The President’s Address
— M Singaravelu
[This is a long address interspersed with pieces of poetry including a stanza of the International, and contains many sub- heads which we have had to omit altogether. These include: Our Suffering Comrades, The Great Dead, Death of Lenin, Our Country’s Martyrs (on Tilak, CR Das, Siva of South India), Our Countrymen (on the wretched conditions of the masses), Communism in Action (i.e., in Russia), etc. -Ed.]
Our Conference : At a time when the opponents of communism are attempting to crush our beneficent movement for making this world happier and pleasanter for all human beings dwelling in it, we communists in India are meeting in this hall today to take a general view of the political and economic situation obtaining in India, and to concert measures by which we can render the life of our own countrymen better and happier. We wish that our peaceful movement will be better understood both by our countrymen and our rulers, by means of the deliberations we are having here in this conference, and we hope that our work will be better appreciated by the general public, especially the industrial and agricultural workers for whose benefit this conference is mainly held.
Our Persecutors : Judged by the persecution to which our comrades in this land and in other lands are put, we should think that our movement is totally misunderstood and misinterpreted by the ruling classes, and to them we have only one answer to make — that is the answer which one of the greatest of our race gave to his persecutors at Calvary 2000 years ago, “Oh, you know not what you do.” It is unfortunate that in this world of ours, the pioneers of every reform, whether social or religious, political or economic, scientific or philosophical, are obliged to suffer for their thoughts, ideas and actions. But as kalachakra, the wheel of time, rolls on, the suffering which the world reformers have undergone spur others to further suffering, until in the end the whole world stands to adore them. ...
Communism and Swaraj : In the great struggle for swaraj which is now in progress throughout the country, we communists have to take up the greatest share in the struggle. Though small, even negligible in number, we form the vanguard of the future workers’ state of India. Therefore we have to see that the workers and peasants in the land have their rights recognised in any constitutional change that may come about in the immediate future. Whatever may be the form of swaraj which we may get, the workers’ and peasants’ right to live a decent human life here on earth should be vouchsafed to them. ... The motto therefore of every Indian communist ought to be : “No life without swaraj and no swaraj without workers”.
Communism and Congress : ... This is one organisation whose potentiality for good was great. The National Congress was once a power in the land. Though bourgeois in origin, in scope and outlook, it was the one organisation which continually voiced the political grievances of the nation. Under the leadership of Mahatma Gandhi it was a live force for at least a year. During the campaign of the non-cooperation movement the prestige of the Congress was at its height. It aimed at swaraj without defining it or much less understanding it. It spoke in the name of the people. It acted in the name of the people. When its great leader called the nation to offer non-violent fight against the bureaucracy, thousands responded and they placed their all at the altar of freedom of the land. But it struck blindly. Instead of directing its whole weight against the bureaucracy and rendering it impotent for evil, it struck wildly in all directions. It burdened itself with the redress of all sorts of grievances, political, social, economical and religious and therefore it got itself hopelessly entangled in mutually contradictory ideas and actions. If it had only struck for swaraj and sought for the cooperation of the workers in the fight for it, it would have succeeded. But it weighted itself with all sorts of considerations including those of ethics, that the NCO campaign which opened so brilliantly under its auspices broke down under its own weight, and the retreat of the movement which began at Bardoli ended in the arrest and confinement of its great leader without a word of protest from his followers. The bureaucracy triumphed and the leaders humbled. Amidst turmoil and confusion in the nationalist ranks, the surviving leaders of the movement quarreled among themselves and split into various parties, and the split is still undergoing further division. A very numerous party among congressmen who survived the debacle at Bardoli, formed themselves into a new party and calling themselves swarajists, they sought to capture the legislative councils and began to give fight to the bureaucracy within the councils which they once abandoned. But here again the bourgeois mentality has begun to show its cloven hoofs even in the council fight, and the Swarajist Party which under Deshbandhu showed some clean fight, has begun to degenerate into a fight for loaves and fishes of office among themselves. From this short resume of the rise and fall of various Congress parties engaged in the pursuit for swaraj, one thing stands clear before the nation, that it is impossible for the bourgeoisie of the country to secure swaraj for the nation unaided. ... Neither the congressmen nor the present dominant party of swarajists will be able to bend the bureaucracy to their will without the active cooperation of ogranised workers. ...
Therefore it is the duty of the communists to take up the organisation of the masses, and endeavour to obtain swaraj. Whether with or without the cooperation of other political parties of the country, that is for you to decide.
Communism and Swarajists : Council-entry, with or without office, has become the dominant plank of the swarajists. It stands to the credit of the swarajists to have brought the bureaucracy to a halt in its triumphant career. ... But the Indian bureaucracy, like the other bureaucracies of the rest of the world, is inexhaustible in its resources, and it is too shrewd and too powerful to be easily defeated. ... Nothing short of completely paralysing the bureaucratic administration will bring the bureaucracy to its knees, but to achieve this consummation the active cooperation of the organised labour is necessary. ... Here again the communists have to learn from the successive failure of every political party in this country that in the organisation of the workers and peasants lies their salvation and that of their country. Whether you have to agitate for direct labour representation in the councils is also one of the subjects which you may tackle in your present deliberations.
Communism and Suppressed Classes : ... We shall take first the problem of untouchability ... from the standpoint of communism this question of untouchability is purely an economical problem. Whether this class of people are admitted into temples or tanks or streets is not a question connected with our fight for swaraj. With the advent of swaraj, these social and religious disabilities will fall of themselves. Communists have neither caste nor creed nor religion. As Hindus, Mohammadans or Christians, they may have any private views about them. The question of untouchability is essentially associated with economic dependence of the vast mass of these Indians. ... The Problem of untouchability is essentially an agrarian problem, and unless this economic dependence is relieved talk of removing untouchability is basely insincere. While the no-changer is talking big of injustice and inhumanity of treating our fellow- being as untouchables, he carefully avoids any reference to their starving, famishing homes. Here is an example of the bourgeois mentality of the Indian reformer who, while waxing eloquent against social wrongs, is significantly silent over the economic degradation to which the country’s bourgeoisie have confined these millions of our agrarian workers ... we communists should therefore press the economic claims of the suppressed classes by advocating a living wage to be given to them by which they can make their life at least endurable.
A word with reference to khaddar and its potentiality to win for us swaraj. ... To wear khaddar as a national costume in our fight for swaraj, we can grant that it may be necessary, in the absence of any other national uniform, but that it would supplement machine-made cloth is an impossible feat. And that such production would effectively boycott foreign cloth is still more problematical. ... To ask the famishing worker to drudge at the charkha for few more hours in order to supplement his scanty wages with his still more scanty earnings by means of the charkha, is simply cruel. If the agricultural labourer has no work for few months in the year, let him be provided with work which will give him higher wages or let him be given the opportunity to acquire higher knowledge so as to raise himself equal to his more cultured brethren in the cities, but let us not make him drudge again throughout his weary life without any prospect of any intellectual improvement. Mankind has been steadily growing out of manual drudgery by the aid of the machine, and this has secured him some leisure for higher pursuit of life which has raised him higher in the scale of animal existence. But to drive him again back to manual labour which he can dispense with is not simply cruel but absurd ... no amount of patriotism will bring back the primitive art so as to clothe a whole nation of 300 millions. But to make it in a limited scale so as to serve the fighters for swaraj as a uniform is possible, and this the Spinning Association we hope will succeed in doing. Whether it is absolutely necessary for us communists to wear it on all occasions, that you have to decide yourself individually. ...
Communism Defined : ... What is communism? It is a system or doctrine which aims at the betterment of humanity from almost all the ills of life. It sets out that the workers of the world are providing things more than sufficient to feed, to clothe and to house decently all the human beings on this planet. It further sets out that the whole of the world population can have all the advantage of enjoying the necessaries of higher life also. But because the means of production are in the sole monopoly of few men, the actual producers are made to starve and to suffer. Therefore such means of production should be in the hands of the producers themselves in order that everyone can have a fair share in all the things produced by them. This is all what is meant by communism. ...
To preach this doctrine in India so as to benefit all classes, all castes, all parties, is the work of Communist Party in India. Communism is as old as history. It was taught by Buddha in a form and practised by his disciples. Jesus as an Essene was himself a communist. Plato, Moore, Morris and others taught mankind a form of communism which was vague, indefinite and Utopian. But it was Karl Marx who gave it a scientific and a definite form so as to be applicable in practice.
Marxian Communism : ... Broadly speaking, the world contains two classes of people, namely, those that have and those that have not, that is the bourgeoisie and the proletariat. These two classes are always in conflict. The one commanding all the capital and the other labour. The owner of capital has the advantage of dictating to the workers upon what conditions he would accept their services. The labouring class not having the requisite capital, are obliged to sell their services on the conditions dictated by the capitalist. Pressed by hunger and want, the labeurers accept the conditions offered, whether he is a worker of industries or of land. Productions increase, markets, fresh markets, are added for the disposal of the things produced, and these things go on in such geometrical ratio that the capitalist comes to own the whole of the world means of production. The working people are more and more divorced from the means of production, and ultimately become wage-slaves. ... This has been the world history from the remotest times, but after advent of capitalist industry his existence has become precarious, ... and he forms into unions to protect his interest. The unions composed of these workers are the only organisation through which the worker of today is able to protect his rights against the growing exploitation. Thus the capitalists range themselves on one side and the workers on the other. These classes are in constant conflict for the possession of the world’s resources. In this conflict enter the world workers with a solution for ending this age-long conflict between these two classes. It is in the equitable distribution of the world's things brought on by the abolishment of private ownership in the essential wants of life lies the future solution of the conflict between capital and labour. Thus Marx explained the rise and growth of modern capital, which, according to him, can only be used for the benefit of all the workers themselves who form the vast majority of the world’s population controlling it. This is Marx’s scientific exposition of modern communism.
Communism and Competition : ... It is unfortunate that today competition rules in every sphere of political, social and economic relationships. It rules commerce, it rules industries, it rules policies of state and society. It determines the foreign relations of the state. It dominates production and distribution of world resources. Its guiding principle is profit and not use. The only way to get out of this octopus is to destroy it, and substitute for it cooperation in which human labour and production may be brought into a common hotchpot for common use and benefit. This can be done only through communism which is another name for universal cooperation. ...
Indian Communism is not Bolshevism : As I explained at the outset, Indian communism is not bolshevism for bolshevism is a form of communism which the Russians have adopted in their country. We are not Russian bolsheviks and bolshevism may not be needed in India. Bolshevism literally means the doctrine of the majority. And this Russian majority are men in power in Russia with the peculiar method of their rule, administration and propaganda. Bolsheviks are the political party in power in Russia as opposed to mensheviks, the minority party, now out of power. We are one with the world communists but not with bolsheviks. We hope this explanation of our position in India will clear all misapprehensions about our party and aims and method. We shall briefly state our aims, meth&ds and ideals.
Our Communist Ideal : First, our ideal is to end the domination of capital, make war impossible, wipe out state boundaries and frontiers and weld all states into one corporate commonwealth and bring about real human fraternity and freedom. This is the dream of the communist.
Our Immediate Aims: And our immediate aim is to win swaraj for the masses in India, to prevent exploitation of the workers and peasants by suitable land and industrial legislation, to secure to the bread-winner a minimum wage by which he and his children shall have the necessaries of a decent life and to end all distinction of caste, creed or sect in all political and economic relationships.
Our Method : And all this, we hope to achieve through the unions of labour and peasants, through persuasion, through propaganda and when necessary, in cooperation with other political organisations in the country. We require the cooperation of all other parties in the country to secure the workers’ rights in the land. But we feel no doubt that we will be the party who will ultimately succeed in securing these rights to the Indian peoples and therefore we appeal to all thinkers and workers to join our party and work both for our communist ideals and our immediate aims.
Appeal to Workers : To the workers of India, we say organise your unions, strong numerically and financially, for only in your organisation lies your strength. Do not dissipate your energy in futile strikes for trifles. Conserve all your strength by combining with other unions and make common cause for all your grievances, and if you have to strike, strike with full force and effect. ...
Appeal to Peasants : To the peasants in India, we say you are the real salt of the earth. We communists know your sufferings and your wrongs. ... But the denouement is fast approaching, while your haughty masters will sink into merited neglect, you the peasants will be proclaimed alike worthy and beautiful and you will become supreme. ...
Danger Ahead : ... The communal and religious differences which seem to destroy the harmony which once obtained among all political parties in the country during the heyday of NCO may overtake us also, for I fear that we, Indians, are so religious minded and caste-ridden that the fire which is burning our neighbours’ houses may also reach ours. ... The country today is again torn asunder by these religious and communal differences. The leaders who flaunt these fripperies before us are traitors to our country and to our cause. The Hindu sabhas, sangathans, shuddhis are mere bourgeois tactics of the leisured class. Let us therefore leave religion, caste and creed to each individual tastes and fancies, and let us pursue our peaceful course towards swaraj, free from these nightmares. ...
Conclusion : Comrades, what we communists should aim in India is a simple life for all, a life free from anxiety for the daily bread, a life free from premature death and decay, a life free from ignorance. We communists should believe that by the gradual and peaceful application of the principles of communism, a better life can be brought about in India. The future of India is in our hands. A better India lies in our dreams. Let us therefore try to realise the dream of a free India, free from exploitation of the weak by the strong, free from drudgery which killeth our life, free from starvation, disease and death, free to express our thoughts without let or hindrance, but enjoy the highest product of art, science and culture. …
1. The Address was printed in a pamphlet form and distributed at the Kanpur Conference, which founded the CPI (December 26,1925).
Draft Platform of Action of The Communist Party of India
To All Comntunist Parties of Europe, America and Asia
We are sending you the draft platform of action of our party, which we ask you to publish in all working class papers. We ask you to print in your papers all corrections, and suggestions; which members of your party will propose. It will help us to work out a final draft of our platform.
With revolutionary greetings,
COMMUNIST PARTY OF INDIA.
Part – I
Main tasks of the Indian revolution
The Indian people is groaning under the yoke and the exploitation of British Imperialism. ...
With all the power of the state in its hands, controlling the main branches of industry, railways, sea and river transport, banks and credit system, the greater part of the land, forests and the irrigation system, British imperialism has retarded and still obstructs the economic development of our country in every way, supporting and relying upon all that is backward and retrograde in town and country.
The supremacy of British imperialism is the basis of the backwardness, poverty and endless suffering of our people. Only by the merciless and violent destruction of the political economic supremacy of the British imperialists will the working masses of India succeed in rising to their feet, achieving their independence and creating conditions requisite for their further development and for the reconstruction of Society in the interests of the workers and peasants, and with the purpose of developing further towards Socialism.
In the enslavement of the Indian people British imperialism relies upon the native princes, the landlords, the moneylenders and the merchants, utilising the assistance of the national bourgeoisie. The system of landownership by the landlords, native princes and moneylenders, and the relics of serfdom in the land system of India (and consequently in all India’s social and political institutions) represent the main bulwark of British supremacy.
In order to destroy the slavery of the Indian people and emancipate the working class and the peasants from the poverty which is crushing them down, it is essential to win the independence of the country and to raise the banner of agrarian revolution, which would smash the system of landlordism surviving from the middle ages and would cleanse the whole of the land from all this medieval rubbish. An agrarian revolution against British capitalism and landlordism must be the basis for the revolutionary emancipation of India.
Linked up as it is with the system of landlordism and usury, and terrified at the thought of a revolutionary insurrection by the toiling masses, the capitalist class has long ago betrayed the struggle for the independence of the country and the radical solution of the agrarian problem. Its present “opposition” represents merely manoeuvres with British imperialism, calculated to swindle the mass of the toilers and at the same time to secure the best possible terms of compromise with the British robbers. The assistance granted to British imperialism by the capitalist class and its political organisation, the National Congress takes the shape at the present time of a consistent policy of compromise with British imperialism at the expense of the people, it takes the form of the disorganisation of the revolutionary struggle of the masses and the preservation of the system of imperialism, including the native states, the system of landlordism and the reinforced exploitation, jointly with the imperialists, of the mass of the people, of the working class in particular. The greatest threat to the victory of the Indian revolution is the fact that great masses of our people still harbour illusions about the National Congress, and have not realised that it represents a class organisation of the capitalists working against the fundamental interests of the toiling masses of our country.
The policy of Gandhiism, on which the programme of the Congress is founded, uses the cloak of vague phrases about love, meekness, modest and hardworking existence, lightening the burden of the peasantry, the national unity, the special historic mission of Spiritualism, etc. But under this cloak it preaches and defends the interests of Indian capitalists, the inevitability and wisdom of the division of society into rich and poor, eternal social inequality and exploitation. That is, it preaches the interests of the capitalist development of India on the bone and sweat of the working masses of the people, in alliance with world imperialism. The National Congress betrayed and disorganised the struggle of the toilers in 1919-21. The National Congress supported the manufacturers against the workers during the textile strike and in fact assisted in the passing of anti-labour legislation. The National Congress refused to support the fight of railwaymen against British imperialism, suggesting that they should ask Lord Irwin and Macdonald to arbitrate. The National Congress opposed the peasantry in their struggle against the moneylenders, big landlords and the native princes.
Jointly with the Liberals, the landlords and the manufacturers, the National Congress has produced the anti-popular Nehru Constitution, in which it declared the necessity of preserving the landlords, the rajahs and the moneylenders, remaining as a junior partner in the British Empire and leaving supreme authority in the hands of the British Viceroys and the Governors-General.
The National Congress issued the Delhi Manifesto supporting Gandhi's eleven points, which represented the moderate programme of the Chambers of Commerce, and similar associations. It carried on negotiations with the Liberals in prison trying behind the scenes to come to an understanding with the British Government; and so forth. The National Congress, and particularly its “Left” wing, have done and are doing all in their power to restrain the struggle of the masses within the frame work of the British imperialist Constitution and legislation.
In this connection, world history and the lessons of the class struggle in India prove that only the leadership of the working class can ensure the fulfillment of the historic task of emancipating the Indian people, abolishing national slavery, sweeping aside all the fetters which check national development, confiscating the land and effecting far-reaching democratic reconstruction of revolutionary character. ...
... The Communist Party of India is the party of the working class, the final aim of which is the achievement of Socialism and ultimately of complete Communism. The programme of the Communist Party of India is totally different in principle from the programmes and ideas of the other parties and groups, which are parties of the capitalist class and petty bourgeoisie, not excepting the national revolutionary parties. While the latter are striving for the development of capitalism in India, the Communist Party is consistently and firmly fighting for a Socialist path of development. While the national revolutionary groups are fighting for bourgeois rule and a bourgeois form of government the CP of India is fighting for the democratic dictatorship of the working class and the peasantry, a workers and peasants’ Soviet Government in India.
The only form of government which can safeguard the interests of the workers, peasants and toilers generally is the Soviets. The Soviets, set up in the course of the revolutionary revolt of the working masses, as insurrectionary bodies for the overthrow of British supremacy, will be the sole genuine seats of authority, elected directly in the factories, works, villages, etc., ensuring confiscation of the land and the satisfaction of the vital needs of the mass of the people. The Soviet Government alone will be capable of ensuring to national minorities their right to self-determination, including that of complete separation, and at the same time achieving the maximum unity in the ranks of the toilers of various nationalities, engaged in common revolutionary struggle against the enemies of the India revolution. ...
Adopting these as its guiding principles, the CP of India advances the following main objects for the present stage of the Indian revolution.
- 1. The complete independence of India by the violent overthrow of British rule. The cancellation of all debts. The confiscation and nationalisation of all British factories, banks, railways, sea and river transport and plantations.
- 2. Establishment of a Soviet Government. The realisation of the right of national minorities to self-determination including separation. Abolition of the native states. The creation of an Indian Federal Workers’ and Peasants’ Soviet Republic.
- 3. The confiscation without compensation of all the lands, forests and other property of the landlords, ruling princes, churches, the British Government officials and moneylenders, and handing over for use to the toiling peasantry. Cancellation of slave agreements and all the indebtedness of the peasantry to moneylenders and banks.
- 4. The 8-hour working day and the radical improvement of conditions of labour. Increase in wages and State maintenance for the unemployed.
The Communist Party of India will fight for these main demands, which express the interests of the mass of the people, and the achievement of which will create the conditions for and render possible further development in the direction of the building of a Socialist state of society in India. At the same time, with the object of developing the mass revolutionary struggle and revolutionary education of the mass of the toilers, the CP of India puts forward partial demands, the struggle for which will facilitate the mobilisation of the mass of the people in revolutionary insurrection for its emancipation.
Part - II
The fight for partial demands of the revolutionary movement
The CP of India considers that the sole and historically tested means of winning independence, carrying out the agrarian revolution and achieving democratic reconstruction, is the path of the revolutionary struggle of the widest possible mass of the people, developing into a general national armed insurrection against the British exploiters and all their allies in our country.
The propaganda of non-violence of Gandhi, Nehru and the other leaders of the National Congress is intended to prevent a general national armed insurrection of the toiling masses against British rule. By his own confession in his autobiography, Gandhi took part in the armed suppression of the rising of the Zulu peasants in Africa and assisted the British robbers in their fight against the German capitalists for the right to exploit colonial peoples. Gandhi recruited Indian peasants into the British army and sent to their deaths hundreds of thousands of Indian workers and peasants in the interests of the British robbers. And today Gandhi tells the peasants and workers of India that they have no right to and must not revolt against their exploiters. He tells them this at the very time when the British robbers are making open war on the Indian people in the North West Province and throughout the country. ...
This emancipation of India cannot be achieved by a terrorist movement. The supporters of the terrorist movement of our country do not see and do not believe in the struggle of the broad masses of the people, and do not understand the connection between the agrarian revolution, the struggle of the working class and the overthrows of British domination. They try by brave and single- handed terrorist acts to achieve victory over British imperialism.
While recognising the devotion and self-sacrifice of the terrorists in the cause of the national emancipation of India, the Communist Party declares that the road to victory is not the method of individual terror but the struggle and the revolutionary armed insurrection of the widest possible masses of the working class, the peasantry, the poor of the towns and the Indian soldiers, around the banner and under the leadership of the Communist Party of India.
The most harmful and dangerous obstacle to the victory of the Indian revolution is the agitation carried on by the “Left” elements of the National Congress, led by Jawaharlal Nehru, Bose, Ginwalls and others. Under the cloak of revolutionary phraseology, they carry on the bourgeois policy of confusing and disorganising the revolutionary struggle of the masses, and help the Congress to come to an understanding with British imperialism. Particularly blackguardly and harmful is the part played by the national reformists in the labour movement, in which they try in every possible way to substitute the methods of class collaboration for the method of class struggle, doing their best to bring the workers under the influence of the ideas and the organisations of the Indian and British exploiters. The treacherous part played by the National Congress as regards the peasantry has once again shown itself in the appeal of the “Left” Congress leaders to the British Governor-General of Bengal to send troops to crush the peasant revolts at Kishoreganj. In these circumstances some of the “Left” national reformists (supporters of Roy and others), who realise that the masses are becoming disillusioned in the Congress have cleverly put forward the advice to “win” the national Congress from within. Nominally their object is to revolutionise the Congress, in reality it is to restore the prestige of the Congress by replacing the old treacherous leaders who are no better than the old.
The exposure of the “Left” Congress leaders, who may again undertake to set up a new party or organisation like the former League of Independence, in order once again to bamboozle the mass of the Workers, is the primary task of our Party. Ruthless war on the “Left” national reformists is an essential condition if we are to isolate the latter from the workers and mass of the peasantry, and mobilise the latter under the banners of the Communist Party and the anti-imperialist agrarian revolution in India.
The Communist Party of India calls upon all the toilers to form a united front against the imperialists, the landlords, the moneylenders and the capitalists. The CP of India calls upon the Moslem and Indian workers and peasants not to be tricked by the cunning provocative methods of the British Government and the reactionary native exploiters, who set the toilers of different nationalities and religious beliefs against one another, and provoke conflicts between them. ...
As one of the practical means of explaining to the toiling masses the exploiting and treacherous policy of the Congress leaders the CP of India recommends to its supporters to make use of their activity in the trade unions, municipal councils (Calcutta, Bombay etc.) and similar institutions. ...
A. General Demands
In order to develop mass revolutionary struggle and the political training of the people, the CP of India puts forward and fights for the following demands:
- 1. Expulsion of the British troops, abolition of the police and general armaments of the toilers.
- 2. Immediate liberation of all political prisoners, including those who have committed acts of individual and mass violence.
- 3. Unlimited freedom of speech, conscience, press, meeting, strikes and association for the toilers and abolition of all anti-popular and anti-labour laws (Trades Dispute Act, the prohibition of picketing, the regulations for the deportation of revolutionary workers, press act, etc.).
- 4. The abolition of rank, caste, national and communal privileges, and the full equality of all citizens irrespective of sex, religion and race.
- 5. Complete separation of religion from the State, and the expulsion of the missionaries as direct agents of the imperialists, with confiscation of their property.
- 6. The election of judges and officials and their recall at any time on the demands of the majority of the electors.
B. Special Workers’ Demands
... The CP of India calls upon all class-conscious workers to concentrate every effort on the creation of a revolutionary trade union movement. The CP of India deems it essential to organise mass trade unions based on factory committees, with the leadership elected directly by the workers and consisting of advanced revolutionary workers. The trade unions must become regularly functioning mass organisations, working in the spirit of the class struggle, and all efforts must be made to expel and isolate reformists of all shades, from the open agents of British capitalism such as Joshi, Chamanlal, Giri, etc. to the sham “Left” national reformists such as Bose, Ruikar, Ginwalla and other agents of the Indian bourgeoisie, who constitute a reactionary bloc for joint struggle against the revolutionary wing of the trade union movement. At the same time the CP of India works for the transformation of the All-India Trade Union Congress into a fighting All-India centre of the labour movement on a class basis.
I. The CP of India calls upon all its supporters and all class-conscious workers to help in organising factory committees in all factories, railways, docks, etc. throughout the country. In cases where owing to the victimisation of the employers or British authorities the factory committees have to work semi-legally, the CP advocates putting forward the demand for recognition of the factory committees as one of the principal demands in strikes movements. The CP of India calls for the country-wide organisation of workers’ defence detachments, both to defend workers’ strikes and demonstrations and to take part in the general revolutionary struggle.
II. The CP of India calls upon all class-conscious workers to help the Party to organise the movement and the struggle of the unemployed for regular relief at the expense of the State and the employers. It calls for the country-wide organisation of unemployed councils, demonstrations and joint struggle with the workers in industry for the partial demands of the unemployed — monthly unemployment benefit at the cost of living minimum, refusal to pay rent, free supply of fuel and food stuffs by the municipal authorities, etc.
III. Taking note of the semi-slave conditions of plantation and agricultural workers, the CP of India calls upon class-conscious workers to take part and assist in the organisation of trade unions of plantation and agricultural workers. The fight for complete abolition of all systems of serfdom, compulsory and contract labour, deprivation of rights and unprecedented exploitation of the agricultural proletariat is one of our main aims linked up closely with the aim of mobilising the broad masses of peasantry to fight imperialist and feudal exploitation, under the leadership of the working class.
IV. With the object of protecting the working class from physical and moral degeneration, and also in order to raise its capacity to fight for emancipation, the CP of India fights for :
- 1. Limitation of the working day to 8-hours for adults and 6-hours for youths 16 to 20. Introduction of the 6-hours working day in all harmful industries, including coal mining and free supply of milk and butter to the workers in these industries.
- 2. Complete freedom of trade unions, demonstrations, picketing and strikes.
- 3. Equal pay for equal work for women, youths and men.
- 4. Complete abolition of compulsory contract labour and system of legal bondage of the workers.
- 5. A compulsory weekly rest period at full pay, and a paid annual holiday of 4 weeks for adults and 6 weeks for youths.
- 6. State insurance against unemployment, sickness, accidents, industrial diseases, old age, loss of working capacity, orphanage and compensation for disablement.
- 7. Establishment of a State minimum wage of 50 rupees a month, prohibition of the contract system and establishment by law of weekly payment of wages.
- 8. Prohibition of deductions from wages for any reason or purpose whatsoever (fines, bad work, etc.).
- 9. Introduction of properly organised factory inspection, workers elected members thereof, to supervise labour conditions in all factories employing hired labour.
- 10. The abolition of the system of hiring workers through jobbers, sarangs, etc., employment and dismissal of workers to take place through labour exchanges, controlled and supervised by the trade unions. The abolition of all caste and feudal customs and regulations within the factories. ...
... The CP of India is definitely against the principle of arbitration and interference by capitalist arbitration courts. It emphasises most definitely that the sole means for winning any serious concessions on the part of the exploiters is resolute class struggle by strikes and mass revolutionary activities.
C. Peasant Demands
I. The CP of India fights for the confiscation without compensation of all land and estates, forests and pastures of the native princes, landlords, moneylenders and the British Government, and the transference to peasant committees for use by the toiling masses of the peasantry. The CP of India fights for the complete wiping out of the medieval system of landholding, to cleanse the whole of the land from the rubbish of the middle ages.
I. The CP of India fights for the immediate confiscation of all plantations and their transference to revolutionary committees elected by the plantation workers. The allotments to which the planters assign their contract workers and also the land not in cultivation, to be handed over to the labourers and poor peasants as their property. At the same time the CP of India is in favour of the nationalisation of large-scale mechanically equipped plantations and workshops connected therewith, for utilisation in the interests of the whole Indian people.
III. The CP of India fights for the immediate nationalisation of the whole system of irrigation, complete cancellation of all indebtedness and taxes, and the transference of the control and supervision of the work of irrigation to revolutionary peasant committees elected by the working peasantry.
IV. In order to disorganise British rule and maintain revolutionary pressure against it, the CP of India calls upon the peasantry and agricultural proletariat to engage in all kinds of political demonstrations and collective refusal to pay taxes and dues, or to carry out the orders and decisions of the government and its agents.
V. The CP of India calls for refusal to pay rent, irrigation charges or other exactions and refusal to carry out any labour services whatsoever (begar) for the landlords, native princes and their agents.
VI. The CP of India calls for refusal to pay debts and arrears to government, the landlords and the moneylenders in any form whatsoever.
VII. As a practical watchword for the campaign among the peasantry, and as a means of developing more political consciousness in the peasant movement, the CP of India calls for the immediate organisation of revolutionary peasant committees in order to carry on a fight to achieve all the revolutionary democratic changes required in the interests of emancipating the peasantry from the yoke of British imperialism and its feudal allies.
VIII. The CP of India calls for the independent organisation of the agricultural proletariat, particularly the plantation workers, and its amalgamation with the proletariat of the towns under the banner of the Communist Party, as well as its representation in the peasant committees. ...
D. Emancipation of the Pariahs and the Slaves
... British rule, the system of landlordism, the reactionary caste system, religious deception and all the slave and serf traditions of the past throttle the Indian people and stand in the way of its emancipation. They have led to the result that in India, in the 20th century, there are still pariahs who have no right to meet with all their fellow men, drink from common wells, study in common schools etc.
Instead of putting an end once and for all to this shameful blot on the Indian people, Gandhi and the other Congress leaders call for the maintenance of the caste system, which is the basis and justification for the existence of the socially outcast pariahs.
Only the ruthless abolition of the caste system in its reformed, Gandhist variety, only the agrarian revolution and the violent overthrow of British rule, will lead to the complete social, economic, cultural and legal emancipation of the working pariahs and slaves.
The CP of India calls upon all the pariahs to join in the united revolutionary front with all the workers of the country against British rule and landlordism. ... [and] not to give way to the trick of the British and reactionary agents who try to split and set one against the other the toilers of our country. ...
E. The Struggle for the Interests of the Town and Petty Bourgeoisie
... The capitalist class and the National Congress, in their search for a compromise with imperialism, are betraying the interests not only of the workers and peasants but also of wide sections of the town petty bourgeoisie (artisans, street traders, etc.). ...
... The CP of India fights for the cancellation of all the usury which has enslaved the poor people of the towns. The CP of India fights for the cancellation of all direct and indirect taxes, excise and other forms of taxation of wages and small earnings, which are ruining the artisans, street traders, employees, etc. It stands for the replacement of such taxes by a progressive income-tax on the capitalists, bond holders, banks, and inheritance. ...
F. Emancipation of the Toiling Women
The toiling women of India are in a semi-servile condition under a double burden of the survivals of feudalism, economic, cultural and legal inequality. The toiling women have no right whatsoever to determinate their fate, and in many distiricts are forced to drag out their existence in purdah, under the veil, and without the right not only of participating in public affairs, but even of freely and openly meeting their fellow citizens and moving through the streets.
At the same time the exploitation and working conditions of the women workers are surely unheard-of in their brutality and sweated character. ...
Noting that the present bourgeois national women's organisation, the “All-India Women’s Conference” led by Sarojini Naidu, one of the leaders of the National Congress, is not carrying on a genuine struggle to emancipate women but in reality is cooperating with British imperialism, the CP of India calls upon the working masses of India to join the common revolutionary struggle of the toiling masses, under the leadership of the Communist Party for the overthrow of the social order and social system which give rise to the slave conditions of Indian women.;
... It fights for the complete abolition of night work for women and the prohibition of underground work for women (in the coal mines) and in all branches harmful for females.
The CP of India fights for leave of absence from work at full rates of wages two months before and two months after child birth, with free medical aid, and for the establishment of creches in all factories and workshops employing women, at the expense of the employers, such creches to cover small children and infants-at-the-breast, with a special apartment for feeding. Nursing mothers to have their working day reduced to 6 hours.
G. Soldiers’ Demands
I. In the struggle for the emancipation of our country, the CP of India calls for the spreading of revolutionary propaganda among the soldiers and police, and the explanation of the necessity for their armed insurrection together with the toiling masses of the country, against British rule.
II. The Indian soldiers and police are socially in the main poor peasants, who have been forced to seek employment in the army by poverty, landlessness and hunger. The CP of India fights for the allotment of land to the soldiers equally with all the other toiling peasants. ...
III. The CP of India calls upon its organisations and class-conscieus workers and revolutionaries to begin organising revolutionary groups among the soldiers. The aim of these groups must be to persuade and prepare the soldiers to take action in support of a general armed insurrection of the people for liberty, land and a Workers’ and Peasants’ Government. It is necessary to explain to the soldiers by concrete examples drawn from their daily lives (arbitrary actions by the officers, shooting down of demonstrations, workers’ strikes, etc., flagrant inequality of treatment of white and Indian soldiers — worse food, clothes, allowances etc.) that Indian soldiers are only a blind tool in the hands of the British robbers, who use them to maintain the national and social oppression of the toiling masses of our country.
IV. The CP of India calls upon its supporters to organise the ex-soldiers. ...
V. The CP of India calls upon the class-conscious workers to organise fraternisation with Indian soldiers. ...
H. Youth’s Demands
II. ... The VCL of India must come forward as a political organisation which subordinates all forms of struggle and mass organisation — economic, cultural, sports, etc. — to the interests of the political struggle, ...
IV. The CP of India calls upon the honest revolutionary youth to help in spreading political propaganda among the soldiers and police. The CP of India considers that the call of the “Left” nationalists to the soldiers to leave the army and take their discharge, in accordance with Gandhi’s philosophy of non-violence, is a mistake. The task of genuine revolutionaries is to persuade the soldier, while staying in the army, to prepare and raise, when the time is ripe, the banner of armed insurrection and, shoulder to shoulder with the toiling people, to overthrow British rule.
V. With the object of protecting the toiling youth against physical and cultural degeneration, and in order to develop its revolutionary offensive for the national and social liberation of the toiling masses, the CP of India fights for:
- (a) Limitation of the working day to 6 hours for youths from 16 to 20. Prohibition of employment of children under 16.
- (b) Universal free and compulsory education up to 16 in the national language of the pupil. Free feeding, clothing and supply of text-books to children at the expense of the state. Introduction of vocational training for youths at the expense of the state and the employers.
- (c) Paid weekly and annual (6 weeks) holiday for youths.
- (d) State maintenance of unemployed youths at rates equivalent to the cost of living.
The Communist Party of India, putting forward its programme of demands of the Indian revolution, calls upon the toiling masses to rally under the revolutionary banner of the Party and carry on the struggle to the successful conquest of power and the establishment of the democratic dictatorship of the working class and the peasantry in the form of Soviets.
The CP of India declares that the successful solution of the problems facing the revolution against feudalism and for emancipation will open up the possibility, with the help of the international proletariat and the class offensive of the exploited masses of our country of the revolution developing through a number of stages into a proletarian revolution, thereby creating the requisite conditions for the development of our country on socialist lines, avoiding the further stage of domination of the capitalist system.
In this struggle the Indian people are not alone. They have an ally in the revolutionary worker of all countries in the world. ... The crisis of the feudal and capitalist systems of exploitation in India is at present being combined with the world crisis, which leads to the great sharpening of all antagonisms, the approach of wars, and the rise of a new wave of revolutionary struggles.
The growing crisis is producing the growth of stubborn resistance and counter-offensive on the part of the international proletariat and the colonial peoples. The strength of the international revolution is growing. In one of the countries of the world, Soviet Russia, the working class has long ago overthrown the power of the exploiters and is successfully building up a socialist state of society. ... The Soviet Union is a reliable ally of the colonial peoples, including the toilers of India. The toiling masses of India will receive the support of the revolutionary workers of all countries, particularly of the developing Chinese revolution. ... [and of] the revolutionary workers of Great Britain, led by the British Communist Party, ... In spite of all the devices of the imperialists and their reformist agents, the revolutionary front of the world proletariat and the colonial peoples is growing stronger and wider every day.
But to ensure the victory of the Indian revolution, there is required a Communist Party of the proletariat, the leader and organiser of the toiling masses of our country. The building of a centralised, disciplined, united, mass, underground Communist Party is today the chief and basic task long ago overdue, of revolutionary movement for the emancipation of our country.
The CP of India declares with pride, that it considers itself a part of the organised world Communist movement, a section of the Communist International. The CP of India calls upon all advanced workers and revolutionaries devoted to the cause of the working class to join the ranks of the Communist Party now being built, ... In the conditions of British supremacy and terrorism, the Communist Party can exist and develop only as an underground Party, applying and utilising all forms of legal and illegal activities to develop its mass struggle and to win the toiling masses for the fight for the democratic dictator-ship of the working class and the peasantry. ...
... In spite of all difficulties, sacrifices and partial defeats, in spite of all the attempts of the imperialists and the Indian bourgeoisie to separate the revolutionary movement of India from the international proletariat, the Communist Party will lead the struggle of the toiling masses to the complete overthrow of British rule and of the system of landlordism and serfdom in order thereafter together with the world proletariat, to march forward in the struggle to set up a Socialist system of society in our country and throughout the world.
Long Live The Independence of India !
Long Live The Working Class, The Leader of The Toiling Masses !
Long Live The Revolutionary Insurrection For Independence, Land And Bread!
Long Live The The Workers’ And Peasants’ Soviet Government !
Long Live The World Revolution !
Open Letter to the Indian Communists from The Communist Parties of China, Great Britain and Germany
The revolutionary struggle of the toiling masses for their national and social liberation has reached a turning point. The national bourgeoisie which has betrayed the revolutionary people are trying their best to preserve their influence over the toiling masses, in order to ward off the approaching Indian revolution.
From the efforts, the energetic and self-sacrificing struggle and the correct policy of the Indian Communists it depends to a great extent: Whether the treacherous bourgeoisie will maintain its influence for a long time and will successfully carry out its counter-revolutionary job, or whether the working class, headed by the Communist Party of India, having isolated the national reformists, will lead the toiling masses of town and village to a victorious struggle for independence, land and the workers’ and peasants’ power.
The objective conditions and the growth of the class consciousness of the Indian proletariat testifies to the fact that the latter course has every chance of fulfilment provided the Indian Communists overcome their lagging behind in the formation of a mass All-Indian Communist Party; provided they, on the basis of the platform of action published by them and the experience of the past years will energetically and jointly undertake the formation of the Communist Party and organise, not in words but in deeds, the workers and peasants.
1. The co-relation of class forces
... Because of the sharpening of the economic crisis, the insignificant and temporary reduction of taxes in a few provinces has not in the least helped the position of the peasants. The burden of ruin, oppression and poverty which is preconditioned by the whole system of imperialist feudal-moneylending exploitation and is aggravated by the present decline of agricultural prices together with the actual increase in taxation and reaction is reaching an unprecedented height. In spite of the fact that the process of drawing the peasant masses into the struggle is proceeding unevenly, it has already assumed such a powerful character (guerilla warfare in Burma and Kashmir, struggles in UP, etc.), that on the one hand it has compelled the National Congress (which was negotiating an agreement with the imperialists) to continue playing longer than it wished its sham opposition towards Imperialism, in order to deceive the masses and disorganise the peasant struggle. And on the other hand it has forced the British Imperialists to hasten in the Use of barbarous forms of mass terror in order to break up the people’s movement.
On January 7,1932, the Bombay Chronicle was compelled to admit that — “a noteworthy feature of the peasant movement in the United Provinces is the fact that the peasants are becoming their own leaders ... that the peasant movement to an ever increasing extent takes place at the initiative of the peasants themselves, and that have identified themselves with the Congress because they could not get assistance from other organisations.”
The leaders of the National Congress, Gandhi, Nehru, Nehru and Co, are compelled to admit in a number of speeches the fact that the anti-imperialist movement and the agrarian struggle are beginning more and more to come together. The terrified bourgeoisie are now trying to disorganise the peasants’ struggle and to hold back the peasant movement, so that it should be limited to a peaceful, submissive economic campaign for small reduction of taxes, postponement to pay the debts, etc. ...
Dissatisfaction with the policy of the National Congress is likewise increasing among the petty-bourgeoisie in the towns (the increase of the wave of terrorist actions, increased interest of various elements in the terrorist movement towards working class movement and Marxism, speeches at student meetings in Calcutta, etc.) and is expressed to a still greater extent among the working masses.
... The events of the last few months (the Bombay demonstration against Gandhi, the Sholapur strike, etc.) show that the process of drawing the Indian proletariat into the economic and political struggle, accompanied by its (proletariat) liberation from the influence of the National Congress, is growing, and in spite of the yet existing uneven character, is beginning more and more to assume an all-Indian character. All the facts show that in most cases, the workers themselves begin the strikes and that among the workers, not only in Bombay but also in other places, there is growing a stratum of active workers, who are capable not only of becoming the cement and the leaders of a mass evolutionary trade union movement, but with energetic work carried on by the Communists, can become the mass basis of a strong, working class, illegal Indian Communist Party.
Some comrades are inclined to think that the working class movement entered a period of decline and depression as the result of the defeat of the Bombay strike in 1929. Such a point of view is entirely wrong. It is true that the defeat of the strike (which took place as the result of the absence of a CP and neglect of the task of spreading the strike to Ahmedabad and Sholapur), the growth of unemployment in the first half of 1930, the terror of the employers and the police and particularly the insufficient works of the revolutionary wing of the trade union movement had undoubtedly a bad effect on the position of the GKU. But this does not at all justify the theory of decline, because it was exactly in the very years of 1930-31 that (1) there was a final split of the Communist groups from “Left” national reformism and for the first time there really commenced the formation of an illegal Communist Party; (2) the working masses took a most active part in all political activities, to the point to open fights against the police and the troops (Sholapur, etc.); (3) the backward sections of the proletariat of the country, Bangalore, Cawnpore, Baroda, etc., who had been lagging behind, began to be drawn in the struggle; (4) there took place a number of independent political activities of the working masses and the working class by its methods of struggle put a specific imprint on the whole mass movement. The advanced sections of the proletariat commenced an open struggle against the National Congress. The historical demonstration of Bombay workers on the day of Gandhi’s departure to London and the Sholapur demonstration of textile strikers are very remarkable instances of such a struggle against the influence of the National Congress.
... It may be stated accurately that in India “The strength of the present movement lies in the awakening of the masses (chiefly the industrial proletariat), and its weakness lies in the insufficient consciousness and initiative of the revolutionary leaders.” (Lenin).
The general picture of the Communist movement is not satisfactory. On the one hand there is a tremendous development of the working class movement which is unprecedented in the past. On the other hand, the Communist Party as yet consists of a small number (though the number is increasing) of weak groups, often isolated from the masses, disconnected with each other, politically not united and in some places not clearly differentiated from national reformism, adopting a conciliatory policy towards it. Instead of a struggle for a united all-Indian Communist Party, we find localism, provincialism, self-isolation from the masses, etc., which, though it could be understood to some extent in 1930, now represents the main danger to the revolutionary, proletarian movement.
The lagging behind of the Communist vanguard must be rapidly and most decisively overcome. This is the first and the most important task for all those honest Communist revolutionaries who stand by the platform of action of the CPI, and are faithful to the cause of the Indian and world proletariat.
2. Communists and the struggle for Independence
The biggest mistake made by Indian Communists consists of the fact that in reality they stood aside from the mass movement of the people against British imperialism. In spite of the fact that the documents of the Communist movement have spoken about this mistaken policy, no change has yet taken place and self-isolation from the struggle for independence still exists.
In June 1930 in one of the documents of the Bombay organisation it is, said :
- “We came in Bombay to a position when we actually withdrew from the struggle and left its field entirely to the National Congress. We limited our role to a role of a small group who set aside and issue once in a while ... leaflets. The result was one which could have been expected, that in the minds of the workers there grew an opinion that we are doing nothing and that the Congress is the only organisation which is carrying on the fight against imperialism and therefore workers began to follow the lead of the Congress. ... “The result of the policy of actual withdrawal from the political struggle, lack of attempts to lead the masses, to organise them, to isolate the reformist elements proved to be harmful in regard to the growth of the CP itself.”
The self-isolation of Communists from the anti-imperialist mass struggle as a movement alleged to be purely a Congress movement, has created confusion in the Communist movement. It helped to increase among Communists-intellectuals the disbelief in the strength of the proletariat and the growth of its class- consciousness. It has hindered the development of the process of differentiation in the revolutionary movement, has hindered the isolation of “Left” national-reformists from the working masses and objectively strengthened the positions of the bourgeois National Congress.
... Thus the liberation of the proletariat from the influence of the treacherous bourgeoisie and conversion of the proletariat from an active political force into the leading force with the hegemony of the people’s movement can be brought about at the present time by the exposure of the bourgeois National Congress and its “Left” wing, Bose, Kandalkar, Roy, etc., as the betrayers of the struggle for independence and can be realised only if the Communist Party takes a most energetic part in the struggle for independence on the basis of an irreconcilable struggle against the national reformists.
This participation in the anti-imperialist movement is closely connected and interwoven with the energetic participation of Communists in the everyday struggle for the economic interests of the working masses, with the most energetic support, organisation and development of the peasant struggle, the agrarian revolution and the attraction to its own side of all revolutionary-democratic elements who are prepared to struggle against British imperialism.
The pre-rcquisite for a correct policy for Communists in the anti-imperialist movement is a definite sharp clear and uncompromising struggle and exposure of the National Congress and especially the “Left” national-reformists, first of all its special variety — the group of Roy-Kandalkar.
However, while struggling against “Left” national reformism it is incorrect to separate ourselves from the mass movement of the people who appear to be under the leadership of the National Congress. A distinction must be made between the bourgeois Congress leadership and those sections of the workers, peasants and revolutionary elements of the town petty-bourgeoisie who not understanding the treacherous character of the National Congress followed it, correctly seeing in the domination of British imperialism the basis of their slavery.
The National Congress was able to preserve its leadership over the masses of town poor, workers, student youth, artisans, etc. (who on their own initiative participated in a number of armed struggles with the police force of British imperialism), not by its positive political programme which under vague ‘radical’ promises conceals its bourgeois-feudal contents, but only on the basis of assurances of its loyalty to the independence movement, utilising the hatred of the people toward bloodthirsty robber imperialism and the still existing illusions of a “United National Front”.
In order to isolate the National Congress and all the “left” national reformists from the toiling masses, in order to help the separation of the forces of revolution and counter-revolution and to establish the hegemony of the proletariat in the struggle of the people, the Indian Communists must take the most energetic part in the anti-imperialist movement and must be in the forefront in all activities, demonstrations and clashes of the toiling masses with the imperialists, coming forward as the organisers of the mass struggle, everywhere and at all times, exposing openly and by concrete examples the treachery of the bourgeois National Congress and its “left” wing. It is necessary to participate in all mass demonstrations, organised by the Congress, coming forward with our own Communist slogans and agitation; support all the revolutionary student demonstrations, be at the forefront in the clashes with the police, protesting against all political arrests, etc., constantly criticising the Congress leaders, especially “left”, and calling on the masses for higher forms of struggle, setting before the toiling masses ever more concrete and ever more revolutionary tasks.
The experience of the Girni Kamgar Union confirms the correctness of this analysis. The Kandalkar-Roy group was able to split the GKU because paying lip service of their loyalty to the revolutionary struggle for independence they appealed to the workers to support the united national front and urged the workers to join the bourgeois National Congress, describing it as a people’s organisation, helping it thus to disorganise the revolutionary struggle of the toiling masses. It was only by use of “anti-imperialist” phraseologies, utilising the hatred of the working masses towards the imperialists, that the national reformists were able to attract considerable sections of the workers to their side.
But if the existence of “United National Front” illusions played its part in maintaining the influence of the National Congress, the self-isolation of the Communists objectively assisted the reformists and retarded the process of the breaking away of the workers from the bourgeois National Congress. The treacherous Roy-NN Joshi-Kandalkar group tries to hide its counter-revolutionary essence and its affiliation to the national reformist camp by the old and well-known bourgeois method, charging the Communists with ultra-radicalism and sectarianism.
This charge of sectarianism is nothing else but accusation of the Communists for their Bolshevist irreconcilability to national reformism, for their revolutionary hatred of the imperialist and feudal system of exploitation, for their persistent and continuous preparation and mobilisation of the toiling masses for the revolutionary overthrow of imperialist rule.
The treacherous Roy-Kandalkar group in their appeal to the Trade Union Congress in Calcutta, in the leaflet issued in Bombay against Bradley and the Meerut prisoners, by the condemnation of the position of the revolutionary wing at the Nagpur Congress of Trade Unions, by the organisation of a reactionary bloc with the Joshi-Giri-Bakhale group, by their disruptive work on the rail-roads, by their struggle against the general strike, the platform of action of the CPI, etc., only proved once more that they are agents of the bourgeoisie in the labour movement, that they are carrying on a policy of subordination of the working class to the bourgeoisie, that they are hindering the differentiation and break of the toiling masses with the national reformism and are disorganising the revolutionary struggle of the workers and peasants for independence, land and bread.
In phrases pledging their support to the Comintern, the Roy-Kandaikar-Joshi group in deeds are the worst enemies of the international revolutionary proletariat and the Indian
anti- imperialist and agrarian revolution.
... the Communists must also sharply combat all ideas of those comrades who unconsciously come to self-isolation from the mass anti-imperialist struggle through their desire to preserve the cadres in order to gain the time for building the Party.
Such a line is harmful and shortsighted The preservation of cadres, the guarantee of continuity and the formation of an illegal Party is an extremely necessary task. However, the fulfillment of u must be achieved not through self -isolation from the anti-imperialist struggle but only by the correct combination of illegal and legal methods of work and organisation and the most energetic drawing into our ranks and developing of new cadres from workers and trustworthy revolutionary youth.
3. The struggle against the National Congress and the petty-bourgeoisie
The increase of the dissatisfaction of the broad masses with the policy of the National Congress (negotiations in London, etc.), directly connected with the deepening of the crisis, the offensive of imperialism and the further revolutionising of the toiling masses has compelled the leaders of the National Congress to follow the path of new “Left” manoeuvres in order to strengthen their influence. ... These manoeuvres of the bourgeoisie show the process of ferment and disappointment which is spreading among the toiling masses and confirms the correctness of the platform of action of the CPI where it speaks of the necessity of the sharpest differentiation, criticism and exposure of “Left” national reformism, including its foremost detachment, the group of Roy, as the necessary pre-requisite for the mobilisation of the toiling masses for a revolutionary struggle and the creation of a mass CP.
Struggling against the bourgeois National Congress, some comrades mistakenly identify the bourgeoisie with the petty-bourgeoisie, mechanically contrasting the "class" interests of the proletariat with the independence movement as a whole, while other Communists, fighting against this mistaken conception, forget about the bourgeoisie, forget about the instability, the waverings and hesitations of the petty-bourgeoisie, sometimes in practice join with or follow the latter, thus objectively subordinating the proletariat to the leadership of the national bourgeoisie.
For example, it was a mistake when the leaders of the trade union movement stated (see Bombay Chronicle) that the split in Calcutta is a matter for the workers, affects only the trade union movement, is connected only with the economic struggle and has no connection whatsoever with the “patriotic” feelings of the nationalists. The struggle inside the working class against the bourgeoisie for the majority of the working class is of decisive importance for the whole of the anti-imperialist movement. The split and issues raised in Calcutta are also an important stage in the anti-imperialist struggle and the differentiation of the forces of revolution and counter- revolution. The organisation of an All-India centre of the trade union movement, based on the principles of the class struggle must serve, in spite of the mistakes made, not only for the class consolidation of the proletariat, but must* also help in the mobilisation of the peasantry and the revolutionary strata of the petty-bourgeoisie around the proletariat and its Communist vanguard. To do this it is necessary to distinguish between the revolutionary patriotism of the toiling masses suffering from national oppression and the treacherous counter-revolutionary pseudo “patriotism” of the bourgeoisie. We must learn to prove that that portion of the trade union Congress which followed Bose, Kandalkar, Roy and co. had carried on and is carrying on a struggle against the “patriotism”, against the anti-imperialist fight of the revolutionary people. Those who separate the class interests of the proletariat from the struggle for independence in practice drive the toiling masses and the revolutionary sections of the petty-bourgeoisie into the arms of the National Congress and the “Left” wing, strengthen the position of the bourgeoisie, instead of rallying the toiling masses around the Communist Party and fighting for the hegemony of the proletariat.
A mistake of an opposite character is the statement of some comrades that the anti-imperialist movement of 1930-31 can be described as a movement of the town petty-bourgeoisie. From the view point of these comrades, the proletariat and peasantry as the basic forces of the Indian revolution disappear, and the counter-revolutionary bourgeoisie with its still greater influence over the masses is forgotten. The tactics of the Communists as a result are adapted to the town petty-bourgeoisie and hence criticism of the National Congress and the “Left” national reformists is toned down. Among the supporters of this view there arose at the end of 1930, under the influence of the waverings of the town petty-bourgeoisie, a theory of “reaction” in the working class movement (see “Railwayman”, November 1930). This theory incorrectly explained the situation of 1930, and would be wrong for the present period. Is it correct as “Railwayman” states that the working class in 1930 came into motion under the influence of the dissatisfied petty-bourgeoisie and fell under its leadership?
It is not correct. In 1928-29 the proletariat by its strikes, by its struggle against the Simon and Whitley Commissions, by its revolutionary position at the Nagpur TU Congress, etc. aroused the petty-bourgeoisie to the anti-imperialist struggle. In 1930 the most active element in all mass actions in the towns (Bombay, Sholapur, Calcutta, Madras, etc.) was the working class. In many cases the advanced sections of the workers spontaneously took the initiative into their hands, drawing over the students and thi city poor to their side (Calcutta, etc.). ...
That which the author of the article called “reaction” in reality meant that among the workers there was a growing discontent with the treacherous policy of the National Congress, that the illusions of the “United National Front” had begun to disappear and a drift of the masses away from the National Congress had commenced. The absence of the CP hinders this process and makes it possible for the enemies of the working class to bring demoralisation into the ranks of the proletariat. It is from this point of view, without throwing the mistakes of revolutionary leaders on to the workers, that we should attentively consider the counter-revolutionary speech of Ruikar and the resolution adopted by the Nagpur textile trade union in January 1932. Speaking of the growing disbelief of the workers in the leaders of the National Congress, Ruikar called on the workers not to support any political party whatever but to carry on only an economic struggle, and persuaded the Nagpur textile union to pass a resolution not to take any further part in the national movement and to restrict themselves merely to the trade union struggle. (Bombay Chronicle, January 14).
... The position of the comrades who tried to secure unity with Kandalkar was entirely wrong because instead of raising questions of principle, the struggle against national reformism, they raised the question of persons, forgetting that the positions of groups and persons always reflect the interests of definite classes, and thus these comrades objectively have been helping the National Congress. The point of view of those comrades who think that criticism of the "Left" national reformists in the trade unions will lead to the isolation of the CP is wrong. On the contrary, if criticism is taken to the masses, the Communists will only strengthen their influence and win over the masses to their programme. We must catch the “Left” national reformists at their words, must expose before the masses their phrases appealing to the people comparing them with their deeds, showing that (he first and smallest test was the fact that instead of fighting against the imperialists they went to the Round Table Conference, instead of helping the peasants they helped the imperialists to collect taxes and now they are disorganising the no-rent movement, instead of supporting the workers they sabotage the general strike, instead of a revolutionary struggle they preach counter-revolutionary non- violence and submission, instead of supporting the revolutionary workers they split the Trade Union Congress in Calcutta and made an agreement with the Joshi and Giri group, the open agents of the imperialists, etc. Therefore, we must consider as incorrect the fact that the proletarian revolutionaries, while struggling against the national reformists at the Calcutta TU Congress, did not come out simultaneously with a special declaration against the Sen-Gupta group, thereby hindering the differentiation and the struggle against national reformism. The struggle against national reformism and still more against its dangerous variety the Roy-Kandalkar-VN Joshi group serves as a base and is connected with the overcoming of the two incorrect points of view which have appeared in the process of the formation of the Communist movement. One of these consists of passive resistance to the extensive recruiting of revolutionary workers into the ranks of the party. And the other consists of glossing over the class character of the Communist Party. It is wrong to propose to the revolutionary petty-bourgeois organisations to fuse with the Communist Party. An alliance of the proletariat with the peasantry is the basis of the strategy of the Indian CP, but while fighting for the leadership of the anti-imperialist and the general peasant struggle, we must not forget for a minute about the separate organisation of the town and village proletariat and the formation of a complete independent class Party — the Communist Party. While fighting in alliance with the peasantry, the Indian proletariat must preserve its class independence; ...
4. The peasants and the movement for non-payment of taxes
... The present “no-rent and no-tax” movement has a spontaneous character. The task of the Communists at the present time is: following the policy as outlined in the platform of action of the CPI to start actually the organisation of a mass movement for the non-payment of taxes, rent and debts, drawing into this campaign all revolutionary democratic elements and giving it the anti-imperialism character of the struggle for independence. Only in this way, proving by concrete examples how the “radical” words of the National Congress differ from their disorganising actions, will it be possible to isolate the national reformists and develop a powerful peasant movement. Besides direct agitational and organisational work by the Party and the utilisation of the industrial workers connected with the villages, it is necessary to call on the revolutionary elements of the rank and file followers of the National Congress, the youth leagues, the peasant organisation, etc., to undertake the organisation of a country-wide movement for the non-payment of taxes and rent, in spite of the National Congress and over its head, organising peasant committees, self-defence groups and establishing contacts with the town workers.
It is not correct to counter-pose the slogan of the general strike to the mass movement for non-payment of taxes and debts, civil disobedience and the boycott. While supporting this mass movement, the Communists must win the leadership of it, and exposing the treachery of the National Congress by concrete examples develop and guide it into genuinely revolutionary channels.
5. The slogan of the general strike and the struggle for the majority of the proletariat
At the end of 1930 some revolutionists (see article of “Railwayman”) took a negative attitude to the slogan of the general strike. These comrades explained their negative attitude claiming that the workers were not yet sufficiently class-conscious and that most of the trade unions opposed this slogan.
... The author of the article confused the question of the slogan of the general strike as a tactical line for Communists with the question of the date for calling the strike, which depends on a number of concrete factors. We must not, under the excuse of disagreement with the selection of a date for the strike, carry on a struggle against the tactical line of the revolutionary proletariat. “To consider the mood of the workers is important when to choose the moment of action but not for deciding the tactical line of action of the working class.” (Lenin).
It is also incorrect to consider the slogan of a general strike according to the attitude of the trade union leaders. The majority of the Indian trade unions are bureaucratic not mass organisations, acting against the interests of the working masses, without contact with them. At the present time the strength of these reformist trade unions is the result of the weak activity of the proletarian revolutionaries, of dis-organisation of the workers’ ranks and the fact that the national reformists utilise the anti-imperialist sentiment of the working class. It is useful to recollect the experience of Bombay in 1928 and the rapid breaking up of the textile “Union” of Joshi & Co.
When considering the slogan of the general strike we must not mistake the attitude of the reformist leaders for the real sentiments of the working class. This is a gross mistake.
In order to break down the disorganising influence and work of the reformists, it is necessary not to withdraw the slogan of the general strike, but on the contrary transfer the struggle for it to the rank and file, to the masses, exposing the reformists and organising the workers.
... The development of the strike movement places before the Communists the task of forming mass trade unions, factory committees, and the necessity to combine the battles for the everyday interests with the political struggle. The revolutionary TU movement has had a number of individual successes, the strike at Sholapur and Bombay, the calling of a conference of textile workers with the participation of 400 delegates from 60 factories, the strengthening of its position among the railwaymen, the growth of the workers' press, etc.
However, the weakness of the GKU the loss of the leadership of the strike at the “Madhowji Dharamsi” factory, the loss of the leadership in the tramway union, etc. also show that the Communists disdain the everyday work in the factories and trade unions, do not build up groups of active workers, do not form Communist fractions, do not carry on sufficient everyday organisational and agitational work. It is only by leading and defending the interests of the workers in large and small struggles constantly and every day, in attack and defence, that the Communist Party can win the unbreakable confidence of the working class and lead it to the decisive battle against the exploiting classes.
It is time to get rid of the traditions of the past in the trade unions, the traditions of bureaucratic methods of work from above, the division into leaders and rank and file, and to start to form mass trade unions with elected management committees, consisting of workers from the bench, regularly functioning and in contact with the working masses, boldly promoting workers, supporting them and in every way developing their initiative and self-reliance.
We must carry on energetic work among the workers who are following the reformist trade unions. It is a great mistake to continue the practice of self-isolation from workers’ meetings and the mass trade unions which are under the influence of the reformists. Communists must always take part in them and carry on work among the workers, urging them to join the united fighting front of the proletariat.
During strikes and other economic and political actions of the workers, it is necessary to propose to the workers who follow the reformists to help the general struggle, rake part in the rank and file unity committees, defend the workers' demands, etc. and thus nor in words but in deeds fight for the unity of the workers, exposing at the same time the reformists.
At the same time it is necessary to change the passive attitude of the Communists to the question of the All-Indian trade union movement and repudiate the special theory that “the trade union Congress is not something living and concrete for the workers”. In this, as in the other questions, there is shown lack of faith in the working class and local tasks are counter-posed to all-Indian tasks, the GKU is counter-posed to the trade union Congress.
Such counter-posing is very harmful. While developing a hundred times more our activity for strengthening the GKU and converting it into an All-Indian textile union (including Sholapur, Ahmedabad, Nagpur, etc.), it is necessary completely to dp away with a negative attitude towards the Aft-Indian trade union movement and begin to form mass trade unions all over the country in the coal, steel and jute industry, the plantations and the rail-roads, attracting to our side the workers of the reformist trade unions.
After the split of the Calcutta trade union Congress, the revolutionary wing did nothing to form a mass trade union movement while the national reformists are carrying on a “unity” campaign (i.e. disorganisation of the revolutionary proletariat), organised a number of All-Indian campaigns (“Labour Day”, etc.), formed a textile federation, seized the initiative on the rail-roads, formed provincial trade union councils, etc.
Even now the revolutionary trade union movement is in a position to send a number of groups of active workers to various centres in the country so as to start work among the rank and file workers. ...
6. The struggle for an all-Indian party
The biggest gain of the proletarian movement, the greatest move forward is the fact that the advanced workers and revolutionaries have entirely separated from the National Congress and commenced to form an illegal Communist Party. The idea of an illegal CP has already been adopted and is beginning to be carried out.
However, the development of the Indian Communist movement is being blocked by the state of discord, separate existence of the Party groups and connected with it a number of mistakes enumerated above, without overcoming of which the movement cannot develop further normally.
If the period of isolated circles might have been considered to be inevitable in 1930 and at the beginning of 1931, at the present time such a position must be considered as extremely harmful and dangerous to the further development of the Communist movement.
... It must be recognised that the Party organisation has not carried on a correct line, and instead of a struggle for the Party it has in reality taken the line of provincialism. Instead of helping the local groups, it has taken up the position of self-limitation and reducing the whole Party merely to a local organisation not linked up with other local organisations. Instead of rousing and organising the ideological struggle for the Party, widely explaining and discussing all the questions of principle of the movement (for which purpose it is necessary in the shortest possible time to create an illegal printed organ of the Central Committee and legal newspapers), the Party organisation was not even able to continue the publication of the legal Marxist paper of an all-Indian importance. The absence of such illegal and legal papers (and its substitution by the trade union press does not save the position) not only drove all disagreements deep inside, hindering the working out of a united Party line, but it played a tremendous negative role in the formation of the Communist Party, strengthening of contacts between the various districts, development of the class struggle against the imperialists and the bourgeoisie, and winning of the workers and the revolutionary youth to the side of the Communist Party. Revolutionary newspapers are appearing everywhere in the country (in Calcutta, Madras, Punjab, etc.), trying to preach Marxism and defend the proletarian point of view. However, the absence of an illegal (and a legal) Party press makes it exceedingly difficult to influence them, to struggle against confusion, discord and gross mistakes, hinders the working out of a united Communist line and the establishment of unity of views and methods of struggle. It is necessary to understand firmly the teachings of Lenin on the role of a central Party paper as an agitator and organiser of the masses and the Party. This is particularly important for the present period of the Indian Communist movement.
... The existence of the Party as a number of isolated groups brings about complaints that there are no forces, no comrades available, that it is impossible to cope with the great tasks facing the revolutionary movement. Hence we often find passivity, despondency, mutual disputes, deviations of all kinds, sectarianism and an opportunist attitude to national reformism, on the basis of which the possibility of splits not on a principle basis becomes very easy. However, this complaint about the absence of forces is contradicted by thousands of facts of every day life which show that among the workers and the revolutionary youth there are thousands of active fighters sympathetic to the CP.
It is necessary to come out decisively for an All-Indian CP. While increasing in every way, hundreds of times, local work (especially in Calcutta, etc.) it is necessary at the same time somewhat to move the centre of gravity of Party work to the All- Indian activity and begin to build the Party, carrying on the struggle for a common political Me, creating a net of local Party organisations, developing the sense of responsibility, Party feeling and discipline, encouraging local initiative, and courageously drawing into our ranks workers and those revolutionary intellectuals who are true to the working class cause. ...
... The leading organs of the Party and the kernel of the Party organisations must be in an illegal position and that mixing the conspirative and open apparatus of the Party organisation is fatal for the Party and plays into the hands of the Government provocation. While developing the illegal organisation in every way, measures must be taken for preserving and strengthening the conspirative kernel of the Party organisation. For the purpose of all kinds of open activity (in the press, meetings, leagues, trade unions, etc.), special groups and commissions etc. should be formed which, working under the leadership of Party committees, should under no circumstances injure the existence of illegal nuclei.
To sum up : the slogan of an All-Indian illegal, centralised Communist Party, ideologically and organisationally united, a true section of Comintern, fighting for the platform of action of the CPI and the programme of the Communist International must become the central slogan for gathering and forming the Party and for the struggle against waverings, against a tendency of keeping to isolated circles, against toning down the struggle against national reformism and opportunist sectarianism, all of which hinder the victory of the working class.
... There can be no greater crime than if the Communists (having their platform of action of the CPI and if they agree with the present letter) instead of struggle for great historical aims of the Indian and world proletariat, will follow the path of unprincipled factional struggle, fractions and personal groupings. Unprincipled factional struggle will play into the hands of the British imperialist. True Communist groups must put the interests of the proletariat above everything else, direct all their efforts towards the rapid formation of the Communist Party, settling all disputed questions within the framework of the Communist International and if necessary with its assistance.
The Communists of the whole world do not doubt that, in spite of their present weakness, inexperience and certain isolation, the Indian Communists will show sufficient Bolshevist firmness, courage and decisiveness to come out on the broad all-Indian arena of struggle for the Party — the leader and organiser of the Indian revolution.
CENTRAL COMMITTEE OF THE
COMMUNIST PARTY OF CHINA.
CENTRAL COMMITTEE OF THE
COMMUNIST PARTY OF GREAT BRITAIN.
CENTRAL COMMITTEE OF THE
COMMUNIST PARTY OF GERMANY.
The Indian Revolution And Our Task
We are passing through one of the most critical periods in the history of India. The poverty and distress of the Indian people have surpassed all limits, the tables of the most wanton cruelty and exploitation ever recorded in history pale into insignificance before the cruel oppression and exploitation which have become the daily fate of the Indian masses. The price of foodstuff and crops have gone ridiculously down which show that the producers, i.e., the peasantry, cannot realise even the cost of production by selling their produce. ... The condition of the working class is no better. Hundreds of thousands have been discharged from services, rationalisation by means of huge cuts of ridiculously low wages, forced leaves etc. have become the order of the day and even now all the industries are belching forth armies of unemployed whose only provision is to die in the street. The pauperised intelligentsia of the towns and cities are in the same condition. ...
The National Congress cannot be the leaders of the Indian revolution.
As we said in our manifesto of December 23rd, 1931, the state of national struggle is nothing less than a tragedy. The peasantry is rising up in open revolt in many places, the workers are coming out in spontaneous strikes, the petty bourgeoisie are manifesting their great unrest and dissatisfaction by repeated terrorist actions. In fact, we are presented with the best opportunity for launching a decisive struggle for independence — yet there is no coordination among the isolated struggles, there is no clear cut policy, there is the greatest confusion regarding our goal and our method. This is due to counter-revolutionary activities of the Indian bourgeoisie and their organisation, the Indian National Congress. The Congress has openly declared itself against the peasantry and in favour of the blood sucking zamindars and landlords. For example Gandhi speaking about the aim of the Congress said “Let me warn you against listening to the advice if it has reached you that you have no need to pay Zamindars any rent at all. ... We (Congressmen) do not speak to injure the Zamindars” (Vide Statesman, May 24,1931). ...
Against imperialism also it has shown the most cowardly compromising and vacillating attitude. Moved by the rising discontent and open revolt of the masses (the uprising at Peshawar, Sholapur, Mid-napore etc.) it had to carry on the policy of Civil Disobedience in 1930, but it was itself afraid of the violent, objective revolutionary force of the masses which grew out of the timid, passive Civil Disobedience movement. So as soon as British Imperialism beckoned to it the Congress leaders flocked like tame dogs to that oppressive representative of the British Government — Lord Irwin — and signed a pact with him in 1931, without waiting for the verdict of people. We ask you friends, did we gain anything by that pact ? ...
Non-violence is poison for the masses, but terrorism cannot succeed
The Congress stands for non-violence. This they have to for, otherwise, mass violence will sweep away British Imperialism and along with it the interrelated classes of Zamindars and merchants whose interests are the interests of Congress. ... When the peasants of Chauri-Chaura rose up in revolt against the British Government, the Congress was alarmed and Gandhi passed his notorious resolution at Bardoli, repudiating the masses and calling off the movement for he feared that once the revolutionary force in the masses were roused, it will spread like contagion and win complete independence for the workers and peasants.
Yes, violence is necessary and armed revolution is the only way for India’s national emancipation. But here we are constrained to admit that the path followed by our terrorist friends cannot succeed. The terrorist movement has no connection with the broad masses of the people, the workers and the peasants, and as such it is foolish to suppose that a few isolated attempts will destroy British Imperialism. No, such a movement is too weak. In Ireland the IRA, which made some use of terrorist [methods] was not primarily a terrorist body — it was the organised vanguard of an armed nation in revolt and its methods of struggle were not [so] much terrorism as guerilla warfare. It had a popular agrarian programme which ensured the support of most of the rural people. Even so, it was only partially successful. In other countries terrorism has always failed and in India also, in spite of great sufferings and sacrifices for many years the terrorists have failed to achieve anything.
Dear terrorist friends! We are not crying you down like the Congress leaders who, terrified by the ordinances and government repression, openly denounce you and all violent means. We know and preach that violence is necessary and we appreciate the immense sacrifices which you have made. We fully understand that dissatisfied with the prevailing economic condition and disappointed by the timid and counter-revolutionary Congress programme you, in your zeal for the cause of revolution, have reported to terrorist tactics. We only appeal to you to get a clear vision about the path and the goal of the Indian Revolution, to preach for the cause of the violent Indian Revolution among the masses of India under the leadership of the Communist Party of India, to rouse the masses into an armed revolt. That alone is the way to success.
Non-violence cannot succeed — terrorism has never succeeded — but our comrades in the USSR have shown what communism can do. They have established the authority of the proletariat, freed the country from the Czar’s despotism, broken down the open and secret resistances of British, French, German, American and Japanese imperialism freed the Czar’s colonies, educated the illiterate masses and set up a new socialist order in which the exploitation of man by man has totally ceased. When the whole world is plunged into deep distress and economic disorder due to the crisis brought in by imperialism, our comrades in the USSR are building up gigantic industries, have given work and bread to every man and woman in the state [and] are marching triumphantly towards their goal — the socialist society. So, while other methods have failed, Communism has succeeded. Then, as the other methods have been tried in India and that without success, communism must also be given its chance and it will surely bring in victory.
Communism is not, as some interested persons would have you believe, a thing imported from Russia. It is a theory growing out of the condition of the oppressed and exploited in all lands and as regards these things India has only too much of them. Communism for India is a thing adapted to the requirements of the Indian people and the process of evolution of Indian Society, but basically both these things are of the same character in all lands.
The Communists do not profess to bring in a Socialist Society in India at once. The opportunists and self-seekers might have told you that the communists want immediately to establish the Dictatorship of the proletariat in India. No, this is a downright falsehood. While maintaining that socialism is the ultimate goal of the Indian Society and while recognising that the Dictatorship of the Indian Proletariat is a stepping stone to that stage, the Communist Party of India puts forth clearly that the coming Indian revolution shall be a bourgeois democratic revolution, that the immediate aim of the revolution is to establish the Federated Soviet Republic of the Workers’ and Peasants’ of India and not the Dictatorship of the Proletariat. Any sincere revolutionary will agree with the Communist Party of India in declaring that the following are the fundamental and immediate demands of the Indian national revolution:
- 1. The complete independence of India by the violent overthrow of the British rule. The cancellation of all state debts. The confiscation and nationalisation of all British factories, banks, railway, sea and river transport and plantations as well as of all big native concerns.
- 2. Establishment of a Federal Soviet Republic of the Workers and Peasants of India. Right of national minorities to self determination, including separation. Abolition of the native States.
- 3. The confiscation without compensation of all the land, forest and other property of landlords, ruling princes, churches, temples, mosques, the British Government officials and moneylenders, and handing over for use to the toiling peasantry. Cancellation of slave agreements and all the indebtedness of the peasantry to money-lenders and banks.
- 4. The eight hour working day and all the radical improvements in the conditions of labour. Increase ia wages and state maintenance for the unemployed.
The working class shall lead the Indian revolution
The bourgeois National Congress is not fighting for the masses, not even its so-called “Left” Section. The representatives of the “left” — Jawaharlal, Bose — are even worse than the right and its representative Gandhi, for the latter is, at least frank in his confession that he is against the peasants and the workers. The former sound empty phrases and try to confuse the issues, Jawaharlal, who after 3 or 4 days’ sojourn at Moscow suddenly turned a socialist and who emphatically declared at the Calcutta Congress that “the spirit oozes out of me when I think that I am fighting for Dominion Status”, meekly supported Dominion Status at Lahore and Karachi and Bose and others of the so-called left followed suit! Dear comrades, did we fill the prisons, suffer terrible repression for Dominion Status ? ...
The historic task of leading the Indian revolution to victory, of establishing the Workers’ and Peasants’ Soviet republic in India and of establishing the Socialist order of Society through the Dictatorship of the Proletariat devolves upon the working class of India — the most revolutionary class. It is best fitted for the task, for it has no chains of property to bind it down, and it has everything to gain by the revolution. ...
And its vanguard is the Communist Party of India
The Communist Party of India is the vanguard of the Indian working class. It has grown and will grow stronger out of the struggles of the workers of India, it is a part of the Indian working class, it gives expression to the need which the working class feels in the course of its struggles for a leading fighting party. ... It prides itself in the fact that it is a section of the Communist International, that is marching shoulder to shoulder with the proletariat of all lands for the world revolution, for the emancipation of mankind.
The workers’ and peasants’ soviet republic
Experiences of Russia and China have shown that the Soviet form of the state is the natural form of state for the masses. All parliamentary states, though they profess to be democratic, are in reality democracy for the few, for the big capitalists, for finance capital. The great majority of the people, the workers and the peasants, are repressed and persecuted by them, the fundamental right of better living is denied to the majority by these states, while they pass laws and adopt every measure to secure the ease, comfort, luxury and wealth of a few. But the Soviet form of state is genuinely democratic though it curbs down the power of the bourgeoisie; being a Dictatorship of the Workers and Peasants, it gives effect to the will of the masses, the overwhelming majority. Though it strikes at and nationalises big capital, it gives land to the peasant and allows small concerns and distributive trades to go on. Only later, when the working class is strong enough to take on itself the complete control of the economic life of the country in detail, will all industries and services be nationalised. Its policy will be to build up industry as quickly as possible, so that the essential pre-requisites of a proletarian revolution are developed and then Socialism will become possible through the Dictatorship of the Proletariat.
And how to fight for it ?
The gigantic class struggle which will lead the Indian working class to the seizure of power is still in its earlier stages. For this the widest possible mass of the people must be rallied upon their respective partial demands such as,
(1) 8 hour day for adults and 4 hour for youths (2) Higher wages (3) No direct or indirect taxation (4) Annulment of debts of the peasants, workers, artisans and poor petty-bourgeoisie (5) Old age, unemployment etc. insurance at state cost (6) Minimum wage of Rs 50/- pm (7) Abolition of caste, colour and sex distinction (8) Unlimited freedom of press, speech and assembly (9) Allotment of land to the soldiers and policemen (10) Universal free and compulsory education in the national language of the pupils, free boarding, clothing and supply of book to children at state cost (11) Release of all political prisoners etc. etc. (See Platform of Action of the Communist Party of India for fuller details).
The fight for these demands will convince the masses that even the slightest demands cannot be fulfilled without overthrowing imperialism and it will lead the masses into open revolt and struggle against imperialism. They will be led to insurrection and violent challenge against the established authority. But before the seizure of power, new organs of power must be created among the workers and peasants, revolutionary committees or Soviets of workers, peasants and soldiers' deputies must be formed all over the country and these committees will fight the offensive of the present state and after overwhelming it with the help of mass insurrection will take over the function of the state in their own hands.
To ensure the victory of the insurrection the sympathy and support of the soldiers and the police must be enlisted. The Indian soldiers and the police are in the main poor peasants, who have been forced to seek employment in the army and the police by poverty, landlessness and hunger. The Communist Party of India fights for the allotment of land to the soldiers and the police equally with all other toiling peasants. It must be explained to the soldiers, the ex-soldiers and the policemen that the only means of acquiring land abolishing indebtedness and getting work is the revolutionary overthrow of British and feudal supremacy. ...
The soldiers and police won over to the side of revolution and local revolutionary Soviets of the workers, peasants, soldiers and policemen set up, these will fight for the establishment of the Workers' and Peasants’ Soviet Republic and the All India Congress of Soviets will take up the state power in its own hands after defeating and overthrowing imperialism through mass insurrection.
These are the main features of the immediate tasks and forms of struggle of the Indian revolution and for putting them into practise the Communist Party of India must be strengthened.
Against Roy opportunism and treachery
In this connection it is necessary to expose the treachery and opportunism of groups masquerading under the name of the Communist Party of India whose real motive are to serve the interest of Indian capitalism by disrupting the working class movements and organisations. The latest move in this direction is being made by MN Roy and his group. Roy, who was driven out of the CI on account of his counter-revolutionary activities in China and his opently siding with the Communist [revisionist] Opposition of the imbecile and treacherous Brandler group, has an equally treacherous and counter-revolutionary group in India which has recently adopted the name of the CP of India. We appreciate the sacrifices which Roy had formerly made in the cause of the Indian revolution and we join with all in demanding his release as well as that of all political prisoners from the imperialist jail. But nevertheless, the policy adopted and followed by his group is directly against the interest of the Indian working class and meant to sabotage the Indian working class movement which is part of the movement of the International proletariat. As the name of Roy and his former association with the Communist International, the organisation of the international proletariat, may delude some, especially the petty-bourgeois intellectuals, it is necessary to show the real counter-revolutionary colour of the theory and practice of the Roy group.
But it is not easy to do so because Roy has not advanced any consistent policy regarding the Indian national revolution after his expulsion from the CI. In 1930 he talked of capturing the Dist. Congress Committees and [his] latest work (Our Task in India by MN Roy) speaks about setting up “local committees of deputies elected by the workers and peasants, artisans and employees, poor intellectuals and small traders’ organisations.” ... He says that “the signal for instruction will be the slogan for the election of the National Constituent Assembly” which, he admits “includes a large bourgeois element”. But still he tries to fool the masses by saying that “the Constituent Assembly is not a bourgeois parliament”, it is a “Democratic Dictatorship under the hegemony of the proletariat”. Apart from his own admission we all know from the history of Paris of May 4, 1948 and of the Russian Constituent Assembly of 1917-18 that the Constituent Assembly is the crown of parliamentary institutions, that it is here that the bourgeoisie revel in persecuting the oppressed and the exploited. Roy, who makes so much of being a thorough-bred Marxist, (read turncoat) has discreetly forgotten and overlooked like Kautsky, that Marx was emphatic in repudiating the Constituent Assembly of May 4, 1848, saying “The National Constituent Assembly, elected by universal suffrage ... was an embodied protest against the aspirations of the February days and its aim was to guide the revolution back into bourgeois channels” (18th Brumaire). When the workers and peasants of India have violently overthrown British Imperialism and called for the session of the Constituent Assembly cherished by Roy, the bourgeoisie will also join the Constituent Assembly, as they did in Russia, and their favourite agents like Roy and his followers will be given comfortable posts in the Cabinet, as they gave to Tseretteli, Tchernoff and Co. in Russia. Further, as we said in the beginning of this para, Mr Roy is changing colours too often. In the “Masses of India” of July 1927 he attacked Comrade Dange because the latter had called himself an Indian Communist and wrote, “Communist movement in a country must be a national section of the international communist movement” and now in his “Our Task in India” he does not say that the Indian working class will fight hand in hand with the international proletariat for world revolution and now he is showing the greatest zeal in abusing the Communist International, the only revolutionary organisation of the international proletariat! But let the dogs bark.
It is clear that the Constituent Assembly is a reactionary slogan meant to dupe the masses and this is made more manifest by the adoption of the name of the Communist Party of India by the counter-revolutionary Roy group. The counter-revolutionary role of the Roy group. The counter-revolutionary role of the Roy group is clearly exposed by their behaviour and attitude at the Calcutta session of the Trade Union Congress. They sided with the treacherous national reformists of Bose & Co. (whom even Mr Roy had formerly been emphatic in denouncing !) and caused a split among the workers. At Bombay their activities are meant solely to disrupt the working class movement and cause split among the militant trade unions by misleading them into reformist lines.
The real immediate slogan of the Communist Party of India is the “Workers’ and Peasants’ Soviet Republic” and the steps to that goal have been treated above hi detail. It is a dangerous and laborious process, but there is no alternative. In order to achieve our purpose it is urgently necessary to build up a strong, underground, All-Indian Communist Party and it is our earnest appeal to all real revolutionaries to form secret groups and nuclei, to join the ranks of the Communist Party, to develop the revolutionary working class movement and to fight for the ultimate attainment of Socialism.
To all communists and class-conscious workers
The Communist movement in India has now reached such a stage of development that it is absolutely necessary to raise resolutely and firmly the standard of struggle for an All-Indian Communist Party, for uniting and welding together all the individual communists and isolated groups, for the organisational and ideological unity of the Communist ranks, utilising and developing at the same time the initiative from below to form and develop new local groups and organisations. We have read with pleasure the Open Letter addressed to the Indian Communists by the Central Committees of the CPs of China, Great Britain and Germany and we admit that excepting a few misinformation and exaggerations the points advanced in that letter and the criticisms made therein are true. Yes, “it is necessary to come out decisively for an All-Indian CP” and “to somewhat move the centre of gravity of Party work to the All-India activity and begin to build the party, carrying on the struggle for a common political line, creating a net of local Party organisations, developing the sense of responsibility, Party feeling and discipline, encouraging local initiative and courageously drawing into our ranks workers and those revolutionary intellectuals who are true to the working class cause”. Fighting against all opportunism inside and outside our ranks, it is up to you, comrades, to carry on the above tasks and fulfil the Indian revolution. We have committed many mistakes in the past, even now there are motives of provincialism and self-isolation in the ranks of the CPI, but let us not be downcast by them — let us put the interests of the proletariat above everything else and direct all our efforts towards the rapid formation of the COMMUNIST PARTY.
On To The Formation Of A Strong All-Indian Party!
Victory To The Indian Revolution !
Meerut And After
The pamphlet was originally intended to be published in December, 1932, but due to various reasons and difficulties it could not come out of the press till March, 1933. In the meantime the imperialists have convicted the comrades in the Meerut Communist Conspiracy Case. Even the despotism of the Russian Tsars and the oppression of the slave-owners of yore pale into insignificance before the wanton cruelty with which the blood-thirsty imperialists have persecuted the Communists in the Meerut Case. Even the most light-hearted shudder at the monstrous sentences passed on them.
But if the imperialist persecution is without parallel, it at the same time reveals the inherent weakness of imperialism, it brings out clearly how much the imperialists fear the Indian working-class offensive against imperialism, which was only started by the Meerut comrades. It has objectively roused the fury of the Indian masses against imperialism and this is revealed by the huge protests and fights of the workers at Calcutta, Bombay, Nagpur, etc. in defence of their leaders. The recent arrest and trial of the working-class leaders at Calcutta, Nagpur and Bombay in connection with the observance of the Meerut Day shows vividly the utter bankruptcy of imperialism and the stubborn will of the Indian working class to fight for their demands on the policy and tactics of communism.
Comrades ! let us not lose this opportunity. The objective conditions are distinctly in favour of the rapid growth and crystallisation of a very strong, underground and All-Indian Communist Party and we repeat to you the appeal in our Meerut Day leaflet to overcome your petty quarrels and to hurl yourselves with zeal, courage and determination into the immediate task of “CLOSING THE COMMUNIST RANKS”. The CC of the CPI has been split up with quarrels on account of its own faults and weaknesses. Let us close thai sad chapter in the history of the CPI and reform with new vigour and earanestness a strong and really representative Central Committee of the Communist Party of India, let us bring out a Central organ of the CPI let us infuse fresh blood into the party and — with a really organised Party — let us immediately take the lead in the anti- imperialist fight of the Indian working class.
Close the Communist Ranks
Release the Meerut Prisoners
Create a Central Party Organ
Lead The Struggle Against Imperialism
Calcutta Committee of the
Communist Party of India
Open Letter To The Indian Communists From The Chinese Communist Party
We send the warmest greetings to the Indian Communists, our class brothers, our heroic comrades in the struggle of oppressed mankind for freedom.
More than a year has passes since we jointly with British and German Communist Parties sent you the open letter. We have been watching the events in your country with unceasing attention and have been following your self-sacrificing struggle. With truest and warmest desire to help in your great cause, we are giving you our experience and our ideas on the most important questions of the present revolutionary movement in India.
There is no doubt, that the chief and decisive question is the formation of a militant mass Indian Communist Party. The successful development of the revolutionary mass struggle is possible only under the leadership of a firm Communist Vanguard. ...
There is not yet such an all-Indian Party in existence. We are becoming more and more uneasy at the slowness of the process of the formation of the Communist Party of India. It is true that the Communists in India are faced with many difficulties. The considerable isolation of India from the international workers’ movement, when bloody British imperialism tries in every way to prevent contacts between the revolutionary movement in India and the international proletariat — plays its negative role. It is not an easy task to break the toiling masses away from the influence of national reformism and form a mass Communist Party. It is not easy in the conditions of the barbarous monopolist domination of British imperialism and the cunning manoeuvres of the conciliatory and anti-revolutionary bourgeoisie. But in spite of all these difficulties, we must realise that the conditions are favourable and fully mature for the uniting and rallying together of-all the Communist groups, for organising an all-India Communist Party. In some of your documents you correctly write that the peasants and the working class of India are sinking deeper and deeper into the sea of poverty and ruin. Likewise the propertyless intelligentsia is doomed to death from starvation, while the bourgeois leaders of the National Congress are crawling on their knees before the British oppressors. The general situation in your country is characterised at the present time by the fact that through a pseudo-constitution and other manoeuvres, on the one hand, with the help of furious terror on the other hand, British imperialism is trying to strengthen its positions of domination and oppression of the people. The Indian bourgeoisie, which stopped the civil disobedience campaign and continues its capitulatory policy, clears the path for the rule of British imperialism. At the same time ever wider sections of the toilers are turning their eyes towards the path of the revolutionary struggle against the imperialists and feudalists, they are seeking revolutionary leadership. IN THESE CONDITIONS, THE RAPID FORMATION OF THE COMMUNIST PARTY IS THE CENTRAL TASK OF THE INDIAN REVOLUTION.
This is why we welcome the CALCUTTA COMMITTEE of the Communist Party of India, which energetically took up the call for the formation of an All-India Communist Party, which understood the necessity to shift the centre of gravity of Party work to activities on an all-Indian scale and which proposed to put an end to the pitiful chapter in the history of the CP of India the chapter of petty squabbles and splits and to open a new page by the formation of a powerful united Communist Party of India.
We hope that the Calcutta Committee, just as other local organisations, will show initiative and will energetically take up the task of uniting the scattered Communist groups and thus from the foundation of a mass Party. In India there are many Communists. If they are united and organised in a Bolshevik manner, their strength, influence and role will tremendously increase. ...
The platform of action of the CP of India gave a correct Bolshevik analysis of the nature and driving forces of the Indian Revolution and the leading role of the prolatariat.
However, the working class, with the Communist Party at its head, can win and carry out its leadership only while PARTICIPATING IN THE STRUGGLE, when masses will see in practice that the Communists represent the only force capable of leading the revolutionary people to victory. The attention of the masses is concentrated now on the solution of a number of revolutionary democratic tasks. ...
And therefore it is clear that the task of Communists is to ENTER AND TAKE CHARGE OF ALL THESE DEMOCRATIC MOVEMENTS, of all movements of discontent against the existing order, whatever questions cause them to arise, and to go everywhere with Communist agitation, putting forward proposals and slogans at every pretext, constantly explaining and showing in practice that the path of the national-reformists is the path of defeat and slavery. Only when the workers and peasants and the semi-proletarians of the towns and villages see that in the struggle for their everyday economic demands, in the demonstrations against terror and arrests, in the movement against the payment of rent and taxes, in the conflicts with the police and officials, in every mass action whether it comes from the students or small toilers, peasants or workers, in the struggle against the caste system, etc. the communists come forward at the head and fight consistently and to the end, only then will the toiling masses, and not only the peasants and workers, BECOME CONVINCED that the Communists are the real leaders of the people who can be trusted and with whom it is possible to march to the end in the struggle for independence, land and power.
Look at our Chinese experience. In the revolution of 1925-27 the working class of our country became an independent class force, the leader of the toiling masses. Our Party became a mass Party and began to play a big role on the political arena of China. THIS WAS POSSIBLE ONLY BECAUSE OF THE PARTICIPATION OF OUR PARTY IN THE DEMOCRATIC MOVEMENT AND ESPECIALLY IN THE ANTI-IMPERIALIST STRUGGLE FOR THE INDEPENDENCE OF CHINA. In the revolution of 1925-27 our Party applied the tactic of a united national front. It is true, this united national front could not have been and was not long, because in the condition of a growing revolution the Chinese bourgeoisie (and Kuomintang) turned to the camp of imperialism, reactionary militarists and landlords and became the worst enemy of the revolution. On the other side the former leadership of our Party was not able to avoid the worst opportunist mistakes while carrying out the tactic of the united front. It did not sufficiently defend the independence of the Communist Party and in the interests of the bourgeoisie limited and narrowed the struggle of the masses. AND HOWEVER BADLY WE CARRIED OUT THE TACTICS OF THE UNITED REVOLUTIONARY FRONT WITH THE NATIONAL BOURGEOISIE, whatever gross mistakes we may have made, nevertheless it is thanks to those tactics of the united front that we have obtained our successes in the struggle against imperialists and the conversion of our Party into a powerful political factor. Without these tactics the successes of the Northern Campaign of 1925 would have been impossible. We could not have organised the proletariat and roused it to the struggle as rapidly as the revolution demanded, we could not have drawn in the peasant reserves. The rapid growth of the organisation of the workers and peasants, the powerful development of the strike struggle of the proletariat and the rapid growth of the peasant movement in 1927, all these achievements which gave great power to our Parly would have been impossible if we had not adopted at the same time the TACTICS OF THE UNITED NATIONAL FRONT, IF WE HAD STOOD APART FROM THE PARTICIPATION IN THE GENERAL NATIONAL MOVEMENT IF WE HAD NOT ENERGETICALLY JOINED IN THE ANTI-IMPERIALIST STRUGGLE, if we had not attracted the broad masses to it, if we had not struggled for the leading influence in this struggle and if we had not determinedly exposed the counter-revolutionary essence of national reformist.
In India, owing to the concilatory position of the bourgeoisie, the tactic of the all-embracing united national front could not find application even the early stages of the anti-imperialist and agrarian revolution. In India it can only be a question of the policy of the revolutionary bloc of the workers and the basic masses of the petty-bourgeoisie. Of course this means a bloc of the masses and not combinations of leaders. In this form it is absolutely necessary to apply the tactic of the united front in the national liberation movement in India. The essence of Bolshevik policy is to preserve and strengthen the independent class character of the Communist Party, to avoid being dissolved in the petty-bourgeois sea, to paralyse the influence of the bourgeoisie on the masses, and at the same time create the UNITED FRONT OF WORKERS, PEASANTS AND URBAN PETTY-BOURGEOISIE, utilise any temporary allies, carrying the struggle for leadership of the national movement for independence, land and freedom.
And as far as we can understand the developing conditions in India we believe they are specially favourable to establish the hegemony of the working class in the anti-imperialist movement IF WE APPLY THE TACTIC OF THE UNITED FRONT. ...
... At the present period of mass disappointment with the policy of the National Congress, along with the appearance of national revolutionary groups outside or inside the National Congress, we see the appearance of such “oppositional” groups as the group of the renegade Roy, who concealed by “left” phrases and a half-criticism of the policy of the National Congress, came out in practice against the development of the mass revolutionary struggle of the workers and peasants, carry on the old policy of subordinating the working class to the bourgeoisie and maintaining the leading position of the bourgeois National Congress among the masses of the people. The duty of the Indian Communists is to raise the banner of struggle against the Constitution, develop it on the lines of the mass movement, linking it up with the strike movement in defence of the immediate demands of the masses, directing it to support the general strike, non-payment of rent, debts and taxes and the liberation of the political prisoners. The duty of the Indian Communists is to call for united front of workers, peasants, students and urban poor, and to BEGIN TO FORM IT in the struggle against the Constitution, appealing to the rank and file adherents of the Congress to support the struggle of the workers and peasants. And expose at the same time the new attempts of the “left” national reformists to deceive the toiling masses as was done previously by the League of Independence. It would not be correct for the Indian Communists to abandon the struggle against the Constitution and limit themselves merely to the economic struggle. The comrades who take such a point of view are stepping towards a harmful sectarianism, isolate themselves from the movement for independence and do not understand the necessity to attract all democratic groups capable of marching together with the working class along even part of the path against the imperialists. It is wrong to counter-pose the anti-imperialist to the strike struggle, it is necessary to conduct both at the same time. The attractive force of the Communist Party will grow, and its rising significance as a revolutionary factor will increase in proportion to its rising participation in the anti-imperialist struggle and its ability to take the lead in all the actions of the Indian people against British imperialism. ...
The growing wave of the economic struggle demands from you to overcome your weaknesses at once. With Bolshevik directness we must state that the experience of the strikes in 1932-33 testified once more that you have not yet learned to build amass trade union organisation, you do not know how to work well in the factories, you do not organise and attract active workers into the struggle and into the Party, you do not carry on everyday organisational preparatory work, you do not take the initiative into your hands in the struggle for the unity of the working class, you do not adopt the tactics of the united front in the workers’ organisations and do not carry on work in the reformist trade unions.
We wish here to call your attention to a most serious mistake made by some Indian Communists, who confuse the role of the Party and the trade unions and are unable to take the lead in the struggle for the unity of the proletariat. It seems to us that the absence of a Communist Party explains the fact that the process of the separating out of the revolutionary wing of the proletariat in 1929-32 from national-reformism took the form of splitting the trade unions, which to a certain extent, owing to confusion, replaced the Party, served as the only arena on which the ideological and organisational separation of the Communists from reformism took place. Some Indian Communists were unable to understand that the struggle against reformism does not necessarily mean a split in the mass organisations and should not lead to the Communists and the class conscious workers leaving these trade unions which are headed by reformists and national reformists. Such a sectarian policy has only strengthened the position of the bourgeoisie and their agents. At the same time some other Communists have not understood that the work in the reformist trade unions or unity with the national-reformist trade union organisations (which you should not decline even now) presupposes a tireless struggle of the Communists against reformism, for Communist policy, for our slogans and proposals.
Agreements with the national-reformists in the trade unions, strike committees, for various campaigns and concrete mass actions, or EVEN THE UNITY of the Red and national-reformist trade unions in places where the latter have the masses with them, must not lead to the abandonment of the independence of the Communist Party, the abandonment of our principles, the abandonment of the open defence and propaganda of our views and our right to criticise and expose the vacillations and treachery of the national-reformists. ...
The struggle against Kandalkar and other “left” national- reformists does not mean refusal to work in the reformist trade unions, does not mean to refuse to carry on the tactic of the united front with working class organisations or even the joining together of the Red and mass national-reformist trade unions. This is important to understand. This is necessary to carry on particularly at the present period of growing economic and political struggles. ...
... It is necessary to begin serious work in the reformist trade unions and in very kind of mass reformist organisations, with the aim of winning over to our side the masses who are in these organisation. ...
The experience of our revolution, which we wish to share with you, consists in the main in the struggle of the proletariat for the leadership of the Independence Movement, which is decisive for the fate of the revolution. But the hegemony of the proletariat presupposes the tireless work of the Party for strengthening the fighting alliance of the working class and the toiling masses of the peasants under the leadership of the proletariat. ...
We have returned once again to the question of the Communist Party. But now we wish to deal with it from another angle. ... The struggle on two fronts in theory and practice was, and is, the basis of the activity of our Party. We have carried on an untiring struggle inside the Party against the “right” opportunists and “left” putschist sectarian deviation, for ideological Bolshevik uniformity. ...
... You must struggle against petty-bourgeois individualism self-centred pride, which hinders the consolidation of the Party. You must struggle against those who deny the necessity or oppose the formation of an underground All-Indian Communist Party, who neglect to use legal possibilities, who occupy a tailist position, who give up the role of the initiators in the strike struggle, who show any irresoluteness in exposing the Congressites and the reformist leaders, who draws the Communists away from the democratic movements and the anti-iperialist struggle.
Every Party member must become conscious that there is nothing higher for him than the interests of the Party. You must convert the Communist Party into a proletarian Party, both in its composition and in regards to the role of the workers in its leading organs. ...
Dear Comrades ! We feel really proud when you, in your leaflets, when speaking of the advantages of the Soviet form of government, not only refer to the experience of the USSR but to China as well. But we did not gain these victories at once. We had to overcome enormous difficulties that steeled us in the struggle. The development of our Chinese Communist Party, the growth of the confidence of the toilers of our Party, were built up as the result, first, of the stubborn building up of our independent proletarian party, by a tireless and irreconcilable struggle for its Bolshevisation, for its ideological and organisational consolidation, by a determined struggle on two fronts (“left” sectarianism and “right-wing” opportunism) against all deviations, second, as the result of the decisive exposure and a merciless struggle against national-reformism and other imperialist and bourgeois agents, third, as the result of the struggle of our Party to widen the movement and win the leadership of the anti-imperialist movement, fourth, as the result of our efforts to organise and lead the strike movement, the economic and political struggles of the working- class, fifth, as the result of bringing millions of peasants under our influence and by leading the agrarian revolution, sixth, as the result of the awakening of the masses and the consolidation of the hegemony of the proletariat.
... It would be wrong to transfer mechanically Chinese experience to India. You, undoubtedly, will take into account all concrete conditions and features which are peculiar to your movement, to the conditions of the struggle of Indian toiling masses. In China, as it is known, the revolutionary situation has developed, and on a considerable territory the Soviet revolution is developing successfully, the Chinese Red Army has achieved considerable victories.
The conditions in your country, in spite of the growing revolutionary upsurge, still do not coincide with ours. You must give correct estimation of the depth and breath of the revolutionary movement, of the degree of differentiation of class forces, of the strength and influence of the Communist Party, so that having this determined, decide about your concrete tactical tasks, basing yourselves upon the decisions of the Sixth World Congress of the CI.
The present international situation confronts us with the most complicated and responsible tasks. British imperialism has taken the initiative and is preparing intervention against the USSR. At the same time Japanese imperialism has occupied Manchuria and North China and is trying to convert those territories into a base for an attack on the country of victorious proletarian dictatorship — the USSR. The contradictions between the imperialist powers are growing, and a new world war is rapidly approaching. A powerful revolutionary front of the international proletariat and the oppressed peoples of the colonies is growing, widening and strengthening. ...
We are entering on a new period of revolutions and wars. ...
Through intense, everyday active work, the Communists everywhere must prepare the masses of the people. The time is approaching for decisive fights.
The foremost and most important task of the Indian Communists remains the task of uniting their forces.
Forward to the formation of the All-Indian Communist Party,
With fighting Communist Greetings,
Central Committee of
The Communist Party of China
Abridged Draft of Political Thesis of the CC of CP of India
It gives us great pleasure to publish in the “Inprecor” the draft of the political theses sent to us by the Provisional CC of the CP of India. The publication of these theses is a fact of great significance; it shows serious progress of the Communist movement. In place of scattered and politically disunited groups, we see that on the arena of the world history a united Communist Party is coming. And on the basis of its platform of action, the programme and decisions of the CI and the open letters of the various Communist Parties, it has begun to work out its own tactical line and energetically develop practical activities. ...
(1) British imperialism in India
(Editor’s Note: We omit the Introduction, which correctly deals with the international situation)
Hundred and fifty years of British imperialist rule has reduced the millions of Indian toiling masses to unspeakable poverty and abject slavery. The entire social, political and economic structure of Indian society is subjected to the needs and the domination of the system of foreign imperialism, with the result that hundreds of crores of rupees are yearly squeezed out of India, and her natural development completely throttled. ...
The situation in India is growing ever more critical day by day. Fall of prices of the agricultural commodities has brought the peasant to the verge of starvation. The growing unemployment, coupled with wage-cuts and rationalisation has reduced the worker in the city to desperation. The growing inability of the peasants to pay rents and taxes is resulting in famines and epidemics in the countryside. ...
On the other hand, there has been a strengthening of the revolutionary upsurge of the toiling masses during the recent years. The working-class movement has grown in strength and consciousness — and has begun to come out as an independent political force. There has been a tremendous growth in the discontent of the middle classes, which found its expression in the spread of the terrorist movement. The anti- imperialist movement of the masses assumed gigantic proportions in the years 1930-32 and in spite of the Nationalist bourgeoisie who took over control in order to localise and sabotage it, it was marked with a series of peasant revolts. ... The only way out of this situation, the only way to put an end to this oppression and exploitation and to clear the path to progress is the unconditional overthrow of British imperialism and its Indian allies in India, the raising the banner of the agrarian and anti- imperialist revolution and winning of National independence, for the establishment of a Workers’ and Peasants’ Federated Soviet Republic.
(2) The attitude of the various classes towards imperialism and the revolution
The princes and the landlords owe the rights to their property and the right to exploit the peasants and their subjects — almost entirely to the favour of British imperialism. The very condition of their parasitic existence is bound up with the domination of British imperialist rule. These classes therefore form the most stable and reliable allies of British imperialism in India. ... This alliance will serve British imperialism not only against the revolutionary masses of India but also as a counterpoise against the bourgeois class which is pressing imperialism for an “equal partnership” in the right to exploit the Indian toilers.
(3) The role of the bourgeoisie in the struggle against imperialism
The birth and the development of the Indian bourgeoisie are more or less interlaced with those of British imperialism. The modern bourgeoisie in India has emerged from the Indian mercantile capitalism who grew rich by participating in the trade with the British merchants in the early decades of the 19th century. The accumulation of capital in the hands of this class was the basis of the formation of Indian industries and the growth of the Indian industrial capitalists. The aspirations of the young industrial bourgeoisie of India met with a firm resistance at the hands of the British imperialists from the very outset. The general policy of British imperialism has been to prevent the growth of large-scale industry in India, with a view to keeping India as an agrarian appendix and retain its monopolist hold on the Indian market.
Although it is true that the Indian bourgeois class in general would like to see an independent industrial development of India, it proved its inability to play a progressive role in the realisation of that demand against imperialism.
The desire of the Indian bourgeoisie to obtain a substantial share in the exploitation of the country is the basis of its oppositional role against imperialism. On the other hand, its role as capitalists and its intimate relations with the big landowning and moneylending interests is the basis of its role of a counter-revolutionary force disorganising and sabotaging the revolutionary anti-imperialist struggle for independence.
The boycott movement of 1907-08 was under the leadership of the industrial bourgeoisie (which was then relatively small) and voiced the demand for an independent industrial development of India. They showed a tendency to favour revolutionary methods of struggle in achieving this demand, as against the liberal reformists of the old Congress school. Even in the first phase of the National Congress movement, when the inherent dangers of a revolutionary movement of the masses were not fully realised by the Nationalist bourgeoisie, this tendency did not go beyond a moral support to the terrorist actions.
In the post-war revolutionary upsurge of the toiling masses of India, which grew up under the stress of the post-war crisis and under the influence of the successful proletarian revolution in Russia, the Nationalist bourgeoisie and its political organ, the Indian national Congress, took over the leadership of the movement, with the reactionary slogans of Khaddar and non- violence. The Nationalist bourgeoisie through its organ, the Indian National Congress was pursuing a dual policy. On the one hand, it was coming out as a champion of the people and as the leader of a mass movement, with the object of exerting pressure on imperialism to win for itself some concessions and to strike a favourable bargain with imperialism. On the other hand, it was using its leadership of the movement to disorganise the revolutionary struggle of the masses, to localise it and to sidetrack it into fruitless channels. As son as it found that the movement was going out of the limits which it had set to it, it betrayed the movement — disorganised it, which helped the military and the police force of imperialism to crush the resistance of the masses.
In the present period of intense industrial and agrarian crisis the Nationalist bourgeoisie, in order to preserve control over the masses, again came forward with the slogan of independence and a mass civil disobedience. Here, again, the Indian national Congress pursued a dual policy. On the one hand it posed as the leader of a mass movement of the people in order to secure a favourable compromise with imperialism. On the other hand it played its counter-revolutionary role, disorganising and sabotaging the mass movement from within and never actually organising a genuine mass civil disobedience movement. ...
While estimating the Nationalist bourgeoisie and the IN Congress in its relation to the revolutionary anti-imperialist struggle, it is necessary to guard against some errors. The error of mechanically placing now the bourgeoisie completely in the counter-revolutionary camp of imperialism. This error arises from the refusal to see the economic conflict between the Nationalist bourgeoisie and British imperialism. From this point of view it becomes difficult to explain the character of the leadership and the present dominating ideology of the Nationalist movement. It leads to the under-estimation of the Nationalist bourgeois influence on the masses. ...
This under-estimation of the role of the Nationalist bourgeoisie leads to a wrong thesis about the leadership of the IN Congress. It is wrong to say that the leadership of the IN Congress is petty bourgeois or even that it passed into the hands of the petty bourgeoisie during the period of 1930-31. These wrong conception lead to “Left” reformism of the Royist type or to an opportunist toning down of the criticism of the Congress and the Royists.
Gandhism is not a petty bourgeois philosophy. It is an anti- revolutionary ideology of the nationalist bourgeoisie and forms the basis of its programme and tactics. It serves a double purpose. By its vague phrases about love, meekness, modesty and hard-working existence, the lightening of the burden of the peasantry, the national unity and the special mission of Hinduism, etc., it mobilises the support of the petty bourgeois masses, trying to utilise their nationalist ideas and reactionary religious prejudices. By its doctrine of “non-violence” and “truth” etc., it creates a technique of diverting the revolutionary struggle of the anti-imperialist and anti-feudal masses into fruitless channels — of actually disorganising and sabotaging the struggle (disorganising the struggles in 1922 and 1931, suppressing mass Civil Disobedience Movement, etc.). It is for this reason that “Gandhism” is bolstered up and financed by the industrial and a section of the commercial bourgeoisie and by a section of landlords.
“Left” Reformism ! If Gandhism can be considered the rightwing of the Congress bourgeois camp, “Left” reformism must be considered the left-wing of the same. The role of this aspect of Congress ideology and tactics is to retain within the fold of bourgeois leadership those sections of the petty bourgeoisie and peasantry who have begun to rebel against it. This it does by allowing the agents (Jawaharlal Nehru and others) to shout revolutionary phrases about socialism, Workers’ and Peasants’ Raj, to give equivocal support to the doctrine of class struggle, and so on. ...
Finally, we have the latest and the most dangerous variety of “Left” reformism, viz., the Royists. This can be considered as the outpost of the national bourgeoisie inside the revolutionary anti-imperialist and workers’ movement. The role of the Royists is to disorganise the advance-guard of the genuine anti-imperialist revolutionary movement from within. For this purpose, they pose as Communist and pay lip homage to the Communist International. They try to spread disorganisation inside the ranks of the anti-imperialist elements, outside the Congress by propounding the theory that “the counter-revolutionary bourgeoisie has left the Congress” and that the “petty bourgeoisie has captured the leadership of the Congress” (the Task Before Us, p 82) and thus trying to bring these elements back into the fold of the Congress. They ally themselves with the recognised agents of Congress like Jawaharlal Nehru by advancing slogans like "Constituent Assembly.” ...
(4) The role of the city petty bourgeoisie and the peasantry
This intermediate position of the petty-bourgeoisie, between the exploiting classes, capitalists and landlords, on the one hand, and the exploited toiling masses on the other, also determines its political role in the anti-imperialist struggle. Thus the petty-bourgeoisie in general cannot play an independent role. Either it falls under the influence of Gandhism, “Left” national-reformism and Royism, and thus gets transformed into an appendage of the national bourgeoisie, or joins the revolutionary anti-imperialist front, under influence of the revolutionary working class.
Peasantry. The overwhelming majority of the population in India, i.e., about 80 percent, consists of peasants, living on agriculture. The peasantry cannot, however, be considered as a homogeneous class. The upper strata of the peasantry, consisting of well-to-do peasants and rich peasants, have landowning and money-lending interests and are also to some extent employers of agricultural labour. The overwhelming majority of the peasantry, however, consists of poor and middle peasantry, who employ no labour. The interests of this lower strata are diametrically opposed to those of the big landlords, moneylenders, traders, etc. it is this section of the peasantry which is the gigantic reservoir of revolutionary energy. In fact, as has been said about the Indian national revolution it can succeed only as an anti-imperialist and agrarian revolution. But the peasantry, not being an homogeneous class, being scattered and generally backward, is unable to assume an independent leadership in the anti-imperialist struggle. The history of the peasant struggle in the world have shown that the peasantry either falls under the influence of the bourgeoisie or that of the revolutionary proletariat. ...
Imperialism is ... trying to stem the tide of peasant unrest by brutal police oppression (which is medieval in character), on the one hand, and by means of petty remissions and reforms, on the other. These reforms (co-operatives, village uplift, etc.), insignificant as they are, are being carried out by imperialism with the assistance of the exploiting sections themselves. The Nationalist bourgeoisie tries to spread its influence among the peasantry and tries to pose as the champion of the peasant masses, mainly with the aid of the rural well-to-do peasants. On the one hand, it seeks to control the peasant masses under the slogans regarding “the fight against the satanic government” and of “non-payment of taxes.” On the other hand, with the help of the upper strata of the village, it seeks to restrict and localise the peasant struggles to keep them on strictly reformist lines, and whenever they outgrow these limits, to disorganise and sabotage the struggle. ...
The treacherous role of the Indian National Congress was clearly demonstrated when in march, 1931, under the stress of growing peasant unrest and rebellions, it hastened to conclude a pact with imperialism and assisted imperialism in the task of suppressing the peasant unrest, lo the period after the truce Mr. Gandhi openly came out as the rent and tax collector of Imperialism and of zamindars. he exhorted zamindars to trust the Congressmen themselves and “realise that the Congress is a bridge between the people and the government.” He assured them that the Congressmen will on their part see to it that kisans fulfil their obligations to the zamindars. He warned the peasants to “reject the doctrine that their holdings are absolutely their to the exclusion of the zamindars.” ...
The struggle against the bourgeoisie and bourgeois Congress leadership must be carried on consistently. It is necessary to expose the policy of Bose, Nehru, Roy, etc., who are trying to keep the rank and file with a slogan to revolutionise the Congress and convert it into revolutionary party. But while exposing this the Communists will not refuse through some of the mass organisations of the toilers to use the Congress platform and systematically combat the Congress reformism and its “Left” varieties. This tactical proposal of the Communist party, which remains an independent party of the proletariat outside the INC and consistently combats the Congress policy and at the same time organises the toiling masses in the trade unions, peasant committees, youth organisations, anti-imperialist organisations, etc., has nothing in common with the treacherous policy of Royists and other “Left” national reformists.
(5) Working class
The working class of India, although it forms a minority of the exploited toilers, occupies the key positions in the modern economic structure of India. It is the most revolutionary and the most determined opponent of every form of oppression, exploitation and slavery. ...
The advance of the working-class movement all over India resulted in rising discontent amongst the urban petty bourgeoisie. There was a growing radicalisation in this class, insistence on the demand for national independence, and a rapid spread and popularisation of the Marxist ideology among this class. These events, together with the growing resistance on the part of the British Imperialists to grant any concessions to the Indian bourgeoisie (because of the world crisis in 1929-32), forced the India National Congress to adopt in words the slogan of “complete independence” (Lahore Congress, 1929) and to launch upon a reformist campaign in order to keep control over the masses, to retain its leadership over the masses and thus disorganise and sabotage the revolutionary struggle of the masses from within.
The period which succeeded the Meerut arrests was characterised not only by a severe and continued attack against the young revolutionary movement of the working class, but also by an attempt on the part of the national bourgeoisie and its “Left” agents to enter into the working-class movement and to split and disorganise it from within (GIF railway strike, formation of Congress Labour offices in Bombay workers’ area, split in GKU, national reformist activities of Khan-dalkar, Roy and others — split in the Calcutta Trade Union Congress — subsequent activities of the Left agents of the Congress, etc). Because of this combined attack, the organisation of the working class suffered to a considerable extent during the past two or three years (GKU and the GI Railway Unions). On the other hand, during this very period, great working-class actions took place, such as the further extension of the strike struggle to other working-class centers (Sholapur, Banglore, Baroda, and so on); participation of the workers in spontaneous uprising against the imperialist police (Sholapur); clear demarcation of the revolutionary working-class movement from the national bourgeois movement (struggle of the Bombay workers against the Congress in 1930); and finally independent demonstrations by the working class under the leadership of the Communists against Gandhi and the Congress (demonstration in Bombay against Gandhi, etc.). These events show that in spite of heavy odds, the revolutionary working class is steadily growing in consciousness and liberating itself from the influence of the nationalist bourgeoise and preparing itself to come forward as the leader and organiser of the revolutionary anti-imperialist and agrarian movement of the Indian toiling masses.
The conclusion at which we arrive is, therefore, that the working class is the most consistently revolutionary class. ... it is destined to establish its hegemony in the revolutionary struggle against imperialism. This destiny of the working class will not be realised spontaneously or automatically. It requires conscious efforts on the part of the most advanced and class-conscious elements of the proletariat. For realising its destiny as the leader of the Indian Revolution, and for performing the historic task of organising the scattered masses of the peasantry and town poor for the struggle Against British domination and land lordism, the working class must organise its own political party, the Communist Party — consisting of the most courageous, resolute, disciplined and of the most conscious and advanced elements. ...
There has been a tendency among some Communists in India to interpret the temporary setback suffered by the organisations of the working class in the year 1930 as a general spread of “reaction” among the proletariat. ...
To accept the theory of “reaction” and to hold that the working class came into movement under the influence of the petty bourgeoisie in 1930, is to deny the independent role of the working class in the national revolutionary struggle — to deny the possibility and the need for fight at the present time for its hegemony in the anti-imperialist struggle of the exploited masses — and therefore to underestimate the need for the formation of the revolutionary party of the working class — the Communist Party of India. It must be clearly understood that there is a “growing revolutionary movement in India and growing independent political activity of the working class.”
To-day the advanced sections of the working class are liberating themselves more and more from the treacherous influence of the nationalist bourgeoisie and the Congress .This is proved by the fact that the very same reformist leaders who in 1930-31 swore by the Congress, are to-day speaking in a different tone before the masses. Realising that the Congress has lost its influence on the working class masses, they are to-day advising the workers to remain aloof from politics, to restrict themselves merely to economic struggle. This is to-day the only way in which they (Ruikar, Kandalkar, Roy) hope to isolate the workers from the influence of the revolutionary leadership. The formation of independent “labour” parties in the various provinces to- day is an indication of the same process. The national-reformist labour leaders can no more come forward before the workers with the slogans “Support the Congress” or that the “workers and peasants are the hands and feet of the Congress.” (Congress Labour Week in Bombayc l930.)
In a booklet entitled “Our Task in India” MN Roy declares:
- “the backward Indian masses, brutally oppressed and mercilessly exploited by foreign imperialism and its native allies, are not yet politically conscious. They are not able to grasp big political issues. National freedom remains an abstract conception for them.” ...
Thus in spite of the verbal support given by Roy in his eclectical writings to the idea of the hegemony of the proletariat, his theoretical statements and his whole practice consists of a bitter struggle against it and against the CP of India, against the interests of workers and peasants and against anti- imperialist and agrarian revolution.
(6) The character of the national revolution in India
As laid down in the colonial theses of the Sixth World Congress of the CI, the revolution in India will have to perform the tasks of the bourgeoisie-demonstratic revolution, which opens the way to proletarian dictatorship and socialist revolution. ...
The Indian revolution in its present state will have to carry out the following tasks laid down in the draft platform of the CPI :
[Here the four points at the end of Part I of the Draft Platform of Action (text VII2) is reproduced, — Ed.]
Revolutionary in India a Soviet Revolution, and the Present Tasks
The character of the revolution as a workers’ and peasants’ revolution also determines the form of the organisation of the struggle. It is clear that the overthrow of the rule of British imperialism and the princess and landlords can only be achieved by the workers, peasants, and soldiers, under the leadership of the working class and its Party, the CPI. In order, however, to arrive at this stage, and to ensure the leadership of the working class, it is necessary to develop now the struggle for partial demands and organise and prepare the toiling masses, ...
“Constituent Assembly” — A reformist slogan
The slogan of “Constituent Assembly” has been put forward by the renegade MN Roy against the slogan of the "Workers’ and Peasants’ Soviet Republic” put forward by the Communist Party of India. ... Roy’s policy emerge logically out of the imperialist policy of “decolonization” according to which British imperialism in playing a progressive role, and thus a way for a peaceful victory is secured. The leadership of the Congress and the CD movement, according to him, was in the hands of the petty-bourgeoisie (“Our Tasks in India,” page 48) and under this pretext he called upon the workers and peasants to follow the Congress leadership (workers and peasants are the hands and feet of the Congress — Royist slogan in 1930), i.e., to support the bourgeoisie. In 1930 Roy and his followers (in the declaration of June 8,1930, published in Berlin and republished in India in the appeal of Sheik, Kabadi and Brojesh Singh in the magazine “Vanguard”, Bombay) maintained that :
- “The central political slogan of the Indian revolution should be the election of a Constituent Assembly, as against the Round Table Conference on the one hand and the utpoi of a Soviet Republic on the other ...”
He further went on to describe how the idea of the Constituent Assembly can be realised :
- “The local Congress Committees broadened through the inclusion of the delegates from the workers’ and peasants’ and small traders’ organizations should become the units for the election of the Constituent Assembly.”
It is well known that the slogan of “Constituent Assembly” was a revolutionary slogan of the bourgeoisie a time when this class played a revolutionary role. But it must be remembered that at that time while putting this slogan the bourgeoisie and some petty-bourgeois parties connected it with a slogan of a revolutionary insurrection. But Roy advanced this slogan without saying anything about the revolution while this is the central issue. Roy and his followers proposed to create under the protection of the British army “an organ of democratic power,” maintaining that the British would be unable to do anything “for the sovereign authority of the Constituent Assembly cannot be doubted.” (“Vanguard,” page 12; “People”, Jan. 21,1931). And now when the Indian bourgeoisie is reformist — this slogan was put forward as part of a reformist policy and served one purpose, and that is to fool a section of the petty-bourgeoisie following the Congress, who are showing radical tendencies and keep them under the Congress leadership. By proposing to make the Congress Committees, “broadened by the inclusion of the delegates of the workers’ and peasants’ and small traders’ organisations.”, Mr. Roy wished to perpetuate the illusion that the Indian National Congress is the organisation of the masses, with the object of bringing the workers’ and peasants’ organisations under the treacherous leadership of the bourgeoisie. ...
(7) Strategy and tactics of the CP in the revolutionary struggle
The principal object of the CP to-day must be to come out as the conscious vanguard of the working class — and to move forward towards the demonstration of the independent leadership of the working class in opposition to the nationalist bourgeoise in the struggle of the masses to overthrow imperialism and landlordism. We have shown that a revolutionary wave is rising in India. ...
Tactics in Relation to the National Bourgeoisie and Its Political Organ
As pointed out in previous sections, it is necessary to understand two things — that the national bourgeoisie has not as yet completely merged itself into the counter- revolutionary bloc of imperialism and feudal princes and landlords, and that it is carrying out a liberal opposition, whose main purpose is to disorganise and sabotage the revolutionary anti-imperialist struggle of the masses from within; it is dead against anti-imperialist and agrarian revolution of the toiling masses and is afraid of the working class. An incorrect appreciation of these two points may lead to in correct tactics — as was shown by our experience during the CD movement. On the one hand there was a tendency to regard the anti-imperialist movement of 1930-31 as a movement of the petty-bourgeoisie. This interpretation involves a denial of the fact that the leadership of the CD movement never passed out of the hands of the national bourgeoisie. Further, it involves the denial of the proletariat and peasantry as the driving forces of the revolution. It was natural, therefore, that such a tendency should give rise to the “Theory of Reaction,” to the practical withdrawal of the slogan of “General Strike” and to the efforts at securing unity with Khandalkar in such a manner that the difference between reformism and the class point of view disappear. These deviations,which have been discussed at considerable length in the “Open Letter,” must be combated.
On the other hand, there was a tendency to regard the whole anti-imperialist movement of 1930-31 as a purely Congress movement and to remain aloof from it. It is a fact that during the CD movement of 1930-31 Communists did not realise the full significance of the movement and objectively isolated themselves from the struggle of the masses. This sectarian deviation, too, must be corrected.
It is necessary to realise that the'national bourgeoisie and its organ, the National Congress, still wield considerable influence over the masses. The secret of it influence is not its positive political programme, but the assurance of its loyalty to the independence movement, the skillful use it makes of the hatred of the people towards bloodthirsty robber imperialism and of the still existing illusions of a “United National Front.”...
Similarly, while exposing the stunt of the Harijan movement as a means of side-tracking the attention of the masses from the political movement, we must also show to the untouchable toilers that their emancipation cannot be achieved by their being taken into the fold of Hinduism. The problem of the untouchables, who are for the most part landless labourers and semi-serfs, cannot be radically solved until imperialism and landlordism and all remnants of feudalism are overthrow. We must expose the “Harijan movement” of Gandhi before the untouchable workers and peasants by showing to them that “Gandhi and the other Congress leaders call for the maintenance of the caste system (Hinduism), which is the basis and justification for the existence of the socially outcast pariahs.” We must point out to the untouchables that “only the ruthless abolition of the caste system in its reformed Gandhist variety, only the agrarian revolution and the overthrow of the British rule will lead to the complete emancipation of the working pariahs and slaves.”
United Anti-Imperialist Front Under Proletarian Leadership
In order to isolate the nationalist bourgeoisie and its political organ, the Indian National Congress, from the masses, in order to develop the anti-imperialist struggle, the Communist Party must win the leadership in the anti-imperialist movement of the masses. ...
One of the forms of broad anti-imperialist movement can be the Anti-Imperialist League. The League must come out as an organisation opposing the policy of the Congress. It must constantly criticise the national reformist leaders and organisations, and participate under its own banner and slogans in the mass demonstrations, etc., organised by the Congress. ...
The struggle for the realisation of the hegemony of the proletariat must necessary be a struggle against Royism as well. The struggle against Roy must be carried out on the basis of concrete material and examples, comparing their pseudo Communist phrases with their anti-revolutionary practice. ... It also means that it is permissible and advisable to propose a united front on concrete issues to those mass organisations (trade unions, etc.,), which are led by the reformists, including those of Roy-Karnik-Kara variety.
Another petty-bourgeois group, which the CP has to deal with is the terrorist. As stated above, the phenomenal growth of terrorism is due to the rising discontent among the impoverished middle class of the villages and towns. ... Although some of these groups repeat Marxist-Communist phrases and oppose Gandhism in their leaflets, they do not recognise class struggle in practice and are still labouring under the “illusion of united national front.” In this way they are under bourgeois influence and believe in the possibility of an independent bourgeois capitalist development in India, under the rule of the Indian bourgeoisie. With the development of class struggle in India, i.e., with the development of the struggle of the workers and peasants against imperialism and landlordism and mill owners, the process of differentiation will take place among them. It is the duty of the CPI to win over the rank and file of the terrorist groups, and especially of those groups who are showing inclinations towards Marxism and Communism, to the standpoint of consistent Marxism and of the draft platform of the CPI. ...
Tactics of the Agrarian Revolution
Because of the contained agrarian crisis, which has increased the burdens on the shoulders of the already impoverished peasantry, there has been a tremendous growth of a spontaneous peasant movement. In certain parts (Burma) it assumed the character of a guerrilla warfare. In UP, CP and Bengal there have been a series of peasant up risings. The national bourgeoisie and its organ, the National Congress, while putting forward the slogans of a “no-tax” campaign, in reality did everything actively to sabotage it. The CPI must point out to the peasantry and show in actual practice that it is the working class alone which can consistently support all its demands and help to organise its fight for them. The general demands which the CPI must put before the peasantry are enumerated in the Draft Platform under the Peasant Demands. ...
In order to popularise these demands amongst the peasantry and to carry out the tasks outlined therein, it is necessary to send class-conscious workers from the industrial areas and tried revolutionary students to the countryside and utilise their contacts with the peasantry to form peasant groups. These groups will be the nuclei for spreading revolutionary propaganda and literature in the countryside and with their help it will be possible to participate and take initiative in the local peasant struggle for day-to-day economic demands of the peasantry. With the help of these groups it is necessary to participate in the local peasant conferences etc., held under the auspices of reformists and nationalist and put forward our programme before the peasants. Wherever possible attempts should be made to form local peasant unions, rallying large masses of poor and middle peasantry. ... In every individual conflict of the peasant masses against the government, land-lords and moneylenders, it is necessary to organise a peasant committee, which will be elected by the peasants themselves, and which will be the leading organ of the struggle. In the day-to-day propaganda it is essential to equine the peasantry with the struggle of the working class against the capitalists in the city, and to explain to them how the workers’ organisations and workers’ strike committees are run. ...
Wherever a dispute with the government on taxes or rent, or debt dispute with the landlords or moneylenders arises, it is necessary to organise mass resistance, conducted by a peasant committee elected by the peasants participating in the same. In such conflicts it is essential to form “peasant guards” in order to defend the peasants against the attacks of the exploiter and his agents. Effort must be made to widen the resistance of the peasantry over ever-larger areas and give this resistance a political character.
The perspective to be placed before the peasantry must be that of an all-Indian no-tax, no-rent, no-debt struggle. …
Tactics With Reference to the Working Class
The period of 1926-28 resulted in the formation of a basis for the organisation of a mass underground CPI, and this task was put on the agenda, when the process was temporarily interrupted by the Meerut arrests. In the period that followed, working-class activity increased in depth and breadth; there was an intensification of the class struggle and the growth of class differentiation between the national reformist and the working- class movement. (Here the Political Thesis deals with the question in a more detailed manner — Editor.) The CP has lagged far behind. The CP continued to remain a bunch of Communist groups, not united organisationally and in some cases not even politically and to a certain extent isolated from the working masses. This tendency of localism and provincialism must be firmly rejected. To-day it is absolutely necessary not only to strengthen the provincial organisations by basing them on local and factory groups of conscious and trained workers, drawn from the day-to-day class struggle, but at the same time it is necessary to weld all the true Communist groups who take their stand upon the Draft Platform of the CPI into a centralised, underground mass Party. In the words of the “Open Letter to the Indian Communists” which was issued by the CCs of the Communist Parties of China, Great Britain and Germany. ...
Another weakness of the Communist movement to-day is the inability to develop and extend underground forms of movement, struggle and organisation. The Communist cadres have considerable experience of open mass work, but they have still to learn to devise methods to combine “legal” and underground activities. ... To neglect underground forms of the movement means a refusal to create the CP, a refusal to conduct the revolutionary struggle to organise the masses under the banner of the CP. The refusal to use both legal and semi-underground forms of the movement leads again to sectarianism, to self-isolation from the masses, leads to refusal to create a mass underground Communist Party. The refusal to carry on work in the trade unions, in the reformist as well as national reformist trade unions, leads to isolation and sectarianism.
It is necessary in the shortest possible time to create an underground printed organ of the Central Committee and legal newspapers. The underground organ will serve the purpose of co- ordinating and guiding the activities of the provincial organisations and knitting them closely together. Through this underground organ it will be possible to lead and influence the local legal organs of the Party organisation. This will ensure the working out of a united Communist line and the establishment of unity of views and methods of struggle. This paper must become, in the sense of Lenin's teachings on the role of the Central Party organ, the agitator and organiser of the toiling masses and of the Party. While conducting underground Party organs, it is necessary to exhaust all legal possibilities of popularising the teachings of Marx and Lenin and of creating Marxist literature on Indian problems, through the help of the legal papers and press.
Trade Union Movement
It is necessary, where there is a need, to build mass Red trade unions, and also to work in the reformist unions. It would be wrong to regard the work in the reformist unions as something different and in opposition to the work in the Red trade unions, or the creating of new unions. ...
This tactics of united front or amalgamation of parallel trade unions does not signify peace or armistice with national reformism, does not signify that the Communist should cease to explain to the workers the difference between the Communist policy and the reformist policy, or should cease to convince the workers to choose militant, class-conscious workers in the leadership of the trade unions.
On the contrary, it might create, providing correct policy and energetic everyday work of the Communists is carried out, the best conditions for winning over the misled or confused workers to the banner of militant working-class policy. This should be clearly under stood by every class-conscious worker. Any other interpretation of the united front or amalgamation of some parallel trade union as a peace or armistice with the reformist leaders is wrong and opportunistic. ...
The split had a political basis. It was engineered by those who wanted to isolate the Communists and join hands with the liberal reformists for the betrayal of the working-class masses. Immediately after the split MN Roy wrote an article in “Independent India” (August 31,1931), in which he made an offer to Joshi, Giri, and others for Trade Union Unity. The basis for unity here offered is “Pure Trade Unionism”, i.e., economism. In concluding his article he expressed his joy at the fact that the Communists, whom he called “ultra leftist disturbers of trade union unit”, “are now out of the way.” Since then they have been carrying out strike-breaking tactics with the help of and in the interests of the Congress millowners. They have been carrying out a systematic struggle against the Communists and expelled them from the unions (GIF). ...
While carrying out energetic trade union activity, it is useful at the same time to form open mass local political organisations of the working class. ... Such working-class youth organisations must be formed in each industrial centre, must recruit working-class youths and also draw in the best elements amongst the revolutionary students tried in the field. They must carry on a fight for the redress of grievances of young workers, must generally assist in the work of the revolutionary trade union movement, conduct study classes, etc., for the Marxist-Leninist training of the young workers, must assist and participate in political activities on the basis of the main political slogans of the draft platform. Besides organising such open working-class youth organisation, it is necessary to take steps to build a Young Communist League of India. ... It must be remembered that these organisations must not become rival organisations to the CPI. It must be clearly understood that such organisations will be of a temporary character, because British imperialism will not allow the existence of any organisation opposed to British imperialism and developing mass resistance; if in any place such organisation is formed, it can be use only as an auxiliary organisation from which to recruit workers for the CP. The formation of such organisations must not lead to a position when the Communist Party does not speak openly in its name on every incident and every expression of class struggle; on the contrary, the CP and its local organisations must issue their leaflets, must build nuclei in the mills, must recruit workers for the CP, must everywhere be heard by the workers and lead their struggles. ...
Source: Inprecor, 20 July, 1934
1. The draft of the political theses of the CC of the CPI sent to us is written in a very detailed manner. Owning to lack of space we are compelled to publish it in an abridged form. In some places the abbreviations are marked. — Editor. [Inprecor]
2. The footnote is supplied by the Editor of Inprecor.
3. The reference is to the AITUC split in 1931 – Ed.
Problems of the Anti-Imperialist Struggle in India
There is no doubt whatever that India to-day stands at the cross roads. ...
The young Communist Party of India continues to make every effort to open the eyes of the masses of the people to the actual state of affairs. It carries to the masses the message of the anti-imperialist and anti-feudal revolution. It exposes the double- dealing and falsity of the national-reformist policy. It has consolidated and united the best sections of the advanced workers — although far from the majority of them — having wrested them from under the treacherous influence of national-reformism. However, it has so far not succeeded in paralysing the influence of national-reformism among the masses,it has not so far succeeded in rallying and winning over the most active and militant sections of these masses to the side of the irreconcilable revolutionary struggle, it has not succeeded in wresting these masses from under the influence of the National Congress, in spite of a number of partial successes which it has won in this respect.
This is why the masses of the people in India to-day, having lost faith in the conciliatory policy of the National Congress, at the same time do not break away from this organisation, in a sense still looking upon the National Congress, headed by the national- reformist bourgeoisie and landlords, as an organisation representing an all-national opposition against imperialism. This is why these masses, while expressing their dissatisfaction with the leadership of Gandhi and other capitulators and conciliators, while resenting the absence of democracy inside the Congress, simultaneously urge the National Congress to re-organise in line with their interests, demand that the Congress acknowledge their demands as its programme, that it help them organise for the struggle for these demands.
Considerable regroupings and changes are occurring at the present time in the upper strata of the national Congress. These groupings and these changes show that the National Congress is not a consolidated and unified organisation of the national- reformist bourgeoisie and the national-reformist landlords. In a certain sense it represents an arena for political groupings and [sub] groupings of the national-reformist bourgeoisie, of the liberal landlords and the upper strata of the petty-bourgeoisie. ...
However, the Communist Party of India in the past committed a number of mistakes and incorrect actions as regards its participation in the anti-imperialist struggle. ... The task of the Communists was not to limit themselves simply to general appeals to fight for an anti-imperialist and anti-feudal revolution, but to go into the midst of the struggling masses, to try and rally them to their side, giving chief prominence to the concrete demands of the struggle against imperialism and putting the tactics of the united front into effect. In reality the result was the separation of the struggle against national reformism from the struggle against imperialism, from the struggle for the immediate demands of the workers, as well as of the peasants. This greatly hampered and weakened the work of the Communists among the workers, who were Under national-reformist influence, weakened the work in the reformist unions. The inability to link up the most active participation in the struggle against imperialism in the front ranks of the fighting masses with the exposure of national-reformism, facilitated the growth of sectarian moods and tendencies, which even to-day are far from being overcome. ...
The application of the tactics of the United Front in the anti-imperialist struggle, as well as in the struggle of the workers against the capitalist offensive, in the struggle of the peasants against the landlords and usurers, is the basic condition for a successful struggle for the masses. ... This becomes all the more dangerous since imperialism outlawed the Communist Party, since national-reformism savagely vilifies it, since the agents of the bourgeoisie in the working class, the Kandalkars, the Roys and the Congress Socialists, call for the “purging” of the labour movement of all Communists.
The Communist Party must take advantage of the present situation in the camp of the National Congress in order actively and persistently to mobilise the masses for the struggle against the imperialist offensive. ... There are a number of organisations in India which include also Communists, which could develop their work among the masses to counter-balance national- reformism. These larger organisations could become the centre for intensifying and developing an effective struggle against imperialism.
The whole situation bears witness to the fact that the power and influence of these organisations will grow infinitely more if, as organisations, they join the local organisations of the Congress, on the basis of collective membership, while preserving their independence and face. ... After joining the Congress, they can take up the task of uniting all honest elements, ready to fight against imperialism not in Gandhi fashion, but in actual deed. A minimum programme of the united front for the anti-imperialist struggle for uniting and activising all such elements may be the following :
- 1. Complete and unconditional independence of India from Britain.
- 2. Repeal of all emergency laws (not only the ordinances and all anti-labour laws). The liberation of all political prisoners.
- 3. Refusal to participate in legislative councils and the cessation of all negotiations with British imperialism.
- 4. Organisation of the struggle of the masses against imperialism and against the imperialist sham constitution.
- 5. Against wage cuts and dismissals of workers, against the seizure of peasant land for debt by the imperialists, landlords and usurers.
There are wide strata in the ranks of the National Congress who are prepared to fight for such a programme. However, such strata, representing the dissatisfied masses, lack organisation and political stability. ... The masses of workers, peasants and urban petty-bourgeoisie are marking, learning and inwardly digesting the lessons of the struggle and the lessons taught by the bankruptcy of conciliation tactics. It is necessary to help these masses to draw the correct political conclusions, to help them to organise into an independent political force.
Let the Congress leaders not shout that the crafty Communists are intriguing against the “national organisation of struggle against imperialism.” ...
... The National Congress presents not only a certain field for legal activity (although limited to the extreme by the barriers of British "legality"); it presents also a political arena in which the different groupings of the Indian exploiting classes take definite form. The representatives of these groupings are naturally keen on not letting their internal differences [become] public knowledge, in order that these differences should [be] used by the exploited and oppressed masses in their own [ways]. But precisely for this reason it is necessary that organisations which really represent the workers, peasants and petty bourgeois youth utilise this arena in their own interests. ...
There is no doubt whatsoever that work in the ranks of the Congress organisations contains dangers insofar as certain unstable elements of the Left mass movement and even individual unstable communists ... may slip down on to the road of [integration] with national-reformism and may wrongly interpret the tactics of the united front as meaning the renunciation of the irreconcilable struggle against the national-reformist conciliators. ... The Communist Party must see to it that it explains its [code] of conduct correctly, in a real Bolshevist fashion. It must exercise a genuine check-up on the actions of its members; ...
At the same time the Communist Party as such will develop inside the Congress organisations a wide independent mobilisation of the masses for the struggle against imperialism, and will constantly put into effect the tactits of the united front when organising any anti-imperialist action. Its struggles against national- reformism, in close and inseparable contact with the mobilisation of the masses against the principal enemy, against imperialism, must not be weakened down, even a moment, when applying the united front tactics, but, on the contrary, will have to be deepened and [developed]. This struggle against national- reformism will have to be [conducted] much more than hitherto on the concrete exposure of every national-reformist manoeuvre, ...
... Objective conditions are very favourable for the Communist Party of India, and therefore it is charged with great political responsibility. At this crucial moment it must not give the conciliators of national-reformism the possibility to triumph again over the deceived masses; it must not let itself be isolated from the masses. It must throw itself into the thick of the masses under its militant banner; it must learn in Bolshevist fashion how to rally and consolidate the masses, who still stand at the crossroads between the revolutionary struggle and the impasse of national-reformist conciliation.
Source: Inprecor, 9 March, 1935, pp 289-92.
[Note : — In the original, a few words are not fully legible; we have placed them within square brackets.]
The Anti-Imperialist People’s Front
by R Palme Dutt & Ben Bradley
The Indian national struggle is today at a critical point. British imperialism has succeeded in imposing its constitution of open subjection in the face of the opposition of the entire Indian nation. The first stage of the struggle against it has met with defeat. For the moment, there is confusion in the national camp as to the path forward. At the same time, the ever worsening situation and sharpening struggle of the masses of workers and peasants calls ever more loudly for organisation and leadership.
If we look at the world situation, we see that all over the world, the anti-imperialist struggle is gathering strength and advancing. In Egypt, the united mass struggle is exercising powerful pressure on British imperialism. In China, the popular forces of resistance to partition and for national unity and liberation are gathering around the central core of Soviet China, consisting of at least sixty millions who have already thrown off the imperialist yoke. ...
What of the situation in India? Since the abandonment of mass civil disobedience we see a confusion of forces and no powerful united movement of resistance to British imperialism, which rules with more triumphant reaction than ever. Some voices are raised to advocate cooperation in working the new constitution. Others advocate retreat from the political field to concentrate on village industries or on the removal of caste disabilities. Gandhi has proclaimed his retirement from politics. The National Congress, apart from the electoral field, has given up for the time the attempt to direct the struggle, and even in the electoral field is sharply divided on the future policy, to accept office or not to accept office.
The peasants and workers, suffering under ever heavier economic distress, find themselves without united and centralised leadership in their sporadic struggles. ... Alongside this, there is terrible mass unemployment seriously affecting not only the workers and peasants but also the middle class.
How can we transform this situation ? How can we unite and mobilise a powerful movement of resistance to British imperialism and for the needs of the masses ? This is the key problem of the Indian situation.
The Indian National Congress will shortly be meeting in Lucknow. The representatives of the main body of the Indian national struggle will have to consider the problems of the path forward. What shall be the programme at the coming elections ? What shall be the future line of direction of the national struggles to defeat imperialism ? The left-wing elements are pressing for a line of irreconcilable struggle against imperialism, for an advance of the programme to reflect the growing influence of socialist ideas and for the organisation of workers and peasants as the decisive practical task. The Right-wing elements are making gestures for unity with the Liberals and other elements outside the Congress who have abstained from participation in the common struggle and stand for cooperation with imperialism. The discussion will be sharp. The decisions will be of far reaching significance.
It is at this stage that the present proposals are put forward for the consideration of all who, whether inside or outside the Congress, are concerned for the advance of the Indian national liberation.
The first need — unity
Every Indian patriot will recognise that the first need for the successful advance of the Indian national struggle, the key need of the present situation, is unity of all the anti-imperialist forces in the common struggle. ...
But, what is unity ? Talk on unity, of the United Front, is today on the lips of all. But many different proposals are put forward in its name.
Thus, some, as in the recent speeches of Babu Rajendra Prasad, late President of Congress, urge unity with moderate or Right- wing elements at present outside the Congress, such as the Liberals, the friends and allies of British rulers, whose programme is one of cooperation with imperialism and entry into office in order to assist the slave constitution to function successfully. Naturally, the Liberals from their point of view, as shown in the recent speech of VS Srinivasa Sastri, at Madras, heartily welcome such proposals of unity. ...
But will this strengthen the anti-imperialist forces? While it is evident that all elements, including those from among the Liberals who are prepared to break with cooperation with imperialism and accept the programme of the national struggle, are welcome to the common front, this can only be on condition of acceptance of irreconcilable struggle against imperialism for complete independence (as already laid down in the Congress programme by the Lahore decisions). ...
The Anti-Imperialist People’s Front
... Much as we may desire to see unity of the whole Indian people in the struggle against foreign rule, we have to recognise that there cannot be an abstract ‘unity’ of the entire Indian population, 100 percent, all sections and classes, against British imperialism. Some sections have their interest bound up with imperialism, e.g. the princes, landlords, moneylenders, reactionary, religious and political elements which live on exploiting communal differences, elements among the merchants and wealthy classes who favour cooperation with imperialism, etc. The cunning British rulers have known how to follow the old maxim “Divide and Rule” and build up their dominion on elements of support within the population; and in consequence, in estimating the forces of the national struggle, we have to take into account the realities of the class-structure of the population under the conditions of imperialism.
But there can be unity of the overwhelming majority of the population against imperialism, i.e. of all the popular masses who suffer under imperialist rule. ...
What is the necessary basis for such unity of all the anti-imperialist forces, such as can unite all the forces of the National Congress, the trade unions, the peasants organisations, the youth organisations, etc. on a common platform in a mighty common front ?
It is clear that the essential minimum basis for such a grouping is (1) a line of consistent struggle against imperialism and against the existing slave constitution, for the complete independence of India; (2) active struggle for the vital needs of the toiling masses.
This is the unity of the Indian people we want, the United Anti-Imperialist People's Front for the struggle against imperialism.
The role of the National Congress in realising unity
At this point, the question will be asked: what is the relation of the National Congress to the Anti-Imperialist People's Front ? Is not the National Congress, as many of its leaders claim, already the united front of the Indian people in the national struggle ?
The National Congress has undoubtedly achieved a gigantic task in uniting wide forces of the Indian people for the national struggle, and remains today the principal existing mass organisation of many diverse elements seeking national liberation. Nothing should be allowed to weaken the degree of unity that has been achieved through the National Congress, and the proposals that are here put forward are only intended to endeavour to find means to assist and extend that unity to a still wider front.
We on the Left have many times criticised sharply the existing leadership and tactics of the National Congress. We have found many decisions and policies, such as the calling off of mass civil disobedience in 1922, at the moment when it was ready to enter on its greatest strength, the uncertain voice on the aim of independence, the wavering in the relations to imperialism, the siding with the landlords against the peasants, the Delhi Pact, the cooperation in the Round Table Conference, the Poona calling off of the struggle in 1934, disastrous to the true interests of the national struggle and equivalent to surrender to imperialism. We have traced these decisions and policies to the existing dominant bourgeois leadership, whose interests often conflict with the interests of the masses and with the interests of the national struggle. These issues, of the utmost importance for the future, need to be discussed and fought out. But this criticism against particular policies is in no sense intended as a criticism against the masses in the Congress. Our opposition to a particular leadership or to particular policies is only intended to assist the mass army of the national struggle, represented by the Congress, and to assist and strengthen the national struggle.
The National Congress can play a great part and a foremost part in the work of realising the Anti-Imperialist People’s Front. It is even possible that the National Congress, by the further transformation of its organisation and programme, may become the form of realisation of the Anti-Imperialist People’s Front; for it is the reality that matters, not the name.
But, it is necessary to recognise that the National Congress, as it exists at present, is not yet the united front of the Indian people in the national struggle. Its constitution still leaves out the broadest sections of the masses. Its programme does not yet express with full clearness the programme of the national struggle. Its leadership cannot yet be recognised as the leadership of the national struggle. It does not at present draw out and guide mass activity, rather acts as a brake upon it.
What is needed is, without impairing the degree of unity that has been achieved through the National Congress, to strengthen and extend this unity to a broader front, and to develop to a new stage the organisation and leadership of the mass struggle against imperialism.
Draw in the masses
The National Congress is at present based, not on the union of all elements supporting the national struggle, but on a restrictive individual membership, with certain limitations of franchise and of a special ideology or ‘creed’ which prevents it from embracing the broadest front of all who support the national struggle.
The mass organisations of the workers and peasants, the trade unions and peasant unions and all similar collective mass organisations, constituting the most important forces of the national struggle, are at present outside the National Congress. Only when all these forces are combined, the mass organisations of the workers and peasants, together with the National Congress, whether in a united front agreement or by the collective affiliations of these affiliations to the Congress, will we have achieved a broad united national front, capable of developing as a real anti-imperialist People’s Front and drawing behind it the overwhelming majority of the population, the workers, the peasants and the middle classes, in a single army of the national struggle. Within such a bloc the working class can increasingly realise its role of vanguard, to lead to victory the Indian revolution.
The first aim should therefore be to establish a united front of the National Congress with all the existing mass organisations of the trade unions, peasants unions, youth associations or other anti-imperialist mass organisations, in a broad anti-imperialist People's Front on the basis of the struggle against imperialism and its constitution and for organising the struggle of the masses for their immediate demands.
At the same time, we should seek to amend the constitution of the National Congress in such a way as to permit of the collective affiliation, with delegate representation, of the trade unions, peasant unions, youth organisations, etc. This collective affiliations should be carried out not only on an all-India scale (All India Trade Union Congress to the National Congress), but equally in the provinces and on a district and local scale the whole way through, thus bringing the National Congress into direct and continuous association with the masses. This collective affiliation is important, not only for the immediately existing mass organisations, but for the whole net-work of trade unions and peasant unions gradually embracing wider and wider sections of the masses, which Congress should devote its most active efforts to assist in building up as the strongest pillars of the national struggle,
The possibility of such collective affiliation is illustrated not only by the examples of the European Labour Parties, but still more closely by the example of the old national-revolutionary Kuomintang (before the betrayal by Chiang Kaishek) at the height of its strength when it grouped, along with individual political members, trade unions, peasants’ organisations and the Communist Party, and on this basis swept forward from strength to strength, proving the most powerful and victorious weapon upto then devised for the colonial struggle against imperialism.
While it may take a necessary process of time to carry through the campaign and introduce collective affiliation into the constitution of the Congress, no time should be lost in already setting up on a local, district, provincial and, if possible all-India scale, joint bodies of the Congress committees, trade unions, peasant unions, youth associations, Congress Socialist groups and other groups and anti-imperialist organisations, uniting for the purposes of combining the campaign against imperialism in the Anti-Imperialist People’s Front.
Actually united front bodies have been already set up in localities — not permanent but temporary bodies which show the possibilities — in places like Bombay, Calcutta and elsewhere. United front demonstrations and meetings were held in Bombay in February last year against the new slave constitution; these and similar actions were supported by trade unionists, Congress Socialists, Congressmen, Communists, etc. These actions, of course were only the very first signs, but they show the urge for, and possibilities of, the Anti-Imperialist People’s Front.
Democratise the constitution of the Congress
... The existing working of the Congress machinery cannot be regarded as democratic. In practice a very small handful of leaders hold absolute control. In particular, the working committee, which has the greatest power and takes the most important executive decisions, is not an elected body, and cannot be regarded as representative of the sections of opinion in the rank and file of the Congress. Similarly, in the provinces and localities, the degree of control from below is very weak.
An exhaustive overhauling of the constitution is necessary in order to bring it into accord with modern democratic conceptions of a popular party, and to ensure, not only the forms of democracy, but that these shall be realised in the practical working — i.e., widening of facilities for raising issues and putting forward resolutions from the membership, prior circulation of agenda with opportunities for discussion, mandating of delegates, etc. active political life and discussion in all the local organisations, election from below of all committees and officers, etc.
Centralised direction is essential for the purposes of the struggle, but this centralised direction must be on the principles, not of personal dictatorship, but of democratic centralism, i.e., elected from below and responsible to the representatives of the lower organs.
A clear programme of anti-imperialist struggle
... At present, despite the decisions of the Lahore Congress on the aim of independence, there is still much confusion even on the central aim. Definitions of the meaning of ‘Purna Swaraj’ are as thick as blackberries on bush, and cover the most contradictory notions. The latest definition by the Wardha meeting of the working committee in September 1934 (“included unfettered control over the army and other defence forces, external affairs, fiscal and commercial matters, and financial and economic policy.”) goes back on the goal of independence and returns to the pre-Lahore aim of Dominion Status.
It is essential to establish, in unmistakable terms, the aim of complete independence of India as the unchangeable aim of the Indian national struggle, and therewith the rejection of all compromise and negotiation with imperialism for half measures, cooperation in working the constitution, etc.
Further, it is essential to link up the programme of the fight for independence with the immediate political demands of the struggle against imperialism and with the immediate demands of the workers and peasants for their vital needs.
The details of such a programme could be worked out in common by representatives of all the organisations concerned. Thus, for example, such a programme might include:
- 1. The aim of complete independence for India;
- 2. Freedom of speech, press, organisation, assembly, strikes and picketting;
- 3. Repeal of all exceptional and repressive laws, ordinances and anti-labour laws (Criminal Amendment Act, Press Act, etc);
- 4. Release of all political prisoners, detenus and internees;
- 5. Against reductions of wages and dismissals of workers; for an adequate minimum wage and 8 hour day; for SO percent reduction in rents and against the seizure of peasant land for debt by imperialists, native princes, zamindars and money-lenders.
The particular immediate demands of the struggle could be worked out and varied according to the locality and the particular condition and stage.
A central rallying slogan for the whole movement could be provided by the demand for a Constituent Assembly, the conditions under which this demand could be usefully taken up and made the centre of agitation and propaganda are considered in the present article. A platform of this type requires to be established as the common platform of the Anti-Imperialist People’s Front.
Similarly, the constitution and platform of the Congress requires to be worked out anew in the light of this, ...
The tactics of mass struggle
A similar clarification is necessary with regard to the basic tactics of the Congress and of the national struggle.
The existing ideology of ‘non-violence’ which is still made a compulsory part of the Congress creed, is today a survival which is more and more visibly at variance with the realities of the struggles and less and less corresponds to the outlook of large sections of the national movement. Many prominent members of the Congress, who have formally to subscribe to this dogma as the condition of their participation in its mass activities, today privately declare their disbelief in it. This is not a healthy situation. While many sections may still be under the influence of the theories of ‘non-violence’, to make this a dogma compulsory on all sections is to place an obstacle in the way of unity of the national front. In fact, the experience of the nearly two decades since the war has abundantly shown that the conception of ‘non-violence’ has been used, not merely in opposition to the fruitless policies of individual terrorism or sporadic outbreaks of a minority, but to shackle and hold in all effective mass activity and the development along the lines of the class struggle of the most powerful weapons against imperialism or mass resistance to imperialist violence, and thus leaving free play for the violence of imperialism, has been a dangerous and paralysing influence on the advance of the national struggle and the principal cause of the relative stagnation and failure of advance in India, despite the enormous sacrifices made, compared with other colonial countries. China and Abyssinia have shown how a people fights for its freedom against the imperialist enemy. In Egypt today, the higher degree of aggressive mass activity is reflected in the far greater readiness of British imperialism to offer concessions. It is essential that the Indian national movement should free itself from the paralyzing conceptions of passive ‘non-violence’ if it is to defeat its enemy. A sharp ideological struggle needs to be conducted on this question, but a struggle in the ideological field, by way of ceaseless explaining and winning over. This issue should not be allowed to split the national front.
The Congress creed in consequence needs revision in accordance with the real conditions of the struggle. The dogma of 'non- violence' should be omitted. The entire emphasis should be placed on the development of the mass struggle, on the work of organisation of workers and peasants as the primary task in the field of organisation, on the active taking up of the immediate demands of the workers and peasants for their vital needs, and the linking of this struggle with the political anti-imperialist struggle.
Consolidation of the left wing
... In the past there has been much dispersion of effort, division and mutual snipping between the Left-wing forces, thus playing into the hands of the domination of the Right-wing leadership. While it is necessary and desirable that the differences of political outlook and conception which exist between the different groupings should be thoroughly discussed and cleared in comradely discussion, this should not stand in the way of the fullest cooperation and common working on all the issues on which agreement can be reached, both within the Congress, and in the immediate daily struggles.
Congress Socialists, Trade Unionists, Communists and Left Congressmen should all be able to unite on the essentials of a minimum programme of anti-imperialist struggle for complete independence, of organisation of the masses and development of mass struggle, and of the fight for changes in the Congress constitution, policy, organisation and leadership to forward these aims. The Congress Socialist Party can play an especially important part in this as the grouping of all the radical elements in the existing Congress. It is of the greatest importance that every effort should be made to clarify questions of programme and tactics in the Congress Socialist Party.
It is this way the first stage of anti-imperialist People’s Front could be built up already in the common fight, stressing particularly the local, district and provincial basis.
At the same time, it is essential to recognise that the task of consolidation of the Left wing forces renders more necessary and responsible than ever the role and the activity of the Communists in this process, since they have the most responsible role to play in ensuring the political clearness of the fight, in pressing forward the drive to unity in action, and guiding the aims of the movement towards the goals of political and social liberation. ...
The anti-imperialist front in the elections
The question of the elections is of cardinal importance for the anti-imperialist front.
On the one hand, it is essential that the clear line of the anti-imperialist front, the line of consistent struggle for complete independence, against all cooperation with imperialism and its constitution, and for the demands of the masses, should be challengingly voiced at the elections, and that the outlook of these vast sections of the national movement must not be stifled.
On the other hand, it is essential that unity of the national front should be maintained against the imperialists and their allies, and there should be no splitting of the vote for the benefit of the reactionary Right-wing elements outside the Congress who stand for cooperation with imperialism.
The best means to realise this requires the most earnest consideration of all supporters of the national struggle.
We would suggest that the anti-imperialist bloc, constituted on its programme of complete independence, no co-operation with imperialism, and active struggle for the demands of the masses, should seek agreement with the existing leadership of the Congress (within which the Congress Socialists, grouping the radical elements, represent already a substantial minority of roughly one-third of the forces and a potential majority) to run its candidates directly on this programme in a number of seats (or to be able to include them as a group with their specific programme within the Congress panel), as recognised candidates of the united national front, cooperating with the Congress candidates in other constituencies who run on the official programme. The details of this arrangement will need careful working out; but with goodwill on both sides, such an arrangement should be possible.
Every effort requires to be made to prevent a splitting of the national front in the elections; but such unity should not be utilised to stifle the Left-wing forces of the anti-imperialist bloc.
The constituent assembly as the central slogan of the struggle
In order to concentrate the struggle against the slave constitution imposed by the British Government, we cannot rest satisfied with the negative programme of rejection of the constitution and refusal of cooperation, but must counter-pose our positive slogan.
Corresponding to the existing stages of the movement, the time is now undoubtedly favourable to launch as our central slogan the demand for the convening of a Constituent Assembly, based upon a universal and equal franchise and direct and secret ballot.
In the past, there has been much discussion on the slogan of a Constituent Assembly. On the one hand, it has been presented in such a form as if the existing National Congress were to be regarded already as the Constituent Assembly of the Indian people. On the other hand, it has been presented as it were to be regarded as an alternative to the aim of Soviets, as the political aim of the Indian Revolution. Both these outlooks are incorrect and require to be combated. But this necessary criticism of misleading conceptions has given rise to the alternative danger of the conception that the slogan of a Constituent Assembly is as such and at all times inadmissible and in inevitable opposition to the aim of the Soviets. This would be a serious misunderstanding; the example of the Bolsheviks in the Russian Revolution has shown how, in a given situation, the slogan of a Constituent Assembly can be a most powerful mobilising force which can be combined with the propaganda of Soviet power as the ultimate aim.
Is the situation now in India such that this slogan of a Constituent Assembly would be a correct slogan of action for the coming stage? Yes. At a time when the British government is imposing its new constitution of slavery upon the Indian nation, and preparing its mockery of elections from which the voice of nine-tenths of the people is excluded and the remainder barred from effective representation with any power to the representatives, it is essential to spread broadcast, in opposition to the line of imperialism, the demand for a Constituent Assembly freely elected upon a basis of universal suffrage. In putting this forward the Communists will in no-wise weaken their propaganda for the aim of Soviet power. The Constituent Assembly is a slogan of action for mobilising the masses at the present stage of the struggle.
But at the same time, it is necessary to explain on every occasion on which the issue of a Constituent Assembly is raised, both within the National Congress, and in mass propaganda, that a real Constituent Assembly can only be realised as a result of a broad movement of the masses, of the people in active struggle. The significance of the slogan of a Constituent Assembly is as a mobilising slogan of the mass struggle at the present stage. As such, it should become the central slogan of action of the present stage of the national struggle and of the Anti-Imperialist People’s Front, uniting all the partial and immediate struggles in this central political fight.
The need for the speedy realisation of the broadest Anti- Imperialist People's Front in India is the more urgent, not only for the reasons of the situation now existing within India, but in view of the whole international situation as it is developing and affecting India. The war question is now of burning urgency. The Italian war on Abyssinia, alongside the ever-extending Japanese aggression in China, is the signal of the advance of imperialism to a new world war. The sympathies of Indian people are warmly united with the Abyssinian people, and with the Chinese national struggle against Japanese and all other imperialists. But at the same time, it is necessary to sharpen the struggle against the war preparations of British imperialism, which fall with merciless heaviness on the Indian masses. ...
Source: Inprecor, Feb. 29,1936, pp 297-300
Circular No. 5
The elections to the various legislatures are becoming the centre of political activity. All the various parties are mobilising their forces for the purpose. How does the attitude of the Communist Party differ on the point from that of other parties? In the fact that we want to utilise the election for furthering the anti-imperialist-struggle and raising it to higher level, that we want to utilise the occasion for clarifying the issues before the masses to sharpen their class consciousness and make elections a lever for consolidating the class forces of anti-imperialist masses. The reformist organisations look at the election from a different point of view. Their sole aim is to be successful in the elections. For this purpose they form opportunist alliances. The Congress today is in the one side making a show of defending the peasants’ interest, on the other side assuring the Zamindars that no harm is meant to them. It is attempting to befog the consciousness of the masses for their sole purpose is to get their candidates elected. The Congress thus does not utilise the elections to consolidate the anti-imperialist forces, but prevents the independent consolidation of such forces by forming united front with the Zamindars and other reactionary elements.
It is so because for the Congress the entrance into the legislatures is not a means for furthering the anti-imperialist struggle outside, but the sole political activity to-day. The Congress wants to take to constitutional opposition as its sole activity. To get members elected in the largest possible number is a question of life and death to it. But we stand for linking the struggle inside with the struggle outside the legislatures. The election campaign therefore has to be visualised in its proper perspective and must be utilised for furthering the anti-imperialist struggle, for popularising our slogans and our tactical line at the present stage.
In those constituencies, therefore, where our independent candidates are contesting the elections it is necessary to put forward the full CP platform as formulated in the resolution of the CC. In those constituencies on the other hand where we do not have our independent candidates we have to apply the tactics of United Front. According as there is CSP candidate or the Congress candidate we have to agitate for the united front platform as formulated by the CC; Platform A, in case of CSP candidates and platform B, in case of Congress candidates. It is but obvious that in these constituencies we cannot support the Congress and CSP candidates on their own platforms. That will be simply becoming the tail of these organisations. Nor on the other hand will it be an easy task to make these candidates accept the united front platforms. We have therefore to agitate among the masses for the United front platforms, explaining to them the necessity of such platforms and bringing the greatest possible pressure from the masses for making the candidates accept the platform. On the other hand we have to make it unequivocally clear that we oppose the reactionary candidates (be they Zamindars, Communalists, justicites or liberals) who stand in opposition to the Congress candidates. This support however is not due to the fact that Congress candidates are our candidates or that their programme is the right one; but because they are more progressive than the others. Every time demanding that the Congress candidates accept our united front platform we must support them even though they do not accept the platform. We must canvass votes for them, bring the voters to the election booths, participate in the election meetings and [the] whole election campaign and not confine ourselves to oral support; and thus prove in practice that we are serious about the united front with the Congress and do not put it forth simply as a manoeuvre. This will be an important method of convincing the rank and file of the Congress and masses outside the Congress that we mean to fight for united front even when there is resistance from the Congress Top.
Organisational form for election
The purpose for which we enter the election campaign determines the organisational form we raise for it. Election campaign being a weapon to intensify the mass struggle we must raise organs of the masses from below which must be broadbased and united front organs. In every locality we must take the help of all left sections, wherever possible we should take the local Congress Committees, CSPs Youth leagues, Trade Unions or Peasant Unions [into confidence] and get the United frent platform endorsed by them. We must then carry on propaganda for the United front platform among the masses, then call upon the masses to elect broadbased “Peoples election committees” which will be the rallying point of all those forces which stand for united front platforms. Through them we carry the campaign, through them we put pressure upon the candidates to accept the platform. The “Peoples Election Committees” will crystallise the left elements which will be a force for continuing the movement or achieving united front even after the election campaign. In big cities or the rural areas of the districts “Ward Peoples Election Committees” can be formed leading up to “City or District Peoples Election Committees”.
Independent propaganda of CP
At no stage can we Communists give up our own independent propaganda. While therefore agitating for United Front Platform we must point out that at the present stage we are ready to adopt this platform for furthering the anti-imperialist struggle, but the problems of the masses can only be solved by the full platform of CP, by the Agrarian Revolution, by the establishment of the “Dictatorship of the Working Class and the Peasantry” that being Communists we are bound to fight for that, as that alone can free the masses from exploitation and misery and establish a really free society. In the present stage, however, when Imperialism is intensifying its exploitation, when it is imposing the Slave Constitution and trying to break the Anti-imperialist movement by ruthless terror, mass internment and imprisonment, United Front is a necessity and hence the Communists, as the most consistent fighters against Imperialism and for National Independence, stand for a United front of all Anti-imperialist forces.
Illegal leaflets popularising CP platform and linking it with the United Front platform should become the regular feature of the election campaigns. Thus it will be possible for us, on the one hand to extend the influence of the CP, and simultaneously to strengthen the movement for United front. Rightly utilised the election campaign can be a lever to build a mass CP, consolidate the Left forces, bring United front nearer and thus raise the whole anti-imperialist struggle to a higher level. Let us hope that the CPI will rise up to the occasion and prove itself to be a worthy section of the CI.
1. The reference is to the members of the Justice Party, a loyalist party based in Madras. —Ed.
Excerpts from the first editorial of The Communist, July 1936
Communist Party and the Coming Election
The hideous British Imperialism is redecorating itself, with the unreal democratic tinsels of the new constitution, to hide the barbarous autocracy of its rule in India, to cover up its merciless exploitation of the Indian people. ... The elections under the new constitution are coming, the various political parties are preparing to participate in the elections and win an electoral majority, to further the interests of the classes they represent and to advance the cause they champion.
Where does the Communist Party (CP) stands ?
The Communist Party of India (CPI), the party of the revolutionary working class, the party of national and social revolution, the front rank fighter against British Imperialism, declares that it regards wrecking the present slave constitution as its first and immediate task and that this can be done only through a wide-spread and militant mass movement. The entire electoral policy and activity of the CPI is designed to serve and is subordinate to this definite aim and major task.
Against boycott of elections
The CP rejects the policy of boycotting the present elections as sectarianism, leading to isolation from the masses. The electoral campaign is carried on among the masses, the loyalist reactionary parties will try to bamboozle the masses and lead them into the camp of Imperialism, the reformist parties will preach their cowardly creed of compromise. The policy of boycott allows all this to happen unchallenged, it makes agitation among the masses the monopoly of reaction and reformism; on the other hand by participating in the elections we can agitate the masses, propagate our policy among them, and win them over to our side — to revolution. By boycotting the elections we isolate ourselves from the masses and allow a free hand to our enemies and friends of Imperialism; by participating in the elections we can combat the pro-imperialist united front of the exploiters and build a mass basis for the United Anti-Imperialist People’s Front.
The CPI in rejecting at the present stage the slogan of boycott of elections states in the words of the second congress of the Communist International, “Boycotting the election or the parliament or leaving the parliament is permissible, chiefly when there is a possibility for an immediate transition to an armed fight for power” !
CP and parliamentary activity
Beneath the surface of apparent lull in the political movement a new mass upsurge is brewing. ...
The CP holds mass activity to be primary and parliamentary activity to be auxiliary, its parliamentary activity is not a substitute for mass activity. In the present conditions of Terror prevailing in our country parliamentary activity can become an effective means of building up, organising and developing a mass movement. ...
The Communists shall contest the elections not because they have any illusions about this sham constitution, the CP considers the slave constitution worth only one thing — blowing it up. The communists enter the legislatures only for the purpose using them as platforms of agitation and for the purpose of helping in every way from inside the legislature the growth of a mass movement outside. The communists enter the legislatures to fight their political enemies face to face, to expose their reactionary policies and counter-revolutionary intrigues promptly on the spot, to popularise the partial demands of the people and the struggle against the slave constitution, to use the legislatures as the sounding-board for the call of national independence and socialism. Our aim in entering the lagislatures is anti-imperialist agitation, anti-imperialist propaganda and anti-imperialist organisation.
CP and united front for elections
... If the elections are to be successfully transformed into a large scale anti-imperialist mass mobilisation it is necessary that all the existing anti-imperialist organisations must function as a united team. ...
... The CPI shall actively support the Congress candidates against the loyalist Zamindar candidates with all the forces at its command. The Communist speakers shall however, make clear their differences with the policy of the existing official leadership of the Congress — its compromising nature and class-collaborationist character, and state in a persuasive comradely manner the changes we desire before the Congress could become a real anti-imperialist organisation. Not to make our comradely criticism, suppress our independent views, and give unqualified support to the INC as it is to-day would be to strengthen reformism and extend its hold over the masses, it will not be building up the anti-imperialist united front, it will be throttling the united front with our own hands but with the mantram of united front on our lips.
The leading anti-imperialist parties insides the INC should formulate an independent election platform which should not suffer from the various limitations of the official Congress programme, be more clearly and emphatically progressive both as regards aims and major demands (we are suggesting elsewhere the draft of such a platform)1, they should set up candidates on their own platform after proper negotiations with the official Congress as regards seats etc., they should accept the Congress whip inside the legislatures, and during the elections they should actively support the official candidates just as the latter would be bound to support them. The Left too would stand as Congress candidates accepting the official programme of the congress (unless it contains something against the anti-imperialist creed — the official congress platform has yet to be published) but they will also have an independent platform of their own.
In the labour constituencies the CPI will do all it can to prevent the proletarian front being broken up through personal ambition or partisan rivalry. It shall support militant class-conscious rank and file workers irrespective of their party allegiance rather than individuals of non-working class origin. It will struggle to arrive at a mutually satisfactory arrangement as regards seats etc. on the principle that all the revolutionary currents of thought inside the working-class get proper representation. ...
The CPI will support independent anti-imperialist candidates against the reformists provided they have a clean record of past struggle.
Inside the legislatures communists will help to form a well-knit harmoniously functioning Anti-Imperialist Block whose objects would be to wreck the slave constitution of Imperialism, actively help the extra-parliamentary mass-struggle, frustrate all attempts at a compromise with Imperialism etc. etc.
1. See Text VI2s -Ed.
Through united front for elections towards the Anti-Imperialist Peoples’ Front
A properly conducted united front election campaign will not only mean a successful mass mobilisation against the slave constitution but it can become the beginning of a mass movement against Imperialism itself; out of the united front work for elections can arise the united front work for the Anti-Imperialist Peoples’ Front line, the particular can become the general, from an elementary stage we can march on to a higher stage, This will happen not mechanically or automatically but through action. ... struggle will reveal the immense potentialities of the policy of united front so that what looks like a familiar election pact will be revealed as a successful and effective political line of struggle; the actual experience of the united front campaign will restore the necessary mutual confidence, establish bonafides and subjectively prepare the different individual parties for a more vital and lasting united front agreement. The ground would be prepared for transforming the Anti-Imperialist Peoples’ Front from a current popular phrase into a serious political reality. To achieve this consummation will remain the conscious task of all Anti-Imperialists.
The actual outcome of all this will to a great extent depend upon the attitude of the INC for it is the dominant political force in our country and will naturally dominate the election campaign as well. Of great significance therefore would be the attitude of the present head of the National Congress, Jawaharlal Nehru, towards the policy of united front in general and united front for elections in particular. He should not find it difficult to support the line sketched out above for has he not himself stated that the Congress is not a political party but a mass movement? With this as his own premise he should not find it difficult to come to the conclusion that Congress ‘discipline’ should not be party discipline but the discipline of a movement i.e. that though it is necessary to pull up the reformist Right for its compromising manoeuvres (which disorganise and disrupt the movement and tend to its betrayal) yet it will be impermissible to deny an independent existence to the Anti-Imperialist left inside the INC for their policy is only more consciously Anti-Imperialist than that of the Congress as a whole and their line only tends to activise and solidify the whole movement in the direction of struggle. We communists struggle. We communists shall enthusiastically welcome and wholeheartedly support all the efforts of Nehru, CSP and the other anti-imperialist elements which are intended to advance the strength against slave constitution and build up the united front movement. Whatever the obstacles and difficulties, we Communists shall pursue the path of united front patiently, persistently and actively for we know that is the path of struggle which will lead us to victory.
1. The reference is to the members of the Justice Party, a loyalist party based in Madras. —Ed.
Excerpts from the second editorial of The Communist, July 1936
The Issue of Ministry Vs. Anti-Ministry
The slogan and its importance
For ministry or against ministry acceptance. This is becoming the major political issue of the fight against Imperialism in our country. Behind the former, scouts of the reformist Right are feeling their way into the arms of Imperialism behind the latter the anti-imperialist left is mobilising its forces. ...
The approach of the Left — abstract and narrow
The approach of the entire Left nationalist camp, under the influence of the Congress Socialist Party (CSP) which has been considerably strengthened by the support of Nehru, to this issue is abstract. ... We reject the slave constitution of Imperialism therefore ministries under this constitution cannot be accepted because this will be accepting not rejecting the constitution — this is their logic. But to bind down a political question within the framework of a syllogism is incorrect, it is to replace logic for life. Nothing is in itself right or wrong. Contact with the enemy is not always contamination marching into the enemy’s citadels is not necessarily treachery. The decisive questions are when this is done, who does it, how this is done, and for what result ? ...
... Our comrades of the Left are concentrating on the Anti-ministry slogan as if it could be the means of wrecking the slave constitution in place of the mass movement of the revolutionary people. Constitutional struggle to end the constitution — this is what their policy comes to. “Creating Deadlocks” is their favourite formula. This is no new policy. It has been tried by the old Swaraj Party under Nehru-Das and we know with what results. Constitutional deadlock alone would be the reformist Left bourgeois and not anti-imperialist policy. ...
... during the Lucknow Session of the Indian National Congress (INC), CSP and other Left speakers concentrated all their fire on the “constitutional deadlock” through non-acceptance of ministry tactic and they mostly did not mention at all the mass movement for the destruction of the slave constitution and when this was done it was incidentally or apologetically. In their actual day to day agitation they put the mass movement in the background and the issue of constitutional deadlock through non-acceptance of offices in the foreground while it should be the other way about. ...
What is behind this wrong approach ?
... This mistaken approach of the Left Nationalists and CSP is a remnant of Gandhian ideology and ‘no changer’ mentality.
Gandhism was the dominant ideology of our first civil disobedience movement. Gandhism is a system of old world religious, almost theological, dogmas applied to politics, it is based on the usual abstractions, but the reflection of a mighty mass movement on the Mahatma's mind produced some fine fighting phrases and some pieces of remarkably powerful, almost classical, prose and it was these which became the ideological food of his militant petty-bourgeois following. They took his phrases literally, not like the Mahatma himself metaphysically. ‘Satanic Government’ expressed all their hatred against Imperialism and the necessity to destroy it. How can they ever cooperate with Satan? ... That was however long ago; most of the no-changer rank and file of that day now constitute the Left inside the INC and the CSP has come into being as the ideological flowering of the hopes and aspirations of the INC rank and file but in roots are these. ...
Congress Socialism and Left nationalism of to-day is different from Gandhism, the flower is different from the root. It is true this flower will produce a seed (it is certainly not barren) which in turn will find its own roots and give us a new flower. But to-day we are concerned with the present. To consider the ideological differences between Gandhism and Congress Socialism but ignore their ideological continuity would be as wrong as to state the later but forget the former. The desire of the CSP to become Marxist, i.e., realist is irrelevent immediately, it is the hope for the future.
The dangers from this approach
... What then are the immediate dangers from the above policy of Left nationalism and CSP in concrete terms ?
... The present tactical line of the Congress Right (which of course may change if there is a sharp turn in events) seems to be not to work for an immediate split but to go to the electorate as a united Congress and use all the enthusiasm and vigour of Left for the electoral campaign and when that is over to force the issue of ministry acceptance and if the Left is turbulent, adamant, disobedient to throw it out with the aid of their autocratic consideration and bureaucratic machinery. The Left by its present tactical line is just playing into the hands of the Right.
Anti-ministry is a negative platform and suffers from all its draw-hacks. When the Congress Right gets Ministry acceptance passed by e official majority, what will we do ?
Split from the Congress ? It sounds heroic but it would be suicidal. It will be making a present of the Congress mass following to the reformist-Right, i.e., exactly those potentially Anti-Imperialist elements whom we have to win over immediately to our side. Such a development would please Imperialism the most — a mass following behind the compromisers and the mass isolation of the Anti-Imperialists. …
What should have been done ?
If the present policy of the Left is incorrect what then should have been done ? ...
We should have left the question of office acceptance open not made it the major issue, but regarded it only as one item in our electoral policy, a part of our campaign to destroy the slave constitution, ...
We should have asked the INC to declare that its electoral activity is a part of the general plan to destroy the slave constitution and that the slave constitution cannot be destroyed through work inside the legislature alone but only through the mass movement of the people outside the legislatures and its parliamentary activity is an aspect of this general mass movement, and that it will simultaneously launch both Parliamentary and extra-parliamentary campaigns and co-ordinate them together.
Wherever the Congress would have been returned a majority they should not hesitate to accept office to carry through their major election pledges within a stipulated short period of time and actively help the development of the mass movement outside. Wherever the Congress were in a minority it should combine its parliamentary strength with the mass movement outside for securing the partial demands of the workers, peasants and the town poor, it should combine its political agitation inside with the general mass movement outside for the destruction of the slave constitution. In short, Congress members go into legislatures as the tribune of the Indian people as the organisers and agents of the movement against Imperialism and its slave constitution.
What would be the advantages of the above course ?
1. The first most likely result of the following the above line would be that the Governors would be forced to assume dictatorial powers, dismiss the ministers, dissolve the legislatures and rule as dictators more dictatorial than any dictator, Hitler or Mussolini — i.e., we force Imperialism to tear off its own mask and demonstrate dramatically that its new constitution is the paraphernalia of slave-drivers and exploiters. The entire Indian people would then have not to believe our criticism of this constitution but their own eyes would be a witness to its reality and they themselves would be tasting its first fruits. It would be an exposure of the constitution not in words but through action, a real exposure, unmistakably visible even to the politically naked eye.
2. ... All reactionary parties are coming forward with their election programmes and demanding the support of the electorate 00 the ground that they will be able to do ‘Something’ for them while the Congress is out only to create ‘obstruction’. Even if our negative policy is successful immediately, after the dissolution of legislatures a couple of times the demonstrative value of ‘Constitutional dead-locks’ would be over and cease to have value or significance like the repeated drama of salt manufacture. It is then that the reactionary ministers will be able to counterpose their ‘something’ against our ‘nothing’. Whatever little they do will go in their favour, help them to mobilise the masses behind Reaction because they will be able to put partial demands in opposition to ultimate aims. In this Imperialism will help them actively; its present policy and plans are to give whatever petty concessions it can to the masses through loyalist reactionaries so that they may get an entrance into them, be able to organise them— for Imperialism.
On the other hand we checkmate all these Imperialist designs through our line of action. We counter-pose our election platform to that of the Reactionaries and there can be no doubt that even backward masses will recognise ours as their own platform, ... When they will see that the proposals embodying their partial demands have been vetoed by the Governor, that their ministers who were responsible for them have been dismissed, that their legislature which passed them has been dissolved, then it is that the slave nature of the constitution will be exposed to them to their entire satisfaction and utter indignation, they will then realise as a result of their own experience that the final alternative is to join the mass struggle from which they have so far held aloof — they will be drawn into anti-imperialist political activity$ our ranks will be strengthened, while the reactionaries will not be able to find a foothold among masses, the gulf between the advanced and backward masses will be bridged and a serious all-embracing struggle against the slave constitution become possible. …
3. ... After this when the Right Parliamentarians say that “in national interests” we must occupy “all positions of vantage,” that ministers would be there whether we like them or not and ask us point-blank “Is Satyamurti worse than Raja of Bobbili, Govind Ballabh Pant worse than Nawab of Chattari and Rajendra Babu worse than Maharaja of Darbhanga ? The left and CSP have no logical answer to give which will convince others besides themselves.
It is thus that the reformist Right is consolidating the Congress masses against us. ...
We concede the Right the issue of ministry-acceptance and thus not give it any ground to split the anti-imperialist ranks but formulate the tactic of ministry-acceptance in a way that it ceases being means of compromise with Imperialism but on the contrary becomes a weapon in the struggle against Imperialism.
... The masses are under the influence of Rajendra Baboo and Vallabhbhai Patel not because they know them to be Reformists but because they believe that these their leaders stand for national freedom, welfare of the toiling people, and mass action. This is our starting point. We ask them to accept a programme embodying only these items and nothing else. If they accept it they join the path of mass struggle (and we can safely leave to the course of struggle to take care of reformism and the reformists — with our selves in the struggle). On the other hand if they oppose it they isolate themselves from their following. ...
Some objections answered :
... 4. By simultaneously preaching wrecking the slave constitution and office acceptance, are we not raising illusions about the constitution itself ? This would be the case if we fail to differentiate our line from that of the Parliamentary Right Congress leadership. The Right Congress rejection of the constitution is only verbal for it wants to accept office to satisfy the partial demands of the people — it is this line which will create illusions about the real nature of the new constitution. In our line the mass movement is given the dominant place and not the question of our being returned in a majority, we tell the masses that the existing constitution is a slave constitution and that our emotional rejection of the constitution will not make it disappear, we have to destroy it with our own hands. ... Ours is a mass policy of struggle and struggle does not breed but destroy illusion.
From the above ‘objections’ it is clear that the elastic, comprehensive, nature of our tactical line is not easily grasped and that it does not fit within the framework of a simple formula. The road to revolution is not an unfrequented single line track. It is no argument against a correct tactical line that it is complex, for life itself which we struggle to change through our tactical line is complex; or that the tactical line is full of dangers, for any tactical line would land us in danger if it incorrectly or incompletely applied. Because a correct tactic is full of dangers, likely to lead to deviations, we must struggle not against the correct tactic itself but against the deviations from it.
What are the decisive facts ?
Should the CP pursue the policy outlined above ? No. The above tactic would have been correct as a tactic considered generally but not so bearing in mind the concrete situation inside the Anti-Imperialist camp. To-day the Anti-Imperialist sentiment of politically conscious people is expressing itself as the Anti-Ministry slogan, Anti-Ministry is part of the platform of all left nationalist and other Anti-Imperialist elements and our pursuing the above course would result in our isolation from the Anti-Imperialist forces and prevent the CP from building up or even being a part of the United Anti-Imperialist Front.
A major Anti-Imperialist slogan of immediate political importance if it is to be effective must be the common slogan of the united Anti-Imperialist forces. That the policy outlined by us cannot be pursued is our fault. Our party failed to take the initiative which was rightfully its. There is little doubt that if we had formulated our above policy in time (Imperialist terror however does not allow our party to function as we desire) we would have succeeded in making it generally acceptable for the political influence and prestige of the policy of Communism is more than we Communists ourselves realise e.g. the immediate and widespread response to our demand for collective affiliation came to us as a surprise.
If we independently pursue the above policy now, we would be definitely wrong. We would be playing the game of the reformist Right, creating confusion and may be disruption inside our Anti-Imperialist camp which is irrevocably committed to the slogan of Anti-Ministry. ... The purpose of our policy is to draw the backward masses into the struggle, how can we bring forward the rearguard if we dis-organise the vanguard itself ? The purpose of our policy is to avoid the future isolation of the Anti-Imperialist Left but will we be achieving this through our immediate isolation with the Anti-Imperialist Left ?
It is obvious that our above policy cannot be pursued as it is. Why then have we formulated it at such length ? To bring out clearly the various advantages of following this course; to point vividly the great dangers to which the present line of action of the Left Nationalists and the CSP is exposing us, our Anti-Imperialist struggle, in short to contrast the two policies for purposes of discussion so that one united policy may be hammered out. ...
The CP of India lays down the following as its policy on the issue of ministry acceptance:
- 1. The CP of India declares that it is unequivocally opposed to the slogan of ministry acceptance as it is being put forward by the Right Congress leadership, because it is designed to be a stepping-stone to compromise with Imperialism and because it is working in practice the slave constitution of Imperialism and not struggling for its destruction.
- 2. The CP of India actively supports the Anti-Ministry slogan as the united front slogan, it does not advance it as its own independent slogan but accepts it as the slogan of other Anti-Imperialist elements.
- 3. The CP of India shall put forward in a comradely manner its criticism of the anti-ministry slogan in the form it is being advanced by CSP and Left Nationalists.
- 4. The CP of India shall press upon the CSP and left nationalists to support the line sketched out in the beginning of this article as the alternative tactic i.e. in case the Right INC leadership breaks through and goes in to accept offices, to demand a new session of the National Congress, and pin it down to put into action the major demands of the election platform within a definite period of time and thus come into a direct clash with the executive and that it must actively support the extra-parliamentary mass movement outside. ...
The Constituent Assembly As An Expression Of The Unity Movement
... Quite apart from the rapid growth of the socialist group within the Congress, I think it would be a mistake to assume that the Congress was dead, as opposed to its leadership. ... On the contrary the Congress organisation and the dormant masses of its supporters is a real potential force in the country, ready at any moment to be called into action, disillusioned, it is true, with the old leadership, but not for that reason reconciled to imperialism or despairing a new and militant lead.
From where is that new lead to come? Within the Congress already we see the growth of a movement that is capable of reviving the whole force of anti-imperial feeling. Lucknow confirms the rapid rise of this movement and it is reasonable to say that as the influence and demands of the rank and file works its way upwards and influences the leadership, it will rapidly gain the ascendancy. This new leftward movement within the Congress must be based upon an acceptance of the class struggle. There may be some hesitation on the part of bourgeois “socialists” to do this but it is the logical conclusion to be drawn from their avowed belief that only a mass organisation giving effect to mass demands can achieve Swaraj. Without doubt the new leadership of the Congress party will spring from the Congress Socialist Party.
What is to be our attitude towards Nehru and his “left” elements? ... Nehru is no communist; he believes, on the other hand, in some sort of Communism, a faith which in our experience of social-revolutionaries and the like, probably means that the kind of socialism or Communism that he is working for quite genuinely at this stage is the ideal of his own mind and not the transfer of full power to the workers. Like the democratic “revolutionaries” of February 1917 the leftwing socialists hope to utilise the worker revolution to overthrow the present vested interests of the British empire and their allies and to create a benevolent middle-class rule that will parcel out to the workers such reforms as coincide with their conception of “Communism” whilst retaining the power for themselves.
But at this stage we are not only dealing with Nehru but with the whole leftward tendency which his leadership represents in the Congress, a tendency which springs up from below, from the mass of exploited workers in towns and villages who rightly see the imperial power as the primary and basic source of their present condition. And to channelise and formulate these tendencies is our immediate task. How best can this object be achieved now? Only by forming a united front with and within the Congress, lending our strength to the increase of pressure from the leftward forces and strengthening the left camp of the Socialists. In his article in the Labour Monthly of March this is the line put forward by Comrade Dutt, when he says “the National Congress has undoubtedly achieved a gigantic task in uniting forces of the Indian people for the national struggle, and remains today the principal existing mass organisation of many diverse elements seeking national liberation” ...
Our policy is then quite clear — that every one of our members and every member of each left organisation with a revolutionary policy, must at once enter the Congress and work the united front from within, taking advantage of, and urging on, all these tendencies that are irreconcilably opposed to imperialism and cooperation with the imperialists. The discussions between independent organisations as to a common platform for the co-operation of those independent organisations forms an essential part of the policy, but such discussions can advance us not at all unless and until the pressure of the revolutionary masses makes itself felt from within. What we want primarily is not pacts, but genuine unity and such unity is only feasible if and when the masses impose their will upon the leaders. Working within the Congress therefore, we must put forward the following demands :
- (a) Complete independence.
- (b) Support for the Left wing and socialist programme.
- (c) Affiliation of workers’ organisations.
- (d) A democratic organisation to enable the pressure of the masses to be felt together with freedom of speech etc.
- (e) Adequate wage and reduction of land-rents.
By voicing these demands from below and making them the basis of local organisation the united front becomes a reality and the leadership is forced into line with the objective needs of the moment.
Among the demands enumerated above is the demand for democratisation of the Congress organisation, the demands for freedom of the press and of organisation, and the struggle for the attainment of democratic rights. These demands follow logically from our determination to form a united front within the Congress. There would be no point in our entering the Congress organisation on the basis of the anti-imperialist front, unless we hoped and intended, whilst assisting to strengthen that front, to remedy those faults which we have always criticised in the Congress polity. ...
Source: The Communist, September 1936
1. The quote is from the Dun-Bradley Thesis, reproduced in this volume as Text Vile – Ed.
The Anti-Imperialist People’s Front & The United National Front
... In March 1937 the Polit-Bureau (PB) of the CC issued a statement oa the same subject, “For the United National Front”.
The statement has, as is inevitable when some new political ground is broken, created a little confusion in our ranks. A correspondent comrade, for instance, writes that “The United National Front (UNF) is something wider in scope than the Anti-Imperialist People’s Front (AIPF)” and he takes this to be ‘evident’. He is wrong. The Anti-Imperialist People’s Front, the United Anti-Imperialist Front, and the United National Front all refer to one and the same front. ...
... The PB has supplemented the thesis of Dutt and Bradley, not contradicted it. ...
The statement of the PB comes fifteen months after the Dutt and Bradley thesis and carries it forward on the basis of the experience of this intervening period What has happened during this period? The entire left enthusiastically accepted this thesis and on its basis, despite some hitches, a consolidation of the left was achieved and its first impress was seen in the resolutions of the Lucknow Congress, and the Presidential Address of Pt J Nehru, the resolutions of the first All-India Kisan Congress were materially influenced by it and so were those of the Bombay TUC (Trade Union Congress) Session (May 1936.) The Second All-India Kisan Congress at Faizpur carried forward the tasks undertaken at Lucknow. The resolutions of the Faizpur Session of the INC, as further concretised in the Wardha Working Committee Resolutions of February 27, ’37, showed that the Indian National Congress has officially accepted the platform suggested by Dutt and Bradley. All this bore out that the left had vigorously popularised the platform and that it was a popular platform expressing the real immediate demands of our people. Formal agreement over the demands is not the winning of the demands themselves and it is this to which our PB drew pointed attention in its statement. All the premier mass organisations of the Indian people — INC, AITUC, AIKC — accepting one common platform of demands was a great thing but by itself this was not enough. They were ‘mere phrases’ if not linked up with a common plan of action. “Without the masses there is not and cannot be victory.” The tactic of the United Front policy is the active organisation of the partial struggles of the masses for the redress of their immediate grievances. Dutt and Bradley had also stated this. The PB showed the inter-connection of these partial struggles with our demands for a Constituent Assembly and the Democratic State as between the beginning and the conclusion of a process. Dutt and Bradley gave us a policy, we popularised it, the PB has called upon us to put it into practice. ...
The PB has supplemented the Dutt and Bradley thesis in another sense — theoretically, again on the basis of our one year’s work. It was seen in the course of our efforts to popularise the policy of AIPF that some ideological confusion prevailed even in the ranks of our Party, which arose out of our ideological inability to link up the immediate with the ultimate and see the inter-relation rather than a contradiction between the two. The PB in its statement outlined how our fight for Independence and Democracy brought our aim of Soviet Raj and Socialist Society nearer. ...
The statement of the PB supplements the Dutt and Bradley thesis in still another direction — by indicating the class basis of the AIPF. Dutt and Bradley, it will be remembered, had indicated the organisations through which the policy of AIPF should be pursued. ... They had not stated the class-basis as such of the AIPF. ... After Dutt and Bradley thesis was published ... whole series of peasants Conferences in various parts of the country and the growing peasant organisations, the wide-spread strike-wave not only in the major but also in the backward industries culminating in the big BN Railway and Bengal General Jute Strike showed that the Indian people in very large masses were on the move and this movement from below could not but influence, vitalise and inspire other classes. British Imperialism on the other hand was becoming more ruthless in its exploitation, more brutal in its repression and less and less conciliatory in its policy. Its daily administrative measures, political and economic, crowned with the imposition of the Slave Constitution on an unwilling people, were ... unmistakable evidence of it all. ... Thus crushed from above and pushed from below the Indian bourgeoisie was swinging leftward (Comrade Venkatayya has worked this out in his article on the “Role of the Indian Bourgeoisie in the UNF”.) The resolutions of the Faizpur Congress expressed the political resultant of these currents and crosscurrents in our national arena. The election campaign and the electoral result showed the growing Unity of the Indian people and the rising tempo of their wrath against British Imperialism. The PB has carefully analysed and evaluated the events of 1936 and the early months of 1937 and made explicit what was implicit in the Dutt and Bradley thesis that not only the policy of the Anti-Imperialist People’s Front was in the interests of the entire Indian people but also that the AIPF embraces the entire Indian people except a handful of rabid reactionaries and shameless loyalists. It is obviously to emphasise this national Unity of the Indian people against Imperialism that the PB in its statement chose the word UNF. Says the PB “The United Anti-Imperialist Front is not directed against the Indian middle classes but puts, as its main [agenda], the liberation of the country and the national regeneration of the great Indian people. It is, therefore, a genuine United National Front against British Imperialism. This does not, however, mean that such broad-based UNF is an existing reality, nor that we have to wait for the achievement of this Unity before attempting to launch a mass movement against Imperialism. The UNF is not a finished but a growing organisation, the upper strata of the Indian people would be attached to the UNF and overcome their vacillations only as a result of the increasing successes of the UNF. “The very first successes of the anti-Imperialist Front would draw to it certain organisations of the Indian merchants and industrialists not to speak of students and other radical organisations.” If we read the statement of the PB carefully we will come to the conclusion that the class-composition of the UNF is visualised as very broad embracing all classes of the Indian people including large sections of the Indian bourgeoisie and barring the small top knot section of the pro-Imperialist bourgeoisie and the big landlords and Princes.
A sectarian tendency is not non-existent which would identify the wide UNF with an exclusive Toilers’ Front. The toilers’ front in India, in terms of existing organisations would mean Unity between the CP, CSP, AITUC & AIKC : neither Dutt and Bradley nor the PB visualise the formation of such an independent Toilers’ Front separate from the UNF. Whether the UNF itself will be transformed into a toilers’ front at a later stage of the struggle, when and how, or a Toilers’ Front will be formed as a separate but integral part of the UNF, are today futile forecasts worthy of those who pretend to be astrologers under the guise of being Marxists. These left forces are not only intimately related to the UNF but form the motive force behind it. Neither Dutt and Bradley nor the PB call upon them to form a formal independent front. ...
Source: The Communist, June 1937
1. The relevant point in the said article, published in the same issue of The Communist, is quoted here. — Ed. “... the INC leadership as a whole and the section of the bourgeoisie which support it have, during the last few years, moved to the left. The progressive leftward-trend is reflected in the INC resolutions of the last few years. Complete independence is understood as involving the absence of imperialist domination. The future state is visualised as a democratic state coming into existence through Constituent Assembly elected on adult suffrage, democratic rights and the basic minimum demands of workers and peasants are being accepted in the programme. ... This leftward tendency is reflected in the emergence of R Jawaharlal Nehru in his new role since Lucknow. The leadership of the INC is no longer United in its reformism. ... The fact that pt Jawaharlal Nehru is able to mobilise nearly a third of the Congress leadership (as constituted in the AICC) on most vital questions, conclusively shows that his radicalism is not an isolated phenomenon but represents the leftward tendency of a growing section in the Congress leadership itself. This leftward move is shared by sections of Nationalist bourgeoisie which support the INC. This is seen in the support accorded to R J Nehru by the majority of the Bombay Indian merchants chamber of commerce against ‘the twenty one’ (The reference is to 21 businessmen who in May 1936 issued an angry manifesto denouncing Nehru’s presidential speech at the Lucknow session of the Congress. – Ed) headed by AD Shroff and in the election of Mr. Govindlal Shivlal a Congress candidate to the presidentship of the said chamber as against the candidature of AD Shroff. … All what has been said above does not mean that the Indian bourgeoisie has turned revolutionary. ... The aim of compromise with Imperialism remains the policy of the dominant section of the INC leadership. ... This movement towards the left pursues not a straight but a zig-zag course. Though the resultant is a leftward trend.”
Draft Thesis On Congress Ministries And Our Tasks
- By RDB
... 2. With the acceptance of office our task was to see it that ministries were being used for the purpose of widening the democratic liberties with a view to strengthening the forces of struggle against the Constitution. We wanted the masses to keep the ministries ever marching forward in the task of implementing the Congress programme. Widening civil liberties, creating bigger and broader opportunities for the organisation of workers and peasants, for increasing the striking force of the National front against the Constitution.
We put forward the slogan — “Fulfill the Election Programme or resign”. The slogan is of course meant to hold good for the whole period of ministries. ...
3. What have been the main results achieved during the first four months of the ministries ?
- (A) ... The coming of Congress ministries and the few early concessions, the general change in the attitude of the petty official in the village served to draw in the masses of backward population into the struggle.
- (B) Mass campaigns launched mostly under the leadership of the Lefts for the release of political prisoners, removal of restrictions, for the granting of immediate relief to workers and peasants by passing executive orders on debt moratorium, remissions, stay of legal proceedings in rent and debt suits against peasants etc. have been successful. ...
- (C) ... As the movement is all unofficial the agents of Imperialism are trying to paint it as a Red or Communist movement and isolate it from the democratic masses under the Congress and crush it singly. Their aim is to split the National Front, to isolate the left within the INC.
4. The Congress ministers and the Right wing are equally alarmed and are attempting to put a brake upon the developing forces of mass struggle, by using the apparatus of repression in the name of creating non-violent atmosphere (frequent use of 144 against strikers, the use of Cr. Law Amendment Act in Ahmedabad and Sholapur, the launching of sedition cases against Batliwalla in Madras, gagging orders on labour leaders in Cawnpore) are hindering the growth of the United Front movement. ...
5. Under these circumstances the tasks of the Lefts in general must be determined by the following considerations :
(a) that spite of the acts of commission and commission of the Congress ministries which run counter to the letter and spirit of the election pledges, these ministries still enjoy the confidence of the vast masses especially the backward sections; (b) that these ministries being Congress ministries can persist in these acts only in so far as they are able to mobilise the support of the majority of the vocal political opinion under the influence of the Congress; (c) that these ministries have proved themselves to a certain degree responsive to public opinion and pressure.
6. The need to counteract the reformist and anti-struggle trend is as great as ever. But this struggle cannot be conduct on the assumption that the ministries have merged or are fact merging into the apparatus of Imperialism. ... We say that the ministries are pledged to carry out the spirit and letter of the Election Manifesto and if they fail, the Congress organisations and members must always join up in protest with workers’ and peasants’ organisations. Such protests must be organised in various ways, through MLAs, through the press, through demonstrations, deputations, marches to the Secretariat. ...
8. It is necessary to plan out practical pieces of legislation within the framework of the Election Manifesto and place them before the legislatures, popularise them through Trade Unions and Kisan Sabhas to obtain for them the support of Congress Committees and MLAs. The legislation proposed by the ministries must be properly studied and amendments suggested. ... The Amendments or Bills must not be proposed just with the object of exposing the ministries, but must be such as are immediately practicable. ...
10. With every advance of the organisation and struggle of the masses, with every new and powerful offensive launched by workers and peasants, the ministers, inflected by the panic of the bureaucracy and the anti-national vested interests, are attempting to use repressive measures ... every such attack ... must be bitterly fought out by mobilising the Congress rank and file against the repressive measures ... It may even be essential at times to defy these gag measures utilizing at such moments the anti-police and anti-bureaucracy sentiments of the Congress minded public, and always enlisting the sympathy of the Congress rank and file in these actions. In this way every advance made under the ministries, however small, must be made irrevocable, and a base for further advance. ...
Source: New Age, January 1938.
Our Stand at Tripuri
By AK Ghosh
The stand taken by us at Tripuri has been subjected to sharp criticism by a section of the Left. It is alleged that we capitulated completely before the offensive of the Right Wing, accepted the Gandhian ideology and leadership, deserted Subhas and, on the whole, betrayed woeful lack of firmness. Further that at Tripuri we forgot all the slogans that we had been popularising for the last one year.
Are these criticisms correct ? If so, to what extent ? We were the first to give the call for President Bose's re-election. That was in October 1938. The AICC meeting was over. ...
Another war crisis was maturing. Desperate efforts were being made by imperialism to hasten the advent of Federation. Yet there was no sign that our national leaders were conscious of the seriousness of the situation.
It was in this situation that we gave the call for Sjt. Bose’s re-election. We wrote :
- “In these critical times, the head of our people, the President of the Congress must not only be able to hold the people together but keep them in trim to come to grips with the national enemy. ... Against British Imperialism which seeks to impose the Federation. Bose is our strong anti-Federation President. At a time when the greatest need of our movement is national unity but when a section of our leadership is threatening Civil War within the Congress he is the living link uniting the two wings of the movement.”
– National Front, October 16, ’38.
We knew that the policy of drift was leading to disruption. If that policy was continued a stage would come when the Congress would become powerless to resist any major offensive of imperialism — even the imposition of the Federal Scheme. Bose stood for struggle, for unity in the Congress, for unity between Congress and the workers and peasants organisations, for active support to the States People's movement. Moreover he like Nehru, could maintain the unity of the Congress — a unity that was essential for the success of the struggle that loomed ahead.
Hence we advocated his re-election.
“Unity and struggle, unity for struggle, struggle through unity” were thus our slogans, right from the beginning. ...
The plan of action
This forward move was possible only on the basis of the broadest national unity. We supported the following plan of action and sought to achieve unity on its basis :
- (1) Ultimatum to the British Government demanding independence within a specified period. In case of non-fulfilment of the demand nation-wide struggle was to be launched.
- (2) The intervening period was to be used preparing for the struggle. This was to be done rapid implementing of the Congress Election programme by the Ministries, by establishing united front relations between the Congress and the workers and peasants organisations, by the Congress itself taking up and leading the States people’s movement, by establishing communal unity, and by creating a national Volunteer Corps.
We popularised the above plan of action and called upon the people to vote for Subhas Bose in order to ensure its being adopted and implemented by the Congress.
Bose’s re-election — a wrong evaluation
The Socialist comrades, who at first were not very enthusiastic about the Presidential contest, later supported Subhas whole-heartedly. So did the Royists and the entire Left.
It was after Bose’s re-election that the differences among the Left came to the surface and the most grievous mistakes were made by certain sections of the Left. They entirely fail d to read the real significance of the election. They thought that the time had come for “an alternative leadership”, for at least demanding a majority for Leftists in the Congress Working Committee. Bose’s victory was interpreted by them as defeat of Gandhism and Gandhian leadership and technique. They raised slogans of new programme, new leadership, new ideology. The utmost length to which they would go was expressed by the following formula: “We do not want to drive all Rightists out of the Working Committee. But we want them to co-operate with us on our own terms.”
To these sections the registration of the 12 members of the Working committee appeared to be a blessing in disguise. The path was clear for a homogeneous Left Committee, for the "new revolutionary leadership."
On the contrary, we viewed President Bose’s re-election in an entirely different manner and therefore, set entirely different tasks before ourselves,
- “By voting for Subhas Bose, the delegates have recorded their verdict for a policy of advance, for passing on to the offensive. ...
- “The need of the hours is to unite the entire Congress for the offensive not merely against the Federation but ... against the entire Government of India act. ... United struggle under a united national leadership is the surest guarantee for the victory of the struggle. All slogans and tactics therefore that tend to widen and perpetuate the existing division between the Right and the Left ... that demand the ousting of the Right wingers from their position of leadership in the Congress must be considered disruptive.”
-- Editorial, National Front, February, 26.
We went to Tripuri therefore with the slogans of united leadership and forward move — slogans which we had been popularising all through the year.
Our slogan — no side-tracking
... it is in an open secret that the advocate of “alternative leadership'” theory and a number of pseudo-Left leaders who for their own personal aggrandisement were opposed to the restoration of unity, strongly opposed the advice given to Bose by Socialists and Communists. To Roy and some “Leftists” this admission will seem to be another evidence of our “vacillatory policy.” But we had gone to Tripuri not in order to reduce the Congress session into a battleground between the Right and the Left over ideological and personal issues but to bring to the forefront and political and organisational tasks facing the nations. We knew that the Pant resolution would side-track the main issue, would focus attention on non-essentials, would frustrate our efforts for politicalising the session. Hence we had tried to get it forestalled by a statement from President Bose himself declaring his complete confidence in the integrity of the members of the Working Committee and making a fervent appeal for unity. That would have deprived the Right wingers of the weapon which they used with such devastating effect at the session.
What should have been our attitude towards the resolution? We had already interpreted Subhas Bose’s election as “demand not for a new leadership, nor for a new ideology, not even for a new programme but for a policy of advance instead of the policy of drift.” We therefore deliberately decided not to be drawn into controversy over ideological issues, not to deny Gandhiji’s undoubted leadership of the nation but taoppose only those clauses of the resolution which sought to indirectly censure Bose and which could be used by the Right wing to re-establish its exclusive leadership and continue the old policy both politically and organisationally. (The ‘aspersion’ clause and the clause demanding the appointment of the Working Committee “in accordance with Gandhiji’s wishes”).
Our opposition to the Pant resolution was therefore not ideological or personal but political. It was dictated by needs of immediate struggle and of united leadership. That we together with the CSP succeeded in mobilising 125 votes in the AICC against the resolution itself shows the correctness of our stand.
The rowdyism and its effect
After the rowdy demonstration in the open session and Sarat Base’s opportunist speech, the opinion of rank and file delegates swung overwhelmingly against the President, Sarat Babu was supposed to be the accredited representative of the President. The ‘ultimatum’ resolution which was known to embody Subhas Bose’s policy was interpreted by him in a speech which shocked even the Right wingers. The sum and substance of his “plan of action” was threat of struggle and ministerial resignation to back up the threat if imperialism did not yield. The masses nowhere came into the picture, mass struggle — even of the peaceful satyagraha variety — was not even mentioned by him. And it was on the basis of this policy that he ridiculed the National Demand resolution and voted against it.
Neutrality or opposition ?
We had opposed the Pant resolution because it was disruptive, because it sought to impose restrictions on a President who advocated a policy of struggle. But the past few days’ development clearly showed that forces of disruption were at work in the Left camp too, that one of the closest associates of the President and one who must have collaborated with him in evolving the ‘ultimatum’ resolution advocated a line which was thoroughly opportunist and reformist. It was under the influence of these elements of disruption and opportunism that the President had rejected our advice for issuing a statement. This had objectively helped the disrupters in the camp of the Right. Disrupters in the camps of the Right and the Left had frustrated our efforts to restore unity. The President himself had failed to check them, had failed to act as the “live link between the two wings of the national movement” — a role which we expected him to play when we advocated his re-election — had failed to take the steps that alone could politicalise the session.
Could we, consistent with loyalty to the Congress and our advocacy of the policy of unity maintain the same attitude towards the Pant resolution as before ? Would not our opposition to the resolution mean our support to the Left disrupters ?
In view of these considerations, the Executive Leadership of the Communists decided in favour of neutrality. That was half an hour before the session.
The decision was changed not because of the threat of rank and file revolt but by the political leadership of the Communists before the session actually commenced. Today, all of us, including those who were in favour of neutrality recognise that the decision to oppose the resolution was right and neutrality would have been wrong. ...
The slogan of ultimatum
For 2 months before the session we had been trying to popularise the slogan of ultimatum. An ultimatum however can be delivered only by a united Congress. A resolution embodying the slogan of ultimatum is not just an ordinary resolution whose being carried or not carried is a matter of little importance. Such a resolution, if defeated by a big majority would make it appear to both imperialism and the people that only an insignificant minority in the Congress, wants struggle in the immediate future — an entirely wrong impression in view of the result of the Presidential election and other developments. If the entire Congress or at least the entire Left and a big section of the centre favoured the ultimatum, then and then only could it be embodied in the major political resolution of the session — a resolution which we wanted to be the basis of national unity.
What we found at Tripuri was that we had failed to popularise the ultimatum slogan extensively, that not even the entire Left could be united on its basis. The slogan of ultimatum in such a case, if insisted upon, would have become a slogan of disruption and not unity.
We therefore argued to delete the ultimatum clause from our resolution and prepared a draft resolution (along with the CSP) which embodied all the points of our resolution except the ultimatum clause, The Left nationalists too agreed to support the resolution. We wanted this draft to be accepted by the President and given priority over oilier resolutions. That could have been done because there were no “Official” resolutions in this session. ...
The national demand resolution
But once again we failed. Because of the serious illness of the President, it was not possible for us to discuss with him the resolution and stress the need for his giving it the priority. His Left nationalist supporters while they agreed to support the resolution did not realise the need either.
What came before the Subjects Committee was the National Demand resolution of Jawaharlal It contained all the points in our preamble but embodied no Plan of Action, nor did it emphasise that the policy of drift must be ended and all-round offensive launched.
The proper thing for Socialists and Communists to do was to moves amendments to the resolution remedying these defects.
The following amendment was moved for being added at the end of the resolution :
- “As an essential part of this preparation the Congress further emphasises the need for eliminating the disruptive forces that are at work in the country such as communal conflicts, for encouraging closer contact with the movements and organisations of peasants and workers, for laying more stress on social legislation and civil liberties and in its parliamentary activities, for co-ordinating and developing the struggles of the States people as an integral part of the national movement under Congress guidance and for the organisation of a national Volunteer Corps.
- “The Congress is conflict that if the policy and Plan of Action set out above is carried, by the time it meets again, a fit situation will have been created for launching a nationwide struggle a against imperialist domination and for enforcement of the demand for national independence.”
Jawaharlal accepted part of the amendment and incorporated it in the resolution. After this Comrade Mehar Ally who had moved the amendment (agreed to by the Socialists and Communists) withdrew it even without consulting our comrades of the AICC.
It has here that we made the first major mistake. While it is true that the session was practically at an and, the delegates were fagged out and there was no possibility of the full amendment being accepted in such an atmosphere it was nevertheless our duty to have insisted on the amendment and moved it in the Open Session. That would not have changed the resolution, but at least we would have been able to clarify our position, use the Congress platform to popularise the Plan of Action and explain as to why we agreed to drop the ultimatum clause.
This failure was serious: ordinarily one would have considered it, and rightly too, surrender. But in this particular case, it has not so. An atmosphere of unreality pervaded the Subjects Committee meeting on the last 2 days, Serious discussion was no longer possible. The Pant resolution was still to come before the open session. Would it be passe. If so would the President resign ? Such were the thoughts uppermost to every mind. It had become simply impossible to direct attention to other issues.
The basic cause of failure
Nontheless the result of the failure was not as serious as some comrades seem to think. There was no likelihood of the amendment being accepted. Our moving the amendment would oasy have enabled us to popularise our plan of action from the Congress platform. And that was done by Comrade Jaiprakash in his speech. Explaining the significance of the resolution, he pointed out what “preparation for nation-wide offensive means.” He stressed the need for rapid implementing of the Election programme, for establishment of complete unity between Congress and workers and peasants organisations, for placing the Congress organisations of a fighting basis. To a great extent therefore the mistake was rectified.
What our critics forget is that at Tripuri we are faced with an extraordinary situation. We were fully alive to the dangers. Forces of disruption were at work. We sounded notes of warning. They were not heeded by all. The President was the one person who could have changed the whole character of the session, raised it above petty squables and made it one of the most glorious sessions of the Congress. Due to his serious illness, it was not possible to influence him. Once the initiative had passed into the hands of the Right, once they succeeded in side-tracking the issues, the rest logically followed. The Left was out-manoeuvred.
At no session of the Congress had the Left succeeded in achieving so much unity as at Tripuri. Yet, at Tripuri itself, fissures developed in the Left camp and after Tripuri the conflict within the Left camp has sharpened. One section of the Left blames another for the debate. And today the Left seems in a state of chaos and disintegration.
What explains this paradox
Lessons of tripuri
The Left had undoutedly secured a great deal of unity. But this unity was not adequate in view of the stupendous nature of the tasks facing the Left. In every other Congress session the Left played merely an oppositional role. Here, for the first time, an occasion had come when the Left had got its nominee elected to the position of President of the Congress. This very augmentation of strength demanded that the left had to play, more than ever before, the role of unifier. How this role should be played, what should be the basic slogans — on these matters there was no unanimity, in the camp of the Left. A Left Working Committee or United Working Committee, alternative leadership or united leadership, alternative ideology and programme or only a forward move — on these issues, which had become of burning importance after the Presidential Election, the Left could not achieve internal unity. Far greater political and tactical unity in Left camp was needed than what existed, in order to tackle the new problems that faced us. This unity was not achieved. Hence two different approaches were manifest even when the various sections of the Left formally “united” on the basis of some amendments and slogans.
Our task today is to repair the damage to restore unity in the Left camp. Without Left unity national unity cannot be built. But what would be the slogans of the Left ?
What would be the political basis of Left Unity ?
It is on this point that utmost confusion prevails.
Let it be clearly understood that the slogans of the Left today must be such as can be made the slogans of the entire Congress, as can be the basis of unity of the Congress as a whole, as can give expression to the urge of the millions of Congressmen who want struggle but also have confidence in the existing leadership. In the measure the Left gives expression to this urge, in the measure it combines the slogan of struggle with that of unity, in that measure it will win the confidence of the masses of Congressmen and be able to play a more and more decisive role in shaping Congress policy. In the measure the Left fads to take note of this urge and either surrenders to the Righ or advocates slogans which create disunity — in that measure it will isolate and weaken itself.
That is the lesson of Tripuri.
[Bold and italics as in the original - Ed]
Source: National Front, 16 April, 1939
Where Does Unity of the Left Stand ?
By PC Joshi
Political basis of Left Unity
There was light or loose talk about split in the Congress. We understood the need for the unity of the Left to struggle for maintaining the unity of the Congress itself. Today, Congress alone can be the organ of people’s struggle against Imperialism. To split the Congress is like butchering ourselves and giving up the struggle against Imperialism. …
Today the majority of Congressmen want a policy of struggle but they also have faith in the existing leadership. To advance the slogan of iterative leadership in such a position is only to help the hold of the Right Wing over their own following and isolate the majority of Congressmen from the Left, i.e., the fighters for the policy of unity and struggle. To initiate an anti-Right struggle, therefore, does not check the Right but strengthens it.
A national leadership reflects the correlation of forces within the national front. When it does not, it becomes a drag and a disruptive force. What the situation demands today is a united leadership and not an exclusive homogeneous leadership as we have at present nor an alternative leadership as some Leftists desire. A homogeneous leadership is acting as a brake and proving disruptive. An alternative leadership could only be established through disruption or remain an empty slogan. A truly representative national leadership today could only be a united leadership. This is what the Left has to fight for. An alternative leadership of the national movement and the overthrow of the old leadership only emerges when the masses, during the course of a nation-wide struggle, through their own experience, get convinced of the necessity of the change by seeing the old leadership sabotaging or opposing the struggle. Before the struggle, to advance the slogan of a new leadership is not to draw the masses towards struggle but keep them away from it.
These are the questions that politically divide the Left and there can be no organisational unity unless the political basis of Left unity is clearly defined and understood alike by all Leftists. ...
Organisational form of Left Unity
As regards the organisational form of Left unity, it could only be a Bloc and not a party. What is the differences between a bloc and a party ? A bloc is a union of parties and groups while the basis of a party is individual membership. A bloc works on the basis of agreement while a party functions through majority voting. The Forward Bloc is attracting to itself Left Nationalists, and the only form in which they could unite with the Socialists and Communists was inside a Bloc and not as individuals inside a Party. If the Forward Bloc was sought to be organised as a Party they should not expect the Socialists and Communists to join it and thus in practice liquidate their own Party .... There were points or unity and yet fundamental differences between the Left Nationalists, Socialists and Communists and they could, therefore, be only united on the basis of a Bloc and not a party.
CSP comes in
So far an important section of the CSP leadership was bitterly opposed to the Forward Bloc. The CSP now agreed to a Left Conference to discuss the platform of Left consolidation and to the setting up of a Left coordinating committee. The CSP through a joint statement of Com. Jaiprakash and myself has taken a big step towards Left unity. We communists, approached the Forward Bloc leadership to discuss the joint Socialist offer but it has unfortunately not accepted it. ...
Meaning of joint socialist offer
We argued in vain that the proposal was much more than merely informal contact between Left Parties. For the first time we will have a joint Left fraction in the AICC headed by the joint coordinating committee which will also plan and lead the mass campaigns in the country and thus act in practice as the united Executive of the Left. This was a tremendous advance on the present position and held out the prospects of much closer unity in the near future. ...
The Forward Bloc leadership will either have complete unity within the Forward Bloc but no immediate steps towards unity and not even a Left coordination committee. No Party can have unity on its own terms and to demand this is to perpetuate disunity. Left disunity today would only intensify the Right offensive. This together with its consequent “Left” reaction will only please British Imperialism. ...
We Communists, would even now seek unity of the whole Left and keep contact both with the Forward Bloc and the CSP. We hope there will not be mutual sniping and no efforts will be made to force unity, on one's own terms and therby disrupt instead of unifying the Left. We would be willing to cooperate with the Forward Bloc in every localityy and province for joint work. In view of Left disunity it becomes doubly imperative that Socialist-Communist unity be speeded up so that the united Socialists may more effectively forge Left unity to prepare our people for the coming battle through the National Congress. ...
Source: National Front, 11 June 1939
Tasks Before the Left-wing
Activise the Base
By SG Sardesai, Member AICC
A new attitude towards gandhian leadership
In the first place it must not be supposed that the new Marxian approach towards the Gandhian leadership is based on a revision of the Marxian evaluation of Gandhism per se. It is based on a re-evaluation of the role of the Gandhian leadership in the entirely transformed national and international background of the period through which we are at present passing. What are the broad features of this period? First, the terrible intensification of social and political reaction all over the world and the persistent menace of fascist (aggression) war, in which background even compromising and reformist social philosophies and tendencies again a transitional progressive rol6. Secondly, the very rapid growth in the class and nationalist consciousness and organisation of the masses, particularly the working class, peasantry, urban petty-bourgeoisie and the intelligentsia, which reduce the danger of successful reformist surrender from the top almost to a minimum and enable these new forces to wield even reformist slogans and bend reformist activities to aggressive anti-imperialist ends. Thirdly, the new role which under the foregoing conditions devolves on the forces of radical nationalism, viz., the active unifier of all the forces struggling not only for full independence but even for partial democratic demands.
The Leftists from being propagandists have, in this period, become responsible organisers and leaders of the struggle, gathering round themselves the very tiniest force that can at all contribute to the achievement of national independence.
It is obvious that in such conditions the Leftists not only do not need to but must not continue their old attitude towards Gandhism and Gandhian leadership. They have exposed the shortcomings of Gandhism sufficiently in the past. With the new strength at their command the time and the opportunity have come for them to weld even Gandhism with the new nationalism that is exuberantly spreading out at this very hour in every hut and chawl, every field and factory, every shop and school rom in India.
Gandhism in 1920
This necessitates a very close study of and emphasis on every positive side of Gandhism particularly during its militant anti-imperialist phase between 1919 and 1920. How many for instance, are aware that the columns of “Young India” during this period teem with statements from Gandhiji’s pen that he would anyway welcome India becoming free through violence than continue to be a slave because of non-violence if the latter has to become a fetter on the progress towards independence ? How many know of his passionate advocacy for proportional representation being incorporated in the Congress Constitution in 1920 ? How many know of his endless emphasis on the necessity of the intelligentsia identifying itself with the masses as a necessary condition for the achievement of Indian Independence and of the role of the Charka as a powerful instrument of this process ? ...
... This is the Gandhism that we have to resurrect, burnish and replenish. It will at once win all to the anti-imperialist struggle, the “true” Gandhites for whom Gandhism is still an anti-imperialist inspiration and guide to action, and isolate those who would fain use it as an instrument for damning, disrupting and calling off the surging tide of mass discontent to-day.
Gandhism in 1939
So much about the basic approach. But even this will, not suffice, the reason being that the Gandhism of 1939 is not the Gandhism of 1920, and the effort to-day is, both in view of the critical political situation and Gandhiji’s unique role as the greatest unifier of nationalist ranks, to get along even with the Gandhism of the day so long as it is at all possible to do so without detriment to the needs of the national movements. But this is by no means a very easy process, for the Gandhian leadership itself is not (to put it mildly) very eager to co-operate with the new tendencies in the Congress and is steeped in every kind of prejudice against it.
How to Achieve Joint Struggle
What is to be done ? The only course is to acttvise the base of the Congress and through it and other mass organisations like Kisan Sabhas and Trade Unions, the people at large, to such a pitch, that the leadership will not think of rejecting the hand of cooperation held out by the Left excepting at peril to its own position in the national movement. This means first and foremost the intensification and integration of every mass struggle for partial demands, a point on which the Gaya Session of the Kisan Congress laid the most correct and opportune emphasis. It means making the go ahead decisions of Tripuri a live and burning reality for the masses.
Source: National Front, 30 April, 1939.
National Situation And Our Tasks
British Imperialism faced with an economic crisis which portends to be greater than the last one which began in 1929 and also forced with increasing threats to its Empire from the rival fascist imperialist powers, finds itself faced with immense difficulties. The policy of imperialism, therefore, continues to be one of attempting to weaken and disrupt the forces of national struggle and not launch an offensive so as to drive them all into a struggle against it. ...
Imperialism and national bourgeoisie
But being faced with economic crisis, imperialism would not give any substantial concessions to the Indian bourgeoisie in order to placate it. The show of political concessions is superficial. On the contrary the concessions already given are being withdrawn, e.g., reduction of protective tariffs on sugar, textiles, paper, inroads on the rights of Indian businessmen abroad and etc. The registration of foreign capital in India is increasing. Foreign capital is actually pouring in prospective war industries, (iron steel, heavy chemicals, etc.). The scope for extension of Indian capital is being restricted. ... Faced with falling prices, the coming economic crisis and the impossibility of getting any substantial concessions from imperialism, the bourgeoisie is increasingly being forced to rely upon the support of the masses for defending its interests and for getting its demands satisfied. The bourgeoisie cannot afford to isolate from the masses, without whose support it has no weapon of defence or offence against imperialism and of safe-guarding its own interests. ... This is the basis of the united national front embracing all sections of the people whose interests are opposed to the policy of imperialism including even the nationalist bourgeoisie.
Retarding the growth of struggle
But the characteristic vacillating role of confining the mass forces within the framework of compromising-politics on the part of the bourgeoisie and its representative, the Right wing leadership, has not disappeared. Only it has to be played on a higher plane. Under pressure of the masses, it was forced to accept the programme of the Congress Election Manifesto and the Faizpur resolutions. Under the pressure of extra-parliamentary struggles, it has been compelled to implement part of that programme after the acceptance of the Ministries, to participate in the States People's movement, to declare itself in favour of preparations for a nation-wide struggle for the National Demand. But the compromising tendency of the Right has been able to prevent the full implementing of this revolutionary programme and in practice to impose a policy of drift upon the Congress. ...
First period of ministerial work
In the period immediately following the acceptance of offices, the Ministries under the pressure of the masses were forced to make a beginning in implementing the demands of the people. Extension of Civil Liberties and the existence for the first time of Ministries responsive to the masses unleashed the forces of struggle. A wave of extensive strikes and peasant actions began throughout the country, and the Ministries were forced to remove the immediate grievances of the people, like release of political prisoners, restoration of wage-cuts, suspension of suits for debts and rent, etc. These measures of the Ministries (which satisfied only the immediate pressing demands, but did not tackle their causes basically) created great self-confidence amongst the masses, resulted in the vast strata of the backward masses being drawn into struggle and political activity, sharpened their consciousness and drew them in ever larger numbers in the national and their class organisations. This was not confined to the provinces only,, but to the States People as well, …
The Congress has gained the greatest accession of strength, becoming a network of organised units throughout the country commanding the loyalty of the whole nation. The campaigns for the extension of civil liberties and the release of political prisoners, the extensive struggles of the masses for their partial demands often drawing in the Congressmen, the States peoples’ movement and the popularisation of the programme of struggle by the left, have resulted in widespread radicalisation of the Congress ranks. It has found expression hi the Congress committees being unofficially drawn into struggles, and in their putting pressure on the Congress Ministries in the interests of the masses, Its highest indication was the election of Subhas Bose as President in opposition to the wishes of the dominant leadership ...
Compromising tendencies at work
Despite the restrictive efforts of the Right, the result of the working of the Congress Ministries, has been a tremendous development of the forces of struggle both in extension and strength embracing far wider sections than ever before. The base of the rightist compromising leadership has thus been narrowed. Even within the national leadership the compromising elements have lost in strength. This diminishing core of extreme Right, together with the Ministries, still thinks in terms of merely putting pressure upon imperialism. After the first stage of the ministerial period, the pace of ministerial action in favour of mass demands slackened, because of the fact that the mass organisations due to their organisational and political weakness, could not keep up constant pressure upon the Ministries. ... On the other hand the reactionary opposition outside the Congress had widely organised itself, and the reformist elements inside the Congress began their out-cry in favour of the national bourgeois interest (e.g., social legislation was [dis ?] approved as being unbearable burden on industry and so on). Under these circumstances began the second period of ministerial working, when ... no positive comprehensive scheme of ameliorating the condition of the people is being taken up, not even the old repressive laws on the Statute Book are being repealed. Bourgeoisie which has gained some concessions as a result of the acceptance of offices (Government controlled insurance, Government contracts and such aid to industries) because of the lack of sufficient pressure from the masses was able to exercise its full influence upon the Congress Right and the Ministries. ... the ministerial work got a twist in the direction of settling down to explore avenues of profitable investment for the Bourgeoisie and long-scale planning for providing opportunities to them, neglecting in the meanwhile even the most urgent grievances of the people which have been pressing hard upon them. In the efforts to restrain the masses ministries even came forward with avowedly reactionary measures (increasing use of Sec. 144, arrests of Kisan and labour workers etc.) and even initiated anti-mass and anti-struggle legislative proposals (Trade Disputes Act, Congress Zamindari Agreement in Bihar). ... Relying upon the support of a section of the Congress and camouflaging another on the basis of danger of violence, the Right has also proposed purging of the Congress in an attempt to isolate the Left and to prevent further shifting of the Congress ranks towards radicalism. ...
The main conflict between the compromising and the revolutionary trends continues, but on quite a different plane. ...
Right wing needs mass support
However, the Right wing cannot afford to lose its mass support. ... It is making frantic efforts to hoodwink the masses into supporting it, raising all sorts of irrelevant and false issues like the danger of violence, unpreparedness of the masses, to bamboozle the ranks into allowing it to have the deal. Tripuri made it clear that the Right does not hope to get a majority in its favour on a straight question of policy. It has to manoeuvre a majority on the basis of personal loyalties. In the measure we mobilise the masses for struggle, and they begin to insist upon consistent fight against imperialism, it is made impossible for the masses to be hoodwinked by irrelevant issues, we will succeed in pressing upon the right to give up its capitulatory policy, and forcing it to be a part of the fighting anti-imperialist front. ... This is the immediate perspective which determines our task and role at the present moment. ...
Struggle on two fronts
Politically the supreme task is that of pushing the Congress to the path of struggle while maintaining its unity ... while disruption from the Right continues to be the main danger for the national front as a whole, the greatest and the specific danger of the period within the ranks of the Left, comes from the disruptive, provocative tactics of the ultra-Left sectarians. Basing themselves on an exaggerated notion of the radicalisation of the national ranks, and underestimating the progressive capacity of the Right, they are likely to turn to provocative tactics of fighting to overthrow the Right. ... Today to make the Right as the target of attack instead of Imperialism, to concentrate the fire on the Right instead of concentrating on winning over the middle elements to the point of view of struggle, is to help the compromising tendency of the Right, without counter-acting it. ... It is the line of complete disruption, the line of giving up the fight for realising the revolutionary possibilities of the specific situation today, when the entire national forces including the national reformist bourgeoisie can be won over to struggle against imperialism.
“Alternative leadership” theory
In this connection we must deal with the theory of “alternative leadership”, the theory of fighting for a “consciously revolutionary leadership as a precondition of the revolutionary struggle” on the part of the Congress. Its immediate implications are to make the ideological struggle against the Right as the specific task of the present period. Revolutionary leadership can develop in the course of a fight for revolutionary struggle, ... To speak of a consciously revolutionary leadership coming into existence as a precondition of such struggle, springing as it were from nowhere and being installed into leadership by a magic wand, can only be the dream of romanticist babblers and talkers and not of serious revolutionaries. ... It is helping the Right in confusing these centrist elements to think as if the Left were fighting to disrupt the united front and not for winning over the Congress to struggle. In its immediate day-to-day practice the theory therefore is disruptive and inverted Rightism preventing the mobilisation of the Congress by the Left. It is giving up the tactics of united National Front and is giving up the task of forcing the national Bourgeoisie to be part of the united nation in opposition to imperialism. ...
Similarly it is necessary to guard against opportunist deviation in our own ranks. The need to fight for unity in the Congress does not imply submitting to the opportunism of the Right. ...
Tasks regarding class organisations
The result of the past development of the class organisations is (1) extensive mobilisation of the masses drawing in the strata of the backward masses, (2) a sense of self confidence amongst them, and their growing awakening and interest in political questions, (3) development of the organisational strength of these organisations, which lags far behind the objective possibilities and (4) the mobilisation in the past has generally been for class sectional demands and not for general political demands.
From these arise our tasks in the immediate future. ... The cause of the present lag consists in our still being in the agitational stage, where on or two individuals continue to be the centre of organisations, and they are so over-worked as to be unable to take in hand the task of consolidation. ... Only training up fresh cadres from the masses in the essential pdlitical and organisational tasks will remove the lag. In this connection the work of preparing a course of study for these cadres must be taken in hand which will deal with the immediate political problems, the agitational and organisational tasks ...
Not merely such positive schemes must be formulated for the class sectional demands of the masses, but the Left and the class organisations must take the initiative in formulating the general political demands, like the repeal of repressive legislation, limitation of Sec. 144, demoralisation of local self-government institutions, curtailing the powers of the police, and even demanding the change of the lower administrative organs from the present bureaucratic one to a democratic one (e.g., land records to be maintained by an elected Panchayat, the District Magistrate to be under the control of an elected Peoples Committee etc.)
It is the working for such positive demands, a progressive realisation of which will completely exhaust the possibilities of the Congress Ministries at which stage an attack upon the Slave Constitution becomes inevitable.
Work up the Congress
However, the most urgent task in this connection is the necessity of swinging over the masses in the independent organisations into working the Congress. The development upto the present has been very deficient in this respect The isolation of the masses in the independent organisations, has resulted in the lack of political effectiveness of these organisations on the one hand, and the slow rate of the radicalisation of the Congress, on the other. ...
In this connection, we must settle accounts with the theory often put forth that we must first develop class organisations, after which only the time would come for working up the Congress. The objective result of the stand is economism, for it means that for the present the workers and the peasants should confine themselves to their sectional demands only and must not participate in political work, the most important part of which consists in carrying out the Congress programme through the Congress. On the other hand, it leaves the Congress safe in the hands of the Right. ...
Hegemony of the proletariat
This theory is supposed to be a stand in favour of emphasising the independent role of the working class and peasantry. It however turns out to be quite the reverse. The fight for the hegemony of the proletariat consists in its coming out as the builder of the united front, in its being able to take the initiative in mobilising the entire democratic masses behind it. ... The needs of the situation demand that the working class and peasant organisations must constantly come forward to initiate new campaigns, new programmes, fresh schemes to organise the Congress in the new direction, as democratic units heading and developing the struggles of the people. Thus we will give a new form of organisations to the Congress, give it our technique of mobilising and fighting for mass demands, and establish proletarian hegemony in practice, not merely in words as those who would insist upon its being established as a precondition of revolutionary struggles.
We should take initiative in forming, on behalf of the Congress, trained Volunteer Corps — Volunteers who will not merely be trained to maintain discipline, but who will be effective propagandists of the Congress, who will become the most effective cadres in agitating and organising struggles on the basis of the Congress programme. Thus creating that effective corps which will be able to hurl the entire nation against Imperialism.
Political general strike
In this connection we must deal with the political general strike and country-wide non-payment of taxes, the specific weapons of the working class and the peasantry in the national struggle. ... The preparations have to be done both amongst the working class and peasantry for these actions, as also to get the support of the other sections of the people to these actions. It is only when the entire nation has come to accept these weapons as a necessary part of struggle, that the working class and peasantry will really respond to the call of the nation, and will in turn receive the support from the entire nation. ...
The tasks above outlined regarding the national movement will decisively win over the Congress masses to struggle, thus finally putting a stop to the compromising tendencies of the Right. ... We are on the eve of great struggles. We can play a decisive role in them. With the determination of serious revolutionaries, let us engage ourselves in these tasks so as to leave nothing to chance and success will be ours.
Source: The New Age, May 1939.
The Crisis Deepens
The forward bloc
The Bloc stands for struggle, for uncompromising opposition to the Federation and war, for close relationship of the Congress with workers’ and peasants’ organisations, for direct leadership of the Congress in states People’s movements, for the creation of a national volunteer corps, for rapid implementing of the Congress programme by the Ministries. Its programme therefore is identical with the immediate programme of Communists and Socialists.
Nevertheless the heterogeneous composition of the Bloc, the existence of a number of persons in it who can by no stretch of imagination be called Left but who are only disgruntled Right-wingers, the absence of ideological homogeneity are factors which render it not unlikely that the Bloc may tend to become only factional consolidation against the present leadership, utilising every deviation, every mistake, every anti-struggle and anti-unity act of the present leadership in order to discredit it That mil deepen the internal crisis, weaken the Congress and the unity that it bias achieved.
This is not an unfounded apprehension. A recent speech of Bose himscli in which he said that “split may be necessary” shows the extent of the danger which the Congress and the national movement are faced with as a result of the recent developments The Forward Bloc is essentially a left nationalist body and as such a healthy development. But not to realise, that the desperation and sense of frustration produced in the Left camp by Right obduracy may How into disruptive channels, would be blinding ourselves.
Unite the Left
Our national movement has reached an extremely critical stage. Never was the need for unity greater and never too the anger of disruption greater. That unity can be achieved, that danger adverted only if the entire Left unite and use its strength — which is far greater today than ever before — not to wage factional struggle against the Right or to advocate a suicidal split, but to defeat the policy of drift and disruption, to mobilise support of the Congress organisations and masses for the partial struggles of workers and peasants in defence of their economic and political rights, to organise vigorous agitation in the Congress organisations particularly among the primary members for support to the States People's and against suspension of their movement, to create mass opinion in favour of the anti-war policy of the Congress so that that policy may be actually carried out when the crisis comes, to mobilise widest support for purification of the Congress without weakening its mass basis — in brief to fight for the policy of unity and struggle concretely and positively and on a political plane by developing mass political consciousness, by making the issues of the day live to millions of Congressmen.
And for achieving this unity the Socialists, Communists and the Forward Bloc and other radicals must immediately meet and chalk out a common plan of action by mutual agreement. In order that this unity may be really effective the major political and organisational slogans and the approach to the burning problems of the day must be common. Maintenance of the unity of the Congress and its strengthening as the organ of the united people’s movement must be the basic task of the United Left. And in order that disruption may not develop in the Left camp itself, it is absolutely necessary that one section does not try to gain at the expense of the other, that all agreements are voluntary and strictly adhered to, that the Parties to Left unity may maintain their independence and integrity. ...
Source: The New Age, June 1939.