Conversion of Parliamentarism to

Social Fascism:

An Indian Experience


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CPI Split — A Charade

The international Communist movement was by then split into the revisionist CPSU line and the revolutionary position taken by the CPC led by Comrade Mao Tse-Tung. The rightists in the CPI leadership thoroughly accepted the CPSU line of peaceful transition to socialism. The broadly leftist leaders showed some inclination to the Chinese position. By this time India attacked China, and the centrists in the CPI like EMS Namboodiripad, Jyoti Basu and Bhupesh Gupta expressed their own centrist viewpoints. Namboodiripad, while not categorically condemning China, admitted that Chinese actions were tantamount to aggression.11 Jyoti Basu, the leading centrist, stated in the West Bengal Assembly that the CPI "will do its duty for the defence and integrity of India …"12 What is interesting that the "leftist" faction after coming out of the CPI not only distanced themselves from the Maoist comrades like Charu Mazumdar and others, they declared that, "it would be unreal to state that democracy is totally abandoned or semi-fascist or fascist conditions have been created"13

It is necessary to make it clear that the CPI split was concerned with the defining of the classes, which could be allies of a democratic revolution. In practical terms if the ruling Congress party could qualify for a role in the people’s movement, the question of parliamentary path or of forming ministries in the existing set-up did not arise as a major point of debate between the right and the ‘left’ followers. A more intresting aspect is that the ‘left’ camp needed the powerful support of the centrists like Namboodiripad and Jyoti Basu. Thus what came as the CPI(M) programme and policy was a diluted patch-up understanding based on the compromise between ‘leftist’ and ‘Centrist’.

The new party CPI(M) retained the basic roots of revisionism that the Rightist CPI leaders vociferously preached and practiced over the years. After the split the ‘leftist and centrist leaders held a convention at Tenali in Andhra Pradesh in July 1964. The debate on the parliamentary path to socialism was set at rest, without clinching the crucial question. It was stated that, "The Convention accepted the suggestion made by Com. EMS that those issues which are of immediate bearing on our political and ideological work like the forms of transition and peaceful co-existence should be discussed and clinched along with the Draft programme."14 It is in order to reiterate that those postponed issues remained postponed even in the founding Congress of the CPI(M).15

The ideological patch-up expresses itself in the CPI(M) programme passed in its first Congress. On the one hand it stated that, "the present Indian State is the organ of the class rule of the bourgeoisie and landlord, led by the big bourgeoisie who are increasingly collaborating with foreign finance capital."16 This is then contradicted in order to keep room for an alliance by stating that, "contradiction and conflict exist between the Indian bourgeoisie including the big bourgeoisie and foreign imperialists."17 And "this stratum of the bourgeoisie will be compelled to come into opposition with state power and can find a place in the people’s democratic front."18

Thus, like the openly revisionist position of the CPI, this CPI(M) left open the back door for making alliances with the class representative parties of the bourgeoisie and landlords like the Congress. It is also significant that this new party in the leftist garb left open all opportunities of following the Kerala model of forming ministries in the existing setup. The programme stated "The Party will utilize all the opportunities that present themselves of bringing into existence government pledged to carry out a modest programme of giving immediate relief to the people.."19

Thus the new party, the CPI(M), did not show any fundamental difference with the Rightist CPI. The earlier draft signed by Basava Punnaiah, P. Rammurti and H.K.S. Surjeet on 15 Feb. 1964 had clearly accepted the position of the People’s Republic of China in the forefront of struggle for socialism.20 But the CPM Congress virtually led by EMS Namboodiripad, Jyoti Basu, etc. declared a policy of equidistance from the politics of both China and the Soviet Union.

It was a turbulent period with a food crisis and the spirited movements of the people. Elections were round the corner and both the CPI and the CPI(M) plunged into the fray. The Election manifesto of the CPI brought out in December 1966 announced that, "the mood of the masses is unmistakably in favour of radical change."21 It is notable that in the atmosphere of anti-Congress mood of the people the CPI(M), a hotch potch embodiment of pro-right, centrist and ‘leftist’ leadership resorted to attacking the right CPI and, till then, the degeneration of the Party had not reached its nadir. E. M. S attacked the CPI leadership on the question of the unity of India. He stated that the bourgeois approach "would consider the ‘unity of India’ as ‘good’ and the ‘fissiparous forces’ (such as the caste, the religions community, the tribe, the language and the religion) as ‘evil. It would therefore give a stirring call to the people to oppose and defeat the fissiparous forces and strengthen the forces of Unity."22

It is notable that in course of time such a view was abandoned by the CPI(M) for sticking to power. The CPI had long since rejected the right of secession of the nationalities in India and the CPI(M) too followed suit from its very advent.

The Election Manifesto of the CPI(M) for the 4th General elections spoke much against foreign capital, landlords, Indian capitalists, with anti-Congress thunder and onslaught against other parties like the Jana Sangh and Swatantra. It demanded, "immediate distribution of the hundred million acres of uncultivated land among the agricultural workers and poor peasants and their distribution gratis among agricultural workers and peasants…"23 In the revolutionary situation the revisionist CPI(M) instead of leading revolutionary struggles held out the programme of formation of Non-Congress Ministries. A.K. Gopalan, and Jagjit Singh Lyallpuri, president and general secretary respectively of the peasant front AIKS, issued the statement asking the Non-Congress Ministries formed after the elections "to redress the grievances of the peasants."24

It is curious to note that in this crisis situation the World Bank dictated and the then Prime Minister dished out the policy of the Green Revolution. In similar fashion the Indian revisionists the CPI, CPI(M), etc. gave a call for non-Congress ministries as vehicles of redressing the pent-up grievances of the Indian people against the system controlled by the landlords, comprador big bourgeoisie and their henchmen. True to its party programme, the CPI(M) leadership while using jargons like preparation for partisan war, militant struggle, etc. tried to put in all its efforts to stem the tide of mass upsurge, and to chanellise it towards establishing non-Congress ministries. The united fronts with the CPI(M) as a major force in West Bengal and Kerala soon set the example of providing "relief" within the man-eating state system. This was the line of Khrushchev in the USSR and various hues of social democrats deceiving the people with the programme of gradual change, utilizing the state machinery.


11. Ouseph Varkey, At the Crossroads: Sino-Indian Border Dispute and the Communist Party of India, 1959-63, Minerva Associates, 1974, p. 198

12. Amrita Bazaar Patrika 5 November 1962

13. Communist Party of India Resolution on Splitters, National council, New Delhi, New Age Press, April, 1965, p. 46

14. Communist Party of India (Marxist), Resolution of The Tenali Convention of the Communist Party of India (New Delhi, Central Organizing Committee, 1964, pp. 4-5

15. E. M. S. Namboodiripad, The Programme explained, Communist party of India (Marxist), Calcutta, pp. 1-2

16. Communist Party of India (Marxist), Programme, 1964, art 56

17. Ibid, art. 108

18. Ibid, art. 106

19. Ibid. Art. 112

20. M. Basavpunniah, p. Rammurthy and H. S. Surjeet, The Draft Programme of the Communist party of India, the National Marxist Association,New Delhi, 1965, p. 19

21. Election Manifesto of the CPI, Appended to New Age, Dec. 11, 1966

22. E. M. S. Namboodiripad, The Revisionists On The National Question, People’s Democracy- July 10, 1966.

23. Election Manifesto of the CPI(M), supplement to People’s Democracy, Nov. 20, 1966

24. People’s Democracy-April, 12, 1967.


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