[ Why the first General Secretary of the CPI(M) from the time of its formation in 1964, resigned from the Offices of General Secretary and Polit Bureau Membership in August, 1975? Documents explaining the grounds leading to his resignation are given below]
- Preface by KN Ramachandran, General Secretary, CPI(ML) Red Star
- Preface by com. D. Prempati
- Why I Resigned from G.S. & P .B.
- Editorial Postscript
- Appendix I: Abbreviations and Explanations
- Appendix II: Tactical Line: Not Peaceful But Revolutionary Path
1. Preface by KN Ramachandran
Com. P.Sunderayya was the veteran leader of the great Telengana Movement. Following the split in the CPI, leading to the formation of CPI(M) in 1964, he was elected as its first General Secretary. He resigned from the post of General Secretary and Polit Bureau membership on 22nd August, 1975. Explaining the reasons of his resignation he gave a detailed letter to the Central Committee in October, 1975. But CPI(M) leadership never made it available to the committees below the CC or held a discussion on it inside the party. Com. P. Sunderayya continued in CPI(M) and passed away in 1985. After his death, a PBM, Basavapunnaiah presented a point by point rebuttal of Sunderayya’s letter, but it was never mentioned when it was published that one of the main criticism of PS was the refusal of the PB and the CC to practice the Tactical Line adopted by the undivided party in 1951. It is interesting that though the main attack on the CPI leadership during the inner party struggle leading to the split was that it threw away this revolutionary document, after the formation of the CPI(M), the majority in the PB never tried to implement it. After the death of PS, with the note of MB it was formally buried.
Following 7th Party Congress of the CPI(M) at Kolkata by the end of 1964, the inner party struggle waged by the Communist Revolutionaries was focused on the Party program and Path of Revolution adopted by it. They reflected the centrist, in effect neo-revisionist, line of the leadership, soon degenerating it to parliamentary cretinism. As a result, like the CPI, it also abandoned the path of revolution. Though, PS did not resign from the CPI(M), the resignation line shows that he was waging a serious struggle from within; but he was isolated and forced to resign.
What is the relevance of re-publishing this resignation letter of PS now? The answer to this question is explicit in the letter itself. Some of the CR forces like CPI(ML) Liberation has joined the Left front led by CPI(M), and some others are having an increasing sift corner to it. This letter from PS is an answer to them. PS accuses PBMs for hobnobbing with Jan Sangh, instead of trying for left assertion in the fight against Indira autocracy, He accuses Jyoti Basu for helping the BMS to grow. He accuses the PBMs for practically throwing away the Tactical Line of 1951, similar to what the CPI leaders did, when in making a concrete analysis of then Indian situation and in charting the path of Indian revolution, the 1951 document prepared with the assistance of the CPSU leadership was the best ever document of the undivided CPI. They rejected the relevance of agrarian movement in the development of revolutionary struggle.
He criticisms raised by PS on the opposition front to be developed against Indira autocracy was not for dissociating from the broad front for re-establishing democratic rights, but cautioning against joining hands with Jan Sangh led by RSS, a fascist force. But the opportunist line taken by the majority helped the growth of BJP/RSS. Even then, instead of giving priority for independent communist assertion by building program based left alternative, in the name of fighting CPI(M) led forces go for political alliance with ruling class parties, who have no basic policy differences with the corporate fascist BJP led forces. In the name of building a broad based anti-fascist movement against Modi rule, they forget history: as what happened when they hobnobbed with Jan Sangh to fight Indira autocracy, forming alliance with VP Singh and BJP in 1989 elections, in abandoning the possible left assertion by agreeing to make a CMP based adjustment with UPA etc. Along with this, like the Congress and other opposition parties, the revisionists also compromise to soft Hindutva line as is happening now. Even after the failure to wage a consistent struggle against RSS/BJP fascism has led to its dominance in all fields, the CPI(M) led forces have ceased to act as left; they have degenerated to social democratic positions. That is why Red Star calls for a common program based Revolutionary Left Coordination to assert itself, while becoming a part of the broad based anti-fascist movement, as we could see during the citizenship movement.
As we are engaged in a fierce struggle against RSS fascism, for taking a politically correct line study of such documents is a must. All comrades should try to read the resignation letter of PS as well as the Tactical Line of 1951.
- Preface by com. D. Prempati
The text of P. Sundarayya's resignation was made available by certain friends from south India. It was they who, for the first time, took the decision to have it circulated in wider circles in view of the extra-ordinary importance of the issues raised therein. We are indeed thankful to them not only for their political acumen but also for the trust they reposed in us.
The interests adversally [sic. adversely] affected by its publication are likely to question the authenticity of this document. Being the sole custodian of the document in the original and having severely restricted its travel beyond the Central Committee the Party leadership with perfect ease and felicity can always issue a terse and pithy statement announcing that the document purported to have been authored by the late Sundarayya is nothing but a sheer concoction. However we are convinced that they can no more exercise this usual privilege.
From friends working for the CPI (M), particularly in West Bengal, we have learnt that Sundarayya's resignation which he submitted in October 1975 was never circulated to party ranks. From the contents of the resignation one can easily see that the Statement of Policy document which the undivided Communist Party adopted in the year 1951 remains central to Sundarayya's differences with the dominant section of the party leadership.
In the year 1985 barely within two months of Sundarayya's demise the theoretical quarterly of the CPI (M), The Marxist, in its issue July-December 1985 carried M. Basavapunnaiah's write-up entitled The Statement of. Policy Reviewed. In his editorial note to this article B.T. Ranadive informed that the Statement of Policy Reviewed was adopted by the party in the year 1976. Obviously the reviewed Statement supplanted the earlier Statement of 1951. The point which one has to bear in mind is that the reviewed Statement was adopted roughly a year after Sundarayya's withdrawal from party leadership. Again, the party leadership took a solid nine years to have their review resolution circulated through the columns of The Marxist. Ranadive attributed this delay to the period 1976 being the period of repression and Emergency rule.
He did not specify why the party did not circulate its 1976 document in the changed political scenario from the early 1977. Neither did he explain why the party chose mid-1985 to release the 1976 document.
When we first read Basavapunnaiah's write-up in The Marxist in mid-1985, honestly speaking we just could not make out that it was actually a point by point rebuttal of the grounds offered by Sundarayya in support of his resignation. It was only after we received Sundarayya’s resignation and closely read the arguments did we begin to perceive that Basavapunnaih used up the whole gamut of his histrionic skill to reject Sundarayya's arguments, one and all.
The manner in which the party leadership handled Sundarayya’s resignation, makes a sordid reading. Barely within a year of Sundarayya’s withdrawal from party leadership, they reviewed, revised and revoked the Statement of Policy, the basic document which for Sundarayya and millions of his countrymen blazed the only resplendent path of Indian revolution; and lest he might react, stalled its publication until after his death in 1985. During this nine year period they had had their party Congresses and in the political resolutions they successively adopted not a word was mentioned about this basic revision in the document which they deified all these years. With the resignation letter safely locked up in the party strong room they presumably calculated that nobody would be able to relate Basavapunnaiah's The Statement of Policy Reviewed to its immediate context, that is, Sundarayya’s resignation. Any other communist party would have released at least a gist of Sundarayya's criticism of the party functioning, if not the entire letter and offered at the same time its own closely argued views so that the first-class political debate it would have created might help contribute to a heightening of the political consciousness of its cadres.
Coming to the authenticity of the text of the resignation as being published in this volume, we would suggest both, Sundarayya's resignation and Basavapunnaiah's The Statement of Policy Reviewed be read together, or the latter being not readily available at least, the Editorial Postscript which sets forth the more Important Points from the resignation as well as Basavapunnaiah's Opposition to Sundarayya's basic postulates. Little did Ranadive realise that by agreeing to publish Basavapunnaiah's review Statement he was actually publishing Sundarayya's resignation in the party quarterly. For as one might see all adversary arguments referred to in Basavapunnaiah's write-up are actually Sundarayya's arguments. One can always reconstruct Sundarayya's resignation from Basavapunnaiah's article.
A much better course would have been to publish both documents in a single volume. Obviously a publication of this sort only the party can bring out. Instead of raising smoke over the authenticity of the text of the resignation if the party publishes both documents in a single volume, it will be doing yeoman's service to the Indian Communist movement.
The Statement of Policy as adopted in 1951 remains the hub of polemics, and so we have reproduced the original version of the Statement for benefit of our readers. We share the view being expressed in certain quarters that the Statement of Policy (1951) has the tested merit of being the most dependable rallying point for a possible unity in the ranks of the Indian Communists.
At the same time we feel rather grievously hurt that the CPI (M) leadership should have abandoned the Statement of Policy, and together with it Sundarayya, one of the tallest revolutionary leaders of modern India. That the issue of The Marxist which was put out soon after Sundarayya's death did not publish obituary of its former General Secretary, did not surprise and shock the activists of the Indian Communist movement. The more shocking development was the obituary which Basavapunnaiah penned down on the demise of his own party's revolutionary heritage.
We are indeed grateful to the several friends who encouraged us to bring it out in book form. We do not know the political credentials of the persons who demanded we publish the book. May be they are our CPI (M) friends. At any rate we implore the CPI (M) leadership not to take it as a sectarian sort of offensive. Hopefully the CPI (M) leadership is as much interested in building a united communist movement as others outside. Could we have a dialogue [sic.] even at this stage?
Shri K. Anand Rao who typed the Ms. single-handedly has made it possible to bring out the book without the usual blunders. He deserves our thanks.
Oct 21, 1990 D. PREMPATI.
Why I Resigned from G.S. & P.B.
In my letter of 22-8-1975 to PBMs and CCMs I have briefly narrated the reasons for my resignation. They are:
- My resignation is due to the fact that the CC majority has decided for joint actions with pro-imperialist Jana Sangh with para-military fascist (storm-trooper like RSS) as its core in the name of fighting emergency, which I consider very harmful for our party; both among democratic masses in our country and abroad, we will be getting isolated from the anti-imperialist and socialist forces.
- My resignation is also due to the PB's failure to concretise the tactical line, its application in T.U., Kisan and other mass fronts, and its application in building the party organisation, open and secret sections. It has been put in cold storage for all practical purposes.
- My resignation is also due to the way the main class front, the T.U. Front, has been functioning in formulating the demands, in winning the democratic sections and other classes to back up their demands, in building party branches, fractions, and their functioning, especially at all-India level, bypassing the Party centre and over the heads of State Committees.
- My resignation is also due to some major Party units not taking seriously the agrarian resolution in practice, neither delegating enough cadre to the front, nor building the unity of agricultural labour and the poor peasants on the one hand with the middle peasants on the other.
- My resignation is also due to ignoring the building of secret part of our Party organisation, as envisaged in Muzaffarpur Resolution.
- My resignation is also due, on the top of all, PB ceased to function as a collective body, most of PBMs working in their own States, but meeting once in six weeks or once a month, taking decisions on the current events or urgent issues. Com. M.B. after 1970 illness, left the headquarters and stayed in Vijayawada, and contributes his advice, opinion, but not actually fighting for his line or participates in carrying out the responsibility of PB. When in the PB, there cannot be frank discussion about major Party Units like Bengal, Kerala, or T.U. front, before the PBM of these States and fronts, and when the PBMs, BTR and myself, are at loggerheads on many issues, and with no prospect of improving the situation, it is better to resign from the post of G.S and P.B. instead of further damaging the party.
- I have also come to the conclusion that without a PB of homogeneous political and organisational outlook functioning from the centre and not getting attached to any State without a firm majority in the CC, it is wrong for one especially like me who came from a movement, whatever its contribution in the past is today of small proportion, while there are not big States with their big mass organisation and big party units with their own rich experience to hold the responsible post of G.S.
- So, in the period of emergency it is much more necessary for a unified PB and a GS in tune with the majority political line, and who can command the confidence of major units and have the authority and confidence to undertake the responsibility.
- When I am resigning on these grounds and especially on the immediate political line, which I consider very harmful to the party, there is no meaning to keep my resignation as GS and as PBM a secret from the party rank and lower units. So, as soon as other CCMs from other regions’ opinions are collected by the PB, whatever its decisions, should be communicated to all party units.
- In fact, if sufficient number of CCMs or party units representing at least 1/3 of the party membership are there to support me, I would demand a party congress to decide the political line and elect a new CC, PB and a new GS.
Certain PBMs, I was told, wanted a more detailed note on the same for making it understandable or easy to explain to the State Committee members and to comrades of lower committees.
Before I go into detailed explanation of the factors for my resignation, I want to make it once again clear that the differences in PB have persisted from 1969 beginning, which led Com. M.B and sometimes later PR to submit their resignations from PB but withdrawn later at the request of other PBMs. The differences became more acute by 1972 Madurai Congress of our Party, and it was decided that these differences be placed before CC and to continue the PB and CC without anyone resigning or withdrawing at the Party Congress. Documents enumerating differences were prepared by Com. BTR, M.B. and PS but they were not pressed or placed before the CC. But a statement was made before the CC in Nov. 1972 that the decisions of Madurai Congress (9th Congress) of our Party had given sufficient basis for carrying on the work and that in course of working them, if differences arise, they would be placed before CC for decision.
Yet in spite of CC decisions on Agrarian questions, the resolution "On Immediate Tasks before Party Organisation" (Muzaffarpur CC March 1973), differences on other issues had worsened. Even in implementing the decisions arrived at on agrarian and organisational resolutions, differences had become acute. I had to place all these differences before the CC in the beginning of 1974 in opposition to the advice given by other PBMs. CCMs have all the relevant documents, or extracts pertaining to these differences written by me, comrades BTR, MB and Surjeet. It was decided in June 1974 meeting of CC to take up one issue after another in the CC, and on the outcome of these discussions, the question of my continuing as GS or resignation was to finally be decided.
In this process, CC had passed resolutions "On Party & Trade Unions" (June 1974) "On Trade Union Unity and Bharatiya Mazdoor Sangh" and "On Certain T.U. Problems" (Sept. 1974). The way these resolutions were explained or implemented had become an issue of acrimonious debate between PB members, especially between Com. BTR and P.S. Further differences arose with regard to the estimation of Gujarat and Bihar movements, JP movement, our attitude towards them, the question of a ''broader front including Kerala Congress" advanced by Kerala State Committee, joint actions and joint action committees with All India Right reactionary parties like Congress (O), BLD and Jana Sangh, especially with the latter, except on the issue of fighting for civil liberties through Civil Liberties Union, It was decided in the PB meeting of June 10-11-1975 (which Com. MB avoided attending) that the question of my resignation from GS and from PB be discussed in the CC meeting to be held from July 17th to 22nd, 1975, along with other pending issues on the agenda, the priority being given to this.
Meanwhile, on June 26th, new emergency on the ground of internal security danger was declared by Indira Congress Govt. PB found itself and the party to be totally unprepared for this development and itself so scattered and dislocated and politically so disunited as to become virtually ineffective and practically non functioning
Now coming to detailed explanation:
Joint Actions & Joint Committees with Jana Sangh
The CC resolution on "Declaration of Emergency and the Situation Thereafter" as finalised by PB and released on 2-9-1975 says “Here is the biggest chance to develop the united front from below i.e., the United front of the masses following all opposition parties and even the Congress followers to growingly fight the emergency and secure back the normal democratic rights."
After this it continues, "While developing such a movement from below, we must remember that the CC has already decided that it will unite with all parties, groups and individuals in the fight for, civil liberties. In view of the conditions created by the declaration of emergency this assumes greater importance. Every endeavour must be made by the party for such unity in order to bring about the broadest mobilisation for the common fight".
I consider this to mean that we can have and "every endeavour to be made to have joint action and joint action committees with all parties (including Jana Sangh – P.S.), groups and individuals, from above, while developing such a movement "from below." This is nothing but a political united front with Jana Sangh though “the CC wants to make it clear that this unity is confined to the issue of Civil liberties and democratic rights and though it reiterates its well-known position that there is no question of political "united front with Jana Sangh and other parties of the right".
In the earlier CC draft in April 1975 which was sent to the State committees and Dist. Committees or State Plenums for discussion, before CC could finally adopt it, it was laid down; "During the course of conducting such united actions with other political parties (Right reactionary opposition parties, Congress (0) BLD on certain occasions with J S.) it may become necessary to set up action committees for this purpose, but they must not be made campaign Committees over a prolonged period which gives the impression of forming united front committees with these parties. If the action committees forming on specific issues impart the character of political united front with such Right parties, our Party's political position will be in danger of being compromised in the eyes of the people. Hence the necessary precautions to avoid such pitfalls".
No such warning or precaution is given here. Since the emergency is of a prolonged character, joint action committee with the Jana Sangh and other Rightist political parties, in the name of restoration of Civil liberties and ending emergency will be of a prolonged character, and hence such a forum or joint action committee is bound to give the impression of a political united front before the people.
Jana Sangh and other Rightist parties may be anxious to join in such action committees with us because they, without committing themselves into concrete actions on economic and political issues against the landlords, monopolists and, imperialists and in the interest of toiling masses, can readily join the political agitation against the Government and try to reap the benefit of such agitation in the company of left and democratic parties and forces.
Further, it is wrong to equate the struggle for defence of civil liberties under a bourgeois-democratic regime with the struggle to restore civil liberties under one-party authoritarian rule of bourgeois-landlords Govt. headed by the big bourgeoisie. The latter is one of replacing the one party authoritarian rule by a democratic regime of different class composition. Hence a front of all political parties including the Rightist parties and Jana Sangh cannot but be a political front, and as such, it will not be able to achieve this aim and will be positively harmful.
After all, how do we characterise Jana Sangh? Is it only a Rightist bourgeois-landlord opposition party like Congress (0), BLD, Swantantra, etc. or something worse? In our Programme we have stated in Para 109:
"Reactionary and counter-revolutionary trends in the country have found concrete manifestation in the programme of the Swantantra Party which is trying to unite all reactionary forces under its banner. Also, it is forging links with communal parties like Jana Sangh. (It means Jana Sangh is characterised as much worse than Swantantra party, because it has the additional character of being "Communal", of having policies of advocating most reactionary racial and communal feelings of the Hindu majority community – P.S.). These people carry on vicious attacks against the public sector and demand still greater concessions to monopolists both Indian and foreign. They are openly advocating an almost open-door policy for penetration of foreign capital, particularly from the USA while striving to sabotage trade with Socialist countries. They seek to sabotage all agrarian reforms. After the military conflict with China on the border dispute, they have been emboldened to demand military alliance with USA. The Communist Party will firmly combat the reactionary ideology and programme of Swantantra Party".
The CC in its resolution" On Trade Union Unity and Bhartiya Mazdoor Sangh" in Sept. 1974 has thus characterised the Jana Sangh:
"The party regards the Jana Sangh as a reactionary organisation basing itself on Hindu revivalist chauvinism, organisationally dominated by the RSS and violently anti-communist, anti-socialist bloc and anti-proletariat in words and in deeds. It pursues a Policy of Muslim-baiting, and in the foreign policy matters, a pro-Western line.
As such, I wanted the draft statement sent for discussion by April CC meeting, to which I also agreed at the end; should be revised and a categorical statement by our party should be made that "Jana Sangh being a reactionary organisation dominated by big bourgeoisie and landlord classes, with pro-imperialist policies, basing itself on Hindu revivalist chauvinism and on communalism of (type Stormtrooper) organisation as its core, no joint actions or action committees with Jana Sangh or with any combination in which Jana Sangh is a component part is permissible.
Joint action committees and joint platform with Jana Sangh do create the impression of U.F. with it among the people and as such, it is harmful to the development of left and democratic movement against the ruling classes, against one-party authoritarian rule of Indira Congress.
The CC in its resolution of 14th March 1975 "On the movement in defence of democratic rights and civil liberties" directed all its State Party units to make serious efforts to form committees in defence of civil liberties and democratic rights comprising of prominent members of all parties. We would also strive to bring in mass and class organisations and prominent individuals from different walks of life, while taking care to see that such committees do not acquire partisan colour of anyone or other political party.
"The CC also draws the attention of all our party units and members that these committees which are to be formed for the defence of civil liberties and democratic rights and to fight against the imposition and perpetuation of the repressive laws and Acts should not be confused with the concept of united action and united front of different parties that are formed and forged on some agreed minimum programme, consisting of definite economic, political and social demands. These are to be strictly treated as broad platforms to campaign for civil liberties and democratic rights. If their unity of purpose and effectiveness of such committees are to be safeguarded and are made to adhere to the limited objective for which they are constituted, then every attempt to convert or substitute them for political fronts and alliances should be resisted.
"In forming and functioning these committees for the defence of civil liberties and democratic rights, our members and cadres should always bear in mind our basic concept of the unity of left and democratic forces, a concept that steers clear of the slogan of the so-called all-in-opposition parties unity against the Congress as well as the slogan of the formation of Jana Sangharsh Samithis under the leadership of J.P. i.e. Bihar type fronts".
At that time, the understanding and interpretation given to this resolution was that our party should take initiative to establish civil liberties' union at Central (all India level) and at State levels, with all prominent individuals of all political parties (underlines mine and including of Congress Party if they are prepared to join – P.S.) but it should not be a front of all political parties:
But now the CC resolution (latest Sept. 75) interprets this resolution, as "that the CC has already decided that it will unite with all parties, groups and individuals in the fight for civil liberties." Since March Resolution the words "Civil Liberties' Unions" are not used, but "Committees" in deference of "civil liberties unions" under its normal understanding it may also conclude that the anti-emergency "Unity" of all parties, groups and individuals "to secure back the normal democratic rights" is not a political front because it does not include agreed "minimum programme of economic, political and social demands".
I do not agree with this interpretation of that resolution, if this is now the stand of the CC even then I do not agree with it. The step which in March 1975 we had taken to allow our party members and leaders to join civil liberties' union along with Jana Sangh members which upto 1975 we refused, is not to be interpreted as a first step of joint action committee with J.S. on civil liberties at party levels, later to be interpreted as a first step of joint action committee with J.S. on civil liberties at party levels, later to be developed as U.F. action with it against Indira Congress Govt. in the name of fighting for civil liberties, or in the name of fighting against emergency and one-party authoritarian rule of Indira Congress.
Further, I do not agree that a 'successful' struggle for lifting emergency and ending one-party authoritarian rule can be successfully carried on or developed by forging strictly broad platforms to campaign for civil liberties and democratic rights. Mass struggles to secure back civil liberties and democratic rights and also mass struggles for achieving economic and political demands of all the working people and middle classes have to be combined.
They cannot be separated.
A persistent tendency in the party to joint actions and committees with Jan Sangh and other Rightist opposition parties.
This idea of joint actions and action committees with the Rightist opposition parties including the Jana Sangh is a persistent idea in certain sections of our party and of our party leadership,
The most glaring example is that of Com. Jyotirmoy Basu, MP whip of our Parliamentary Group. He used the position and inspite of repeated warnings, he continued his public statements and parliamentary activities in such a way as to create an impression m public that there is in effect an united opposition bloc from Jana Sangh to CPI (M) in the parliament. His latest act was his attending the meeting of the leaders of Janata Front as an "Observer" on behalf of our party, CPI (M), some time on June 16th 1975 or so. I sent him a telegram that it was against party policy and against all party decisions and asked him not to attend the meetings of leaders of Janata Front proposed to be held from the June 22nd onwards to chalk out the course of action to enforce Indira's resignation. Yet he attended June 25th meeting of these leaders.
The PB could not discipline him because majority of PBMs did not see the harm he was doing and especially when the W. Bengal PBMs did not take his activities seriously, other PBMs from other States did not feel it useful to make it another issue of serious controversy.
- From Nov 1974, Comrades P.R., Jyoti and BTR were for some kind of joint action and/or closer solidarity actions with the movement led by Jayprakash in Bihar and with his efforts to build a similar movement on all-India scale modelled on Gujarat and Bihar movements. PR even advocated joining JP's All-India Coordination committee. They had been advocating joining March 6th, 1975 demonstration led by J.P. before the parliament. BTR placed a document before April 1975 CC wherein he had reaffirmed that it was wrong on our part not to have participated in that March demonstration and that we lost a good opportunity to demonstrate to the people that we were in unity and solidarity with the movement led by J.P. against Indira Congress Government.
- When CC passed the resolution on “The movement in defence of democratic rights and civil liberties" and gave a call in a separate resolution to celebrate April 6th as anti-emergency day along with J.P. Coordination Combination wherever it adhered only to the question of civil liberties, lifting of emergency and withdrawing of MISA, DIR and other repressive measures, this was taken as permission for joint actions with the Jana Sangh and J.P. Combination. That is why I characterise this as the thin end of the wedge for forging in practice a U.F. with Rightist parties including J.S. against Indira Congress Government.
April 1975 Draft of the CC for discussion sent to the States and Dist. Committees (or State Plenums) has further strengthened this understanding. Com EMSissued a statement that our party was prepared to have joint actions with JP's movement and certain electoral adjustments with Congress (O), in certain States which (of course with the sanction of the CO appeared in the press immediately after April Draft of the CC.
- There is the whole controversy with regard to BMS being invited to anti-Wage Freeze Convention, the formation of a Committee with BMS in contravention of PB's direction (because according to PR, he could not prevent it because majority of our own party TU leaders were opposed to the idea of no all-India Action Committee. When the Convention was convened and also they were not convinced why BMS be excluded from our United Trade Union Action Committee); later the permission to anti wage freeze Committee to be convened and functioned was given
by CC and from that Action Committee a call was given for another All-India Strike or mass action, even without waiting for our CC meeting which was to be held within a week of this anti-wage freeze action committee meeting of 9th April. This is in spite of the earlier CC meeting laying down that no further commitment should be undertaken which precludes the CC to take any final decision.
Later in the PB meeting on June 10-11th, Com. PR & BTR proposed that the All-India Convention that was called for June 28th 1975 should discuss the question of taking current problems of workers, the growing lay-offs, retrenchments and unemployment. When I raised whether from the initial mistake of allowing BMS to be a participant in the Anti-Wage Freeze Convention and our inability to extricate ourselves from that position, instead of treating it as an exception, as CC permitted, whether they were going to make it a normal feature of having united committees of Socialist Party, CPI (M) and Jana Sangh. Comrades BTR and PR said that was the decision of the CC in-its April meeting. Com. Jyoti had to intervene and say that it was not so. CC gave permission for BMS to be in the Anti-Wage Freeze Committee, as an exception. If it was to be a normal feature CC should abrogate or modify its resolution of Sept 1974. Till that time, the Convention called for June 28th should confine its activities within the earlier object. Com. Jyoti himself said that he was for revising the earlier CC decision and for going in for united actions and action committees with BMS at all levels.
The CC resolution says; “The Jana Sangh, however, at least, is extremely weak in the trade union field. It is a negligible quantity and the large mass of workers do not regard it as an inevitable component of working class unity. Left to itself the Jana Sangh is no force in the trade union movement and can be safely ignored, boycotted. The struggle for trade union unity today does not demand that Jana Sangh organisations be included in the united front of trade unions. To do so is to promote the false claims of the reactionary party in the working class and give it credentials among the workers. The inclusion of Jana Sangh in the Convention was politically wrong and unnecessary from strict consideration of trade union unity. The mistake arose because of certain previous developments.
"But we as a party should have noted it and warned our comrades that this cannot be a normal and inevitable part of our line of trade union unity.”
“The warning and vigilance are required because though the BMS is not a force, certain left parties or trade union organisations insist on its inclusion in the common front. They see no reason to exclude it. Non-party leaders of some mass organisations (Central employees etc.) do neither agree with our political understanding about Jana Sangh not do they desire to exclude it from the common front. Sometimes, it becomes next to impossible to forge a united front of these unions, unless we agree to accept the BMS as a party of the front.
"The problem arises because of the insistence by other parties on the inclusion of BMS.
"Our tactics should be to continue to develop this broader front without allowing BMS to creep in with the help of some parties and organisations. Our tactics should be based therefore on the following: 1) The reactionary character of Jana Sangh 2) The lack of mass basis behind BMS 3) The necessity of broader trade union front with other central trade union and mass organisations.
“We have to consistently fight for this broader front without BMS.
“If on some occasions [sic] we have to yield, it must be regarded as an exception and not the normal carrying out our lines."
But comrades BTR and PR want to make it the normal practice on the ground that when other left parties like SP, RSP, etc. are insisting on the inclusion of BMS in united actions and united front we ourselves are getting isolated.
It is the same argument that is being advanced by certain CCMs that "However occassions [sic] may arise when united actions with Jana Sangh also may become unavoidable" in the CC's April draft is to be interpreted that whenever other left and democratic parties insist, we should accept Jana Sangh as a component part of joint actions and Joint action committees as "on issues of our choice".
- Com. EMS: In his article "On Bourgeoisie and Bourgeois Democracy" written in 'Deshabhimani, Malayalam daily of the party, just a few days before the declaration of the Internal Emergency on June 26th, advocates an anti-Indira Govt. front including the Right Opposition parties like Jana Sangh etc. He justifies this on the analogy of Anti-Fascist Front during 1930s advocated by C.I., as well as Soviet Union and Anglo-American allied powers, waging war together against Hitler. I consider his arguments in justification of his advocacy for a front along with Jana Sangh against Indira Gandhi Govt. and bringing the analogy of the Anti-Fascist Front, or Soviet and Anglo-American allied powers' war against Hitler, are wrong, mechanical and do not correspond to the present objective situation in India.
He places his argument thus: "In the present Indian conditions, the dominant section of the ruling classes is the Congress. And in this party itself, a ruling clique headed by Indira Gandhi exercises power over the Congressmen. As opposed to Congress, there are Jana Sangh. Congress (O), BLD and such parties also represent the ruling classes. In Kerala, the Muslim League and Kerala Congress are included in this section.
“These opposition bourgeois parties and CPI (M) separately or jointly fighting the Congress, safeguard the interest of workers-peasants and other toiling masses. At the same time, in the united opposition, any proposal for merger in the name of a united opposition, any proposal for merger of all parties, ignoring or covering up the differences among the parties cannot be acceptable to the leftists. (BMS is only against merger into one party. PS)
"The only relevant issue is: In India who aids the growth of monopoly capitalists? Who converts the feudal landlords into agrarian bourgeoisie and protects them? Who creates the climate for growth of capitalists here? Who robs the people of bourgeois democratic rights by perpetuating the "emergency" and the draconian Acts? And who organises the physical attacks against the movements of workers, peasants and other masses? Is not the Indira Govt.? Or is it the bourgeois opposition?"
He answers rightly that it is the Indira Gandhi Govt. which toppled the Kerala & W. Bengal U.F. Govts in 1969 October and 1970 March and even then "when the movement still advanced undaunted by these manoeuvres, ventured to establish a semi-fascist terrorist regime in W. Bengal. Today, schemes are drawn to extend it an over India." He goes on to say ''This is the practical form of development of Fascism." He concludes:
“Just as the imperialist powers opposed to Fascism were used by the Communist International, the working class in India uses that section of bourgeoisie in opposition parties against the dominant section of the ruling classes.
“This is part of Marxist-Leninist tactics of smashing the main enemy confronting presently, using at least temporarily the antagonism and discord existing among the enemy classes. World revolutionary movement could face the Anglo-American attacks, once with their help Nazi Germany and its friends were defeated. Similarly, there is no doubt that Indian Revolutionary movement can face the bourgeois opposition parties when they threaten it, once the main enemy confronting it – the dictatorial tendency of the Congress is defeated with the help of these bourgeois opposition forces."
It is no wonder with this understanding and propaganda, the Kerala State Committee issued a circular to the lower units and cadres on 27-28th June:
"There are only two ways before the ruling circles to meet the situation. Either realise the growing reality, hold democratic elections as demanded by opposition parties, accept the verdict of the people, vacate the seats of power and prepare the ground for another regime which will pursue new policies: or smash whatever is left of the democratic set-up and move towards total fascism.
"The ruling circles have decided to choose the second path".... There are all possibilities today of organising a type of secret activity which can include not only the five parties of the opposition front formed at our initiative, but also parties like the Congress (O), Jana Sangh, National RSP, etc, and also the discontented sections of the ruling parties".
Though, later CCMs from Kerala had stated the call for an opposition front to include Jana Sangh was considered to be wrong and the State Committee instructed the two Dist. Committees to disband such united committees in which Jana Sangh was included, yet the understanding that it is correct and necessary to form a front with all the elements irrespective of their political character, past and present, to fight Indira Gandhi rule, the main enemy of the people is there.
C.I. advocated anti-fascist front during thirties to fight the Govts. that are nursing fascist forces, and their policies. It called for an anti-fascist front of those who are really opposed to the drive to fascist rule, even if they belonged to the Govt. party. In the antifascist front, C.I. did not include parties like Jana Sangh which had been advocating policies which had been more reactionary than the Govt.'s policies and were near to the polices of the full-fledged fascist forces themselves.
Similarly, the analogy of Soviets waging war against Hitler in cooperation or in alliance with Anglo-American allied powers is completely irrelevant to the present Indian situation. Firstly that was in relation to imperialist States and Fascist States. Anglo American and French imperialist States strengthened the fascist States hoping that they would attack the Soviet. It is the strength of Soviet State that made Hitler turn first to pick up easy pickings in Europe, taking advantage of appeasement of anti-fascist popular movement, as well as Hitler's gains during the 1½ years of war against the Anglo-French imperialists that made it impossible for them to join hands with Hitler or even be neutral. The immediate interest of these powers could be safeguarded only by the defeat of Hitler to take the main burden, I do not think the context of imperialist and fascist States and they too involved in imperialist war to redivide the world and especially the fascist attack on the only then existing socialist State, wherein this alliance fructified, can apply to our situation in which the people are to achieve the overthrow of the ruling classes and take over power.
Even the Chinese party forging (or more correctly forcing upon) an anti-Japanese Front with Chiang Kai-Shek Govt. when the Japanese had invaded China and the war of aggression was going on for over 5 years while keeping the liberated areas and its own Red Army intact cannot apply to the present Indian situation.
The criterion in evolving correct tactics to meet the present situation is not historical analogies of entirely different situation, but whether forging a front, however temporary, restricted to the fight for civil liberties, is going to help the development and strengthening of left and democratic movement.
We have been characterising the Rightist opposition parties as avowed reactionary parties advocating pro-landlord, pro-monopolist and pro-American policies. We have never preferred these parties to the ruling Congress party or called for a joint front with them to fight the ruling Congress party. We have not changed, no facts or realities even today are such as to make it necessary to change, and to characterise these parties, specially, Jana Sangh, as parties with whom a front, to fight the emergency and the authoritarian rule of Indira Congress Govt. is to be forged.
We cannot fight a very reactionary Govt. by allying or forging a front with parties who are more, avowedly reactionary like Jana Sangh. So it is not for us to say that any Govt. of opposition including Jana Sangh is preferable to the one existing authoritarian one-party rule of Indira Congress. From this it does not follow that we should adopt measures to support Indira Congress authoritarian regime, its declaration of emergency, to prevent the avowed reactionary Govt. including Jana Sangh coming to power.
The reality today, the change that has taken place, compared to 1969, is due to the intensification of economic crises both on world scale and especially in its disastrous form in India, with weaker economic and industrial base, the ruling classes, dominantly representing the bourgeois-landlord classes, have resorted to these authoritarian steps against workers', peasants' and middle, classes' economic and political demands. It is adopting more and more most of the policies and steps advocated by the avowed reactionary parties. It is also losing fast its mass influence measures. About these developments we have been warning left and democratic forces and have been appealing to them not to fall into either of the alliances of the ruling classes but forge 'the real alternative, left and democratic front.
From my note of July 13thI have taken these paras and moved them as amendments to PB's draft but it was rejected by the rest. I think still that my amendment is correct. If that is adopted, it does not have any loophole for a front with Jana Sangh or a so-called broader front which can include any reactionary group or party. This amendment is as follows: (This can be included in the beginning of the section "Culmination of previous development" of the CC resolution released by PB on 3.9.)
"Our party has been warning that the 1967 Congress defeat in elections and split in the Congress party that started developing from April 1969 were the reflection of the crisis of the capitalist path of development pursued by the Congress party of the ruling classes. The Indicate and the Syndicate (later the Grand Alliance with Swatantra and Jana Sangh) both represent the bourgeois-landlord ruling classes, and were headed by the big bourgeoisie. The split was not between the big bourgeoisie and non-big bourgeoisie as was being propagated by the Right C.P.
"There was difference in the policies, advocated by these two political groups of representatives of the same bourgeois-landlord classes. The Indicate advocated a policy of radical land reforms, of curbing monopolists and nationalisation of key and major industries and develop the public sector, of a non-aligned policy of developing friendly relations and economic deals with Soviet Union and with Socialist countries. These would increase its bargaining position with the imperialist powers especially the American. In the garb of these policies the Indicate wanted to defend the big bourgeois-led Govt. and attack the toiling masses, and the left and democratic forces.
"The Syndicate and the Grand Alliance advocated avowed reactionary policies opposed to the abolition of landlordism and radical land reforms; opposed to the nationalisation of monopolist concerns and to public sector. It stood out for outright attack on communists and UF Govts. in Kerala and W. Bengal and for more reliance on American imperialism and against Indo-Soviet friendship and cooperation.
"Our party had taken a correct stand against the attempted parliamentary coup of the Syndicate and defeated it in the presidential contest in '69.
"At the same time, our party had warned the democratic forces that the real alternative was neither the Indicate and the Right C.P. alliance, nor the grand alliance to which SSP then opted, but building the united front of left parties and of all democratic parties, and forces on the basis of independent mass mobilisation and mass struggles, and on the basis of workers-peasants alliance.
"We warned that failure to develop such an alternative would inevitably lead, as the economic crisis further gets intensified, to the Indicate resorting to all the reactionary steps advocated by the Syndicate and the Grand Alliance, and to intensification of repression and attacks on the toiling masses and the CPI (M) and of instituting authoritarian dictatorship ending bourgeois parliamentary democratic system.
"After the toppling of U.F. Govts in Kerala and W. Bengal and after repression let loose, especially after the rigging of W. Bengal elections in 1972, we should have realised the fast-developing threat of one-party dictatorship of the big bourgeois-landlord classes. We should have developed the mass movements of the workers, peasants and middle classes and built their organisations and our party and its unexposed part with its secret apparatus in such a way as to be able to face the developing threat and be able to counter-attack at the appropriate time.
"We failed because we have been nursing illusions that parliamentary democracy would continue in spite of its negation in W. Bengal, in therest of India for a considerably long period and that our party could function legally as before.” When Indira Congress Govt. has become the main enemy of Indian people and started resorting to more and more one-party authoritarian rule ending the parliamentary democracy, yet the united front of left and democratic forces to fight this has not materialised socialists again moving back to their grand alliance strategy by joining J.P. led movement in Bihar and an all-India scale in Janata Front with Jana Sangh, BLD and Congress (O), etc.
"The Gujarat and later Bihar movements, the outburst of mass discontent, backed by a section of the ruling Congress itself and led by Right Opposition parties, especially after Sri Jaiprakash took over the leadership of Bihar movement, have focussed the attention of the people as an alternative to Indira Congress Govt. This alternative has been considered by a good chunk of our party from top to bottom, as a good way to fight out Indira Congress Govt. the party in power. This is in spite of our CC Resolution pinning down the class character and limitations of these movements, as well as the character of JP led movement as resurgence of old Grand Alliance in the new garb of Janata Front or Jana Sungharsha Committees wherein Jana Sangh with its RSS, BLD and Congress (O) have become major components. S.P. has also joined in.
"The draft statement of April CC, sent for discussion to State Committees and Dist. Committees or State Plenums, permitted joint actions on issues of our choice not only with Congress (O) and BLD but even with Jana Sangh when they become unavoidable, with the permission of Dist. Committees. It is based on the assumption that these joint actions would lead to strengthen left and democratic forces, isolating Jana Sangh. It underplays or even ignores the avowed reactionary character of this Janata Front alliance with its concentrated attack on Indo-Soviet agreement, its anti-Communist character, its essentially big bourgeois-landlord character and its anti-people's character. It ignores the para-military and semi-fascist character of RSS, the real core of Jana Sangh and Jana Sangh's key role in the Janata Front.
"This call for joint action with Jana Sangh is the thin edge of our party sliding into the Grand Alliance in practice, as the Kerala Committee circular showed. This is suicidal for our party and for developing U.F. of left and democratic forces as an alternative to the ruling Congress.
"We should give up this wrong orientation which we sought to put before the party and categorically come out against any joint action with Jana Sangh or with a combination in which Jana Sangh is a component part. Only synchronisation on certain class and democratic issues when actual mass actions take place."
Comrades M.B. & Surjeet Note of 3-9-75: and cutting out the slogan "Replace the one-party authoritarian rule by a democratic regime," from PB's resolution of 17-7-75:
In their note they say "we are of the opinion that we should clearly demarcate from the attempt made by J.P. combine and the section of Congress MPs led by Jagjivan Ram on June 23-24 to unite and replace the present Congress Govt. by another Govt. comprising of Jagjivan Ram's Congress faction and JP's Combine. While it is absolutely correct on our part to demand the resignation of the Prime Minister Indira Gandhi, following Allahabad Judgement, It would be wrong for our party to either associate with the planned movement from 29th June to 5th July 1975 by J.P. combine or to lend support to the faction led by Jagjivan Ram.
"Our party should state its forthright opposition to the Congress led by Smt. Indira Gandhi, and simultaneously demarcate our position from that of the united front of J.P.'s combine and Jagjivan Ram's Congress faction.
“We feel that the finalised CC Resolution on emergency and our tasks does not bring this above-cited aspect as clearly and sharply. If they have moved any concrete amendment to their viewpoint they should have circulated their amendment for other CCMs and State Committee members to understand the real differences that still persist. One way of doing this is tracking the developments since 1969 and categorically conclude that we were not for the ministry of Jagjivan Ram and JP's combine, but for a ministry of different classes opposed to the present Indira Gandhi's one party authoritarian rule.
But they dropped completely the existing formula of Democratic Govt instead of clarifying and explaining what it means. Further they have also agreed to the paras wherein it is stressed that "the party will unite with all parties, groups and individuals in the fight for Civil liberties. In view of the conditions created by the declaration of emergency this assumes greater importance." Of course the same resolution in the very next para says that this unity with all parties is confined to the issue of civil liberties and democratic rights and it reiterates its well known position that there is no question of political U.F. with Jana Sangh and other parties of the Right Joint front with Jana Sangh in the name of civil liberties and against emergency, while declaring that we are not for a political front with it. People will not make this fine distinction but would feel we are in the same front with J.S. against Indira Congress and thus the damage to our party and left and democratic movement is bound to occur.
Com. P.R. commenting on M.B. and Surjeet's note says: “The demand for her resignation was certainly tantamount to her replacement by someone else, most probably by Jagjivan Ram. Was this demand wrong because of the new correlation of forces that had come about? If we are not to be a party to her ouster, the only course should have been not to demand her resignation... To say that the demand was not for replacement by J. Ram is a political conundrum. There is no question of being a party to J. Ram replacing Indira. Had she resigned, who asks for our support for the election of this or that person as the leader of the Congress party?"
This is not the question we are faced with. We know she is not going to resign, then should we join in a joint campaign and struggle with J.P. and Jana Sangh combine to see that Jagjivan Ram becomes the Prime Minister? PR is evidently for that. Otherwise how is it wrong to demand Indira's resignation and carry on struggle to replace her Govt with a left and democratic Govt.? Our slogan in the given correlation of forces may not be achieved but for that reason are we to satisfy ourselves and Join Campaign with J .S. & J.P. to get Jagjivan Ram as premier as a lesser evil than Indira Govt.?
This once again shows that there are two different understandings to the CC Resolution as finalised by the PB Itself. One for joint action with Jana Sangh and other rightist parties and another opposed to that line of action but for struggle to build a left and democratic front, fighting both Indira Congress and J.S. alliance to usher in a real democratic Govt.
On Banning of RSS Anand Margis & Jamaiti-i-Islami
In the CC Resolution on page 4 para 1, it says "Our party has been the most consistent fighter against RSS, Shiv Sena and such other reactionary organisations. It has always been of the opinion that such organisations should be fought politically.” I consider the last sentence to be very wrong. It means we disapprove the Govt banning RSS, Anand Margis, Jamaiti-i-Islami. We have in the past in 1948 and sometimes later, also demanded the banning of RSS (I cannot just now quote the references.) Further how is it wrong for our party or for a democratic organisation to demand a ban on pro-imperialist and anti-people's organisations? Whether the ruling classes and the Govt will ban is a different matter. It is also correct that, we have to judge when to raise such demand taking context. It is wrong on our party to support the ban. Yet it is equally wrong to condemn the ban. The sentence I referred to above in a way disapprove the ban as if such organisations are to be fought politically but should not be banned.
When we discussed this issue in the PB Meeting of July 1975 we are all agreed that it will not commit ourselves to disapproving the ban but criticise Indira Govt. that she and her Govt. encouraged these forces and now by banning these organisations, the Govt. seeks to justify its total war on democracy, as a progressive step. We decided that it should be on this line our spokesman in the parliament has to speak. AKG’s speech was on these lines.
But in our PB statement sent to units on 26-7-1975 a similar sentence as in the finalised CC resolution is there. “it has been our stand that ban on reactionary organisations like RSS or organisations like the Naxalites is correct.” The earlier part referring to RSS etc. is wrong. I missed it when it was finalised and released. It was wrong as my position is clear on this issue.
Tactical Line and Its Concrete Implications in TU and Other Mass Fronts and on Party Organisation
In my note of July 1975, sent to CCMs, in para 16 I have said.
If our party has to function under this emergency and total (it should be corrected as "growing ") illegalisation and growing terror, we cannot afford to go on postponing taking firm decisions on some basic differences.
(i) The perspective of how Indian Revolution will have to be worked for. Though our party congress and CC Resolutions again and again endorse the “Tactical Line” (the policy statement), but in practice it is being negated. The line and understanding given in the policy statement must be strictly adhered to.
"Our revolution cannot capture major industrial & administrative centres and cities, by general strike and armed insurrection of the working class and holding them, spread to the countryside and finally seal the victory.
"Firstly, because the working class is not such a dominant factor in our country (as a whole), nor a party based on Marxism-Leninism is a leading force among them in any of the key industrial strategic centres, our party or such a party does not exist now in overwhelming majority of such industrial centres (areas or regions).
"Secondly, there is no strong widespread peasant movement around these strategic industrial centres based on agricultural labourers and poor peasants. Without such peasant backing, even when the working class uprisings in certain centres capture them, they cannot hold on the fact of armed forces being brought from other centres by the ruling classes. (Even with the peasant movements their uprising is confined to two or three centres, and not countrywide or widespread in large number of such industrial and administrative centres, peasant backing can give them large enough area to deploy and continue the armed struggle for over a long period, by when the uprisings in the rest of the country can break out, while enemy can be weakened.)
"Thirdly, to expect a simultaneous all-India-wide general strike and armed insurrection of the working class backed by all-India-wide peasant armed uprising and action, or preparing (or hoping) for such an eventuality is to forget today's Indian reality, the tremendous uneven development of the democratic and revolutionary movement (as well as vast difference in industrial and agrarian development in various regions or states in India).
“The extraordinary special conditions of the Russian Revolution have not been repeated in any other country during the last 60 years.
"So, the path of Indian Revolution will have to be to concentrate on regions and areas with industrial working class centres and around them in vast contiguous areas, the peasant movements have to be developed in depth, first as political base areas, then guerrilla areas which may develop into liberation areas; the working class in these centres should take the leading role in developing such areas. It should not fritter away its forces on adventuristic ventures or in engaging the ruling classes in premature and unequal confrontations (in cities alone).
“The working class must not confine itself to fighting for its own immediate economic demands, but at the same time, formulate its demands along with the demands of other sections of toiling masses, especially, the toiling peasants and secondly of middle classes. It must also draw in the backward, unorganised sections of the working class and the unemployed. It must actively and directly devote its energies and cadres to develop the peasant movement, students and other auxiliary movements (youth, women etc.) as well as develop the democratic movement bringing in the middle classes and non-big bourgeois sections as well.
"In other areas where the democratic movement and our party is negligible (correct it as "a small") force, whatever contacts, members, and movement we may have, should be developed into small pockets, on similar lines so that when big struggles are fought in the priority areas, these can also act disrupting or diverting the enemy concentration on the main areas. They are to be spread all over the country, as leopard spots."
It is this perspective that should guide our plan of work and day to day work on different mass fronts, especially in trade union and Kisan fronts. It was agreed in the southern CCMs meeting unanimously that Tactical line and its implication on different mass fronts and on party organisation should be discussed and clarified in the following CC meetings within 6 months. Com. M.B. also agreed with it. But today the PB has decided and sent a circular dated 2-9-1975.
"The PB is of the considered opinion that it is both impractical and harmful(underline mine – P.S.) to initiate an inner-party discussion on several of the political-organisational differences that were prevailing in PB and CC since long. Most important and urgently pressing issues alone will have to be chosen by the PB, subject to the approval of the CC for discussions and decisions either in the CC or extending upto State Sectt. of all major states[Note only sectts. of majorand not even all State committees (all minor State Committees) P.S.] It is not prudent and advisable to initiate discussion immediately on the perspective Tactical line, its interpretations and implementation, etc. However, if the CC decides otherwise, the discussion should be condoned to the CC. At best it can be extended to the Sectts. of major State Committees."
Com. M.B. in his note submitted to CCMs August, has this to say: “I am one with Com. P.S. who holds the view that the perspective tactical line is virtually reduced to the status of an icon, though everyone pleads loyalty to it. No serious attempt is made by our party to study and understand its full import, not any earnest effort, to educate the party on its basis during the last 10 years. This document was worked out some 25 years ago in 1950-51. During these years, many changes have taken place in the socio-economic sphere in our country, besides numerous developments in both capitalist and socialist worlds. The perspective tactical line needs to be rediscussed, at least at the CC and at the State Committees' level in order to deepen our understanding and make necessary amendments and further improvements. But so far no such thing was done, nor the party and the mass movement building is undertaken on the lines indicated by the perspective tactical line document, This will have to be rectified in as short as possible time.
"And yet to do all this, at once, here and now, (MB's underlining) as demanded by Com. P.S. in his note to CCMs may be neither prudent nor practical. He has put forth his understanding of the tactical line, as enunciated in 16th or 17th paras of his note to the CC. For example he writes, "So the path of Indian Revolution has to be areas", etc. (see above).
“The concept of industrial centres along with the adjacent agrarian areas developing into guerrilla areas and liberation areas, according to me, goes far beyond my understanding of the perspective tactical line. Some other points too are at variance with my view of the Tactical line document. I may be wrong. Unless it is properly formulated and discussed I cannot vote in favour of paras 16 and 17 of PS note, as they are formulated there. If Com. P.S. demands that I either accept his interpretation or his resignation, I will be in a great predicament. The same may be of some other CCMs. Why we cannot decide it after some proper discussion and within 6 months' time from the date we initiate the discussion on the subject?"
I do not want any CCMs to accept my interpretation, modify it as the majority wants it, but not continue "to treat it as an icon" and not continue the present practice of "the party and mass movement not being built not even undertaken to build on the lines indicated by the perspective tactical line," as MB himself puts it. Now MB has been converted to the postponement of the discussion on Tactical Line itself and its import for its day to day development of mass movements and building the party. Especially in the Muzaffarpur Resolution of CC "On Immediate Tasks on Party Organisation" is not being implemented on T.U. front and on developing unexposed section of the party. Why not com. M.B. say what he thinks the perspective tactical line indicates "on which the party and mass movement building is to be undertaken?" and pin down why we have been failing to do it. At least how to do it from now onwards?
It is this attitude of postponing issues indefinitely and not confront PB comrades of state committees with whom he differs or specifically in case of MB even when he differs, that made me despair of any improvement in the PB and come to decision, better resign from the G.S. and P.B., than to pretend that I could shoulder the responsibility.
It is as early as 1969 March that I submitted my note on how to develop the party organisation and functioning of the CC Centre, keeping the perspective Tactical Line in view. There had been a series of documents exchanged and in a number of PB meetings discussions were also held in 1970. Yet, we left the matter unclenched [sic]. They again erupted in connection with differences on T.U. front. It was again discussed. This specific aspect of implications of perspective Tactical Line is left unclinched [sic] and postponed to be taken up after State Committees discuss how far they have implemented in their respective States in T.U. and party organisation fronts in the light of Tactical line.
Importance of Partisan Struggles for Our Revolution
The Tactical line (the policy statement) means to me and must mean to all our party members that "for the Indian Revolution to succeed it is absolutely essential to combine two basic factors of the revolution – the partisan war of the peasants and workers uprisings in the cities."
It negates the tendency which was dominant in the party leadership especially in 1943-50 period "to forget the colonial nature of Indian economy, to refuse to draw lessons from the experience of revolutionary movement in China and other colonial countries, to minimise the importance of peasant struggles and to put forward the thesis that political general strike in the cities and industrial areas is the main weapon of our revolution; that such strike will itself unleash countrywide insurrection and lead to overthrow of the present state. Hence it stresses that in a vast country like India with a backward and basically colonial economy and with 80% of its people depending on agriculture partisan war is one of the most powerful weapons in the armoury of the revolutionary movement.
It also negates the thesis that was put forward in opposition to the above thesis that "the Indian Revolutionary movement would develop exactly in the same way as the revolution in China and that partisan war would be the main or almost the only weapon to ensure its victory." After enumerating the different conditions in which the Chinese Revolution had to contend with "We have no army to start with. It has to be created. The transport system in India is far more developed enabling the Govt. to swiftly concentrate big forces against partisan areas," etc.
It concludes that "all these do not mean that partisan warfare has no place in India. On the contrary, because of the factors given earlier partisan war must be one of the major weapons in our armoury as in the case of all colonial countries. But this weapon alone cannot ensure victory. It has to be combined with the other major weapons, that of strike of the working class, general strike and uprisings in cities led by the armed detachments of the working class."
It is true that during the last 25 years after the Tactical line was evolved, the Indian economy has far more developed. It is not as dependent on foreign imperialists as it was then, it has developed a considerably heavy industry, its transport and its agrarian economy. It carried out certain agrarian reforms aimed at converting feudal landlords into capitalist landlords and increased considerably agararian [sic] output. It has trade and economic relations with Soviet Union and other Socialist countries. The working class has also grown both in numbers and in skills. Yet the basic factor is that it is still linked up with the imperialist economy and still dependent upon it, continuing its collaboration. Feudal burdens still remain a major feature of Indian agrarian situation. 75% of our population still are dependent on agriculture and allied occupation and 80% living in rural areas, villages. As such, the importance of peasant partisan warfare for making Indian revolution successful is still valid.
The changes in international situation, the tremendous weakening of world imperialism, especially American imperialism, the ending of direct colonial rule and achieving of independence of African and Asian countries, the tremendous growth and strength of economy and military might of the Socialist world from Soviet Union to China, the historic victory of Vietnam and other Indo China peoples over American imperialists, the growing strength of working class and democratic movement even in American and West European countries and we can go on enumerating many other factors. The conflicts between Soviet Union and China etc. have taken place.
It is also true that big scope for developing partisan warfare is in the fight for national liberation, in the struggle against foreign imperialism, the national factor, as BTR and MB in their notes raise, than it is against the dominant bourgeois and they will certainly have its effect on the course of development of Indian Revolution in details and in time.
But none of these factors make it invalid the main idea – the importance of peasant partisan warfare along with the general strike and uprising of the working class in the cities.
Partisan war of peasants: "In the rural areas, the party has to rouse all sections of the peasants, including the rich peasants against feudal exploitation and build their unity basing itself firmly on the agricultural workers and poor peasants, who together form the overwhelming majority of the population. While liquidation of feudalism and distribution of land to the peasants must remain the key slogan of agrarian revolution for the entire period it is necessary to formulate immediate specific demands for each province, and each area, like reduction of rent, fair price for agricultural produce, abolition of feudal levies and forced labour, living wage for agricultural workers, etc. and lead actions for the realisation of these demands. The agrarian crisis is maturing rapidly and the peasant masses are seething with discontent against the present Govt. which rose to power on the basis of their support and afterwards betrayed them. However, despite this widespread discontent and despite numerous peasant actions that have taken place in many parts of the country, the peasant movement in the country as a whole remains weak and large sections of peasants have not yet been drawn into active struggle because of the absence of organisation and firm leadership. It is our task to overcome this weakness by intensive popularisation of our agrarian programme by formulation of such concrete and easily understood demands as can become the basis for the broadest mass action by patient day to day work and correct leadership of struggles to realise these demands and by building up in the course of these struggles a network of peasants and agricultural workers' organisation with underground units in the villages as their leading and guiding centres. Voluntary squads of the most militant and conscious sections of peasants have to be formed to defend the peasant movement against the attacks of the enemy squads that will form nuclei of partisan squads as the movement develops and reaches the stage of seizure of land and partisan warfare.
"It must be realised that because of the vast area of India, because of the uneven level of mass consciousness and mass movement in different parts of the country, uneven acuteness of the agrarian crisis and uneven strength and influence of the party itself the peasant movement cannot develop at the same tempo everywhere. Premature uprisings and adventuristic actions of every type must be undoubtedly eschewed. At the same time, it would be wrong to lay down that armed action in the form of partisan warfare should be resorted to in every specific area only when the movement in all parts of the country rises to the level of uprising. On the contrary, in the course of the development of the movement, the situation will arise in several areas which would demand armed struggle in the form of partisan warfare. For example, in a big and topographically suitable area, where the peasant movement has arisen to the level of seizure of land, the question as to how to effect that seizure and how to defend the land so seized will become a burning live question. The party is of the opinion that partisan warfare in such a situation, undertaken on the basis of a genuine mass peasant movement and the firm unity under the leadership of the party, of the masses, especially the most oppressed and exploited strata, combined with other forms of struggle such as social boycott of landlords, mass no rent struggle, agricultural workers' strike, can, if correctly constructed and led, have a rousing and galvanising effect on the peasant masses in all areas and raise their own struggles to higher level.
“Wherever such partisan struggles develop, they must also be combined with mass actions of the working class, especially the neighbouring areas in the form of strikes and demonstrations undertaken on the basis of most careful assessment of all factors the partisan struggles must be conducted with utmost boldness and tenacity, defending the gains of the movement by every means at our disposal.
“At the same time, the party has to act with the utmost flexibility when overwhelming forces of the enemy are concentrated against the partisan areas and the partisan forces run into danger of defeat and total annihilation."
In further clarification, in answer to certain questions, it is explained:
"Q: Is it correct to resort to partisan warfare in one particular area where the conditions are ripe for it, even though other rural areas are not ripe for it and the workers are not ready to support it with mass actions?
A: Yes. You can and should resort to it. To start or not does not depend upon us. It depends on the organisational state of the masses and their mood. If the masses are ready, you must start it.
Q: Have we to take up partisan struggle only when the peasant struggle for partial demands reaches the state of land distribution and establishment of village peasant committees? Or can we take it up when the movement is still in the stage of struggle for partial demands, for example, rent reduction?
A: The partisan struggle also has stages. It starts with smaller demands – let us say, reduction of rents. It is not yet a partisan struggle. If the enemy refuses to grant demands and the peasant is eager to win it by force, then partisan struggle can start. True, it is not the struggle for seizure of land, but only for reduction of rent, still it will be a partisan struggle.
Hence, it does not depend on us. If the masses are ready and eager, we should assist them.
Q: Can partisan warfare even of most elementary type be developed in areas where communications are well-developed?
A: Yes. When encirclement occurs, transfer the best forces to another area. Lead out the armed forces so as to join it with armed forces of another area, so as to create a liberation army of your own."
The tactical line clearly demarcates [sic. Demarcates] the partisan war to win partial demands, in particular areas, even when other areas are not ready, even when the working class is not in a position to back it up with its actions, even when the struggle has not reached the stage of land seizure, from partisan warfare as an integral part of struggle for liberation, or of revolutionary armed struggle to overthrow the existing bourgeois-landlord regime. Com. M.B. in his notes on this question exchanged among PBMs in 1969-70 and circulated to CCMs in 1974 beginning stresses this distinction to be always kept in mind. "The latter is possible in revolutionary situation which will be countrywide, even if in every state or region of India, subjective factor to utilise it and develop it into a revolutionary struggle may not be present."
Here, I am not discussing all the implications of tactical line, or partisan war in the stage of revolutionary battle. But once we see the need of peasant partisan warfare for making our peoples democratic revolution a success then the problem is how the working class, the leader of that revolution has to go about this task of winning over the leadership of peasant masses, and what immediate tactics or steps it has to take or plan out its activity in a way to materialise this perspective?
Tactical line itself describes how the working class is to achieve this perspective.
Partisan areas will inevitably arise in various parts of the country, as the crisis deepens and as the mass peasant movement rises to the revolutionary seizure of the land and food grains, paralysing and wiping out of local forces operating in them, however, will continuously face the danger of encirclement and annihilation at the hands of the enemy. Even the coming into existence of liberated territories with their own armed forces in several parts of the country will not eliminate this danger because these areas will themselves be surrounded by hostile forces from all sides. Therefore, partisan war alone, no matter how widely extended, cannot ensure victory over the enemy in the concrete situation prevailing in India. When the maturing crisis gives rise to partisan struggles on a wide scale, when the partisan forces in several areas are battling against the enemies, the workers in the city, in vital industries and especially in transport system, will have to play a decisive role. The onslaught of the enemy against the partisan forces, against the liberated areas will have to be hampered and paralysed by mass strike actions of the working class with hundreds of streams of partisan struggles merging with the general strike and uprising of the workers in the cities, the enemy will find it impossible to concentrate his forces everywhere and defeat the revolutionary forces but will himself face defeat and annihilation. Even inside the armed forces of the Govt., the crisis will grow and big sections will join the forces of revolution.
"Such a perspective demands the closest alliance between the working class and the peasantry and the realisation of working class leadership in this alliance. This alliance will be built in action by the bold championship by the working class, of the demands of the peasantry, by the direct support given by the working class in the form of demonstrations, strikes to the struggles waged by the peasantry. Leadership of the working class will be realised not merely through the leadership of the communist party itself but above all, through the direct mass actions of the working class itself, in support of the demands and struggles of the peasantry.
"Of all classes, the working class is looked upon by the peasants as their friend and ally. Many workers come from the rural areas and are connected with the peasants by a thousand and one ties. Actions of the working class help not merely the existing struggles, but also, as the history of our national movement shows, inspire the peasants in the neighbouring areas, radicalise them and help in developing new peasant struggles.
“In the present situation in India when all classes, all sections except the exploiting few are facing starvation and when hatred against the present government is growing, strike actions by the working class on such issues as food, ration cuts, can be most powerful weapon to inspire the entire people, to give concrete form to their discontent, to build their unity in action and to raise the popular movement to a higher level. By fighting not merely for its own demands but demands of all discontented classes and sections especially of the peasantry, by acting as the foremost champion of the interests of the general democratic movement the working class will come forward as the leader of the revolutionary people and build their revolutionary unity.
"It is of the utmost importance therefore, that the party creates a political consciousness in the working class, makes it conscious of its role of hegemony, overcomes the present disunity of the working class, wins over the majority of workers in the vital industries and builds a powerful working class movement with underground (underline mine P.S.) factory and workshop committees, as its nucleus. The best and most advanced elements must be recruited into the party.
“All this demands intensive political agitation in the working class, patient day to day work, leadership of immediate struggle for the winning of the concrete demands and the building up of a strong trade union movement. Only a united working class and a working class conscious of its role of hegemony can build national unity."
Sharp differences between BTR & PS
It is in pursuance of this tactical line and keeping in view the decisions of the CC in its Task Documents on Kisan, T.U. and organisation and the broad tasks as outlined in Pol.-Org. report of Cochin party congress, I have enumerated priority regions and areas to be developed as compact and contiguous areas, making major industrial and administrative centres as centres of our working class and peasant movements, in March 1969 in a note to PBMs (No. 27/69). There are about 20 inner-PB letters prepared by PB members in this connection during 1969 and 1970, and yet, when we could not come to a common understanding. I was allowed to place a report containing my proposals to the CC in Feb. 1970. It was broadly endorsed by the CC. Yet when it was to be finalised by the PB, there was sharp criticism by Com. Bill on my understanding and on the proposals I made. I replied equally sharply to him. All these documents are made available to CCMs.
In my report to CC in Feb. 1970, I have stated:
"Immediately after our 7th Congress, when practically whole of our party leadership and 1200 leading comrades throughout the country were arrested, a sharp criticism from our ranks arose that the leadership had talked about a revolutionary programme, but had not cared to take elementary vigilance to safeguard even a part of the central and state leadership from the impending attack of the Govt. They sharply questioned whether it was not due to too much constitutional, parliamentary and legalistic illusions.
"We constantly warn our party ranks about the deepening political crises, the danger of Syndicate Jana Sangh-Swatantra reactionary alliance and its efforts to make our party the target of annihilation." "CC warning all party members that with the break of U.F. and its ministry in Kerala, with the same danger rapidly threatening the UF and democratic movement in Bengal (where the reactionary forces have already launched murderous attacks on our party workers and on working class, peasant and middle class militants) and with the destruction of UF and its ministry. In Bengal, its path of attack and annihilation against democratic forces and specially against CPI (M) cadres will be quite open. Be prepared for every twist and turn in coming weeks." (Oct. 1969) Yet it has not been driven into the consciousness of our leading cadre, the necessity of our party being ever prepared to face this perilous period through which we have to pass.
First and foremost reason is that even our leading cadre have not yet grasped the implications of our party being a party of the proletariat attempting to achieve P.D. Revolution. In our programme, policy statement, constitution, in our task documents on T.U., Kisan and party organisation and in our political resolutions we again and again stress and outline the tasks from the angle of revolutionary party. But on the whole, all that remains in words while our practice is based on deep-rooted parliamentary, legalistic illusions and on possibilities of peaceful development of our party and movement for a long period to come. We are unable to shake off the revisionist habits, thinking the mode of functioning in all mass fronts and in party building.
"Another aspect of the same malady is lack of clear understanding of the perspective development of our Revolution, as outlined in our policy statement". We are all agreed that our path is not exactly of Russia or China but will be our independent path, based on the working class peasant alliance, if possible simultaneously synchronising of peasant armed revolts (leading to establishment of guerrilla bases and then to liberation bases) and general strikes and armed insurrections in the industrial and administrative centres. To make our revolution successful, the necessity of combining these two main forces on All-India scale becomes essential. But from this we slip unconsciously in the name of preparing for working class and peasant movements on all-India scale to plan all-India mass actions which taking our party's present organisational weakness, and the weakness of general democratic movements leads us more or less to constitutional, and parliamentary forms of activity, neglecting other basic task of the party.
"…We must soberly estimate the realities of our own capacities cadre available and then chalk out a line of action, on the basis of which the whole Indian revolutionary movements can develop. Movements as a whole should be kept in mind, not a state or frontal sector. They are only part of the whole thing... If the organisational direction in my following note is accepted, the details could be varied and worked out..."
(The direction is based on CC Resolution "Tasks on Party Organisation", "The first and foremost tasks before every State unit is to fix up the priority areas in each State and in each region of a State or in each Dist., groups of villages or centres." Then the factors to be kept in mind in concretely fixing them as in pages 51-52 of Resolution of 1967 "On Organisation." In the CC Resolution of 1973 March, all these principles are reiterated and direction to PB to sit with State Committees to finalise them – P.S.)
"It is an undeniable fact that our party is a real political force only in Kerala and Bengal... In all other States, our party is not such a political force even though in one or two States we may in certain pockets wield considerable mass and political influence. We have devoted and self-sacrifising [sic sacrificing] comrades scattered here and there in almost all states but as a political force we are ineffective.
What Should be Our Party's Organisational Direction?
" .... The two advanced political bases which Indian revolutionary movement has got at present and where our party is in a leading position among the democratic masses are Kerala and W. Bengal, whatever weaknesses there might be in the movement and in our party organisation in these two areas. Our party must take these two areas in our country as our political bases and develop them and to the extent, that we can defend and develop these areas, the democratic movement in other parts of our country could be inspired and developed ultimately into nationwide struggle to liquidate the bourgeois-landlord state led by the big bourgeoisie.
"In these two states, since the masses are on the move and party has great influence and a comparatively stronger organisation, we cannot but lead the mass movement on their own demands, the rural poor and the working class and middle classes in the towns, even to the point of militant defence of their struggle with every weapon at their disposal, by every form of struggle that may become necessary as the movement develops. Not to do that but flinch back and try to make the masses desist from going on to these struggles wouldbe betraying the masses and democratic movement and disrupt it. But at the same time, seeing the level of all-India-wide movement, and its extreme weakness, we should not jump to hasty conclusions that these two bases would become revolutionary bases (immediately) for liberation of whole of India. They would galvanise the whole country by their heroic struggles and movement but till all-India wide movement and struggle reach more or less the same sweep, depth and organisation, we should not confuse them with the final liberation struggle. We must always seek outlets for retreats, winning certain concessions to the masses and to the democratic movement, from where again we can, when occasion develops, make another advance. This process will continue till all-India situation develops.
"It is from this angle, our PB and CC must subordinate its whole work to this supreme need of the movement and fix up priorities of areas to concentrate and ultimately link them up with these two areas. PB & CC must also decide, in different parts of our country and different parts of different states with centres we should choose where a combined working class and peasant movement could be built in as short a time as possible, depending upon our existing cadre and strength of the democratic movement."
After enumerating the priority areas in different parts of the country the report (note) goes on:
"The idea of fixing up these areas of priority is to concentrate whatever strength, influence, resources and cadre we have on a priority basis to develop future revolutionary bases.
“…Another principle that is kept in mind in selecting these areas is (i) the strong industrial, educational and administrative centres and (ii) around them a strong rural base. Taking this as starting point, the movement has to be developed to the nearest strategic territorial area. This should equally be kept in mind.
After dealing with issues like "choosing cadre and deploying them, trade union and Kisan fronts, student front, regarding youth and women, combined secret and open work, secret apparatus penetration into, enemy apparatus, the report concludes with a para on “Base areas” where it says:
"Recently, in our party, under Chinese party's influence and Naxalite distortions, the rural base areas are being reduced to tribal areas or mountainous and forest areas. This is a total distortion of Marxism-Leninism or the concept of workers' and peasants' alliance, or even of the experience of the Chinese revolution. Fantastic ideas like developing a movement in the foothills of Himalayas or Terai region or tribal area as the first priority are being advocated. Let us be clear, let this fantastic idea be rooted out and not be given any quarter in our plan of organisation. It is only mass movements linked with the working class in adjacent rural areas develop as political bases. Later, as the ruling class launches violent attacks to suppress their economic and political struggles and when the people in these areas are prepared to take up arms to defend their partial gains, at only such a stage we can think of revolutionary bases. It is only when the possibility of establishing such revolutionary bases develops, then these forest and hilly belts will give us enough space to manoeuvre and become territorial base from which we can guide and lead the mass struggles and mass movements, in plains and the cities. It is more a technical headquarters than really mass political headquarters. The real battle has to be fought in the cities and plains where 90% of our people are concentrated. Without these masses in action, to think of revolutionary struggles starting from tribal areas based on tribal people is like standing on our heads. We may have to evolve tactics of resistance and fighting the repression even in plains and cities, underground tunnels, does not mean that we should not be conscious of the importance of these hilly and forest regions which will give the revolutionary movement the cover and territorial manoeuvrability in face of heavy attacks from the enemy and that is exactly the reason in choosing the areas and the direction of the development of the movement. We should keep these hilly and forest belts always in mind and try to reach them from the strong political mass bases of cities and plains."
One point I want to make it clear. The main advanced regions, Kerala region and W. Bengal region, the contiguous and compact areas in different states and in these areas, the priority to working class and then to peasant front, they are more or less the same in March 1969 and in the report to the CC in Feb. 1970 and the report placed before the CC at Muzaffarpur in 1973 March resolution, on "Immediate Organisational Talks" with necessary changes, taking note of changes in the mass movement and in our party organisation.
Com. BTR's main criticism of my report to CC in his 32/70 note in the PB meeting of April 27-30, 1970 is: (i) PS turns a blind eye to all organisational problems: the basis of party, its class composition, its compact character, its cell functioning all the problems raised in Calicut Resolution and quite arbitrarily jumps to zonal scheme in the name of future liberation areas. PS note is to justify and continue the status quo i.e. occupy ourself primarily with Kerala and W. Bengal and neglect other states a line of least resistance of surrendering to spontaneity hides from it by loosely talking about revolutionary areas, as if we are now entering a period of armed struggle in these two states and hence everything must be subordinated to it. In the absence of immediate possibility in this direction PS's rigid scheme will only mean abandonment of efforts to expand party activity elsewhere. (ii) It is lacking or hazy of the basic concept – priority of class. The logic is of areas, masses in general, but not proletarian and of semi-proletarian priority. Actually, the document virtually denigrates the role of the working class by failing to stress priority: (iii) It ignores the spontaneously developing mass movement and upsurge. His rigid mechanical adherence to it will only result in failure of our party to link itself with the actual movement. This facile concept has in some instances led to concentration on adivasi areas and actual neglect of non-adivasi areas because it represents a tougher battle. The zonal idea is in reality abandonment of all efforts to develop or even propagate for all-India resistance or movement. (iv) One should not imagine in a facile way that student organisations can be developed with the party weak or absent in the basic masses. The idea the student movement will supply the main cadres for organising workers’ or peasants' movement is a facile idea and should be discarded. (v) The idea of building a party apart from the direct struggle of the masses is a fictitious idea. The idea that the entire party from right bottom is to be run by whole-timers is wrong idea. It only arises when party is conceived apart from the class working in production. It arises when the party organisation is not conceived as based on factory. If in our party the major part of the work is not done by non-whole timers, the party has no future.
BTR also says, "In this connection it should be remembered that if you can visualise revolutionary developments in W. Bengal and Kerala, it is not on the basis of a few pockets of influence but of the general political influence and strength of the movement. The mechanical repetition and uncertainty of the experience of other countries should be abandoned. In all countries, the experience is that of a guerrilla struggle against a foreign enemy of the nation. National feeling gives an ipso facto advantage to armed action. At present, at best in our country this is absent. The fight against an indigenous Govt. demands a stronger cultivation of the democratic movement and support.
BTR's criticism point 4, regarding student cadre is in regard with my following para in the report to CC, Feb. 1970. It says:
"Unless in all states, we make special effort, on student centres starting in colleges and develop first politically conscious cadres for our party and enthuse them to take up work among the working class and the peasantry, our future would be dark, especially in weaker states, the first priority, attention and concentration must be on the work among students. There should be no open student organisation separately under our wing. There in the existing college unions or their student associations under different political groupings, we must patiently build secret student groups of our own. Only when we have sufficient mass democratic support, then only we may be permitted to function organisations under our banner. Even in such places, as well as in strong States with developed student movement, large number of them join the Govt. apparatus and industrial establishments as future cadre of our party and as standby cadre.”
My reply to these wild accusations of BTR as follows: (Note No. 37/70 dated 29th April 1970).
''Nowhere in, any document, speech or conversation· after my Telangana experience and after its withdrawal in 1951, I have characterised any period, even the period of 1969 (in W. Bengal), as a period of immediate armed struggle. On the other hand in my reply to Nanda's slander, in the struggle against Naxalites in 1967 and 1968, the broad guidelines I have discussed for developing Kerala agricultural labour and peasant movement after U.F. ministry fell, in my speech to W. Bengal Plenum in Feb. 1970, in all the notes I have submitted to PB and in the organisational report I submitted to CC I have made it again and again clear that we are not in a period of revolutionary crisis or a period of armed struggle. Even though Kerala and Bengal movements are at far higher level than in any other state, all that I have said is "about the possibilities of the people taking to armed resistance to safeguard their gains, or to enforce their partial demands and the conditions under which these partial partisan struggles (my abbreviation for partisan struggles for partial demands) can be resorted and warning that we should always keep the door open to retreat or to arrive at possible partial settlement, till the correlation of forces balances in our favour. This was again and again stressed. (I told them as well as in Kerala the mood and organisation of the peasant masses was not ripe for even partial partisan struggle.)
In fact, it is BTR in his note of 3rd Nov. 1970 says, “We have nowhere reached just now an insurrectionary situation in which a call for capture of power through armed uprising can be given. But at the same time we are in midst of a rapidly developing situation in a revolutionary period when the main shift is on the militant activity of the masses in W. Bengal because in our leading this mass activity we are faced with armed attacks against us and reply with arms has been put on the agenda...
“A situation in which the advanced party is forced to use arms even in a limited way is an extra-ordinary situation, one leading precisely to the situation visualised in the tactical line... In our country, in W. Bengal, things are reaching the point of armed struggle in certain areas. There is no chance of avoiding it unless surrender is advocated." (The whole idea of BTR was put in cold storage when W. Bengal PBMs said that neither peasant masses under our influence, nor organisation was anywhere near that position.)
I have not spoken of Kerala or Bengal regions as revolutionary areas of today or "future liberation areas". I have spoken about them as "the advanced political bases which the Indian revolutionary movement has got at present."
I have enumerated the areas which have to be included in the two Kerala and Bengal zones, and suggested in different parts of our country and in different parts of each state, which centres we have to choose as priority areas, where a combined working class and peasant movement can be built up in as short a time as possible, depending upon our existing cadre and strength of democratic movement. It is not a question of strong states of Kerala and W. Bengal and neglecting other weaker states. It is a question of how we could expand our existing political bases most fruitfully to the widest extent possible, in as short a time as possible.
As for his criticism of lack of basic concept of priority of classes:
"In all priority areas, I have suggested the centre of activity is always one or another major industrial centre. Even in those states or areas which are not in the priority areas because for the time being we do not have cadre to develop them, it has been made a cardinal principle that whatever cadre we have, should be concentrated on major industrial centres like Madras, Bangalore, Hyderabad, Vizag, Gwalior, Bhilai, Indore, etc., The mode of functioning in these isolated centres may be open or secret depending upon our mass strength and cadre available whichever helps to develop our movement." In fact, on page 19 it is clearly stated, "Another principle that is kept in mind in selecting those areas is the strong industrial, educational and administrative centres and around them a strong rural base. Both these aspects are kept in mind and taking this as starting point the movement has to be developed to the nearest strategic territorial area. This should be equally kept in mind."
BTR says, “We should argue on the basis of our tactical line and the role that the working class has to play in relation to the armed struggle. The public sector undertakings, heavy industries, engineering factories and big industries and rail and water transport these must be assigned the highest priority all over India and systematic building of the party and for trade union organisation.” I agree that these industries, along with electricity (and mining) should get priority in every state or in every industrial centre where we are working.
But in the name of all-India T.U. movement if we have to go on extending all-India wide, on each of these industries, I do not consider it practicable to achieve when we do not have party units in most of the States and centres where these industries are located. Further, while we try to extend our party groups in these centres even in weak places, let us not deceive ourselves that we have become politically dominant force among the workers till we can develop their political and socialist consciousness (and draw them into our party). I think this can be done when we can build strong democratic movement in these industrial centres as well as a strong peasant movement around these centres, in as extensive an area as possible. If we neglect this work, only concentrate on T.U. demands and organisation of these sections, we are confining them as well as ourselves to sheer economism and revolutionary development of (our class), the basic industrial working class would remain an empty phrase.
I feel that Com. BTR's functioning in TUs is more based on his past (vast) experience than activising the party on T.U. front. Does Com. BTR envisage an all-India T.U. organisation, led by us alone, now at the present stage, will be all pervasive, in all industries, and in all States? My understanding of AITUC (led by us – at that time CITU was not yet formally inaugurated) that it should utilise our existing organised strength and making it as a lever, to launch campaigns, struggles and resistance to enemies' offensive, should draw in as wide as possible other workers make them successful.
BTR says: ''It is a pity that PS did not throw any light on the state of the party even in the two advanced States. In the absence of it, every remedy becomes an essay in general principles." I have given my estimation of the party's position not only in these two States but in other States too, to the extent I understand it. But so far neither Com. BTR nor PR have given the PB how they are functioning the various TU sub-committees, what decisions they have been taking and what is the party's organisational and political position in the TUs even in these two States. Without either of these two comrades who are in charge of TU front submitting report about the state of party organisation and party’s influence in our own class, one should not expect that I can give some other estimation over their heads. (Now 5 years later the position is same as per this aspect.)
Regarding BTR's criticism "PS note ignores the spontaneous development of the mass movement", etc. I have always in mind the spontaneous mass upsurge. I have seen it and gone through it, during the course of Telangana movements and mass rallies. But I am equally conscious that without a conscious Marxist-Leninist party, however small and inexperienced it might have been, the great victories of Telangana and of Bombay working class in 1927-28 or present day movements in Kerala and Bengal in spite of many acute weaknesses could not have been developed (won). That is why we cannot nearly run hither and thither after any and every spontaneous mass upsurge. We must consciously build and develop our party to lead mass upsurge.
"I agree that the idea of building a party, apart from the direct struggles of the masses is a fatuous idea, which in any case, I have never believed in or advocated; but I also strongly feel that Com. BTR quite often in practice negates the role and need of the party organisation and deifies spontaneity.
''Nor did I advocate that "entire party from top to bottom is to be run by wholetimers." I too agree that if a major part (overwhelmingly major part) of the work is not done by part timers or ordinary party members, the party has no future. But to make these large number of part-time active party members to function and discharge the major (even overwhelmingly major) part of the work there arises the necessity of a minimum number of wholetime professional revolutionaries (in my report to CC, it is true that I said that even branch secretaries should be whole timers, to coordinate and develop and guide the mass influence in organised channels. It may be an impractical and even wrong idea – PS addition in 1975 Oct.) They need not come only from the middle classes or parasitic classes. They have to be drawn from the working class and toiling peasant section in large numbers. But com. BTR’s thesis “It arises when the party is not conceived from the class working in production and when the party organisation is not conceived as based on factory," reminds me about the dangerous theory vehemently advocated by the right revisionist leaders in Andhra that every party functionary must be engaged in some economically productive job, otherwise he will be out of touch with the working people, and disbanded large number of whole-time functionaries in 1955-56 and did immense damage to our party organisation in Andhra.
Now coming to the remaining main criticism of BTR about student organisation and their role (No. 4 as listed) "I never had any hope that student organisation can be developed, with the party weak or absent in the basic masses" in a big way. But I do think that we should seriously make a beginning of building student groups, especially where our party is weak or absent. These student members and militants are to be drawn into activity among the basic classes. It is a correct Marxist and Leninist idea that Socialism is to be taken to the working class from outside. Com. BTR seems to deny the important role the cadre from students and the intelligentsia will be playing in helping and organising the working class and peasant movement. Whether the main cadre will be from students or from workers directly from the factory is not the point at issue. The students can be also from workers and peasants. They need not be only from middle and upper classes. In the former case (if from working class or poor peasant) it will be far more easier for them to develop their class affinity and ideology than when they come from the latter (from middle and upper classes). In any case, educated cadre is a must for developing and organising the working class and peasant movements. Herein lies the necessity of developing the student movement and recruiting from them cadre by (drawing them into the work among the basic masses) and developing their Marxist-Leninist consciousness.
BTR concluded his note 32/70 of 28th April 1970 thus: "Further I want to stress that the state of party organisation is partly at least the reflection of the level of party consciousness. We may deceive ourselves with revolutionary slogans but the state of organisation exactly shows us our place. Today, this has corroded PB. The PB is no longer united; its inner discipline and cohesion is gone; subjectivism has grown and appreciation of each other's work and difficulties has gone, and fault finding has started. New division of work is no remedy against this. Division is the least part of the situation. The crisis inside the PB has come because of loss of common outlook. Besides PB members allowed discipline to be violated by state committees. How to overcome the political crisis inside the PB and how to master subjectivism – these are the main problems. But I have neither the authority nor the clarity to offer any solution."
I have summed up my criticism of BTR's note thus: "I reject all the points of BTR's criticism as total distortion of the views I have put forward in my organisational note to CC. It is com. BTR who is going back on the CC resolutions of 1967 on Party Organisation, Kisan and TU. Its whole criticism arises from his wrong understanding of our perspective tactical line, if not total rejection of it. It arises from his failure to see how the workers and peasants alliance in India, is to be forged in the context of uneven development of workers' peasants' and Communist movement even if it is not total denial in practice of that basic concept however much one may stress it in words. It is he who is succumbing to economism and surrendering to spontaneity without making the working class to overcome them, while all the while speaking of class priority and of working class leadership.
“Since com. BTR has put his point of view bluntly, I thought expressing my views equally bluntly would help to overcome subjectivism and may help to find a solution." P.S. Note 37/70 dated 29th April 1970.
Let me narrate the further development on this question of priority area during the last 5 years, since then, before I proceed to other points of differences.
Muzaffarpur CC Resolution in March 1973: On immediate organisational tasks, on page 7, says:
“This concept of priority areas and developing them first as political bases from which the revolutionary movement can be extended and defended better, will become a reality if the whole party takes it up seriously. There is no use accepting this in words, but the first opportunity running after every part of the state and dispersing cadres all round.
“It is no use, in the name of building a State-wide trade union movement, even in the key and basic industries, the party dispersing its energies throughout the State. Trade union work in these priority areas means, beginning with key industries and spreading to other industries in that area, spreading among the peasantry all around and developing work among students, starting from the colleges and to secondary class of high schools, then taking up trade union work throughout the State. Work among railways and road transport or other strategic industries means priority to these in those priority areas and expansion of these throughout areas are looked after and in no case, at the cost of other fronts in the priority areas.
"The present tendency of totally neglecting the work among the peasantry in the surrounding areas of an industrial city and among the other sections of the people in that industrial hub and city itself and only of thinking in terms of trade union extension into some farther away centres, would not help either the politicalization of the working class or building the alliance of workers and peasants, nor does it become the basis for broad people's front.”
But com. BTR in his note to PB on CITU conference (dated...?) most probably after Cochin conference of CITU (?) says, "We have decided to concentrate or penetrate into strategic industries, in state transport, railway, dock, in heavy industries, in big industrial complexes. We have also decided to pay better attention to areas which we consider as having political priority, but most of the State committees have no such perspective and do not even make an attempt to break through any important area." He goes on to enumerate our achievements in this respect. "However, in passing it may be mentioned here that in consonance with our general line certain attention to vital industries, persistent attempts to build our strength in the ports and docks, spread our influence in the vital section of P & T, State employees, with regard to heavy industries we have unions in every Steel centre, the Bhillai Union has started leading struggle; with the aid of non-party people we are in position to lead the union in Jamshedpur, our union in Rourkela is perhaps only a name, not a union, the only place we have not got a union is in Bokaro..." After referring to our achievements in Bhillai, Jamshedpur, Rourkela and in a number of coal mines attached to various steel concerns, he concludes, of course, all these have been done more from the Centre than from the State committees. We have been trying to organise a federation of State Transport employees but we have not succeeded (They have set it up in 1974 or 1975).
(This report does not give the strength of our unions in these places in number and in influence, in relation to other unions and in relation to the total workers employed. It does not give the number of PMs in each of "these our unions" to evaluate whether we are justified to start these unions and function the manner we functioned. – P .S. 1975 Oct. Apart from that, confining ourselves to the question of "priority". I have stated in my note to PB No. 49/73, 30 June 1973, the following:)
"I do not agree that either at an All-India wide level or State wide level, all these industries which Com. BTR has pointed out, or some more like electricity which may be added, should be attempted on priority basis. If this is our task and on that basis, demand State Committees to allot cadres and pay necessary attention to these, it becomes beyond the existing capacities and realities in many States. This undermined the importance of our work in the Kisan Sabhas and students, round about certain industrial and administrative centres.
"My understanding of the three paras of Muzaffarpur CC resolution quoted above, is different from what Com. BTR's understanding on these priority industries on State or All-India level. If he is right, then all talk of developing contiguous areas as big as possible, centring round a particular industrial and administrative centre has to be given up. If our working class and the trade union movement .and cadre from these movements do not take the responsibility of developing these areas, not merely on the working class front, but also on Kisan, student, youth front, but if they pursue as a first priority State-wide and all-India wide based unions or federations of Railways, Govt. employee (State and Centre), Steel, Mines, Electricity, then to expect others to fulfil the lacuna (of developing other fronts) is futile. It only means the same old practice will be continued. It may be justified from "pure trade unionism", but not from the angle of developing political bases or building workers' and peasants' alliance.
"It is only from this trade union angle that all-India wide federations of different industries are being formed, jute, steel, rubber and tyres, bidi, etc. and there is a persistent demand for similar all-India federations for other industries.
“The question is not the desirability of such all-India industry wise federations, but with the existing levels of the movement in different industries, in different States, whether such federations can be organised as part of CITU federations. Even if we organise in a number of industries, they would be formal and they will be confined to one or two States. Secondly a good chunk of these employees in most of the states are also in unions which are under the influence of other political parties. It is doubtful whether such federations will help better functioning or for better carrying out the united actions and fulfilling the task of uniting the working class.”
1974 BTR's note of July 18th and PSs reply on 10th Aug.
BTR in his note says: "We have designated some areas as priority areas in an endeavour to develop work in these areas so that we would be effective in our resistance and there should be solid base of active support for peasant areas whenever they reach the stage of partisan struggle.
"Our main trade union development has precisely taken in these priority areas which include the main industrial centres also.
"This idea of priority areas should not be however reduced to mean banning of all activity behind these areas and discard our basic idea of developing working class leadership of this revolution.
"Priority areas certainly claim party's attention first. When there is a question of allocation of cadre as between different areas, priority areas should get preference. But PS is reducing the idea to mean unless there is 100% organisation in every sphere in the priority areas, nothing should be done elsewhere. In fact, his concept of priority areas means virtual ban of extension of work in other areas. This is wrong.
“That is why he opposes all India organisations-Federations and sees in them a departure from our tactics of giving more attention to priority areas. He comes to the wrong conclusions that railway union should be built only in priority areas and rest we need not bother about. It follows logically from his argument that our work in all-India organisations, like LRSA, AIRF, P & T, Central Employees, State Employees – is incorrect, since it includes work in non-priority areas. Similarly work in defence establishments, port and dock, state transport – all are to be carried on only in priority areas. That is why he opposed formation of unions in Bhillai and Rourkela in the strategic heavy industry. (This is the same old charge of 1970. I gave them my explanation that I would prefer sending available, cadre if any, to Jamshedpur first than to Bhillai.) There is opposition to State-wide organisation of workers in transport etc. This constitutes a distortion of the original concept. The original idea is to prevent unnecessary dispersal of party's efforts in all directions when they could produce better result by concentrating on certain areas. But this by no means bans extension according to plan as the needs of the movement demand."
P.S. reply is: “We have to demarcate areas as priority areas keeping in view the present strength (position) of our movement where there is greater possibility of developing contiguous areas SO that both the peasant and working class movements can develop together and that areas can be developed first as political bases and later as partisan areas or bases. It is only when such extensive areas in different parts of the country are consciously developed, we could effectively develop the revolutionary struggle against the Central Govt. Without the working class actively supporting and leading the peasants, in their efforts to enforce their demands even taking resort to partisan struggle it is difficult to achieve even their partial demands, leave alone developing them into partisan bases, to eliminate the power of Central Govt. Further, it should be stressed that the job of the working class is not just to render active support for peasant areas whenever they reach the stage of partisan struggle, but to go to rural areas to help develop the peasant movement and raise it to the stage of partisan warfare.
"We cannot develop peasant partisan struggles in all parts of our country simultaneously in view of the present uneven level of our movement. In certain areas when the movement is already developed, we cannot ask the peasant masses or working class to go on marking time and prevent them from resorting to partisan struggles whenever they are ready and keep them to the minimum. It is true that they will be forced to compromise, accept certain terms and retreat, in face of overwhelming forces the Central Govt. can bring on these isolated developed areas. That is why our policy statement (Tactical Line) has envisaged an Indian path of revolution peasant partisan warfare combined with the workers uprising in cities. It did not envisage simultaneous general all India wide peasant armed struggle. That was the conception of the Russian party which was specifically considered not feasible in the conditions prevailing in our country. If there is simultaneous all-India wide general strike and countrywide peasant warfare, then the need for partisan bases do no arise, unless the revolution itself fails.
“2. I did not demand there should be 100% organisation in every sphere in the priority area and no work should be done in other areas. But I did object and even now object to the formation of all India organisations to be formed directly under the leadership of CITU, to the formation of all-India organisations and Federations just on paper. The CITU leadership forgets that our party cadres and others not belonging to our party, who are working in the CITU, are very few in a large number of states, and in many areas even in the states where we are a force. In such a situation without taking the actual realities just from the All-India Centre giving mandates to start or develop all-India wide organisations. We must have at least (two or three) or a minimum number of cadres devoting themselves for functioning these all-India wide T.U. organisations to movement in different states in a particular front, otherwise it becomes impossible to convey experience of one state to another, leave alone functioning the organisation and guiding the affiliated organisations in different states.
''I also object to the formation of such organisations, directly under the leadership of CITU, which also in the present day reality means under leadership of our party alone (and given them that colour). After all, when we decided to form CITU and function it on an all-India wide scale, we were very clear at that time that this should not lead us to give up our work in other T.U organisations which were under the leadership of the reformist or revisionist. Only when we had considerable mass support in particular areas and sections in particular enterprises, when we feel that by organizing our own separate unions we can focus attention of these other organisations, to the correct methods of waging struggles for their affiliated to the CITU. CITU should become the focal point for developing united T.U. movement standing firmly on the principle of class struggle and not betraying the workers at the dictates of the employers and the Govt. We have warned against the tendency which was even then strong to start separate unions whenever we face difficulties in functioning in the reformist trade unions, without ever taking into consideration whether the unions which we are going to start will command any reasonable influence among the masses and whether these could be rallying them for further developing the working class struggle and unity. I can boldly assert that after the CITU has been formed, now it has become the practice of the CITU leadership to sanction starting separate TUs and getting them affiliated to the CITU in the name of developing it throughout the country in every state and dist. and in every industrial sector.
“3. Com BTR repeats the charge which he made in 1970 that I opposed the formation of unions in Bhillai and Rourkella in the strategic industries. With the wholetime cadre available I preferred sending them to Jamshedpur which is nearer (adjacent to W. Bengal) than to far-off Bhillai. For me, then even now, developing the steel and other ancillary industries in Jamshedpur and linking it up with W. Bengal movement is more essential than developing Bhillai and as such Jamshedpur is to get the priority. If we have more cadre and opportunities we will have to give next priority after Jamshedpur to Bokaro and Dhanbad areas, on the same consideration of linking them with W. Bengal movement. Without doing this, trying to send cadres to develop working class movement in Rourkella and farther away Bhillai is not taking up seriously the development of the revolutionary movement or developing the leadership of the working class in the Revolution. If there are comrades already there in Rourkella and Bhillai we have certainly to help them to function as fractions in the existing unions and build up more and more contact and gather greater influence. If for that we can spare one or two comrades without weakening our work in the priority areas then certainly we should do it. Even if we can send certain comrades there, how is it justified to start separate unions and get them affiliated to CITU in this huge steel enterprise, instead of silently working in some other trade unions and gaining influence? Our own separate small unions are not going to give us even from a purely TU angle much additional strength to a united movement of all-India steel workers. The import of Durgapur and Bumpur could certainly be utilised to develop our influence in other unions there, without their being affiliated to the CITU and draw larger and larger number of workers who are not yet conscious enough to join CITU.
I have never said that railway unions etc. "should only be built in the priority areas and the rest we need not bother about." Nor my argument logically leads to conclude (as com. BTR does) that "our work in all-India organisations like AIRF, LRSA, P & T Central Employees, State Employees, and similar work in the defence establishments port and dock, State transport etc. is all incorrect since it involves work in non-priority areas." If Com. BTR wants that we should have separate TU organisations in all these sectors and they be affiliated to CITU, I certainly would object to it. But without going into whether all these sectors which Com. BTR has mentioned can be characterised as strategic industries or the order of priority of these industries I would certainly say that if we have to be effective even in these fronts, our party must concentrate in these centres where the employees of these sectors are concentrated in large numbers and also on the key categories in each of these sections. Otherwise, we will neither have effective TU nor develop them to give effective assistance to other democratic movements in the area where they exist.
“I agree with COM. BIR that TU movement in sectors like railways, etc. cannot be confined to priority areas alone, but from this it does not follow that we should set up all-India wide federations on our own. Even when we are forced to setup separate organisations in particular centres in particular divisions or zones of the railways, it does not necessarily follow that we should logically extend it to develop all-India federations under our leadership. These pockets where we have mass influence and start functioning separate union under own leadership should be used as focal points and patiently work in other places in other unions to rally them to forge organisations of all TUs under the leadership of their parties or of belonging to other central or all India federations. But in the name of developing such All-India wide organisations we cannot neglect the work in other fronts, especially the Kisan front, even in our priority areas.
“4. My objection is not to forming federations of any section of the industrial workers or of commercial and Govt. employees either for carrying on negotiations with their employers, or for effectively participating in all-India wide struggles of this sector of employees or in the democratic or revolutionary struggle. But my objection arises, that without proper estimation of our own capacities, to starting all-India federations and urging our State Committees to develop branches of them, we may be justified in forming all India jute federations, all-India plantation workers' federation, (but it is definitely unnecessary and wrong to form all-India road transport federation and all-India Beedi Workers' Federation without even informing the PB leave alone taking a prior decision of PB as per June 1974 CC decision.)
"Our party strength in different states so varies and setting up all-India organisations and not being able to function them would be meaningless. Since we do not have cadre to function them at all-India level it will be left to one or two individuals to guide such federations. It will lead to by-passing party committees at all levels. The decisions of central federations will either remain on paper or become mandatory decisions to all our party units. Their decisions will go direct to the affiliated unions down in different states and the party nowhere will be in the picture. That is why I do not want them formed on paper while we can have them where necessary and where we can function them, Com. BTR himself says: “The federation of entire industries formed "after adequate strength" enables you to attract non-CITU unions and honour the unity yet. But who is to decide that it has got adequate strength?” This is exactly the point that many federations are being set up even without adequate strength or mass base that will enable them to attract the non-CITU unions. This is apart from the question of neglecting or ignoring the importance of developing Kisan and democratic movement in the priority areas.
- Finally Com. BTR reiterates his accusation that PS is ignoring the question of hegemony of proletariat. "Besides, the question of priority areas and T.U. work, cannot be viewed in isolation from the basic strategy of working class hegemony either we mean it or not. In the whole discussion of priority areas, the working class is often treated just as any other class, just as a front along with students and its priority is forgotten. In modern industry, we have to win the majority of this class. At least, this is what our policy statement states. To be able to do this, we have to organise it in TUs and the ban to organise it in non-TU’s and the ban to organise it in non-priority areas should not be there. Priority concepts should not be used to negate all-India or state-wide TU movement.
“In the discussion on TU’s and priority areas, the historic role of the working class is forgotten and hence deviations arise.”
Com. BTR has given three paras from Tactical Line. I have given them elsewhere above and he goes on to conclude, “we will not get the correct perspective unless we link the question of TU movement with question of developing proletarian hegemony. At one place Com. PS objects to extension of TU work, organisation of state-wide organisation on the ground that work among the peasants in the priority area is neglected. This is nothing but confusing of the issues. Firstly the TU movement is not just TU work but part of our struggle to lay the basis of the proletarian hegemony.
“PSs’ stand point objectively amounts to abandoning all state wide and country wide Trade Union organisations. It amounts to demanding a liquidation of CITU and industry wide organisation. He is opposed to organise unions in steel industry – Rourkela, Bhillai – he is opposed to industrial federation – jute, rubber. At this rate we should not have worked in the All-India Loco-Running Staff Association, AIRF. If pursued this line will lead to denial of our all India movement and work in all-India organisations and create impediments in the way of the working class acting as a class.
“Today when every effort is being made to splinter the working class, on the basis of linguistic chauvinism, such an outlook will only add grist to the mill of our class enemy.
PS’s reply: “since we are the party of the working class and party of entire class and not of a section, that is why we are vitally concerned that the working class should develop its TU organisations, as well as its party based on Marxism-Leninism; so that it can effectively achieve the hegemony of the entire Revolutionary movement through building the workers and peasant alliance in the first instance. That is why we are insisting that whatever base we have in certain industrial and urban centres among the working class, the working class there should be roused to champion the demands of the peasant masses around the urban centres. If the working class even where we are strong among them, cannot be made to realise the importance of the work among the peasantry and to formulate the demands of both the workers and peasants in such a way that they could join hands and fight together and if the working class cannot spare cadre, then who else will go into the rural areas and develop the movement of the peasant who are more scattered and more backward in class and political consciousness.
Then it would not be discharging its historical task of leading the revolutionary movement. The working class can achieve its alliance with the peasants and its hegemony in the revolution, only by developing its party based on Marxism-Leninism. If the working class consciousness gets limited to TU level, this task it can never fulfil.
“Further, without developing the party and developing alliance with the peasantry and through it building up the democratic front we will not be able to extend the TU movement on a state-wide and on all-India level. Without developing the peasant movement in the surrounding areas and also movement among the democratic section and especially among the students in certain areas, the working class will not be able to maintain its TU organisational strength even in our present strong areas. Because it is constantly threatened with the influx of backward and unemployed section both from rural areas and from certain centres flocking and competing with them and corroding their existing consciousness and organisational unity.
“Com. BTR explains why over decades, even around our strong working class centres in most of the states, total neglect of work among peasantry continues and no peasant movement is developed? Does BTR think that the hegemony of the working class can be established by developing TU organisations on state and all-India level without working class taking up the work among the peasants, championing their demands, building organisation and forging alliance with them? It is because if this understanding, whenever I stress on priority areas, and in those areas next to the working class, the priority is to be given to the work among the peasants, and without doing it not to disperse our cadre throughout the state, throughout India, in the name of developing TU organisation (State and all India wide), he understands it as my banning any kind of TU work in non-priority areas.
"I do hold if we do not develop the peasant and democratic movement in contiguous areas on a priority basis but go after developing of state-wide and all-India-wide TUs and that too directly under the CITU, we will not be able to politicalise the working class nor forge workers' and peasants' alliance nor develop even in any stronghold. Com. BTR's idea of establishing proletarian hegemony on the basis of state-wide and all-India wide organisations comes from his whole understanding that it is the all-India-wide general strike and insurrection of the working class that will spark off the armed actions of the peasant masses. In fact, this advocacy is nearer to his own tactical line of 1949. He does not understand the importance of the work among the peasantry and the way to force workers peasants alliance and how the working class has to act in forging it. Finally one important difference that exists between our country and other industrially developed states is that ours is a multi-lingual and multi-national state. As such our mass organisations if they have to be developed and be effective, can be only of state-wide character. All India centres will be only coordinating centres; laying centralised line. If we forget this linguistic and multi-national character and only try to form TU organisations on all-India level, as if it is unilingual and one nation state, we would be depriving the initiative and effectiveness of TU organisations even at the state level. This again raises the question of understanding of our party programme, question of nationalities, linguistic states which Com. BTR formally accepts but does not give due importance in day to day functioning, which I will deal later after dealing with TU differences.”
CC Statement of September 1974:
"Questions are raised whether the activities of the CITU leadership are in conformity with the understanding laid down in the perspective tactical line of our party. Whether the setting up of several all India Federations and their functioning is correct? Whether the attempt at spreading into different centres of industries under the pleas that they are strategic industries would not result in ignoring the task of developing political base areas, as defined by the CC resolution on "Immediate Organisational Tasks" etc.
"The discussion in the PB on this subject, shows that there are some differences in understanding of the said CC resolution and also of perspective tactical line, and what are the implications of developing political base areas.
''There exists a view that the line pursued by the CITU leadership and the widespread extension of the CITU activities in different industries of far-fetched places would undermine the intensive work of concentration in the chosen areas, and the centres of our working class activities and centres of Kisan activities would get separated, resulting in the loss of perspective of developing partisan struggle areas.
"Opposed to it there is an opinion that such an outlook severely restricts the activities of CITU as an all-India organisation limits our TU movement to the states and districts where our peasant movement is stronger and hinders process of struggle for the assertion of proletarian hegemony in the envisaged People's Democratic Revolution. It is also apprehensive that such an understanding of the perspective Tactical Line is too rigid which does not take into account different possible twists and turns in the development of class and mass movements in the country and the political developments.
''The perspective Tactical Line and the immediate organisational tasks though are read by every CCM and PBM and formally accepted as correct, they really need some more discussion in depth at the PB and CC level to arrive at a genuine understanding.
''The implementation of the tactical line and the 'immediate organisational tasks' it should be stated does not depend on the leadership of the CITU alone, and it mainly depends upon the CC and the state committees in particular. If some definite guidelines are laid down by the CC in close association and cooperation with the state committees regarding the plan of work on TU and Kisan Fronts as to fit into the perspective tactical line, it becomes easy to check up and review whether our Party is implementing the line or diverting from it.
"In the absence of such a firm and definite decision it is difficult to pinpoint whether the state committees and the CC are adhering to the line laid down or whether this or that section of CC leadership either on TU front or on Kisan Front are diverting from it.
"Regarding the issue of setting up state and dist. CITUs, the formation and functioning of different all-India Federations, the formation of separate unions in some strategic industries which are far from contiguous areas of planned development of the movement and their being affiliated to the CITU and the work m the other reformist unions – all these will have to be reviewed properly and mistakes corrected if any, in this regard. But one thing is to be emphasised that in the formation of federation and their scope and functioning etc. a prior discussion and decision at PB or CC level is necessary so far not being practised. Similarly, the state committees should review whether there are any mistakes in the matter of setting up new unions under the CITU in the light of our perspective – Tactical Line, the CC Resolution "On immediate organisational tasks" and the June CC Resolution on the functioning of the party, TU sub-committees, fraction and fraction committees, etc."
So this issue is still to be discussed and settled. Further a party centre, a PB that is capable to see the decisions taken are implemented is also to be developed.
In the above PB statement, the para in which it is said of one opinion "that the centres of our working class activities and centres of Kisan activities would get separated resulting in the loss of perspective of developing partisan struggle areas" does not fully convey my idea. It should be stated that Kisan work will not be carried at all or hopelessly neglected round the chosen areas and around working class centres, which will not be conducive to develop workers' and peasants' alliance, or achieve working class hegemony over that alliance, resulting in the loss of perspective of developing of partisan struggle area." It is not merely separation of strong working class centres from strong Kisan centres.
Tactical Line stresses the importance of building unexposed units, in every village, in every factory, workshop and training of volunteer corps, etc. These aspects, our failure to make efforts in carrying out these tasks, will be dealt in the section “On differences on party organisation".
Before that I would like to denote other major differences that are persisting on TU front on the development of Communist movement in India. There are differences on ideological issues and on Mao's theory of contradictions, on which Com. MB feels very bitterly and he feels that because the PB and CC refuse to discuss and educate the party is facing the present crises. I am not dealing with this side.
III DIFFERENCES ON TRADE UNION FRONT
I submitted a note to the PB, as early as April 1972, detailing some of the differences. In the Note prepared to place before CC, in August 1972, I submitted another detailed note on 30th June, 1973, to PB posing more concretely my differences, the way certain trade union demands are formulated, certain organisational problems of coordination of party and Trade Unions functioning of fractions and fraction committees, vis-à-vis party units and party sub committees. A note on Central Pay Commission and the way our Trade Union Sub-Committee is carrying on the trade union struggles was also placed before the PB.
This Note was discussed in two PB sittings in September and October 1973. Com. MB was present in the September meeting but did not attend the next meeting though he knew the discussion on it would be continued. Com. Promode fell ill and could not attend the October meeting. The rest of the PBMs rejected my Notes and upheld Com. BTR. He said that my outlook and Notes express what Dange and INTUC had been advocating and upheld the present method of functioning and formulation of the demands. I could not agree with them, and placed my differences on this front, along with other differences before the CC in January 1974.
The CC passed a resolution in June 1974, "On Party and Trade Union Organisations" laying down how fraction committees are to be nominated by respective party-committees at the corresponding levels and the party units to be built in the Trade Union organisations etc. This issue at least in the form of a CC resolution is settled though its implementation at all India level is yet to take place.
On other issues, Com. BTR wrote a sharp criticism of my view on July 18th to which I wrote a reply on August 10th. PB went through these Notes and placed an agreed statement before the CC, that statement dealt the following issues: (l) On the issue of correct party attitude towards the introduction of Modern Machinery, Labour Saving Devices and Automation etc. (2) The issue of Need based Minimum Wage and the differences over its formulation etc. (3) Wage Differentials and our Stand, (4) On the demand of Minimum Bonus to be increased from 8.33% to 10% and after that at 1% every year till 15% (5) The statement had also stated that perspective Tactical Line and the direction of CITU activities to be discussed in depth. This is fully quoted above.
Com. MB who piloted the statement also stated that the question of how to win democratic mass support to the working class struggles and the issue of fighting corruption was not dealt in the statement and is left over.
He also stated that the statement be confined only to the CC. I did not object to it at that time and did not demand that it should be explained to our lower units though I felt it was meaningless to confine it to CC itself and meaning it in practice of no avail. But Com. MB reported to Andhra PC in my presence on the statement on broad lines.
In the next PB meeting I demanded that the statement should be similarly explained to the state and lower committees. Com. BTR objected to this reporting and demanded in that case let the CC discuss fully his Note as well as PS's reply and clinch the issue instead of glossing over the differences under some consensus. Com. BTR's Note and PS's reply were circulated to the CCMs. The discussion could not take place in March or April meetings. It was to be taken in July CC meeting. Meanwhile the Emergency is clamped.
The issue of perspective Tactical Line and the direction of CITU activities and the question of priority areas and hegemony of the working class, the differences on this have been detailed in earlier section. As for the other issues on which the CC statement took stand, what is understanding and interpretation of the other PBMs and CCMs, I do not know. Since the whole thing is going to be discussed, I am summarising the issues that I raised com BTR's criticism on it, my reply, CC stand on those issues as passed in September 1974. Earlier I asked all of them to be circulated. But now I think, a summarisation would be better – P.S. 20-12-75.
- Automation, Modern machinery, etc.
In my notes prepared in 1972 and 1973 to be submitted to PB and CC, I have referred to certain resolutions passed by our TU committees and question the correctness of the general formulation that “we are opposed to any labour saving device or machinery that would freeze the growth of employment, that reduce the Job potential or destroy potentiality of employment."
The resolutions I referred to are;
...In the joint programme that was mooted in May 18-19, 1971 by different Trade Union centres and federations in item No. 5, the following formulation is there: – "Stoppage of so-called labour saving devices as lead to retrenchment or freezing of the growth of employment." My objection is to the portion underlined by me.
...While drafting the resolution for the 9th Congress of our party there was some discussion in the CC and in the sub-committee and in the resolution on TU and the workers fight for living conditions, item 2 reads as follows:
"For need-based minimum wage for the working class, against wage freeze, lock-out, layoff and closure of mills, and against automation and measures aggravating unemployment, against all anti-working class legislations, for full employment and pending employment relief to the unemployed." The words underlined by me in the above were substituted for the earlier phase "against labour saving devices that destroy potentiality of employment".
Yet in the CITU resolution of 26-27 April 1973, it is stated ".....and further shrinkage of even the existing employment potential by financing textile, jute and other capitalists for modernisation, introduction of new automatic machinery in certain industries, further mechanisation of agriculture.... job killing measures with government support."
Similarly in the critique on the Approach to the plan submitted to Planning Commission, on behalf of our party, on page 24 cyclostyled, the following is said:– "Under official patronage industries are being financed to introduce very sophisticated machinery which is intended to reduce the job potential of theindustries concerned. The Minister for Foreign Trade has threatened to take over Textile mills which refused to do this and attack the jobs of the workers already in employment" (underline mine).
After giving the above references, I concluded my comment thus:– "It is right (correct) that we should oppose any device or any measure of the Govt. that leads to the retrenchment of existing employees and increases the workload in the name of rationalisation etc. It is also right that in the present capitalist conditions, for development of industries, introduction of "automation" will lead to large scale unemployment and as such, we have to oppose it, But from the quotations given above, there is a tendency to oppose introduction of any and every kind of modern machinery on the ground that it is a device for labour saving or "job-killing" and to that extent reduce the opportunities for employment or reduce the potentiality of employment and thus lead to growth of unemployment. I do not consider this way of posing the problem is correct. We should not come before the public that we are opposed to every labour saving and to the extent, reduce the potentiality of employment. On this ground, we do not go to the old backward techniques in various fields of production even when the need to replace the present machinery and go in for new machinery arises.
We have to come forward that whenever modern machinery is introduced in certain lines of industries, or certain factories, the Govt. must insist on lightening the burden of labour by cutting down the hours and increasing wages, as well as mopping up all the surplus profits, to ensure minimum wages in other enterprises which continue to utilise backward techniques or old machinery. Secondly, we should demand more employment by cutting down the hours of work without reducing the wages and without increasing the work load. We should also propagate that unless simultaneously those changes are made and steps to guarantee them are taken, we will oppose the introduction of this machinery at the cost of workers. 'This approach would enable us to mobilise the democratic masses behind our just demands of the working class. It will also educate the working class that mere opposition to modern machinery is not going to take them far and they have to struggle against the system itself and to change it. The need of mobilising the democratic opinion and fighting for the demands of other sections will have to be emphasised.
Com. BTR's criticism on this point is as follows:
"Firstly, no one conversant with the existing employment situation in India with the job done to industrial employment by modernisation and various other methods, mechanisations etc., will treat the problem in this fashion." After giving figures in textiles, mining, etc. of the fall in employed persons in spite of increased production compared to a decade or two, com. BTR goes on: “This is mainly the result of modernised" new devices. But the struggle is to save one's job and not put on academic question.
"If the TU movement cannot take a forthright stand in defence of job security, it is worth nothing. The tragedy is that it has not persistently taken the struggle. As the workers' resistance grew, the govt. tried to buy over leaders like Dange who agreed to "rationalisation without tears" bribing the workers to accept it with little addition to their earnings, accept intensified work and asking for the dismissed workers some monetary compensation.
"This wrong attitude toward attack on working class stems from a complete failure to understand the role of machinery's war against the working class, in the class war between the bourgeoisie and the proletariat. It looks upon machinery as symbol of "society's progress" forgets that it is used as the instrument of class exploitation.”
The replacement of labour by machinery is the central point in capitalist exploitation of the workers. Increasing extension of surplus value requires increased use of constant capital (machinery etc.) and reduction – relative and absolute – of variable capital (living labour), a surplus labour army, the industrial reserve army. This is a basic pillar of capitalist society and hence the replacement of labour by machinery, by improving it, perfecting it, is nothing but a constant class war which the worker has to fight. If the workers win wage increase, the capitalist again circumvents it by introducing new machinery and reducing the strength of the employed. "Thus it comes about," to quote Marx, "that machinery becomes the most powerful weapon in the war of capital against the working class; that the instruments of labour constantly tear the means of subsistence out of the hands of the labourer, that the very product of the workers is turned into an instrument for his subjugation." (page 378 Anti-Dühring – Engels) “....the struggle against the constant machinery's war against the labour is a duty and obligation of the trade union movement. Unfortunately, the TU movement is less conscious of this than of wage question. During the struggle workers realise that the means of unemployment through constant substitution of machinery will continue so long as capitalist rule exists. Only under socialism the working class and instruments of production can march without any conflict.
“Therefore, whenever possible, the trade union movement organises resistance to protect workers' jobs and trains the army of resistance. They must raise the demand for acceptance of the right to work or pending it unemployment wage. During the course of the struggle, defeats, compromises, etc. are inevitable and they do take place. They sometimes take the form of accepting retirement compensation, retirement of those above a certain age etc.”
PS's reply: "I have not disputed that modern machinery is used by the capitalist class to increase the exploitation of the workers and keep always a growing reserve army of unemployed; but the point which I have raised and which every communist has to raise, is, what is the way to fight this increasing exploitation of labour and growing unemployment? Is the working class to be educated to fight the introduction of every modern machine, because it leads to shrinkage of even existing potential of employment, to fight job killing machines or machines that reduce the job potential of the industries concerned? The working class's elementary and first reaction when he sees the machinery taking away his job and replacing him, is to oppose the machinery itself. It is the job of the communists while fighting immediately every effort of the capitalist to deprive the worker of his job or to increase the workload of existing employees, to educate the workers that it is only by fighting the very system of capitalism and destroying it, the working class would be assured of full employment and total elimination of unemployment. However much you may oppose the introduction of the machinery, you would not be able to prevent its introduction as long as the system continues. If the attention of the workers is focussed on the machinery as the cause of unemployment and not consciousness to a higher level to safeguard their own immediate interests as well a fight for a new social system where wage slavery would not exist.”
Com. BTR continues his argument further: "Equally erroneous is the objection to the demand for ensuring potential employment especially in reaction to automation. In the first place, in the declining state of capitalism, especially in our country the working class has to raise this demand and fight for it. Because as in the early days of capitalism unemployment is not temporary, it is not followed by employment on a big scale. In an underdeveloped country, the prospects are gloomier. In all capitalist states, the number of unemployment has increased."
"It should be realised that such words as Modernisation, improvement of machinery only means greater exploitation, more intense work and less employment. In our country, besides, we have often to agree to prohibit or restrict the use of machinery for protecting the jobs of workers in unorganised industries. If agreed signal is given to the textile mill owners to install automatic looms in the name of export, it will not only affect the job of hundreds of textile workers but thousands of handloom workers. We have supported the reservation of production of sarees etc. for handlooms and its prohibition in textile mills. Restricting increase in the weaving capacity of mills has also helped the handloom weavers.
"In the first place modernisation means introduction of automatic looms in the textiles, jute etc. and throw thousands out of employment thus creating the unemployment problem for handloom workers. Secondly we are dealing here with the big industry and job killing or labour saving devices mean practically devices which intensify labour, save labour power for the capitalists and lessen and freeze employment. Let PS point out which job killing means he is prepared to support or not to oppose. The practical question that faces the trade union movement is when workers are thrown out of employment, we are not fighting the introduction of new machinery in the abstract, we are taking up the question when it threatens to take away the job of hundreds! Here resistance has to be organised. (Thirdly) under the present conditions most modern techniques can be adopted by the big and monopolist bourgeoisie and none else.
"I have stated elsewhere that the question of protecting employment potential directly links the employed with the unemployed, which is absolutely essential in the present period when unemployment is mounting.
“PS confuses the workers' fight against unemployment – the specific form of class war under capitalism – with the question of introducing advanced technique. He mainly suggests "on this ground we do not go to old backward techniques even when the need to replace the present machinery arises." If we accept this, there cannot be any fight against unemployment in the country. Because our techniques are backward for the most part and in the name of exports, international competition, efficient production, we will have to put up with onslaught everywhere. Modern techniques can be successfully used for our people only under People's Democracy and socialism. That has been our stand. For the rest they may give huge profit to the capitalists but spread misery all round. This is our stand. Even advanced countries are experiencing the same thing. The capitalist class imposes it in spite of our resistance.
"Besides are we not consciously supporting less sophisticated techniques to ensure employment? Why do we support protection to handlooms? Why do we support special facilities for small industries, for village industries? Which of course cannot use modern technique? As a transitory means all these are necessary: keep our army together, keep all opposition forces fighting. At the same time where new industries have been opened with advanced technique and when the problem is not immediately displacing labour the trade unions have not opposed and cannot oppose. Here (loss of job) potentiality is accepted. But time may come when a united working class may boycott such factories because the new methods may become the norm and lead to displacement of labour. Here comes the slogan of socialisation of means of production. It should be remembered opposition comes because jobs are affected.
"Lastly PS is unable to continue his opposition to modernisation (which he calls modern industry) he does not understand the meaning of the word 'modernisation' in relation to textile etc. and appears to advocate only a tactical approach. Oppose it but not frontally but demand conditions which will eliminate all unemployment, reduce hours of work and ensure the same level of wages; failing this oppose it. Tactics are essential in TU matters and compromises are also made. But this type of approach as a basic approach only fails the workers. This is what the Social Democrats preach – make the worker feel as if alternative employment is possible as if introduction of new machinery without hurting the workers is possible. Then enter into negotiations and paralyse all vigilance."
Com. BTR goes on to enumerate the harm that introduction of automation is bringing and the need to oppose it. I am not reproducing them here as in my note I have categorically stated, “introduction of automation will lead to large scale unemployment and as such we have to oppose it".
PS's reply: I have not advocated or defended the govt’s practice of allowing automatic looms or other textile machinery to be introduced and scrapping of existing machinery so that the capitalists can increase their profits and throw more and more workers out of employment. We are advocating the nationalisation of the textile industry to be run under the control of workers guaranteeing the need based minimum wages even in the old mills
with backward techniques and also to handloom workers, a minimum wage. The Govt. must take over the product of handlooms all the existing old textile mills till they are scrapped and new mills erected in their place, as well as that of modern mills; the Govt. must distribute this whole cloth to the consumers at reasonable prices and guarantee the minimum need based wages for all the workers employed in old and modern mills as well as a minimum wage for handloom workers. While propagating this as the most correct and effective way to solve the problem of all sections, we have to fight meanwhile, the introduction of automatic looms or any other modern machinery that would increase the exploitation of existing employees either by way of retrenchment or by way of increased work load.
I do not know how our fight for protection of handloom workers or our demand for special facilities to village industries and small-scale industries, is equated to consciously supporting less sophisticated technique, and from that analogy defend the slogan that we are opposed to introduction of any machinery that would destroy the potentiality of jobs. We are defending the interests of existing handloom workers as well as small scale industries while at the same time, demanding more and more mills to provide more jobs and better scales of pay for newly employed as well as for those low-paid personnel in the backward interests. BTR himself says “Where new industries have been opened with advanced technique and when the problem is not of immediately displacing labour, the TUs have not opposed and cannot oppose".
Here (loss of jobs) potentiality is accepted. Then why raise a slogan that we are opposed to all machinery that destroys the potentiality of employment? As for Com. BTR's posure "Let PS point out which job killing machinery he is prepared to support or oppose." I could equally ask BTR which kind of machinery he would allow, that would not be the machinery he would advocate?
I am giving below the CC position (Sept. 1974) on this issue. I agree with it, it does not speak of "job potentiality".
CC Meeting – N. Delhi-3-9th Sept. 1974
P.B. Statement on the issue of Trade Union Differences
The Politbureau, after discussing the issue of trade union differences as promised in the CC Meeting of June 1974, has come to the following conclusions to be presented to the CC for its consideration and approval.
(1). The central issue of the trade union differences, the issue of establishing proper and correct relations between the party committees and the Trade Union Sub-Committees, Trade Union Fraction and Fraction Committees etc. was established in the last CC meeting, and a resolution was adopted by the CC embodying its conclusions. This resolution is being discussed at different levels of the party in order to implement different provisions contained in it. The PB is of the view that the earnest implementation of this resolution would go a long way, firstly, in properly understanding the nature of the remaining differences on the trade union front, and also in resolving most of them. The PB is also aware that certain new problems and difficulties might confront our party committees in the course of carrying out different aspects of the said resolution and these will have to be resolved in the light of experiences gained by different state committees and the central committee while implementing the CC Resolution.
(2). On the issue of correct party attitude towards the introduction of Modern Machinery, Labour Saving Devices and Automation etc.
The differences in the PB reveal that there are certainly some differences in the presentation of the particular problem and the emphasis laid on different aspects of the problem. But they are not of such basic and fundamental character, as one view-point arguing in defence of the introduction of the machinery and automation and to the abandonment of the struggle of the working class in defence of their employment and job security and the opposite point of view arguing against the introduction of the modern machinery and industrialisation, and in defence of the job security of the workers and employees. There arose no difference so far on any specific struggle of our trade union against modernization and automation. Our party, and in particular the comrades w