The Swing Back - Tridib Chaudhuri
The Political thesis adopted at the Second Congress, provided, it should be noted, the starting point only. In course of the next two years new 'reformist mistakes' and new 'deviations' were successively netted up and condemned. The party line seemed to grow ever more immaculate, flawless and 'purely' Marxist day by day, through a process of ideo-chemical distillation and purging. All hidden reformist vestiges of the Joshi-period were mercilessly exposed and hunted out. Armed with a 'correct' revolutionary strategy and tactics the party now seemed to have earned the right to the confidence of all sections of the toiling people and the working classes. It could now easily hope to lead the masses to direct action and unleash a mighty revolutionary mass onslaught against the bourgeoisie and the Congress Government.
A new revolutionary mass upsurge—a veritable People's Democratic Revolution—was thus envisaged throwing itself up, just round the corner. It only remained for the party to come forward and take up the leadership of that 'revolution.' The elemental force of postwar mass-upsurge as evidenced by the INA movement, naval mutiny & worker's strikes, the 'Tebhaga' movement etc, had by no means diminished or become exhausted. The masses were thoroughly disillusioned. "Never was there", it was asserted in the Calcutta Thesis, "so much understanding of the main slogans of the democratic movement." Out of the disillusionment of the masses the demand for an alternative Government was bound to arise soon; and it was the duty of the Communist Party to consciously guide the people in fighting for that demand boldly and decisively. The call was therefore given for the formation of a "Democratic Front" based on the alliance of the workers, peasants and the oppressed petty-bourgeoisie under the leadership of the working class and the communist Party. This "Democratic Front" was to form the basis of the new state-power of the toiling people and the new government after the overthrow of the present bureaucratic system.
Decked with properly couched official People's Democratic terminology of international Stalinism, a call was thus given in effect for the immediate launching of revolutionary mass struggles against the Congress Governments all over the country. Under the impact of the crisis and as the result of growing disillusionment amongst the masses with the Congress Government "larger and larger sections of masses will be set in motion" it was confidently hoped. The party rank and file were, therefore, straight away ordered to throw "themselves at the head of this imaginary mass upsurge. We need hardly enter into the detailed history of these "revolutionary" mass-actions under the leadership of the Communist Party and their outcomes. Working class and peasant detachments in isolated areas, widely separated from each other, were thrown into the firing line to face rifle and machine-gun bullets of the armed forces of the Government.
The armed rising of the peasants in the Telengana area of Hyderabad against feudal Jagirdars there, were held up as a sort of fore-runner of the coming all-national uprising. The peculiar correlationship of forces in the unsettled conditions of Hyderabad after 'transfer of power' and the withdrawal of British Government from the formal position of suzerainty over the Native States, were not taken into account. The tussle between the feudal Nizam Government and the Central Government of the Indian Union under the national bourgeois leadership of the Congress, the democratic struggle of the Hyderabad people against the absolutism of Nizam, the struggle of the Communal Fascist Razakars both against the democratic, State-people's movement and against any encroachment of the Nizam's dominions by the Indian Union, and the simultaneous anti-Deshmukh (as the big feudal lords were called in this area) struggle of the Telengana peasants—all these going on simultaneously, often merging, often cutting across each other, created a general confusion which enabled the peasant revolt in the outlying Telengana area to take on an armed character with comparative ease than might be possible elsewhere. But without any reference to the specific features of the Telengana movement and to the feasibility of creating favourable conditions for armed insurrection elsewhere in the country outside Telengana, the entire party was called upon by the Party leadership to go the "Telengana way."
The disastrous consequences of this adventurist policy can be easily imagined. The full brunt of the repressive onslaughts of Congress capitalist reaction inevitably came down on the heads of the masses. In the absence of any prior preparation, neither the organisation nor the resources of the party could give them any protection. In most cases. they were left to their own devices to withstand the terrible fury of barbaric police and military repression. "Because it was a revolutionary period" a subsequent document of the CPI leadership argued in justification of this adventurism, "the most elementary forms of struggle will set in motion forces which will enable the masses to overcome" their present "backwardness "and the "limited perspectives" of their consciousness. Honest rank-and-filers idealistically inspired, were peremptorily ordered to throw themselves at the head of the masses, try to give the character of armed seizure-of-power struggle to every sporadic mass-action they happened to lead, face bullets, and if necessary to court death—which they often did at the bidding of the leaders—imagine all the time that they were perhaps carrying out the behests of a correct, "revolutionary" Marxist-Leninist line, and taking the red flag of proletarian revolution and people's democracy one step further forward.
The leaders were of course, either secure behind prison bars or U.G. (underground). They were supposed to be engaged all the time in higher 'ideological' struggles for ridding the party of all doubters and vacillators, suspending this comrade, repremanding that, expelling some other. Entire Provincial Committees, were suspended, dissolved and reconstituted. The party line was thus being continually distilled ever more sublime and becoming flawlessly "correct" everyday, in true Marxist- Leninist-Stalinist fashion. Both leadership and rank and file were serenely happy at that reassuring thought.
It was on in this way for two years uninterruptedly without the Cominform and the international Stalinist leadership feeling the slightest necessity of making any intervention in the affairs of, the Communist Party of India. The noted Soviet specialist on India A. M. Dyakov mentioned with approval the programme of the Second Congress of the CPI in his book "New Stage in India's Liberation Struggle" which was published shortly after the Calcutta Congress. The Calcutta Thesis and the Report of the Second Congress were reproduced in Stalinist organs abroad in quite eulogistic terms. Not only that, even as late as the last quarter of 1949, the CPI was being complimented by the Soviet Specialists in highly appreciative tones. The national liberation movement of India had entered "a new stage" after the war, wrote V. Balabushevich in the pages of the Soviet Journal 'Problems of Economics' (No. 8) under the leadership of the working class and the Communist Party. The Second Congress of the Communist Party of India was characterised as before as "an important step" in the life of the party, and a big political event inside the country." The programme of the Second Congress had in short the unstinted approval of Balabushevich.
He seemed quite confident that the influence of, the communist Party had "increased considerably" both in India and Pakistan—thanks to the "correct revolutionary formulation" of its tasks in that programme which "expresses the aspirations and hopes of the broadest masses of the Indian people." Whether amongst the peasantry or the urban petty-bourgeoisie and students, Balabushevich saw nothing and heard nothing, except the steadily growing "influence of the working class and the Communist Party." The Telengana struggle was also hailed by him as "the first attempt at creating People's Democracy in India" and the "harbinger of the coming agrarian revolution." With reference to the petty-bourgeoisie and the students—their active participation in the "mass militant political actions taking place under the leadership of the Communist Party"—was mentioned in terms of highest approbation. Every where there was nothing but "a steady growth" of the influence and the prestige of the Communist Party and its leadership. ('New stage in the National Liberation Struggle' in India—Problems of Economics; No. 8)
Politically conscious people in India and the masses themselves of course knew better. Even large sections of CPI adherents would have a different story to tell here on spot, than that recounted by Balabushevich from distant Soviet Union. But in general upto to the end of 1949, neither the Cominform nor the leading theoreticians of the CPSU and world-Stalinism for the matter of that, afforded any reason for the ordinary rank-and-file workers of the CPI to think that their Party leadership was moving in a wrong way, or that the political line of the party as set by the Second Congress deviated from the path of true Marxist-Leninist rectitude in any way.
Balabushevich and others of his ilk could however afford to be complacent. The CPI organised a peace-rally at Firozabad in UP and had a resolution passed to the effect that "under no circumstances will the Indian workers ever take up arms against the Soviet Union" and expressed their "determination to give full rebuff to imperialist attempts to convert India into a war-base for an attack against the Soviet Union." Balabusheviches were satisfied; their interests seemed served aright for the present by their henchmen in India. They were hardly concerned with anything else much less with objective realities confronting the working class movement in this country.
On the 27th of January, 1950 the Cominform organ "For a Lasting peace; For a People's Democracy"however unexpectedly came out with an editorial article on the national liberation movements in colonial and dependent countries, which contained a new and a fundamentally different formulation of the tasks before the Communists in India. This article completely cut the ground from beneath the political formulation of the Second Congress of the CPI adopted two years back and all its subsequent elaborations. The article contained no adverse criticism against the Calcutta Thesis of the Communist Party as such. But its fundamental political and theoretical implications were unmistakably clear. If one were to accept the line of the Cominform Editorial as correct, the Calcutta thesis and all political formulations made by the CPI leadership from time to time for the guidance of party-cadres during these two years, automatically stood condemned and could not but be regarded as being based on fundamentally mistaken notions. There was absolutely no getting away from this unpleasant fact.
The line of the Calcutta Thesis was supposed, to have 'set right' the reformist mistakes and betrayals of the past five years and more. In 1948 the Second Congress line seemed to have been the only 'correct' line. But two years later the party was called upon all of a sudden to throw overboard and repudiate this 'correct' revolutionary line, which was one time supposed to have rather "done honour" to the party leadership and the rank and file, a line which in the words of Batabushevich "expressed the aspirations and hopes of the broadest masses of the Indian people" and had contributed so much to "the steady growth of the influence of the party amongst the masses"—as fundamentally mistaken, misconceived and even anti-Marxist!