On Party’s Political Tactics

[From Liberation, October 1991.]

The Strategic Perspective

Indian People’s Front or the Communist Party? Let us begin with this question which is currently under wide discussion both within our Party and in outer circles. Some comrades feel that when the Party was working underground, the IPF did have a relevance as its legal apparatus. But with the Party increasingly coming out into the open, the need for a separate legal apparatus has withered away. Prakash Karat, the CPI(M) theoretician, in his polemics with us raised the same question: "The future relationship between the CPI(ML) and the IPF is problematic. As the CPI(ML) is moving to become an open Party with legal functioning, what will be the purpose of running IPF when the same CPI(ML) is its leading and guiding force?"1

We are familiar with the other view which demanded the dissolution of the Party itself as all its practical programmes were being taken care of by the IPF.

Our Party has consistently held that both the Party and the IPF are needed. The moot point is how to divide and how to combine the tasks of both.

Let me elaborate. As a communist Party, our task is to organise the urban and rural proletariat and accomplish the socialist revolution. In popular terms, to abolish the rule of capital and transform private property into public property. The road to socialist revolution everywhere passes through democratic revolution, and as democratic revolution in our country has remained unfinished, indecisive, we must pay utmost attention to its completion. Recent reversals that socialism has suffered worldwide further confirms that hasty steps in building socialism bypassing the tasks of democratic revolution do not bring us any extra advantages.

In India, capital has developed immensely in its modern industrial forms and has also penetrated substantially in agriculture. Exploitation of labour does take the capitalist form in many a case. We do find all the modern institutions of bourgeois democracy – the constitution to parliament based on adult suffrage to a judiciary. One can easily call for a socialist revolution. But this is only one side of the coin.

On the other side, medieval relics, feudal and semi-feudal institutions, reactionary Brahminical caste system, religious fundamentalism, all symptomatic of the old system and the bureaucracy deeply attached to it remain enormously strong and they all add up to capitalist exploitation. Capital, otherwise a purely democratic institution, here in India makes alliance with the reactionary forces of the old society.

Moreover, the abject dependence of Indian capital on international finance capital is the other characteristic feature of Indian capital.

All the modern bourgeois institutions turn into a mockery at the grassroots. The whole environment seriously degrades the development of class consciousness and retards the growth of political thought among all sections of the people, and it becomes extremely difficult to organise even the urban and rural proletariat and build their solidarity on communist lines.

In such a situation no real fight for socialism can be fought for without first achieving general democratic demands and completing the democratic revolution. And, as no section of the bourgeoisie is in a position to lead this struggle for democracy in a thoroughgoing and consistent manner, it is the historic duty of the proletariat and its Party, the Communist Party, to take the lead. Through this struggle, a quite protracted one, the Communist Party only creates and facilitates conditions for a decisive struggle for socialism.

In Russia, the most backward European country and broadly a semi-feudal country, Lenin repeatedly emphasised this point and formulated the concept of revolutionary democratic dictatorship of workers and peasants. This Leninist idea was successfully translated by Mao in China, a country which, apart from being semi-feudal, was semi-colonial too. He advanced the concept of four-class dictatorship (viz., workers, peasants, petty-bourgeoisie and national bourgeoisie) and called it New Democracy.

From what we have discussed above, two things come out in bold relief. First of all, we need an independent and consistently principled communist party, which is not only the sole guarantee of the victory of socialism, but also imperative for the decisive victory of democratic revolution itself.

Secondly, we shall never forget the importance of democracy, and more than any other, should champion the cause of democracy. We must always strive to unite with all the forces of revolutionary democracy against the autocratic system, against all feudal and semi-feudal institutions, against the reactionary caste system, religious fundamentalism etc., in short, against the old system.

By revolutionary democratic forces we mean those who accept the democratic programme of the communist party and are firm and active in revolutionary actions, but lack the class-consciousness of communists. These forces are heterogeneous in character and remain at different stages of transition towards socialism and communism. To begin with, they often appear in a host of non-party forms or act as pressure groups within certain political parties. They have the potential of evolving as revolutionary democrats. Acceptance of the communist party’s democratic programme should not be understood as necessarily a formal acceptance and agreement with them and it may be an unwritten fighting agreement. It is our duty to identify such forces, help them in their evolution as revolutionary democrats and forge a fighting unity with them.

IPF symbolises this effort of our Party. More so, IPF is not simply an organisation mechanically built by our Party, rather it grew in the course of powerful democratic movements and assumed a distinct character of its own.

In the concrete conditions of ours all attempts to develop a separate democratic party by revolutionary democratic elements so far have not borne fruit. We keenly watched the experiments of a non-party political formation by Swami Agnivesh, emergence of a National Coordination of Farmers’ Organisations, and even the Democratic People’s Front. None could evolve into an independent democratic party with which we could make a fighting agreement, and, oscillating between revolutionary and liberal democracy, in concrete political situations, they joined various factions of the Janata Dal.

A large number of revolutionary democratic elements did come over to the IPF and it became a common front for Communist Party and a large number of non-party democrats who came over to it from various political streams. We are of the firm opinion that if IPF persists with its programme and activities, in the changed political situations fresh streams of democrats from various parties, particularly Janata Dal will join its ranks. In the subsequent stages IPF will have to redefine its slogans, adopt a more flexible approach, make necessary adjustments in its programme and structure in order to broaden its social base and this is all natural in its process of growth. But it definitely has a bright future ahead.

The Struggle between the Two Tactics

Let us make it clear at the very outset that Naxalism is neither any special trend nor do we intend to make it one. The entire bourgeois propaganda and also the CPI(M) propaganda depicts Naxalism as something special, something alien to the mainstream communist movement of India, something of the nature of a ‘New Left’. As Naxalism developed into a popular revolutionary movement in the ’70s, it was obvious that various petty-bourgeois revolutionary trends joined it and some even tried to transform it into a special, a ‘New Left’, trend. After a period of setbacks and scores of splits eventually these petty-bourgeois trends got separated and they subsequently matured into anarchism whereas the main part of the movement reaffirmed its identity as the revolutionary wing of the Indian communist movement.

The communist movement in all countries, at least till the revolution is over, always gets divided into revolutionary and opportunist wings and India can be no exception.

Our entire first generation of leadership emerged out of the protracted struggle between the two tactical lines within the Indian communist movement in general and the CPI(M) in particular. Comrade Charu Mazumdar, the founder of our Party, repeatedly pointed out that we are the inheritors of that Communist Party under whose banner communists fought the heroic battles of Punappura-Vyalar, Tebhaga and Telengana and embraced martyrdom.

However much we are dismissed as ‘New Left’ we have been and shall always be the revolutionary wing of the Indian communist movement as against the opportunist wing represented by the CPI(M).

Individuals have deserted us and we cannot rule out such desertions in the future too. But the trend we represent can never be liquidated as it is deep-rooted in the history of nearly 70 years of the communist movement in India and is reinforced by the objective conditions which are crying out for a revolutionary solution.

Let us move to the main topic. The CPI(M)’s tactical line is composed of three elements which the leadership tries to eclectically combine into one whole.

Firstly, it considers the Left Front government in West Bengal as the most advanced left formation in the country and considers creation and stabilisation of this model as their main achievement.

Secondly, it places top priority on the broadest unity of the left and secular forces i.e., Janata Dal and NF, to fight a Congress(I) comeback and counter the BJP’s communal challenge.

Thirdly, it considers defending national unity as the priority task of the Left and under this pretext it enters into formal or informal alliances with Congress(I) and the BJP.

How should we judge the CPI(M)’s tactical line? On the basis of the main achievement, top priority or the priority task? Let us turn to Mr.Prakash Karat for help.

Says he, "The CPI(M)’s tactical line must be judged as to whether it is successful at this juncture in mobilising a bulk of the bourgeois opposition parties on the secular platform which can help in political alignments shaping up to counter the Congress(I) manoeuvres to split the opposition and to fight the serious menace of the communal consolidation behind the BJP-VHP." Prakash2 wrote this prior to October ’90. We will resist the temptation to deal here with the "success" or otherwise since then, as this is beyond the scope of this paper.

Put in simple terms, Prakash says and CPI(M) believes that, the main tactics of the Left is to ‘create’ pressure on the parties of bourgeois opposition to resist the BJP’s communalist danger. If the platform is essentially a secular one and if the bourgeois opposition’s essential character is secular, it is obvious that the entire mobilisation is directed against communalism represented by BJP. As Congress is not regarded a communal party the logical extension of this tactics will be widening the secular platform by incorporating Congress(I) or at least a powerful section of it.

At this particular moment, forced by political circumstances, they are doing precisely this. The entire tactic emerges out of the strategic understanding that as India is at the stage of bourgeois democratic revolution, it is obvious that the bourgeois opposition will have to take the lead in fighting against the old forces of fundamentalism and obscurantism. The Left is weak and is destined to remain weak at this juncture and the maximum it can do is to pressurise the bourgeois opposition to go forward. In the crucial Hindi heartland, the party envisages its advance only as the tail-ender of the Janata Dal and the same is repeated in relation to Telugu Desam in Andhra and the DMK in Tamil Nadu. Its fortunes are thus tied up with the rise and fall of the bourgeois opposition in the rest of India except in West Bengal, Kerala and Tripura, where there has been no bourgeois opposition worth the name. These traditional strongholds of the communist movement were built up only in the course of independent left assertion and powerful mass movements for decades.

Day in and day out we are abused by CPI(M) and its junior brother the CPI of belittling the danger of Congress(I) and BJP. The fact is that in its entire history CPI(ML) never entered into any overt or covert deal with either the BJP or the Congress(I). This ‘credit’, however, goes to our friends in the CPI and the CPI(M) and this is why they are rightly termed as ‘opportunists’. Their whole exercise at accusing us of belittling this danger is aimed at justifying their tactics of tailing behind the Janata Dal. Similarly, we are accused of overlooking the danger to national unity. This again is an exercise to rationalise their pacts with the Congress(I) and the BJP. We are further accused of not differentiating between bourgeois parties of different colours and considering all of them as a single reactionary mass. All these accusations are slanderous, aimed at covering up the tailism of their tactics.

Our lone Member of Parliament abstained from voting in the confidence vote sought by the VP government in November ’89, precisely because the government was propped up by the BJP. The same member did vote for the government when it was threatened by the Congress(I)-BJP combine. We did vote for the Laloo government in Bihar in the face of Congress(I)-BJP opposition, did it on principle and not because we were forced, as Prakash alleges. Our lone MP in this Parliament too voted against the confidence motion sought by the Congress(I) government.

We do differentiate between bourgeois parties and that is why we have participated in joint struggles with parties like Janata Dal against the Congress(I) and the BJP.

The point is that we make one more differentiation between the forces of bourgeois democracy, i.e., between liberal and revolutionary democracy. We strive to free the forces of revolutionary democracy from all the liberal illusions and win them over to the revolutionary fold. This is the essential difference between the revolutionary and opportunist tactical lines, between the policy of independent left advance and the so-called mobilisation of the bulk of bourgeois opposition parties on a secular platform, between the strivings for establishing proletarian hegemony on a democratic revolution and the tailing behind the bourgeois opposition. The struggle between these two lines will decide the outcome of the Indian revolution and obviously the Hindi heartland has the ideal settings for the resolution of this debate. Let us sum up this debate on political tactics with what Lenin said on two tactics:

"...the main fallacy of Menshevism as a whole was the fact that it did not understand which elements of the bourgeoisie can, together with the proletariat, carry through to the end the bourgeois-democratic revolution in Russia. The Mensheviks even now go astray by thinking that the bourgeois revolution must be made by the "bourgeoisie" (bourgeoisie in general, irrespective of "colours"!) while it is the function of the proletariat to help it. ... The Bolsheviks have asserted, and still do, that the only firm and reliable ally the proletariat can have in the epoch of the bourgeois-democratic revolution (until that revolution wins) is the peasantry. The peasants are also "bourgeois democrats", but entirely different in "colour" from the Cadets or Octobrists. ...These "bourgeois democrats" are compelled to fight against the very foundations of landlord power and the old state authority connected with it. ...Therefore in their tendencies — which are determined by what they are compelled to do — these bourgeois democrats are revolutionary democrats." (From How Comrade Plekhanov Argues about Social Democratic Tactics)

The main opposition in our ranks to any alliance with any bourgeois party comes with the argument that as Communists it is our basic duty to expose all the bourgeois parties and, thus, how we can go into any, even temporary, alliance with any of them. Let me quote Lenin again, " to expose all bourgeois parties is the duty of the socialists in all countries and at all times. ...It is in a period of bourgeois revolution that to say "expose all bourgeois parties" means saying nothing, and indeed, saying what is not true; for bourgeois parties can be seriously and thoroughly exposed only when particular bourgeois parties step into the foreground of history." (From How Comrade Plekhanov Argues about Social Democratic Tactics)

Our Tactics in Relation to Liberal Democratic Parties

In states like UP and Bihar, historically, the socialist trend had a strong presence. In course of time and through a highly complicated process of amalgamation with several political streams, it now stands as Janata Dal and enjoys a considerable influence among peasant castes. It upholds the liberal democratic values in its pronouncements and a large section of democratic intelligentsia and, of late, Muslim minorities are also under its influence. All this makes our interaction with it inevitable. Lenin said "only those who are not sure of themselves can fear to enter into temporary alliances even with unreliable people; not a single political party could exist without such alliances."

There are of course two ways of effecting any alliance. One is the opportunist way pursued by the CPI and the CPI(M) which does not give any class analysis of liberalism and democracy. Be it the ‘socialistic’ slogans of Congress in earlier phases, the grand secular phrase-mongering of Mulayam Singh Yadav or the ‘social justice’ of VP Singh-Laloo Yadav and co., opportunists applaud them to the skies. This approach bases itself on good intentions, kindness and on fine declarations and nice slogans of the bourgeois politicians.

The revolutionary way neither bases itself on the reliability of bourgeois politicians, nor can it expect them to give up their phrase-mongering and shrewdness, which constitute their very soul. It bases itself on the class analysis of liberalism and democracy, identifies to what extent, objectively, a particular bourgeois politician or party can go with it and seeks cooperation in the actual field. And instead of devising a criterion of a good and kind bourgeoisie worthy of concluding agreements with, "supports", as Lenin said, "any, even the very worst bourgeoisie, to the extent that it actually fights autocracy". He further said, "such support is necessary in the interests of achieving the independent social-revolutionary aims of the proletariat." (From Working Class and Bourgeois Democracy)

In the eleven-month rule of the Janata Dal at the centre, we played the role of the only Left opposition in the Parliament, the role we continue to play in the Bihar and Assam assemblies as well as in Parliament. In the Mandal campaign we refused to join the bandwagon despite all the euphoria created in Bihar, and even when the broad democratic majority was overshadowed by the liberal illusions of ‘social justice’ spread by Janata Dal, we held aloft the independent banner of revolutionary democracy. We refused to give unconditional and uncritical support to the Mandalised politics of Janata Dal and exposed its limited class aims, its betrayal of ‘the right to employment’ and the social injustice perpetrated under its patronage against the most oppressed sections of the people.

If in the ’89 elections, the phenomenon of Muslim minorities coming out of the fold of Congress(I) and aligning themselves with the left parties and the Janata Dal was surely an indication of secularisation of Muslim politics, in ’91, by contrast, Janata Dal leaders entering into an unholy pact with the forces of Muslim fundamentalism only strengthened the grip of such forces on the Muslim masses. From the left and democratic camp, even at the risk of isolation, we were the only ones who exposed this murky side of the Janata Dal.

The point I want to emphasise is that our Party has never let down the banner of revolutionary democracy, and unlike the CPI, has refused to give up our consistent principled positions just for the sake of a parliamentary seat with the help of Janata Dal.

The situation, however, has taken a radical turn. The Congress is back to power at the centre, the BJP has further strengthened its position and the Janata Dal is back to its traditional role of opposition and back to its strongholds. We shall now have to explore the prospects of joint moves with it against the Congress(I) and the BJP.

It should be kept in mind that the Janata Dal is a heterogeneous party and various trends and factions operate within it. Whatever joint actions and temporary alliances we develop with it, our basic aim should be to split it and develop a closer relationship with factions and elements inclined towards revolutionary democracy.

Our Tactics towards Dalits and National Minority Movements

Diverse kinds of political forces have emerged in different states and regions of India and we shall have to decide our specific approaches towards them.

For example, the BSP, a party championing the cause of dalits has, by now, acquired a stable base in Uttar Pradesh. Its leadership is staunchly anti-left, politically rank opportunist and represents primarily the interests of the dalit bureaucracy. For the broad dalit masses, who are at the same time landless poor peasants, it has nothing concrete to offer. It has, however, raised the aspirations and militancy of dalit masses who have all the potential to take up revolutionary democratic orientation. We shall, therefore, have to revise our tactics towards BSP, explore the possibilities of entering into a temporary alliance on definite issues, and, in the process, to influence and win over the positive sections.

We may adopt a similar attitude towards PMK in Tamil Nadu. Though it has an anti-dalit overtone, still it signifies a break in backward caste mobilisation and from traditional Dravidian politics.

Our experience in Karbi Anglong, at a very small level though, in combining the question of tribal autonomy with economic and social transformation of the society itself is worth mentioning here in some detail.

ASDC, a common front of communists from among the same nationality and the democratic elements of the nationality movement, emerged through a popular mass movement. The movement was directed against the corrupt rule of the Congress(I)-controlled district council. Incidentally, the Congress there, too, champions the cause of an autonomous state. The movement, from the very beginning, had an element of class struggle in it, comprising primarily the broad majority of landless, poor and middle peasants pitted against mahajans, landlords and other reactionary elements patronised by the Congress(I). The reactionaries, too, in the majority of cases, belonged to the same nationality. The movement was led by the communist elements who received communist education under the overall impact of ML movement and later translated it into the Karbi movement and not vice-versa. Elections to the district council were won amidst the rising flames of powerful and militant mass movements, where victory over the reactionary elements was first won in the social arena. Since then, efforts have been going on to deepen mass work, enhance the democratic values and sharpen the class struggle. Free from chauvinistic overtones, ASDC has extended its influence over other national minorities, brought about a polarisation among Biharis and draws support from sections of Bengali and Assamese people of the region.

In our Party’s tactics, ASDC is sought to be used as a launching pad to provide a revolutionary democratic orientation to the other tribal autonomy movements of Assam and North-East and for democratic restructuring of the Assamese society itself instead of just remaining confined to the district council. It is this full-fledged political role of the ASDC and its ever-increasing influence over the other sections of the people and other regions which provides it a distinctive feature.

The question naturally arises in the light of the experiences in Karbi Anglong as to whether we should make a fresh appraisal of our tactics towards Jharkhand, Uttarakhand and other such movements.

Comrade A.K. Roy was mistaken when he thought that Jharkhand, the state of tribals, whose society contains the features of primitive communism, would itself transform into a Lalkhand. In the process he could only give birth to a primitive bourgeois Sibu Soren.

The point is to transform the Jharkhand movement into a Lalkhand and that can only be done by developing the elements of class struggle in the Jharkhandi society and uniting with the democratic elements against the reactionary elements within JMM. Only a strong communist party, having a strong communist group among Jharkhandis, can successfully pursue this tactics.

JMM itself has been toning down its demand for a Jharkhand state, to a state confined to the Bihar districts only and then again to some sort of autonomous region within Bihar. It is divided among powerful sections differing in their attitudes towards the political forces and towards the contradictions in Jharkhandi society. Our Party’s influence too has been growing in the area and we are now placed in a better position to take up the policy of active intervention which does not rule out temporary alliance with JMM or factions within it.

In Uttarakhand too, where the BJP has vastly improved its position, we shall have to revise our tactics to check its growth by actively posing the demand of a separate state.

The Tactics of Forming Governments at Local and State Levels

Marx had said that we must prepare not a government party but an opposition party of the future. We firmly adhere to this principled position. In Indian conditions, however, opportunities do arise at local and even state levels for communists to form governments in collaboration with other democratic forces through winning a majority in elections. In our tactical line we have not ruled out this tactic, and, have kept it in consideration even if as an exception. This tactic, however, has to be made a part of raising mass movements to a broader and higher level.

In CPI(M)’s tactical line, this tactic is of cardinal importance for changing the balance of forces to raise the level of mass struggles and for expanding its influence at an all-India level. They have also succeeded in forming governments in West Bengal, Kerala and Tripura. The Left Front government in West Bengal is now running for more than fourteen years at a stretch. This record of a sort, otherwise a tremendous achievement in itself, has ironically produced a serious theoretical crisis for the party.

Contrary to the pronouncements and expectations of the CPI(M), the most advanced left formation has singularly failed to create any impact even in the bordering states, what to speak of the all-India level. Every victory of it in West Bengal seems to further diminish its all-India relevance and makes it more and more an exclusively Bengal phenomenon.

In the Hindi belt, it seeks expansion only as an ally of the Janata Dal, parroting their slogans. The only achievement of the Left Front government it projects is the containment of communal forces. With the BJP making its strong presence felt in Bengal, this propaganda too has suffered a setback.

The CPI(M) theoreticians while waxing eloquent on the achievements of the LF government in Bengal, refuse to evaluate the role of this supposedly ‘most advanced left formation’ as a launching pad, as desired by their own tactical line.

Their predicament resembles what Engels had described in the Peasant war in Germany: "The worst thing that can befall a leader of an extreme Party is to take over a government in an epoch when the movement is not yet ripe for the realisation of the measures which that domination requires."

The leader of the extreme party will have to, according to Engels, "advance the interests of an alien class, and to feed his own class with phrases and promises and with the assurances that the interests of that alien class are its own interests. Whoever finds himself in this false position is irrevocably lost."

Don’t we hear daily the interests of Tatas, Birlas and Goenkas in opening industries in Bengal being projected by the Left Front leaders as the interests of the labouring people of Bengal?

Prakash Karat admits that the West Bengal experiment is a social-democratic one, as the socialist way is not possible in that state under the bourgeois-landlord system. He implores us to understand that within the scope and limits of such state governments, it is forced to collaborate with foreign and Indian monopoly capital. He admits that there are failures and shortcomings in other fields. Prakash accuses us of treating the Left Front government virtually just as another non-Congress(I) government and demands from us just critical support, a positive attitude, so to say.

Dear comrade, we are well aware of all the limitations. We never expect this government to play any revolutionary role. By making ‘more power to the states’ the sole plank of national intervention and making common cause with the non-Congress(I) governments you yourselves have degraded this government to the level of any other non-Congress(I) government.

Still, we do support you in relation to the Congress(I) and its manoeuvres, be it in elections or in anti-centre struggles. We are always ready to extend you critical support on any of your positive measures. But, as revolutionary communists, we will be failing in our duty if we don’t expose the myth of the so-called most advanced left formation and don’t oppose the anti-People measures resorted to by this government. We will be committing a crime to the Indian revolution if we fail to point out that the Left Front experiment began in West Bengal by crushing the movement of Naxalbari peasants led by a section of the Party itself and therefore, such governments can never provide an impetus to the mass movements, and instead, can only dampen its spirit.

History has proved that fourteen long years of ‘most advanced left formation’ has failed to create any impact outside Bengal, whereas ironically, the Naxalbari movement, although crushed in Bengal, spread at an all-India level, carved out a base for itself first in Andhra and then in Bihar despite extreme repression and scores of splits. The movement even created an impact in Nepal and rejuvenated the communist movement there, a fact grudgingly accepted by Comrade Surjeet himself.

Election Tactics

Whenever elections come, all hues of liberals start accusing us of belittling the danger of the Congress(I) and the BJP and advise us to refrain from contesting elections so as not to split the opposition votes and instead, offer unconditional support to the liberal opposition. This argument finds a receptive chord among petty-bourgeois intelligentsia surrounding our Party and some sections within the Party. We are advised to settle for a seat or two in the bargain, because after all, it the seats which matter.

We have repeatedly explained that our election tactics are nothing special, they are only the application of our general political tactics to a particular case. Moreover, more than a formal consideration of the arithmetical possibility of splitting the votes, we must rather visualise the political possibility of this happening. This election too proved that the arithmetical prospect of the victory of the Congress(I) and the BJP due to our contesting the elections was mechanical. If at all any such things happen they are only exceptions. Had we succumbed to the liberal pressure we would have missed the opportunity of conducting massive independent political propaganda and creating conditions for future advance. Lenin and the Bolsheviks had to face similar accusations from Mensheviks who charged them of overlooking the Black-Hundred danger. Lenin replied, "everywhere in all countries the first independent entry of the social democrats in an election campaign has been met by the howling and barking of the liberals accusing the socialists of wanting to let the Black-Hundreds in.

"....by refusing to fight the cadets you are leaving under the ideological influence of the cadets masses of proletarian and semi-proletarians who are capable of following the lead of the Social-Democrats. Now or later, unless you cease to be socialists, you will have to fight independently, inspite of the Black-Hundred danger. And it is easier and more necessary to take the right step now than it will be later on". (From Bloc with Cadets)

He also said "A joint list (with cadets) would be a crying contradiction to the whole independent class policy of the Social-Democratic Party. By recommending a joint list to the masses we would be bound to cause hopeless confusion of class and political divisions. We would undermine the principles and the general revolutionary significance of our campaign for the sake of gaining a seat in the Duma for a liberal! We would be subordinating class policy to parliamentarism instead of subordinating parliamentarism to class policy. We would deprive ourselves of the opportunity to gain an estimate of our forces. We would lose what is lasting and durable in all elections — the development of the class consciousness and solidarity of the socialist proletariat; we would gain what is transient, relative and untrue — superiority of the cadet over the Octobrists." (Social-Democrats and Electoral Agreements)

Comrade Lenin repeatedly emphasised the absolute independence of the communist party in election campaign and said, "it must under no circumstances merge its slogans or tactics with those of any other opposition or revolutionary party...Exceptions to this rule are permitted only in cases of extreme necessity and only in relation to parties that fully accept the main slogans of our immediate political struggles.

He also said, "In the cities, where the working class population is mostly concentrated, we must never, except in cases of extreme necessity, refrain from putting up absolutely independent social-democratic candidates. And there is no such urgent necessity. A few cadets or Trudoviks more or less (especially of the popular socialist type) are of no serious political importance, for the Duma itself, can, at best, play only a subsidiary secondary role."

In our concrete conditions, our main areas of struggle in the countryside fall in the same category.

Our election tactics have firmly upheld Lenin’s teachings and this is only worthy of a Marxist-Leninist Party.

As election tactics are nothing but the application of general political tactics to a particular case, it is obvious that the political alliances which are built up in the course of extra-parliamentary struggles will naturally find expression in seat adjustments and other electoral agreements. And on this score we have always tried to be as flexible as possible within the limit of our principles.

Formation of A Left Bloc— The Only Viable Tactics

We have a protracted struggle ahead. The coming together of the three main communist streams, smaller left parties, Naxalite factions and grassroots movements who give up anarchist perception and join the political struggle, revolutionary democratic sections from the Janata Dal, dalit, minority and nationality movements, and the revolutionary petty-bourgeois and bourgeois intelligentsia will give rise to a left bloc or what we call a left and democratic confederation. With the withering away of the Soviet bloc in the international arena, and the new economic policy of the Congress government which revealed the abject dependence of Indian capital on international finance capital and with the public sector losing its role of commanding heights, opportunists are facing the worst theoretical crisis of their career. It is now hard to defend ‘imperialist versus socialist bloc led by Soviet Union’ as the principal contradiction, to applaud the ‘progressive’ foreign policy of the Indian government, to uphold the national character of the Indian bourgeoisie and the role of public sector in contrast to the private monopoly houses. The third formation of the LF-NF combine, which had started dreaming of coming to power at the centre — the CPI having already declared its eagerness to join the government and the CPI(M) preparing itself to "cross the bridge" — suffered a rude shock in the elections. The Left finds it hard to go with the Congress and also uncomfortable in the company of the truncated bourgeois opposition. Perhaps attempts will be made to search for secular forces within the Congress to widen the secular platform. But the compulsion of the situation will force it to adopt more and more independent position and resort to popular movements against the economic policies of the government.

Emergence of a left bloc is necessary and inevitable in the course of Indian democratic revolution which in turn will change the whole course of the revolution itself. The basic orientation of our political tactics is directed towards achieving this goal, conditions for which are maturing day by day.

Lenin had said in relation to the Russian bourgeois democratic revolution, "In this revolution the revolutionary proletariat will participate with the utmost energy, sweeping aside the miserable tailism of some and the revolutionary phrases of others. It will bring class definiteness and consciousness into the dizzying whirlwind of events, and march on intrepidly and unswervingly, not fearing but fervently desiring the revolutionary democratic dictatorship, fighting for the republic and for complete republican liberties, fighting for substantial economic reforms in order to create for itself a truly large arena, an arena worthy of the twentieth century in which to carry on the struggle for socialism."

At the fag end of the twentieth century we only need to replace this with the twenty-first century, but for the rest what Lenin said equally applies to the Indian proletariat.

Note -

1. The reference is to the protagonists of the liquidationist trend which arose in the Party Congress in 1988.

2. "CPI(ML)/IPF – Quest for a Left Role" by Prakash Karat, The Marxist, October-December, 1990.