[Speech at the conference of party committee secretaries in Bihar. From Liberation, March 1994.]
Over a hundred of you who represent Party organisations in districts and blocks have gathered here. You all are Party leaders and with your united and determined efforts, you can once again change the conditions in Bihar. We are conducting a rectification movement in the Bihar Party organisation and I would like to remind you that this movement is being conducted at a time when by countering certain problems and certain losses we have improved our position and started moving forward. On the other hand, Janata Dal, for the time being our main contender in Bihar, is facing trouble from all sides. Till a few weeks back newspapers had been writing that CPI(ML)-IPF is disintegrating in the face of Laloo Yadav’s attacks. Now you know there is a change and one comes across the headings ‘Intensifying Red Offensive against Laloo Yadav’ etc. Particularly the recent elections and resultant political changes have deepened the crisis of the Janata Dal and this is going to have a big impact on Janata Dal in Bihar too.
So this is the specific situation, this is the ambience in which we have decided to launch the rectification movement.
It also clarifies that in the coming days our aim should be to hasten this process, to boldly seize the initiative and launch a powerful political movement. We have to make preparations for this and hence, it is imperative to build a united and disciplined Party organisation. The main aim of the rectification movement in my view, is to enable the Party to seize political initiative in the coming days. And we have already made a start in this direction.
The other important problem before us was to resolve the question of orientation to deal with the Janata Dal, to decide upon the issues and the mode of action. Gradually we have tackled that problem too. Be it the student movement, the movement for land reforms, or the autonomy of Jharkhand, we stand for integrating these different aspects into a single chain. Under the banner of struggle for democratisation of Bihar society we have tried to do exactly this. Now it is clear that this banner, this orientation can be quite effective in dealing with governments like Janata Dal. Already our efforts have hit at the ideological basis of Janata Dal and influenced its social base as well as its supporters in democratic circles. To an extent we have resolved the question of orientation and now various circles of public opinion too expect our Party to lead the democratic movement in Bihar in its new phase.
Our main contender is now deprived of any serious issue, with Mandal largely going to the background. Laloo Yadav who till the other day had been clamouring that IPF is finished, nowadays often telephones our comrades to plead for an alliance of Janata Dal, CPI and IPF for the next election.
So, this is the situation now when we launch the rectification movement. It is very important to understand this political perspective, the particular situation and the particular aim of this campaign. Already some comrades have underscored this necessity and I do feel that without this the rectification campaign will really have no purpose.
We need to unify our Party and make it a disciplined organisation. In this context, various wrong ideas prevailing in our Party organisation have been discussed in the document presented here. I think the question of pragmatism discussed in the document is quite important. We talk of land reforms, of peasant movement, of strengthening peasant association; but when we undertake the gherao of the Chief Minister at Patna, agitate against the government, a tendency appears which looks at all this merely as a move to overthrow the Laloo government, as an immediate struggle against a particular government. That is wrong. We must understand that the agrarian revolution, the peasant struggles form the crucial part of the revolution, the total change we talk about. A particular government comes and goes. The Laloo government, too, will not be there tomorrow, some other government will replace it. Our whole struggle, our agrarian struggle is not meant just to temporarily harass, or to create obstacles for, or to force the resignation on a certain government just to achieve a limited political aim. This must be deeply understood. It is true that immediate slogans directed against a particular government help us in mobilising the masses at a tactical plane, but if the whole aim of the movement is understood in the limited terms of overthrowing a certain government, it is here that an ideological distortion, namely pragmatism, begins. This makes peasant movements an occasional task. It is necessary to go on strengthening our peasant organisation and peasant movement. We often witness that our peasant organisation has become defunct and then it is again reactivised on the basis of certain tasks; why should it be so? We have to organise an agrarian revolution, then why does our peasant organisation often gets trapped in such a situation and then gets reactivised on the basis of certain slogans or against certain policies of the government or through gherao? I think this ideological distortion, this pragmatism somehow or other influences us in these matters, e.g., in taking peasant movements as a political pressure tactics. This may be the style of CPI and CPI(M). They have a friendly government, so from political necessities sometimes peasant issues become important to them and at other times not. But this cannot be our policy. Particularly in a state like Bihar, the peasant movement, revolutionary peasant struggles are very important and through them we have to undertake the revolutionary transformation of the whole society. This undoubtedly is a protracted struggle, and as you know, in this struggle our Party has not set any limits.
While ensuring the active participation of tens of thousands of peasants, the Party has vowed to take these anti-feudal struggles to their highest stage. This is so because this struggle is the key to transform the whole society. Therefore it is neither the question of using peasant struggles as a political lever against a certain government nor setting the limits beforehand. This must be clearly understood because any departure from these principles will only open the floodgates of pragmatism.
I want to emphasise that we are striving to unite all the movements we have been initiating so far — be it student movement or the movement for agrarian reforms or that for autonomy in Jharkhand — into an integral whole, which is nothing but the movement for democratisation of Bihari society, which in popular terms we define as the revival of the ’74 movement. Whatever happens to the Laloo Yadav government in the process is immaterial. This government might have to go down, or it might somehow continue in power. The important thing is the development of democratic consciousness among the people and the movement for democratic transformation of society.
This overall perspective must never be lost sight of. Criticism of the government, the movements against its drawbacks and the struggle against the government on immediate issues are of course important in practical politics. They do help in taking our message to the broad masses, for popular mobilisation. But if our ideological-political thinking gets bogged down in this immediacy, I am afraid we shall lose the very character of a communist party and degenerate into some general democratic organisation fighting for some immediate demands. In this context, the danger of pragmatism as pointed out in the document is most important and I must say that this pragmatism is the manifestation of ideological decay that our Party has undergone for a long time.
This ideological decay has other manifestations as well and the document has referred to them too. One of the manifestations of this decay we have seen in recent times when we participated in parliamentary elections and thus initiated a new experiment. We began with the aim of creating a new revolutionary model in the communist movement in relation to parliamentary struggles in and within the assembly. But as you know we suffered serious setbacks in our endeavours. Four of our MLAs were won over by the Janata Dal or in other words they got trapped in the net of parliamentarism and just sold themselves. In our Party history there have been big mistakes and serious setbacks, but perhaps no mistake or setback has downgraded the Party’s prestige before to such low levels as in the case of these defections. This considerably downgraded our prestige at the national level because people never expected that our MLAs will prove so hollow in their conviction. This is a black spot in our Party history. We have tried to erase this black spot and gradually we have been successful in taking the message to the people that ours is a Party of struggle, of movements, and once again we have refurbished our image to a large extent. But still a major question remains: why did this happen at all? If one says that these people were inherently like that and they should not have been given tickets, the question arises why were they then allotted tickets? If one says that a proper control could not be exercised over them, again the question arises, why did we fail to do that? So one cannot escape just by blaming these deserters; the question as to what the Party organisation had been doing all these years will have to be answered. I think a still deeper question is involved here. These MLAs getting trapped in parliamentary deviations is only the highest expression of the mentality that has gripped our organisation. I think this is the only proper way of looking at the problem.
We have seen that many comrades, even those who had been hard working Party cadres for long years, had started aspiring for a ticket to become an MLA or an MP. Not only new comrades but several old comrades too got infected with the parliamentary virus. And we also saw that in the entire organisation MLAs and MPs started enjoying much more prestige than the Party or organisation leaders. We all along tried to fight it out. We saw at many points that only MLAs and MPs are being called for mass meetings, Party and mass organisation leaders simply became non-entities. In society people consider MLAs and MPs as VIPs and this affected our organisation too. MLAs and MPs in such cases got conceited and for the rest of the cadres too, they became models to be emulated. So it was a trend affecting our entire organisation. We tried to counter it by saying that this is not proper, this is wrong. The prestige of the Party and organisation leaders should be at the top. But this hardly had any effect. Look for yourself, how serious, how grave was the problem that people did not seem to listen despite a struggle. In this sense, rather the desertion of these MLAs has helped in once again changing the atmosphere within the Party and consequently we have moved on to the road of struggle. All this still needs a deeper probe because MLAs and MPs are still there and in future their number will only increase. They are, of course, needed too and they have a significant role to play. How are we to establish the proper role of MLAs in the movement and at the same time establish the prestige and dignity of the organisation? This is a million-dollar question. Due to ideological decay, instead of establishing a positive model in parliamentary struggles we have made a negative beginning in Bihar.
This is a question the whole Party should ponder over. The whole Party must think as to when and how this ideological decay began in the Party. Several ideas have been put forward by comrades here during discussion and we must go for a comprehensive analysis.
This ideological decay brings disunity in organisational life. Therefore ideological decay and organisational disunity become two important problems which the Party shall have to overcome during the rectification campaign. This ideological decay, you see, is like the disease of tuberculosis that gradually eats up the whole body from within. The structure remains there, but from within the bacteria renders the body hollow. The same happens to a party affected by ideological decay. The external appearance, the outward structure remains intact, but from within the party gradually moves towards death, towards destruction. In my opinion, in some way, ideological tuberculosis had gripped our Party which led to such disturbances. The rectification campaign is a battle, a treatment against this ideological disease.
We also know that a person cured from tuberculosis emerges much stronger than before. Therefore, I am confident that we will seriously grasp the harmful effects of the bacteria within, of the tuberculosis affecting the Party body and overcoming them makes our Party healthier and stronger than ever before. …
These are some stray thoughts I wish to share with you on this occasion.