Prakash Karat, General Secretary, Communist Party of India (Marxist), in a speech at Cambridge in memory of Victor Kiernan, Marxist Historian is reported to have made a confession that Indian Communist parties still live in 1940s. Though belated his confession it is however a welcome sign. But his statement is only partially true.
While making confession what must have been in his mind was - Communist Party of India's (CPI) as we are aware of, then United Communist Party, the split and chain of splits came later - (1) CPI's attitude towards the Quit India Movement of 1942, was not rooted in Indian conditions, it always played willing tools of China and Soviet Union, especially. Soviet Union as China was like India struggling for Independence under Chairman Mao-Ze-Dong. It is worth noting here that Peoples' Republic of China came into existence only in 1949. Communist Party of India (CPI) vertically split only in 1964 according to Marxist theoreticians it was split along ideological lines, thus we are made to believe even today. A section of United Communist Party of India (CPI) the party advocated an alliance with the National Bourgoise, then it was the Indian National Congress, based on Indian Nationalism and by aligning with Congress reach the top echelons of power. The extreme section advocated for consolidation of the masses along the lines of Peoples' Democratic Revolution thus capturing power at the Centre. The Mother party, ie. CPI while played a willing tool of Soviet Communist Party which was ruling the country then. The new entity Communist Party of India(Marxist) emerged to be a favourite of Communist Party of China by that time China came under the might of Communist Party of China (CPC). CPI(M) got enchanted with China's Communism and its ideals and played into the hands of Chinese leaders even during the 1962 Chinese war on India. CPI(M) displayed an ambivalent attitude subsequently its leaders were put behind bars. Condemning the attack outright was something which was beyond its leaders' imagination. That much subservient were the CPI(M) leaders to Chinese leaders.
This ambiguity played a prominent reason behind the retarded growth of India's Communist Party across India getting confined to only three States worth mentioning, Kerala, West Bengal and tiny State of Tripura. Unlike India's by then prominent Communist Party, CPI(M), China catered to the interests of its own matters and concentrated on bettering the living conditions of its people upon the mantle falling upon Deng-Xio-Ping after the demise of Chairman Mao. Deng's adoption of Socialist Market Economy and encouragement of generous FDI in China opening the doors to the outside world till then behind the iron curtain, though still unwilling to do away with the centralised economy have now turned out to be music to Mr.Karat's ears. About Chinese intolerance towards freedom of speech and expression Karat finds pleasure in keeping a studied silence.
We were talking about the Indian Communist Party of 1940s.
The Party's stunted growth has something to do with that period. If it had alongwith Indian National Congress fought from the vanguard for our country's freedom from the clutches of an imperialist Britain - it had countless dedicated leaders working at the grass-roots level - the party would have had an unprecedented growth and by now it would have turned out to be a formidable force to reckon with. Its criminal antipathy towards the Quit India movement of 1942 is still being criticised by other national parties.
Karat's confession while delivering the speech at Cambridge however is partially true. The United Communist Party of 1940s was not in such a pathetic plight that we are witnessing today. Many leaders were at the top who were both theoreticians and organisers at the grass-roots level and masses joined them in their tireless efforts for the growth of party across the nation. They were that much dedicated that they were ready to lay down their lives for the cause of the party they served.
And many laid down their lives for the organisation they held close to their heart.
Barring the Renadive inspired 'Calcutta Thesis' and the consequent blood-shed across India the united Communist Party was in a better shape. Renadive, a fire-brand revolutionary and a trade-union leader advocated for an armed revolution and many comrades shared views, they plunged into an armed struggle which was ruthlessly crushed by the govt, the party got banned and thousands tortured mercilessly and many succumbed to ruthless assaults by the police. The time was not ripe for the armed struggle and Marxism-Leninism stipulates that the armed revolution is launched only after consolidation of the masses. Renadive was subsequently demoted to the local level of the party unit and step by step through tireless efforts he again reached the top. Today if one were demoted to the local level or suspended, on the spur of the moment, a splinter party is formed under his leadership and the struggle for remaining in the lime-light begins if possible aligning with a rightist party.
The ones who worked at the grass-roots level were numerous, P.Krishna Pillai, A.K.G., E.MS., Rajeswar Rao, Sundaraiyyah - only a few among them.
Now that both parties are in a shambles, the sole reason being lack of dedicated leaders willing to work at the grass-roots level nominal. As Indian Express in an Editorial pointed out and as Prakash Karat pointed out Kiernan's 'honouring' of most of Indian Communist leaders calling them 'cafe-shop' going intellectuals' and Prakash Karat himself one among them.
It is high time, however, the Communist parties of India keeping in view the contemporary Indian realities, changed with times. However the leaders should have to come down from their ivory towers and lead the masses from the vanguard.