Author : Amit Chakraborty
[Fifty years ago, CPI (M-L) was formed on 22 April in 1969. CPI (M-L) occupies a glorious place in the liberation struggle of the Indian people. The CPI (M-L) was formed as a party of the revolutionary communists in opposition to the left-wing parliamentary parties. After many major errors and mistakes, today CPI (M-L) continues to be a prominent political movement in India.One may differ with CPI(ML) but cannot ignore its presence. The presence of CPI (M-L) in the realm of politics, economy, culture and ideology is felt every moment. On the 50 years of the foundation of CPI (M-L), let’s try to understand the criticism confronting CPI(M-L) formation.]
“All India Co-ordination Committee of Communist Revolutionaries (AICCCR), which met in a plenary session from 19 to 22 April 1969, announces the formation of a revolutionary party, Communist Party of India (Marxist Leninist) based on the thought of Mao Tse Tung, on 22nd April 1969, the one hundredth birthday of Great Lenin- a task it had set itself eighteenth months ago, in November 1967- and also announces its own dissolution after setting up a central organizing committee to hold Congress at an appropriate time.” This announcement of Party formation was made on April 22, 1969. CPI (ML) formation has been facing many debates, questions and criticisms since its birth. Fifty years after, the debates are still going on. In the current article, attempt is made to understand the formation of CPI (M-L) and the controversies surrounding its political positions in the light of Marxism-Leninism.
‘It is time to form the Party’
On 8th February 1969, the Co-ordination Committee of the All India Communist Revolutionaries took this proposal ‘It is time to form the party’. This proposal stated that – “It is a heartening fact that within the last one year, revolutionaries from Assam to Maharashtra have united under the banner of All India Coordination Committee and all the centres of revolutionary peasant struggles are linked with one another through this committee…… The growing unity within the ranks of the revolutionaries despite the obstacles created by reactionaries of all sorts proves that we have overcome the msin impediment to the formation of a revolutionary party in India. The Co-ordination Committee has thus served as the first indispensable link in the chain- the process of forming a Marxist Leninist Party in India”. The Coordination Committee concluded that “the political and organizational needs of the fast developing revolutionary struggles can no longer be adequately met by the Co-ordination Committees. These struggles have to be led and coordinated in an effective manner.” To consolidate and expand the existing ‘areas of struggle’, the entire revolutionary forces must be fully roused and organized.’ ‘Without a revolutionary party there can be no revolutionary discipline and without revolutionary discipline, the struggles cannot be raised to a higher level. . But the Coordination Committee cannot fulfil the complex political & organisational tasks arising out of the present stage of revolutionary struggle.“
“At a time when Communist revolutionaries all over the country have given priority to the task of building revolutionary bases in the rural areas, at a time when the slogan of revolutionary class struggle is rending the sky, it is our immediate duty to form a revolutionary party without which the advance of revolution is sure to be impeded.’ While taking the decision to form a party, the Coordination Committee warned against idealist deviation on the question of formation of a party- “Refusing to accept the inner struggle of the party is an idealist deviation which hinders party building. A party should be formed after eliminating all opportunistic antiproletarian tendencies and unwanted elements through class struggle, such an idea is nothing but a subjective idealism. “To conceive a party without contradictions, without the struggle between the opposites”, in other words, the idea of a pure and perfect party, is indulging in mere idealist fantasy.” In this context, CPI (M-L) declared clearly in its political resolution that Indian society is semi-colonial semifeudal. Its political proposal stated that, ‘At this stage, the Indian revolution is a new type of democratic revolution –the peoples democratic revolution- whose main content is agriarian revolution, the abolition of feudalism in the countryside.’ In our country the two main pillars of imperialism are feudalism and comprador bureaucratic capitalism. It is said in clear words, “The Indian people will be liberated from the yoke of imperialism and comprador bureaucratic capital by liberating themselves from the yoke of feudalism because the struggle against feudalism is also a struggle against other two enemies”. In addition to describing the situation with full clarity, CPI (M-L) announced – ‘In such a situation when the revolutionary struggle is fast approaching and the ruling classes are frantically trying to suppress those, revisionists have come forward to do the work for imperialism and local reactionaries. The so-called ‘United Front’ government formed as a ‘weapon of struggle ‘ is creating an illusion among the people in order to blunt the revolutionary spirit of the people and to divert them from the path of revolutionary struggle’. In the context of ‘Task before the revolutionary Party’ CPI (M-L) mentioned that ‘While this revolutionary party is formed in India, it should be remembered that Indian party may commit both left and right deviation because the party of India’s working class never gave serious consideration to the role of peasantry in agricultural revolution.’ There is no doubt that the responsibility of the working class as the leader of the revolution is to unify the peasantry with the main power of revolution and move to capture the state power through armed struggle. It said – ‘The basic tactics of the struggle of revolutionary peasantry led by the working class is guerrilla warfare. We must bear in mind the Chairman’s teaching, “Guerrilla warfare is the basic, but lose no chance for mobile warfare under favourable condition.” It is not enough for the working-class party to master this technique, but also to gather other revolutionary classes behind the main program of the agrarian revolution. On 22 April 1969, the organizational resolution of the party was summarized. In summary; the history of the Communist Party of India is a continuous struggle between the bourgeois positions and proletarian positions, between bourgeois lines and proletarian lines and between reactionary leadership and proletarian revolutionary cadres. A chapter of CPI(ML) document named ‘Ideological and Political unity’ rightly mentioned that “to build a revolutionary party means first and foremost to develop ideological and political unity. The neo-revisionist party leadership was able to keep ideological and political issues behind and keep organizational activities in the forefront by making revolutionary activists fools. Most revolutionary activists were fooled by misconceptions about party unity and legality and thus played into the hands of the revisionist clique. We must take an appropriate lesson from this mistake and above everything else should give ideology and politics first place.“ A fundamental question of revolution is the question of state power. On this question, CPI (M-L) declared itself as a party of armed revolution in India – “Indian revolutionaries today reached consensus on the absurdity of the parliamentary path. All the parties that were organized based on parliamentary path, today they have gone to the reactionary and counter-revolutionary camp throughout the whole world. … has been done to transform the level of the so-called parliamentary party, to be the epitome of the reactionary ruling class”. ‘Our party is the party of armed revolution. No other way except armed revolution is open to the Indian people. It must be realized that the party cannot be formed separately from the armed struggle.‘ They announced, ‘The first and foremost task of our party is to awaken the peasantry in the rural areas to start guerrilla warfare, to create an agrarian revolution, to build rural base areas, to surround the cities and eventually to use the rural areas and to liberate the whole country. So the centre of our activities will be based in rural areas due to the current stage of the Indian revolution.’ ‘Therefore, firstly our party must be a rural based party, not a city-based’. “In order to be able to carry out the protracted armed struggle, the party must work with utmost secrecy and keep underground its main cadres. To develop the revolutionary activities, we have to learn to take advantage of all possible legal opportunities.’ To answer the question of admission of party members CPI(M-L) fought against all forms of mass membership. It said – ‘A revolutionary party does not become a mass party by a large number of workers. The revisionist and parliamentary parties have set such standards. A revolutionary party became a mass party, with its mass line, a close relationship with the vast masses and the combination of people together. For a revolutionary party what is essential and of primary importance is not the number but the quality of its members.’ It is also stated that ‘this is the party of the proletariat and this party represents the aspirations and hopes of the revolutionary classes’. ‘Instead of running economic and cultural activities in cities, its main emphasis is on preparing the working class as the leader of the revolution’. It is announced that the party will develop a mass line and will be the first on criticism and self-criticism. We will discuss the criticism against the CPI(M-L) after its formation on 22 April 1969.
Communist party of India (Marxist-Leninist) and Dakshin Desh
‘A few comments on the political proposal of CPI (ML)’ was published in the Dakshin Desh magazine. (4th Year, Issue 8) In that article, they identified their statement as a preliminary opinion. They were saying that this discussion is meant to strengthen ‘Unity based on the correct ideology and principle’.
In the article they stated – “There is no doubt that several strong and revolutionary conclusions have been announced in the political proposal which must have a far-reaching impact in the development of revolutionary struggle of the Indian people . ”
They also added – ” Declaring Marxism-Leninism-Mao Tse-Tung Thought as a guide to their path, declaring India as a semi-colonial and semi-feudal country and marking imperialism and social imperialism, comprador bureaucratic capital and feudalism as the enemies of the revolution, announcement of Agrarian Revolution as the ‘main content’ of the democratic revolution; above all denouncing the parliamentary path & on the basis of theory of Peoples War by Com Mao and the theory and the path of great Chinese revolution, by proclaiming the aim of capturing state power through armed revolution – all these declarations proclaim the strong and revolutionary essence of the proposed political proposal. These things will help to strengthen the foundation of the unity amongst the communist revolutionaries.”
At the same time they have also given their views against ‘some imperfections and lack of clarity’ and ‘many misconceptions’ on the political proposal. In relation to the contradiction of Indian society, the principal and non principal contradictions – the inter-relation between anti-imperialist anti-feudal struggle, about nationality problems, on subjective preparations, and on the international importance of Indian revolution Dakshin Desh criticised and analyzed the political proposition of CPI(M-L) .
But later on they said – ‘Later, the CPI (M-L) party was suddenly formed consisting of a section of the Coordination Committee. At the time of the party’s formation, the party’s political proposal was published in the Deshabrati. MCC criticized this wrong method of forming a Communist Party, and in a separate article, the party’s political proposal was reviewed by dividing them into several points & was published in ‘Dakshin Desh’. (On ideological struggle – MCC (Second Edition, January, 2000).
MCC branded the formation of CPI(M-L) as a ‘sudden’ event but this word was not used in their article ‘A few words about the political proposal of CPI (M-L)’ which was published immediately after the formation of CPI(M-L). The proposal ‘This is time to form the party’ was accepted by the Coordination Committee on 8th February, 1969. So, on April 22, 1969, almost two and a half months after the announcement of the decision to form a party, by what logic one can call the event as ‘sudden’? Above all, the Co-ordination Committee was established with the aim of forming a Communist Party to lead the Indian revolution. If their political programme declared ‘ the strong and revolutionary essence’ and if ‘these things will help to strengthen the foundations of the unity among the communist revolutionaries’, then why does the ‘procedural’ criticism become determinant?
In AICCCR’s May 1968 declaration it was announced, “Let us apply his (Mao-Author) Thoughts in India’s specific condition & organise the Naxalbari type of struggles and create a true Communist Party of India through that struggle, because without the revolutionary party the revolution cannot be won’. At the time of formation they appealed, “We appeal to all to dissolve their groups and organize within the All India Co-ordination Committee of communist revolutionaries. They should understand that the existence of individual groups today is harmful to the interests of Indian revolution’.
Supporters of ‘Dakshin Desh’ joined the AICCCR. Com. Sushil Roy (who became the General Secretary of the MCC after the death of Com. Kanai Chatterjee) in his autobiography (My Memoirs, Utsha Publishers, Dhaka, Bangladesh) said, “Dakshin Desh representative in AICCCR raised their controversial question about the AICCCR. A new committee was formed dropping our representatives in the name of reconstitution of the committee. And in this way we were dissociated from the Co-Ordination Committee (My Memoirs, p.50).” But it is documented that when the AICCCR was appealing to dissolve all group existence to buildup a party, then ‘Dakshin Desh’ maintained a separate entity. It will be much more clear if we go through the minutes of the meeting of Dakshin Desh group during that period, which was published by ‘Jalark’ (Bengali Journal), April-September, 2015 issue.
A declaration of AICCCR was published on May, 1968. On 23 June, 1968 Com. Abani Roy stated in a meeting organized by Dakshin Desh group that, “We need to fight against bureaucracy. Comrades from Deshabrarti are arrogant, they will soon move towards building a party. It is unfortunate that Com. Charu Majumdar (CM) is supporting them.” This information proves that the announcement of the establishment of the party on April 22,1969 and the decision on the dissolving of AICCCR on February 8th,1969 was not a ‘sudden’ announcement as claimed by the MCC.
It is being said in the proceedings of the meeting of June 30, ‘68 of Dakshin Desh group that, “Up to a level we have coordinated with the coordination(Committee). It was needed. But now it seems, it is taking a bureaucratic role and is teaching wrong politics.”
What is this wrong politics about the formation of party? Is it against Leninism? There are no comments on this.
Communist party of India (Marxist-Leninist) and Com. Pramod Sengupta
Com. Pramod Sengupta was another critic of CPI (M-L). Com. Sengupta was the president of Naxalbari and Krishak Sangram Sahayak Committee. He politically criticized the formationof the CPI (M-L) in his book (Whither Revolution? Marxism or Terrorism? Chapter – Ideological Struggle is Essential).
In that chapter he criticized the declaration “The time has come to form a Revolutionary Party’ in the Liberation journal, December 1967. “It is a matter of great regret that Charu Babu and the Coordination Committee have completely failed to establish unity. … they could not get rid of the typical revisionist attitude of their old party and bureaucratic mentality.” The words were written on May 1, 1970, just one year after the historic public announcement of establishing the CPI (M-L) party on May 1, 1969.
The declaration of party formation was marked as ‘clearly bureaucratic’ by Com. Pramod Sengupta. What has been said in the declaration? ‘We are appealing to all revolutionaries who firmly believe in Chairman Mao’s Thought and revolted against the revisionist, neo-revisionist leadership, but are still maintaining their separate groups to disband their groups and join the All India Co-ordination Committee of Communist Revolutionaries.’ One may not agree to the appeal of a committee, but on that ground why will it be labelled as bureaucratic is not understood.
In the next paragraph, it was said that the Committee was another group like all other groups and their group’s interests became the biggest obstacle to the unity of all the communists. He further said ‘They established the Communist Party of India (Marxist-Leninist) by denying Marxist Leninist procedure of formation a Communist Party. Now we have to see whether it is a real communist party or another petty-bourgeois group.’
After that, he criticized Deshabrati’s writings and activities, along with Charu Majumdar. He complained that Com. Charu Majumdar will not go to form mass organizations. But in the support of his opinion Com. Sengupta quoted – “If anyone thinks that there is a revolutionary situation in India then they must also acknowledge that today’s first task ( Bold-Author) is to organize a secret revolutionary party, not a mass movement. This secret party will lead the class struggle.’ But it is not clear where did Com. Sengupta find the decision not to organise a mass organization. According to the above mentioned quotation, Com. Charu Mazumdar was giving priority to creating a secret revolutionary party over building mass movement. Above all, to criticize CPI (M-L), is it not logical firstly to discuss political proposals and programme of CPI(ML)? At the same time it also essential to analyze the statements of its leaders and their activities. Com. Sengupta never explained logically why the CPI(M-L) is not a Marxist-Leninist party on the basis of its political resolution and working policy. On criticizing Com. Charu Majumder’s writings, Com. Sengupta stated, “He ignored the interrelationship of establishment of party and the organization of the mass organization. Without a strong mass organization, a strong party is not formed, the opposite is also true.” In defining the limitations or weaknesses of Com. Charu Majumder’s speech, is he not denying the revolutionary party’s leadership role in the mass organization? Com. Charu Majumdar described the real situation of India and identified the existence of the revolutionary situation. The revolutionary situation means that the people do not want to be ruled by the old rules, so struggle is inevitable. The real issue is to take this struggle along the revolutionary path. In this situation is it not the primary thing to build a party (not one and only task) in the absence of a revolutionary party? Com. Charu Majumdar stated this simple fact. The CPI (M-L) wanted to do the same thing by announcing the formation of the party.
In another discussion Com. Sengupta quoted Com. CM as saying: “We know that when we were under the influence of revisionism we had formed many organizations and used the party organization as a supplement to trade union work, that’s why we failed to gather the working class behind our politics.” Com. Sengupta, has criticized Com. CM, saying that Com. CM has blamed the mass organization to covering his own faults. According to Com. Sengupta, the failure of the party leadership to spread the right Marxist Leninist politics in the mass organization is a fact &the failure of party leadership is the real truth. But in the very first quotation of CM, it is being said that ‘when we were under the influence of revisionism’ means it is due to failure of party’s leadership that party organization became complementary to the trade union. In this article we are not going to evaluate Com. Charu Majumdar’s political idea about the mass organization and the mass movement. Here, we want to understand the criticism of Com. Sengupta in the context of the politics announced after the formation of the CPL (M-L). Unfortunately Com. Pramod Sengupta failed to prove the fallacy of the position of CPI (ML) formed in 22nd April,1969.
Communist party of India (Marxist-Leninist) & Com. Asit Sen
One of the eminent leaders of AICCCR, Com: Asit Sen criticized CPI (M-L) on certain questions in his book, ‘An Approach to Naxalbari’ (Chapter – ‘The revolutionary war led by Party’). In the fifteenth year (third-fourth) of the Jalark magazine, it was published under the title of the ‘Revolutionary war led by the party’. While speaking about the formation of CPI (M-L), Asit Sen wrote: ‘Despite all these inconsistencies, this confusion and contradiction, things were taking a specific form and it was formed on April 22, 1969. The political and organizational draft that was adopted on this day and what has already been mentioned several times clearly shows that Charu Majumdar succeeded in establishing his political organizational line on leadership ‘. He also wrote, ‘The first two documents left behind all the elements of factionist and extremist trends, or in different languages, such a wetland, where soon the party will be submerged. Most of the formulations of those two documents were contrary to Marxism-Leninism and Mao Zedong Thought.’ But sadly, Com. Sen failed to enlighten us about how ‘most of the formulations were against Marxism-Leninism and Mao Zedong thought’. Com Asit Sen further said, ‘In fact, Satyanarayan Singh was the chief commentator of the drafts’. As per his opinion Com: Satyanarayan Singh made few new formulations in the name of Marxism-Leninism, which are nothing but a mockery of his former ideology’. In response to the writing of Com. Asit Sen, Com. Satyanarayan Singh published ‘Building up the Proletarian Party & Agrarian Revolution’ (Liberation, November 1969.) In his article Com. SNS argued against Com. Asit Sen, “The real intention is to abandon the rural areas, abandon guerrilla struggles that are breaking feudal fetters in 7 states. …in the name of building-up proletarian party these gentlemen want to drag us back to the revisionist road of class collaboration.”
In his article Com. SNS answered a few questions raised by Com. Asit Sen. Although Com: Sen supported the notion of armed struggle and building of rural base areas but he criticized the policy of sending petty bourgeois cadre to the rural areas. He identified CPI (M-L) as a petty-bourgeois party not a party of the working class. He demanded that the proletarian party should be formed from the working class. Com: Asit Sen criticized the CPI (M-L) leadership’s petty bourgeois class origin and said that the working class becomes aware of its leadership role through the trade union movements on economic and partial demands.
Com. SNS in his reply said that the first and the foremost task of forming a proletarian party is its political and ideological character. It is not very much clear that on what basis, without any thorough analysis of the political organizational draft documents published after formation of CPI (M-L), Com. Sen marked it as a petty-bourgeois party. Petty bourgeois class origin of leadership can be an organization’s weakness, but it is not understood how it plays a decisive role in evaluating its political ideological position. The difference between weakness and deviation is not mentioned by Com. Asit Sen in his article.
Com. Asit Sen wrote an article ‘A dangerous line’, in which he highlighted some important points regarding the formation of the Communist Party, but he has been a victim of idealist deviation on party building and interaction of political work among the working class. The vast areas of India where Communist revolutionaries are working are rural and there is no industrial proletariat. They are the vast majority in terms of population. In these regions poor peasants, landless agricultural labourers, unorganized workers, are strong allies of industrial proletariat. If the revolutionary agrarian struggles in rural areas is to be formed in that case the rural areas will be the centre of gravity for revolution and naturally poor landless peasants and rural workers will be involved in larger number than the industrial workers. Com. Asit Sen is self-contradictory on this question.
At one place Com. Sen says: ‘That is why the main thing of Marxism is that struggle for socialism and labour movement are bound by inseparable thread, one cannot go far beyond another’. In Communist Manifesto, Marx speaks not only of workers movement but also of the working class to stand in front of the nation. Struggle for socialism cannot progress by separating workers’ movement from the National Liberation Movement in the era of Leninism. So the slogan has become ‘Workers of the world and oppressed nationalities unite’. Thus, the struggle for socialism cannot be compartmentalised in this sectarian way.
Shortly after this, Com. Asit Sen writes- ‘The task of building a revolutionary party is involved in two things in an integral way, One – planning armed struggle; Two – to unite all revolutionary classes to develop this armed struggle and to lead to a fixed goal (p.6). Then it is said that “so the main force of the Communist Party must be collected from the labour force”. (p.6) On one hand he says; “The main form of all organizations under the leadership of the revolutionary party is the organization of the armed forces.” He also stated that, “Armed forces of the people can grow only through armed struggle.” And the Armed Forces of this people will be formed mainly through armed struggle in the rural areas, so the main elements of the main organization will be collected mainly from the poor landless peasants from the countryside and from rural proletariat – none of them are industrial workers. Com. Sen repeatedly emphasized the significance of the physical presence of the working class. With all respect to the working class it needs be stated that there is not a single victorious party of protracted people’s war depending solely on them till date. Whether it is China or Vietnam, they won the revolutionary war by establishing proletarian political ideological leadership. This is the uniqueness of semi-feudal semi-colonial society. When Com. SNS criticized Com. Asit Sen for being ‘traditional’ (Sanatani), he said that this position of Sen was his own interpretation of leading the armed struggle and unifying revolutionary classes – these two tasks of building a revolutionary party that are inseparable are being dragged to a self-contradiction and denying the duty to build a party of people’s war.
Com. Asit Sen wrote, ‘The main element of building a revolutionary party is that the working class is still completely separated from this armed struggle’. If this is assumed to be correct, then does it not deny the duty of party formation? According to the instructions prepared by the Third International regarding the formation of Marxist Leninist party, Com. Asit Sen’s doctrine is wrong. We will discuss this later in details.
Com. Kanu Sanyal & Com. Asim Chatterjee’s Polemics against Communist party of India (Marxist-Leninist)
On May 1, 1969, the announcement of the formation of CPI (M-L) was made by Com. Kanu Sanyal. Com. Asit Sen presided over the meeting. We already know the opinion of Com. Sen. Let’s discuss Com. Kanu Sanyal.
There are two types of Kanu Sanyal in the history of CPI (M-L) and Naxalbari. One of the Kanu Sanyals was the author of ‘Terai Report’ and the announcer of CPI (M-L) formation in front of Sahid minar and the other one is the writer of ‘More About Naxalbari’ in 1973, a preacher of ‘Chaterhat’ and Com. Charu Majumdar’s embezzlement of the lessons from Naxalbari.
In 1973, he said – “Due to the failure of correct and actual evaluation of the peasant uprising in Naxalbari by the All India Co-ordination Committee the peasant uprising in Naxalbari was reduced to only one image.” He further said, “The all-India coordination committee’s metaphysical outlook on peasant uprisings of Naxalbari and political carelessness breached the unity of the Communist revolutionaries. Utilizing this opportunity this self-seeking group hastily formed the CPI (M-L) based on the slogan of guerilla war is the only path and annihilation is the only strategy and tactics and succeeded in creating split permanently.”
What do we understand from the above statement? It is clear he says that the leadership of CPI (ML) (except for some exceptions like Kanu Sanyal) was a schemer and plotter. After that Kanu Sanyal wrote in detail about the Chaterhat and the shortcomings of Com. Charu Majumder. In his writings, Charu Majumdar was introduced in the Terai report as, “It is true that the revolutionary comrades of the Siliguri sub-division led by our respected leader, Comrade Charu Mazumdar were the first to rise in revolt against the revisionists.” But in ‘More about Naxalbari’ he stated that, “From 1967 there is a constant propaganda that eight documents written by Charu Majumder is the source of Naxalbari Peasant uprising. The history of the communist movement of Darjeeling district from 1965 to 1967 will answer whether this demand is acceptable or not.”
Com: Kanu Sanyal published another contradictory position in the assessment of CPI (M-L). In the Parvatipuram conspiracy case, he told a special magistrate court at Visakhapatnam that “We are members of CPI (ML). From the long experience of India and the world communist movement, we have come to the conclusion that the problems of our country will not be solved without first doing the New Democratic Revolution and the second phase of the Socialist Revolution ([The Voice of Indian Revolution. Pg-III). He also said, ‘We have learned from CPI (M-L) members from Naxalbari that the stage of current revolution is Neo-democratic … we have considered Marxism Leninism & Mao Thought, which has taken science as the guiding ideology of all the social revolutions. There is no place in this universal truth of any big conspiracy, individual terrorism or a secret event.’
On November 4, 1972, a document signed by six CPI (M-L) leaders, including Kanu Sanyal, appeared in the Frontier magazine. The document consists of 11 proposals, the last proposal sated that, the general direction of CPI(M-L) is right, but its strategy is wrong.
In the famous meeting of the announcement of formation of the CPI (M-L) party in 1969, he said – “Our leader Com: Charu Majumdar directed the development of Naxalbari, in other words, for the first time in our country, the right leadership of Mao Zedong thought in a specific area of India, in which the heroic peasants of Naxalbari by armed revolt against imperialism, feudalism, comprador capital, new and old revisionism, lit the torch of Indian revolution in the Chinese way.” (May 1, ’69, Com: Kanu Sanyal’s Speech, Deshbrati May 8, ’69. P.6)
The same Com. Kanu Sanyal in 2013 stated in ‘The History of the CPI (ML) from 1969-1972 – An evaluation’ that “Here it is to be made clear that the Unity Conference adopted the name CPI(M-L) for the unified party but rejected in its enterity the politics and ideology of the CPI (M-L) formed in 1969 – a party that was communist in name but anarchist and terrorist in practice.” (The Voice of Indian Revolution, p.141) Kanu Sanyal said, “So it is clear that party was formed on the above basis which rejected politics of mass approach towards mass struggle, mass organisation and mass armed struggle. To make it clear, here the guerrilla struggle meant formation of secret and conspiratorial squads to attack landlords. This line of understanding advocated by Com. CM was his old line before Naxalbari struggle and the party formed in 1969 was on the basis of anarchism, terrorism and it was devoid of working class and peasantry.” (The Voice of Indian Revolution, p.148) Com: Kanu Sanyal said with emphasis on the writing that the terrorist line of killing a person in the name of class enemy annihilation was practiced in Somepata Taluk of Andhra Pradesh in 1968 (reporting of this struggle mentioned in CPI (M-L) documents) proved that Com. Charu Majumdar’s formulation was active before the formation of CPI(M-L). Let’s look at the opinion of Com. Kanu Sanyal.
In the same writing, he wrote a comment about the authority of Charu Majumdar by Asim Chatterjee, where Com. Asim Chatterjee said, “If the entire COC goes against the authority of Com. CM – I would be on the side of Com. CM.” Such discussion in the party congress was supported by Com. Shyam Sundar Bose [Looking Back, Jalark (2nd chapter)]. Com Sanyal mentioned that Com. Sushital Roychoudhury and Com. SNS stood against authority, which was also supported by Com. Shyamsundar Bose. But it must not be forgotten that in 1971 Com. Kanu Sanyal supported the authority of Com. CM and threatened those who were against it, sadly this part is missing in Com. Sanyal’s writings on authority.
Let us talk about a document written by Com. Asim Chatterjee in 1975. In this essay, he wrote in support of Sanyal’s writings on 30 November, 1975, “Uphold the true lessons of Naxalbari” and said – “In this article, Com. Sanyal has shown the correct Marxist- Leninist attitude of searching for truth.” The whole article can be called an explanatory expansion of Com. Sanyal’s documents. Com. Asim Chatterjee blindly followed Com. Kanu Sanyal during the two-line struggle on Naxalbari, similar to what he said to support CM’s authority in the party congress. Com. Chatterjee evaluated the political line advocated by Com. Charu Majumdar under the guidance of true lessons of Naxalbari. Com. Asim Chatterjee reached the conclusion – ‘The CPI-ML party led by Charu Babu did not have any land policy, it was not accidental at all. This was the inevitable and natural result of the Charu Babu’s line.’ In a word, the CPI (M-L) did not have land policy because it was formed on the basis of Charubabu’s anarchist terrorist lines. Another important statement of Com. Asim Chatterjee is ‘some people want to remain steadfast in judging some of the old documents of CPI (M-L) to find out the word ‘Agrarian Revolution’. Is it a decisive factor? … except for the effective part of the operative part, the valuable statements of the political report are meaningless. These are worthless words.’ We will try to analyze the opinions of Com. Kanu Sanyal and Com: Asim Chatterjee one by one.
Topic (1) As per Com. Sanyal’s opinion, in fact the peasant uprising of Naxalbari is a live protest1 of eight documents written by Com. Charu Majumdar. To discuss the matter in detail we quote from a booklet published by CPI (M-L) (New Democracy) on the occasion of Fifty Years of Naxalbari–
“A lot of leaders and cadres contributed to the Naxalbari Struggle. Com: Charu Majumdar’s special role is that he recognized programmatic aspects of revolutionary politics that has been recognized as a working policy of AICCCR and CPI (M-L). In a word the class character of Indian state and society (semi feudal and semi colonial), the direction of new democratic and agrarian revolution, armed struggle and protracted peoples war in opposition to parliamentary path, firmly upheld Marxism-Leninism-Mao Zedong thought as the guiding ideology as well as stood firm against the revisionist influence in peasant movement. Mainly because of his strong political position, Naxalbari struggle moved ahead and was able to draw a clear separation with revisionism. This is the historical role of Com. Charu Majumdar in Naxalbari struggle. In this case his physical presence in the real movement is not important.
It is true that the eight documents were based on the contemporary thoughts of Com. Charu Majumdar. On one side these documents programmatically and ideologically stood against revisionism and showed revolutionary direction but on the other side these documents denied the importance of mass organization and in the name of combat group advocated left sectarian line. Mass character of revolution, importance of mass movement- mass organization were rejected and individual terrorist line in the name of guerilla action (annihilation) was promoted. In the name of the new era, protracted people’s war, formation of the base area were rejected and a line of quick victory was propagated. These documents considered only offence but no defense. These also failed to consider China’s cultural revolution as a class struggle under socialism, and considered as a separate stage as part of the Indian cultural revolution. In the name of cultural revolution was encouraged burning of statues, schools, colleges, libraries etc, also presented China’s Chairman as our Chairman in the name of world revolution. Many other leaders had a role to play in developing and practicing these wrong lines, but for these deviations, the role of Com. Charu Majumdar must be acknowledged. Such ‘left’ deviations have led to immense losses in Indian revolution and revolutionary organization.
This is based on true and real events. But this does not mean that Com. Charu Majumdar did not contribute to Naxalbari struggle. Some people argued that those eight documents were written (January 28, 1965-April, 1967) before the Naxalbari uprising and actually applied in Chaterhat and Islampur region. Movements of those regions failed as they were following Com. CM’s line of organizing combat unit, rifle snatching, annihilation of class enemy and, by using of those techniques, building up base area. Com. CM’s line was never practiced in Naxalbari. So as per their opinion Naxalbari is a living protest against Com. Charu Majumdar’s line. After the martyrdom of Com. Charu Majumdar this opinion was strongly promoted by Com. Kanu Sanyal, a prominent leader of the Naxalbari movement, who presented his views in a document called ‘More about Naxalbari’. We hope comrades will not mind if we present some objective criticism against Com. Sanyal after his death as he had vehemently attacked Com. Charu Majumdar after his martyrdom.
The first thing, to say something about any comrade before his death and to say something different after his death i.e. cannot be said in front of him but behind him, this type of people always lose their credibility. We can talk about not only ‘Terai Report’ which was published after Naxalbari uprising but the famous speech (May 1, 1969) on party foundation day by Com. Kanu Sanyal. The speech that was published in Deshabrati was as follows, “Naxalbari has stirred up the whole of India and the whole world because that is the correct application of Mao Tsetung Thought in specific condition of India. Our leader, Com. Charu Majumdar directed the development of Naxalbari, in fact for the first time in our country, he led us to conscious application of Mao Tsetung Thought in specific conditions of India. Due to that the valiant peasants of Naxalbari started armed rebellion against imperialism, feudalism, comprador capital, new and old revisionism and are marching ahead with the torch of Indian revolution in the Chinese way.” (May 1, 1969, Speech Com: Kanu Sanyal, Deshbrati, May 8 , 1969) He also added, “In 1965 when our respected leader Com. Charu Majumdar revolted against Sundaraya, Ranadive, Nambudiripad, Pramod, Jyoti, the neo-revisionist leadership clique and urged the revolutionaries of Marxist party to create an armed struggle of peasants, he also faced some ugly insults in those days. Pramod, Harekesda said that he was mad, mentally ill, declared him publicly as a police agent, created a fascist climate within the party, so that no one can read the documents of Com. Charu Majumder or meet him. But the agents could not stop the voice of Marxism-Leninism-Mao Tsetung Thought. All India answered to Com. Charu Majumder’s call and we the revolutionaries of Darjeeling District were always inspired by the analysis of Com. Charu Majumdar.” (ibid, p.7) After this, comments are useless.
A fake logic is being presented that the eight documents do not mention the current struggle of Naxalbari, which proved that Comrade Charu Majumdar was not concerned about Naxalbari. It does prove the opposite, that Com. Charu Majumder was not limited by localism but concerned about India and the world. At that time Naxalbari was not developed to a qualitatively new stage. Those who want to claim that they are the creators of Naxalbari movement; strangely one can’t find a theoretical writing by them in those days. This proves that politically, they were not in a position to compose any theoretical or political writings beyond Com. Charu Majumdar. And their proposal for negotiations with the United Front during the Naxalbari movement! Imagine if Com: Charu Majumdar accepted that, what would have happened to the Naxalbari struggle? It is clear that Com. Charu Majumdar never changed his revolutionary stand.
Com. Charu Majumdar’s eight documents not only talked about combat groups but there multiple strategic issues were explained. Naxalbari struggle was not created by the tactical debate of combat group or mass movement. Local people’s movements, international struggle against revisionism, creating new democratic societies by using armed resistance against imperialism and feudalism, the politics of agrarian revolution and massive popularity of Marxism-Leninism-Mao Tsetung Thought, all of them contributed to Naxalbari struggle. It is an undeniable fact that none other than Com. Charu Majumdar was the leader of the above mentioned struggles. Forget about any revolt without the above mentioned politics any mass movement would be clogged in economic demands or legalism.
Some people are insisting that Com. CM’s line was implemented in Islampur and Chaterhat region and that’s why there people’s movement did not flourish. Some followers of a prominent political personality stated that Naxalbari is not only a dividing line between the revolutionary path and revisionist path but at the same time it also demarcated between the left adventurism and the true left (Chaterhat vs Naxalbari). In this way they try to recreate history. First of all, if Naxalabri never implemented Com. CM’s line then whose line was implemented over there? Is there any political thesis written by the so called prominent leader before Naxalbari? Secondly, the concept of two different practices for Naxalbari and Chaterhat is debatable. Some mentioned that it was a debate between new cadres from student front and old peasant cadres of that region. To resolve the contradiction among the cadres, two different regions were distributed among them, but none of them was against Com. Charu Majumdar or his theoretical conclusions. It was also debatable whether that decision was taken as per Com. CM’s advice or not? Today we can’t confirm that as all of these debates began after Com:CM’s martyrdom.
During the Naxalbari struggle left adventurist attitude was not fully developed, even Com. CM was not against mass organization and mass movements. Com. CM did promote some left adventurist concepts regarding combat group but the positive side is that he always stressed on developing armed volunteers (whatever the name) alongside the mass organization and in addition to open activities, he highlighted the need to create secret work and secret organizations from the beginning of the movement. Although there was a very simple unrealistic view of the capture of guns and the base areas, nevertheless, those who are talking about the clear division with the left deviation in Naxalbari struggle are unrealistic, and are not supported by actual history. Until then there were no clear camps. The conflict of the old peasant workers with student-intellectual workers was not seen in this way as the conflict between Com. Charu Majumdar and another group. Com. Charu Majumdar was respected by all. Charu Majumder also repeatedly declared that he was not the creator of Naxalbari struggle, but rather Comrades Kanu Sanyal, Jungle Santal, Khokon Majumdar and others were. No one knew about any type of contradiction between those leaders and Com. Charu Majumdar when he was alive. They did not have the ‘wisdom’ which appeared later among some leaders, but before that they all accepted Com. Charu Majumdar as their leader. Therefore, in today’s 50 years of Naxalbari movement, it is hoped that Com. Charu Majumdar will receive his deserved respect – he will get recognition of his special role in Naxalbari struggle.
Com. Kanu Sanyal said, “…Using this opportunity the vicious group hurriedly formed the CPI (M-L) based on the slogan of guerilla war is the only way and annihilation is the only strategy and tactics, which led them to proceed to the breakdown permanently.”
Let us look at the above mentioned statement by Com. Kanu Sanyal and supported by Com. Asim Chatterjee (when he was a comrade). Firstly, on April 22, 1969, there was no such understanding as the guerrilla warfare is the only strategy and annihilation of class enemy is the only tactics in the political resolution of CPI (M-L). In the political resolution of CPI (M-L), the work of ‘Revolutionary Party’ has been said – ‘The main strategy of the revolutionary peasantry led by the working class is the Guerrilla war’. We must keep in mind the Chairman’s teachings, “Guerilla warfare is the basic, but in a favorable condition we will not leave any chance to fight a mobile warfare.” After a thorough search we have failed to find a single word which can support Com. Sanyal and Com. Chatterjee’s opinion, even the word ‘Annihilation’ is also missing from the political resolution of CPI (M-L).
1 ‘Left Extremist Movement in West Bengal: An Experiment in Armed Agrarian Struggle’ written by police officer Amiya Kumar Samantha published some letters of Com: Majumdar.
The letters that had been confiscated by the police explained that Com: Charu Majumdar’s had living contacts with the movement and its organizers as a leader.
(To be concluded)