Date : August, 1995
HTML Markup : Salil Sen for MIA, November 2007
Public Domain : Marxists Internet Archive (2005). You may freely copy, distribute, display and perform this work; as well as make derivative and commercial works. Please credit "Marxists Internet Archive" as your source.
[Excerpts from certain observations made during intervention in the course of debates at the Diphu Conference, August 1995.]
I think the main issue is that there is a particular problem with our Party. I can say that there is a sort of a trend where people feel if political things are correct the organisational things will naturally, automatically, sort of spontaneously, follow. This may be because of the 'excessive political character' of our Party or because of a particular way our Party emerged. Neglect of organisational things has been a particular hallmark of our Party. And every time we talk of consolidating the organisation, every time we talk of doing something concrete in the organisational sphere, we face resistance. People start saying that if politics is okay then everything else will naturally and automatically follow. Of course, as communists we all know that if our political line is correct, our political intervention is proper, it does provide lots of advantage in the Party's expansion. But I think it should not be made that automatic. Organisational problems do constitute an independent entity, organisation is an independent category. And to streamline the organisation, perhaps, we need to take some specific measures, some specific decisions and sometimes special conferences even. So only to fight this trend we are having this Organisational Conference.
Every time we talk of an organisational conference, of tackling organisational questions as an independent agenda, people have lots of resistance. Even in this Conference suggestions came that the Conference should be renamed. Somebody said it should be renamed as the Ideological-Organisational Conference. So I think this has been a particular problem in our Party. This particular trend dilutes the organisational question in the name of politics and political struggle and thus trend puts politics and organisation in contrast to each other. More often it takes the form of phrase-mongering.
I have often found that people who are not serious on organisational questions, who are not serious about Party building, people who are not doing serious Party and organisational work, are often found to 'preach' politics. Especially some of these phrases like: 'Why do you talk of organisation?', 'Only politics' etc. So politics often becomes sort of a scapegoat, a sort of an excuse. I think to counter and fight this trend and to instill seriousness we must make sincere efforts to build our Party organisation and for that we have called this Conference. We have the document before us and we have discussed all sorts of issues and we will have to go back with a particular massage. Now if this dilution remains set in our thinking, then we can do nothing to streamline and strengthen our Party organisation.
Now on the question of democratic centralism there is a debate. So many things have been said. I think the most important point was: the right for legitimate opposition, i.e., a bloc sort of thing, as a method to unify different factions and different parties in India into a single large Party. It is better if one sticks to the formulation that this is only one way of uniting different left factions and left parties into a single communist party. Well, we have a difference here. For the unification of left factions and communist parties we already have a different idea, viz. left confederation. We have already started conducting talks about that. In spite of all the existing differences among different parties, we can make this experiment for a broader unity of left confederation. But within a single communist party if we try to make that experiment ... so far the experiences have proved to be negative. There has been the PCC which tried to operate on that basis. And all such tricks of unification in the communist movement and the ML movement on the basis of bloc operation and legitimised opposition have all ended in fiasco.
They have only given rise to more groups than they had united. In contrast to that if you look at our Party's history and experience we never went for unity on that premise. But still comrades from different groups and different parties have always been coming to join our Party. If you check up our Party membership you will find a good percentage of them -- I think their numbers may perhaps surpass the number of comrades who were originally with us in 1974 -- have come from other parties. And those large number of comrades who have come from different groups and parties like PCC, CPI, CPI(M) and other parties, have all united under one democratically centralised party and are carrying on discussions. I don't think there are any problems in the Party functioning in this regard and, in this formation which we are leading, it has been possible to unite comrades coming from different streams. Some factions have even dissolved their organisations and united with our Party. That way we have been able to unite a good number of left and Naxalite revolutionaries with our Party. This has been our history. This has been a more stable unity than other unity efforts which have been taken so far by any other group in India. If we are to go for the premise of proceeding with unification on the basis of legitimised opposition, our experience so far has proved it wrong. And I think we have a better alternative in the concept of left confederation for broader unity. But still, from this point of view, the debate can continue.
There is another point I want to make on the question of democratic centralism. What we said in the document was that Party leaders and Party committees should not unnecessarily intervene in the functioning of mass organisations which means allowing them to develop on their own. But that is generalised by some comrades that if this is the case, then higher Party committees should also not intervene in the affairs of lower Party committees. I think these two cannot be equated. Party-mass organisation relations are very different. The Party and mass organisation are separate entities. May be we participate in mass organisations but they are a separate entity, they have their own separate character. We have already given an amendment that mass organisations should elect their leaders themselves in their conferences. And that way mass organisations will develop independently. So the relation between mass organisation and the Party is a very different thing qualitatively than the relation between two Party committees, higher and lower committees, of the same Party. I think these two things must not be confused, must not be equated.
As far as the Party's centre is concerned, I must say, well, minority obeys majority. That is one principle which we follow. Within the Party committee minority accepts the majority. That is natural. Then again lower Party committees are subordinated to higher Party committees. That is also very natural. Very much understandable. The individual is subordinated to the organisation. This is also quite understandable. But the fundamental point of democratic centralism is that the whole Party is subordinated to the CC, an additional formulation which often some comrades forget. This is perhaps the most important one. And this says that the entire Party is subordinated to the CC. And this way the whole relation is reversed. The entire Party means a big majority while the Central Committee is a minority of 25 members. This is very unusual. This is very different. And this is the whole crux of communist party's democratic centralism. Unless this is understood perhaps you cannot understand the full concept of democratic centralism in its integrity. Therefore the CC's intervention, not just in the lower committee but even in the case of any member, any committee, any cadre, anywhere, anytime ... this is perfectly allowed in the communist party. This is what a communist party is. Without this centralism, without this unity, there can neither be an iron discipline, not can we fight out the enemy in the serious class battles. This 'majority' subordinating itself to the 'minority', is perhaps the most crucial aspect of communist party's democratic centralism. And therefore, any attempt to create any confusion or dissension against Party CC is very harmful. And challenging the CC's right to intervene here and there, to say it cannot do this and it cannot do that etc., are just not allowed in the communist party. This is a very peculiar case. One may like it. One may not like it. But once we have decided to become a member of a communist party, we have to accept that the Party CC is not just like any other higher Party committee. The state committee does not have that much authority over all its ranks. Nor any other local committee. This is a very special right accorded to the Party CC. This a very particular aspect of communist constitution. And I think any attempt to confuse this will be very harmful for the Party.