Conversion of Parliamentarism to

Social Fascism:

An Indian Experience


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Naxalbari and the CPM

The Naxalbari upsurge of thousands of peasants with the support of tea garden workers remains as a thunderous blow to the revisionist model of the parliamentary way to solving the burning issues of the people and gradually moving peacefully towards a socialist system. The Naxalbari upsurge burst forth when Mr. Jyoti Basu was the Dy. Chief minister of the West Bengal United Front government. The CPI(M) and the CPI in the ministry cast aside the veil of Marxism by sending troops to put down the militant peasants and killed many women and children. The Naxalbari struggles emerged on the Indian political scene as an alternative path to the revisionist United Front Government. Let us refer to the jitters of the CPI(M) and the CPI soon after the Naxalbari upheaval.

Immediately after the Naxalbari incident the West Bengal State Committee tried to pacify the discontent of the party members with the following statement:

People’s Democracy editorial commented on June 4, 1967 that, "....As West Bengal State Committee’s Statement points out, the question at Naxalbari was not a law and order question, it was a question of taking away the lands illegally occupied by jotedars and distributing them among the land hungry peasants..."

Again the People’s Democracy on June 25, 1967 published the indignant expression of the Polit Bureau of the CPI(M). It said, "The Polit Bureau resolution at the same time sharply attacks the other deviations. Left sectazrian adventurist deviation – which in places like West Bengal is playing into the hands of extreme reactionaries who seek to disrupt the united front and restore Congress rule over the State…"

The haunting fear of the CPI(M) leadership to dismiss any struggle with the refrain that this might dislodge the UF or LF government has been heard since it assumed power in some states since 1967. It is note worthy that initially it justified the peasant demands and then with the threat of the central Government it sang a different tune calling the revolutionary leadership as tools in the hands of reactionaries.

The CPI(M) Polit Bureau member H. Basavpunniah went a step forward in a write-up in People’s Democracy on July 9, 1967 captioned "Our Party’s stand On Naxalbari". He wrote that "the extremist elements" "hold the view that our party’s participation in the U.F. Government in West Bengal is born of revisionist and right revisionist outlook; they want to force the hands of the party either to quit the U.F Government or become a party in the armed peasantry and blood bath of the struggling peasantry and thus get discredited as agents of the landlords and jotedars."

What a bizarre argument to bail out the CPI(M), a direct party in the butchery of the struggling peasants of Naxalbari! Then the CPI(M) top gun, B. T. Randive trotted out his die-hard revisionist argument to justify, in an exaggerated way, the power of the state and the poor condition of the people to go in for any revolutionary struggle. Randive announced:

"… The election results have shown the growing shift of the masses as well as the fact that in spite of its defeat, except in Kerala and Tamilnadu, the Congress continues to be the biggest single party. Besides, our dissidents at least are aware that a substantial part of the anti-Congress vote — vote of partics of the Right as well as some of the so-called Left parties — PSP, SSP, etc. is not a vote against the Congress Government … Therefore, notwithstanding the big mass battles before the elections, especially in West Bengal, the influence of the classes controlling the State, and parties representing the classes is considerable."24a

What a dangerous revisionist argument solely considering the vote earned by Randive’s so-called left parties to reject outright the scope for launching armed peasant struggle in India. Thus Randive squarely accepted the fact and which the CPI(M) like revisionists learnt from Khrushchev – that gaining a majority in the parliament or legislative bodies will automatically bring about a revolutionary situation for the change of the system.

Panchayat is at best carrier of bureancracy. Through his practical experience 13 panchayats since 1978 CPM leader Mantu Sheikh thinks "Initially we had no power, yet the people in government administration were afraid of us. Now panchayats have possessed much power, but the administration no longer fears the elected panchayat candidates. As a result the village development and the whole activity of leading Panchayats is tied to the government red tape." He cited examples of the visit of District Magistrate and other high officials and many a good proposal coming from them. But nothing useful came up. If anything is stated they suggest writing applications.

Once Birbhum emerged prominently for ‘operation barga’..... But now examples of failure are on the increase. Now for the failure to provide the expenses many of them mortgage bargadari to turn into wage labourers. The condition is same for many landless who received patta for lands during ‘Left’ rule. In the name of land reforms, in order to please so many people the CPM distributed khas lands to the landless, 10-12 cottah per head. The land distribution per head is so meagre, as also thinks the state Land Revenue Minister Rejjak Mollah, that on many plots ploughing is tough. Many of the patta recipients are mortgaging their pattas. It is illegal so it is not found in government documents."

The CPM leader Mantu Sheikh himself said, that in the villages the Advisis could not retain the pattas they received"

(Anand Bazar Patrika, 11 May 2003)

The experience since 1967 is a telling commentary on the waning of genuine mass base of the CPI(M) even for militant economic struggle in West Bengal, Tripura, etc. but this party retained its ministry more than 25 years in West Bengal utilizing all anti-Marxist, unethical means as well as by capitalizing on the rivalry between the ruling class parties. And, a more important reason, is that the ruling classes allow the CPI(M) to rule undisturbed, to serve their best interests.

Now we refer to the rightist CPI position on the Naxalbari struggle: In a statement Bhowani Sen, secretary of the CPI, West Bengal state Council demanded a judicial enquiry into the event. In a diluted criticism he added: "But unfortunately excess sometimes committed by those who have been conducting the movement is also doing more harm than good to the share-croppers who have legitimate grievances. All the parties of the United Front generally admit this. The most deplorable aspect of the movement is the conflict between landless sharecroppers and honest small owners. Such a conflict is against the interest of the Kisan movement as whole."25

The tune of the CPI(M) and the CPI in decrying the militancy of the peasant and their revolutionary leaders was perfectly concordant. Rather what came prominently in the minds of the CPI(M) leaders was a deep fear of losing their legislative power in the growing tide of peasant militancy. Revisionists turned into reactionary killers after the Naxalbari uprising in India.



24a B.T.Randive, Logic of Anti-Leninism Peoples’s Democracy, July 9, 1967.

25. New Age, June 11, 1967.

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