Defeat Communal Fascism! Intensify the Battle for Secularism and Democracy!

Strengthen the Party as the Developing Centre of Communist Resurgence in India!

– Dipankar Bhattacharya

THIS APRIL 22 we observe the thirty-third anniversary of the foundation of our beloved and glorious Party. As we reaffirm our supreme revolutionary commitment, we must take a close look not only at the unfolding national and international situation but also at our own state of affairs. And we must make all-out efforts to bridge the gap between the demands of the developing situation and our own state of preparedness.

Internationally, we find ourselves in the midst of a US-led global war. The US imperialists have defined it as the first war of the new century. It is a war without any definite territorial border or time frame; in fact, it is a war without any fixed enemy. But the strategic goal of the war is crystal clear: to translate the military superiority of the US into durable politico-economic domination over the entire world.

A war of this kind is, however, easier begun than won. Ousting the tottering Taliban regime in a war-worn Afghanistan and imposing an imported cosmetic order on Kabul was the easier part of the war for the Bush administration. The more difficult parts are only beginning now. The longer the US forces stay in Afghanistan, the more inhospitable conditions will they have to face. The proposed extension of the war along and around what President Bush has termed the ‘axis of evil’ has invited strong opposition from among his own allies. Similarly, in the face of worldwide opposition, US-backed Israeli aggressors will now be under increasing pressure to withdraw troops from the soil of Palestine.

Most significantly, the aftermath of September 11 has failed to derail the fledgling anti-globalisation movement or dampen its spirit. If anything, the so-called global war on terrorism has only served to further politicise the movement and raise the average general level of anti-globalisation consciousness to a more determined opposition to imperialism in general and war and racism in particular. With millions losing their jobs even in the first world and the spectre of synchronised recession and acute uncertainty continuing to haunt almost all major sectors and centres of world capitalism, there is a new worldwide surge in working class struggles and anti-capitalist movement.

True, some fence-sitters, bourgeois liberals as well as reformist socialists, have once again wavered and fallen on the wrong side of the fence, but for every wavering and retreating step of these renegades we can see the anti-war movement press ahead in determined and advancing strides. From Buenos Aires and Porto Alegre to Barcelona and Rome, the message of the movement is getting unquestionably louder and clearer.

The Indian ruling classes and especially their current representatives in power, the communal fascist BJP and its NDA allies, have however chosen this occasion to strike a stronger strategic partnership with the US imperialists. Ironically, the same turn of events has also rendered Pakistan into an even more sought-after ally of the US. Thus the traditional rivalry between India and Pakistan has reached a new plane of contention for securing a greater share of American approval and blessings. In the process, the fascists have unmasked themselves as the worst collaborators of US imperialism in a country that had been a British colony for so long. From being traitors to the struggle for national independence in the colonial era to becoming the most trusted agents of US imperialism in the twenty-first century, new chapters of crime are daily being added to the ignominious history of the RSS.

It is of course encouraging to note that even as the Indian ruling classes have sided most shamelessly with the US imperialist war-machine, the popular democratic opinion in the country has refused to fall in line. The pro-imperialist pro-war agenda of the communal fascists received a major drubbing in the February elections to four State Assemblies. Even the issue of Ayodhya failed to generate any electoral enthusiasm in the shrinking and demoralised saffron camp. And whatever ambitious assessments the BJP may make about the possible electoral benefits of the ongoing anti-Muslim violence and communal polarisation in Gujarat, in the rest of the country popular resentment against the saffron regime continues to run high. Witness the results of the municipal corporation polls in Delhi held in late March, in which the BJP could secure only dozen-odd seats.

A desperate BJP is of course going ahead with its fascist agenda. The RSS has openly sought to justify the Gujarat developments in its recent Bangalore resolution by asking Muslims in India to secure their existence by earning the goodwill of the majority Hindu community. And by enacting the thoroughly repressive and draconian POTA through a joint session of Parliament, the BJP has made it clear that it is prepared to go to any extent to subvert the Constitution and ‘legalise’ its fascist project.

As revolutionary communists, we have to rise to the occasion and take the fascist bull by its horns. It is said that when the going gets tough, the tough gets going. The hour of crisis is the hour of reckoning. History teaches us that there can be no compromise with fascism, no middle-of-the-road solution. Merely handing out a few electoral defeats to the BJP is not enough; the fascist project needs to be buried for good. And only a vibrant people’s democracy, which is marked by consistent secularism, a bold, anti-imperialist foreign policy, and a socialist, pro-people economic orientation, can really smash the fascist offensive.

Faced with such a challenging situation, we have surely tried to step up our role and response in different spheres and states. Whether in the battle against neo-liberal economic policies and their disastrous consequences, in the campaign against the spreading imperialist war in Asia or the Indian state’s own war drive in the region, or in defence of people’s harmony and democracy, we have always been active and vigilant. We have conducted a number of impressive mass campaigns and won some victories as well.

No wonder, our comrades have been at the receiving end of state repression and feudal-mafia violence. Scores of comrades have gone down fighting while hundreds of comrades remain behind the bars. Whether in the BJP-ruled Jharkhand, RJD-ruled Bihar, or TDP-ruled Andhra, state repression remains our permanent and most ‘faithful’ companion on the road to advance. Barring a few cases of retreat and renegacy here and there, the Party as a whole has proved itself to be the worthy inheritor of the great revolutionary heritage of Telengana and Naxalbari.

But for all our courage of conviction, rich revolutionary inheritance, and sustained mass political dynamism, we still remain a small organisation with a faltering rate of growth. Our mass influence is surely increasing in large parts of Bihar, Jharkhand and also in adjacent areas of Uttar Pradesh. We have a proven capacity to mobilise tens of thousands of people in these states. But our organised strength remains quite limited. Targets like an organised Party membership of 1,00,000 and a Hindi weekly organ with an assured circulation of 10,000 continue to elude us. Barring the trade union centre and organisations of agricultural labourers, membership strength of all other mass organisations are yet to cross the 1,00,000 mark. These are not huge abstract numbers; these are modest minimum concrete targets a revolutionary party must attain. True, numbers alone do not decide; but they are always of critical importance. Revolutionary imagination and initiative become meaningful only when they are backed fully by the organised weight of numbers. Quality without quantity can only be an empty slogan. As we prepare for the forthcoming Seventh Congress of the Party towards the end of this year, we have a lot of catching up to do and we have to do it real fast.

Our Party is already recognised in many areas as the real communist party in contrast to the right and left opportunist trends, the reformists and the anarchists. Whereas the big two parties are treated increasingly as parties of the past, we are acknowledged as the communist party of the future. In recent years we have lost many leaders and also faced some major instances of renegacy, but our credibility as the developing centre of a long awaited and much-needed communist resurgence in India continues to grow. We have to defend and enhance this credibility and organise communists in ever-larger numbers in the revolutionary stream.

The Indian communist movement, in the broader sense of the term, is passing through a critical juncture. The CPI(M) and CPI recently held their Party Congresses. The CPI held its congress in Congress-ruled Kerala and the focus, for all practical purposes, was on facilitating an expected revival of the Congress to hold the BJP at bay! The CPI(M) held its Congress in TDP-ruled Andhra Pradesh and the star attraction (albeit ‘absentee’) of the entire show was Chandrababu Naidu who had a ‘courtesy meeting’ with his West Bengal counterpart! The land of Telengana is one state where the communist movement has not only a glorious past but also a vibrant present, its apparent electoral ‘marginalisation’ notwithstanding. This is one state that has been particularly notorious for a most comprehensive implementation of the neo-liberal economic policies designed and dictated by the Fund-Bank establishment. And this is also the one state where as many as nine Left parties have a history of waging powerful united struggles. Yet an occasion like the highest assembly of the biggest communist party in the state was not used to address vital questions concerning the revival of the party and the future of Left unity. The illusion of weaning away the ‘prodigal’ TDP from the fold of the NDA got the better of the real interests of ongoing struggles in the state.

This systematic dilution of the independence and identity of the Left has now become the hallmark of the tactical line of both CPI and CPI(M) and this is how they have effectively sealed their own future in the Hindi belt and increasingly also in states like Punjab and Andhra where the communist movement used to have a major presence till recently. Any temporary shift from this otherwise permanent policy is made only on pragmatic grounds of electoral survival. For example, the CPI(M) in Kerala and Tripura is still wary of the Congress much as the CPI is of the RJD in Bihar. And this paralysing politics of uncritical alliances, this pragmatic culture of cooption and dependence, thrives on and also reinforces, a more fundamental sacrifice or neglect of the interests and struggles of the oppressed poor and working people. In sharp contrast, we must continue to lay the greatest of emphases on promoting the independent mobilisation of the rural poor and on safeguarding and asserting the independent identity of the communist party even as we join hands with a wide range of democratic forces in a whole array of anti-fascist struggles. The reaction of the progressive intelligentsia to the happenings in Gujarat and Ayodhya is notably sharp and we should fully explore the possibilities of integrating their protests with the assertion of the basic masses.

The anarchists too lie trapped in a labyrinth largely of their own making. Around this time last year, the PWG held a ‘protracted’ Party Congress lasting for nearly a month. It was a commendable move considering that this was the first time in its history that the PWG bothered to have an exercise of this nature. But instead of trying to analyse the changes that have occurred over the three decades since the May 1970 Congress of the united CPI(ML), the PWG adopted an ideological resolution calling for elevating Mao Ze Dong Thought to the level of Maoism, a term which the CPI(ML) movement has never used since its inception. Even the Chinese party has all along, including at the time of Mao, claimed that Mao Ze Dong Thought was nothing more than an extension of Marxism-Leninism in certain respects through its concrete application to the specific conditions of China. The CPI(ML) of course included and continues to include Mao Ze Dong Thought as a guiding principle of the party precisely because of its wider relevance to the third world and especially India. But the PWG detaches Mao Thought from Marxism-Leninism so as to make it an independent theoretical system and thereby seeks to fit Mao into its petty-bourgeois strait-jacket.

While in their theory, India today is presumably becoming increasingly similar to pre-1949 China, in practice they have no choice but to operate in a different world. This increasing hiatus between theory and practice is causing serious confusion and debates in the group. In Andhra, they have made an unconditional offer to hold talks with the Naidu government, and the incidence of surrender and retreat is already on the increase. Some leaders of the group’s West Bengal unit have recently left it after they apparently failed to have a satisfactory internal debate or discussion on some major questions. The debates concern the group’s isolation from the organised working class and negation of conscious political work even as it practises economism and worships spontaneity. As on the one hand, the line of demarcation between the CPI(ML)(PWG) and anti-CPI(ML) MCC gets more and more blurred, and more and more cadre ‘stray’ pragmatically into the institutions of panchayati raj, if not higher levels of parliamentary democracy, it would be interesting to see how the PWG negotiates this juncture. For us at CPI(ML), the line of demarcation between Marxism and anarchism remains clear and consistent, and we firmly believe that a revolutionary negation of social-democracy provides the best answer to anarchism as well.

Strengthen the CPI(ML) as the core of communist resurgence in India!

Long live CPI(ML)!

Red Salute to our great martyrs!