Turn CPI(ML) into the Main Left Force in Assam

[Speech at the state cadre training camp organised by the Assam State Committee on the occasion of Partyís 29th anniversary at Guwahati on 22 April 1998. From Liberation, June 1998.]

The whole day you have been discussing many important questions including the autonomous state movement and the functioning of district councils. Well, in classical Marxist understanding as the democratic revolution is essentially a bourgeois revolution, i.e., it clears the way for rapid capitalist development, its leadership will invariably be provided by the bourgeoisie. However, the emergence of the proletariat as an organised force and its bid for seizure of power in the Paris Commune frightened the bourgeoisie. Since then it has given up its revolutionary role and instead opted for a peaceful evolutionary transformation of feudalism. Thus it ended up in an unholy alliance with feudal forces. It was at this juncture that Lenin stepped in and forcefully advocated for proletarian leadership of the democratic revolution. He argued that democratic revolution is the inevitable stage before we can pass over to socialism. And as the bourgeoisie is no longer capable of taking this revolution to its logical end, the historical duty has fallen on the shoulders of the proletariat. The Russian proletariat, then the Chinese and subsequently Vietnamese and others followed suit.

The question posed here in this camp relates to the advisability of the communist party leading the nationality ó or to be precise national minority ó movements. Well, these movements are an objective phenomenon in many parts of the country, particularly in Assam, and I would say it will be perfectly logical to lead them wherever the opportunity arises. Allowing the leadership to slip into alien hands and then waiting for the process to mature is too doctrinaire a method that leaves out the essential spirit of Marxism.

For some persons the movement loses its significance with their becoming MLAs, MPs, or even MDCs1 and acquiring houses and cars. But for a communist party the purpose is entirely different. We find that poor peasants participate in large numbers in national minority movements and they form its motive force. The communist party has to ensure that poor peasants are being organised, asserting themselves as a class, and getting politically conscious. Now if this is interpreted as taking some reform measures for the rural poor and giving them some financial assistance, it is a great folly.

We will also have to see which sections of people are crowding our offices. Are they contractors or poor people? What kind of people move around our leaders? Are they the contractors or the common people? If the former is true then despite all revolutionary phrasemongering our government is turning into a government for contractors.

In the phase of movement as well as at the early stage of government functioning, there2 were serious attempts to organise the rural poor. But currently we seem to have entered a phase of stagnation and this in turn has given rise to factional squabblings. It appears that there is a considerable erosion of communist spirit. During the phase of intensive movement same comrades worked with exemplary integrity, made sacrifices and led a hard life. I donít say that as individuals they have become bad persons. The malaise seems to be far deeper. Actually, only a restoration of communist vision and organising the rural poor as a political class can restore unity and bring about a lasting solution to the problem of factional in-fighting.

Now some people seem to have taken only half-lessons from the glorious Karbi movement. They think that this is the easy route to become an MP, MLA or MDC. But they are terribly wrong. The Karbi movement didnít grow so easily. There is a long history of hard and painstaking work by large number of cadres who organised the rural poor. Many people tend to forget that the movement was organised on the basis of a revolutionary ideology and it united with other democratic movements in the country. We donít know much about other national minority movements; say, the Mishing movement. We only hear about some talks going on, some delegations visiting Delhi, some pact in the offing etc.. But what about the movement, about conditions there in the field of party building? Negotiations are okay, but if they are not backed by a powerful movement they are liable to end up in unprincipled compromises. The Karbi movement had skilfully combined the movement with negotiations and others should take lessons from it.

Letís discuss the so-called progressive nationalism. Now for a long time you have been searching for these forces of progressive regionalism in Assam. Whomsoever we brand as progressive regionalist today turns into a reactionary tomorrow. Undaunted, we decided to turn progressive regionalist ourselves. Well, I think it is futile to search for a permanent category of progressive regional forces. Whichever regional force will join hands with us at any specific stage of our movement we shall brand them as progressive. And this characterisation will hold true till they remain with us. This perhaps demands a review of our tactical line.

We must pay primary emphasis on strengthening our own mass base. We have certain very strong points in Assam. We have a powerful contingent of modern workers in the oil and power sectors under the Partyís influence. A good beginning has also been made among tea workers who constitute quite a large segment of the working class in Assam. A few years back some people thought that itís highly difficult to make inroads among the tea workers. Now I think they are convinced of the great potential of work there. A comrade from tea gardens has brought forward many complaints on this question. He said that they are working all alone, the Party committee of the concerned district is not extending any help. It is only interested in collecting the levy. Another comrade has put was a very relevant point: why our MP and MLAs do not raise questions concerning tea gardens on the floor of the Parliament or Assembly? Our MP joined striking dockworkers in Australia. Thatís fine. But does he participate in workers movement here on the countryís soil or raise workers issues in Parliament? This is an important point and I think our MP and MLAs should take part in workers agitations. This acts as a morale booster for workers as well as puts the administration on the defensive. Then again we have a powerful womenís movement in Assam and it has a good influence among mainstream Assamese people. If apart from this we plan to extend our reach among the mainstream Assamese people, I think we should pay greater attention to the people at the lowest rung of the social order.

Finally, let me say something on the anti-terrorism front. It should be clear that we communists are not against terror in principle. We have to see this: by which forces the terror is being unleashed and against whom? You may also have to create terror against reactionaries when the situation so demands. Anti-people activities resorted to by organisations like ULFA belong to the category of criminal activities and should definitely be opposed. But if we go all out for launching an anti-terror front in general that will mean opposing all kinds of terror including the red terror and this will eventually boomerang on us. The loss of comrade Anil Barua is indeed tragic but we shall have to primarily target state terror.

In Assam there is a great potential for the Partyís development. Prospects of growing left unity have also increased owing to the changed political situation. We must exert all our strength to turn CPI(ML) into the main left force in Assam. Conditions for that have already matured.

Note -

1. MDCs are Members of District Council, the legislative body at district level.

2. The ASDC has been voted to power in the district council of Karbi Anglong thrice successively. Running the government at district level has thus become an important part of party practice in Assam.