On December 26, 1925, a few ardent young patriots moved by the urge to free the motherland from colonial bondage, inspired by the Great October Socialist Revolution and fired with revolutionary zeal, braved imperialist persecution and came together in the city of Kanpur, to form the Communist Party of India with a view to fight for national independence and a future of socialism.
The birth of the CPI was the result of tremendous historical developments at home and abroad.
The CPI was born in the period when the anti-imperialist struggle in India had acquired new mass militant dimensions taking the shape of the historic first non-cooperation movement of 1920-22, led by the Congress and headed by Gandhiji. The workers, peasants, middle classes and students had been roused to new levels of consciousness and action. Thousands of militant patriotic cadres had been thrown up by the national upheaval. But the disappointment and disenchantment caused by the sudden withdrawal of the non-cooperation movement compelled them to search for new, more revolutionary and consistent platforms and forms of anti-imperialist struggle
The CPI was born in the new era for mankind opened up by the October Revolution. The victory of the Russian working class, peasants and other toilers led by the Bolsheviks and guided by Lenin attracted the militant youth of India as of all lands. It inspired them to study, accept and apply the science of Marxism so that they too
could lead their people forward along the road of revolutionary struggle for national and social liberation.
The CPI was born out of the disillusionment of the national-revolutionaries with the methods they had employed hitherto, which despite all their unparalleled heroism and sacrifices had failed to rouse the masses into action against British imperialist rule. In prison camps and in places of exile abroad, they began to search for more effective forms of mass, militant struggle against the hated foreign oppressor. They were inevitably attracted towards the scientific revolutionary ideology of Marxism and the lessons of the Russian revolution, which had a special message for the people of the colonial countries.
The CPI was born in the fire of the militant and class upsurge of the workers, and of the peasants and students manifested in a wave of strike struggles, anti-landlord actions, anti-imperialist boycotts and hartals. This had already led to the foundation of the ALL India Trade Union Congress in 1920, to the first celebration of May Day in 1923 with the rallying cry: "Workers of All Lands Unite". Conscious of the historic role of the workers and peasants in the freedom struggle, groups of communists went to work among them, to organise them, to build the trade union movement on the foundation of class-struggle, to bring them forward to the arena of the broad struggle and to imbue them with socialist ideals.
It was the representatives of all these anti-imperialist currents, who came together to found the CPI in Kanpur at the foundation meeting (26-28 December, 1925) , and who thereafter flocked into its ranks.
The CPI was born out of the fusion of militant anti-imperialist patriotism and internationalism, of the struggle for national liberation and the class struggle for socialism.
Land to the tiller! Nationalisation of foreign imperialist capitalist! Adult suffrage! The nation’s wealth in the nation’s hands! 8-hour working day! Democratic rights of organization, meeting, demonstration and strike! Social equality for women! Social justice for the untouchables! – these and other demands which were destined to become national demands, first resounded after 1925 from the ranks of the CPI.
Communists took initiative to set up and build the class and mass organisations of different sections of our people.
The AITUC which had been set up in 1920 grew into the premier and united mass organization of the Indian working class – a position that it held till 1947, despite occasional divergences and splits which were however soon overcome.
In 1936 along with many revolutionary-democratic personalities the All India Kisan Sabha was set up, under whose banner in the years to come, mighty anti-feudal peasant actions demanding an end to the zamindari system, for security of tenancy rights and for land to those who till it, were fought.
The same year, i.e. in 1936 the All India Student’s Federation was founded, which emerged as the foremost champion and leader of the student movement throughout the country. Several generations of its leading cadres joined the CPI.
1936 too saw the founding of the Progressive Writers’ Association in which communist writers played a prominent part. Another big step forward was taken in 1943, with the formation of the Indian Peoples’ Theatre Association (IPTA). It was a landmark in the development of our great national culture. Revolutionary songs, plays, ballets, street plays, revival of folk forms of art and culture, have helped to bring the people to culture and culture to the people.
From the outset the CPI targeted the native rulers and the feudal lords who were the support base of the British imperialists in India. Along with other anti-feudal and democratic sections, communists launched and built the Praja-mandal and states peoples’ movement in the native states, which the Congress largely neglected.
FINAL PHASE OF THE FREEDOM STRUGGLE
Telegana armed struggle symbolises one of the most heroic of such struggles led by the Communist Party of India. It was first and foremost a struggle to throw off the Nizam’s yoke on the people of the then Hyderabad state, to integrate the state in India and to bring to an end the autocratic oppression of the people. It developed into a struggle for expropriating the land of the feudal lords and distributing it to the landless. The Bhoodan Movement was a sequel to the Telengana struggle.
Earlier, in October 1946, people in Alleppy (Travancore State) waged a death-defying battle, and people from the two villages of Punnappra-Vayalar wrote in blood their immortal struggle against the rule of the Maharaja’s Diwan Sir C.P. Ramaswamy Iyer who dreamt of a separate state on the American model, and against the cruel exploitation by landlords and capitalists.
The victory over Hitler fascism, saw the outbreak of mighty mass upsurge. It was India’s final bid for freedom. The movement against the trial of officers of the Indian National Army had roused all section of the people. The anti-imperialist tidal wave had its impact on the armed forces resulting in the historic uprising of the men and Indian officers of the Royal Indian Navy in 1946. The armed forces of British imperialism began to turn against the foreign oppressors of our people in a manner unparalleled since the great revolt – the first independence war of 1857. The post-war upsurge saw numerous militant actions by workers, peasants and students. The CPI had committed a tactical error in the initial stages, but it recovered from the setback suffered, by plunging into these mass actions.
The courageous battles fought under the party’s leadership, its role in the anti-imperialist and anti-feudal struggles and struggles on people’s issues over more than two decades, found reflection in the seats that it won in the country’s first parliamentary election, and in subsequent elections.
The question that faced India soon after Independence was how precisely to end the crazy, reactionary pattern of the old British Indian Provinces with which had been integrated the native states in haphazard fashion, and to redraw the political map of India. The CPI advocated and fought for their reorganisation on the principled basis of common language, culture and contiguity, which would bring state administration closer to the masses and enable their linguistic and cultural development. This was a democratic demand which took account of the specific ethnic and cultural identity of each linguistic community.
There are some unsolved problems even today, mainly as a result of uneven development and long-suffering neglect of some regions and more particularly of regions where the tribal people are in a majority, or were in a majority till recent times. The CPI is carrying on the struggle either for separate statehood or regional autonomy for such regions inhabited by tribal and ethnic groups, keeping in view the overall interests of national integrity and balanced development of these regions themselves. The CPI is also fighting along with other left and democratic parties and forces for rolling back the erosion that has been caused to the rights of the states within a federal set-up and therefore for restructuring centre-state relations.
Marxism demands that the specific character of social oppression should be seen and atrocities should be fought whenever and in whatever form it occurs. The struggle for social equality and social justice has to be fought in a concrete context.
The CPI has supported reservation for the backwards, in addition to reservation for scheduled castes and tribes. The problem today has gone beyond the dimensions of providing reservations in jobs or higher educational institutions. There is today an upsurge among dalits, tribals, OBCs and women for empowerment, for a rightful share in political power and administration.
The CPI has a positive attitude towards this justified aspiration of those sections who were deprived of any role for centuries. At the same time the CPI opposes casteism which is in fact a weapon used by the vested interests in each caste to further their own political and other interests. Our vision for the future is a classless and casteless society , free from exploitation and oppression.
So as to organise the mass of women to fight for women’s rights, for equality in all spheres of life and against rape and all forms of atrocities perpetrated on women, communist women took the initiative to organise them. The NFIW has been especially active in the campaign against the dowry system and dowry deaths, against rape and all forms of atrocities against women, for 33% reservation and so forth.
The crisis of bourgeois rule in India, has from time to time made a few bourgeois politicians put forward proposals for replacing India’s parliamentary system by some sort of presidential system, or a hotch-potch of both.
The CPI has strongly opposed all these proposals and has firmly defended the parliamentary system as being eminently suited to India’s specific conditions, characterised by wide diversity and pluralism.
At the same time, to ensure that parliament truly reflects the people’s will, the party has been campaigning for electoral reforms, for ridding elections of the influence of money and muscle power.
CPI AND NATIONAL UNITY-COMMUNAL THREAT
The CPI is second to none in fighting for the unity and integrity of the country threatened by separatist and divisive forces.
The CPI has consistently championed the cause of the unity of the motherland, of all communities, minorities and ethnic groups inhabiting our vast and diverse country. Ever since its foundation it came forward as the builder of Hindu-Muslim-Sikh unity, as a fighter against communalism and riots, as a defender of the just rights of all the minorities.
Communalism is a form of divisiveness which can tear our country and its people apart, and threaten our national unity and integrity. In our conditions, the philosophy of Hindu communalism, Hindutva, paves the way for a fascist regime.
The noble ideas of ‘secularism’, of the democratic-secular foundation of our Republic, of the lofty humanism, brother-hood and equally of all people irrespective of their religious and other beliefs preached by our saints, sufis and other great thinkers, of the healthy traditions of our national movement, are being tenaciously defended today by the CPI and other left against communalism and fundamentalism of all brands, -be it of the majority or the minority brand. For life shows that the one breeds and feeds the other.
BJP : THREAT TO INDIA'S FUTURE
The coming to power of the BJP, has posed a real threat to India’s secular federal democratic polity. It is a threat to India’s democratic and socialist future. In the name of pursuing a new economic policy, the present BJP- led govt. is carrying through a programme of ‘liberalisation’, ‘globalisation’ and ‘privatisation’, under the dictates of the International Monetary Fund and World Bank and by succumbing to the presure of imperialist USA and the Developed West inside the WTO. As a result, the public sector is being privatised and in many cases liquidated; valuable public assets are being sold for a song; MNCs are being permitted to take over vital sectors of the economy or replace our labour-intensive informal sector; all restrictions on imports are being waived and the domestic market is being thrown open to consumer goods dumped by foreign concerns; the rupee is being devalued; indigenous industries are threatened with closure; prices and unemployment are rising fast, and the livelihood of millions who live on traditional industries are seriously jeopardised. The BJP is serving the interests of monopoly capital-both domestic and foreign, and sacrificing national interests. Its foreign policy follows its economic policy. It is seen to be snuggling up to the USA and denigrating the Non-aligned Movement.
LEFT UNITY:SECULAR DEMOICRATIC UNITY: THE WAY OUT
The split in the CPI has adversely affected the Indian Communist and Left Movement, as also its position in India’s political life.
The CPI has been putting forward the need for the unification of the Communist Movement, in particular of the CPI and the CPIM on a principled basis. Differences persist between the two parties. But coordination and joint action within the Left Front, and especially between the two parties is growing and must grow. The Left has acquired a certain position in India’s political and social life, which is widely acknowledged by both friends and foes. The LF and LDF governments functioning within severe limitations have nevertheless achieved a degree of prestige due to their stability and work in the interest of the people. A secular-democratic alternative both to the BJP and the Congress, must have the Left as a major element in it
FLIGHT FOR SOCIALISM
It is the CPI which from the outset did pioneering work to popularise the ideas of socialism, and made the first efforts to apply the science of Marxism-Leninism to Indian conditions and problems. This complex task is yet to be done. It requires great maturity, understanding India’s social conditions, its traditions and so forth. But if socialism has become a byword today and if large sections speak in the name of Marxism and regard socialism as their option, it is thanks to the pioneering work of the communists.
Solidarity with fighting peoples has always been the hallmark of the CPI’s activity and symptomatic of its internationalism. It has always stood by the national liberation movements and rendered whatever moral, political and material aid it could to assist the freedom fighters and fighters for social progress in all countries. It has always come out against imperialist onslaughts and conspiracies; against wars and local conflicts, and stood for peace and peaceful co-existence.
Our Party has fraternal relations with Communist and workers’ parties, progressive and democratic movements in all countries, on the principled basis of mutual respect, equality and noninterference in each other’s affair. While applying Marxism to our specific conditions and struggling for our socialist future, we pay close attention to the rich exchange of experiences from all countries and all parties.