Conversion of Parliamentarism to

Social Fascism:

An Indian Experience


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Mesmerism on Forms of struggle

It is worth while to mention that plunging into electoral politics was a later phenomenon and Kruschev was yet to emerge with his dirty politics of the parliamentary way to socialism. What is our contention is that from P.C Joshi to Namboodiripad and the Jyoti Basu clique, all revisionist leaders of the CPI, CPM, etc. have been gripped by a pathological fear about heightened class Vs class struggle considering it as a disruptive policy and as a remedy all they cry for is "national unity" or strengthening the unity and integrity of the Indian state. Yet it should be added that the pressure of the leftist forces in India and Comrade Stalin’s international leadership induced the CPI leadership to declare the right of Indian nationalities including the right to secede in the 50s. The 20th Congress of the CPSU formulated the dangerous theory of the possibility of "fundamental changes in a more or less peaceful way", "even in a country like India or Indonesia"72 This inspired the revisionist leaders in the CPI to readily accept this line, and since then the positive role of the Government in Delhi both in national and international spheres comes to be magnified and eulogised. National unity too replaced right to self-determination of nations, the parliamentary way or in the name of scope of so-called parliamentary struggles, struggle and organization building for revolutionary change of this system was bidden farewell in the name of creative Marxism by our revisionist leaders.

What led to such degeneration? This degeneration started early and its monstrous images that we come across in theory and practice emanate from distortions of Marxism, failure to chalk out a revolutionary programme with an iron determination and revolutionary courage to go in for the revolutionary change of our society. It is scandalous that for many decades the CPI had no programme at all. In 1950 the Telengana path of people’s democratic revolution got official recognition when C. Rajeswara Rao became CPI General Secretary. It is an irony of history that Rajeswara Rao gave the call to follow the Chinese path for Indian revolution. In the very next year in 1951 the supposed revolutionary programme, statement of Policy and Tactical Line were finalized by the CPI with Rao’s replacement and the crowning of Ajay Ghosh as general secretary. This very programme – even it was not practised – was the compromise document of various trends in the CPI. The 1951 documents affirmed the concept of the two-stage revolution, partisan warfare as in the ease of the Chinese revolution, semi-colonial state with Nehru serving the interests of big bourgeoisie landlords and imperialism.

The Palghat Congress of the undivided CPI in 1956 toeing the Kruschevite prescription of peaceful struggle and co-operation with the progressive policies of Nehru totally rejected the 1951 programme. And the left phrase mongering CPI(M) in 1964 in the name of following the 1951 programme abandoned certain basics in respect of the reactionary role of the big bourgeoisie depending on imperialism, the sham independence, etc. The CPI in its programme is frankly revisionist glorifying India’s independence, progressive role of the Indian government, the need for gearing the programme towards the efforts of the national bourgeoisie carrying on the so-called democratic revolution and the peaceful parliamentary way to overthrow the reactionary classes.73

Flashes of the revisionist CPM programme have been placed above. We here concentrate on the cunning opportunist utterances in the 1964 programme to go the parliamentary way while talking of revolution, though in a meaner way, to snub the CPI leadership and to comfort its militant activists. In the 1964 programme we find paras alive with anti-imperialist, anti-big bourgeoisie, anti-landlords pro-toilers verbiages and also the tasks of the imagined ‘People’s Democratic India’

After stating so many things about crisis-ridden India the Programme in chapter VIII captioned "Building of People’s Democratic Front’ ended in para 113 with the same perfidious Kruschevite line: "The Communist party of India strives to achieve the establishment of people’s democracy and socialist transformation through peaceful means. By developing a powerful mass revolutionary movement by combining parliamentary and extra-parliamentary forms of struggle, the working class and its allies will try their utmost to overcome the resistance of the force of reaction and to bring about these transformations…"

This is what our ruling classes expected and to ward off their fear the above was programmed. And then after prioritizing this peaceful transformation through the parliamentary way, a cunning trick was played to satisfy the militants in the following sentences in the same para. It read "However, it needs to be borne in mind that the ruling classes never relinquish their power voluntarity. They seek to defy the will of the people and seek to reverse it by lawlessness and violence. It is, therefore necessary for the revolutionary forces to be vigilant and so orient their work that they can face to all contingencies, to any twist and turn in the political life of the country."74 In retrospect, taking a look at years of CPI(M) practice even any die-hard CPM worker shall not believe that the party has in any sense prepared itself for the attacks of the ruling classes. However, this is not our issue.

The centrally important question, which comes to the fore as to why after citing in page after page instances of extreme economic crisis of the imperialist world and the Indian ruling classes the monumental loads of burden on the Indian people and the consistent perpetration of violence on the movements of the deprived Indians at all levels, the CPM Programme had to elaborately affirm its abiding faith in peaceful parliamentary change of this highly powerful state system. The answer partly lies in the role of centrists who joined the CPI(M) and got their view inserted so clearly. But it was mainly and basically for the CPI(M) leaders who had no fundamental difference at that moment with the parliamentanism of the CPI. The differences were on this or that point, on the question of the extent of India’s big capitalists’ compromise with imperialism and so on. History is a living witness to substantially prove it.

The so-called up-dated programme of the CPM by the Special Conference of the CPI(M) held at Thiruvananthapuram on 20-23 October, 2000 repeats the above after a gap of 36 years sinking further into the worst type of parliamentarism. If one could find elements of militancy, even militant economism, in the early years of the CPM one is required to take the help of a magnifying glass to search for this in the CPM published huge literature in the past three decades. The CPM too must fail in projecting any substantial proof. It is better to take a look at what the so-called updated CPM programme in 2000 preaches and its sacred commitment. It declared solemnly "………… universal adult franchise and parliament and state legislatures can serve as instruments of the people in their struggle for democracy, for defence of their interests. When there have been attacks on parliamentary democracy, such as the internal emergency, the people have opposed such authoritarian measures. Although a firm class rule of the bourgeoisie, India’s present parliamentary system also embodies an advance for the people. It affords certain opportunities for them to defend their interests, intervene in the affairs of the State to a certain extent and mobilize them to carry forward the struggle for democracy and social progress."75 One can find similar type of bourgeois arguments in the Janata Party or many world-wide Kruschevite parties’ documents. An utterly revisionist party alone can be enchanted by the positive role of Indian parliamentary "democracy".

Mrs. Nazma Heptullah said:

Mrs. Nazma Heptullah the Rajyasabha Dy. Chairperson and INC M.P. spilled the beans on 27 Feb, 2003 that two top INC leaders along with two Left representatives became party to a "collective" Parliamentary Committee decisin to put up the Savarkar Portrait in the Central Hall of Parliament.

(Statesman 28 Feb, 2003)

Mr. Rabi Ray, former Loksabha speaker disclosed:

"The protrait of Shyama Prasad Mookheriee was installed in the Central Hall. This decision was taken unanimously by an all-party committee of which the speaker was the chairman. Was not the CPI(M) or the CPI members on the all-party committee?

(It appeared in letter column of Hindustan Times on 30th March 2003)

The entire updated programme of the CPI(M) never elucidates or spells out forms of extra parliamentary militant struggles necessary to resist the repression of the state, and no successive Central governments, either of the Indira Congress or the present BJP, have ever accused the CPI(M) of making secret preparation for higher forms of class battles to destroy the system itself. There are however allegations and counter allegations over allowing or disallowing electoral candidates to file nomination, rigged elections, etc. These are matters of electoral politics in India.

What is notable is that the CPM is more concerned about instilling into the minds of the people about the purity of parliamentary politics, and the immense importance of sticking to this parliamentary path. Comrade Lenin while placing the needs for participation in parliamentary politics in a different context, categorically emphasized that such participation was necessary to expose before the people the very parliamentary politics itself and unmask the real face of such bourgeois democracy.

Comrade Lenin castigated liquidationism of Plekhanov who declared "The transformation of the Social-Democratic Party into a self-governing organization … can be effected only in so far as the Social-Democratic organization takes shape in the course of drawing the masses of the workers into open social and political activities in all their manifestations". Lenin pointed to the notion of "transformation" as pure and simple liquidationist. Lenin caught the real motive of the liquidators willing for the "only" course for the "transformation." Lenin called such liquidationists as "timid and defend themselves by eloquence."76 Lenin wroted, it in 1912. The actual revolution took place in 1917. What the revolutionary Marxist Lenin stressed to focus and keep in mind was that "….. the revolution is necessary and is coming."77

Lenin said that the revisionists make Marxism as something harmless and our revistonists CPI, CPM, etc. do the same by eloquence and deception. Instead of fighting against the illusion — and it must be reiterated nearly 50% of the voters in the country refrain from casting their votes out of natural disillusionment and disgust — the revisionists shamelessly lend support to the Indian states effort at pursuading the people to strengthen parliamentary "democracy."

To end this section, it is relevant to shed some more light on the latest bursting out and later official approval of the desire of revisionists to join the central government. Mr. Jyoti Basu was thunder struck when despite the offer of some bourgeois-landlord parties asking him to assume prime-ministership slipped out of hand. A shocked Mr. Basu termed it as a ‘historic blunder’ to miss the lucrative post. The 1964 programme of the CPM in Para 112 after much talk over the negative features of "bourgeois-landlord" rule stated like the social democrats of Russia that "….. Even while keeping before the people the task of dislodging the present ruling classes and establishing a new democratic state and government based on the firm alliance of the working class and peasantry, the party will utilize all the opportunities that present themselves of bringing into existence governments pledged to carry out a modest programme of giving immediate relief to the people. The formation of such governments will give great fillip to the revolutionary movement of the working people and thus help the process of building the democratic front…"

With all such excessive dose of sedative parliamentary way for providing "immediate relief" to the working people, in a clever way it added as if to be absolved itself of the grave revisionist sin that such state governments would not, however, "solve the basic problems in any fundamental manner."

This is the CPM way of parliamentarism that had to practise social fascism in order to tenaciously cling to power by arresting the growth of militant movements, using police force against revolutionary peasants and workers, strengthening the state machinery, even killing the militant working people and most of all diffusing the tensions against the ruling classes by a well-synchronised policy of spreading the illusory image of democracy, legislative bodies, bureaucracy and the police. All such acts of driving the knife into the revolutionary edifice of Marxism are resorted to in order to save such so-called left governments.

Now listen to the voice of Mr. Jyoti Basu, Harkisen Sing Surjeet and other polit Bureau and CC members jointly pleading for participation in the Central government too in the 16th Congress of the CPM in 1998 after that afore-said ‘historic blunder’. As quite lengthy and monotonous, bordering on breaking the readers’, patience for despicable revisionism we quote the relevant portions with some paraphrasing of a few sentences, to comprehend their greed for power in a semi-feudal, semi-colonial state. All emphases are ours.

(1) "So long the CPM had been making and unmaking many sorts of alliances with all types of parties. "The character of the bourgeois parties was also known. Most of the parties with whom we had been co-operating at the regional central level have been pursuing the World Bank / IMF dictated policies of liberalization and are in no way different from the Congress or the BJP in this respect. … We have been opposing them in the states on issues concerning liberalization but at the same time at the crucial time of election battle, which is the biggest political battle, we cooperate with them…"78

(2) In 1989 "Our Party took the initiative in bringing into existence the National Front government, which was simultaneously supported by the BJP from outside…. This government again was brought down by the BJP on the one side and the Congress on the other." Again "that Para 112 of the Party Programme does not envisage the formation of a government at the Centre.

… But if we go into history of Para 112 one will find that the original draft does not contain this para at all. This para was incorporated on the basis of an amendment proposed by Com. EMS Namboodiripad ……"79

(3) "… Practice shows that formation of such (state) governments had helped the development of our movement and we were able to gather more and more strength…

When the (1964) programme was being drafted, we had not visualized that events will take such a turn where we will have to support a government pursuing policies favouring the bourgeois – landlord classes, or even participate or head such a government at the Centre.

…… Even after the 1998 elections when the BJP could not muster a majority of its own until the TDP deserted the UF, the CC did not find it improper to state that we will support a Congress government from outside, if it came into being…."80

(4) "With the outside support of the Congress" We had not any illusion to "really carry on for long" such a government without participation at the Centre."

Again "…… Parliamentary deviations must be shunned. At the same time along with struggles on various issues affecting the people we must take up measures to participate in the electoral process. Where as intensifying class struggle is necessary for the growth of the movement, drawing in all sections of the common people into electoral battles also enables us to politicize them. This would enable them to understand the difference between us and the other parties of the bourgeois – landlord classes with regard to our approach and solutions to various issues."81

(5) "…. In West Bengal too our influence was confined to five districts as far as the peasant movement is concerned. It is the combination of parliamentary and extra parliamentary activities which brought the Communist Party in the fore and after joining the government in 1967 with flexible tactics with the same approach of unleashing mass movements as well as skillfully making use of the parliamentary forum we succeeded in expanding our base throughout Bengal…"82

The above arguments and the conspicuous presentation of the unsullied advocacy of parliamentarism are self-explanatory. We easily realize the step-by-step downward journey of the CPM since 1964 into the morass of parliamentary liquidationism. This clear-cut argument shedding the mask of pretention which made an artificial, seemingly fundamental difference between the CPM’s joining the State governments and Central government is the expected end of the cancerous cells in the body of the CPM. And this position of joining the central government is now enshrined in the so-called updated Programme of March 2000 in Para 7.17. Yet one would find no dearth of left-phrases and vain-glorious attempts to justify anti-Marxist positions.

To end this section, we refer to the bizarre logic of the 17th Congress of the CPI(M) held in 2000 vis a vis so-called updating the programme of 1964. It states that, "The Programme has been updated keeping in mind the changed world situation, after the setbacks to socialism, the change in the international correlation of forces and the new offensive of imperialism…"83 Citing its gains in electoral politics and some other activities since its 10th Congress, it iterates in a mood of lamentation: "Notwithstanding these gains, the question which must be sharply posed is why the Party has not grown commensurably as a political force with a substantilly increased mass influence at the all-India level?…"84 Again "The stark fact is that despite our pre-occupation with parliamentary and electoral work there is not a single parliamentary constituency out side the three strong states where we can win on our strength. Further, we can not claim that we can win a single assembly seat on our own strength (with two or three exceptions) in the entire country outside these three states."85

It reiterates from its 14th Congress political organizational report quite frankly about its unity with bourgeois – landlord parties: "… We tone down our differences in the name of unity. We also become victims of parlimentarism under one pretext or other. In our anxiety to win some seats in the regions where we are weak we completely surrender our masses to these parties even at a time when elections enable us to propagate our views and policy issues can be posed very clearly…"86 And we have to quote once again as this is also relevant. The 17th CPM Congress document cites from the CC decision of 1998, which stated "For the past two decades since 1977, the situation necessitated a tactical line of alliance with bourgeois parties particularly electoral alliance. This has led to the possibility (read reality) for the penetration of bourgeois style of functioning into our party. Our cadres can get (read have got) influenced by the type of money power and other bourgeois vices followed by these parties."87 We will simply add here that money, corruption, careerism, nepotism, womanizing and all such vices are rampant particularly in West Bengal followed by Kerala and Tripura where the CPM joined ministries and the longer it stayed in power the more degeneration gripped its leaders and cadres absolutely unavoidedly.

In any case, the quotes after quotes we had to cite from the last Party Congress document to understand the logic of the CPM leadership behind joining, not only the state, but also the Central seats of power. If the acute offensive of imperialism and enemy classes from within and without being a grave threat, if the militancy of the 1960s in West Bengal and elsewhere and the reverses in socialism, as the CPM documents repeats, being the main current, as far as CPM analysis goes, then what necessitated it to advocate so much of Indian democracy and the positive role of parliament and the need for joining the central government? If one goes through the paras of the 1964 Programme, despite the above mentioned revisionist utterances and wrong assessment of Indian state, classes, etc. one finds sentence after sentence on the doomsday of capitalism, volcanic national situation, the violence of the state on the working people and their determination for bitter struggles, and so on and so forth. In such circumstances of worldwide movements for socialism and Indian People’s bursting out into mass militancy the 1964 Programme announced the prescription of joining state governments.

What is ridiculous but mature revisionism is the decision to join not only the state but also the central governments in a period of all-out aggression of imperialism and its financial institutions on the world obviously including India with the chronic crisis of the economy and people’s disgust and hatred against reactionary parties and routine elections for looting the people. Even if the CPM’s analysis of the economic crisis and IMF / WB pressures are admitted, the Marxist – Leninist method cannot be for greater and still greater participation in the parliamentary process, not to speak of joining governments in the existing set-up but to develop firmly and determinedly class battles for a new society.

It is the turning of a full circle as an inevitable process set off by the Indian "left" phrase-mongering CPM. The CPI general secretary had already received the plum post of Home Minister in the UF government in 1996. It has lost much of its earlier followers, considerably eroded its influence on the working people for its perfidious role in the dark days of Emergency and has little attraction for the masses. In its last party Congress in March 2002 it claimed even being steeped in the crisis of political credibility and isolation that "The Communist Party is a party of militant action. It has to draw the millions of workers, kisan, agricultural workers, students and youth, middle class and progressive intellectuals – men and women, into action on urgent problems affecting them and the nation. It must seize every opportunity to participate in and initiate action on people’s issues, involving broad sections, and create a vibrant political, social and cultural environment. There can be no advance without action and struggle."88 But in the past one year the CPI practically registered no advance; through electoral practice and participation in the ‘Left’ Front in West Bengal it meekly surrenders to the big-brother attitude of the CPM. The same party Congress admitted sorrowfully that, "The party suffers seriously from the disease of "non-implementation of decisions taken".89 This is the pathetic state of pure parliamentarism. The CPM still barks in three states, particularly in West Bengal but as the adage goes ‘A barking dog seldom bites’, the CPM too never intends to bite its avowed "enemies." But when the barking CPM occupies the seats of legislative power it gets emboldened to snap at the forces fighting against its masters.


72. Quoted in the Report of Ajoy Ghosh in "The Palghat Congress of 20th Congress of CPSU", The 4th Party Congress Documents, in Mohit Sen (ed) Documents of the History of CPI, Vol. III, 1951 – 56, p.505

73. Documents Adopted by the Eight Congress of the CPI New Delhi 1968.

74. Communist Party of India (Marxist). Programme Adopted at the Seventh Congress of the Communist Party of India at Calcutta, October 31 to November 7, 1964.

75. Communist Party of India, Programme, Updated by the Special Conference held at Thiruvanantha puram, October 20-23, 2002, Chapter V, Para 5.22.

76. V.I. Lenin, "The Illegal party And Legal Work." In Lenin, Against Liquidationism, progress publishers, Moscow, 1988, pp 206-207, 3 stress in original.

77. Ibid p. 210

78. Communist Party of India (Marxist), Political Organisational Report, Adopted By 16th Congress of CPI(M) 5-11 October 1998, Calcutta, p. 41

79. Ibid. pp. 42-43

80. Ibid. pp. 43-44

81. Ibid. pp. 45-46

82. Ibid P. 47

83. Communist Party of India (Marxist), Political Organisational Report, Adopted at the 17th Congress, Hyderabad, March 19-24, 2002, p. 36.

84. Ibid. p. 41.

85. Bold words in original, Ibid. p. 43

86. Ibid. p. 50

87. Ibid. p. 51

88. Message of the 18th Congress, CPI publication, April 2002, p. 64, stress in original.

89. Bold in Original, Ibid p. 72.


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