade Stalin, and seek clarification on all the controversial and debated issues within the Communist Party. The Central Committee of the CPSU had set up a Commission, comprising Stalin, Molotov, Malenkov and Suslov, headed by Stalin, for these discussions.

The main issues that were taken up for discussion, in short, concerned the Programme of the Party and the tactical questions of theory and their concrete application to a concrete situation and similar other issues. Stalin and the CPSU had made it abundantly clear that it is for the Indian communists to analyse the concrete conditions in the country and apply Marxism-Leninism accordingly, while their role would be confined only to assisting the Indian communists in arriving at certain clarity.

In May 1951, the Central Committee of the Party met and was apprised of these discussions. Basing on these discussions, the Central Committee arrived at certain conclusions and these were incorporated in the Draft Programme of the Communist Party, first published in April 1951, which was subsequently amended and adopted by the All-India Party Conference, held in October 1951, and later by the Third Party Congress in 1953 (Madurai). The ‘Statement of Policy’, detailing the path of Indian Revolution and the theory and principles of tactics that were to be pursued too was adopted at the all-India Conference in 1951. These documents clearly stated that India’s path of revolution cannot be the Russian path or the Chinese path, but a path of Leninism applied to Indian conditions.

Rajeswar Rao and the Polit Bureau which was elected in May 1950 resigned on the grounds that their continuation was not congenial for the reunification of the Party, in order to carry out the newly chalked out Party line. The Polit Bureau was reconstituted with Ajoy Kumar Ghosh elected as the general secretary.