Draft General Programme
The Communist Party of India (Marxist-Leninist) is the highest political organisation of the Indian proletariat fighting for realising its supreme class mission. It comprises the advanced detachments of the people and serves as the core of leadership of the people of India in their quest for liberation from feudal fetters and the plunder and domination of big capital and imperialism and for securing equal rights and rapid progress as free citizens irrespective of gender, caste, creed, language or nationality.
Beginning with the minimum programme of accomplishing new democratic revolution in India, the Party dedicates itself to the maximum programme of bringing about socialist transformation and communism, to the ultimate aim of abolition of all kinds of exploitation of man by man.
The Party derives its world outlook from Marxist philosophy and accepts the integrated system of Marxism-Leninism and Mao Zedong Thought as its guide to action. To develop the correct line of Indian revolution, the Party wages a relentless battle against reformism, revi¬sionism, liquidationism, bourgeois liberalism, anarchism and all other erroneous ideas and trends, both inside and outside the Party.
The Party upholds and practises proletarian internationalism and opposes imperialism, hegemonism, colonialism/neo-colonialism, expansion¬ism, racism, chauvinism, aggression and domination of every kind in international relations. It cherishes unity with all revolutionary communist, socialist and workers’ parties and organisations in different parts of the world. It supports the struggles of workers, oppressed peoples and nations throughout the world and makes common cause with all such movements against the forces of imperialism and reaction with the ultimate goal of complete emancipa¬tion of the entire humankind. In matters of fraternal relations, the Party adheres to the principles of independence, non-interference, equality, mutual respect and cooperation.
Combining theory with practice, maintaining close links with the masses and practising criticism and self-criticism are the three cardinal principles of the Party’s style of work. In developing its practice, the Party always adheres to the policy of seeking truth from facts and conducting deep investigation and serious studies.
Members of the Party cherish utmost love for the people, uphold all the fine revolutionary traditions of Indian society and have the courage to hold high the banner of truth and communism even at the cost of their own lives.
Although dubbed an emerging Asian power and IT superpower with one of the world’s highest rates of growth in the number of dollar millionaires and billionaires, India is still home to the largest contingent of the planet’s poor. Indian corporates are spreading their wings in global skies, but our country remains a laggard in terms of the human development index with a pitiable per capita income.
The cruel contrast between a tiny top that revels in unbridled accumulation and conspicuous consumption and a massive foundation that produces all the wealth but remains mired in the dark depths of deprivation is the outcome of a highly skewed development strategy where agriculture, still the source of subsistence and employment for the vast majority of our people but weighed down by the preponderance of a semi-feudal small peasant economy and caught in a perennial crisis of capitalist transition via landlord path, is allowed to decline; most traditional industries stagnate while sectors catering to export markets, overseas interests or elitist consumption tend to advance; and speculative activities and real estate sectors are prioritised as engines of growth even as our natural and human resources are increasingly subjected to corporate/imperialist plunder.
The accelerated and all-round penetration of capital, including in agriculture, takes place not so much by eradicating as by utilising the stubborn remnants of feudalism in production relations and value systems, thereby reproducing them in new forms. Such survivals not only ensure the availability of cheap labour power and raw materials for both Indian big capital and imperialism, but also the persistence of medieval obscurantism, casteist frenzy, communal fanaticism and barbarity in different spheres of life. In short, feudal survivals in league with growing corporate control over the country’s economic lifelines and institutions of parliamentary democracy retard and distort the development of productive forces and act as the biggest stumbling block to a thorough democratisation of Indian society and polity.
Despite its growing economic muscle, politically the ruling bureaucrat-monopoly bourgeoisie retains its original comprador character. It has developed close economic relations with many non-imperialist countries and a considerable capacity to bargain with different foreign powers, it also resorts to sizable export of capital to serve its economic expansionist ambitions in the neighbourhood and beyond and compete for mineral and oil resources, but all this operates within a framework of essential dependence on imperialism that expresses itself as various technological, financial and marketing tie-ups at the micro level and more importantly at the macro level as wholesale adoption of the economic philosophy of neoliberalism and a state policy of subservience to imperialist designs.
This enables the imperialist-dominated multilateral agencies and big foreign powers to interfere blatantly in our domestic economic and political affairs and policy matters, and to draw India as a junior partner to serve their geo-political games under the garb of ‘strategic partnerships’, thereby taking a heavy toll of the nation’s independence, and there always remains the real threat of still bigger erosion in our sovereignty with the rulers behaving increasingly as clients in a neo-colonial dependency.
In the name of promoting rapid economic growth, the ruling classes have embraced the strategy of retreat of the state from the economic arena and abdication of the state’s responsibility to guarantee the basic welfare of the people, handing over the reins of the economy to the market forces led by big capital, with big Indian companies working in close collaboration with foreign corporations. This strategy of market-led economic development facilitated and enforced by the state has led to massive accumulation of wealth in a few hands even as the gulf between the rich and the poor widens glaringly and vast sections of the working people are subjected to displacement, dispossession and impoverishment. This pro-corporate pro-imperialist policy regime enjoys rather uncritical support from dominant sections of the corporate media and influential layers of the upwardly mobile middle class even as large sections of the expanding middle class support the popular struggle against corporate plunder and imperialist domination and often lend a sharper edge to the battle for assertion of the democratic rights and aspirations of the people.
In sum, the Party recognises India as a predominantly agrarian backward capitalist society, retarded by, and yet reinforcing, stubborn feudal remnants and stark colonial hangovers, and reeling under the rapacious domination of global capital and imperialism.
The state in India is led by the pro-imperialist big bourgeoisie in alliance with landlords and kulaks. In collaboration with global capital, Indian capital has begun to expand its overseas operations. The Indian state too is emerging increasingly as a regional hegemonic power, albeit as a key ally in the global design of US imperialism.
The affairs of the Indian state are generally conducted within a constitutional and parliamen-tary-democratic framework where the people have the formal right to elect the parliament, state Assemblies, and various panchayati raj institutions, municipal bodies or autonomous councils. But in real life, there is little devolution of power to the lower level elected bodies and bureaucracy continues to dominate in utter disregard of any notion of participatory democracy at the grass-roots. Playing upon the delicate balance of diverse social identities and regional divides, and enjoying an overwhelming grip over various wings of the state apparatus and the dominant media, the nexus between big capital, imperialism and feudal-kulak lobbies exercises effective control over the entire network of parliamentary democracy.
In the mid-1970s, the ruling Congress party had gone to the extent of declaring a state of internal Emergency to curb the freedom of press, suspend and restrict several civil liberties and democratic rights, delay elections and even arrest leaders of bourgeois opposition. Such a situation has not since recurred, but governments habitually bypass Parliament on important policy questions and even decisions of far-reaching strategic significance are pushed through without parliamentary ratification or any kind of popular consultation, not to talk of inviting any public referendum. The growing nexus between big business and the parties of ruling classes, both at all-India and state levels, leads to institutionalised corruption and scams of massive proportions and an unprecedented corporate subversion of bourgeois democracy.
The legal, juridical and administrative superstructure and the armed forces in India are still largely of colonial vintage. Designed by an alien power for the purpose of suppressing and governing a subject people, this superstructure denies the overwhelming majority of the Indian people their basic dignity and standing as free citizens. The colonial era culture of ruler-subject relationship continues to overshadow the modern democratic notion of citizenship even as a rigidly hierarchical caste society and patriarchal diktats of clans and communities severely restrict and undermine the assertion of individual freedom and rights. Draconian laws; extra-legal and extra-judicial repression; custodial torture, rape and killings; staged ‘encounters’; detention without trial; witch-hunt of minorities, adivasis and political dissenters; police brutalities on popular protests; and even Army intervention in so-called ‘disturbed areas’ with the armed forces enjoying ‘special powers’ of repression with complete impunity – the ‘rule of law’ in post-colonial India remains a routine violator of human rights.
India is a land of several nationalities and ethno-lingual groupings. Growing economic and cultural interaction and mutual assimilation backed by decades of unity forged in the course of anti-colonial freedom movement and anti-imperialist and democratic struggles have lent a unified Indian face to the multinational mosaic of our society. But this process of evolution of an Indian identity suffers from pronounced regional disparities and a policy of blatant discrimination and relentless suppression on the part of the chauvinistic and over-centralised Indian state as witnessed most glaringly in Kashmir and the Northeast. Various nationalities and national minorities, therefore, find it necessary to engage in prolonged struggles for various forms and degrees of self-determination, which in some cases show strong centrifugal tendencies and in some other instances play into the hands of the powers that be, leading to narrow ethnic clashes and armed assaults on innocent people.
India is also a land of many religions. But instead of enforcing secularism in the sense of a strict separation between religion and political and state affairs the state has reduced secularism to the minimal notion of communal harmony, and in the face of powerful communal mobilisation of the majority community, the state gives in and even colludes with the forces of communal violence. The history of political communalism in India has been reinforced in recent years by the US-led demonization of Islam and politics of hate and persecution preached and practised against Muslims. Aggressive majority communalism poses a fascist threat to the very existence of democracy and cultural pluralism in India. Attainment of secularism therefore remains a key task of India’s democratic revolution.
Caste oppression and discrimination legitimised by Brahminical and neo-Brahminical ideology and culture remains another obnoxious feature of the society and state in India. Eradication of social oppression and annihilation of castes therefore constitutes another cardinal revolutionary goal. The Indian state also protects and promotes all sorts of patriarchal structures and forces while waxing eloquent about women’s equality and empowerment. The phenomena of religious fundamentalism, communalism, casteism, sexism, ethnic exclusivism, linguistic and regional chauvinism preva¬lent at different layers of the Indian polity, are not simply relics of a bygone feudal-colonial era, they are very much part and parcel of ‘modern’ India. The ruling classes and their parties utilise these instruments in a calculated way to weaken and disrupt the growing democratic unity and awakening of the Indian people.
Indian society is driven by four main contradictions — the contra¬diction between imperialism and the Indian people, that between feudal fetters and remnants and the broad masses of the people, between big capital and the Indian people, the working class and the peasantry in particular, and the contradiction among various sections of the ruling classes. While the first three contradictions are of an antagonistic nature, the last one remains generally non-antagonistic, resolved usually through a complex process of bargaining and compromises. In the midst of a marked aggravation/accentuation of the antagonistic contradictions, imperialism, big capital and feudal remnants also present themselves as a veritable nexus and the masses of our people are groaning under the dead weight of this alliance. The antagonism between this nexus and the broad Indian masses thus constitutes the principal contradiction of present Indian society, and only by grasping and resolving this contradiction can the existing oppressive order be overthrown.
This determines the stage of our revolution – the stage of people’s democratic revolution with agrarian revolution as its axis. The primary aim of this democratic revolution will be to sweep away all feudal remnants, abolish imperialist domination, restrain and regulate big capital and democratise the entire apparatus and mechanism of governance. Victorious democratic revolution will therefore also mark a bold step towards socialism and strengthen the material basis for an uninterrupted socialist transition.
A people’s democratic revolution in India can only be consummated under the leadership of the working class, the most consistently revolutionary as well as the most organised and advanced detachment of the Indian people.
To lead the people’s democratic revolution on to victory, it is imperative for the working class to emerge as a united and independent political force and develop its hegemony over the general democratic movement. To this end, the working class must
a. unite itself by paying special attention to its biggest contingent in the countryside and the vast unorganised labour scattered in urban areas, fight for improving the living and working conditions facing the working people, resist the attempts of global capital and the Indian big bourgeoisie to transfer the burden of their periodic crises onto the shoulders of the Indian people;
b. organise and support revolutionary peasant struggles and build power¬ful strongholds in the countryside;
c. organise and support the whole range of democratic and anti-imperialist struggles of the Indian people;
d. organise, support and unite with the movement for women’s liberation;
e. organise, support and unite with the struggles for abolition of all sorts of oppression of, and discrimination and prejudice against, dalits and other oppressed groups and for annihilation of the caste system itself;
f. organise, support and unite with the struggles of oppressed nationalities for the right of self-determination, of religious minorities for religious and cultural freedom, and of tribal communities and other indigenous people for dignity, equality and justice;
g. support and promote the progressive democratic aspirations and initiatives of the intelligentsia;
h. support every endeavour to develop a democratic media network vis-a-vis the corporate-dominated reactionary media and broaden the horizons of people’s culture to challenge the dominant mainstream of escapist entertainment;
i. support and build solidarity with progressive people’s struggles elsewhere in South Asia
j. support and unite with the progressive struggles and initiatives of the Indian diaspora and other people of South Asian origin for their rights and dignity and against racism and imperialism;
k. unite with the international working class movement and support the struggles of the people of the world against imperialism and reaction and for freedom, democracy and socialism.
To sharpen and consolidate the political strike-power of the working class, the Party lays special emphasis on developing unity in action among all Left forces to resist the offensive of big capital and imperialism. While taking every initiative to forge broad-based unity of all Left and democratic forces, the Party is committed to the historic goal of unification of all Indian communists under the banner of a single party through a relentless struggle against the social-democratic trend and Left adventurist tendencies in the communist movement.
The people of India have time and again risen against the ruthless exploitation and oppression of the ruling classes. Their awakening assumes a variety of forms and is often led by various types of party and non-party forces, including at times the opposition parties of ruling classes. The Party supports all such movements and always strives to orient them towards the goal of people’s democratic revolution.
The main force of the democratic revolution led by the working class is the peasantry. The Party fully relies on the rural proletariat and poor peasants, and resolutely unites with the middle peasantry and other middle sections, while trying to win over a section of rich peasants and neutralise the rest so that the majority may be prevented from joining the enemies of the revolution. The urban poor and toiling masses constitute the mainstay of the Party’s urban base even as sections of middle classes constitute an important ally. Small traders, manufacturers and other small and medium capitalists and the bourgeois intelligentsia usually remain vacillating and unstable allies.
In order to carry the people’s democratic revolution through to an end, it is necessary that a people’s democratic front be forged comprising all these classes, with the worker-peasant alliance as its basis, under the leadership of the working class. To this end, the Party develops and works in cooperation with, and also from within, a whole range of class and sectional organisations as well as multi-class united front organisations. In accordance with the needs of any given political situation, the Party remains ready to join hands with a whole range of fighting democratic forces in issue-based joint campaigns and even enter into alliances, even if short-lived, based on suitable common programmes.
To accomplish people’s democratic revolution in a vast and complex country like India, a communist party has to be especially skilful in mastering every available avenue of work and extra-parliamentary as well as parliamentary forms of struggle and in making quick transitions between various forms. The Party therefore strives to develop a comprehensive revolutionary practice through an organic combination of all necessary forms of struggle and organisation.
Under normal circumstances, the Indian polity allows communists to work through open, legal and parliamen¬tary means. In the parliamentary arena, the Party must be prepared to play the role of a revolutionary opposition for a protracted period, developing appropriate electoral tactics commensurate with the Party’s basic united front line. In the course of electoral struggle, it is possible for communists to win majorities in local bodies and even state legislatures. While tilting the balance of class forces through protracted and vigorous political struggles, the Party is prepared to utilise such opportunities independently or in coali¬tion with likeminded forces provided the Party enjoys the strength to ensure the fulfilment of its own commitment to the electorate.
In any case, the Party’s relation with and role in such local bodies and governments will be guided by the following basic principles:
a. the Party must retain its independent organisational functioning and political initiative at all costs,
b. the power enjoyed by the local bodies/governments must be fully utilized to carry out radical democratic reforms and orient popular consciousness towards a new democratic alternative,
c. vis-a-vis the next higher authorities up to the central authority, such local bodies/governments must serve as part and parcel of a broader revolutionary opposition, and
d. the Party and the local bodies/governments led by it must make sure that the free development of democratic forces, democratic consciousness and democratic movements is not hindered under any circumstances.
The history of India’s anti-colonial struggle and the communist movement and the developing anti-corporate struggle is replete with instances of emergence of various forms and degrees of people’s power starting from various types of people’s committees at the grassroots, workers’/citizens’ councils in factories and/or workers’ neighbourhoods to various organs of people’s self-rule, however short-lived. The Party strives to realise and encourage the possibility of emergence of such local powers of the people in the course of popular struggles to defend the interests and rights of the people.
The Party does not rule out the possibility that under a set of exceptional national and international circumstances – for example, in conditions of a decisive mass upsurge – the balance of social and political forces may even permit a relatively peaceful transfer of central power to revolutionary forces. But in a country where democratic institutions are based on essentially fragile and narrow foundations and where even small victories of popular forces and partial reforms can only be achieved and maintained on the strength of mass militancy, the party of the proletariat must fully prepare itself for accomplishing the revolution by securing and sustaining the ultimate decisive victory in the face of all possible counter-revolutionary attacks. A people’s democratic front and a people’s army, therefore, remain the two most fundamental organs of revolution in the arsenal of the Party.
Overthrowing the rule of the big bourgeois-landlord alliance, the victorious revolution will usher in the rule of workers, peasants and other revolutionary classes and democratic strata – i.e., a people’s democratic state – to carry out the following basic tasks and uphold the new democratic orientation of promoting the socialist potential.
1. Thorough democratisation of the structure and affairs of the state:
a. vesting political power at every level with bodies elected on the basis of universal, equal and direct suffrage and subjecting the administrative network to people’s supervision and control;
b. empowering the people with the right to recall elected representatives as well as civil service officials to ensure accountability and check any abuse of power;
c. guaranteeing full individual and collective democratic rights of the people and various democratic parties and organisations;
d. eradication of the legacy of state terrorism, police brutalities and army intervention in civil affairs and restructuring the police and armed forces and infusing them with a new spirit of respect for human rights and service to the people and the nation;
e. rooting out of criminalisation and corruption in all spheres of political and economic life and introduction of a prompt and progressive justice delivery system.
2. Reconstitution of national unity on the basis of a federal, democratic, secular polity:
a. recognising the nationalities’ right to self-determination in various degrees up to secession while cultivating a sense of belonging, equality and security in all minority groupings;
b. effective democratisation of decision-making, devolution of resources and decentralisation of developmental activities to enlist popular participation in nation-building, with due emphasis on backward areas.
3. Promotion of rapid self-reliant, sustainable and balanced economic development and eradication of mass pov¬erty:
a. robust agrarian development based on thoroughgoing land reform and comprehensive state assistance to agriculture;
b. protection of agricultural land and nationalisation of all mineral resources and oil and gas;
c. comprehen¬sive industrialisation making judicious use of the country’s natural and human resources;
d. meeting the country’s growing energy needs by self-reliant means, reducing dependence on external sources, avoiding dangerous options like nuclear energy and promoting alternative and renewable means of energy generation;
e. transfer of the reins of national economy from the hands of the monopoly-multinational-mafia-landlord-kulak nexus to the state and various organisations of the people, confiscation of black money and illegal wealth held domestically or abroad;
f. creation of a powerful home market by developing the purchasing power of the common people, ensuring massive state procurement of agricultural produce and provision of basic goods and services for all;
g. vesting the working people with effective say in policy-making and production and stopping brain drain by creating adequate domestic opportunities for the highly skilled and promoting indigenous R&D;
h. re-ordering the present priorities and reorienting the existing policies to suit the needs of self-reliance, public welfare and a dignified life for the working people with a higher standard of living.
4. Ensuring comprehensive public amenities and welfare:
a. putting an end to privatisation and commercialisation of public amenities and ensuring universal right to food, right to education at all levels, right to work, right to free and quality health care, right to basic amenities like drinking water, housing and sanitation, public transport, and sports and recreation facilities; universal child care; care of the old, disabled and distressed; provision of adequate training and opportunities for all deprived and disadvantaged sections to ensure effective social justice;
b. preserving ecological and environmental equilibrium, taking preventive measures against epidemics and infectious diseases and putting in place effective programmes and systems to prevent, minimise and manage natural calamities and the disastrous impact of climate change;
c. discarding the dogma of ‘development’ through displacement, ensuring effective rehabilitation and resettlement of refugees of corporate-led ‘development’ strategy.
5. Effecting a modern democratic cultural transformation of the whole society:
a. promotion of a democratic and progressive socio-cultural milieu in place of decadent feudal and imperialist culture, encouraging the rich cultural heritages of our people while promoting all modern cultural forms and disciplines;
b. creation of adequate sports infrastructure and training facilities to promote the huge untapped potential of the Indian youth and develop India’s performance in the international arena of sports and games;
c. abolition of all types of social, economic and sexual exploitation of women and ensuring their equal status and rights in all spheres of life, eradication of caste oppression and discrimination, protection of the rights of indigenous people and various minority communities, helping all weaker sections of the society to catch up in the race of social progress and ensuring their equal status.
6. Promotion of a progressive anti-imperialist foreign policy:
a. abrogation of all unequal treaties and pacts with the imperialists, as well as all unequal treaties imposed by the Indian ruling classes on neighbouring countries;
b. developing firm unity with socialist countries and other progressive anti-imperialist regimes and friendly relations with developing countries in general, forging solidarity with peoples struggling for emancipation and against imperialist globalisation, domination and war – whether imperialist war or imperialism-inspired proxy war – with special emphasis on developing South Asian solidarity against imperialism;
c. establishing diplomatic relations with all countries on the basis of the five principles of peaceful coexistence.
With this programme of people’s democratic revolution, the Party dedicates itself wholeheartedly to the service of the great revolutionary cause of communism in India. The people of 21st Century India must win comprehensive and thoroughgoing democracy and genuine social, gender, environmental and economic justice.