The centenary day of the first meeting of the communists from India is 17th October, 2020, which was convened at Tashkent based on the call of the First or Foundation Congress of the Communist International (Comintern), which is generally considered the beginning of the Communist movement in India. On 17th October, 2019, we had started the campaign to observe the centenary, taking the message of Marxism-Leninism-Mao Tsetung Thought and our decisions to confront and overcome the present challenges faced by the communist movement in our country and all over the world. But, meanwhile the humanity had to confront the still continuing worldwide crisis caused by Covid19 pandemic. It has its serious impact in India. So, this campaign could not be carried forward as we planned. The Central Committee of the CPI(ML) Red Star had called on all party committees to observe the conclusion of this campaign on 17-18 October in all states with webinars in different languages, hall meetings wherever possible, postering, distribution of handbills and social media campaign from 11th to 18thOctober. Some of the state committees are organizing programs till 7th November, the 103rd anniversary of the October Revolution explaining the importance of both.
We are of the view that unlike the parliamentary left, CPI and CPI(M), we should avoid a controversy whether the beginning was in 1920 or ‘25? As everybody accept, the first meeting was held at Tashkent which helped to initiate the efforts to build party inside the country and the first Conference of the Communist movement in India at Kanpur in 1925 paving the way for formal beginning of the party with the formation of the CPI. In the same year the RSS was also formed. So, during the discussions and evaluation of the experience of the Communist movement during this period, naturally the challenge posed by the RSS neo-fascism which is ruling the country through Modi led BJP also came up repeatedly. For us this should be a time for serious introspection for the Communists.
If the RSS has developed as such a mighty parivar with many millions of members, starting its work from Bal Gokul and ABVP to dozens of organizations, including the biggest trade union centre BMS, infiltrating every sectors of state machinery, armed forces, judiciary, and every Constitutional institutions, running the country in most ruthless Manuvadi, Brahmanical, neo-fascist way, where are the Communists? What led to the severe setbacks suffered by the Communists and their splintering, ideologically, politically and organizationally, in spite of the valiant struggles waged, the sacrifice of vast number of comrades etc. It calls for serious self-critical examination. But, see what is happening in Bihar elections? The BJP alliance is mainly challenged by the opposition Grand Alliance led by RJD-Congress. It is joined by the parliamentary left including the CPI(ML) Liberation. The six party front of BSP, Owaisi’s AIMIM, etc is in effect serving as a B-team of BJP.
Even though there is no dispute on the question that the opposition alliance is qualitatively not different, in this situation, if the BJP and its allies are to be defeated there is no other option but to support it, while the revolutionary left coming together in a coordination with a Common Program and campaigning against the fascist forces calling for a revolutionary alternative, fielding candidates jointly only in seats where they have some mass base. Though all the CR organizations were approached by the RLC with this proposal, they declined. While those taking Maoist positions are still pursuing their anarchist line, without recognizing the gravity of the RSS neo-fascist onslaught and the necessity to weaken Modi government by all means including by the correct utilization of parliamentary elections, they are approaching the elections in an aimless and sectarian manner fielding few candidates for self-satisfaction.
In the present critical condition, this opportunity of observing the centenary of the Communist movement in India, should be utilized to find out the reasons for degeneration to these sectarian positions within our country and internationally. Communists should continue efforts to find answers for it. The Communists who are still want to pursue the revolutionary path should dare to make a concrete analysis of the present situation, analysis of the transformation gone through from the post-Second World War years by the capitalist imperialist system including the changes it has made in its strategy and tactics, the transformation in the mode of production and ruling class policies in our country under the impact of these international changes.
From the time the Comintern called for uniting all anti-imperialist forces including the movements led by the big bourgeois class, it had stated that Communists should always pursue the path of independent communist assertion, build the party, class/mass organizations and the class struggle led by them, and be prepared to take the leadership of the revolutionary transformation of the society. Though the CPC under Mao’s leadership became a torch-bearer in applying this line correctly all other parties including the Communists in India failed in this repeatedly.
But in India, in spite of the numerous struggles it waged building up the party at all India level, during the colonial days, though imperialism versus masses of the people, it never tried to come to the leadership of the movement for national liberation and democratic revolution, it failed to understand the importance of the caste annihilation to achieve the unity with the most down trodden forces, to analyse the national question in India and unite the people of all nationalities around the demand for a genuinely federal India, defeating British efforts to communally divide the country using RSS and Muslim League, and to correctly pursue the international tasks during the Second World War while not compromising in the anti-colonial struggle within the country. As a result, during the period of independence struggle, in spite of many opportunities it failed to assert the communist line, or, the leadership followed a class collaborationist line, away from reality
During the post 1947 period following the left deviation and years of uncertainty, though a correct line calling for utilizing all forms of struggle including the ongoing armed agrarian movement of Telengana to complete the PDR was adopted in 1951, when confronted with the challenge of how to use the first general election came up without surrendering the Telengana struggle, the leadership once again surrendered to rightist positions. As the post-Stalin leadership in Soviet Union committed serious mistakes in evaluating the transformation of colonial forms of plunder to neo-colonial forms under US imperialist leadership following SWW, and degenerated to revisionist positions, the CPI leadership also went along with it. Though the inner party struggle continued and the first split happened in 1964 leading to formation of CPI(M), contrary to its claims it took a neo-revisionist stand soon. It became clear when making opportunist understanding with various forces including split away sections from Congress and Muslim League, the CPI(M) and CPI contested elections in 1967 and came to power in West Bengal and Kerala. So, the Communist Revolutionaries (CRs) within CPI(M) raised the banner of land to the tiller, which led to the Naxalbari Uprising and formation of CPI(ML) in 1969, a sharp break from the revisionist path.
But again a serious mistake took place in analyzing the Indian situation and developing the party line. Under the influence of Lin Biaoist sectarian line it opted for the China’s path, analyzing India as a semi-colonial, semi-feudal country with people’s war as path. So it abandoned the formation of class/mass organizations, called for boycott of election as a strategic slogan, and armed struggle as the only form of struggle, to be initiated with the annihilation of class enemies. It was a left adventurist line pursued hastily without going for building a rudimentary form of party organization, mobilizing the millions who had supported the Naxalbari Uprising. Following brutal suppression by the state forces, the movement started splitting fast and by 1972 it was splintered into many groups. Though all these groups did not make any change in the semi-colonial, semi-feudal, people’s war line, soon one section continued to persist in te left adventurist line, another section had started veering to rightist positions. All came under severe stress and strain during the tumultuous 1970s, including arrests, martyrdom and suppression during the emergency rule. After revocation of the emergency and defeat of Congress, a more rightist Janata Party, came to power.
One benefit of this change was the release of almost all the CR forces and supporters from jail, including all top leaders. By this time the International Communist movement, the imperialist policies and the situation in the country also had undergone vast changes. Contrary to the expectations of the ML forces, after Mao’s death the capitalist roaders usurped power through a coup, and took China also to an imperialist path. Based on erroneous analysis of Mao’s contributions, the Albanian Party took opportunist positions. As all the former socialist countries degenerated from revolutionary path at various levels, the imperialists and their lackeys intensified anti-communist tirades. Following severe crisis in the 1970s, the US led imperialist camp went for neoliberal policies, cutting down all welfare measures and state intervention in the field of production. While on the one hand the globalization-liberalisation-privatisation created many illusions among the middle classes, it intensified the plunder of the working class and the oppressed people. Finance capital, and corporatization entered all fields, integrating the economies of the whole world, with WTO speeding up market dominance. Internationally itself, the CPI, CPI(M) like social democratic parties started advocating ‘there is no alternative’ to neo-liberal policies, and their executioners wherever they came to power.
The impact of these vast changes raised many important questions before the CRs. How to analyse the changes in China, Albania and all other former socialist countries? Whether the Communists should go for international unity, to form at least a platform at international level? What should be the approach to neoliberal policies and their impact in Indian agriculture and other spheres? What should be the approach to the newly emerging movement of middle and rich farmers for MSP and subsidies, who were by and large against the demands of poor and landless peasants, the agricultural workers for minimum wages and better living conditions? What shall be the nature of agrarian revolution in the new situation? As only feudal remnants are left, how to link the completion of the remaining anti-imperialist tasks of the democratic stage with the socialist stage of revolution? Or, have we reached the stage of socialist revolution? What should be the approach to the caste system which has become more divisive? Can we support the minority fundamentalism as in Khalistan movement against increasing threat of majority fundamentalism? Or should we take genuine secular stand opposing both? How to unite the CR forces and build a powerful Bolshevik style communist party capable of leading Indian revolution forward? How to approach the intensifying ecological destruction threatening ecological catastrophe, and even extinction of human species from earth? These and similar questions like national question, gender equality etc demanded answers from the CRs.
But almost all CR groups refused to answer any or most of these questions, and were ready to reject the semi-colonial, semi-feudal, people’s war frame, though most of them took mass line.. Three of them who rejected mass line later polarized as CPI(Maoist) pursued the armed struggle alone line. In spite of losing many of their past strong holds it pursues the same in more sectarian forms. On the other hand with CPI(ML) Liberation in the forefront a powerful section of these groups, including micro-split away groups and individuals have shifted to CPI(M) led Left Front. There are a number of groups in the middle, still sticking to the old frame and not ready to address these questions. It is by pursuing a ‘unity and struggle’ with all these sections, while striving to find answers to all above questions, the CPI(ML) Red star stream has developed with the merger of different CR organizations, groups and individuals continuously to its present position, ideologically, politically, organizationally. Internationally its intervention has helped the development of ICOR as a growing platform of the CR forces also. During the various webinars, discussions and articles by the leading comrades various aspect of this struggle by Red Star both in the spheres of theory and practice were explained during the concluding programs concerning the century of the communist movement in India. At two levels it is continuing this struggle: one an ideological struggle against the right deviation, which is the main danger in the communist movement; two, a campaign against Manuvadi Hindutva, the theoretical base of RSS neo-fascism. The Party expects these ideological offensives, along with the developing practical struggles in the various fields shall lead to a polarization of all CR forces as well as the vanguard elements from the present generation leading to the building of a powerful communist party capable of leading the revolution to victory overcoming all obstacles.
Long Live Indian Revolution!
Intensify Campaign Against Manuvadi Hindutva, the Theoretical Base of RSS Neo-Fascism!
Intensify Struggle to Throw Out RSS
Neo-Fascism! Advance to People’s Democracy and Socialism
Even a cursory glance through what is happening in the country will convince anyone what a challenging, dangerous, and in many ways, a desperate situation our country and people are facing. To understand this one need not be a Marxist intellectual. From their day to day sufferings, vast majority of the people, the working class and all other oppressed classes and sections are recognizing this, in spite of massive Sanghi media trying to conceal and distort facts. After last six years of Modi rule, especially its last one year’s actions leave no doubt before anyone that it is fascism in action with majoritarian Hindutva as its theoretical base. Its foreign policy has integrated India within the strategic partnership with US led Asia-Pacific axis more than ever, with US administration using the India-China border standoff also to advance its inter-imperialist contradictions with China for world hegemony.
As expected, the parliamentary opposition, in the main, is in total disarray. On 5th August they were found competing with each other to support Ram mandir construction. They were not daring to question the way it was done as a state function, in effect throwing away the basic tenets of the Constitution, as they are also upholding the soft Hindutva line and do not want to openly oppose the Manuvadi Hindutva of RSS pursued by Modi rule. Except some token opposition within the parliamentary forums, they do not oppose the neoliberal/corporatization offensive taking place in practice. In spite of planned moves of Modi govt. to weaken and subvert its ministries as in MP, or Rajasthan or elsewhere, Congress is only competing with Modi to show themselves as more chauvinist, and more pro-Hindutva! Still the social democratic Left Front parties are following their class collaborationist subservience to Congress and other ruling class parties. There is nothing new in their approach, than waiting for BJP to fall due to its own weaknesses, almost waiting for a repetition of what happened in 2004! They do not want to think whether such a repetition is possible even after the RSS neo-fascism has so much entrenched in the country penetrating the state machinery and even Constitutional institutions! In spite of it, the CPI(M) led Left Front parties are tailing behind Congress and other ruling class parties. In the concrete conditions of today, though all these parliamentary opposition parties shall continue to have their dominance over the numerous people’s struggles coming up against Modi rule, they have no alternative to RSS neo-fascism.
The only force who can challenge the corporate fascist Modi rule with an alternative perspective and program, and inspire the masses are the communist revolutionary forces. They have a history of waging uncompromising struggle against neo-revisionist CPI(M) leadership, organizing the Naxalbari Uprising, bringing revolution back to the agenda, and challenging the neoliberal corporate rule and state terror during the last 4-5 decades. Only they, along with the revolutionary intellectuals have the vision of extending the struggle against counter-revolutionary policies of Modi rule, extending it to fighting the reactionary, obscurantist theoretical base of RSS.
But even after the fascists are riding rough shod over the people, abusing, lynching, torturing, suppressing all opposition voices, taking the plunder of labour and nature to unprecedented levels, opening the country to foreign and native corporates, imposing Brahmanical Manuvadi terror, some of the CR forces have betrayed the Naxalbari movement and have become apologists of neoliberal agenda of the ruling classes. The many decades of the CPI(M) led governments in W. Bengal, Tripura and Kerala, have only defamed the communist movement. On the other extreme, the left sectarian, anarchist forces have reduced themselves to nothing more than a cover for the state to suppress the masses. It was expected that upholding the glorious history of the Naxalbari Uprising, and struggling against these right and left deviations, the remaining forces shall unite to create a revolutionary left core to build a broad based anti-fascist front similar to the one which came up against the CAA/NPR/NRC. But, while we could initiate building this RLC with few like - minded forces, others are still hesitant, so that we have to continue this effort.
When the neo-fascist Modi government is consolidating its hold everywhere very fast, launching various attacks on the working class and oppressed people as a whole, especially the Muslim minority, dalits, Adivasis, women and other oppressed classes and sections, we have to carry forward the task of uniting major section of the CRs in the RLC with a common program to challenge the fascist forces and develop te anti-fascist front, while upholding the approach of “independent communist assertion” inside the movement,
Analysing present situation, the Central Committee has called for giving priority to party building. It calls for intensifying the ideological, political struggle for building a Bolshevik style powerful party winning over all revolutionary communists and new comrades to its fold, and for developing various struggles, campaigns and movements against the central and state governments, giving top priority to fight against the RSS/BJP rule.
Secondly, we have to strengthen the class/mass organizations and various people’s movements at all India level in which our party comrades are playing leading role. Present situation demands continuous efforts to develop them, give political orientation to them to play more active role in the anti-fascist movement. It also calls for developing struggles in all fields and winning new forces to build united fronts at all levels.
It is a Marxist-Leninist teaching, a repeatedly proved historical fact that without a strong Communist Party built on Bolshevik lines, surrounded by class/mass organizations and people’s movements, and according to the conditions of our country, all round offensive of the party cannot be developed. These initiatives cannot be developed fast. The party building by winning over the communist forces and to attract the new generation to the movement, calls for an intensive ideological political struggle as explained in the Resolution for Theoretical Offensive adopted by the 10th Party Congress. How the new forces can be attracted to the communist politics if those who claim themselves communists uphold China, which is only socialist in name, but an imperialist power contending for world hegemony with US imperialism, resorting to fascist oppression of the Uighur like nationalities and not prepared to resolve the national question within it, and not prepared to settle border problems with the neighbouring countries through bi-lateral discussions?
The new generation are not familiar with much of Marxist literature and are mostly ignorant of what happened in Soviet Union and China during their socialist days. They are witnessing the ‘mainstream communist parties’ wherever still in power, even after the severe setbacks in W. Bengal and Tripura for many decades, are still pursuing the neoliberal/corporate policies. They have nothing to offer except playing parliamentary politics as allies of one ruling class party or other, in state after states. They cannot be attracted to communist path, when they see and read how even those who claim to uphold Naxalbari Uprising and CPI(ML) heritage rush to join the band wagon of the very same forces by fighting against whom this great movement had emerged.
In spite of the severe setbacks suffered by the communist movement all over the world with all former socialist countries abandoning the socialist path, in the atmosphere of powerful anti-communist propaganda onslaughts by the imperialists and their lackeys, the new generation shall give credibility to the communist vision, and be attracted to it, only if, along with ideological political offensive, we take up the struggle against gender inequality, caste oppression, division based on caste system, the soft Hindutva vote bank politics, the ecological destruction leading to severe catastrophe, the development path based on capitalist lust and consumerist greed etc as integral part of the class struggle. Uncompromising struggle is called for against those parroting the mechanical materialist rhyme that all these problems need not be taken up from now, but shall disappear automatically once the communists capture power. After all that has happened in the world during last few decades including the disappearance of socialist countries, when the capitalist-imperialist system through neoliberal/corporate loot of labour and nature has transformed the whole world in its own image, if accordingly the Marxist theory and practice are not developed, and a new vision of development paradigm and democracy with all power to the people is presented before the people, the new generation is not going to come forward, daring to think, daring to struggle and daring to win a socialist future. So, the party building calls for such a vigorous struggle against the right deviation which is presently the main danger in the communist movement, while guarding against the anarchist trend. So, the CC has asserted that the party building should be taken up vigorously, linking with ideological offensive.
Another aspect of party building which calls for attention is the taking up of a powerful campaign against the Manuvadi Hindutva, the ideological base of RSS. Based on Manusmriti, writings of Savarkar, Golwalkar and other leaders, also drawing lessons from Mussolini and Hitler, the RSS could grow in to the biggest and most powerful neo-fascist organization in the world, as not only Congress and other ruling class parties, but the socialist stream as well as the Communist stream refused to learn the importance of Renaissance movement and take up the caste struggle along with class struggle, while the caste-class relation is a unique feature of India. So, only by waging a powerful ideological struggle against the theoretical base of RSS, the new generation who are influenced or at least confused by the RSS dominance can be won over or at least neutralized. The decision of the CC in its August meeting to take up these two campaigns immediately shall help the building and expansion of the party with more ideological clarity, winning over new forces to our side.
[ 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 working in the trade unions, will have to oppose all devices and measures of the employers as well as the State which lead either to the retirement of the workers or to the increasing of the workload.
It is also necessary to fight against the introduction of “automation” as it is bound, under the present capitalist order, to lead to large-scale unemployment and curtailment of employment potential.
Our party is guided by the well known Marxist proposition that machinery is intended by the capitalists to cheapen commodities, to shorten that portion of the work-day which the labourer works for his subsistence and to lengthen the other portion of the workday that produces the surplus-value to the employers, and to the creation of a reserve army of unemployed in order to beat down the resistance of the working class. Modern instruments of production are weapons in the hands of capitalist against the revolts of the working class. There exists an in-built contradiction between the labourer and the instruments of labour under capitalism. This should be always borne in mind.
The revolutionary trade union movement can neither afford to welcome the introduction to machinery and modernisation of industries in the name of a "Social advance", nor can it afford to be misguided into the channels of Luddite movement of opposing and destroying the machinery, as was the case in England during first quarter of 19th century. The modern trade union movement has learnt "to distinguish between machinery and its employment by capital, and to direct their attacks, not against the material instruments of production, but against the mode in which they are used."
Our party should lead the working class struggles against the introduction of modern machinery, automation and such other labour saving devices by the employers while entertaining no illusions that such a struggle alone would either prevent the growing introduction of mechanisation, and automation, with all the consequent results of intensified exploitation and ever-increasing unemployment, or would lead to the growth of class and socialist consciousness among the working class. In our trade union movement, the struggle against modernisation and automation in defence of the security of the jobs for the workers and employees, will have to be combined with the agitation and propaganda for the struggle against capitalism and for socialism.
- PS's Note on Need based minimum wage and differentials in pay structure:
I have submitted in my note to PB and CC in 1972-73, the following on this question. I have also submitted a note on Pay Commission report and the attitude taken by Central Govt. employees on this question.
During our UF Govt. in 1969, Com Keshto Ghosh as Labour Minister had attended a Central Labour Advisory Committee meeting and there he made a speech as directed by the trade union leadership that in granting DA the present differentials in the pay structure should be taken into consideration and the differentials should continue or should not be narrowed down.
“Recently in various resolutions of the CITU and in its various memoranda the demand was voiced that need-based minimum wage should be guaranteed for the unskilled employees and on that basis, the whole pay structure should be redrawn. This perhaps means that the present differentials between grades and sub-grades of different categories should be maintained. Since no concretisation of this whole pay structure or differentials has been mentioned, whatever the higher paid employees’ demand, it is our duty to support it on the ground that the Central Govt. which allows the big monopolists and landlords to mint money can be justifiably asked to concede these demands as well.
“It is right on the part of the trade unions and our party to continuously propagate the demands for need- based minimum wage, either as fixed in 1957 Tripartite Labour Conference or if there is deficiency in calculating the minimum needs, formulate our own demand what should constitute the minimum wage and propagate and campaign for this. It is true that in the capitalist system this need-based minimum wage cannot be achieved, except in certain favoured or sheltered industries, from small scale industries to big capitalist industries is an impossible thing. If all these industries are nationalised by the state and the state is workers’ state, in that case it is possible from the value produced by the most competitive (productive) modern industries, after giving the need based minimum wage, the extra amount could be ploughed so as to guarantee the need-based minimum wage in other less value producing small scale industries, or industries with less developed techniques. Even if the need based minimum wage, at the national level under the new system is guaranteed, the present differentials that exist in the capitalist society in the pay structure cannot be continued or guaranteed or justified. The nearer we approach the need-based minimum wage on a national scale in all industries, it becomes inevitable to reduce the differentials sharply and the differences between the lowest paid to the highest paid might not be more than three to five times. This is so in most of the Socialist countries.
“If it is contended that it is not our job at the present stage of the development to go into these details and as against the Govt. we should go on supporting every demand of every section and let the Govt. face the music, I consider by this approach we will not be really leading the toiling masses on correct lines or give them correct perspective of what they should fight for on a long range basis, and regarding fighting for immediate demands which they could achieve. By this approach, we will not be in a position to make them conscious of the need to mobilise other toiling masses, in support of their demands, and the necessity and importance of comparatively better paid to join hands with these who are less paid to develop the common movement.
“In fact, we have got the sad experience. The Central Govt. employees even those who get more than the need- based minimum wage, either in the top section of grade III or Grade II go on demanding more and more pay scales on the basis of increasing prices but they are not prepared to fight doggedly for the same wages for the State Govt. employees or lower paid categories except expressing sympathy and holding some solidarity meetings.
The minimum bonus:
“The working class after plenty of agitations and struggles forced 8 1/3% as the minimum bonus for all enterprises employing more than 20 persons on the employers and on the govt. The trade union movement’s contention has been that bonus to be considered as deferred wage, to reduce the gap between the existing wages and need-based minimum wage. The Govt. and employers were not prepared to accept this principle but under threat of organised working class struggles, they have conceded the 8 1/3 bonus, but excluded from it certain categories like the Central, State and Local Board employees, the P&T and Railways and the Defence. They have excluded all enterprises which employ less than 20 persons and even to these categories which they say it applies the Govt. took power to exempt whenever the employers put in an application that their financial position will not enable them to give this bonus.
“When we demand bonus to reduce the gap between the present wages and the need-based minimum wage, whether the particular factory or enterprise is making profit or not, the struggle for bonus becomes a struggle for need-based minimum wage for all sections of workers. In that case, many small scale industries or industries with backward techniques may not be able to give this need-based minimum wage or increased bonuses to overcome the gap, which could be achieved. Only the Bonus Review Committee demanded that in the course of the next few years, the minimum bonus should be increased from the present declared 8 1/3% to 15% at the rate of 1% per year and later on it be further reviewed and if necessary further increased in minimum bonus. They say it is a correct demand. (Refer to page 13 and 14 of the CITU Memorandum to Bonus Review Committee).”
I think it is right on the part of the trade union movement and our party to raise this question of additional bonus from factories on enterprises who are making more profits and the formula after deducting the expenses and depreciation (which may have to be drastically reduced taking into account the longer life of the machinery) 50% of the profits should be given to workers is also correct. But here also this 50% of the gross profits should be so distributed in the form of bonus so that the lower-paid sections will get the need-based minimum wage and better wages to the medium placed employees but no further increase for higher salaried people. (But I do not consider that demanding for continuous increase in minimum bonus for every enterprise whether it is making profits or not, is correct, and in fact most of small and medium industries, will not be in a position to pay it and would be driven to bankruptcy ruin.)
A note on Pay Commission Report: By P.S.
Need based minimum wages:
The 15th Indian Labour Conference accepted the concept of three units for one family, i.e. if one works, he must get such emoluments as would meet the expenses of three adults, i.e. husband, wife and two children on the norms fixed for food, clothing, housing and miscellaneous expenses. On that basis, the Third Pay Commission worked over the "need-based minimum wage at the average prices prevailing in the four big metropolitan cities of India, Delhi Calcutta Bombay and Madras to be Rs. 314/- per month or Rs. 3,768/- per year of four persons (three units). This works out to per capita need of Rs. 942/- per year while the per capita income in 1970-71 is only Rs. 633/-. The gap is Rs. 310/- per year per head. Even if the whole net domestic product is equally distributed, it comes only to Rs. 211/- per family of four persons (or three units) per month as against the need based minimum of Rs. 314/- as calculated by Pay Commission at controlled prices.
So as long as this present system and because of that, the present national production level being what it is, it is an impossibility to assure the whole population a need based income. Only a certain section can be given if large numbers are deprived and their living levels are depressed far below even the average level possible at Rs. 211/- per month. (This is what the present bourgeois-landlord system is doing ensuring enormous profits and accumulation of wealth in the hands of few monopolists – P.S. 1975.)
It need not be stressed that there is no possibility of equitable distribution as long as the present socio-economic system and the bourgeois-landlord govt. exists. So the working class must be made conscious that without destroying the present socio-economic system, replacing it by an entirely different socialist economic system for all sections of people and even for all employed sections this need based minimum wage cannot be ensured. To achieve this, it is necessary for them to take initiative to mobilise other toiling sections of the people, by fighting for their economic demands and developing united mass struggles ultimately to replace the present system.
- In this connection, it is to be noted that the standards of food as prescribed by AykryodCommittee at 2700 calories for moderate work and the balanced diet prescribed (or even the quantities prescribed by Pay Commission) is simply not available, even if all the total of present production is taken into consideration and equitably distributed.
From the ingredients for a minimum need-based food basket, per adult, the physical availability of some important ingredients like oils, animal foods and milk, vegetables and fruit is only 1/3 to 1/8. The total calories availability is only 2500 calories.
As such, need-based minimum wage or living wage is unattainable for all our people in the country, without destroying the present system and replacing it by socialist system.
Recommended by Third Pay Commission
National product availability per adult
Sugar & Jaggery
Oils & Fats
Fish, Meat, Eggs
Veg. & Fruit
4 For moderate work 2700 calories – l0% of the above. To this food requirements, clothing 66 metres for a family of four persons (3 adult units) is provided and a subsidised housing expenditure of Rs. 25/- per month and 20% of total emoluments for miscellaneous expenses is added.
But this does not mean that sections of workers and employees, both in the public sector and private sector cannot get the need based wages. Organised working class and employees while raising this demand and fighting to get emoluments as much near to this objective as possible, must realise the necessity to mobilise vast sections of all the toiling, downtrodden people, both rural and urban employed and more importantly the unemployed sections. Till that is done, they will not achieve significant advance towards achieving the need-based wages. Even these limited sections who have now got it cannot safeguard or retain it unless they mobilise other sections and fight for all the toiling people. Further, it is seen that need-based minimum wage as per Aykroyd food formula and 15th Labour Conference standards will be Rs. 530/- at open market rates (which are in fact the real rates).
I do not see the basis for our TU cadre accepting the Pay Commission calculation of Rs. 314/- as need based minimum, while actually the rates prevailing will cost it Rs. 500/-. One may reply that we want to pin down what the Govt. itself has accepted and demand at least that much be given.
If the objective realities and the concrete conditions under which we have to fight for increased wages are taken, it would have been better to take up the Pay Commission's calculations and demand that these quantities which it recommended be guaranteed to employees at the rates at which the Pay Commission itself calculated food, clothing and housing etc. If these are not guaranteed and if employee has to go to the open market, it would be costing him Rs. 420/-. (The Pay Commission calculation at Rs. 196/- is at controlled rates, and is based on the food basket provided for the other units at 2400/- calories the sedentary ration.)
The working class and Government employees should have raised the issue of controlled prices and other social services as the main demand and not merely money wages. If they had raised that slogan, not only for them but for all the toilers and middle classes, and for even more suffering from the disastrous consequences of increasing prices and unemployment, scarcity of essential commodity, the struggle could be much broad-based and working class would have been in the leadership and in the forefront but now it seems they are fighting for themselves, completely out of step with other sections of toiling people, State govt. employees, Municipal employees workers in unorganised small scale or handicraft sectors, apart from the unemployed and rural poor.
What is the actual emolument of the Central Govt. employee now and what he is going to get under Pay Commission recommendation as modified by the Govt. decision?
There is a tendency not to give a real picture of what the Central govt. employee is not getting and boldly defend the justness of what he is demanding. (For instance, the Pay Commission recommendation gives the lowest paid in metropolitan cities, including house-rent and city compensatory allowances Rs. 226/- .as against its own estimation of Rs. 314/- as the need based minimum in Oct. 1972. They only refer to Rs. 186/- and demand that it be increased to Rs. 314/- P.S. – 1975). If we cannot justify our demands before the mass of other toiling sections and also draw them in a common struggle then we will be failing in discharging our responsibilities of building a united movement of all toilers. Our demand looks fantastic in contrast to the rest of toiling masses, then we must curiously consider how to reformulate our demands which will be in consonance with those of other toiling sections (whatever the variations have to be there) and on that basis, joint campaigns and struggles are to be waged. Not even try to mould the organised working class in this direction is succumbing to economism and spontaneity.
Topsy-Turvy Attitude of Pay Commission:
Apart from the bogus arguments which the Pay Commission advance to refute the need based minimum wages other great inequalities in the Pay Commission recommendations are to be pinpointed, before doing that a word on parity between class I and IAS officer. The Pay Commission cannot find the money for need based minimum wages but they enhanced the pay scales of IAS officers, as well as the Central Sectt. officers and in the name of removing the disparity between Class I officers and IAS and IPS and other All India services, they have increased the salaries of these categories to that of old IAS scales though the disparity is still kept up. Further, IAS scales are continuous, the Junior Scale holders getting promoted at 6th year into senior class I officers. There should have been no increase in scales and privileges and other perquisites of all India services but they could have extended these old scales to Class I officers.
(1) The most glaring inequality is that those who work in factories and enterprises and productive and hard manual processes are given lower pay scale than their corresponding categories of office workers. They should have been put at least one category above the present corresponding office employees.
Unskilled workers in factories and such other hard manual processes should be given the next higher scale, highest category of Grade IV, i.e. Rs. 225-308 (of the present recommendations). They work for 8 hours a day and their labour is productive as against sedentary work in the office establishment.
Semi-skilled workers are to be at par with LDC scale and skilled workers at par with UDCs and highly skilled and two-year diploma holders of technical courses after certain training are to be in the same scale of supervisory and three-year diploma holders.
The workshop and artisan staff in the Central Govt. departments including Railways, P&T, Defence and other departments are 7-2 lakh out of a total number of Central Govt. employees of 30 lakh 1970-71. Those do not cover public enterprises whose pay structure is governed on different considerations, and on different basis.
(2) The second great inequality is no mention of State and local board employees throughout India. It should have recommended to do away with the present glaring disparities between the Central Govt. employees and the above categories.
Certain points raised by Central Govt. Employees' Organisations:
(1) The Govt. should accept the need-based minimum wage as calculated by the Third Pay Commission at Rs. 314/- at the consumer index level of 200 of Oct. 1972. They might accept it in principle even if they may not immediately implement it. It is difficult to understand what this actually means. Are the employees going to be satisfied by mere declaration which in practice means nothing. The Govt. is a party to the standards for need based minimum wage but they never implemented from 1957, 15th Labour Conference on the ground that public or private concern not to speak of the government itself are economically in no position to implement it.
Some of the representatives have evolved a scheme that the difference between the immediate minimum pay to be given and the Rs. 314/- is to be bridged in five equal instalments, i.e. the minimum wage of Rs 314/- to be given in 1977. If the prices shoot up between Oct. 1972 and by the time the need based minimum wage is to be implemented, that is to be met by the increased DA for full neutralisation. This in practice means that in the next 5 years, every year new pay scales are to be restructured on the basis of which we can mobilise other sections of the toiling masses and democratic people to back it up.
It would have been far better to have demanded the minimum wage immediately to be implemented at Rs. 250/- including rent and city allowance and all other components of this need based bracket as enunciated even by the Pay Commission be supplied at controlled rates as calculated by the Commission itself on this basis uniform pay scales for Central, State and Local Board employees of all categories to be fixed. If the Govt. refuses this, they should have organised all sections of the people and gone on continuous strike to get it enforced.
But it seems the protagonists of the above scheme are more interested in securing a verbal commitment on the part of the Govt. that they will implement in fixed time and that too only for Central Govt. employees. The grounds on which they hope the Govt. would give this verbal commitment and later seriously implement cannot be understood. The sanctions to force the Govt. even to verbal commitment that in the course of the next five years, to make them implement it, are the united strength of all Govt. employees backed by the toiling masses. If the Central Govt. employees do not have that sanction, only at bargaining counter to expect· the Govt. to concede this demand looks ridiculous.
In fact, in the whole negotiations, the Central Govt. employees' organisations never bothered about State and Local Board employees. They were interested in getting some concessions for themselves and they are not prepared to press for the demands of State and Local Board employees for parity fearing that if they do, the amount the Central and State Govts. would hope to fork out to meet this minimum demand would run to many times of what they themselves are demanding. This they felt would look too fantastic for the general public, to back them up.
If they had placed their minimum demand at RS.250/- and this to be applied to all state and local board employees as well as campaigned and mobilised for it, even then the Govt. would not be prepared to concede it unless they are faced with a determined all-India wide struggle which makes it impossible for them to evade but to concede.
(2) The second point which they raised is the full neutralisation. From the press reports, it is not dear whether the neutralisation is to which categories or up to which pay limit. The Central govt. by its latest order has agreed to full neutralisation up to limit of Rs. 300-00 and for all the scales between 301 and 900/- to the extent of 75/-. If the need based minimum wage is about Rs. 500/ -at the prevailing open market rates the full neutralisation in the first instance should cover this section. If the Govt. could not be forced, in the first instance to concede the need based minimum wage then the next best thing would be that their emoluments should be increased, as much as possible towards this objective of the need-based minimum wage. Till this objective is achieved, the neutralisation of upper categories who are receiving pay scales above those of need based minimum wage scales, cannot be 100/- but could be only less than 100/-. There will be variation in the neutralisation depending upon the grades of scales, less percentage of neutralisation to the persons earning lower emoluments, even in category III and category II.
I think that the present quantum of differences in the pay scales between one category and another category cannot be justified on the basis of equality or the efficiency of the work or on the basis of job evaluation, especially in view of the absolute priority to be given to reach the minimum need-based wage for all sections of Govt. employees and other toiling masses etc.
In this connection, the Central Govt. employees correctly raised that the DA should be increased on the basis of 6 monthly average for every four points increase. In fact, next to the issue of the need based minimum wage, this should have been pinpointed and even be prepared to go into action. Because to wait for one full year when prices go on increasing not to meet the increased costs till one year is over and that too, only after 8 points increase, is actually cutting even the meagre wages the employees are forced to accept. In the jute industry Calcutta, it is every three months' review.
(3) The third point which the Central Govt. employees raised is the question of point to point fixation in the new pay scales. The Govt. conceded in fixing up the existing employees in the new pay scales, that five percent of the existing emoluments is to be added subject to a minimum of Rs. 15/- and a maximum of Rs. 50/- and be fixed at the next higher stage in the new pay scales.
In view of the fact that minimum need based wage has not been granted, it would have been correct and just that the employees should have got some greater relief and they would have that relief if their pay is fixed at a higher point even in that proposed scale. For instance, the Grade IV employees have now a pay scale of Rs. 196/- to Rs. 232/-. A person, who has a service of say, 10 years, is now getting Rs. 180/- as total emoluments excluding House rent and City allowances. He, according to the Central Govt. proposals, would now get 196/- and the 'stage or next stage' being Rs. 196/-, the minimum, he will be just fixed at Rs. 196/-, i.e. the same emolument as in the case of a new recruit. Here, he should have been fixed at Rs. 211/- i.e. Rs. 15/- over the minimum wage of Rs. 196/-. The demand for point to point fixation for all those categories who do not even get the need based minimum wage should have been insisted upon and if we could succeed in that then some greater relief would have been achieved for the low paid sections, in other categories, if the minimum increment of existing emoluments of Rs. 15/- is considered not enough, we could have demanded an increment of Rs. 25/-, but in no case a point increase without any upper limit. The demand for point to point adjustment in upper categories would mean that those whose yearly increment in the new pay scales would get this maximum limit ofRs. 50/- which the Govt. has fixed would mean for those drawing salaries around ofRs. 1000/- whose yearly increment is Rs. 50/- that they would be fixed in the new pay scale without any increment in the present emoluments except that he would get from the benefit of the new higher pay scale. An employee who is getting Rs. 500/- is entitled to Rs. 25/- which may amount to two increments etc. So the demand of point to point increment cannot be justified for employees who are already getting higher emoluments than the need based wages. Any point to point fixation should be subject to maximum limit which in practice means depending upon the years of service, two increments, three increments or even five increments may be allowed so that the old incumbents may not feel that they are being denied the advantages ofthe new pay scales and the new entrants are being unduly preferred.
(4) The fourth point they raised is the question ofdate of implementation of the recommendation of the Pay Commission. The employees wanted it to be from the date ofappointment of the Pay Commission or at least from First January 1972 as the Pay Commission has enormously delayed its report. The Govt. refused to accept this demand on the ground that between the date ofappointment of the Pay Commission and the date of implementation ofthe new proposals, the consumer index varied depending upon the consumer index on that point. Whatever the justification of the new pay scales being implemented from an earlier date, two years back or one year back, this should have made sense and appealed to the other sections of democratic masses, if this demand has been confined to certain low paid categories – class IV – who are not even getting the need-based minimum wage or the lower sections of category III whose pay scales and allowance came to a maximum of Rs. 500/- per month.
No.such demand has been formulated.
(5) The Central Govt. employee’s organisations have not formulated these demands concretely giving preference to the lower paid sections, especially category IV because they do not want to give preference to these sections as compared to the higher scales perhaps because if they stress these preferences to lower paid sections, then they feel that there will be nothing left of the Govt. resources or in higher paid scales. It is the same fear that made them not to put forth in the front the demand of the State and local board employees.
Further, the Central Govt. employees' organisations are not prepared to be concrete in the formulations of their own pay scales of different categories because they do not have common understanding and each category however small it is, wants a preferential scale as compared to others. They always want the present differential from one category to another should be kept intact whether scale job evaluation is such that no differentiation need be kept on the basis of efficiency, skill or utility. There can be a continuous scale for Gr. IV employees so that even the lowest skilled can reach the maximum of that whole scale in course of time while others with better skill can have a better initial starting. This they have been rejecting continuously. For instance, similarly, in the clerical jobs, LDCs in the nature of work there is not much of a difference and as such they could have common continuous scales, though a higher initial starting may be there for higher educated or efficient persons.
(6) Certain comparisons are made with public sector concerns like steel factories, fertiliser factories, machine tools or oil and gas companies, etc. giving higher pay scales and govt. services should be given equivalent scales. This argument also is not tenable because these public sector enterprises are production based and the employees are paid on the basis of the economic returns or profit margins earned by these concerns and as such, the workers are entitled to get far higher pay scales, than office employees whose contribution to the production is secondary. Further, the Govt. office employees are to be paid by taxing the general public, i.e. from the tax revenue. It is another matter when the Central Govt. employees in joint campaigns and struggles force the Govt. to tax the big bourgeoisie and the landlords and even eliminate those classes and take over all their income and on that basis, demand their due share and especially need based minimum wages. But without fighting for that, to simply equate a Govt. department (office work) with a public production concern which is expected to pay its employees on the basis of profits made or economic returns achieved is wrong.
Similarly, the argument advanced by quoting certain pay scales that are given by the nationalised financial concerns like the banks, State or Reserve Bank, or certain private monopoly concerns, whether foreign or Indian, who make enormous profits at the cost of other sections including the medium bourgeoisie is not relevant. These are not models to be followed by the Central Govt. or State Govts. In fact, our demand should be all such concerns should be taken over and democratically managed by the Central Govt. and these higher economic margins and profits should be ploughed back to have a common national based minimum wage for all sections of the employees and workers.
Conclusion: The Central Govt. Employees and their organisations are rightly concerned with their emoluments but they must realise that even their justified demands they can win only in cooperation with the general public and only when they champion and struggle along with the general democratic and toiling masses, and also fight for the improvement of their working conditions as well. They cannot achieve their need based minimum wages or justify their demands while they bypass the demands of other toiling sections. They cannot get their own demands in contrast or in opposition to the demands of other sections.
The central or state govt. employees or the Govt. employees in various public sector concerns must seriously consider their failure to win the support of the general public. One of the main reasons for this is these govt. employees or employees of public utilities have not taken it as one of their primary tasks to serve the general public and cater to their needs, especially of the poorer sections and win their cooperation and support. There is a tendency to exploit the general public and poorer sections by the privileged positions they occupy by virtue of their Govt. employment or by virtue of their positions of the Govt. utility services.
There is general corruption prevalent in various Govt. departments which only a small section may be indulging in but since no campaign against those malpractices of a section of Govt. employees is carried out by the Govt. employees' organisations, people generally tend to look upon these Govt. employees as pampered sections. So they are not in a mood to cooperate to defend their demands. In fact, the crime of the higher officials and ruling classes and their indulgence in corruption is being attributed to all Govt. employees while it is necessary for the democratic organisations to fight this tendency. It would be successful only if the Govt. employees’ organisations and the organisations of the public utilities should also educate their members to be in the forefront in the campaign against corruption and in solidarity campaigns actual participation in the struggles of the toiling masses.
In this connection, it is also necessary that Govt. employees and public utility workers should formulate their demands in such a way that the general public should realise that their demands are in tune with the interest of all sections of the toiling people and that the govt. employees are not demanding privileged positions even as against toiling masses, the unemployed and the rural masses.
BTR's criticism on my stand: "Equally erroneous is the outlook on the question of need based minimum wage and differential etc.... It should be realised that need based wage itself is a formula of compromise between the reformist leaders and the Govt. It should be further remembered that the demand for living wage had to be accepted in the Indian Constitution by the bourgeoisie landlord farmers as one of the directive principles of policy. But the bourgeoisie had no intention of travelling towards a living wage and they tried to keep off the workers with the minimum wage, fair wage, all of which were just intended to bolster the existing levels.
"The pressure of the trade union movement, the bourgeois’ device to conciliate the working class at a time when the going was good resulted in acceptance of the principle of need based wage at 15th tripartite conference in 1957. This was really a watering down of the concept of living wage. The need was reduced to the minimum and that wage was considered to be an ideal to be attained at some distant date. Simultaneously every year the concept of need was lowered, the definition of family was changed, reduction in the number of consumption units, calories were reduced, groundnuts were recommended as part of diet, vegetarian diet was suggested as the base and so on. We find total effect of all this in Pay Commission recommendations.
"With the increase in prices the gap between the real wages of working class and the need based wages was rapidly increasing. The trade unions made it the starting point of its demand, reminding the Govt. of its responsibility about the minimum obligations towards the workers, and on its basis exposing the offers made by the employers and the hypocritical wage policy of the Govt.
"Because the rise in prices, the need based minimum was expressed in a larger money sum, the Govt. and its publicists began to declare it to be fantastic and beyond the reach of the economy. They began to contrast the money wages which the industrial workers are getting with the horrid wages of the agricultural workers. Some contrast it with the average per capita income of the Indian people to deny not only the need based wage but any further increase to the workers, instead of concentrating attention on the inequality between the income of the exploited against the other. This is an old trick. It is now seen that long before the 'vulnerable' sections, those below poverty line, are given relief – the declared main objective of the 5th plan – a major attack has started against those who have better incomes than the rural masses. The bourgeois ideologists have also raised the slogan, the working class a privileged class is and some people are getting influenced by it.
"The partial success of the city workers in resisting with determination the onslaught on their living conditions enabled them to obtain a comparatively higher wage than the rural masses. Hence the disparity. This has to be explained as a result of constant organisation and struggle, sacrifices and privations. These should inspire the rural masses to organise with the help of the city proletariat. The idea should be popularised that the rural mass has as much right to a decent livelihood as the city worker and that the landlords, the capitalists and the Govt. must provide for. They are to be educated in the spirit of alliance and their own rights.
“What is the difference between the earlier years when the demand for living wage was first raised and now? In years back it had hardly gone into the consciousness of the workers. The whole concept was completely unreal to them. It hardly figured in any negotiation, strikes and if it was there, the workers hardly knew about it. It was neither popularised by propaganda or agitation. The strength of TU movement, its consciousness, its organisation had not reached a point when it could be a live issue for the workers.
“In these years struggles were mostly local and very rarely all India. Even State wide struggles were rare. A minimum all India strength and consciousness and economic urgency is required to popularise the demand among the mass of workers. Recent years with their inadequate DA, rising prices, fall in real wages have forced the workers to seek a reliable anchor. The all India consciousness has also grown. Hence the common demand appears everywhere as the starting point. No doubt today it started as a bargaining point a point of vantage. But the fact that during every negotiation it gets popularised, and success or failure is weighed by reference to it certifies the new reality. The TU movement is moving more and more towards assertion of this common class demand which puts the working class against the employing class. Out .of local and industry wide struggle, the common demand is coming more to the forefront. It is through such general class demands that the advanced and backward masses get linked with the general movement for democracy and socialism.
“The emergence of the demand, its popularisation, the response it gets are signs that the local consciousness is being replaced by wider class consciousness. So to tone down or give up the demand under any excuse, is to disrupt the process. Neither the interest of the rural masses or other democratic sections will be served by such disruption. It will be only carrying on wishes of the ruling classes."
PS's reply to BTR's above arguments:
I would like Com. BTR and other TU leaders to explain in quantitative and qualitative terms what a living wage means as contrasted to the need-based minimum wage as defined by the 15th Tripartite Conference in 1957. In that case, we can put the demand of a living wage before the working class and rally them behind that slogan and not allow them to be fooled with the slogans of minimum wage or need based minimum wage, fair wage, etc. But the word living wage, if it is to become the conscious concept towards which the working class has to struggle, it is much better to concretise it in terms of quantity and quality in items like food, clothing, housing, education, medical benefits, enjoyment of leisure, retirement and old age benefits, etc. Today, as Com. BTR himself has pointed out, it took a long time to make even the organised working class sections that they must struggle for need-based minimum wage, to sink into their consciousness. I would like Com. BTR to explain why is it during the last 17 years, the TU leader accepted the need-based minimum wage even without propagating the concept of living wage in concrete terms but actually on the other hand, gave up the slogan of living wage.
Does Com. BTR want to make the living wage as the basis now? Even when the need-based minimum wage as defined at the Tripartite Labour Conference 1957 amount to more than Rs. 500/- at the 1972 December retail prices, why did not our TU leaders propagate the concept of living wage and pinpoint how the need-based minimum wage demand itself was a watered down demand? We could have said we are entitled to wage of so much or as a transitory demand, the need-based minimum wage as defined by the Tripartite Conference which comes to Rs. 530/- but taking into consideration the existing correlation of forces, the consciousness and organisation of our working class, we are only demanding Rs. 350/- or even less. Instead of doing this, when I raise certain issues connected with the need-based minimum wage that it should be raised as a propaganda slogan, but concrete slogans of agitation and slogans of action are to be worked out in different sectors in order to make larger sections of working class to go into action as well as democratic masses to support them, instead of answering those specific points, why this question of living wage is being brought to answer my arguments? Is it because BTR wants to tell us that we do not understand the difference between the living wage and need based minimum wage and wants to cast aspersions that even watered down slogan of need-based minimum wage, apart from that of living wage – we want to further water down? His whole effort is to attribute to me that I am opposed to the need-based minimum wage slogan.
Who asked to give up the need-based minimum wage demand? I never did it. On the other hand, I stated, "It is right on the part of trade unions and our party to continuously propagate the demand for need-based minimum wage, either as fixed in 1957 Tripartite Labour Conference or if there is deficiency in calculating needs, formulate our own demand what should constitute the minimum needs and taking the existing prices calculate the need-based minimum wage and propagate and campaign for this. It is true that in the capitalist system need-based minimum wage cannot be achieved, except in certain favoured or sheltered industries where huge profits are made. Need-based minimum wage on a national scale in all industries from small scale industries to big capitalist industries is an impossible thing. If all these industries are nationalised by the state and the state is a workers' state, in that case it is possible from the value produced by the most competitive modern industries, after giving the need-based minimum wage the extra amount could be ploughed back so as to guarantee the need based minimum wage in other less developed producing small-scale industries or industries with less developed techniques. Organised working class and employees while raising this demand and fighting to get emoluments as much near to this objective as possible, must realise the necessity to mobilise the vast sections of all the toiling democratic people, both rural and urban, employed and more pointedly the unemployed sections. Till that is done, they will not achieve significant advance towards achieving the need-based wage. Even those limited sections who have now got it, cannot safeguard or retain it unless they mobilise other sections and fight for all the toiling people.”
So, here too, to attribute that my argument will only amount to carrying out the wishes of the ruling classes is wrong. By dubbing the opponents’ argument as one of carrying out the wishes of the ruling classes, one cannot dispose of the problem. Com. BTR says, “Today the TU movement has reached a stage at which it is in a position to raise the demand for need-based wage propagate for it. This raising and carrying on propaganda, is absolutely essential and not to do it is the worst form of reformism. If the demand is not to be raised, when else can it be raised? When the land ceilings are being discussed, did not we compulsorily raise the demand for taking over all the lands of the landlords and did not we reject the approach that only practical suggestions should be made?” Yes, it is correct, but I do not know to whom Com. BTR is addressing these questions, since I have nowhere and never objected to the raising of the slogan of need-based minimum wage and propagating it.
I also agree with him when he says, “A large number of organisations which are not controlled by us, advocating need-based minimum wage before the Pay Commission it would have brought disgrace to us if we had not championed it.” I would even assert it even if a large number of organisations not controlled by us had not raised the slogan of need-based minimum wage, we should have raised it, and we had not raised it, it would have brought disgrace to us before the whole working class and toiling masses and we would have had no right to call ourselves communists. But the point is once the Pay Commission’s recommendations were announced, and in the course of the negotiations with the Govt. after trying to get these recommendations modified substantially so that they may reach nearer to our demand for need based minimum wage, should we not formulate our demands less than need-based minimum wage, but which would be far better than the Pay Commission itself recommended and which the general democratic masses also would be prepared to support and for which all sections of the working class are ready to fight? Instead of formulating such concrete demands of agitation and demands of action, the CITU leadership went on repeating the general demand of need-based minimum wage and try to organise resistance on its basis.
Com. BTR in his note accepts the contention, "It would have been wrong to stick to the same demand and try to organise resistance on that basis. The state of the movement is not such that it can launch direct action to enforce the demands, it was necessary to secure the next vantage point, partly with public sector, a level which was in operation." This was done only in Feb. 1974 during the National Convention of Railway Employees in Delhi, before that no such concretisation was made. As for other Central Govt. Employees who were called upon to go on strike on May 10th 1974, they were asked to organise strike for achieving Rs. 314/- the minimum need-based pay packet calculated by the Pay Commission, while it recommended only Rs. 226/- including house rent and city compensatory allowance, in the metropolitan cities.
But now BTR says that I am criticising them for formulating such concrete demands of action and for watering down the need-based minimum demand. In fact, my criticism is that our CITU leadership during a certain stage of negotiations should have raised some such slogans of immediate action and on that basis carry on a raging campaign and prepare for all India wide action and win them. Here the leadership miserably failed. They thought that any demand less than need-based minimum wage would look before the eyes of the working class as betraying their interests. They also thought that it was the duty and obligation of the other toiling sections to back up the demands put forward by the advanced sections of the working class to implement the need based minimum wage just now even without realising the need to explain and draw in other sections of toilers to back them up. The leadership failed to distinguish between the propaganda demand for need-based minimum wage, from the concrete agitation demand for immediate action. They also failed to see the necessity of mobilising the toiling masses and other democratic sections in support of the working class demands.
The question of differentials:
Com. BTR says, “now coming to the question of differentials, PS is taking a thoroughly wrong stand: The first error consists in missing the class objective of the TU movement. We are uniting all sections of the working class irrespective of their wage differentials, for common fight against class exploitation and not wage differentials, which unites lowest paid sections with the better paid sections in the demand for need-based wage which gives a pressure point to the poorest and the lowest wages to push forward. Here we unite all sections. If today this is accompanied by the demand that present differentials should not be disturbed, we had no business to go out of our way to tell other sections that you should raise it. Each section wants to improve its position. Without that no TU movement is possible. The demand for continuing the existing differentials does not divide the workers, does not disrupt the struggle. If it appears too high to some sections, they also understand – it as part of the bargain" (underline mine).
The demand that was to be formulated with regard to this differential is proper job evaluation and on the basis of that evaluation, of course, the emoluments are to be fixed up, taking the need-based minimum wage as the rock bottom. The Railway Workers' Convention had not demanded that the present differentials should be continued but job evaluation and grades to be fixed on that basis, with need-based wages be the starting point.
Now Com. BTR instead of meeting this straight forward point which I have raised goes on to explain the reality of the present day TU movement. He says, "We are not dealing with party members. If the working class is impelled to join the struggle to improve its own position as much as possible if this section demands that existing differentials should not be changed, we should not counteract it." He goes on to say, "To fight for all is now the common consciousness. But in this fight, to give up your monetary gains, you have been fighting all these years evolutionary consciousness is certainly not the part of any section." I am not asking nor advocating that any section of the Govt. employees should give up their existing monetary gains or agree to lose it but in the name of maintaining these present differentials we should not put forward demands which go against another section of employees of the lower sections of employees are given certain increase, the higher paid sections ipso facto cannot demand that their emoluments should have the same differentials as to the new increased level of the lowest paid and the differentials should be kept up.
We have seen in Kerala and even in Bengal, either when giving the DA or increasing pay scales, more amount of money has been demanded for the higher sections on the basis that then present existing differentials between one section and another section should be scrupulously maintained. In fact, the pay and DA increases which in W. Bengal the UF Govt. granted in 1969 were criticised even by the NGO Association why give that much amount of emoluments to higher sections and compared to that only a small amount to the low paid who were far behind the need-based minimum wage. In Kerala also, one section of Govt. employees pitted its demands in the name of its existing privileges either that the same differentials should be kept up or lower paid sections should not be allowed to have the same increase.
If the present day consciousness of the various sections of the Govt. employees or other working class is such that they are not prepared to join common fight without their present differentials being kept up, we may have to accept that reality and go into struggle, but we must try to educate them how the present differentials cannot be maintained in view of the vast differences between the lowest paid and the higher paid. Trailing behind the existing consciousness of the workers without even making an effort to educate the working class is succumbing to spontaneity but not discharging our class tasks.
Com. BTR says, "Anyone who knows the reality of the TU movement understands why such demands are made. The workers and employees know that neither need based minimum wage nor a substantial wage is likely to remain at the base. Unless therefore, they spell out the demand in higher grades properly, they will scrape whatever increase is secured at the bottom. Nor can, then they frame their demand from the beginning saying that whatever increase you give we are prepared to change the differentials. Just because we are raising the demand for need-based minimum wage must we necessarily say we will give up the present differentials? Com. BTR. says, "I agree that if it is in our hands we need not talk about retaining the old differentials but content ourselves with saying that proper differentials there is no need to oppose it as a matter of principle." Yet he equates my stand as one of “laying the maximum differential without a decent living minimum as the basis" is wrong. This comes because the mind is not fixed on the common exploitation of unskilled and semiskilled but only on the higher wage of the skilled who by implication is made to appear as a privileged section. I have nowhere in my note stated that differentials should be fixed up on the existing starvation wage, as the starting point. Differentials are always to be linked with the need-based minimum wage. But we should make it part of the consciousness of the working class that it is not possible to get need-based minimum wage for the whole class as long as the present system exists, and the present differentials cannot be kept or justified if the need-based minimum is achieved. What I have been saying is that the demand that the present differentials should be maintained on the basis of need-based minimum wage at the lowest, cannot be made to look a justified demand before the democratic masses and draw their support to the struggle of the working class.
It is one thing to demand that existing real wages of comparatively well paid sections of employees should not be allowed to fall, even if they cannot be improved. But to demand that whatever increases are feasible or accrue to the lowest paid section, keep up the present differentials, would not be justified to draw in and enable us to mobilise other democratic forces.
BTR gives a quote from National Labour Commission's Study Group and also from the Pay Commission's how the differentials to the wages of skilled and semi-skilled have come down and tries to dub my arguments one for cutting down the existing wages of skilled workers. He argues that according to the Labour Commission and the Pay Commission, 14 out of 29 industries are paying their skilled workers less than 50% than the unskilled workers when compared with 15 year back. As the Pay Commission remarked, the ratio between the emoluments of skilled and unskilled has been reduced from 1:6 in 1949 to 1:2.6. Are we to demand further reduction in these differentials?" Com. BTR asks, "Is it proper to bring in what happens after socialism when we are discussing the worst conditions of exploitation in our country? Under socialism, the minimum is qualitatively different" and he attributes to me that I have demanded the differentials that exist in the socialist countries, 1:3 be implemented in India also where there is no socialism but tremendous class exploitation."
All I have said is "Even under the new system (Socialist system) where the need-based minimum at the national level is guaranteed, the present differentials that exist in the capitalist society in the pay structure cannot be continued or guaranteed or justified. The nearer we approach the need-based minimum wage on national scale in all industries, it becomes inevitable to reduce the differentials sharply and the differences between the lowest paid to the highest paid cannot be more than 3-5 times. This is so in most of the socialist countries." I have only developed the argument how you cannot demand the existing large differentials to be maintained even while demanding for the need-based minimum wage at lowest bottom. Instead of formulating the demand that present differentials should be maintained on the basis of need-based minimum wage while other proper differentials should be fixed upon the basis of proper job evaluation.
BTR himself, as we have seen above, agrees that "if it is in our hands we need not talk about retaining the old differentials but content ourselves with saying that proper differentials should be worked on this minimum basis." If this is so, what prevents him from educating the working class to properly formulate these demands so that they could draw in other democratic sections of the people to rally behind their demands feeling that the demands are very justified demands. Instead of that, he goes on to all kinds of distortions and innuendoes. This is what he says: "It is not true that today the better paid workers are enjoying excessive differentials and are virtually becoming a privileged class. PS's insistence makes it appear as if he thinks that these fellows are enjoying a luxurious life and they should be made to surrender a part of it to the lowest strata. He also suggests a rate of differentials as they are virtually becoming a privileged class. He also suggests a rate of differentials and gives the proportion obtaining in socialist countries. (It is a false statement – PS.) All this betrays what lies in his mind, the skilled etc. are getting to high wage, their condition has continuously improved."
'This comes because the mind is not fixed on the common exploitation of the unskilled and semi-skilled but only on the higher wage
of the skilled, who by implication are made to appear as a privileged section." He equates my argument to the Govt. argument when he says, the ''bourgeoisie and their apologists have a cheating approach but at the same time they would argue as if that is the maximum which any section has the right to earn and attack these above the minimum line in the name of equality or ending urgently the differentials. Some people fall victim to this propaganda and develop this argument also."
"Com. PS's note on Pay Commission reveals that he thinks that the employees are getting much and not revealing the real state of affairs. But the most important point is that the Govt. also is repeatedly stressing the question of wage differentials in various industries in the name of protecting the lowest paid workers. The whole essay of the Govt. of India is to reduce the disparities by reducing the higher wages and freezing the higher wages earned in certain industries and sections i.e., intense exploitation of certain sections. The bank clerk, the LIC and workers inside the organised industries have become a source of inspiration to others. The Govt. declare them to be high wage islands which must be reduced. In the name of giving more relief to the lower sections, the Govt. and its employees have imposed cuts in real wages of other sections. The standard of living of these skilled and other sections have been reduced in the name of reducing the differentials."
I strongly repudiate all these slanders which he tries to palm off to me. Quoting the Pay Commission recommended scales, he asks, “Nowhere do we reach 1:3 ratio. Do we say that highly skilled and highly paid should not demand higher differentials or sacrifice a part of their earnings to the lower grade." I have not asked him to do it nor anybody else did it. I have not raised the question whether the present differentials, on the basis of present day minimum pay packet, are justified or not? I have raised whether the demand that the present differentials to continue on the basis of need-based minimum wage packet is correct or not. Further why reduce the issue as differentials between unskilled and skilled workers alone, while the principle enunciated applies to the whole pay structure from lowest paid to the officer levels as well? For immediate action, for the workers to go on strike, for Govt. employees to go on strike, I suggested that even if we accept the present categorisation of unskilled, semi-skilled, skilled and highly skilled, they should be in one grade higher than the office workers which would mean the following:
Even these rates I do not suggest on the pattern of socialist countries but as steps forward from the present rates where the workers in the productive enterprises are at a disadvantage compared with those non-productive office employees. I do not accept the theory that workers in mines and in industries, factories unskilled or skilled should get lower emolument than the corresponding persons in Govt. offices or employments.
BTR goes on to say: "Typical is the example of the Central Govt. servants by the Pay Commission. In the name of giving more relief and cut down drastically the real wage of sections whom we have not declared counter-revolutionary, whom we still consider to be part of our fighting forces"
Pay Commission's recommendation
He produced a table from the Pay Commission report how the minimum emoluments that the Central Govt. employees were getting in 1960 have been corroded by 1972, in real wages and asks the question "Is it wrong when they say that in any wage settlement differentials should not be disturbed i.e. at least their real wage should not be cut down?" I am not a supporter of the Pay Commission scales announced for the Central Govt. employees and especially for the peons, LDC UDC and other similar categories. They are perfectly justified and we have to go all out in support of them, for their demand that not only their real wage should not be cut down but increase their real wages. But if they demand that the differential that existed earlier between a peon and a UDC should be maintained, I consider that it is not correct nor justified. Defence of real wage is different from demanding that present differentials between one category and another category should be maintained as sacrosanct. For instance if the UP Govt. of Kerala and W. Bengal had given from whatever funds that are available to them, more to the lower sections to bring their wages nearer to the need-based minimum and comparatively less to the higher grade sections but in the process, if the differentials are reduced from the present three times to 2 times, would it be wrong? I know the Central Govt. is not giving even need-based minimum wage even to the upper division clerks now with their new scales and emoluments which amount to about Rs. 400/- to start with, as against the required Rs. 550/-. So what is the sense in Com. BTR's attributing to me that I want to cut down their real wages?
Com. BTR writes: "Bonus is distributed at present on the basis of wage earning, higher categories getting more and lower categories getting less in amount. Should we raise a controversy at this stage and bring about a rift between different categories? How does it strengthen the common struggle? This outlook focuses more attention on the inequality of bonus among the workers than on the common struggle against the capitalist class. Even the low paid workers will not agree to such a demand if they find their unity is being disrupted because they realise that without it nothing can be achieved." Here again Com. BTR instead of acting straight on the issue I raised, raised another point which I have never raised. I did not argue that different bonus rates should not be paid to different categories of workers. The issue I raised is whether it is correct to go on demanding the increase in the minimum bonus from 8 1/3% every year at the rate of 1% till it reached 1.5% irrespective whether any factory or enterprise is making profits or not? Instead of answering this question, he totally by-passes it and raises irrelevant issues, which I never raised, whether there should be different bonus rates to different categories of workers. Another point I have raised is whether apart from 8 1/3% minimum bonus, for a factory or enterprise, whether it makes profit or not, should we go on demanding increase in this minimum bonus even in small industries on the ground the wages they are now paying are below the need-based minimum wages and bonus is deferred wage to make up this difference. If such a demand is to be formulated in many of the medium industries, the need-based wage bonus should be as much of the wage and DA that is being paid today. Whether to raise such a demand irrespective of whether they are making profit, whether they are small or medium industries or industries belonging to non-big bourgeoisie, whether it is consistent with our party programme, whom in the words of Com. BTR "We have not declared these sections as counter-revolutionary. I still stick to the opinion I expressed on the minimum bonus as expressed in my note above.”
III. Conducting of the struggles and mobilising the democratic forces:
In my note of 1972-73, I wrote: "It is not only that in formulating these demands that we do not take into consideration the future perspectives and the need of mobilising the democratic public and get their support on the basis of convincing them on the reasonableness of our demand. We should be clear about our propaganda demands on the basis of our basic programme and demands on the basis of which we can immediately go into action. Even when we go into struggles on certain concrete demands, which may be lower than our propaganda and programmatic demands, we may have to compromise with the employers and the Govt. and be prepared to reach settlement and even to retreat when the conditions become adverse. To achieve the best results, it is necessary to formulate our demands in such a way, that we can mobilise the general democratic opinion. The demands cannot be so fantastically divergent as to make one section of toilers feel difficult to come forward to support the proposal.
"We have not done any review of any major struggle on the working class front even to educate our own party members and cadres. In the public we have to highlight the positive achievements. But the weakness in conducting the struggles and mistakes cannot be highlighted in the public but they have to be done through letters and circulars for the cadres.
"Take for instance the recent Kerala NGO strike where a large section of the NGOs who are under our influence fought militantly for about two months with all the political and mass backing our party has got in Kerala. This struggle was not reviewed. We are only satisfied to bring out the heroic and self-sacrificing and militant way. The whole battle was conducted but we know that our party leaders and a good chunk of the trade union leadership in Kerala also did not consider the demand of RS. 100/- interim relief per month per employee is a correct demand. They felt on that basis it has become very difficult to convince the democratic public opinion on the reasonableness of this demand. Similarly, no review is made of any major struggles. The tactics we have adopted before launching these struggles and during the course of the struggles of any settlement, our weaknesses and lessons for future are never drawn.
"Education of the working class, regarding their responsibilities with regard to the demands of other sections of the people:
“It has also become a practice in our trade union movement not to educate our cadre and the militants and the general mass of the workers, about their own class duty and of the necessity to fight against corruption and against the tendency not to discharge their own duties allotted but to resort to various devious methods to escape them.
“Instead of fighting the malpractices and the corruption and mischief of employers, who want to shift the economic burdens on to the shoulders of the employees, the workers are prepared to have a share at the cost of the people and compromise with the employers. This leads to lessen the public sympathy for sections of the organised labour and especially the Govt. employees whenever they fight for their own economic demands. They criticise why these organisations do not stand with the public and fight for their legitimate demands against the corrupt officials and corrupt employees. I may be accused that by my above stand, I am echoing the employers' argument and that it amounts to be anti-labour. If this is the interpretation that is likely to be drawn, all that I could say about such critics, is that in the name of supporting the legitimate demands of .the workers, we are encouraging sheer economism and allowing the workers to drift away from their historical task of fighting for the toiling masses and for building the new society against the present capitalist landlord system.
"I am not dealing in this note about our failure while formulating the working class demands, to take into consideration the demands of the peasant masses and other democratic masses. They are rarely mentioned or just formulated expressing some sympathy to the demands of other sections but the integration of the working class taking lead in coming forward in fighting for the demands of other sections along for its own demands is grossly being neglected.”
Com. BTR's Criticism
Com. BTR says: "The trade unions are bound to raise basic demands which may sound too fantastic to laymen with insufficient consciousness, unorganised rural masses under the influence of rich peasants. That is no reason why the basic demands should be given up. This is a call to restrict the trade union movement to only that which is acceptable to the bourgeoisie as immediately practical and nothing else.
"Besides in the bargaining between the capitalist class and the working class even the immediate demand has to be pitched higher leaving sufficient ground for compromises, and criticism in this regard has no basis. If any criticism is to be made it will be that there is too much adhocism, sometimes an ever-readiness to compromise without exploiting all the avenues of pressure."
I entirely agree with tactics. I am not taking one solitary instance of Kerala NGOs and generalising for the whole movement. In fact, I do not know how the Kerala NGOs who raised the demand for an interim pay increase of Rs. 100/- from their existing emoluments of Rs. 150/- per month are wrong if the Central Govt. employees who are getting Rs. 170/- are justified and correct in raising the demand that their minimum should be Rs. 314/-, an increase of Rs. 140/-. I am not one who is concerned that by raising the basic demands which may sound too fantastic to laymen with insufficient consciousness or to unorganised rural masses under the influence of rich peasants. Nor I am one who is advocating that to satisfy them, our basic demands should not be raised and be given up. What again and again I am pressing is that raising basic demands and propagating them is different and it should be constantly done but when you go into action, it is necessary to formulate the demands on which the very class can really unitedly fight and also can rally other sections of the toiling masses and democratic sections to support them wholeheartedly and not just be passive spectators. I stick to the formulations I have made on the conducting of struggles and mobilising the democratic forces in my note:
"It is not only that in formulating these demands that we do not take into consideration the future perspectives and the need of mobilising the democratic public and get their support on the basis of convincing them on the reasonableness of our demands. We should be clear about out propaganda on the basis of our basic programme and the demands on the basis of which we can immediately go into action. Even when we go into struggles on certain concrete demands, which may be lower than our propaganda and programmatic demands, we may have to compromise with the employer and the Govt. and be prepared to reach settlements and even to retreat when the conditions become adverse. To achieve the best results, it is necessary to formulate our demands in such a way that we can mobilise the general democratic opinion. The demands cannot be so fantastically divergent as to make one section of toilers feel difficult to come forward to support the proposal".
Com. BTR further says: “The whole passage is replete with the wrong understanding. It seems it is the business of our party to teach the workers to discharge their duties allotted to them, i.e. give the production norms prescribed by the employers and the onerous duties given by the bourgeois landlord Govt. It is our duty to teach the workers and employees to fight against all exploitation, not go on asking them to act as the obedient servant disciplined slaves of the ruling classes". Nobody asked the workers to become obedient servants or fulfil the norms placed by the employer. But it is BTR's argument that the worker can resort to individual devious practices, even to corrupt practices, to escape from the present exploitation, instead of joining the ranks of the conscious fighters and adopting organised methods of fighting against capitalist exploitation.
Why does BTR criticise me when he himself says, "The CITU has repeatedly stated that the workers and their organisations are prepared to undertake agreed norms of production. This is the only correct attitude. Is the trade union movement taking this attitude wherever it has got influence, or goes on winking at individual workers and sections of workers adopting devious methods?” No use of preaching and trying to condone weakness in TU movement by philosophising as BTR does that "general breakdown of the discipline has to be understood as the increasing breakdown of the present order and has to be connected with the genuinely rebellious spirit challenging the social order, transferring individual escapism Into class resistance.” This is exactly what we want but is our TU movement seriously attempting to transfer this individual escapism into real class resistance, whether it is carrying out the communist understanding of the present situation as the growing loss of control of the bureaucratic apparatus and as such, should turn it into a fighting resistance?
"The Central employees are part of the common people and they share in all the shortcomings and evils of the present society, with all those that are exploited. If some people forget that they are exploited and only see that many of them are corrupt or do not fight corruption should that be the standpoint of party leaders also? To forget that the Central and State employees are fighting the Govt. joining big bandhs called by the party, voting for the party in the elections, raising funds for the party is to take the attitude of non-political individuals. In the bandhs called by the Party, many have their interests permanently injured through break in services, etc."
This is a characteristic feature of Com. BTR when certain defects or weakness in the TU movement or in the functioning are pointed out to counterpose the sacrifices which the workers or the movement are undergoing and try to justify the failures. This is not going to benefit the movement in any way. He himself has admitted, "It is a fact that many of the Central and State employees, at least the entire police force officials, wide sections of railway workers, reservation clerks are corrupt one way or other. This is what capitalist society, low wage, the morals of the present order has done to them. This is not cured by the purification campaign but by common struggle and fraternity." He goes on, "The public suffers from the corruption and also helps it. The conduct of the employees implies high-handedness and arrogance. This can be cured by development of growing ties between all sections by growing democratic and common feeling." I do not know what he means by purification campaign, but only by common struggle that this can be achieved. But it is exactly the reason why our TUleadership should not close their eyes to the defect in the TU movement and in our own class, instead of trying to overcome them and direct the struggle and develop their consciousness in the correct channels. I also do not understand what he means "official corruption has not become an issue on which you can organise a struggle".
Does Com. BTR deny the attitude of a good chunk of State and Central Govt. employees to the common people and their indulgence in corruption is alienating the sympathy of the people?
I am also giving below the CC stand on these issues as per its resolution of Sept. 1974. It by-passes the issues I raised whether the present differentials on the basis of need based minimum wage is a correct demand? Or whether the minimum bonus to be increased yearly till it reaches 15% and later further increase, irrespective of whether any concern – in medium or small scale industries – get profit or not? In fact, it dismisses these issues on the ground that there is no possibility of either of these taking place under the present system.
CC Resolution of Sept. 1974.
3) The Issue of need-based wages, and the Difference over its Formulation etc.
Questions are raised whether the demand for the need-based wage is correct or not. Whether it was correct on the part of our TU leadership to accept the Pay Commission calculation of Rs. 314/- as the need based wage? Whether the need based formula as accepted by the Tripartite agreement at the 15th Labour Conference is attainable at all for large sections of the working class under the present social order?
Whether it is correct to defend the present differentials in the wage structure of the employees and whether it is not necessary for our TU movement to educate the working class that the present differentials cannot be maintained? And whether it was correct to raise the demand for 15% bonus in all industries, irrespective of profits or otherwise.
The discussions in the PB on these above cited points show that there does not exist any difference, whatever on the correctness of the TU demand for a need-based minimum wage, a demand that has come to be accepted by the entire TU movement in the country, following the Tripartite agreement after the 15th Labour conference. Whether the need-based minimum wage, calculated in terms of 2700 calories, as requirement for the average work of an adult is really a living wage or some more to be added to it is not the subject matter of our differences. The issue whether it was correct on the part of the leaders of the India Trade Union movement to have accepted the demand for the need-based minimum wage in the year 1957, giving up the earlier demand of living wage, also need not become a subject matter of any controversy. Since our party is not the only force or the major force in the country's trade union movement, since all other trade union centres had come to accept the demand of need-based minimum wage, and since it had come to be accepted by the general working class as a fairly reasonable demand, there is no need to raise any new discussion on the issues.
The immediate job of our Party in the trade union movement is to widely popularise the demand for need-based minimum wage, and to mobilise and organise the working class to fight for its realisation wherever it is possible to achieve it.
The demand for need-based minimum wage, as an immediate fighting demand for the entire working class, does not, however, mean that it is immediately realisable in all the industrial, commercial and Govt. undertakings. Nor does it follow that the individual branches, unions or national federations of workers and employees should not raise any other demand short of the need-based wage that can be raised as a slogan of action.
In some cases it may remain as a general propaganda slogan, in certain other cases it may become a slogan of actions and still in some other cases the immediate fighting demand might have to be considerably lowered than the present need-based minimum wage, just as the case of our raising the demand that the railway workers to be treated on par with the workers in the State owned industries and paid remuneration accordingly.
It is true that under the existing capitalist and landlord order of society like ours, it is neither possible to solve the problem of unemployment nor to provide all the families (unit of three) even with the need-based minimum wage. It is also true that certain small and medium industries may not afford to pay their workers with the need-based wage and bonus decided upon from time to time. Equally true it is that the existing national produce is so low, granting even an equitable distribution to all, that it cannot meet the requirements of a need based minimum wage. Our party members should know all these facts and educate the working people and the democratic public as to know all this and the state of affairs can be ended only by liquidating the exploitation by the landlords, monopolist and their foreign collaborators, and by establishing a People's Democratic State which alone can embark on speedy industrialisation and liquidation of the poverty, unemployment and all the accompanying evils.
But our TU movement, which will have to formulate the demand of the need-based minimum wage and mobilise and organise the working class to fight for its realisation, cannot afford to undertake this task of exposure as its main plank. It cannot demand the need-based minimum wage and in the same breath say that it is impossible to secure it under the present set-up, that only a few sheltered industries can afford to pay and that it can be secured only at the expense of other toiling poor, if at all it is secured etc. Our Party's task of general propaganda for the liquidation of the present social order and for the establishment of People's Democracy and Socialism, cannot be a substitute for the evolving an immediate fighting slogan for a mass front even such as the TU front.
The capitalists and the spokesmen of the bourgeois landlord govt., it should be remembered, are in the habit of pointing out as to how the demand for need-based minimum wage is beyond the present level of national production, how it amounts to depriving other far less paid rural workers and unemployed from any improving of their living standards, and how the small and medium employers, with no profits, cannot afford to pay the need-based wage, etc. Such a propaganda is neither really aimed at safeguarding the over-all interests of the society nor for improving the conditions of the rural workers and the unemployed, nor it is intended to defending the genuine interests of the small and medium industrialists who really suffer the losses and go into bankruptcy not because of paying the need-based minimum wage but mainly due-to the cut-throat competition and plunderous profits looted by the monopolists and their foreign collaborators.
Our TU movement should effectively counter such mischievous propaganda of enemies of the working class. It should be noted however that living conditions and wages etc. of the workers in these industries are extremely bad and the workers are often unable to secure for themselves the benefits of even existing legislations. Nonetheless in fighting against these conditions the trade unions should realise the competition that these industries are facing from the big ones which affect the employment of the workers themselves. It should be the constant endeavour of the trade union to combine their fight for living conditions in those industries with the problems of competition etc. from big concerns. It should also come forward in defence of such small and medium industrialists by demanding the credits on easy terms, the supply of raw materials at reasonable prices, the providing of the marketing facilities for their produce, rescuing them from attacks by the monopolists and their foreign collaborators, and the lightening of burdens of tax imposts, etc. on them.
It should be the endeavour of our trade union movement to constantly point out to these small and medium industrialists that their industries face hardships and even bankruptcy not because of the payment of the need-based minimum wage but principally due to the pro-landlord, pro-monopolist and pro-foreign capitalist policies of the Govt that severely restrict the expansion of home markets, that impede the rapid industrialisation that enable the monopolists to devour the small and medium concerns and that lead to the pauperisation of the vast masses at one and the amassing of wealth by the few at the expense of the entire people. How to study the conditions of these small and medium industries, how to formulate the slogans and demands of action in these TUs and how to fight for the realisation of these demands or effect necessary compromises in the course of the struggle, etc. are details that are beyond the scope of this note.
4) Wage Differentials and Our Stand:
In formulating our attitude towards the issue of existing wage differentials we should be clear that as communists we are opposed to the existing disparities in incomes of the present social order and also uphold the principle that the difference between the lowest paid and the highest paid should be drastically narrowed down. On that, there exist no differences.
But the issue is raised whether it is correct on the part of our TU leadership to support the present differentials in the pay structure in the matter of granting DA and whether such stand does not amount to the supporting of the existing differentials between the highest paid and lowest paid.
On a closer study and examination it is found that our upholding of the present differentials has nothing to do with the issue of supporting the highest paid officials, managers, directors and the like, put it is concerned mainly with the workers and other middle class employees. It is said that the existing wage differentials be scrapped or drastically reduced. Any such demand disrupts the existing unity in the TU movement and plays into the hands of the employers and the government who are trying to drive a wedge between the lowest paid employees and the middle class employees – all under the pretext that the increase of wages and emoluments to the lowest paid is becoming impossible because of "higher" wages and allowances to the middle class or the white collar employees.
While it is our duty and necessity to uphold the cause of the masses of the most oppressed and exploited sections of the working class, in formulating their day to day demands, in organising and mobilising them for the struggles to realise their demands, it is necessary to forge their unity with the middle class employees who are also wage earners and oppressed, though not to the extent that the manual labourers and factory workers are subjected to. Striving for the unity between these two sections of the employees, we should not have any hesitation to show preference to the demands and struggles of the ordinary manual or industrial workers.
In case occasions arise when we will have to choose, instead of championing the interests of both simultaneously, these and similar other questions will have to be decided by the expediency of the confronted situation, and there is no principle involved which shall lead to differences amongst us.
5) On the Demand for Bonus:
The issue was raised whether the demand for the increase of the bonus from the present 8 1/3% to 15% at the rate of 1% per year is correct, if no account is taken into about the small and medium industrialists who may not be in a position to pay, and whether it is not necessary to raise the demand that in paying the bonus preference should be given to the low paid employees, so that their pay comes more and more nearer to the need based wage than simultaneously paying the bonuses to the higher income bracket. It is also asked as to what the rationale is behind the demand for 8 1/3% or its increase up to 15%.
The demand for bonus which the TU movement has raised is a demand for the increase of the wages of the employees, reducing the share of profits for the employers. After a prolonged agitation and struggles the Govt. has come to accept the demand of paying 8 1/ 3% bonus, treating it as a deferred wage.
The govt. has also exempted all small enterprises, employing 20 and less persons, from paying the bonus. It exempted the employees on the Rlys. postal and telegraphs, Defence, the Central, State and Local Boards who constitute huge numbers from the benefit of securing the bonus. Further, the govt. took power to exempt any employer from paying the bonus, if it is satisfied on his application that his financial position is unsound to be able to pay the bonus prescribed by law. As things stand, the demand for stipulated percentage of bonus, say 5% or 8 1/3% or 15% at the rate of 1% increase per year has no scientific basis except that it is a demand for increasing the emoluments of the employees, cutting the size of the profits to a certain extent. It is evolved in the process of struggle by different TU centres, and in the course of several years. The CITU's demand that it should go up to 15% with the increase of 1% per year need not be construed yet as the last and final word on the subject, nor it would necessarily become an immediate slogan of action, acceptable to different centres of the TU movement and the working class in general. It is a propaganda slogan raised by our CITU's demand that it should go up to 15% with the increase of 1% per year need not be construed yet as the last and final word on the subject, nor it would necessarily become an immediate slogan of action, acceptable to different centres of the TU movement and to the working class in general. It is a propaganda slogan raised by our CITU in its memorandum, in demarcation to several other reformist TU centres which are ever ready to please their capitalist patrons with lesser rate of bonus demand. What shape it takes in future and how other TU centres react to the CITU demand of 15% and what becomes the catching demand for the next round of struggle for its increase etc. will have to be seen. There need be no controversy in this regard.
The struggle for securing 8 1/3% bonus, a thing which is denied by the Govt. for lakhs of employees in different undertakings, still remains a tough one before the TU movement in the country. The Govt. and employers are trying their utmost either to avoid paying the 8 1 /3% or to withholding it on one plea or another. At the present stage there is no danger of 8 1/3% bonus demand immediately harming and ruining the small and medium enterprises when the Govt. has already exempted the enterprises employing 20 or less workers, and when on application of incapacity to pay the bonus the Govt. has the power to exempt such an applicant.
The question of small and medium losing concerns or concerns securing marginal profits, as to what the reasons are for such a state of affairs and how to defend them, etc. should not be linked with the demand for wage and bonus by the TU movement. However, our document on TU Tasks has already asked us to take into account the concrete conditions prevailing in these industries while putting forward demands for action.
Similarly, as far as the employees in our TUs are concerned i.e. with the differential wages ratio of 1:3, the demand for higher rate of bonus to the low paid and medium paid, in preference to the high paid, though looks justifiable from the angle of securing the minimum or near minimum need based wage for the low paid, there is every danger of dividing the employees on this issue, and thus weaken the thrust of the united movement. At any rate, under the present state of affairs in the TU movement in our country, and its level of consciousness and organisation, the raising of such demands is not helpful to advance our TU movement.
- Other Differences
- I have already said that there were and are sharp differences in P.B. about ideological issues: (1) Mao's Contradictions (2) Extent of criticism we can have to level against Chinese Left Deviation and Soviet Right Deviations and their foreign policies of befriending reactionary governments and taking stand that harm the peoples struggles in these countries against their reactionary Governments while highlighting their socialist achievements and their contribution to the struggle against imperialism; (3) How to struggle to reforge unity of International Communist Movement and the role other CPs and Socialist countries are playing etc. These I am not detailing here.
- The differences on the analysis and attitude we had taken are taking to the ruling Congress and bourgeois Rightist opposition parties and Opposition combination from 1969. As a running thread, which has a bearing to the present day tactics to be adopted to fight Indira Congress or Government's declaration of Emergency of 26th June 1975 and its one party authoritarian rule. This I have dealt within section I.
III. There are sharp differences in the understanding of our party programme and the development of our freedom struggle, and of the Communist Movement in India, which has a day-to-day reflection on our every day functioning. I do not want to go into detail, but to understand the background of differences between BTR and myself, it is necessary for the comrades to know them. This can be broadly understood if my comments on extracts from Com. BTR's Lectures in Kerala Study Circle, for training Party teachers is circulated Appendix 2 to my note on P .B. Differences to CC given to them in the beginning of 1974.
- On Agrarian Problems:
The differences on this question are clinched by a CC resolution, after extensive inner party discussion in 1973 Movement meeting. But still in implementing them, there are differences and doubts about the correctness of some of the conclusions and guidelines given in it, are being raised by important leading comrades and States. But I am not enumerating them here. A functioning P.B. can take necessary decisions referring to the CC issues that arise from time to time.
- Differences with other PBMs:
Before I take up the differences on Party Organisation and Party Building and the P.B. functioning, which ultimately made me to come to the decision of resigning from the post of General Secretary and from P.B., I want to make it clear that I have not gone into my differences with other PBMs, on all these and other issues. But I have dealt with my differences with Com. BTR because whatever other PBM's difference with Com BTR may be a majority of them seems to be in broad agreement with him on many of these issues, like Joint Actions with Jana Sangh, on TUdifferences and on a number of organisational issues. Over years I find myself in the untenable position of being in minority and many a time alone. So to further continue as G.S., or in the P.B. which has to be a homogenous functioning team and not merely a decision making broader committee, is harmful and hence I decided to resign. It is not necessary to narrate my differences with other PBM's on these issues.
- Differences on organisation and on building of the Party Organisation, P.B. Functioning:
- Building of unexposed part of the Communist Party
Party programme lays it down that our party must be prepared to face any twists and turns. The Tactical Line lays down that it is necessary to build underground units in villages, in factories, shops and departments. C.C. resolutions of 1967 and 1973 (Muzaffarpur reiterated this aspect) Muzaffarpur C.C. resolution lays it that CC should get report and review about the progress of this organisation of secret units every 6 months. But except in terror ridden areas in certain parts of our country nowhere else this has been attempted. Practically every member, every candidate, every sympathiser is exposed and open, in all sectors, and even in Government Services.
Though every PBM and CCM agrees and stresses the urgent necessity of it no steps are taken to get it done. The main reason is that in our anxiety to develop our contact, our influence and mass movements rapidly, utilising the legal opportunities that are available, we make every PM and contact to work openly, associate with our offices, demonstrations, rallies and struggles openly and expose them. As a serious revolutionary party wedded to the cause of successful revolution, we forget that our party is bound to be attacked by our class enemy and must always consciously build a secret part of the party, and a secret apparatus. Keeping this in view, we must always keep as many PMs and contacts as possible unexposed, in every mass organisation, in every place, village or factory or institution. Only those whom we want to openly work must be known to the people as Communist Party members, the rest unknown to anybody else as members must carry on the activities in different fronts, among different sections. The work will be slower if we have to keep a considerable section secret and work secretly than when we work openly and legally. Yet in the interests of our movement and revolution, we must keep as many members as possible secret, while deputing a considerable section to work openly utilising the legal possibilities. But carried away by ''legalistic and parliamentary illusions” we have been completely neglecting this aspect of secret party building and the development of mass organisations without endangering the secret part of the movement.
Without going into many details, to illustrate the different concepts, of how to build secret part of the party held by PBM's, I give two or three examples.
I made in my report of CC in February 1970, the following suggestion. "In choosing the priority areas, another idea inherent in this is that our party should not function in its own name except when it can wield sufficient mass influence and mass organisational position on the basis of which it could face the enemy attacks and expand. In all other places, the party should function secretly.
"The present day conception of imitating the pattern of work of the strong areas, in all our weaker and weakest areas should be abandoned. There the necessity of working with other democratic forces or even mass organisations led by reactionary forces (in all mass organisations or even in other political parties – P.S. 1975) is to be emphasised.
"Underlying this selection of areas is also the fact that our party is subject to brutal repression at any moment, and as such we must keep as many of its members as possible from being exposed and keeping always a secret apparatus to fall back whenever necessary while utilising every legal possibility and scope available to the maximum allowing a section of the party openly to develop mass movement. This is also a departure from our present day practice and functioning based on Constitutional illusions, and essentially oriented to elections from panchayat to parliament and taking up economic struggles without politicalising the masses and without consolidating the influence which we gain, into a strong organisation and party. With revolutionary conception of party organisation, we have to set to work patiently to organise the party, only then we would break the old reformist and revisionist practice.
"Even in stronger areas or in priority regions where our party can function openly in its own name, the question of priority areas priority of class fronts, how much of our cadre should be kept secret, the question of combining open and secret activities the question of penetrating the enemy apparatus have all to be kept and planned out.
"If the existing leading cadre are not saved, if only some new cadres are let, this work of coordination and leading the whole mass and the party organisation in case of real terror and repression or in conditions of illegality could not be carried out effectively by new cadre alone, who have not been in actual movement and organisation and who have not yet gained the confidence of the party members and committees.
"So the only way to prepare for such a contingency is general awareness that our party is at any moment prone to be attacked by the reactionary ruling classes either directly or by hired goondas, creating all sorts of provocations and that we should be ever ready to face it. At different levels from village to top, from Branch Secretary to the General Secretary, we should keep arrangements whenever the political situation warrants us to go secret from enemy's eyes not only from Government but from its verifiedagents. They should also keep necessary arrangements to continue with each other at different levels.
"It is necessary that a few cadres who are to be stationary at least for comparatively stable periods, suitable shelters in places which cannot easily be raided by the police are to be arranged. But for most of our cadre, the best place is with the people in villages, work places in towns, and constant counter-watching, shifting from one area to other, ready to defend physically against any sudden surprise raid (in areas of terror and sure torture and 1975) by the enemy. They are to be mobile, with the people, fighting and defending themselves and before the net closes in, slipping through. They should train their seconds who can take their place in case they fall to succeed in avoiding the enemy net.
“At least from now, do not get new recruits from being exposed as party members.
"In mass organisations, even in our strong areas, where we are functioning in our own name, some of the leading comrades should be functioning openly in the name of our party, but some will be functioning as ordinary workers even without being known as being our party members, sympathisers, but knowing necessary developments, links and contacts in those very mass organisation and who can pick up the party and mass organisation links and continue the work, wielding the whole influence of the party, without their personal name being or his contact getting exposed. This is possible only if each mass organisation functions on its own (initiative) and our party units in these organisations can function on their own initiative (without waiting for guidance on every issue from above, their leaders).
"Further some of the cadre who are not yet known as our party members, have to burrow themselves in different mass organisations which are under the influence of other parties, while further enhancing their Communist consciousness and discipline and become more and more capable Communists. So when our own mass organisations or known cadre are picked up, these cadre in different parties and in different mass organisations under this apparent garb, should be able to supplement the open cadres and lead the organisations and develop the movement.
"As for keeping our party cadre in Government services or some key or public sector industries alone, unknown, while the cadre in the non Government services or in private sector, all kept open, it is fallacious. It is true that our comrades are likely to be thrown out from Government services or from public sector and key industries than from the private sector, as per service conduct rules. But the essential principle in both cases should be, that whenever the mass organisation and democratic movement (level of political consciousness) in an establishment, factory or industry or area is not sufficiently strong to prevent such victimisation, there the necessary precautions not to expose as many cadre as possible, should be taken.
"Yet we should also be prepared to some of these cadre getting exposed and victimised if any activity in those sectors is to be developed. Whether these cadre are known as formal members of our party or not, their very activity will rouse the suspicions of authorities and employers and they will find excuses to draw them out. Even in public sector and the Government services if our cadre do not carry out these activities of mass organisation and of party building, keeping all off activity in the name of not getting exposed, will only demoralise them and gradually make them go away from our party and from political activity. The most essential thing is that we should teach them how to function in the mass organisations and mass activities and struggles without declaring themselves as Communists and without getting themselves easily identified with CPI (M). If in one place they get exposed or get victimised they may have to be shifted to some other areas or sectors and function in a different name, or on different front, if necessary".
To these suggestions of mine, Com BTR's reaction is as follows: “How will the Party in other states broaden itself and the movement. Here the main link is united front activities, may be on a modest scale, working through other parties with some popular base also has to be adopted as one of the methods. Whether the party everywhere should work openly or secretly is to be decided taking into consideration the concrete situation. 1'5 wants to apply a right rule which is incorrect. Advantage has to be taken of the legalities and open appeal of the party. Broad links are to be established. It should be however a cardinal principle that all membership be not exposed".
This is the modest criticism of my stand. But in the name of "taking advantage of legality and appeal of the party" and demand mass activity, and carrying on Red Banner to newer areas left unexposed in any front, Com. MB is more devastating. In his Note dated April 20, 1970:
"The building up of the party to meet all the eventualities: The party organisation, as it stands today, is not at all in good shape, even as purely legal functioning body not to speak of building an illegal apparatus demanded of any genuine Communist Party..... All of us agree that it is absolutely necessary and we have practically nothing of the kind till now. Every PM is exposed and the entire work is conducted on the bourgeois legalistic pattern.
'The concept of building an illegal apparatus along with a legally existing party is something which should not be confused with the idea of building an essentially illegal party, in the conditions when legal possibilities or existence still prevail. Such an attempt is unrealistic and is bound to fail. The struggle to defend the legality of the party should be sustained and never abandoned while simultaneously we should be taking necessary steps to set up a skeleton illegal apparatus.
"The question is what is actually meant by an illegal apparatus and what are its functions in the conditions of legal existence of the Party? Keeping a part of the membership and a number of cadre unexposed, the work in the enemy's state apparatus, the setting up of secret press, ensuring safe running of the party even after surprise attacks by the enemy, arranging of dumps for literature and other materials and the building up secure shelters for the UG leadership, besides the setting up some safe political shelter for the leading committees at an advanced stage.
"All this of course, does not come into existence by mere resolution and wishes of the party leadership. It will be forged mainly by the necessity forced by the course of struggle though conscious efforts on the part of leadership surely help the process. This is what at least, our experience so far tells us (underline mine). But the pity is that today, there is not even the immediate political awareness of this aspect in the overwhelming members of our party let alone taking any concrete steps in this regard.
“The two general suggestions by some of our PBMs regarding this aspect do not correctly meet our requirements. One is that some prominent members of our leading bodies, from PB, SC and DC should go UG without risking any surprise attacks on the party. This according to me is politically harmful and the probable gains of such a step are doubtful and the positive harm evident. (This suggestion is made by two other PBMs. I too opposed this in 1975).
''This second suggestion is about the backward weak areas where new PMs are to be kept secret and to be instructed not to work under the party flag openly (MB's italics), but do clandestine work as members of other parties or mass organisations, if any were existing in the respective localities. This, apart from meeting the needs or otherwise of setting UG apparatus which is doubtful, does not answer the actual needs of the movement (i.e.) the strong States, districts and areas which are likely to be attacked at any time. Hence the discussion is scrappy and requires more detailed analysis before we decide one way or the other".
First Com. MB reduces the whole thing to one of setting up UG apparatus, secondly he ignores that my suggestions cover the strong areas as well. Thirdly, I feel his whole argument reduces itself to one of justifying the status quo "because conscious efforts help'' but that it will be forged mainly by the necessity forced by the course of struggles…. It is this theory that resulted in 7 PBMs remaining open, since they are not picked up by the Government and as such can continue to be OG. In some States all leaders are open, Further this OG business of most of top leadership even after 3rd July 1975 PB resolution and CC resolution of September 2, about the prolonged character of Emergency and the need to work more and more secretly, is rather curious.
Another example of wrong understanding regarding the secret work or penetration into the State apparatus is evident from the controversy over UP armed constables' struggle: "When PAC happenings and army suppressing them went on, I (PS) was in Sultanpur. I drafted a statement on behalf of UP Secretariat of CPI (M), with their and Com. Konar's consent released to the press.
"The Secretariat holds the Government responsible for these serious developments. It has refused to redress the genuine grievances of the police and head constables of PAC and civil police, and refused to allow even· free association of these sections of police, without their officers dominating them, so that they can represent their grievances directly to the Government. The Government knows only one way using the police or army to suppress every people's move for getting redressal of their just grievances. The Government is facing the nemesis of their brutal repressive policies. It must realise that civil police or armed police or even the army ranks do come from the common toiling masses and they cannot be used for ever to suppress the people's demands...."
This statement was not published in any paper. The copy was not received by Swadhinta or People's Democracy. Com. POG and Jyoti thought better not to issue any statement or write an editorial but write a note. Com. Ramdass wrote one and brought it to me to be checked as per Com. Jyoti's instructions who was in charge of the P.D. At my suggestion he included the following sentence: "Even the monopolist press had to firmly reject this (the accusation that politicians are behind – PS) accusation as it is that no serious political party would encourage trade union in the armed forces.”
A few days after this write up in PD Shri Fernandes and Madhu Limaye came out in support of the UP PAC demand for TU rights and recognition of their union. Two weeks later the CITU Secretariat met and with Com BTR's concurrence issued a statement which along with other issues contains the following para on PAC. "The secretariat of the CITU condemned the repressive measures on PAC in UP, who were merely fighting for trade union rights and elementary human conditions of living. The CITU Secretariat is of the opinion that the police have as much right to form a trade union as any other section of the working class. The PAC developments revealed the bankruptcy of the Congress regime and showed how one section after another is being driven to desperate action to defend its minimum interest."
When this statement came for PD to be printed Com. Ramdass wrote a Note to BTR pointing out earlier PS's insertion – "though negatively put, the idea that was to be conveyed was that our Party is definitely not in favour of trade unions in any section of the armed forces.… My personal opinion is that earlier position should not be reversed without a proper discussion at whatever level it is. My suggestion is PD prints the communique without this para.” Com. BTR insisted that the para has to go, and that is in consonance with our party programme. It was printed in PD.
I raised this issue in PB circulating all the Notes on the subject. I drew the attention of PBMs to the para in the party programme, dealing with this. It says "The PO Government will infuse the armed forces with the spirit of patriotism, democracy and service to the people. It will ensure them with maximum possible opportunities for cultural life as well as education and well being of their children". This cannot be equated as if our party advocates formation of TUs for them: I also pointed out to them though our U.F. Govt. in Bengal had recognised the Non-Gazetted Police Association, later in the course of discussions in the PC or among the PBMs, it was commonly accepted that kind of open recognition (or advocacy) was misplaced. It only exposed democratic minded police and our links in the police and made them the targets of victimisation and destruction of whatever organisation that could be built up. But it is true there was no formal decision of PB".
In the course of discussion in the PB, the majority supported BTR's stand though most of them said that the different stand of BTR (which was in contradiction to the earlier stand in PD) could have been avoided. BTR agreed to draft a statement. I am giving the concerned paras, and also points I did not agree, but gave my amendments. But PB did not clinch the issue.
"Lenin enjoined on communist party to carry on work among them (Police and armed personnel) including the work of organising the party. By the very nature, such work cannot be open work.
“The PAC revolt and the demand of armed police personnel for recognition of TU rights has raised the question how a serious revolutionary party like us should look at this demand.
''The question arises because under a bourgeois-landlord regime which requires a completely loyal and ruthless police and armed machine to repress the people a practical attempt to enforce a legal and open enforcement of trade union rights is not possible and leads to exposure of the fighting elements (Replace liquidation of any such organisation. P.S.).
"This realisation of the party is not shared by the broad democratic masses nor by the policemen etc., who stand in urgent need of the enforcement of their demands through collective efforts. In actual fact, policemen at several places have in the past formed organisations often in association with officers which have secured recognition. The Government has not refused to recognise such joint organisations ipso facto. But obviously they could not deliver the goods.
“We regard policemen as part of the toiling masses, recruited from the families of toilers, ill-paid and with no rights and recognition the absolute justness of their desire to form fighting class organisations of their own. This was one of the issues of PAC struggle. It was therefore wrong to state as was stated in P.D. editorial that no serious party will advocate trade unionism in armed forces, etc.
"When the demand for trade union rights is concretely raised· the party has to support it. But in supporting it care should be taken to see that we do not by implication create an illusion that open forms of trade union organisation, agitation, and forms of struggle are available for this strategic section. Advocacy of trade union rights is often undertaken to mean advocacy of open functioning and all the other activities associated with the trade union movement. (This is the real issue at dispute and not building secret organisation among the armed personnel – PS 1975.) In this respect the sentence in the CITU statement that the police have as such right to form trade unions as any other section may serve to obliterate the vital difference in conditions under which the two sections are struggling. It is not correct to place the support for trade union rights of the strategic sections in rigid form. Besides, contradictory statements on the same issue should be avoided in future in the Party organ".
I moved that these two last paras be replaced by the following:
"In such conditions it is necessary for our party to try to influence the fighting elements among the police and armed personnel to realise the limitations of normal trade union and other legal organisations, and the absolute necessity of secret-fighting organisation which can keep up links with the other organisations of the masses, for achieving even their limited day to day demands leave alone for final overthrow of this class rule itself.
“When this question of organisation and recognition of UP Police Karamchari Association (which excluded the officers) became an issue it was correct and enough to say as the UP Party Secretariat said. This Government has refused to redress the genuine grievances of the police and head constables of the PAC and civil police and even free associations of these sections of police without their officers dominating them, so that they can represent their grievances directly to the Government.
"It is not necessary to state in PD as Com. PS instructed "Even the Monopolist Press conscious as it is that no serious political party would encourage trade unionism in the armed forces".
But at the same time, it is also not necessary to assert a few weeks later that "PAC was merely fighting for TU rights… they have as much right to form a TU as any other section of the working class". It is also wrong because it encourages the wrong understanding of the way in which the work among the police and armed forces is to be conducted. Further for Com. BTR to insist that this part of the statement of UCTU should be printed in PD perhaps to counter "the damage" done by the earlier, without discussing in the PB is not conducive for proper functioning of the party.
But PB did not take any decision on the Draft and amendments.
I only want to add that in my report to CC in 1970 February I have dealt how we have to work in these sections, but it could not be discussed and no steps are taken. "This failure comes from running after apparent possibilities of legal work and mass upsurge with which we are unable to cope with".
If the understanding of PBMs and CCMs continues to be different, any "so-called" agreed or majority decisions in practice continue to be interpreted differently and practised as per each one's understanding: That is why the organisational principle, of International Communist Movement, smaller bodies like PB or Secretariat should be homogenous. In any case after years of hotter controversies, if I can come to the conclusion, that I should no more continue to be GS or a member of PB, I do it because further drift could do greater harm to the party.
I might have struggled on if at least PB has been functioning or at least I am in tune with the majority of them broadly on major issues. I do not claim I am right on all the issues raised. It is for the CC, if necessary for party Congress, to decide it. But once the decisions are taken they have to be implemented. But this is not so. Let me go into the functioning.
The P.B. Functioning
In my Note "On Politbureau Differences" to be submitted to CC but circulated only to PBMs in August 1972 and with certain additions and amendments to CC in January 1974, I have stated:
"The differences that started developing in the PB immediately after the Party Congress of 1968, mainly arise in concretely applying the party's political and organisational line to the developing events and in relation to existing capacity of our party and our leadership especially at the Central level. They have manifested themselves on political and ideological questions as well as mass organisations, both on the demands they have to raise and the way they have to function. These problems as they came up, those that could not be clinched, were postponed to avoid conflict in the PB hoping to arrive at common understanding in course of time, many a time when the differences became so acute, then any forcing of them will, instead of helping the PB or party functioning, would affect even the minimum tasks we are carrying on. Many of these issues we did not want to take to central committee, because our past experience had shown that when the PB itself was sharply divided, taking such issues to Central Committee, would only divide the CC and the party and not unify it. This (gradual) drifting of the PB on many issues has ultimately resulted in the practice of non-interference with each other. However immediate and difficult the political and organisational jobs, each member may take up, each has become more or less autonomous, within broad frame work of our party line, even with some gross violations some time." August 1973.
I have already quoted what Com. BTR's estimate of the situation inside PB, I have dealt with sharp differences that are there between me and Com. BTR and a majority of PBMs, in the previous sections. Now I deal with some of the methods which are being adopted and which are a major factor in destroying the PB functioning. In my Note "On PB Differences" circulated to CCMs in January 1974, I wrote the following:
"During all these years (3 to 4) neither Com. BTR nor PR ever submitted a Note for discussion in the PB about the problems they are facing in trade union movement and how they propose to tackle them. (To be more exact, they did not submit a report about the relative strength of TUs affiliated to CITU vis-a-vis the workers employed or in relation to the Union membership and influence of other trade unions, the membership of the party, their level, constitution of fraction committees and their functioning, the decisions taken with regard to the issues that arise from the TU movement in these fractions etc.) They decide what they consider correct, sometimes both agreed, but sometimes differing but carry on without bringing them even to PB. The party comes into the picture only after they decide the issues and to the extent the trade union organisation required the help of the party for implementing these decisions.
"This practice is a continuation of the old practice of the united Communist movement, the trade union leaders functioning independently of the party. It is a fact that PB leaders BTR and PR, when they attend conferences of CITU in various States or TU Committee meetings give suggestions to them on the various issues they are facing. They do not go through the local party committees but directly through TU channels and party cadres in these TUs. The plea may be that in different States, responsible party comrades are there in the TUs and if they approach either Com. BTR or Com. PR, they consider dealing with them in such matters, as problems posed by respective party committees. I consider this practice unhealthy and in the long run harmful: I do insist that when the trade union cadre approach these comrades directly for guidance, these comrades' first job is to ask them whether, they have discussed these issues in the corresponding party units. If the local party units have not given proper advice or they differ from the advice given, whether they approached the higher committees the State Committee before they approached the all India centre. Even if they do not do this, after listening to them, these comrades' job is to take up with the State Committees concerned and through them give the necessary instructions. Otherwise conflicts between Central leaders and State leaders will get intensified as in old days.”
These practices have led to "certain important decisions with regard to major (all India wide) strikes having been taken by the trade union comrades on their own without ever raising these problems first, even in PB as 1968 All India Central Government employees strike and LRSA strike of August 1973, or Central Government Employees strike or call for strike on May 10 1974. My main objection is, such things like All India General Strike of the Central Govt. Employees to be decided by one or two PB comrades, without discussing the possibilities and making necessary preparations for it is a wrong method. It is exactly such a procedure in 1960, all of us criticised when Dange took such a decision without taking the party into confidence. The point to be noted is that, the trade union leadership functions independently of the party, and it is for the rest of the party to back up and implement the decisions taken by TU leadership. If this type of functioning continues in future too, in the trade unions, they are bound to develop independently unrelated to the whole party organisation, the conflict would increase between TU leaders and the party organisations. (In spite of this pointing out, still 1973 LRSA strikes on May 10, 1975 call for strike, have taken place. This is the scant respect of the TU leaders have got for other PB colleagues and to G.S.).
This practice also led to bypassing the State Committees and conflict arising between TU leaders and State Party leaders, there have been conflicting estimates of TU cadres in West Bengal between BTR and the Secretary of West Bengal and also on directions given by Central TU leaders to certain West Bengal comrades. On the question of our attitude towards BMS and implementation of CC resolution of Wage Freeze Convention which included BMS, there had been sharper differences between the advice or discussion held by BTR with certain prominent trade union leaders. Certain elements in West Bengal took advantage of their talks with BTR, and started challenging the West Bengal Party leadership on this issue. These elements got encouragement from their talks with BTR and utilising the differences between PDG and Jyoti Basu, started factional grouping against the State leadership especially against PDG. Facing already a continuous semi fascist terror and extremely difficult situation, and certain wrong methods of functioning in West Bengal State and existing differences between the two PB leaders from the State, Com. BTR's methods of discussion with individual TU leaders, only helped to encourage the factional elements. Whether he is conscious of it or not, his methods are leading him to factional functioning.
The Kanpur Issue:
The most glaring example of this kind of functioning is the Kanpur issue. I was in touch and guiding the UP committee from the time we were released from detention in 1966 April, with Com. Surjit helping me, (though quite a number of times we differed on certain issues.)
In Kanpur city, the party from the beginning is divided into two factions, one headed by Com. Ravi Sinha and the other headed by Com. Ram Ashrey. This grouping was there, between them, even when the party was united one. Com. Ram Ashrey joined CPI (M) only in the beginning of 1966, vacillating all the time during 1965-66. Both were sheltering and justifying their supporters, even when they were indulging in very damaging anti-party activities. Com Ravi Sinha, during U.G. days of 1965-66, was shielding the extremist elements, and allowed them to dominate Kanpur City D.C. All of them were to be thrown out by the State Committee, when the Naxalite disruption took place in 1967 September. But after that it was the turn of Com. Ram Ashrey to defend Anand Madhav and his group who had been keeping contact with these extremists and carrying on activities against the party and against the decision of the CC.
There were disagreements on conducting TU struggles in Kanpur in different Textile and Jute mills, on the question of candidates in Assembly and Parliament election of 1967 Municipal election of1968, and again 1969 mid-term elections, 1971 Parliamentary election, on TU office bearers elections – all on factional basis; The State Committee had to intervene again and again. It threw out a good number of active elements, of both the groups, but could not take action against the main leaders of these factions Com. Ravi and Com. Ram Ashrey. It deputed Com Shiva Verma, secretariat member of UP Committee to function as the secretary Kanpur Committee with his head quarters there. But the situation did not improve. Com. Ram Ashrey and his supporters, including Subhashini Sehgal, Daulat etc. were more influential in Jute and Textile Mill workers, than Ravi and his supporters.
Ultimately Anand Madhav was to be expelled by the State Committee for his Naxalite connections and for his anti-party activities. Com. Ram Ashrey continued to defend Anand Madhav and opposed his expulsion. The whole group including Ram Ashrey, Subhashini, Daulat etc. were suspended from party membership and asked to explain why further action could not be taken. This was communicated to them after CC endorsing it at its Muzaffarpur meeting.
Com. Ram Ashrey passed away (before the decision could be conveyed) in the hospital while under treatment due to reaction of glucose injection. His whole group, started vile propaganda that for his death Com. Shiva Verma and the party was responsible. Devasena his daughter, pulled off angrily the Red Flag placed on the dead body by Com Shiva Verma. Another of his supporter Kamal gave a fist cuff on Com. Shiva Verma's face. The funeral of Ram Ashrey was managed by Anand Madhav and Subhashini, excluding Shiva Verma and Ravi Sinha. A virulent campaign was unleashed against Shiva Verma and Shankar Dayal Tewari in a number of condolence meetings organised by Anand Madhav, Daulat, Devasena and Subhashini.
Subhashini was called by PBMs (BTR, PR and PDG) and was persuaded to give a statement dissociating herself from Anand Madhav and his group and their pro-Naxalite activities. She undertook to get similar statements from others. But she continued her links, and continued functioning in close association with the group. Her group earlier expelled Ravi and his followers from Suti Mill Mazdoor Union and filled the Executive with their own supporters. Ravi at the instructions of State Secretariat removed the records and furniture of the Union and started functioning, from another place. PB disapproved the action and asked both the sections to restore the status quo ante with regard to mass organisation. Subhashini group did not dissolve the new Executive they formed and as such Ravi continued to function, under the direction of State Secretariat from the new place.
What further action is to be taken against Subhashini and her group was discussed, and it was decided that all of them be given another opportunity to sign the statement dissociating from the activities of Anand Madhav. Com. PR told them they could add to the statement a sentence that they had never supported Anand Madhav's pro-Naxalite and anti-party activities.
I opposed PR's action and demanded their expulsion. When the issue was taken to CC in July 1973 I did not oppose the suggestions of the PB, that Com. PR and JB to go to Kanpur and meet them to listen to their complaints, and after pinpointing their mistakes and violation of the Party decisions, if they pledge that they would abide by the decisions of UP State Committee, the suspension be removed, without withdrawing the charges, till their full explanations were received and final decision regarding them was taken. I could not agree. If this type of functioning independently unrelated to the whole party organisation, the conflict would increase between the TU and the party organisation.
These are the grounds on which I tender my resignation for GS and PB membership.
The decision to publish the full text of the late P. Sundarayya's resignation from the leadership of the Communist Party of India (Marxist) was not due to the usual sectarian polemics to run down this or that communist party. The text as one finds raises certain crucial issues having a bearing on the tasks of the Indian communist movement as a whole. Accordingly the decision to bring out the text was prompted more by the growing realisation that the Party Programme and the Statement of Policy (Tactical line) adopted by the undivided Communist Party of India in the year 1951 merit a somewhat more discerning appraisal. For the view is gaining ground that the vision embodied in these two accompanying documents has the tested merit of accelerating the pace of history in an otherwise stagnant situation. It is a pity that the protagonists of peaceful transition often masquerading as revolutionaries pounced upon certain topical flaws in the Tactical line (Policy) and sought to throw the baby along with the bathwater. However, the central point of the Policy, that is the distinct path of Indian revolution continues to excite the imagination of all revolutionaries, no matter whether they are active in communist parties or not.
On October 12, 1975 Sundarayya seemed to have put in his resignation from the CPI (M) leadership. In June the same year Indira Gandhi had clamped the State of Emergency on the country. While the dominant section of the party leadership rushed to call on Indira Gandhi at New Delhi pledging their fullest support to the "national" fight against "right reaction and communalism", Sundarayya found that the Emergency as no other event so much before exposed certain glaring inadequacies built into the party organisation. The party he found had learnt pretty little from the "semi-fascist" attacks in West Bengal in 1972. The cadres had fled their homes, but the leaders firmly ensconced in the safety of the party offices continued to measure their achievements in terms of votes polled and trade unions captured.
Being a visionary steeled in the fire of Telangana armed struggle Sundarayya felt really disillusioned that his party, politically and organisationally, failed to anticipate such a massive attack on the people of India. Central to his anguish was the evident failure of his own party to orientate itself in consonance with "the perspective of how Indian Revolution will have to be worked for". Though Party Congress and CC: resolutions again and again endorsed the Tactical line (the Policy), but in practice he found it was being negated. Like the AICC resolutions on land reforms and socialism his own perspective Tactical Line (the Statement of Policy) was to remain tucked away in dusty party shelves. He had come across not a shred of evidence suggesting that the party leadership, in practice, had ever looked at its own Tactical Line as guide to action. Thus from 1975 to 1985 he lived without his dream the dream which sustained him and gave meaning to his activities right from his childhood (Shiv Verma told me he had first seen Sundarayya languishing as a child prisoner in an Andhra prison). His anguish was all the more poignant, for none else than his own trusted comrades had betrayed the founding principles of the party, the priceless heritage of the Telangana armed struggle, the several popular struggles before and above all the dream which all revolutionaries love to nurse amidst set-backs and forward marches alike. A bitter and betrayed leader he passed away on May 19, 1985.
Barely within a month of Sundarayya's demise, perhaps only after making sure that he was not around, the latter-day CPI (M) theoretician M. Basavapunnaiah (MB) while assuring his cadres that the party had not forgotten the tasks as set forth in the Tactical Line, came out with a point-to-point rebuttal of all the basic postulates of the said Tactical Line. In the CPI (M) theoretical quarterly The Marxist (July-December, 1985) which was brought out soon after Sundarayya's death, MB without once referring to his erstwhile leader attacked Sundarayya's convictions, one and all, in what he .called a review of the Statement of Policy. In a note to the said write-up the editor B.T. Ranadive (BTR) disclosed that MB's was the revised version of the 1951 Tactical Line as was adopted in the year 1976, that is, roughly a year after Sundarayya's resignation. Explaining why the 1976 document was circulated to the party ranks for the first time in the year 1985, BTR informs that the year 1976 "was a period of repression and Emergency rule in the country, the revised document could not be circulated to the party ranks." The logic at any rate is specious, and so the impression has gone round that the CPI (M) leadership waited until Sundarayya's withdrawal from party leadership to attack and throw away the Tactical Line, and having accomplished this feat, waited a solid nine years to circulate it only after his demise.
BTR's note to MB's article is revealing: "In 1951 the Communist Party of India adopted two documents – the Party Programme and the Statement of Policy. Subsequent developments led to the abandonment of the 1951 Programme since it contained many mistakes. But the companion document Statement of Policy was neither reviewed nor revised. In the struggle against revisionism inside the communist movement in India, the Statement of Policy came under attack from the revisionists. The CPI (M) reiterated its adherence to the basic postulates of the document, but incorporated changes in the changed circumstances. After a discussion within the Central Committee of the CPI (M) the understanding that emerged in relation to the document could be finalised only in 1976."
While BTR informs that the party did no more than reiterate its adherence to the basic postulates of the document, MB clarifies that his party since its formation was drawn into a furious political ideological and organisational struggle in defence of the Statement of Policy and other documents and strove its utmost to orientate the entire work of the party on the lines of the Statement of Policy, beside other documents. The Politbureau and the Central Committee, he further informs, firmly upheld and expounded its Marxist-Leninist viewpoint on the Party Programme, Statement of Policy and other positions, while sharply opposing and rejecting the Naxalite line of thought on every score. Accordingly the Eighth CPI (M) Congress in December, 1968 endorsed and reiterated the Statement of Policy as piloted by Sundarayya, then General Secretary. Needless to say the endorsement took care to incorporate in the Policy the CPI (M) characterisation of the stage, the strategy and class alliance of Indian revolution. However, it was reiterated that the Policy essentially dealt with the path of Indian revolution, which was its central point.
However as Sundarayya argues in his resignation, the dominant section of the party leadership was not at all inclined to orientate the party functioning as also the working of TU, Kisan and Student fronts on the path of Indian revolution as chalked out in the Policy. The ritual endorsement of the Policy in the Eighth Congress without revamping the functioning of the party and mass organisations carried within it the seed of a contradiction which ultimately led to the exit of Sundarayya and no less to a final rupture with the glorious traditions of the Telangana armed struggle and other popular struggles before. They needed the Policy only to establish their "anti-revisionist" credentials and lest they should be clubbed with extremists they took care to blow out of all proportions objective conditions, and accordingly pleaded for gradualism, peaceful transition and spontaneity. With Sundarayya around they would neither swallow the Policy nor spit it out, which explains why BTR and MB preferred to circulate the revised Policy of 1976 to the party ranks in the year 1985.
Only to provide a certain meaningful context to the issues involved we would like to reproduce the central point of the Statement of Policy. It says: "India has essentially an agrarian and backward economy, the immense importance of peasant struggle should not be minimised. Therefore, the political general strike in the cities and in industrial areas is not the main weapon of our revolution and such a general strike alone will not be enough to unleash country-wide insurrection leading to the overthrow of the present State." It further reads: "For the victory of Indian revolution partisan warfare of the peasants has to be combined with the other major weapon, the general strike and uprisings in the cities led by detachments of the working class. The two basic factors of the revolution are the partisan war of the peasants and the uprisings of the workers in the cities."
In conformity with this path of Indian revolution Sundarayya reiterated the urgency to help build peasant partisan warfare. He argued the party instead of frittering away its limited resources on building state-level and all India level trade unions might as well pay more attention to priority areas of worker-peasant alliance, a major step as he thought towards preparation for the inevitable strike of Indian revolution. These as one can see are the basic postulates of the Policy. However, BTR sought to defeat these basic postulates by de-linking the working class from the peasantry and ignoring the tasks involved in building peasant partisan struggles. Of course he would not oppose the idea of worker-peasant alliance, but he would project the hegemony of the working class to which nobody disagreed. Whether by hegemony of working class he meant the hegemony of the CITU over the CPI (M) or outright rejection of the peasantry's role in Indian revolution, the main substance of his polemics was to defeat the role assigned to worker-peasant alliance in the Tactical Line adopted by his own party. Sundarayya in support of the Tactical Line unfolded a whole bunch of party resolutions including the one adopted at Muzaffarpur. But BTR was not amused. An exasperated Sundarayya retorted that 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, the roots of BTR's copy-book understanding of the dynamics of revolution lay even deeper, for as Sundarayya desperately charged: "In fact, this advocacy is nearer to his own tactical line of 1949". The manner in which he has been flaunting his own variant of Stalinism and lately his equally interesting variant of anti-Maoism seemed to have roused expectations in Indian communists that BTR would offer a detailed framework of his own tactical line whether of 1949 or 1989. Perhaps he might, one day, offer us one only after unionising the entire Indian working class under the CITU banner. He does not want to understand that unionisation does not ipso facto amount to politicisation. The evidence has been that the apolitical CITU members often conduct themselves like frogs in the basket. You put a few frogs in the basket and as you bend to collect more, the earlier ones you find have already escaped. Or how else would BTR explain the phenomenal popularity of the Bharatiya Majdoor Sangha in West Bengal these days? Ever since the Left Front Government under Jyoti Basu placed a firm embargo on party and CITU activists who raised the slogan of Andolan chai (We want to lead agitated popular masses), it was BMS, the despicable BJP labour outfit which sneaked into the perilous vacuum created in West Bengal. During Sundarayya's lifetime BTR did not choose to oppose the policy and yet after the Muzaffarpur C.C. meeting attacked its basic postulates without exercising the attendant obligation to place to the party ranks his own blueprint of Indian revolution. In his polemics he persistently argued that the objective condition for any beginning whatsoever or break-through were non-existing at this stage and so the crass objectivism he displayed throughout is unmistakably the obverse side of his 1949 tactical line both being deviations, call them leftist or rightist if you must. Whereas BTR could be calculatedly reticent when he chooses so, MB certainly is not known to have ever suffered from this virtue. Not that he does not exalt the Policy to the skies, but like Brutus he felt impelled to simply kill it off, for admittedly he loved Rome more than Caesar – 'Not that I loved Caesar less, but that I loved Rome more." Funnily he weaves a whole philosophy in his sixty page long write-up in The Marxist which was a point-by-point rebuttal of the barrage of arguments Sundarayya set forth in his resignation accusing the dominant section of the PB of deviation into right revisionism, parliamentary illusions, gradualism and spontaneity.
These two key documents MB recalls were the outcome of prolonged and bitter inner-party discussions and struggle during the years 1947-51, the period which enabled the party leadership to confront a number of political ideological, theoretical and organisational questions in the light of their experiences in the Telangana armed struggle and several other partisan struggles in the wake of the British withdrawal. These issues as he recapitulates related to the stage and class strategy of the Indian revolution, to tactics and the forms of struggle and organisation, to the perspective path of revolution, as he puts it, whether it was likely to take the "Russian Path" or the "Chinese Path" of development, to the specific role of working class uprisings in cities and peasant partisan war in the rural areas, to the correct understanding of the concept of proletarian hegemony, etc. In this regard MB repeatedly emphasises what he calls the stupendous nature of the inner-party discussions preceding the preparation and adoption of the two key documents, the Party Programme of 1951 and the Statement of Policy, otherwise called the Tactical Line.
As his arguments unfold, MB held Ajoy Ghosh and S.V. Ghate among others to be primarily responsible for relegating these two documents to the party archives; his motive as one finds at every step was to make use of these documents to reinforce the revolutionary or merely anti-revisionist credentials of his own party, and yet when Sundarayya kept on reminding the party CPI-(M) leadership of their obligations to the perspective Tactical Line he (MB) following BTR chose to have it side-tracked and cast away in the party bin, taking the plea that the party must take into account the changed socio-economic scenario in the post-Independence era. Again, it was contrary to communist ethics that the dominant section of the CPI (M) leadership should have, ritual like, fed its cadres on the illusion that the party was second to none in its commitment to the perspective Tactical Line, and yet the moment Sundarayya ceased to be its General Secretary and Politbureau member, it should have taken resort to reviewing its key postulate, bringing it on par with the notorious resolution entitled Communist Party in the Struggle for Peace, Democracy and National Advance adopted in June 1955. For what else must one conclude from his repeated accusations that the once united CPI had cold storaged the perspective Tactical line during the fifteen year period from 1952-1967, while his own party has since upheld the key points of the documents in the highest Marxist-Leninist traditions? Now it is quite clear that the dominant section of the CPI (M) leadership took resort to this document to create, on the one hand, the smokescreen of non-existing ideological and political differences with the post-1964 CPI, and on the other, equipped with this perspective Tactical Line sought to out-Naxalite the Naxalite groups, if for nothing else, at least to protect itself from a possible revisionist characterisation.
With perfect candour MB admits that the "positive defence of the Statement of Policy against the Left-adventurist distortions of the Naxalites, did not automatically mean that a collective and common understanding existed on all the different propositions that had been made on the Tactical line document". If after adopting and endorsing this document on several occasions and flaunting it to one and all as its sole revolutionary identity the party had not developed a collective and common understanding on the implications therein, the question arises as to why the party leadership, in the first place, adopted it and what impelled them to endorse it from time to time? MB on the one hand denounces the united CPI for not taking up the Tactical Line document for discussion at any time and translating its understanding into action in the budding up of class and mass movements and on the other confesses that the CC and the PB of "CPI (M) also did not and could not discuss this Statement of Policy, afresh and collectively, to arrive at a correct and common understanding of its different aspects". One cannot but take note of the fact that MB makes this confessional statement only after Sundarayya’s demise. On more than one occasion he is on record having said that his party had adopted, and subsequently endorsed the Tactical Line. Is it Congress culture or Communist ethics to adopt and endorse a particular line only to argue, at a later stage, that the implications of the Line had not been thoroughly grasped and translated into action? As one can see from the contents of his resignation, Sundarayya's term as CPI (M) General Secretary witnessed his lone efforts to build afresh the party as well as mass organisations in conformity with the concrete needs of the Tactical Line. Neither BTR nor MB pointedly raised the issue that since the Tactical Line had not been discussed in depth and the import not fully grasped, he (Sundarayya) was wrong in seeking to give the Tactical Line orientation to the party work and mass organisations. In fact, MB's argument that the document was never discussed at the party meetings seems to be a latter-day ploy to justify the leadership's eventual rejection of the perspective Tactical Line to the party cadre. It should be important, at this stage, to add a note on the Tactical Line, now an object too frightening for the CPI (M) leadership. Since it was said to have summed up the revolutionary experience of the Telangana armed struggle, I thought it should be rewarding to re-read the huge pile of literature on the Telangana struggle. In his resignation letter Sundarayya, for obvious reasons, did not provide the background as also the immediate context of the Tactical Line as adopted in 1951. However, in his Telangana People's Armed Struggle 1946-1951, he provides the background leading to adoption of the Line. Incidentally one would indeed feel scandalous that MB in his sixty-page long article reproduced from this volume of Sundarayya's not only facts and figures but also language, logic and presentation without once acknowledging the source. He lifted everything from Sundarayya except politics. It is a classic case of using Sundarayya's material against Sundarayya's politics. In 1974, roughly a year before his resignation from the CPI (M) leadership Sundarayya reproduced his party's perspective on the path of the Indian revolution. (Sundarayya contributed this write-up to_ SPARK Republic Day Number, 1974, on the request of the Socialist Forum of Nagpur University. The original English version is not available. A Telugu version of the write-up was published in Comrade Sundarayya Erin Rachanalu, Part I compiled by V.R. Boma Reddy, Praja Shakti Book House, Vijayawada. The Telugu version has been rendered into English, using as far as possible Sundarayya's phrases.)
"After long discussions running into several years while summing up the distinct experience of the Telangana armed struggle we in the undivided CPI itself adopted certain decisions on the perspective path of the Indian revolution. The decisions were incorporated under the title, Statement of Policy. These decisions were reiterated in the Cochin Congress of our own party in the year 1968. The salient extracts from this document are as follows:
"India's path cannot be the Russian Path since India has essentially an agrarian and backward economy, the immense importance of peasant struggles should not be minimised. Therefore the political general strike in the cities and in industrial centres is not the main weapon of our revolution and such a general strike alone will not be enough to unleash country-wide insurrection leading to the overthrow of the present State.
"Likewise India's path cannot be the Chinese Path, that of partisan war leading to the establishment of liberation areas and ultimately to the liberation of cities. Therefore, the peasant partisan war would not be the main weapon to ensure the victory of the Indian revolution.
"China had no unified and good communication system. In China different imperialist powers had different spheres of influence, and different war lords were at loggerheads with each other and could not combine forces and concentrate against the revolutionary bases. India, on the other hand, had a more centralised administration. It has a comparatively more unified, well-organised and far-flung system of communications. So the Indian ruling .classes could easily and swiftly concentrate forces against guerrilla areas and bases.
"However, like China India is a country of vast expanses. Again like China, India has a vast peasant population. Our revolution, therefore, will have many features in common with the Chinese revolution.
"For the victory of Indian revolution partisan warfare of the peasants has to be combined with the other major weapons, the strike of the working class, the general strike and uprising in the cities led by detachments of the working class. The two basic factors of the revolution are the partisan war of the peasants and the uprisings of the workers in the cities."
In 1974 Sundarayya as General Secretary reiterated the foregoing as key propositions of his party's perspective Tactical Line. The forthright manner in which he set forth his party's Line seemed to have left no scope whatsoever for the exercise being taken as tentative or not deeply grounded in tested position. To BTR, however, it was only in 1976 could the party finalise its understanding on the said document inasmuch as it had neither been reviewed nor revised, let alone having incorporated the requisite changes in the changed circumstances. MB, characteristically, goes a step further. While endorsing and reiterating the Statement of Policy the Eighth Party Congress (Dec. 1968), he informs, observed in its Note of Introduction:
"The Eighth Congress of the Communist Party of India (Marxist) has reiterated the Statement of Policy”:
"But the Statement of Policy, based as it is on the old programme, contains some formulations regarding the stage, strategy and class alliance of the Indian revolution which have since been corrected by the party in its new programme adopted at the Seventh Congress.
"The old programme describing the stage of the revolution as anti-imperialist and anti-feudal had advocated a General United Front in which the big bourgeoisie was also to be a participant. The present party programme, correctly characterising the present stage of the Indian revolution as the second agrarian stage of the revolution, directed not only against the Indian big bourgeoisie, has laid down that the big bourgeoisie has no place in the People's Democratic front.
"It is necessary to keep this in mind while studying this Statement of Policy, which essentially deals with the path of the Indian revolution."
Regardless of the fact that the Note no doubt raised certain questions but also offered satisfactory and complete answers to the questions raised, MB pounced upon this self-sufficient introduction to launch a vicious attack on the main propositions of the Policy. At one place in the same write-up he charged the CC of the undivided CPI with exploiting certain mistakes that had crept into the 1951 Party Programme. "The then dominant section of the CC leadership," he charged, "instead of correcting these wrong postulates that had crept into the Party Programme, began to" correct them in an utterly Right-reformist and revisionist direction. However, the manner in which MB sought to "review" the Statement of Policy, instead of substituting the 1951 understanding with the corrections as finally laid down in the Note of Introduction (1968) in respect of the stage, strategy and class alliance of the Indian revolution, the manner in which he attacked the key postulates of the Policy goes only to show that it was not review he or the party leadership sought to make; it was indeed revision leading to an abrupt abandonment of the perspective Tactical Line, the more sinister it proved to be not only because it was corrected in an utterly Right reformist and revisionist direction, but also because the party leadership took advantage of the situation created by Sundarayya’s resignation and waited nine years for Sundarayya to breathe his last before it was released to party ranks. And, above all, what must sound rather tragic is that MB sought to put an unwarranted construction on the Note of Introduction, particularly the guideline. It is necessary to keep this in mind while studying the Statement of Policy which essentially deals with the path of the Indian Revolutions."
MB deliberately suppressed that the "this" which one must keep in mind had already been explained in the Note itself quoted above. However he sought to mislead party ranks by delinking this guideline from the text of the Note of Introduction. And from this subjective and sectarian motive he jumps to an equally curious conclusion: “This was a clear admission on the part of our party's central leadership that it had neither given serious thought to the basic changes in the party programme and their bearing on the Tactical Line and its implementation, nor made any comprehensive assessment of the socioeconomic changes in our country that had come about in the period after Independence, and their impact on the Tactical Line, and implications for carrying on the day-to-day work of the party and the revolutionary movement.” When MB denounced the central party leadership, none else than the central party leadership itself must have felt terribly obliged for as both MB and the central party leadership knew that the expression “central party leadership” in this context meant Sundarayya, allegedly the lone maverick in the party leadership who fought gallantly in a hostile house for the Policy. The "clear admission on the part of our party's central leadership" sounds rather curious on two counts, firstly, Sundarayya was never a party to this “clear admission”. And secondly earlier MB himself asserted that although the majority of the leadership of the CPI (M) was detained under the Defence of India Rules between June 1965 to April 1966 the CC meeting at Nurmahal, in the last quarter of 1966, took up in its agenda the working out of tasks of the Kisan, trade union and party fronts in conformity with the new Party Programme of 1964 and Statement of Policy. The Tasks on the Kisan Front, Tasks on the Trade Union Front and On Tasks on Party Organisation are the documents which were released by the Central Committee during the 66-67 period, and they manifest our party's earnest attempts to orientate our current work to the Statement of Policy and its guidelines. However, in 1985 he, for the first time, informed party ranks that because of the Note of Introduction (1968) and the overwhelming changes in the socio-economic scenario since Independence, "all our attempts to orientate our work to different class and mass fronts, and all our efforts to concretise the Tactical Line in terms of the tasks to be discharged in the day-to-day work of the party were bound to suffer from inadequacies and even mistakes – all, in their turn, leading to differences and disagreements in the party leadership over the Tactical Line and the precise meaning of different formulations in it". It was indeed shocking that as the various charges and counter-charges contained in Sundarayya's resignation would reveal, not once did MB or BTR in the polemics between PS and BTR point to these two over-riding factors, firstly the Note of Introduction and secondly the so-called Congress-inspired changes brought into the socio-economic situation since Independence which presumably created inadequacies and even mistakes leading to inevitable differences and disagreements on the formulations contained in the Policy. Only at two places did MB figure in Sundarayya's anguished statement, once when P.S. lightly referred to MB who attributed all differences to Mao's supposedly wrong understanding of contradictions, and secondly when he (PS) approvingly referred to MB's complaint that the party leaders were mostly given to deify the perspective Tactical Line.
As one can see, Sundarayya's resignation does not reveal that there were any differences and disagreements in the party leadership on the question of the perspective Tactical Line. His one big complaint was that the dominant section of the party leadership was not inclined to orientate the party functioning as well as the direction of class and mass organisations in conformity with the Tactical Line. Accordingly he found himself in total isolation. In 1985 after Sundarayya's death MB reports that in 1976 the party leadership had to assess the socio-economic developments during the post-Independence period and the basic changes introduced regarding the stage, strategy and class alliance in the new party programme of 1964, and begin "to integrate such an assessment with the Tactical Line and its implementation". He wants us to believe that the assessment of the socio-economic developments in post-Independence India which he offered for the first time had been integrated with the Tactical Line. Lest we accuse him of having revised or diluted or abandoned the Tactical Line, time and again did he reiterate his pledge: "All the political theoretical generalisations made in the Tactical Line regarding the forms of struggle, organisation and the perspective path of development of the Indian revolution are absolutely correct, and hold good even today, though they were made more than three decades ago." In the same breath he hastens to warn, "A really revolutionary trade union, Kisan and democratic movement and a genuine Communist Party can be built in our country when the leadership of the CPI (M) at different levels understands these tactical and organisational precepts and orientates the work of the party on the lines laid down in the Tactical Line document." The surprising frankness with which he apprised his own party leadership at different levels and the disarming candour with which he confessed to his own party being ill-equipped to understand the tactical and organisational precepts of the Statement of Policy did not shock anybody, for he was actually pointing his finger to Sundarayya's presumed naivete. In other words he meant to say that Sundarayya was seeking to foist upon the party a line hardly reciprocated by the party ranks and leadership at various levels. M.B. must have earned plaudits for such a realistic assessment of the subjective factor. To the extent Sundarayya blind-foldedly sought to change the direction of the party to the vision embodied in the Policy he was either naive or left adventurist, he thought. However, as his resignation reveals, the Statement of Policy remained for Sundarayya the sheet anchor of the country's revolutionary communist movement. In his several writings both in English and Telugu – and he continued to write until 1985 – while reiterating the path of the Indian revolution as chalked out in the Statement of Policy he would often raise the question of revamping his party work and the functioning of class and mass organisations responding to the tasks enjoined by that basic document. In fact, as the readers would discover after reading his resignation, it was this concern of his which led to the differences and disagreements in the party leadership and to his utter isolation and eventual resignation.
However as far as MB is concerned, the cause of differences lay "deeper”, it lay in the failure of the party leadership to reconcile the conflicting assessments as provided in the Statement of Policy and the new Party Programme of 1964. He complains, that the "understanding of it (the Policy) has not been deep-going.” He further argues: "Discussion in depth by the party leadership of the document, the bearing the subsequent basic changes in the party programme had for it and its implementation, the impact of the socio-economic changes in the country after 1951 and then implications in carrying out the day-to-day work of the party and the revolutionary movement have not taken place, making it incumbent on us to do so now to unify the party and to orientate our work on the lines laid down in the Statement of Policy". (Emphasis added). Accordingly MB pleads for discussion on the Statement of Policy because "of two very important factors, namely, the socio-economic developments during the post-Independence years, in particular the changes on the agrarian front, and the vital changes introduced in the new Party Programme of 1964 on the stage, class strategy and nature of the Indian revolution, sharply diverging from those made in the 1951 programme." This he argues, is crucially important for the two factors "have a direct bearing on the two principal forms of struggle advocated in the Tactical Line." One feels really intrigued that MB should continue to exploit the divergences between the 1951 programme and the new Party Programme of 1964. For in his book Telangana People's Armed Struggle 1946-51 (published in 1985 with MB writing its foreword) Sundarayya made it perfectly clear that the programme of 1951 and some of its major propositions were subsequently given up and a new PartyProgramme was adopted in 1964 at our Seventh Party Congress. As it was already pointed out even BTR wrote to emphasise that the 1951 programme was subsequently abandoned since it contained many mistakes. Also in the Note of Introduction adopted by the Eighth Party Congress (1968) the corresponding changes had been incorporated in the Policy. For instance, MB refers to the role of the big bourgeoisie. "According to the new Programme, our revolution", he argues, “is not only in irreconcilable opposition to feudal landlordism and foreign monopoly, but together with them, it is opposed to the big bourgeois class which is heading the state and collaborating with foreign finance capital, in alliance with feudal and semi-feudal landlordism". And in the 1951 programme the Indian big bourgeoisie was an ally of the workers and peasants. Following the Note of Introduction the requisite changes had already been made long ago. For instance Sundarayya would put it in these words: "The present programme (or the new Party Programme of 1964) definitely lays down that the State that came into existence after the transfer of power in 1947 was a bourgeois landlord State led by the big bourgeoisie which is allying with feudal and semi-feudal landlordism and collaborating with foreign finance capital in pursuit of the capitalist path of development" (See, Telangana People's Armed Struggle 1946-51).
Nonetheless being as much a party to all these changes in the Party programme and the subsequent Note of Introduction during the period 1964-68, MB for the first time in the year 1985 asks party ranks: "Could one say that the above changes in the class alliance for the People's Democratic Revolution will have no negative impact on the two principal forms of struggle envisaged in the Tactical Line for attaining the victory of the revolution?" And to this rhetorical question he himself offers a facile answer: "They are bound to have unfavourable effect on both the peasant partisan struggle and the urban workers' uprising, though it cannot alter the basic content of the Tactical Line and the perspective given therein". Such contrived arguments, inevitably, give rise to a question like this. If he (MB) had been so alarmingly conscious of the negative impact of the two changes he referred to on the two principal forms of struggle envisaged in the Tactical Line, how come he maintained discreet silence on such a basic issue all these twenty years? Why did he not intervene in the polemics between PS and BTR at party? Why did he not bring this novel thesis at least to the notice of PS? After all, it was PS who as General Secretary of the party contributed mostly to the drafting and piloting of all resolutions from the Party Programme of 1964 to the latter-day resolutions on Kisan, trade union and Party organisation.
Besides, Sundarayya is on record having held that "the class alliance that our party programme advocates for achieving the revolution comprises workers, peasants, the middle classes and the non-big bourgeoisie, directed against the big bourgeoisie-led State and Government." Time and again did he assert that "our revolution at this stage is directed against landlordism, the big bourgeoisie and foreign finance capital." Not once did MB ask the PB or the CC to define the so-called negative impact the changes in the class alliance for the People's Democratic Revolution would likely to have on the principal forms of struggle as envisaged in the Statement of Policy. However, it was not for nothing that after everything said and done MB chose to perform such incredible feats in hair splitting. On the one hand he took the opportunity to assure party cadres that the Statement of Policy had not been abandoned in favour of parliamentary illusions and peaceful transition and on the other made out a whole philosophy to convince party ranks that the Party Programme of 1964 must have precedence over the Policy and that the Policy accordingly be tailored afresh. What no doubt seemed rather inelegant and undignified was that he chose to articulate his metaphysical misgivings only after the last surviving revolutionary of the party was no more.
Of the two changes MB refers to, the one pertaining to class alliance with the big bourgeoisie as the latest target of attack, makes, one fears, little sense. For we have already seen the Note of Introduction took care of this change. Earlier we quoted Sundarayya to drive home that after the requisite changes had been incorporated, he saw no scope for any confusion or prevarication on that count. The other change to which MB refers pertains to the changed socio-economic situation in the post Independence years.
In this he relies upon the usual arguments of capitalist penetration in the agrarian sector and concludes that "the Congress agrarian reforms during the last three decades, though they did not abolish landlordism and give land to the landless, succeeded in disrupting whatever peasant unity was built in the earlier decades around the central slogan of abolition of landlordism and land to the actual tiller." But, alas, the central slogan remains today still a propaganda slogan, he argues. For we must take into account the structural changes effected by the Congress agrarian reforms and the existing state of organisation, level of consciousness and degree of unity among the peasantry, he further argues. It was only at this stage do we learn that he designed this long and laborious preface merely to take on Sundarayya who constantly reminded his colleagues of their obligations to partisan struggles as laid down in the Statement of Policy. He counters Sundarayya by the argument that "until and unless the basic slogan of abolition of landlordism and distribution of land among the landless and the poor peasantry becomes a slogan of action, the peasant movement will not be able to reach the level of partisan struggles on such a scale and intensity as to enforce partial demands such as reduction of rent, against eviction, for the abolition of forced labour, etc, as visualised in the Tactical Line."
As his resignation reveals, Sundarayya's main difference with the dominant section of the party leadership was their collective failure to develop peasant partisan struggles. In his Telangana People's Armed Struggle, he explains: "As the crisis matures, as the unity, consciousness and organisation of the masses grow, as the strength and influence of the masses develop and as the enemy resorts to more and more ruthless measures to crush the agrarian movement, the question of when, where and how to resort to arms, will be more and more forced on to the agenda." It was only to help advance the democratic and revolutionary situation did Sundarayya emphasise worker-peasant united action in certain partisan areas. However MB like BTR is opposed to it. As MB argues the party in the first place must "forge all-in peasant unity against landlordism and the bourgeois state power". Agreed, these objective conditions must be accomplished. Are BTR and MB convinced that the manner in which their TU and Kisan fronts are functioning, the party will ever be able to achieve any ripening of these two objective conditions? Notwithstanding what the Party Programme of 1964 and the Tasks on the Kisan Front (1967) state, the fact remains that the Kisan front (of the party) as in Andhra Pradesh, to take a typical example, has been able to attract only the rich farmers. Again, these interests while making use of the party or Kisan front to fight for increased prices of agricultural produce and lowering of the prices of inputs and other industrial commodities, have nonetheless always rushed in to pledge open political support earlier to Choudhry Charan Singh and these days to his latter-day incarnations like Sharad Joshi and Mahendra Singh Tikait or even to the fresh regional re-grouping of rich farmers as in the Telugu Desam Government. And yet MB wants to put a cloak on the actual performance and direction of his Kisan front by administering repeated warnings that “We should always guard against the Right reformist deviation of basing our Kisan movement on the middle and rich peasantry, instead of building the united peasant movement around the agricultural labourers and poor peasants". Indeed it is preposterous that MB should continue to mislead party ranks that his Kisan movement has been built around agricultural labourers and poor peasants. He would not touch even with a pair of tongs Sundarayya's plea to have united worker-peasant action in areas contiguous to the CITU strongholds, which undoubtedly has the tested merit of building the united peasant movement from below. Sundarayya always pleaded that the only way we could protect the trade union movement from its crass economism and help build a revolutionary agrarian situation was to take the working class movement to peasantry and have joint actions leading to the prospect of materialising peasant partisan struggles. In a Telugu article he, once, lamented that it was most unfortunate that in our country wherever certain trade union strongholds came into being in the neighbourhood practically no peasant struggle existed and wherever there was some sort of peasant movement it remained unintegrated with the working class centres and working class movement of the contiguous areas.
On the other hand, MB argues that even making partial demands (i.e. reduction of rent, protection against eviction, struggle for abolition of forced labour, etc.) has serious limitations under the present changed conditions. In the changed conditions now tenancy rents, forced labour, etc., he informs, no longer exist in their old form scale and intensity. So he counsels that the Kisan movement led by his party will have to pass through several other agrarian currents before it hopes to reach the stage when the slogan of abolition of landlordism and distribution of land among the landless could be given to the Kisan movement. Meanwhile the other agrarian currents which the Kisan movement must wade through must not go beyond the question of wages for rural workers, the issues of rent reduction, abolition or scaling down of peasant indebtedness, fair price for agricultural produce, reduction of tax burden abolition of landlord and police zoolum, campaign against corruption, etc. He wants us to wade through all these currents before we join the powerful agrarian mainstream. Otherwise maximum peasant unity isolating the handful of landlords and their hirelings, he fears, cannot be achieved, "nor peasant partisan forces be able to move among the peasantry like fish in water". The guerrilla areas, he fears, will not be able to survive and liberation areas and liberation forces cannot be created.
MB's theory of tributary and main currents is not that innocuous as it seems to be. In fact he is attacking certain interpretations which Sundarayya offered on the key concepts in the Statement of Policy. It may be noted that Sundarayya looked at partisan struggle as part of liberation struggle. Discounting the subjective fears of party bureaucrats like MB, he explained: "With hundreds of streams of partisan struggles merging with the general strike and uprising of workers in the cities, the enemy will find it impossible to concentrate his forces anywhere and defeat the revolutionary forces, but will himself face defeat and annihilation. Even inside the armed forces of the Government, crisis will grow and big sections will join the forces of revolution." MB would not use Sundarayya's word" stream", he used "current" to convey his criticism. One wonders if MB had been so irreconcilably opposed to all positions taken by Sundarayya, why did he not use Party forums to debate this matter with him?
As for the several agrarian currents MB wants us to wade through before reaching the next higher stage, Sharad Joshi and Tikait, one would like to assure him, are already pumping enough water into these streams. Land reforms and capitalist development of agriculture have been the two specific responses of the ruling class to avert any serious crisis or threat to the hegemony they enjoy over other classes. Since the ruling class is going about this job in a lackadaisical manner, does it devolve on communists to speed up the process of capitalist development in agriculture? MB's stages of agrarian movement are right reformist, to say the least. Was it for this reason he offered fullest support to the Telugu Desam Government which lately hiked the land ceiling from 25 acres to 100 acres? The trouble is that he wants us to forge, at this stage, Kisan movement around the demands of rich farmers and of feudal landlords masquerading as rich farmers. He overlooks that peasantry is no more one flat, indissoluble chunk. Sundarayya on the other hand wanted the Kisan movement to be built around the demands of agricultural labourers and poor peasants, taking in all other segments including rich farmers against feudal landlordism, the common enemy.
MB seems to share the view that the objective situation by itself must ripen and mature before the party intervenes in the matter. As Sundarayya points out the Statement of Policy came down heavily on the leaders "who see only the disunity of the popular forces, only the offensive of reaction, and advocated policy of retreat in the name of regrouping of forces, of eschewing all militant actions on the plea that this will invite repression". It further reads that "tactics based on such an understanding of the situation will lead to betrayal of the masses and surrender before the enemy."
Sundarayya offers a Marxist-Leninist understanding of when, how and where partisan struggles should be developed. In his Telangana People's Armed Struggle he affirms:
"It must be realised that the peasant movement cannot develop at the same tempo everywhere. Premature uprisings and adventurist actions of every type must be undoubtedly eschewed. At the same time it would be wrong to lay down that armed defensive 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 uprisings. On the contrary, in the course of the development of the movement, the situation may 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 risen to the level of seizure of land and food grains, the question as to how to effect that seizure and how to defend the land so seized will become a burning 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 peasant 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 organised and led, will have a rousing and galvanising effect on the peasant masses in many other areas, and raise their own struggles to a higher level.
“Wherever such partisan struggles develop, they must also be combined with mass actions of the working class, especially in the neighbouring areas, in the form of strikes and demonstrations. Undertaken on the basis of the most careful preparation and 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".
The Party, argues Sundarayya, must lead the people. MB on the other hand wants the Party to help bring about the inevitable transition to the capitalist stage of development, the perfect ripening of the objective situation as it were. While Sundarayya wanted to help accelerate the revolutionary pace, MB would not recommend any course other than trailing behind the objective situation. Precisely for this reason Sundarayya would not have any sympathy for the exaggerated, and often fanciful, fears, recorded by MB. For instance, the Kisan front often exasperated MB, for he found it terribly divided under different political parties and groups. Not only that, the Congress Government's disruption and suppression of Kisan struggles, he found, "have imposed many limitations on our party's struggle to organise it on revolutionary lines." Surely nobody, and much less communist revolutionaries, would expect the Congress Government to offer the revolutionary leaders a richly developed, democratic and unified Kisan movement on a platter. As far as Sundarayya was concerned, the enemy getting bogged down in crisis after crisis provided him the finest revolutionary opportunity. The manner in which the Congress Government is dithering over the question of land reforms and the manner in which it is fast succumbing to foreign monopoly capital, any other communist leadership would have succeeded in elevating the agrarian struggle to revolutionary heights. At any rate MB's fear that the Kisan movement because of subjective as well as objective factors cannot be organised on revolutionary lines at this stage, amounts to abandonment of the Statement of Policy. This document warns us against taking a leisurely attitude, for we cannot ''behave as if no deep crisis is moving the people and furious struggles are not looming ahead." The document further warns:
"Because insurrection and civil war do not exist, some would like to move and work as if they are living in a democracy with rights and liberties and nothing need be done to protect the Party and the leadership of mass organisations from onslaughts of the law run mad. With such an outlook, we shall get smashed and will be able to build nothing". This warning read together with MB's revisionism seemed to have anticipated the latter-day collapse of the party's agrarian programme. That the party has not been able to organise a single day's Kisan struggle anywhere in the country except flaunting protection of tenure it legislated for bargadars in West Bengal, lends credence to the widely shared view that the CPI (M) agrarian programme is flawed, and precisely for this reason it has not been able to attract the notice of the peasantry anywhere in the country. We are aware of the curious claim made by EMS in his report on the thirteenth Congress of his party held early this year of the "big increase" in the membership of the All India Kisan Sabha, from 2.29 million to 10.5 million. Without organising and without leading a single agrarian struggle and having no scale to assess its strength in terms of the struggles it led for the peasantry the routine claims to have achieved a big spurt in the membership is comparable only to the ruling party-oriented membership claims of Bharatiya Krishak Sangh of Balaram Jakhar. In another sense, too, the figures of the Kisan Sabha membership are misleading, for it comprises, so to say, the population of the rural West Bengal. For rarely do we come across a single Jotdar (feudal landlord) in West Bengal who is not a member of the CPI (M)-led Kisan Sabha.
What is so remarkable about the style of MB's polemicising is that in his Review document in the preceding sentence he pledges his party leadership's total loyalty to the Statement of Policy while in the succeeding sentence he invariably makes use of the overwhelming changes in the socio-economic situation, the points of contradiction which the subsequent party documents developed with the Policy and the frightening bogey of the enemy strength and so on, with no other intention than to prove to the hilt that the Statement of Policy, now a hopelessly outdated document, be thrown away lock, stock and barrel. Perhaps this was the only way he sought his party to steer clear of both right reformism and left adventurism. For instance writing under the sub-title Certain other Developments that Need to be Assessed he informs that the over-all assessment made in the Policy document of 1951 not only of the entire transport system, road, rail, air and other communications but also of the alarming increase in the strength of the Indian army, is self-defeating outdated. For the class enemies of the Indian people, "drawing upon the innumerable lessons from post-war revolutions in Asia, Africa and Latin America have been systematically and constantly perfecting the weapons of counterrevolution, enormously enriching the most cruel techniques of counter-insurgency". What, above all, seems to have totally disarmed him is the continuance of the old hated "Arms Act" which certainly precludes even one percent of our people from opportunities to know what the butt and the barrel are, let alone having any knowledge of the multiple sophisticated weapons of our time. Finally sidelining his own information that his party had rectified the mistakes of the Policy document, he, once again, returns to the theme of mistakes persisting in that document, and pleads that the big bourgeoisie, the latest target of his party's attack, has meanwhile secured one more additional advantage that was not contemplated in 1951. The big bourgeoisie, he argues, has meanwhile succeeded in utilising the contradiction between the socialist and imperialist worlds and has come to use even socialist aid as a weapon to strengthen itself.
While pleading for a correct appreciation of all these additional and unsuspected difficulties, MB tells party ranks that every new technological weapon introduced in the field of warfare will have to be duly taken into account and assessed. And to drive home this point he quotes copiously from Engels who in a given context opined that "with military conditions as they are at present we shall not start our attacks: so long as there is still an armed force against us, we can wait until the armed force itself ceases to be a force against us" (Emphasis MB's). If communist revolutionaries like Mao Zedong, Kim ill Sung, Ho Chi Minh, Fidel Castro and others had generalised and absolutised this opinion of Engels which clearly responded to a given situation in French class struggles, the socialist movement in their countries would have remained as a minor parliamentary oppositional affair busy as always with opportunistic electoral alliances to secure a few more parliamentary seats and also remaining stayput in municipal power in one or two States.
It was only after raising all kinds of misgivings about the key postulates of the Policy document did MB finally come to his main business, which was to give a fitting reply to Sundarayya for the questions he raised in his resignation. Not once did he mention Sundarayya by name. However MB formulated the following questions which broadly categorise the entire gamut of criticism Sundarayya offered on the question of Party organisation and the direction of class and mass fronts, the principal theme of his resignation.
- Why did the Policy document and-the revolutionary tactical and organisational concepts it contains, remain unimplemented all these years?
- Whether the Tactical Line and all the postulates it contains are still valid, or whether the many developments that have taken place during the last 35 years invalidated one or several propositions in it?
- Whether the work on the Kisan, trade union and Party organisational fronts are being conducted in conformity with the lines laid down in the Policy Document?
- Whether reformist, revisionist and parliamentary illusions do not still persist in the party leadership, thus preventing the party work from being orientated to the Tactical Line and its perspective?
Offering answers to these questions MB says that during the years between 1955 and 1964 the Policy document was virtually shelved. It was mainly due to the Right-opportunist outlook which then characterised the dominant section of the CC and the National Council of the pre-split CPI. Following the split, particularly during 1966-67, the CPI (M), argues MB, adopted a series of resolutions on Kisan, TU and party organisation containing "serious and forthright attempts to orientate our mass work to the Tactical Line". Surely this was no answer to Sundarayya's charges. Nobody said that the party had not adopted resolutions. In fact Sundarayya as one can see from his resignation, drew attention to the party leaders not acting upon the party resolutions. MB seems to be particularly proud of the Calicut resolution (1967) entitled "Our Tasks on Party Organisation," which "called for Kisan work, especially among agricultural workers and poor peasants, round the industrial and educational centres, to larger and larger areas in a contiguous belt and to consolidate scattered Kisan areas and contiguous areas, trying to link them up with the nearest industrial and educational centre". This again is no answer to Sundarayya's criticism. When Sundarayya pleaded for orientating the TU work in terms of Party resolutions and the Tactical Line BTR opposed it. It was for this reason even in a State like West Bengal where the peasantry has opted to work under the CPI (M) flag, the CITU at no stage took up the programme to materialise worker-peasant alliance under the leadership of the working class. Resolutions apart, MB will not be able to show a single field work anywhere which adequately responds to the Calicut resolution and the Policy document. Not a single Party Congress report, from 1964 to 1989, mentions even the feeblest effort in this direction. The point is if the party had done anything to take the trade union front to the contiguous peasant areas why should Sundarayya feel sore about it? All said and done Sundarayya was hundred percent right in charging the party leadership with parliamentary illusions and revisionist hangover. On top of it, MB claims that, "In reality, the different formulations in the Tactical Line have been cropping up in the course of our struggle to orientate our work on different tactics from time to time, which have to be dovetailed into the perspective Tactical Line". On the one hand he says because of the continuance of the "Arms Act" the concepts of the Policy document be re-assessed and on the other he talks of the accomplished work on the lines provided in the Policy document. Can he name a single struggle his party launched in this direction? In all likelihood the party leadership feared that in the event of Sundarayya's allegations reaching the party ranks, they would certainly be greeted with a volley of inconvenient questions, and so as a pre-emptive measure MB had to resort to sheer untruths. Be that as it may, Sundarayya's allegations will continue to give a lie to the battery of untruths masterminded by the Party leadership.
Talking about the Tactical line and its application to Trade Union movement MB, not surprisingly, went about defending the indefensible. He would not straightway confront Sundarayya’s criticism that the CPI (M) trade union movement had got into the quagmire of economism. Like a doting parent he would assert that the CITU is yet to come up. And from this point he lambasted the detractors like Sundarayya implicitly, arguing that without assessing the real strength of the CITU they (detractors) often got carried away by their subjective desires and not by objective realities. Like a true synthesiser he saw merit in escalating the TU movement all over the country and also having it concentrate on key industries. On the tasks of applying the Tactical Line to the trade union movement MB preferred to give priority to the CPI (M) resolution “Tasks on Trade Union Front" over the Tactical Line. The party leadership, he argues, must examine whether any formulations made in subsequent documents (say, as in Tasks on the Trade Union Front) conflict with the Policy document or are capable of giving a different understanding. The earlier documents, he pleads, must be suitably revised. The CPI (M) leadership, the least we expect of it, should have given its party ranks the modified or revised version of the Policy document. The message is clear. The party leadership wants to keep all its options open. In the process the Policy document assumes the sanctity of scriptures, with no obligations whatever to follow in any form.
The Muzaffarpur resolution of the CC (1973) like the Policy document of 1951 will continue to haunt the party leadership like the incubus tormenting sleeping children. Sundarayya was of the view that the party leadership had betrayed the Muzaffarpur resolution. It is only in the light of this resolution could one follow the real import of the polemics between PS and BTR as reported in Sundarayya's resignation. The resolution reads: "In the name of developing a state-wide trade union movement, even in the key and basic industries, it is no use the party dispersing its energies throughout the State. Trade Union work in the priority area means beginning with the key industries and spreading to other industries in that area, spreading among the peasantry all around. Work among the railway and road transport or other strategic industries means priority to those industries in these areas, and expansion of these throughout the State gets secondary importance, after other fronts in the priority areas have been looked after, and in no case at the cost of other fronts in the priority areas".
In the Party forums as the Resignation reveals Sundarayya fought gallantly for implementation of the guidelines as set forth in the extract quoted above and development of worker-peasant alliance in peasant areas contiguous to industrial centres where the CITU was strong or influential. But the Party leadership led by BTR was not prepared to go beyond the parameters of parliamentarianism. And so they applauded BTR the self-styled Stalinist and anti-Maoist, when the latter scotched the idea of building worker-peasant alliance. In the party circles MB is known for his convenient support to the ideological mess created by BTR, which has been his deliberate ploy to keep at all costs the party functioning within his subjective understanding of the Stalinist strategy and tactics. While BTR preferred to keep mum, MB took over the job of demolishing the positions taken by Sundarayya on the functioning of CITU and other related concepts. As usual without naming the target of criticism, MB sums up the "views and criticism regarding the shortcomings and drawbacks in our party's work on the Trade Union front," the reference, unmistakably, being Sundarayya's allegations as published in his resignation "These shortcomings, II he continues, "pertain to the issue of building the party in the Trade unions, developing Kisan work around the industrial centres, raising the political consciousness among the working class, working in reformist Trade Unions, organising of secret Party units in factories and trades, etc.” (Emphasis MB's). Like BTR, MB would not dismiss these allegations out of hand. The time, he counsels, is not ripe, for the influence of the CITU is still confined only to certain isolated pockets. However he takes the occasion to warn the potential Sundarayyas of the party that "the fact that many such shortcomings and weaknesses still persist in the working class movement led by the CITU does not automatically and necessarily follow that it is so because of the incorrect understanding of the perspective Tactical Line and the role of the working class visualised in it." Similarly he comes down heavily upon Sundarayya's criticism of spreading the CITU organisation state-wide without consolidating it in specific areas and trades as visualised in the Tactical Line. The third viewpoint and criticism as he identifies relate to the concept of proletarian hegemony, its interpretation and the means and methods of achieving it in the concrete conditions obtaining in our country. This point, he argues, "pertains to the correct application of the concept of combining the two major weapons of struggle in our revolution". Then he goes on to repeat the well-known positions taken by the Policy document on the political general strike and armed uprising of the workers as also on the partisan peasant-worker warfare as in China. He reiterates that in the specific Indian conditions peasant partisan struggle and urban workers' uprising be combined as postulated in the Tactical Line. This is precisely what Sundarayya had been fighting for and yet unjustly MB accuses that "any lopsided stress on one or two of the above mentioned aspects, to the neglect or virtual negation of other equally important aspects, is bound to undermine the very basis of the Tactical Line and its living spirit".
MB does not have a word of criticism for those who seem to stress that the party should work for neither. MB's "other equally important aspects" such as "the economic crisis and its maturing, the widespread development of the revolutionary movements in the working class, peasantry and other exploited masses, the building of a powerful and steeled Marxist party, the building of the people's democratic front, the successful utilisation of the legal possibilities combined with illegal activities" seem to have led the party leadership to virtual abandonment of the Policy document. At any rate one obtains this sort of impression from the manner in which the dominant section of the Party leadership bulldozed Sundarayya's successive reminders for revamping the party work on the lines laid down in the Policy document. Suppose tomorrow Rajiv Gandhi pulls out a judicial coup and brings down the Left Front Ministry of West Bengal. The jotdars and the rich farmers will overnight change their affiliation. The middle class is already alienated. The working class has already come to hate this party. Who else will protect the party cadres? Is there any guarantee that 1972 will not be repeated? Sundarayya's argument did not amount to negating the objective conditions. He wanted the Party to make a beginning. He simply wanted to restore his Party to the revolutionary heritage of the Indian communist movement.
From the Resignation it would seem Sundarayya charged that the party leadership had clearly deviated from the party resolutions let alone the Policy document. MB offers a quick and facile justification of this manifest deviation. The document of 1967 as well as the organisational resolution by the CC at Muzaffarpur, he informs, "were the first attempts to orientate our current work on different fronts on the lines of the perspective Tactical Line. Documents were prepared without either a collective decision the Tactical Line or arriving at a common understanding. By implication he seems to suggest that it was Sundarayya all alone who drafted these documents and without having them properly discussed, sought to foist them on the Party. Accordingly he argues, “We cannot therefore stick to every formulation made, or adhere to the letter or the position regarding priority areas, or strategic areas without making provision for the possibility of developing our movements and expanding influence on a wide scale, through intervention in the struggles which break out because of objective conditions". On the one hand MB asserts the Party leadership is under no obligation to follow the documents of 1967 and the Muzaffarpur CC resolution which presumably were adopted without collective discussion, and on the other, he argues the party will implement the resolutions only after strengthening and expanding the influence of the party. A prevarication of this sort clearly brings out that the party is not at all prepared to implement at this stage or at any time the concepts of the Policy document or any of the documents which seemed to have been worked out on the lines of the Policy document.
Casuistry apart the 1951 Policy document will continue to hang like a millstone round the party neck. The party leadership can hardly agree to give it up formally, for it needs it to distinguish itself from the CPI, nor can it absorb it, for that might lead to its own absorption into the Naxalite ranks.
At about the same time when he was writing this scurrilous piece rejecting the entire programme and vision of Sundarayya MB wrote elsewhere that Sundarayya had left an indelible imprint on the course of the Telangana struggle and its over-all impact on the politics of the nation. Let his name, MB invoked, remain eternal in the annals of India's national liberation struggle and the struggle for the cause of communism. The compulsions of the party leadership to applaud and praise Sundarayya while denouncing the entire construction he placed on the Policy document which remains the most unsullied expression of the positive Telangana experiences, stems from the ideological mess they obviously seem to have run into.
Finally the question remains, will the Statement of Policy continue to remain merely as revolutionary rhetoric? From Sundarayya's resignation one may have seen the CPI (M) leadership is determined neither to own nor disown this document. In some isolated quarters a secret longing is being nursed that the so-called Bengal line, though subdued at this stage will certainly gain ascendancy before long over the wooden bureaucrats who make its present leadership. The optimism is misplaced, for the fact remains not a single first-rate Bengali mind, given his usual abhorrence for doublespeak, feels really attracted towards the dull sticks who make the party leadership. The situation in Kerala is far less encouraging, for EMS like any born Congressman takes nothing else into his pragmatism except the hard arithmetic for sure success in electoral outwittings. Once he raised communal alternatives to weaken the entrenched communal groupings, and now the secularism he propounds is substantially a variant of anti-communal communalism, a most cunningly designed electoral weapon to convert communally oriented reaction into real votes. Meanwhile the party is getting increasingly divided on the question of principal contradiction – whether it is the ruling Congress (I) or the U.S. imperialism. Hovering between anti-Congressism and U.S. imperialism the Party leadership often presents comic interludes. In Andhra Pradesh, thanks to MB's overlordship, the red flag is playing second fiddle to the ruling yellow flag. In A.P. there are still hundreds of villages which know only the red flag. For the first time it is the CPI (M) which has taken N.T. Rama Rao's yellow flag to the shocked and furious village folks. In Haryana the Party leadership is holding aloft the green flag of the Kulaks.
BTR's acrobatics merit a whole volume unto itself. Largely on the strength of the Telangana People's armed struggle BTR during the late forties made a dramatic ascendancy to the dominant position in the Party leadership. Several veteran leaders whether in the party or elsewhere vividly recall how he pitted Telangana against P.C. Joshi and wrested party leadership. The writer of this postscript recalls how in early fifties he along with Party cadres used to raise BTR's slogan Yeh Azadi Jhooti Hai (It is patently false to claim that the country is free).
And today the pendulum has swung back. Now it is anti Telangana which informs his Stalinism. Having no mass base, no constituency and no revolutionary experience as in Telangana and elsewhere BTR is bound to remain the decorative money-plant in the beautifully appointed Marxist drawing rooms.
So the real tactical line to which the Party leadership seems to have directed all its efforts is largely path it has chosen to remain merely as a pressure group within the landlord bourgeois alliance.
In the States following the anti-Congressism begot by Ram Manohar Lohia the party leadership has relegated all other considerations in its single minded pursuit to obtain legislative presence howsoever negligible and at the Centre it claims to be fighting US imperialism, no matter whether it serves the cause of the ruling Congress(I) in some form or other.
Sundarayya following heroic battles from 1964 to 75 within the party had had caused to realise that as far as his Party leadership was concerned the Tactical Line of 1951 (the Statement of Policy) was a damp squib. The manner in which MB and the Party leadership argued to the contrary and assuming as one must that the contents of the Tactical Line are best constructed from real practices and not from resolutions, Sundarayya’s realisation was justified. The verdict of history will vindicate Sundarayya, and not the present leadership which has betrayed the priceless experience of Telangana.
Abbreviations and Explanations
All India Railway Men's Federation, largely under the influence of Socialists and Communists.
All India Trade Union Congress, now under the influence of the CPI.
The late A.K. Gopalan of Kerala, widely respected for his non sectarian approach.
Anand Madhav Trivedi, a prominent communist and trade union leader of Uttar Pradesh.
Bhartiya Lok Dal founded by the late Charan Singh. Later he merged it into the Janata Party.
B.T. Ranadive, a member of the Politbureau of the CPI (M) and also Chief of its Trade Union wing – CITU.
Members of Central Committee.
Centre of Indian Trade Unions.
Communist Party of India.
Communist Party of India (Marxist).
S.A. Dange, a veteran Communist leader now owned by none of the several communist parties of the country.
Daughter of the famous trade union leader the late Ram Ashrey. Now she works for the CPI (M).
EMS. Namboodirpad, who succeeded P. Sundarayya as General Secretary of the CPI (M).
Jyoti Basu, now Chief Minister of West Bengal.
Jay Prakash Narain, who led the Janata Party to victory in the 1977 Lok Sabha elections.
Bharatiya Jan Sangh, which later assumed the nomenclature of Bharatiya Janata Party.
Kamal Singh, who left Kanpur to settle down in Delhi.
The late Harekrishna Konar of West Bengal, who looked after the peasant front of the CPI (M).
Loco Running Staff Association.
M. Basavapunnaiah, a member of the CPI (M) Politbureau,
Provincial Auxiliary Corps, a special police force.
Members of the politbureau.
People’s Democracy, the CPI (M) organ in English.
The late Promod Das Gupta, who was the General Secretary of the CPI (M) state unit, West Bengal.
People's Democratic Revolution.
The late P. Ramamurti, a member of the CPI (M) Politbureau.
The late Promod Das Gupta who was the General Secretary of the CPI (M) state unit, West Bengal.
The late P. Sundarayya.
Post & Telegraph.
Communist Party of India.
Revolutionary Socialist Party.
Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh, a militant Hindu fundamentalist organisation.
A renowned revolutionary and famous writer.
Samyukta Socialist Party.
She works for the CPI(M) at Kanpur, now known as Subhashini Ali.
The Bengali organ of the CPI(M).
United Centre of Trade Unions.
United Front government.
This document was drafted in consultation with the leaders of the CPSU, and adopted by the CC in April 1951 and circulated illegally. A legal version was adopted by the Calcutta conference and published [i.e. Statement of Policy of the Communist Party of India – editor, Revolutionary Democracy]. The main heading has been supplied by the editor.
Not Peaceful, But Revolutionary Path
- The immediate main objectives set forth in the draft program of the Communist Party of India are the complete liquidation of feudalism, the distribution of all land held by feudal owners among the peasants and agricultural workers, and achievement of full national independence and freedom. These objectives cannot be realised in a peaceful, parliamentary way. These objectives can be realised only through a revolution, through the overthrow of the present Indian state and its replacement by a people's democratic state. For this the Communist Party shall strive to rouse the entire peasantry and the working class against the feudal exploiters, strengthen the alliance between the working class and the peasantry and build, under the leadership of the working class, a broad nationwide united front of all anti-imperialist classes (including the national bourgeoisie), sections, groups, parties and elements willing to fight for democracy and for the freedom and independence of India.
- While resorting to all forms of struggle, including the most elementary forms, and while utilising all legal possibilities for mobilising the masses and taking them forward in the struggle for freedom and democracy, the Communist Party has always held that in the present colonial set-up in India and in view of the absence of genuine democratic liberties, legal and parliamentary possibilities are severely restricted and that therefore the replacement of the present state upholding the imperialist-feudal order by a people's democratic state is possible only through an armed revolution of the people. The concrete experience of the last three years in India, after the so-called transfer of power, has only confirmed this thesis.
Combination of Partisan War in the Countryside and Workers' Rising in Cities
- Nevertheless, wrong and distorted ideas have prevailed in our party ranks about the exact character of this armed struggle and the exact form it will have to take in order to ensure victory. For a period after the second party congress, the dominant tendency inside the party leadership was to forget the colonial nature of India's economy, to refuse to draw lessons from the experience of the revolutionary movement in China and other colonial countries, to minimise the immense importance of peasant struggles and to put forward the thesis that the political general strike in the cities and in industrial areas is the main weapon of our revolution, that such a strike will itself unleash countrywide insurrection and lead to the overthrow of the present state.
Afterwards, on the basis of a wrong understanding of the experience of the Chinese revolution, the thesis was put forward that the Indian revolution 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.
While the former thesis minimised the importance of the peasant masses and their struggles, the latter thesis minimised the importance of the working class and its actions. Both tactical lines were the result of ignoring the specific situation in India and of the tendency to draw mechanical parallels with other countries.
In theory as well as in practice both tactical lines amounted to repudiation of the key task of building the alliance of the working class and the peasantry, repudiation, therefore, of the task of building the united national front of which this alliance alone could be the firm basis, repudiation of the leadership of the working class in the anti-feudal and anti-imperialist revolution.
- In order to evolve a correct tactical line, it is necessary to discard both the erroneous theses given above and to take into account all the factors of the Indian situation. India is a vast country, with a backward and basically colonial economy and with 80 per cent of its people dependent on agriculture. In such a country, partisan warfare, as the experience of China has shown, is one of the most powerful weapons in the armoury of the revolutionary movement and this weapon will have to be wielded by the Communist Party in the fight for national liberation. At the same time it must be realised that there are other specific factors of the Indian situation which are such that this weapon alone cannot lead to victory. In China, the split in the united national front in 1927 simultaneously split the armed forces also and the Communist Party had an army of 30,000 to start with. Moreover, because of the sparse development of railways and other means of transport, the enemy found it difficult to rapidly concentrate his forces against the areas held by the communists. Despite these advantages enjoyed by the revolutionary forces, they were repeatedly encircled by the enemy. Time and again they had to break away from this encirclement and threat of annihilation and migrate to new areas to rebuild again. It was only when they made their way into Manchuria and found the firm rear of the Soviet Union that the threat of encirclement came to an end and they were able to launch that great offensive which finally led to the liberation of China. It was thus the support given by the existence of a mighty and firm Soviet rear that was of decisive importance in ensuring victory to the tactic of peasant partisan warfare in the countryside in China.
- In these respects the situation in India is different. We have no army to start with, it has to be created. The transport system in India is far more developed than in China, enabling the government to swiftly concentrate big forces against partisan areas. And above all, the geographical position of India is such that we cannot expect to have a friendly neighbouring state which can serve as a firm and powerful rear. 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 strikes of the working class, general strike and uprisings in cities led by armed detachments of the working class. Therefore, in order to achieve victory of the popular democratic revolution, it is absolutely essential to combine two basic factors of the revolution – the partisan war of the peasants and workers' risings in the cities.
- Partisan areas will inevitably arise in various part of the country as the crisis deepens and as the mass peasant movement rises to the level of revolutionary seizure of land and food grains, paralysing and wiping out of the local forces of the enemy. These areas and the revolutionary 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 insure 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 enemy, the workers in the cities, in vital industries and especially in the transport system, will have to play a decisive role. The onslaught of the enemy against the partisan forces, against 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 workers in the cities; the enemy will find it impossible to concentrate his forces anywhere and defeat the revolutionary forces but will himself face defeat and annihilation. Even inside the armed forces of the government the crisis win 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 and 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 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 closest friend and ally. Many workers come from the rural areas and are connected with the peasant by a thousand and one ties. Actions by the working class help not merely the existing peasant 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 an issue as food ration cuts can be a 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 for the demands of all discontented classes and sections, especially 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 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 struggles 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.
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 from the overwhelming majority of the population. While the liquidation of feudalism and distribution of land to the peasants must remain the key slogans 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 government which rose to power on the basis of their support and afterwards betrayed them. Despite however this widespread discontent and despite the 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 program, 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 peasant and agricultural workers’ organisations with underground units in the villages as their leading and guiding centres. Volunteer squads of the most militant and conscious sections of the peasants have to be formed to defend the peasant movement against the attacks of the enemy-squads that will form the nuclei of partisan squads as the movement develop and reach the stage of seizure of land and partisan warfare.
- As the crisis matures, as the unity, consciousness and organisation of the masses grow, as the strength and influence of the party develops and as the enemy resorts to more and more ruthless measures to crush the agrarian movement, the question of when, where and how to resort to arms will be more and more forced on the agenda. As the question is one of immense practical importance, it is absolutely necessary that the party is able to give a clear and unambiguous answer to it.
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 adventurist 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 uprisings. 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 risen 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 peasant 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 conducted and led, have a rousing and galvanising effect on the peasant masses in all areas and raise their own struggles to a higher level.
Wherever such partisan struggles develop they must also be combined with mass actions of the working class, especially in the neighbouring areas, in the form of strikes and demonstrations. Undertaken on the basis of the most careful preparation and assessment of all factors, the partisan struggles must be conducted with the 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 the danger of defeat and total annihilation.
Partisan Struggle and Individual Terrorism
- In spite of the offensive nature of the partisan struggle, it is necessary to emphasise in our agitation and propaganda in the initial period the defensive nature of partisan struggle, saying that the objective of the partisan struggle is above all to defend the peasants from the attacks of the government and its punitive organs. In doing so special attention should be paid to the demands for which the peasants are fighting and to the atrocities of the government which force the peasants to take to arms. It is necessary, at the same time, to point out that it is the government that is responsible for violence and bloodshed.
Partisan struggle is frequently confused with individual terrorism, it is asserted that individual terrorism is a part of partisan struggle and not only a part, but even a basis of the partisan struggle. This is absolutely wrong. What is more, individual terrorism contradicts the spirit and objectives of partisan struggle. And it is absolutely incompatible with partisan struggle. In the first place, the objective of individual terrorism is to destroy particular individuals while not pursuing the aim of destroying the regime of feudal exploitation and subjugation of the people, whereas the objective of partisan struggle is not to destroy particular individuals, but to destroy the hated regime in a prolonged struggle of the popular masses. In the second place, individual terrorism is carried out by individuals terrorists – or by small squads of terrorists acting apart from the masses, and without any link with the struggle of the masses, whereas the partisan struggle is carried on by the popular masses and not by individuals, it is carried on in close contact with the struggle of the masses against the existing regime.
Since individual terrorism is directed against particular individuals and not against the regime it creates in the minds of the masses a harmful illusion as if it would be possible to destroy the regime by destroying individual representatives of the regime, that what matters is not the destruction of the regime but the destruction of the individual representatives of the regime, that the main evil is not the existence of the regime but the existence of particular worst representatives of the regime whom it is precisely necessary to destroy. It is clear that such a feeling created by individual terrorism can only weaken the onslaught of the masses against the regime and thus facilitate the struggle of the government against the people. Therein lies the first main harm done by individual terrorism to the people's partisan movement.
Since individual terrorism is carried out not by the masses but by individual terrorists acting apart from the masses, individual terrorism leads to an undue minimisation of the role of the mass movement and to equally undue exaggeration of the role of the terrorists, who are alleged to be capable of securing the liberation of the people by their own forces, independent of the growth of the mass partisan movement. It is clear that such a feeling created by individual terrorism can only cultivate passivity among the popular masses and thereby undermine the development of partisan struggle. Therein lies the second main harm done by individual terrorism to the revolutionary movement.
To sum up: Individual terrorism undermines the possibility of unleashing the partisan struggle of the masses and it should be rejected as harmful and dangerous.
It Is Necessary to Strengthen the Party
- Despite the tremendous radicalisation that has taken place among the masses during the last three years and despite the many mass actions that have taken place and are taking place, it would be gross exaggeration to assert that India is already on the verge of an armed insurrection or a revolution, that a civil war is already raging in the country, that the government, its leaders and agents are already completely isolated and so on and so forth. Such an exaggeration inevitably leads to the ignoring of the concrete tasks facing the party, the organising and advocacy of adventurist actions, and the issuing of futile calls for action and pompous slogans which bear no relation either to the existing level of mass consciousness or to the actual maturity of the situation. In practice it results in the self isolation of the party, making it easy for the enemy to destroy it. It results in handing over of the masses to the socialists and other disruptors. Equally wrong are they who through their reformism see only the weakness and disunity of the popular movement, the offensive of the enemy and advocate a policy of retreat and 'lying low', a policy of regrouping of force, eschewing all militant action in the cities and in the countryside for the present. Tactics based on such an understanding of the situation would result in the worst type of reformism and make the party trail behind the masses instead of leading them.
- The reality of the situation is that the crisis is maturing fast, under its impact the masses are getting fast radicalised and a period of big battles lies ahead. The government's failure to carry out a single pledge that it gave to the people, its failure to tackle a single problem –especially the problem of agrarian reform and food for the people – all these are fast shattering the illusions and already the majority of our people look upon the present government as a government of the exploiting classes, as a government of landlords and capitalists. Most of them still believe that this government can be changed and a real popular government take its place without resort to armed revolution and by means of the general elections, nevertheless in the struggle for their day-to-day demands – adequate wages, fair price for agricultural products, restoration of ration cuts, etc. – hundreds of thousands are coming out in action in all parts of the country. The growth of the popular movement still lags behind the growth of popular discontent, only a small fraction of the people have as yet been drawn into the actual struggle against the government. This lag is due not merely to the repressive measures adopted by the government but primarily and above all to the weakness of the party and the existing disunity of the progressive forces. It is therefore one of the key tasks of the party to forge the unity of the working class, to unite the popular forces on the basis of a concrete program, and to grow into a mass party so as to be able to supply the leadership which alone can unify and extend the mass movement and raise it to a higher level.
The party has to give the slogan that the present government must go and be replaced by a popular government, representing the unity of the democratic forces, a government that will break with the British empire and carry out the program of agrarian reform and democracy. It has to utilise the coming general elections for the most extensive popularisation of its program, for mobilising and unifying the democratic forces, for exposing the policies and methods of the government. It has to lead the masses in their day-to-day struggles and take them forward step by step so that the people, through their own experience, come to realise the necessity and inevitability of armed revolution.
The party must not preach the inevitability of fascism but utilise the enormous volume of democratic opinion in the country to unite the people and halt the growing drive towards fascism on the part of the present government. Through patient and systematic day-to-day work, through bold championship of the demands of the people, through correct leadership of the concrete struggles of all sections of the people, the party will grow and be able to fulfil its role as organiser and leader of the people's democratic movement.
- It is necessary therefore to put an end to the interminable discussion that has been going on in our party for one year on the question of the Chinese path, on the question as to how armed struggle is to be conducted. Such discussions disorganise the party, dissipate its strength and leave the masses leaderless precisely when they need the leadership of the party most urgently. Discussion of such matters, carried on almost openly as they have been till now, reveals all our plans to the enemy and makes it difficult to carry them out in practice.
The fact is that if the crisis bursts forth in the near future the party in its present disorganised and weak state will not be able to fully utilise it to lead the people to revolution. It is not yet prepared to shoulder the gigantic responsibilities that such a situation will place on it. It is necessary therefore that the present weaknesses are overcome with the utmost rapidity, the basis of the party and strengthen it. While recruiting the best elements from the working class and other fighting classes into the party and developing it into a mass party, it is necessary at the same time to exercise the utmost vigilance against the swamping of the party by elements that cannot yet be considered fully tested and trustworthy. The system of candidate membership must be introduced for this purpose. It is also necessary that while utilising all legal possibilities, the existing illegal apparatus of the party is strengthened enormously.
The Struggle for the Preservation of Peace
- One of the most important tasks facing the party in our country is the task of mobilising the Indian people in the struggle for the defence of peace. Being one of the largest and most populous countries of the world and occupying a key position in Southeast Asia, India has a tremendous role to play in the battle against the Anglo-American warmongers and for the preservation of peace. It is the job of the Communist Party to ensure that India plays that role.
The forces of peace in our country are potentially very strong and are growing. Love and admiration for the Soviet Union are widespread among all sections, including the middle-class intelligentsia. The liberation of China and its emergence as a great power, the manner in which the people's government of China is successfully tackling the problems of food, famine, floods and diseases have profoundly influenced our people. So powerful is the sentiment against American aggression in Korea, so widespread the sympathy for the Korean people that even the most reactionary newspapers have had to criticise the Americans. This powerful mass sentiment as well as other factors have compelled even the Nehru government to take a stand against the most blatant acts of the American imperialists (the threat to use atom bomb, the branding of People's China as aggressors, etc.).
- The party, however, has as yet not succeeded in transforming the widespread peace sentiment into a powerful peace movement because, as on other issues, our approach to the issue of peace also was an extremely sectarian one. The peace movement, in the main, remained a movement confined to the existing mass following of the party and the TUs and peasant organisations under our influence. The peace platform was utilised for abstract denunciation of the government on all conceivable issues and to popularise struggles that only the party waged. Inevitably the result was a restriction of the sweep of the peace movement and failure to win over as peace partisans all the genuine lovers of peace. It is only recently that these harmful methods are being abandoned.
Another manifestation of sectarianism was the failure to link the issue of peace with the live issues facing the people, the failure to show the connection between the drive towards war and the mounting war budget of the Nehru government with the rise in the prices of necessities of life, reduction of government expenditure on education, neglect of housing accommodation, growing attack on civil liberties, etc.
It is of the utmost importance to abandon all sectarianism in order to develop a real broad based peace movement. The growing and strengthening of the national liberation movement helps the cause of peace. The strengthening of the peace movement also facilitates the growth of the national-liberation movement. These two movements therefore must develop in close relation with each other, each strengthening the other. Nevertheless they are not identical. The platform of peace is a broader platform. It can and must include all supporters of peace, all elements who for various reasons are opposed to war and are prepared to take their stand against all measures calculated to extend and unleash war.
- It is necessary for the peace movement to correctly appraise the foreign policy of the Nehru government in relation to peace and to adopt a correct attitude towards all specific manifestations of that policy.
While the peace movement must support all these specific acts of the government which hamper the plans of the warmongers, e.g. Nehru's declaration against the atom bomb and the vote against American proposal to denounce People’s China in the UNO, it must also simultaneously point out the half-hearted and vacillating nature of the government's policy and wage a determined battle to mobilise mass opinion in favour of consistent peace policy.
As a matter of fact the Nehru government's policy cannot be called a policy of peace. It is essentially a policy of manoeuvring between the main enemy of peace, the United States of America and its junior partner Britain on the one hand and peace loving countries on the other. Nehru fears the consequences of a world war and therefore advocates a policy of ‘moderation’, of not going ‘too far’. At the same time the Indian government continues to be an active member of the British commonwealth which is a partner of American imperialism in aggressive wars. The Indian government has not condemned the American war of aggression in Korea, nor repudiated its support to the illegal resolution of the UNO sanctioning that aggression. It has not condemned the British imperialists who are waging war in Malaya but on the contrary permitted them to recruit gurkha soldiers against the Malayan people. It has not denounced French aggression in Vietnam and continues to give facilities to the French imperialists for the transport of troops and war materials.
Therefore, in addition to mobilising the people against the threat of atom bomb, for support to the Stockholm and Warsaw appeals, one of the specific tasks of the peace movement in India is to rally the people against those policies of the present government which abet and aid the colonial wars waged by the American, British and French imperialists against the peoples of Southeast Asia. The peace movement is not a pacifist movement, not a movement merely for recording abstract support to peace. It is a fighting movement for concrete action in defence of peace and against the imperialist warmongers, including those waging colonial wars.
- The peace movement must fight against all attempts to sow hostility against the Chinese People's Republic. It must explain to our people how the liberation of Tibet is not a threat to peace but a decisive blow against the instigators of war. It must uphold the heroic action of the Chinese volunteers who by smashing the plans of the American warmongers to enslave the Korean and Chinese peoples strengthened the cause of world peace.
- We must also fight against all warmongering propaganda against Pakistan, pointing out how the growing tension between Pakistan and India is the result of imperialist manoeuvres and how it helps the enemies of the peoples of both states. We must demand a drastic reduction in the military budget and a policy of friendship and close alliance between India, Pakistan and Ceylon.
- The peace movement must wage a determined battle against slanderers of the Soviet Union, against all those who strive to depict the consistent peace policy of the Soviet Union as a policy of war and aggression. Basing ourselves on the lucid and clear-cut statement of Comrade Stalin in reply to the Pravda correspondent, we must concretely expose the real instigators of war and uphold the shining example of the Soviet Union which is devoting its energies and resources to further improve the condition of the people and leading the entire progressive humanity in the struggle for the preservation of peace. Firm friendship between the peace loving peoples of all countries must save the world from the menace of war and the people of India have to playa big role in establishing this friendship – this fact must be made part of the consciousness of the entire people.
On Partisan War
Question – Answer
Question: Is it correct to resort to partisan war 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?
Answer: Yes, you can and should resort to it. To start or not does not depend on us. It depends on the organisational state of the masses and their mood. If the masses are ready, you must start it.
Question: Have we to take up partisan struggle only when the peasant struggle for partial demands reaches the stage of land distribution and establishing 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?
Answer: The partisan struggle also has stages. It starts with smaller demands – let us say, reduction of rent. It is not yet a partisan struggle. If the enemy refuses to grant the demands and the peasant is eager to win it by force, then partisan struggles 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.
The partisan struggle is a struggle for enforcing demands by force. It starts whenever peasants start open struggle for their demands. This is the first stage of the struggle. Whenever it takes up the main demand, that means the higher stage. Whenever it takes to arms to crush the law this is the highest stage. Just like the workers' struggles.
Hence it does not depend on us. If the masses are ready and eager, we should assist them.
Question: Can partisan warfare even of the most elementary type be developed in areas where communications are well developed?
Answer: Yes, when encirclement occurs, transfer the best forces to another area. Lead out the armed forces so as to join it with the armed forces in another area, so as to create a liberation army of your own.
Question: Aim of the partisan struggle that must be the liquidation of the enemy's armed forces with the active assistance of the masses of peasants. To kill individual oppressors with a view to terrorise all the other oppressors and make them renounce their oppression is terrorism. But I cannot understand the complete banning of any individual action against any oppressor-landlord, notorious official or a spy as a matter principle, under the name 'terrorism'. In my opinion, at times, it becomes necessary, in the earlier phase of the partisan struggle, to organise individual actions against some notorious oppressors, not in order to terrorise other oppressors into renouncing their oppression but to guard the safety of the partisan squads. I am unable to understand how such actions make the people passive. As I understand international literature, such individual actions were conducted by partisans against German and Japanese fascists in the occupied countries during the anti-fascist war, and they are being done even now in Asian countries where partisan warfare is going on – Malaya, Burma, Indochina etc. If I remember rightly, such actions were not only not banned by Lenin in his article on partisan warfare but, on the other hand, he severely criticised the Mensheviks who condemned them as anarchism. I seek clarification on this point.
Answer: Comrade says he cannot understand why individual terrorism should slow down the action of the masses. Individual terrorism is called so not merely because it is directed against individual oppressors but also because it is carried out by individuals or groups irrespective of the masses. Individual terrorism creates the illusion that the main evil is not the regime but individuals, that only if a few more are destroyed, the regime will be finished off. What conclusions will the masses draw? That with the help of terrorism of this type, it is possible to destroy the regime after a long struggle. And if such conclusions are drawn by the peasants, they will say "No use developing the struggle against the regime. Our glorious terrorists will do the job." Such sentiments weaken the onslaught of the masses against the regime, it is harmful and dangerous. Individual terrorism creates the belief that the main force lies in the heroic terrorists and not in the masses. The role of the masses becomes to watch and applaud. That means to cultivate passivity. Marx and Engels taught that the liberation of the masses has to be won by the masses themselves. This is what you ought to tell them. Different results follow from individual terrorism. Masses look upon the terrorists as heroes and liberators. Comrade's reference to Lenin is without foundation. We can give him articles by Lenin directed against individual terrorism. You must know how hard he hit Mensheviks when the revolution was at an ebb and they took to terror.
The theory of individual terrorism comes to the front when the revolution recedes. It is a reflection of the weakness of the movement. Whenever the revolutionary movement is rising and the masses themselves rise their theory of individual terrorism disappears from the horizon. Comrade must bear that in mind.
On landlords and capitalist landlords: In general landlord means feudal landlord. In the case of capitalist landlords as described by comrade, there should be a limit to the total land to be allowed to them.
This program lays down the broad outline. You will have to prepare a special agrarian program of your own. You have cultured provinces, backward provinces. In some capitalist farming has made big strides. Every area has its own specific feature. All this has to be taken into account.
Questions and Answers
Deleted from the program the abolition of all indirect taxations. Our experience shows it is not possible at this stage. Only later, when revolution gains, it will be possible to reduce prices, reduce and then annul indirect taxes. Russian Marxists at first put this in their minimum program but it proved wrong.
Also we are opposed to the abolition of regular army. Experience shows that the revolution cannot be defended without a standing army, with well-qualified and trainer men, tankmen, airmen, pilots, etc. Modern army cannot exist without well-trained cadres. If India bases itself only on rifles and machine-guns, Pakistan can easily subjugate it. Must have army of its own. Present army of Nehru however is a mercenary army. Popular national armies not mercenaries. It is linked with the people. Perhaps they will not digest general principle of conscription in India. Effect of British tradition which considers conscription a misfortune. Will say that Nehru not enforcing conscription but Bolsheviks want it. Better not to say anything.
On competition of foreign goods in India: Theoretically, we know that America in a crisis dumps its goods. This happened in China under Chiang. Flooded China with American goods and ruined national industries. That's why the Chinese bourgeoisie accused Chiang of not defending the national industries and opposed him. Do not know if America is doing the same in India.
Question: Can we say that the Indian big bourgeoisie has finally gone over to imperialism? If so, what is the objective basis of winning over or mobilising any section in the struggle against imperialism?
Answer: A certain part of the big national bourgeoisie has finally joined hands with imperialism but not the whole of it. Many among the bourgeoisie stand for industrialisation and would be opposed to foreign capital in the inner market.
Question: Can in India the big bourgeoisie or any section of it still be called oppositional in its relation to imperialism?
Answer: Yes. It can unquestionably. If only because the government plunders the peasants and restricts the home market. It may not shout from the house-tops about it, but it is opposed to this all the same.
Question: Is it the entire big bourgeoisie or only sections that are collaborating with imperialism? If sections, then which sections?
Answer: First part of the question already answered. As regards the second part, it is wrong to put such a question. You want to weigh them in a balance? Cannot do that. National bourgeoisie should be taken as a whole, its majority. Growth of movement will show who stands where. There are scoundrels among the national bourgeoisie but they are not typical of the class as a whole. The same is true of the working class. Not all sections and all elements are revolutionary. So, if you look at the problem in a Marxist way, the national bourgeoisie is oppositional. Partly undoubtedly reactionary but not the whole. Not only small but many of the bourgeoisie feel that the inner market is too narrow and will not prevent land being handed over to the peasants.
Question: What is the class character of the present Nehru government? We think this big bourgeois-landlord government collaborating with imperialism.
Answer: Not quite. Nehru bases himself not only on these classes but also on the kulaks. When the government cry 'buy land', it addresses itself to the kulaks and the kulaks appreciate. So the basis is not as narrow as you think. Therefore it is not a puppet government. In order to overthrow it, one has to work hard. Don't think if you blew, it will fall.
Weakness of the Nehru government is that it does not base itself on the majority of the peasantry, workers and toiling intelligentsia. It is from this direction that you should launch your attacks.
Question: If this is so, why would kulak join us? How can we win him over?
Answer: We have to ally with him in the anti-feudal struggle. The kulak sympathises with the Nehru government. But if the peasantry rises against the feudals, the kulak thinks that the part of the feudal land will fall to him, but will either support the peasants or proclaim neutrality.
Question: Are we right when we say that the united front we have to build is a united front of all classes including the national bourgeoisie?
Answer: Yes, you are right.
Question: Can we characterise the foreign policy of the Nehru government as a manoeuvre between British and American imperialism? Does this apply to the foreign policy in so far as it relates to the specific policy of peace?
Answer: Yes, subject to one correction. Nehru also plays between the peace loving countries and the war bloc.
Question: What should be our attitude to such specific manifestation of the government's foreign policy, as for instance the stand on the use of the atom bomb or on the American proposal to brand People's China as an aggressor? Should we merely expose them as a manoeuvre or should we support them while simultaneously exposing them as half-hearted and inadequate in nature?
Answer: The latter is right. Support and expose the half-hearted nature.
Question: Is there any contradiction between the certain specific acts of the government and our general opposition to it?
Answer: No contradiction.
Our party possesses a very fine perspective. A very good regime can be organised in your country and a great society. For this, you should renounce personal differences. Differences will arise but they must be overcome. The minority must submit to the majority. Discuss and convince each other. Even Lenin found himself in the minority several times. He submitted to the majority. Without that there can be no discipline or no party.
Mao Tsetung passed away 44 years ago on 9th September, 1976. These 4 -5 decades were tumultuous and more event-full even compared to the period when he was with us, not only for China, but for the international communist movement (ICM) as well. When we remember him it is necessary to make a proper evaluation of his contributions in the context of China and the ICM. Probably even compared to the vicious campaign organized by the imperialists and lackeys through the media and by all other means under their command against Lenin and Stalin, the attacks by them on Mao was more ferocious. He is attacked not only for his revolutionary work during the 60 years of his active political life, but also for what the anarchist activities of the so-called “Maoists” after his death. The US imperialists were so furious with him that through their CIA propaganda from Hong Kong they almost convinced the world that he is dead at least a dozen times, before actual death!
After the formation of the CPC, in spite of the writings of Mao on Hunan Uprising and on Class Analysis of China, till 1927 when the Kuomintang forces under Chiang Kai-shek organized a massacre of the communists working in the urban areas, the general understanding was that the revolutionary line followed in Russia can be mechanically followed everywhere. It was after 1927, following the withdrawal to Chinkang mountain area with the section of the Kuomintang army under Chu Te which defected and joined the CPC, Mao developed his line of protracted people’s war in the semi-colonial, feudal, semi-feudal conditions of China as the path of revolution. Still, the struggle continued with a section following the Comintern positions mechanically criticizing Mao for deviating from the Russian Path. Most of the Western Marxist scholars are still attacking him as a ‘peasant revolutionary’. But, Mao has repeatedly explained that it was according to the class analysis based on the concrete conditions, he has defined the peasantry as the main force of revolution in Chinese conditions.
In his writings, he has always pointed out that the revolution shall take place under the guidance and concrete application of the proletarian ideology, Marxism-Leninism. Edgar Snow in his Red Star Over China has mentioned that when M N Roy had gone to China as part of a Comintern team and started taking class about the superiority of the Russian path, how Mao explained why they have to follow a Chinese path, and suggested if Roy goes to India and study the Indian conditions, he will also understand the importance of following an Indian path! But, Roy could not understand India after he settled in India and went astray is another story. At the same time, however small was the number of working class in China as compared to that of countries like then India, CPC had started organizing the working class also. Similarly, contrary to what is repeated by some ‘Maoists’, CPC had given lot of importance to building the party and mass organizations in all parts of the country, even when the armed conflict between the Kuomintang army and Red Army was taking place in limited areas. Even though the Kuomintang army was resorting to criminal attacks and suppression of the people, instead of criticizing this, imperialists were propagating lies about the liberated areas under the control of Red Army.
Once the liberation struggle of mainland China became victorious and the constitution of the People’s Republic of China was declared on 1st October, 1949, using Hong Kong as the centre of espionage and counter revolutionary propaganda against China, the CIA like agencies of US as well as other imperialist powers resorted to distortion of facts, manufacture of lies and slander against the communist forces. In this large number of imperialist think tanks from Harvard, MIT like universities in US also actively participated. After the 20th Congress of the Soviet Communist Party in 1956 by which time the capitalist roaders had succeeded to usurp power and later turned SU in to a social imperialist super power, its impact was severe. The Soviet revisionists had built up their line based on an erroneous evaluation that US led imperialist camp had weakened in the post-World War years and argued that in this situation the working class parties can peacefully compete and co-exist with imperialism, and through peaceful transition socialism can be achieved.
It went against the realities of the concrete situation. With the transformation of colonial forms of plunder to neo-colonial forms, US imperialism and its allies had only become more aggressive and pernicious. But, because of the great prestige Soviet Union had among the communist parties formed under the guidance of the Comintern, the Soviet revisionist deviation led to degeneration of all the people’s democracies formed in Eastern Europe as well as almost all the communist parties except that of China and Albania in to revisionist path. These developments not only severely weakened the ICM, it created serious ideological confusion among the left intellectuals also. Many interpretations of what happened to Soviet socialism appeared; many solutions also. The imperialist think tanks worked hard to deepen this confusion by supporting postmodernism like reformist theories. It was a very critical period for the ICM
Combating it, the CPC under Mao’s leadership rejected the Krushchovite revisionist line and put forward the General Line of the ICM in the new situation along with nine articles explaining various aspects of the problems confronting the working class movement as part of the Great Debate against Soviet revisionist line, it led to new hopes before the communists internationally, and they started challenging the party leaderships pursuing the Soviet revisionist’s class collaborationist ideas, and to build Marxist-Leninist groups and parties in a number of countries. It was in this new situation, they recognized the importance of upholding the contributions of Mao to the ICM, in leading the Chinese revolution to victory, in guiding the socialist transition in China struggling against the capitalist roaders within the party and in fighting the Soviet revisionist line.
The life and death struggle taking place at the international level between revolutionary Marxism and revisionism had its grave impacts within the CPC also. In its 8th Congress in 1956 itself the right trend led by Liu Shaochi and Deng Tsiaoping had tried to assert that as the democratic revolution is completed, China should focus on promoting production in whichever way possible. Mao led a bitter struggle against this line and speeded up socialist transformation by introducing a self-reliant development plan and People’s Communes. As this struggle intensified, Mao led the Cultural Revolution calling on the people to come to the streets to defend socialism. In this period Mao had to struggle not only against the capitalist roaders inside who had powerful influence in the party and administration, but against the Soviet revisionists and their supporters, as well as against the imperialists and their lackeys of all hues. In spite of all these Mao succeeded to remove the capitalist roaders from positions of power.
But, by that time, in the name of speeding up Maoist revolution a new trend emerged within the CPC led by the defense minister Lin Biao, which came to dominance in the CPC with the support of the military. It claimed that, in spite of the setbacks in Soviet Union, socialism is advancing towards worldwide victory and imperialism to total collapse! Contrary to what Mao was telling all the time, it analyzedthat all the Asian, African, Latin American countries are like pre-revolutionary China, semi-colonial and semi-feudal, with protracted people’s war as their strategy. This left adventurist line called for taking armed struggle as the only form of struggle to advance revolution! As this line was coming out from Chinese media, and no refutation of Mao reached outside, all the newly emerging Marxist-Leninist parties adopted it mechanically, leading to their disintegration very fast.
But by 1970 this line was defeated. Then with the help of the Centrist/pragmatist line led by the prime minister Chou Enlai, from the beginning, the capitalist roaders started returning to power. The 10th Congress of the CPC in 1973 reflected the struggle between this alliance and those forces led by Mao. Following the 10th Congress, the rightists were further strengthened with Deng returning to deputy prime minister post. The struggle went on intensifying, and in 1976 beginning when Chou Enlai died, the rightists made their first coup attempt which the revolutionary trend under Mao’ leadership defeated. But, when Mao died soon in on 9th September, using the centrist Huao Kuofeng, who had become prime minister after Chou, and the military, the rightists led another coup in which all Mao’s followers in the leadership were thrown to jail and communist revolutionaries were brutally crushed by the military all over China. In 1978, with the return of Deng Tsiaoping as the supremo the Chinese government started reversing all socialist policies of Mao, and under Four Modernizations drive, and launched the capitalist transformation in full swing.
The revisionist forces all over the world, including the CPI-CPI(M) parties in India, who were wildly attacking the socialist transition in China and the Cultural Revolution, hailed Deng’s return as a great victory; similar to their upholding of the Soviet social imperialists, till Soviet union’s disintegration in 1991. These revisionists defamed Marxism, and wherever they came to power faithfully implemented the neo-liberal/corporate policies, while upholding the social imperialists in power in China who are fighting for world hegemony with the US imperialist led forces, still under the banner of ‘socialism with Chinese characteristics’! The US led imperialists also do the same thing, in their bid to destroy the communist challenge for ever. By vulgarizing Mao’s contributions as Maoism in line with what Lin Biao advocated during 1966-70, creating havoc in China and among the communist revolutionary forces everywhere, the so-called Maoists are also doing the same damage to the revolutionary Marxism through left adventurist, anarchist acts.
Unlike all the writings of Lenin and Stalin are available, except the first four volumes and to a great extent the fifth volume, no authentic documents of the CPC and writings of Mao are available to the outside world still. What came out through Hong Kong, most of them were distorted, or censored. Many of the documents and Mao’s writings which were collected from Hongkong are spurious ones. As far as Albanian party (PLA) is concerned, in 1978 it made a 180 degree turn, threw away its hitherto writings of Mao, and denounced Mao; their followers are living in a make-believe world, with the ritualistic argument that history ended suddenly with Stalin!, like the Trotskyites around the world who believe that Trotsky’s is the last word on everything. Even after all that has happened in history, even after the severe setback to the ICM, even after the devastation of nature and humanity by the capitalist imperialist system which has taken its re-creation of the world in its own image to its peak, when the humanity is facing the grave challenge of either overthrow this barbarous system and create a socialist world, or perish under ecological catastrophe to extinction of human species, these petti-bourgeois reformist, anarchist trends continue their heinous task of confusing as many people as possible, making as many of their followers as non-partisans, ultimately serving the imperialist barbarians.
In this present grave situation, the task of the Marxist-Leninist forces is to uphold the teachings from the Marxist teachers, develop them according to the present situation, develop the theory and practice of World proletarian Socialist Revolution and Indian Revolution, by building a powerful Bolshevik style party according to present conditions by mobilizing all communist revolutionaries and advanced elements of the working class and all oppressed classes and sections, mobilizing the revolutionary masses in their tens of millions, develop class struggle in an all-embracing and comprehensive manner using all forms of organization and struggles, creating waves of struggles against the corporate fascist rule led by RSS parivar by inspiring the people with the vision of people’s democracy and socialism, and overthrow it as part of the WPSR. Let us uphold Mao’s contributions, Mao Tsetung Thought, for the role it played in inspiring and guiding the revolutionary long march the humanity has taken up, spearheaded by the revolutionary classes and sections as an urgent task in present situation.
Comrade U. Sambasiva Rao, well known among his comrades and friends as ‘Usaa’, passed away on the early hours of 25th July in a Hyderabad private hospital. As soon as the information was received, I posted a brief condolence message which stated: “Usaa Passes Away: A Great Loss to the Revolutionary Movement: Com. U. Sambasiva Rao, known to all his close comrades as Usaa, left us. He was admitted to hospital in Hyderabad three days ago after he was tested positive to Covid19. He joined the ranks of communist revolutionaries following the Naxalbari Uprising and was part of the UCCRI (ML) stream. But he had differences with the leadership on the approach of communist movement to the question of caste system and on the importance to be given to caste annihilation. As this difference could not be resolved even after a plenum, he left UCCRI in 1987 and from that time was spearheading this question. Later when com. Sathyamurthi left the CPI(ML) People’s War on the same question, they worked few years together. But as SM decided to join the BSP, he criticized it as an opportunist line and left him.
We met in 2011 and started our discussion on the caste question, in which we had basic agreement, as Red Star was already thinking of launching the caste annihilation movement (CAM). We became ideologically closer on most of the basic questions and started working together in different fields in later years. Presently he was one of the conveners of CAM with responsibility for coordinating the work in South India. He was president of OPDR Telengana committee. He was also president of the broad based Anti-Fascist Movement, Telengana. He was very active in the struggle against alien trends among the CRs and attended the Seminar on caste question during the 11th Congress of the CPI(ML) Red Star.
Unexpectedly, when he passed away on 25th July early morning in a Hyderabad hospital one week after he proved positive to Covid19, immediately a statement was issued which concluded with thee words “It is difficultnot only to me, but to the very large number of comrades active in all fields to think that Usaa will not be with us anymore. Red Salute to Usaa whose departure is a great loss to the whole revolutionary movement”. Our comrades in Telengana and AP reported that many condolence meetings were held, and messages from large number of comrades and friends, colleagues, leaders of other political, cultural, social and democratic rights activists were received showing how much importance they give to his contributions to the communist movement in general, and especially to his tireless efforts to bring the discourse on the approach towards the caste system by the communist movement in our country. A joint effort is already started by his close friends and activists to bring out a memorial issue as early as possible including his contributions in different fields written by comrades who know him for decades as well as reports of his activities in different fields including the caste annihilation movement (CAM), OPDR, and Anti-Fascist Front, Telengana.
During our long discussions during 2011-12, almost 25 years after he left the UCCRI, Usaa explained that his debate was on ideological questions, mainly focusing on the extent of influence of caste question in the socio-cultural-political reality in India. Though the struggle was bitter, he had no personal criticism against any of the old leaders. His fight was ideological, he repeated. Born in a backward caste family, from the childhood itself he could feel the bitterness in the caste divided society and the sufferings of the people belonging to SCs/STs and BCs under Brahmanical, Manuvadi system. He joined the Marxist-Leninist movement for creating a new society, egalitarian in every sense. Degeneration of Soviet Union even after almost four decades of socialist transition had proved that giving answers like ‘everything will become all right once the working class capture power’ is not sufficient. If China also could degenerate to capitalist path even after the Cultural Revolution, the struggle against all inequalities, not only economic, but caste, gender like inequalities also should start from the pre-revolutionary phase itself. It was when these feelings were becoming stronger, the Karanchedu massacre of dalits took place in 1985. Immediately after the massacre, Usaa prepared a press statement with the title “Condemn the massacre of Dalits by Kamma upper caste landlords.” That the party leadership did not like it, he felt from their attitude and words.
By this time, there were heated discussions on the contributions of Dr. Ambedkar, especially on his paper of 1936 on “Annihilation of the Caste”, were taking place. Usaa started studying more of Ambedkar’s works, and the approach of the neo-Ambedkarites. One of these trends had taken Ambedkar’s critic of the communist party’s (CPI) refusal to take up the caste question in relation to the class formation in India when he discussed with its leadership in 1936, to anti-communist positions; upholding identity politics. For them the protection of dalit identity and reservation were main planks of dalit liberation; they became part of the ruling class politics, like BSP, most sections of Republican Party etc; another school of identity politics, who were also taking anti-Marxist positions, and influenced by the post-modernist theories like ‘theory of de-construction.’ pursued the line of NGO politics promoted by imperialist think tanks. But Usaa’s position was different.
He wrote more profusely on these questions and tried to put forward the Bahujan line with Marx-Phule-Ambedkar ideology, calling for unity of dalits, Adivasis and BCs with all revolutionary classes in the concrete situation created by the publication of Mandal Commission Report, and RSS parivar’s reaction to it by intensifying the Brahmanical-Manuvadi offensive for Ram temple issue, putting it in the forefront. In the complex situation then, on the one hand, the Congress and other ruling class parties were competing with each other to strengthen their vote banks using the caste and religion. The CPI(M) led Left Front parties and many of the CR organizations, in spite of these new challenges were refusing to go beyond repeating the old dogmatic positions that class struggle shall resolve all problems. Any discussion about Ambedkar’s approach based on annihilation of the caste system, or linking caste annihilation with class struggle was anathema to them. While taking up these studies, Usaa had allied with many forces including com. Sathyamurthi, who had left the CPI(ML) People’s War mainly on the approach to caste question. Many of these allies had later deviated to ruling class positions. But Usaa, as he used to say, showing his writings during this period, did not abandon Marxist positions; he was trying to apply it to Indian conditions. As Marx himself had pointed out, the European mode of production and class formation cannot be mechanically applied everywhere. Usaa argued that the Indian communist movement has failed to comprehend the caste-class relation in India. When comrades raise questions, the dogmatic leaderships become irritated and get them expelled through mechanical application of ‘democratic centralism’. Since Usaa had questioned them, even after his death they are coming out with slanderous statements in the name of condolence!
The history of October Revolution teaches that Lenin could lead it to victory by building the Bolshevik party by waging uncompromising ideological struggle against the right opportunist Mensheviks as well as the anarchist Narodniks, and mobilizing the working class and its allies, the oppressed classes and sections for revolution. So, in Indian conditions only through this ideological struggle we can put revolutionary Marxism in the leadership, unite all genuine communist forces and build a powerful communist party. And, if we have to unite the basic masses, the working class and oppressed masses, we have to fight against the Manuvadi caste system, which divide them. It calls for developing a correct approach towards caste annihilation along with class struggle; it basically means developing a comprehensive, all embracing understanding about class struggle. So, more than ever, as we are passing through a critical phase which demands that the working class should make revolution, the central agenda before them is to overthrow the imperialist system and their junior partners in power in countries like ours, to develop the socialist alternative at global level. At this critical juncture, we should learn from mistakes, and making concrete analyses of the vast changes that have taken place, and are taking place, develop Marxist-Leninist teachings according to these present conditions, and use it as our guide to action.
When our discussions reached this stage, he made his position clear. He will try to study more about the Marxist writings on class struggle; but his long experience of working inside the Marxist parties, and his evaluation of most of these organizations including the Naxalite organizations, he is yet to come across an organization with such a concept of class struggle. So, if Red Star is calling for advancing the struggle for caste annihilation as part of class struggle with such an understanding, he shall work with the CAM. But he will continue the discussion on caste-class relation in the Indian socio-economic formation, which is a complex question. When he came to Kolkata in September last year to participate in the “open dialogue to form a revolutionary left coordination” as a step towards unity of the CR forces to build a powerful Bolshevik style communist party capable of leading the antifascist struggle towards people’s democracy and socialism, and with the immediate task of working as a revolutionary left core to inspire, mobilize the broad based anti-fascist movement, participating in the debate he called for such bold experiments with concrete understanding of the Indian situation to achieve system change with anti-brahmanical, anti-Manuvadi approach. As we were staying together we could continue our discussion on the working of the CAM and other people’s movements.
Usaa was a Marxist and revolutionary in the true sense. Through his ideological, political work, mobilization of the masses, and the struggles he led, and even in his family life after marrying a Brahmin woman who was also working with the party, he has left behind a rich experience which the younger generation can emulate. For me, and for many other comrades and friends of Usaa it is still difficult to believe that he with his broad smile and simple life, always eager to cook something non-vegetarian for his comrades in his house where he was living alone after his wife’s death, which he had turned in to a centre for studies and publications, including a studio for social media work including preparing U tube, it is difficult to think he will not be there when I go to Hyderabad next time.
I first met comrade Soren Bose (SB) in early 1994. Comrade Arup Mazumdar had seen him in early seventies itself inside Presidency Jail. At that time Arup was a very young activists and comrade SB was a very senior comrade. After Arup became active in CRC, CPI(ML), which is now known as CPI(ML) Red Flag, he had reported about comrade SB. Once he put an end to his association with Asim Chatterjee when latter started moving closer to Left Front, and started taking positions nearer to that of Red Flag, comrade Arup suggested a discussion with comrade SB. That is how we first met him in his rented flat at Dumdum road.
In our first discussion we found that there were many differences between our positions. But his approach to various basic questions confronting the Communist movement both nationally and internationally, and his Communist culture tremendously attracted me. They inspired us to continue the discussions. And a visit to his place and a long discussion with him became an integral part of my frequent visits to Calcutta.
Comrade SB, we used to call him, explained that after coming out of jail in 1980 he did not play any leading role in any of the organizations to which CPI(ML) was split since he was not convinced about the ideological-political positions of the organizations he came across. Though he attended many programmes and even played major role in some of the class/mass organizations or mass movements during this period, he did not identify himself with any of the CPI(ML) factions.
Starting from the discussions he held with top CPC leadership in 1970 as representative of CPI(ML) he had taken an uncompromising position against sectarianism. The degeneration of CPC leadership to revisionist positions in the post-Mao years had given new dimensions to anti-revisionist struggle. The severe setback suffered by the international communist movement with the degeneration of all socialist states and communist party leaderships to capitalist path, and later disintegration of Soviet Union had posed a major challenge before the Communists everywhere. Both right and left opportunism were causing severe damage to the movement.
Within the various factions to which CPI(ML) was split and among other revolutionary organizations a major section continue to uphold Dengist positions and are erasing the line of demarcation between themselves and the CPI-CPI(M) brand of Krushchevite revisionism. On the other hand, some other are clinging to the very sectarian positions of late 1960s which the CPC leadership had soundly criticized during discussion with him. Even many of those who oppose these extreme opportunist positions are reluctant to make a concrete analysis of the present situation when imperialism in its neo-colonial phase has launched an all out aggression against world people in all fields.
In our first discussion itself many of these questions were taken up by us. The fact that CPI(ML) Red Flag has taken concrete positions on many of these questions or has initiated discussions to develop better understanding about them made him happy. With each round of discussion we started coming closer. His participation in the all India Convention organized by TUCI (Trade Union Centre of India) at Coimbatore (Tamil Nadu) as its main speaker and his discussions with many of the leading comrades, as he later said, further convinced him that he can play a leading revolutionary role once again by joining Red Flag.
To concretize this unity process we decided to start discussions on the changes taking places in the agrarian field and to draft an approach paper for working in agricultural workers and peasant front. Based on the understanding he had gathered about the changes in class relations taken place at micro level in Naxalbari like areas and about the macro level data collected through the young comrades in Bengal, he himself prepared an initial draft. In a three day long discussion with some of the leading comrades of Red Flag during his visit to Kerala in 1996 his initial draft was developed. Later it was discussed and adopted in the Central Reorganization Committee (CRC) and is now distributed among the activists in agricultural workers and peasant front (published in Red Star, July-September, 1997 issue). It clearly shows the consequences of neo-colonization in agrarian field and the necessity for developing the approach towards struggles according to these concrete changes. It was also decided to hold a camp for the activists in agricultural workers and peasants front at Naxalbari (we are compelled to postpone this now in his absence).
When the initial drafts for the Fourth All India Conference to be held in April 1997 were prepared in late 1996, we discussed the main points at length with comrade SB. He was in full agreement with all the basic positions put forward in these drafts and formally decided to join Red Flag. As a result, in the West Bengal state conference held in April 1997 he played a leading role and he was elected secretary of new state organizing committee. He played an active role in the All India Conference held later in April and based on his vast experience reiterated in the necessity for uncompromisingly struggling against both right opportunism and sectarianism. He expressed his happiness over the democratic process he witnessed in the conference. He was elected a member of CRC and in his concluding speech pledged to serve the party reorganization process to the best of his ability.
He was already elected as the leading member of the 28 July Committee formed in West Bengal uniting all revolutionary organizations to observe the 25th anniversary of the martyrdom of comrade Charu Majumdar. In the rally organized on 16 July, in spite of heavy rains, about six to seven thousand comrades participated and the marched to Writers Building demanding enquiry in to the killings of large number of communist revolutionaries including comrades CM and Saroj Dutta in early 1970s in police custody and in the name of encounters. Probably this was the first time after the peak of the movement in early 1970s that such a large number of comrades with such enthusiasm could be mobilized entirely from West Bengal alone for such a rally. As far as both party reorganization and united activities of revolutionary organizations are concerned, this signaled a positive turning point. Comrade SB was in the forefront of this new initiative.
When CRC decided to organize all India programmes from May 25 to July 28 to observe the 25th anniversary of the martyrdom of comrade CM, and later to observe from August 15, 1997 to next August 15 as a period to expose the celebrations organized by the ruling classes in the name of 50 years of so-called independence, comrade SB was playing a significant role in both. As he repeatedly stressed wherever he went reorganizing CPI(ML) on Bolshevik lines and based on the ideological-political orientation put forward by the Fourth Conference was the primary task at all India level before him and the organization. Even during the last programmes he attended at Mumbai, in the press conference on 14 August, in the seminar on transfer of power on August 15 and in the public meeting on 16 August he reiterated these points.
During our numerous discussions he was always stressing on the importance of the Party. He was a dedicated cadre of CPI and then CPI(M) before he rebelled against their revisionist line under CM’s leadership. He firmly supported CM’s call to reorganized the party in to CPI(ML) and played a leading role in putting this to practice. Till his arrest he continued to uphold the party line as a Polit Bureau member of its CC. after coming out of jail though he did not join or form a party organization for long, he was against all forms of non-party concept. He used to strongly denounce the petti-bourgeois, sectarian trends prevalent in West Bengal. And when he found that CPI(ML) Red Flag can be the best vehicle for carrying forward the rectification process and rebuilding CPI(ML) at all India level, without hesitation he joined it and appealed to all of his younger comrades to join it.
After his sudden departure on the early morning on 17th August at Mumbai, when I went to Calcutta, Naxalbari and Siliguri, met his old comrades and friends as well as the young comrades, I could feel how much respect, love and attention they had for him. He was a veteran communist revolutionary with great proletarian culture. While strongly criticizing the sectarian mistakes of the early period, he always presented it as a self-criticism. And even in his personal habits, like insisting on carrying his own bag, he was always ready to share all difficulties with his younger comrades. At Naxalbari many comrades told us that even during his last visit to that area in May he went round the villages walking, over sitting on the carrier behind a cycle. At the memorial meeting at Siliguri we heard many of his friends and party comrades from 1940s narrating his versatile character, as a dedicated communist, agitator, artist, journalist of the party paper.
His departure at this crucial juncture when we have taken up party reorganization with all its seriousness is an irreparable loss not only to Red Flag, but to the Communist movement in India as a whole. The best we can do to do justice to the memory of this great veteran revolutionary is to dedicate ourselves with more determination to realize the goals for which he stood and fought throughout his life as a great Bolshevik.
(Red Star October 1997)