Let us do all we can to expand and strengthen the Party organisation!

Forward to victory over opportunism, pragmatism and spontaneity in the sphere of Party-building!

Party General Secretary's Inaugural Address to the Central Cadre Convention

(VM Hall, Bardhaman, 12 September, 2006)


On behalf of the Party Central Committee I extend my warm revolutionary greetings and a hearty welcome to all of you participating in this important central cadre convention. On July 28, 1974, it was from this district of Bardhaman that our reorganised Party had started its great revolutionary journey. Three decades later when we are reassembling at Bardhaman we have clearly come a long, long way. We have not only revived the Party in most of its old pockets of struggle, but we have spread to newer areas and today we have our operational presence in nearly every third district in the country. But we have a much, much longer way to go and to realise our cherished goals we need to make our party much bigger and stronger, much more consolidated, vibrant and confident.Comrade Dipankar Bhattacharya at Bardhman Cader Convention

We are meeting here at a time when vast areas in rural India are in the grip of a deepening agrarian crisis, and from Gurgaon and Dadri to Kalinganagar and Singur, the people's voice against the ongoing economic reforms is getting increasingly louder defying lathis, bullets and deceptive government propaganda. We are meeting at a time when the country is approaching 150 years of our first war of independence and two weeks from now the birth centenary year of the great revolutionary martyr Bhagat Singh will also begin, but the Indian ruling classes are busy mortgaging the identity and future of the country by embarking on an all-round strategic partnership with the greatest enemy of the world people, the US imperialism. The situation is thus getting ripe for a new high tide of people's movement, a powerful resurgence of patriotic, democratic forces and we need to prepare our Party in every way to meet the challenges of this developing situation.

We are meeting in this convention precisely to address the central aspect of this preparation, to focus on the question of Party-building. Eleven years ago we had convened an All India Organisational Conference to draw a whole set of organisational guidelines and policies for our Party and mobilise the whole Party to overcome certain basic imbalances and weaknesses of our Party organisation that had almost become a part of our otherwise glorious historical legacy. The Diphu conference was the first major initiative to bring about a correspondence between the demands of the situation and the new conditions of our existence and work as an open organisation. Over the last decade we have travelled quite some distance, but many of the targets set at Diphu are yet to be reached, many of the weaknesses and imbalances identified at the conference are yet to be overcome. The starting point for the Diphu conference was to combat the widespread tendency in our Party to neglect the question of organisation in the name of politics. But this malady of pitting the political against the organisational or vice versa and treating the crucial agenda of Party-building as a technical task still remains to be cured.

This central convention of Party secretaries and other comrades is aimed at launching a decisive campaign against this well entrenched problem and unleashing the political will of the entire Party so as to usher the Party into a new phase of organisational consolidation and advance, the material basis for which has already been laid through the multifarious activities and militant struggles led by the Party.

While concentrating on the four key areas of Party membership, lower-level Party structures, Party literature and Party education and the role of the Party in relation to the institutions of local governance, it will be pertinent to take a renewed look at the whole question of Party-building. In the history of the international communist movement, powerful communist parties have always been built through vigorous ideological-political struggles. In Russia , the Bolshevik Party could only take shape in the course of a decisive rupture with opportunism not only in the sphere of programme and tactics but also in the sphere of organisation. In China , the CPC had to periodically wage powerful struggles against both left and right deviations. And in our own Party, whatever advance we have made so far has been achieved through decisive struggles against both dogmatism and liquidationism. Even in other periods when a communist party does not apparently face any major internal ideological struggle, it has to constantly demarcate itself from and contend with other classes and their ideologies. A revolutionary communist party can underestimate or downplay the ideological content of the task of Party-building only at its own peril.

In Russia , Lenin had placed the task of ideological unification of the working class in contrast or opposition to the disunity, destruction, and degeneration caused by the offensive of capital. In our present-day context, the Indian proletariat, which is more rural than urban, finds itself disunited not only ‘by the rule of anarchic competition in the bourgeois world' but also on the basis of the politics of caste-based or other non-class identity-based political mobilisation perfected by our ruling parties. It is only by going beyond the appearance of castes, communities and nationalities that we can grasp the real logic of class struggle in our context. This appearance always seeks to legitimise itself in the name of ‘social' as well as ‘political' reality and can very well subjugate communist class outlook and class politics if we allow any slackening of ideological struggle in the Party.

We must also be aware of the ideological dilution or confusion that constantly emanates from the realm of practical politics in which we operate. This challenge has become all the more powerful with the institutionalisation of panchayat politics in almost all the states. A communist party is a communist party because it never confuses the immediate with the ultimate, because it never loses sight of the ultimate while grappling with the immediate or more precisely because of its ability to link the immediate with the ultimate. As the Communist Manifesto put it, “The Communists fight for the attainment of the immediate aims, for the enforcement of the momentary interests of the working class; but in the movement of the present, they also represent and take care of the future of that movement.” It is this ideological unification of the working class which is reinforced by the material, organisational unity of a communist party. Naturally any ideological decay will lead, sooner rather than later, to organisational weakness and disunity.

But ideological unification does not automatically lead to organisational unification, cohesion or consolidation. This is precisely why we need to extend ideological struggle to the realm of the organisation and make conscious and constant efforts for Party-building. There are many things that we tend to take for granted. But we must never forget that all that we today take for granted has been won or established through conscious struggles and efforts in the past. There are certain things that are rightly viewed as part and parcel of the tradition or culture of a communist party. We also talk about the ‘Party sense' or ‘Party spirit' of our comrades. In India , we rightly see our Party as the inheritor and firm defender of the revolutionary legacy of the Indian communist movement. We take great pride in our glorious tradition and we must be serious about nurturing and strengthening the revolutionary character and heritage that we have inherited. All these revolutionary proletarian qualities have been achieved through serious ideological struggles and we will have to remain ever vigilant and careful about retaining and upholding these qualities. And we can only do this in the course of a relentless struggle against petty-bourgeois vacillation and instability and bourgeois intellectual arrogance and individualism.

In this context, Lenin repeatedly invoked the qualities of discipline and organisation that can be acquired quite easily by the industrial proletariat because of its factory schooling, but come so hard to bourgeois intellectuals. Marxism, Lenin pointed out, taught unstable intellectuals to distinguish between the factory as a means of exploitation (discipline based on fear of starvation) and the factory as a means of organisation (discipline based on collective work united by the conditions of technically highly developed production). While Lenin stressed the collective aspect of the proletarian factory schooling in contrast to the individualist trappings of aristocratic anarchists, Mao immortalised the metaphor of the foolish old man to highlight the quality of proletarian determination and perseverance in contrast to petty-bourgeois pessimism and instability. If we fail to imbibe this ‘factory schooling' and this spirit of the foolish old man in the name of creativity and individuality, we will never be able to develop a powerful communist party capable of welding millions of toilers into an invincible army of the working class.

And this is a question not so much of reiterating our resolve as of unleashing conscious all-out efforts. Indeed, Party-building is a question of conscious formulation of plans and policies and of consistent efforts in terms of implementation, check-up and regular review of the plans and policies so formulated. Way back in 1986, the consolidation campaign had underscored the great, decisive role of the conscious element in advancing the whole agenda of Party-building. Talking about concentrating work in particular areas, Comrade VM had pointed out in the course of that campaign, “the question is of not merely concentrating work within specified geographical boundary, rather it symbolises a particular style of work, ‘conscious area of work', if you will. ... ‘Concentrated areas' should be developed as models of a particular style of work where you have conscious plan and programme, a long-term perspective, policies and tactics, a style of work where you have activists undertaking day-to-day mass work. ... At many places, either there have been no policies and plans, or they have remained only on paper. ... Consolidation of a Party committee always revolves around the policies it makes and implements and a constant review of these policies. ... To add a conscious element to the spontaneous struggle of the people – it's for this purpose that a Communist Party is there, otherwise it loses its raison d'etre.”

It must be understood that neither the issues of our struggle (whether land, wage and dignity or autonomy, political liberty and democracy) nor militant struggles or even rebellions of the masses of workers, rural poor, nationalities or students are unique to the Communist Party. Such struggles may often turn out to be not initiated or led by a Communist Party, but it is our task not only to develop and unleash such struggles but also to build the Party within every such struggle. In our programme and tactics we always talk about independent assertion and reject tailism or worship of spontaneity, but the rejection of spontaneity is never complete unless it culminates in Party-building, expansion of the Communist Party and strengthening of its apparatus. The struggle against opportunism in strategy and tactics will remain severely handicapped unless it is extended to, and backed by, a matching struggle against pragmatism and spontaneity in the realm of organisation.

The opportunists and anarchists always dismiss or trivialise the key task of Party-building as an obsession with form and formality, instead demanding greater attention to the development of the movement and the content of the Party's work. In the context of this debate, Lenin made this interesting comparison between the Bolsheviks and the Bund, a nationality-based party which at one point affiliated itself to the Bolsheviks. “There can be no question,” said Lenin, “that the content of the work of our Party is immeasurably richer, more varied, broader and deeper than that of the Bund. The scope of our theoretical views is wider, our programme more developed, the influence we exercise on the working-class masses (and not on the organised artisans alone) broader and deeper, our propaganda and agitation more varied, the pulse of the political work of the foremost element and of the rank and file more lively, the popular movements during demonstrations and general strikes grander, and our work among the non-proletarian strata more energetic. But the “form”? Compared with that of the Bund, the “form” of our work is lagging unpardonably ... The fact that the organisation of our work is lagging behind its content is our weak point.” Lenin then went on to warn that “The undeveloped and unstable character of the form makes any serious step in the further development of the content impossible; it causes a shameful stagnation, leads to a waste of energy, to a discrepancy between word and deed.”

Replace the Bund by the CPI(M), or for that matter, even the SUCI in West Bengal or many regional parties in many other states, and Lenin's observations would sound equally true in our case. Yet, don't we often hear that there is no point in emphasising the organisation, for any further expansion or consolidation of the organisation is impossible without a further breakthrough in terms of the content of our work or in terms of our programme and tactics? The fact is our organisation continues to suffer from a serious lag compared to the scale of our work, the richness of our struggles and the depth and breadth of our programme and tactics. Many in the Left appreciate our line, our courage and sacrifice and heroic struggles, but rightly criticise us for our weak and small organisation, especially in comparison to the CPI(M). The CPI(M) too continues to brandish its superior organisational strength as the ultimate and only proof for its claim of having the ‘correct' programme and political line! Must we not make a determined attempt to silence this last surviving argument of the opportunist Left and establish our Party as truly the leading Party of Indian communists?

I am sure this convention will answer this question with a resounding yes. But if we really have to do justice to this challenging task and goal, we must stop looking for shortcuts, reject parliamentary pragmatism and pessimism and redouble our conscious and painstaking efforts to build and strengthen the Party in the midst of powerful mass struggles and bold political initiatives. Nowadays, we find quite a widespread trend in the Party which judges the growth or state of the organisation only in terms of votes polled, or worse still, only in terms of seats won. As long as election results are good we feel satisfied and when the result is bad we are suddenly reminded of our organisational weaknesses. And some comrades begin to see this as a destiny that can only be avoided by making some radical breakthrough in terms of adjustment and alliance with forces of the so-called Left and democratic mainstream. In this context, we must pay serious heed to two very valid points that Comrade VM had raised ten years ago.

With regard to our intervention in the Left and democratic mainstream, Comrade VM stressed the need for utmost clarity about our point of departure while intervening in the mainstream. Sounding a very clear warning he said, “Should one get co-opted into the ongoing stream of left-democratic politics? Or should one try to transform it? If we get co-opted into that stream, will it not be our fate to remain a marginal force forever? On the other hand, the task of transforming this stream is no doubt protracted and painstaking, but within this lies the great possibility of the future when, breaking the present isolation, we can become the determining force of the mainstream.”

The other important point he raised concerned the meaning or purpose of our intervention: “We must keep it in mind that we represent the urban and rural proletariat, and although this class is overwhelmingly large it remains a marginal force in the present socio-political system. The question is that of bringing that class into the mainstream of politics through political mobilisation. In this endeavour, superficial political manoeuvres are not going to pay. The question is not at all of bringing the CPI(ML) or some ambitious personalities into the political mainstream in an abstract way.” (National Situation and the Tactics of the Left, October 1996, Selected Works, pp 72-73)

While consolidating the Party's base and influence among the urban and rural proletariat, the CPI(ML) of course never intends to remain confined to this class alone. The Party does want to reach out to other sections and strata of the people and for this purpose the Party has never hesitated and will never hesitate to adopt various political tactics and undertake joint activities with the object of forging a united front. But as Comrade VM emphasised in the aforesaid article, “All this should be done while keeping unflinching faith on revolutionary Marxism, upholding the revolutionary position of the Party and remaining consistent in the revolutionary movement. Only then there would be any significance of the legacy of the CPI(ML), of the blood shed by thousands upon thousands of martyrs. If we rely on shortcut methods or superficial manoeuvres, the unity of the Party will get hampered and not only will we remain in the margin, there will be great disaster too.” We will surely pay heed to this serious warning while making all-out efforts to expand the Party and move towards more powerful and purposeful intervention in the mainstream of left-democratic politics and eventual transformation of the present mainstream along revolutionary lines.

While sounding this warning, Comrade VM had directed the whole Party to prepare effectively for bringing about a new polarisation among left forces by building and expanding our own mass base through painstaking work, spreading our propaganda far and wide and making an active intervention in the ongoing debate on the role of the Left in national politics. “Today's phase of preparation”, he had said with conviction, “will, in a favourable turn of political events, usher us in the main position of the left-democratic stream.”


The last ten years have indeed sharpened the debate on the role of the Left and from Jharkhand and Orissa to Punjab and Andhra it has been our experience that more and more communists from the CPI, CPI(M) and various CPI(ML) groups have joined our Party and helped spread the message of the Party to newer areas. In Jharkhand the Party has experienced considerable mass expansion and acquired a new profile. The enemy has sought to hit back by going to the extent of killing Comrade Mahendra Singh, but the expansion of the Party is continuing unabated in spite of this heavy loss and repression. In contrast, the CPI and CPI(M) have suffered major political decline in both Bihar and Jharkhand. In Assam we have of course suffered an electoral setback following a major split in the autonomous state movement, but the courage and determination with which our comrades in the Hill districts, especially in Karbi Anglong, have withstood the split and a virtual hate campaign against CPI(ML) and successfully rebuilt the Party by drawing new forces into the movement and rejuvenating our work among the rural poor, toiling women and students and intelligentsia has added to the overall strength and confidence of the entire Party. The rise and growth of the AIALA and the kind of mass response it is evoking in its membership campaigns and major struggles has begun to add a new chapter in our history of vibrant mass activism and mobilisation and assertion of the rural poor. The Party's growing experience of intervention in the panchayats and Assemblies is also opening up new avenues for enhancing the Party's political role and influence while simultaneously confronting the Party with a whole new set of challenges in terms of enrichment and implementation of Party policies.

Meanwhile, the CPI(M)'s rightward journey has entered a new phase of partnership with the Congress and political surrender to imperialism and the Indian big bourgeoisie. This has long been exposed in West Bengal , but it has acquired a new momentum in the state in recent times, and it is now increasingly manifesting itself in national politics as well. In spite of the CPI(M)'s constant attempts to demarcate itself from the Congress through calculated periodic barking, it is getting increasingly caught in its act of collaborating with the Congress over the whole range of policies including economic and foreign. The anarchists have lately experienced some expansion but in many of their old areas, especially in Andhra, they have lost much of their earlier support. The success of the Nepali Maoists and the blatant opportunism of the CPI(M)-led Left has also invested the self-professed Indian Maoists with a certain credibility and political currency. But the political bankruptcy of the Maoists has also begun to create a serious crisis for their organisation and the indefensible mass killings of adivasis and the common people they are resorting to almost at regular intervals are increasing their isolation from the democratic opinion in the country. The political contrast between the political tactics of the Nepali and Indian Maoists, and the collapse of the talks with the Andhra Government are bound to intensify debates and disillusionment among the Maoist ranks in the coming days.

The situation is thus quite favourable for us in terms of spreading our Party's political message and influence in contrast to both the parliamentary opportunism of the CPI(M) and the one-sided militarism of our self-professed Maoists. We must accordingly get ready for expanding and intensifying our role in the Left movement through a proper combination of the mass struggles of the working class and the rural poor, bold political initiatives against growing imperialist domination and bourgeois betrayal and a major ideological-political campaign to spread our Party's message across the country. The confluence of three major anniversaries – the birth centenary of Bhagat Singh, the 150 th anniversary of India's First War of Independence and the 40 th anniversary of Naxalbari provides an ideal backdrop for such a major campaign culminating quite befittingly in the Eighth Congress of the Party which is due to be held towards the end of the coming year.

You can therefore call the present convention a brainstorming session not only to discuss certain specific issues concerning the Party organisation but in the process also to prepare the whole Party for the Eighth Congress and all the big challenges and tasks that lie ahead of us. It is the ardent hope and desire of the CC that this assembly of Party committee secretaries and other leading cadres shall place the Party firmly on a road to new advances in all those areas of Party practice where we have so far failed to make any major breakthrough. A questionnaire has already been sent to all district committees and most have already filed their replies. A note has also been circulated here amongst you to initiate a lively and fruitful exchange of ideas and experiences on all the concerned subjects. Let us discuss the issues threadbare and generate the collective wisdom and will to carry the Party into a new phase of both quantitative expansion and qualitative advance.

We can always learn what we do not know. Today we are handling things that we were hardly acquainted with till yesterday. If we try we can also master many new things tomorrow. This law of change and development has time and again been proved in the history of our Party. Let us grasp this law and apply it again to bring about the much-awaited and much-needed improvement in the life of the organisation and enable the Party to meet the growing demands of the situation.

Red Salute to all our Martyrs and Departed Leaders!

Let us do all we can to expand and strengthen the Party organisation.

Forward to victory over opportunism, pragmatism and spontaneity in the sphere of Party-building.