Spectacularly Enough, ever since the unplanned lockdown imposed by the Modi government in late March, the ongoing people’s movement in Bhangor has reached new heights, with women and men taking to the streets on a regular basis to seize their rights. As a result, in Bhangor, at least, the government and administration have been compelled to actually give the people what they have promised – rations, relief after Amphan and special relief to those whose livelihoods have suffered due to the lockdown – instead of keeping the same confined only to notices and paperwork, as has happened in most other parts of the state as well as the country.
Although it is true that there have been sporadic struggles on similar issues in some other parts of the state, with success being achieved in a few places, the struggle in Bhangor has surpassed them all in terms of grit, vigour and magnitude. This deserves special mention, because only a couple of years ago, in August 2018 to be precise, when the historic anti-powergrid movement of Bhangor had forced the government to enter into dialogue with the Jomi Jibika Bastutantro O Poribesh Raksha Committee (Committee for the Protection of Land, Livelihood, Ecology and the Environment), that is the People’s Committee leading the movement, the entire leadership – both the political leadership of CPI(ML) Red Star as well as the local leadership of Bhangor, had been mercilessly maligned by a large section of the ‘left and democratic forces’ for ‘surrendering’ to the government.
Indeed, leaflets and pamphlets signed by leaders of these ‘left and democratic forces’, accusing us of ushering in a ‘Black Day’ and signing a ‘black deal’ with the government, were circulated in Bhangor and elsewhere and posted rampantly on social media. We, especially the authors of this article, were labelled as ‘traitors’ and our detractors glibly claimed that through a nefarious, underhand deal with the Trinamool government, we had prepared the ground for the Trinamool to firmly establish its autocratic rule all over Bhangor, and very soon we would be forcing the villagers to shout slogans hailing discredited Trinamool leaders. Our detractors, many of them leaders of ‘left’ organizations, stooped to the level of deliberately and actively circulating stories of our being gifted with a crores-worth flat in a posh part of the city in return of ‘surrendering’ the movement!
What had, in fact, happened? The main demand of the movement, from the beginning was that the government should open an unconditional dialogue with the Committee leading the movement. The government had responded by slamming terror charges against practically the entire leadership of the Committee, locking up people in jail for months and obstinately refusing to begin any dialogue. Rather, ministers of the Trinamool government openly claimed that they would go all out to crush the Committee leaders like so many ants. However, after a fierce struggle of 2 years, and especially when it became abundantly clear that even the arrest of the principal leader of the movement, Alik Chakraborty, would by no means succeed in suppressing the movement, which by then had spread across an entire Block and was rapidly spreading to other areas, the government was forced to eat humble pie and convene a meeting. Not only so, the government was forced to sit for a dialogue with not just the village leaders of the Committee but also those whom it had always labelled as ‘outsiders’ and steadfastly refused any interaction with. The meetings with the government went on for 3 weeks. When the dialogue began, Alik Chakraborty was still in jail (actually in police custody). At the first meeting, only Committee representatives of the village, and no political organizer from outside, were allowed. The village activists firmly told the government representatives that the Committee included political organizers from outside too and they would have to be invited to the next meeting, otherwise the Committee would not attend any more meetings. Thus, at the second meeting, 2 political organizers who were also members of the Committee participated along with the village activists. This meeting ended with all participants telling the government that no dialogue would be meaningful, or need be continued, if Alik Chakraborty was not released forthwith. The government buckled and Alik, who by then had already obtained bail in most of the 40-odd cases against him, soon obtained bail in the remaining cases. The government had no choice but to invite him to the next meeting. After a series of meetings, in which 47 people from the villages and 3 political organisers (that is 50 Committee representatives in all) participated, the government being represented by the District Magistrate, the Superintendent of Police, a representative from Nabanna (WB government headquarters), PGCIL officers and a host of other officers, a solution was finally reached.
The government was forced to sign a written agreement with the people of Bhangor, backing away from the initial powergrid project, promising compensation on a scale unheard of in the history of popular movements in recent years and, also unprecedentedly, declaring in writing that all criminal cases against activists in the course of the movement would be gradually withdrawn. It was in Bhangor that for the first time in India peasants were given compensation for electric lines running high over their land.
This historic agreement – which could have been used as an example for other ongoing and future people’s movements – was treated with unconcealed contempt by those ‘left and democratic’ forces who had wanted the strife and bloodshed to continue unabated in Bhangor without any resolution. Their ill-formed idea had been that if the strife continued, if more village people were injured or imprisoned or killed (while they themselves remained safe in the city), then they could take out fashionable rallies against the government from time to time and decry the lack of democracy in West Bengal, all from the safety of their offices or drawing rooms. The Trinamool government had made it very clear from the beginning that its targets were CPI(ML) Red Star and, later, to some extent, MKP, apart from the village people, and that no one outside these two political streams were likely to be arrested. In fact, throughout the course of the movement, no one from any political or democratic organization, apart from the aforementioned, were arrested. So most of these sections actually wanted no resolution to the problem because they were safe and, if any more bloodshed occurred, it would be common villagers who would be injured or killed, and they could ‘capitalise’ on these atrocities to secure their vested interests. The CPIM was particularly irked by the resolution of the problem because if the atrocities on the people of Bhangor continued till election year 2021, then their rapidly sinking electoral prospects would receive a much-needed boost. The CPIM spent several pages of the Bengali daily ‘Ganashakti’ in maligning us as traitors.
The problem is that all this led to a handful of ordinary people, supporters of the movement, to become confused and first begin to wonder and then believe that the CPI(ML) Red Star leadership had betrayed the movement and sold their souls to the Trinamool.
However, the people of Bhangor, who had faced the guns and bombs, police cases and atrocities, for two years, and were yet determined not to surrender, decided that the question had to be settled democratically. A series of village committee meetings were held, with thousands participating, where the various aspects of the movement and the pros and cons of signing an agreement with the government were discussed threadbare and thoroughly debated. The end result was that the people of Bhangor, almost unanimously, were united in their support of the historic agreement. In this they showed far greater political maturity than the so-called ‘left and democratic forces’. They realized what a great victory would be achieved by the agreement with the government, how enormously it would expand the democratic space and were determined to build on it and further consolidate their wins. The small section of left and democratic forces, which stood by our side and resolutely upheld the agreement, advised us not to be discouraged by the slew of slandering that we were facing because time alone could and would prove the truth.
They were absolutely correct. Today, we can hold our heads high and declare that we had committed neither crime nor mistake in signing the agreement with the government. The Bhangor agreement has not only resulted in consolidating the unity of the people of Bhangor, but also encouraged the people to carry on the struggle in a greater sphere. Just as they are fighting to extract and realize every promise the government made, so also are they leading rallies for the release of Varvara Rao, Dr Kafeel Khan and other political prisoners with equal vigour. The torch rallies and demonstrations they organized, demanding the release of political prisoners, in recent weeks, were indeed massive and magnificent.
At the same time, the people have developed a strong local leadership from among themselves. Today the situation is such that the people’s movement in Bhangor is strong enough to fight against the administration and win any local demand that was being denied to them. The local leadership has matured to the extent that this is happening frequently, they are leading and winning such struggles frequently, without the physical presence of any political leadership from outside.
Recently, when corruption was detected in the distribution of NREGA work, they gheraoed the Panchayat office, blocked roads, and compelled the administration to immediately rectify matters. When corruption was detected in the distribution of relief materials after the Amphan cyclone, they again gheraoed the responsible officers, compelled them to initiate enquiry against those who had undeservedly received relief material by virtue of their political clout, and provide money and materials to those who were truly affected by Amphan. Around 1150 families affected by Amphan, whose names had been submitted to the administration by the Committee, have received compensation so far – a feat once more unmatched in most parts of the state.
The people of Bhangor are now capable of crushing any unholy force that tries to rear its ugly head in the region.
This is possibly the only region in West Bengal where the BJP has not been able to unfurl its flag. The Trinamool’s Arabul Islam – who only three years ago had been the undisputed leader and much feared henchman of the region – and his men have gone into hiding. They dare not enter the area dominated by the Committee. Though Arabul Islam’s gang seized some Panchayat seats in the area by the simple expedient of not allowing elections to be held, their Panchayat members are now not allowed to enter the Panchayat office, or even the area, by the people of Bhangor. The villagers have brought a no-confidence motion against them and submitted a mass petition to the district magistrate to this effect. The Panchayat is now solely run by the 5 members of the Committee who were able to contest the elections, and thus win, and run in a manner that has people saying that not in the last 40 years has a fraction of the work been done that is now being regularly by the Panchayat!
Still, sad but true, some remain under the misapprehension that the movement in Bhangor is long dead, we have allowed the powergrid to be built, Trinamool has got its way and some even told us that they had heard that the BJP was making inroads into Bhangor!
Be that as it may, the fact remains that the movement had compelled the government to sign an agreement and back away from its original powergrid project and reduce it to a regional substation. Through this agreement, not only were the present interests of the movement secured, the oath was taken to go ahead determinedly towards the future, long-term objectives. The spirit of the fighting people of Bhangor is today proving that, back then, the leadership had not been wrong.
Actually, just as there is contradiction when a struggle begins, so also is contradiction present at every bend and curve of the movement. In the course of such contradictions, it may even be possible to be misunderstood or misjudged by friends. But if we are overwhelmed by the fear of being misunderstood or even, maligned by our friends, then we will cease to be guided in the interest of the development of the movement. Such shortsightedness, though it may help keep our ‘friends’, will definitely lead the entire movement into jeopardy.
The task of the leadership is to analyse and understand every bend and curve of the movement and guide it towards its final objective, whatever the temptation may be to succumb to the pull of populism.
Let us end with an example from the freedom struggle of neighbouring Bangladesh. Shortly before the National Liberation War started, when the Pakistani army had begun to brutalise Bangladesh, President of Pakistan Yahya Khan, fearing the retaliation that the Bangladeshis had already started, inviting the leaders of Bangladesh to a meeting. Most of the important leaders of Bangladesh held firm to the position that there could be no meeting unless the Pakistani army was withdrawn from Bangladeshi soil, and boycotted the meeting. But Sheikh Mujibur Rahman participated in the meeting called by Yahya Khan. As a result, he was maligned as an agent of Yahya Khan! However, history proves that it was Sheikh Mujibur Rahman who went on to lead the National Liberation War of Bangladesh and emerged as the undisputed leader of the people.
After the defeat of Germany on May 5, 1945, a worldwide victory was declared against fascism. Thus this year marks the 75th anniversary of the defeat of fascism.
Today it is well-known how in Germany and Italy fascism developed with full force and posed a challenge to human civilization. It was a terrifying force that threatened human civilization and was established very fast. But it was not just the fascist forces led by Hitler and Mussolini that were threatening to destroy human civilization. They were given the opportunity to grow into such a monstrous menace. Undoubtedly and undisputedly, the capitalist and imperialist forces helped, in various ways, these terrible reactionary forces to emerge. The idea of the capitalist-imperialist camp was that since the fascists were enemies of the communists, Hitler or Mussolini would strike at the Soviet Union and both the fascist and the socialist countries would end up destroying each other. In the eyes of Britain, France and so on, Hitler and Mussolini were indeed a great weapon to prevent the spread of socialism in the world.
The fascists were the only ones who had the power to wage an aggressive war by influencing a large section of the people with all kinds of reactionary ideologies, including popularizing extremist and perverted national chauvinism as opposed to internationalism. During World War II, the Axis powers led by Hitler-Tojo-Mussolini, on the one hand, mobilized the masses of their countries in reactionary ideology and militarized almost the entire masses of those countries, eliminating all opposition within. At a time when Hitler was preparing to develop German extremism in the name of establishing Aryan domination around the world, socialist Soviet Union informed the ruling classes of various countries that Hitler-Mussolini were moving towards the destruction of human civilization, so it was necessary for all to unite against it. But the imperialist powers of Europe and America at that time did not pay heed to that appeal, instead resorted to the now-infamous policy of appeasement. Their response was that if war broke out between fascism and socialism, they would support both sides to some extent and move forwards to end both, so that the capitalist powers, that is, the imperialist powers, could establish unchallenged hegemony throughout the world, having crushed both the fascist as well as the socialist forces.
Socialist USSR well understood this policy of countries like America, England, France and signed a non-aggression pact with Germany in 1935. According to that pact, neither side would occupy the other’s territory. This treaty shocked Britain and its allies, who were labouring under the assessment that since the fascists were the greatest enemies of socialism, no understanding was possible between the two. The USSR, meanwhile, desperately wanted some time to prepare itself to deal with the fascist forces and the inevitable onslaught that would follow not long after. Hitler, on the other hand, thought that after first occupying some large countries (while keeping USSR out of the war till then) and then striking at USSR would give him the leverage to occupy the whole world. As a result of the merging of these two interests, a non-aggression pact became possible and the history of World War II took a different course. Hitler moved to occupy the whole of Europe, leaving USSR neutral; Italy moved into Africa, and Japan targeted Asia and the Pacific. Thus, World War II broke out between the imperialist powers. Hitler showed his might and occupied France in 17 days. Then England came under attack, with severe bombing devastating the country.
But Hitler knew that none of his dreams would come true if the USSR survived. So, as the major European powers steadily lost ground under the Fascists’ onslaught, Hitler decided that the time was ripe to attack the Soviet Union. Unapologetically going back on the non-aggression pact, Hitler attacked USSR on June 22, 1941. The USSR had known perfectly well that it was only a matter of time before they were attacked by Hitler. Therefore, in preparation of what promised to be a long and bloody war, they had temporarily moved away from the socialist policy and occupied some important strategic places in the war so that they could not be occupied by Hitler. With the non-aggression pact, Germany could no longer enter those areas, as they had then become part of USSR. Dissection of Poland and the occupation of Finland were two such examples. In this way, the Soviet Union was able to restrict Germany far from their border before the war and at the same time plunged into the mobilization of democratic people all over the country and around the world by escalating the conflict between the enemies and preparing for the coming war. That was the USSR’s strength. In this war, 10% of the Soviet people were martyred and set up a unique example of resistance. It proved that only socialism can deal the death blow to fascism. Though Germany was undoubtedly militarily very powerful, the USSR not only defeated Hitler, but also liberated the whole of Europe from fascism. This victory ushered in a wave of anti-colonial struggles across the world. China liberated itself from Japanese imperialism and direct colonialism around the world almost came to an end.
Today, in the context of the retreat of socialism and the imperialist crisis, fascism is re-emerging in many countries, including our own. Fascist forces are trying to re-emerge all over Europe. The so-called liberals have very cleverly started to denounce Soviet Russia's glorious role in WWII as ‘dictatorial’, claiming that Stalin was no different from Hitler. This will of course, in the ultimate sense, only strengthen the hands of the fascists. In the 75th year of the defeat of fascism, if we are not aware of this conspiracy to malign socialism, equating it with fascism, we will not be able to strengthen the struggle against fascism. In order to check the advance of fascism, it is important to highlight the role of Soviet Russia not just in the anti-fascist war but also in the development of civilisation.
Actually what these nitpicking liberals – who are so keen to denounce every little drawback of the Soviet Union – tend to forget is that war never keeps people in a state of normalcy. No movement or struggle can be perfect. There are bound to be drawbacks, weaknesses. The anti-fascist war was not a simple war, it was a great war. It had no precedence, from which socialist forces could have drawn lessons. We have to think and reason from that perspective. If the USSR had not been a socialist republic, what would have happened to the whole world even in the unlikely circumstance of Hitler being defeated? Everyone has seen the condition of the lands occupied by America. Therefore, the power of advanced ideology is necessary to stop fascism. It is necessary to learn from the defeat of fascism in 1945 to check its advance now. It is not possible to stop fascism without upholding advanced ideological and political position. Hitler’s defeat and its outcome have indisputably proved that socialism is that advanced ideology. Even today, the rise of the BJP and the Sangh Parivar in India and the surrender of the established parties to these forces is a testament to the capitulation of capitalism to fascism. Therefore, it is of utmost importance to strengthen the socialist movement. Today, in this 75th year of the victory over fascism, we have to take the oath to revive the worldwide socialist and communist movement
Sangrami Sangbad Weekly
Digital Weekly in Bengali from CPI (ML) Red Star West Bengal State Committee
Political Comments & Reports on Peoples Struggles
Chief Editor - Com Alik Chakraborty ; Editorial Board: Comrades Sharmistha Choudhury, Sankar Das; Gautam Choudhury & Raju Singh
17 October 2019 marks the 100th anniversary of the formation of the Communist Party of India. On 17th October, 1920, the Communist Party of India was formed under the supervision of the Comintern at Tashkhent. A 7-member committee was formed comprising Mohd Shafi, M N Ray, Evelyn Trent, Roza Fittingoff, Mohammed Ali, Abani Mukherjee and M P T Acharyya. Mohammad Shafi was elected the General Secretary of the Party. After the formation of this Party many Mujjahidins leaving India to fight against British rule from outside joined this party and mainly in the Soviet Union they learnt Marxism-Leninism and became communists. From that time those comrades were relentlessly engaged in building contacts in the country and Mujaffar Ahmmad, S A Dange, Singaravelu Chettiar, Sapurji Shaklatwala etc. like persons became their main source to expand party work within the country. Since the inception of this committee, the Communist Party tried to develop the freedom struggle in India. For that reason after some training in Tashkhent military institute and others the ex-mujahids who had joined the Party tried to return to India. Among them around 10 comrades were arrested and tried in several conspiracy cases. Peshwar and Kanpur conspiracy case were famous among these. Although severe inner problems cropped up within the Party very soon after its formation – mainly due to the clash of the two key role players Comrade MN Roy and Comrade Abani Mukherjee – and hindered the development of a big movement, yet this attempt created the basis for the formation of a real Party within the country. Comrades like Mujaffar Ahmmad, S A Dange, Saukat Usmani, Sapurji Saklatwala, Singaravelu Chettiar and many others came forward to develop the party within the country, as a result of which on 26th December, 1925, in Kanpur, the Communist Party of India was formed within the country. In 1920 we can say the kitchen work of the party building had started.
In this write-up our intention is not to go into the history of the Communist Party of India, but rather to evaluate the past in brief so that it can be helpful to develop a concrete understanding of our past, based on which we can prepare the way to develop the communist movement more vigorously.
First of all, especially in the context of the present situation in India, we need to assert clearly that since the formation of the Party, Communists were the main propagators of complete independence from British rule in India. Though today many erroneously suppose that the Congress was the main force fighting for independence, yet the fact is that before its Lahore Congress the Congress Party did not take the resolution of complete independence. Everybody knows about the fight of the Moderates and Extremists within the Congress. The Moderates were not in favour of complete independence while the Extremists were in favour of complete independence. Most of the time the Moderates were the majority in the Congress. The Communists were working in the Congress and it was in fact their contribution that within the Congress party the Extremists – rooting for complete independence – became strong enough to put up a fight against the Moderates. And in the Lahore Congress, under the pressure of Communists and Congress leaders like Jawaharlal Nehru and Subhash Chandra Bose, Gandhiji was compelled to admit the resolution of complete independence. Another fact is that the Communist Party was banned since the beginning and there were several conspiracy cases against the Communist leaders. Meerut Conspiracy case, Kanpur Bolshevik Conspiracy case etc. were famous among those cases. In this way, through the whole phase of freedom struggle, the Communists led the workers’-peasants’ movement independently and, along with the Congress, were the main qualitative force in the freedom struggle.
In spite of this great sacrifice, vigorous role in freedom struggle, we can say pivotal role in the freedom struggle, the Communists were not able to emerge as the leaders or the decisive force in the freedom struggle. The main problem was that the Indian Communists were lacking theoretically. One of the founder leaders, Comrade Mujaffar Ahmmad, said in his memoirs that our leaders were not so much theoretically sound as the Chinese leaders. On the question of working class leadership in the democratic revolution, the relation between class and caste, the nationality question, the relation between internationalism and nationalism, role of the bourgeoisie etc., the understanding was very poor and in some cases non-Marxist and non-dialectical.
First of all, the Communist Party of India was not able to take the decision that the freedom struggle would be victorious through the leadership of the working class in close alliance with the peasantry and petty bourgeoisie and a small middle bourgeoisie and a section of the big bourgeoisie who were in favour of Nationalism, who were patriotic bourgeoisie. Fraternal parties like China, Britain etc. warned our party about ‘tailism’ of the Indian National Congress. But unlike China they couldn’t take a stand to lead the national liberation struggle. Due to this shortcoming the CPI failed to use the inner contradiction within the Congress and failed to win over the patriotic section who wanted to unleash an uncompromising battle against the British. Most particularly, the Communists made a historical blunder at the time of the ‘Quit India’ movement. When ultimately all sections of the bourgeoisie, including comprador section also (fearing Japan), were mobilized through the call of ‘Quit India’ and the whole nation were aroused by this slogan, the Communists kept themselves away from this movement on the plea that if the British left then that vacant place might be fulfilled by Japanese Imperialism! At that critical juncture the then leadership failed to understand the concrete situation of the country and, at the same time, of the world. If a national liberation struggle against the British was unleashed, that would not have been a hindrance to the formation of anti-fascist alliance with states like Russia, Britain and America. Rather that might have been conducive to develop an anti-fascist front because at that time the British would have been compelled by circumstances to agree to it. Actually the CPI failed to differentiate between the foreign policy of a socialist state and the national liberation policy of a colony. This dialectical thought was missing. It was a great blunder. Due to this, there still remains an impression among the people of our country that Communists were not eager to overthrow British rule. If we see internationally, we will realize that Comrade Lenin and the Bolshevik party as well as Comrade Ho-Chi-Minh later did not make this mistake. Rather they created instances of how to utilize the inner contradiction of imperialism. They really turned the imperialist war into civil war and were able to overthrow the immediate oppressor of the country and thereafter successfully resist the other aggressions. But we failed and this created so much anarchy in the Communist movement that we are still suffering from its effects. It was as a result of this blunder, this inability to take a dialectical approach, that Communists labeled Subhas Bose was supposed as ‘Tojo’s pet’ and created a very bad impression. One wrong idea invites another wrong idea. At the critical juncture, where the British were really weak, the Communists made one mistake after another. Though they played a significant role in the movement for the release of the Azad Hind Fauj prisoners, their position regarding Subhas Chandra Bose obscured their involvement in the freedom struggle. However, it should be kept in mind that it was not only the Communists who dishonored Subhas Bose and disparaged his heroic role. Nehru was far more guilty of doing so. Not only that, Nehru also took an active role so that Subhas Bose could be caught and arrested. He wrote a (now well-publicised) letter to the British Government accusing Russia of giving refuge to Subhas Bose. This is the history. We know that bourgeois media don’t highlight this role of Nehru. But there is no denying that the Communists had made a monumental mistake. The mistake continued in the assessment of and attitude to Gandhi. For a time Gandhi was elevated to ‘Father of the Nation’ and then, later, he was labeled as a traitor to the nation, a stooge of British imperialism. Both assessments are not true. When we are discussing this after a hundred years of the formation of our Party we should consider the question more concretely.
The second point of mistake, we can say, refers to the relation of caste and class. Caste is a unique feature of our country. Indian Communists were against caste discrimination and fought against caste oppression. But on the question of caste eradication they took a reductionist approach. Their standpoint was – through class struggle caste division will be eradicated, there is no need of caste-based organization or need to raise the slogan for eradication of caste system separately. Thus they failed to lead the people who were fighting against caste oppression. Although it is true that Ambedkar’s position cannot overcome caste discrimination and eliminate the caste system, it is also true that the Communists were not able to develop anti-caste movement. Rather they were confined to show how the caste oppression will end after the victory of the revolution. This hindered the development of good relationships with the leaders of the Dalit movement. For instance, when Ambedkar formed the Scheduled Caste Federation and raised the demands of the Scheduled Castes, the Communists criticized this step. It is true that if workers will be divided into many sects it will lead to problems, but at the same time we have to take into consideration the aspiration of the repressed section. The Communists could have refrained from joining this organization but at the same time it would have been wise to refrain from criticizing it. This would have strengthened the unity of the workers and would have left space for all sections of the workers to come together after some time. It is our duty to organise Dalits and for this we have to fight the alien trend also, but at the same time we have to think whether the alien trend consists of a contradiction within the people or with the ruling class. Dalits are the most repressed section in our society. This should definitely be kept in mind and thus the manner of criticism against this alien trend should necessarily be different.
Thirdly, similar problems occurred regarding the women’s question. Though women’s organizations were formed, what was missing was any clear idea regarding the role of women in the Party, weakness in the understanding that women form a repressed section both in production relations as well as socially. For instance, among the seven founder members of the Communist Party two were women, Evelyn Trent and Rosa Fittingov. They were not Indian by birth. But they played a pivotal role in the formation of our party. But are their names or their contributions familiar among the ranks of the Communists? Rather not. The little they are known is merely as the wife of MN Roy and Abani Mukherjee respectively. It is also the Party’s history that books written by women activists were banned for openly criticizing the patriarchy in the party. We know that in this society patriarchal trend remains in every male and female. In the Party also this trend definitely remains. So fight against this should be encouraged. If overreaction occurs, it is the duty of the leadership to understand and explain. But instead of welcoming the criticism, Party leadership discouraged many women comrades from wholetime party service. We are still not well aware about the role of women in the building of our Party. If this propaganda work is taken up, it would encourage more and more women comrades to get the confidence to come forward. Now there is a popular version – much hyped by bourgeois intellectuals and the media – that in the Communist party oppressed sections like women, Dalits and minorities cannot become leaders. We cannot contradict this. That is our shortcoming. That does not mean that we have to start quota system. Rather, we have to create an atmosphere so that the comrades who due to their social hindrance and handicap cannot come forward, may be educated and prepared to take the responsibility of leadership. Actually some questions are concealed, either deliberately or thoughtlessly. Who knows that the first General Secretary of the Communist Party was Mohammad Shafi, a Muslim by birth? Who knows that the main and pivotal role to form the Party was taken by those who were Muslims by birth? Or that hundreds of Muslim mujahids who joined the Party were either executed or sent to exile for several years? Who knows that Guruchand Thakur, leader of the Matua Mahasangh, was also the leader of the Kisan Sabha? Who knows that he and the Matuas have played a heroic role in the peasant movement influenced by the Communists? Actually all these questions remained unimportant in the Communist movement due to the failure to understand the peculiar type of our nation.
Fourthly, regarding the nationality question the Communists made the mistake to take the Muslims as a nationality. Where every Marxist teacher has said that without a territory no nation can be developed, our leaders didn’t follow that teaching. By the time they realized this and raised the slogan of formulating states on the basis of language, it was too late. Pakistan and Bharat were already agreed upon. This was also a big mistake of the Communists. We are suffering from the consequences of these mistakes till now. We know about the debate between the Bunds and the Bolsheviks regarding the national cultural autonomy of the Ehud. But Indian Communists actually took the Bundist position by accepting Partition based on religion.
Fifthly, the question of art and culture was also dealt with from a reductionist approach. The issue was democratic centralism. Artists will produce according to their will. The particular thing which is necessary for the Party and campaign can be produced specially. But we cannot say that a cultural activist should always produce as the party leaders dictate. Sometimes their output may be beyond the party line also. But Communist leaders should handle this flexibly. This is also true in the party democracy. We know that difference is absolute, unity is temporary. That is true also in party life. But although there was so much difference within the higher strata of party leadership, when this difference came out in the ranks then immediate actions were taken! Particularly this happened with the cultural activists.
There was a situation of pre-independence period. But after the transfer of power so many problems developed regarding the immediate action and regarding the analysis of the concrete situation. Again two extreme positions came. One section supposed this was real independence and hailed Gandhi as the ‘father of the nation’, while another section termed characterized it as ‘fake independence’. After the transfer of power, the “Fake Independence” section was the majority in the Party. So in order to turn it into ‘real independence’ another unsuitable insurrection programme was taken and implemented. But naturally it failed. At that time people were not in favour of another insurrection to oust the Congress Government. Though people were not very satisfied with the outcome of independence, they were neither ready for immediate insurrection. Actually the people were to some extent happy and satisfied that the British were no more directly ruling over us. So actually it was distorted, crippled independence, but still it was independence. This is one aspect. The other aspect is that it was not real independence, it was indirect rule of imperialism. India turned from colonial to a neo-colonially dependent country. But the then leadership failed to understand these two aspects of the contradiction and bluntly raised the slogan, “Yeh Azadi Jhuta hai, Desh Hamara Bhukha hai.” Actually this slogan was erroneous as a poverty-stricken country can indeed still be independent from colonial rule. So this slogan failed to point out the real nature of the independence. After democratic revolution in People’s Democratic China, that country was also plagued by hunger, but that did not mean that China was not free! Thus the Indian Communist leadership failed to understand the concrete situation.
After failure of the insurrection and several setbacks another trend was strengthened. Though the heroic struggles of Tebhaga and Telengana were led by the Communists and several workers’ strikes were organized under their leadership, the coming of parliamentary democracy, which was unfamiliar to everyone, gave rise to a new kind of problem. On the one hand, parliamentary cretinism was strengthening and, on the other, the trend of excluding parliamentary struggle was also increasing. The main section of the leadership went to the reformist path. In 1962, at the time of Indo-China war, these two trends split away and in 1964 CPIM was formed. But the question was not resolved. Though CPIM decided to join parliamentary elections, they were still actually unresolved regarding the tasks of the Government. Thus what was written in chapter 112 (that the government will work for relief in this system through a benevolent programme) of their programme, was actually nothing but a compromise solution with the ruling class. In 1967 the real nature of it was practically proved. The United front government in West Bengal where CPIM was majority suppressed Naxalbari movement and CPIM openly supported this. Again the Communist movement split. CPI(ML) was formed through the continuation of Naxalbari movement in 1969. It was CPIML who brought revolution back to the agenda after a long time – something that the Communists had long forgotten till then. But still the problem was not resolved. In its fight against parliamentary cretinism CPI(ML) made great mistakes. Abandoning the question of working class in democratic revolution it was trying to make revolution only through the peasants’ militant struggle. Boycotting elections, mass organizations and even mass movements, CPI(ML) leadership got alienated from the people. As a consequence, a totally mechanical and dogmatic attitude towards history encompassed the whole movement. At the call of CPI(ML) thousands of youth and students plunged into the revolutionary movement but the CPI(ML) leadership not only failed to channelize this spirit to construct positive, continuous, relentless revolutionary struggle, they also trailed behind the inexperienced youth and students’ adventurist will. This was like a populist politics in another sense. Statue-breaking movement and annihilation type movements were some instances.
It is a matter of fact that the course of split in both cases was mainly the revolt against revisionist leadership. But the overall theoretical departure was not there. For instance, at the time of Chinese war both sections took extreme positions. One section supported the Indian government and took social chauvinist position while the other section blatantly supported China. While it was true that China was not the first aggressor, it was equally true that China’s failure to deal with a border conflict led to total warfare. China should have been more cautious because a powerful nascent revolutionary struggle was growing in India at that time. Ultimately the Chinese withdrew but the incident had a huge backlash. So those who blatantly supported China did not act wisely as their immediate aim should have been and they should have called for immediate end of war.
Now this past is haunting us. After hundred years now we are dwelling in a situation where the Communist movement is splintered. A big anarchy is prevailing on the question of theory. So, in this situation, materialist thinking and analysis of our past and rectification of all mistakes and development of a new stream of movement is essential. Developing a developed theory and movement is essential. What is necessary is a Party where there is the scope of raising these types of questions and resolving them through discussion, debate, study and practice. To develop this atmosphere, criticism and self criticism, learning and practice is necessary to build up a revolutionary struggle that can shatter the ruling class and be able to snatch the ultimate victory.
So on this day, on the 100th anniversary of the formation of our party, we can raise the slogan:
Dare to critique, Dare to learn, Dare to build and Dare to Win.