From Documents of the History of the Communist Party of India
Vol. VIII 1951-1956
Edited by Mohit Sen
People's Publishing House New Delhi, Oct 1977
Pages 42-54.

Statement of Policy of the Communist Party of India

This was adopted by the Calcutta conference and first published in November 1951.

Our Objective

The experience of the last four years has taught the people of our country that the present government and the present system cannot solve their main problems of life. It cannot give them land and bread, work and wages, peace and freedom. They are coming to realise the necessity of changing the present government, which mainly serves the interests of feudal landlords and big monopoly financiers and the hidden power behind them all, the vested interests of British imperialism.

The Communist Party, therefore, has adopted a program in which it says, that it "regards as quite mature the task of replacing the present antidemocratic and anti-popular government by a new government of people's democracy".

Who should form such a government? The program says that it will be created "on the basis of a coalition of all democratic, antifeudal and anti-imperialist forces in the country".

And this government and the forces who form it must be "capable of effectively guaranteeing the rights of the people, of giving land to the peasants gratis, of protecting our national industries against competition of foreign goods and of ensuring the industrialisation of the country, of securing a higher standard of living to the working class, of ridding the people from unemployment and thus placing the country on the wide road of progress, cultural advancement and independence". Thus the program outlines the practical tasks which have to be carried out by the people's democratic government.

The immediate main objective being defined, the question then asked is: how is it to be achieved, with what methods, what forces?

Our Past Policies

There are a large number of people who think that this government can be replaced by a people's democratic government by utilising the parliament ushered in by the new constitution. Such feelings are encouraged and fed net only by this government and the vested interests but even by the rightwing socialists, who preach that the very fact of a strong opposition party on the parliamentary floor will shake the government and make it topple down.

But hardly had the people started to believe in the efficacy of the new constitution, which they thought was the outcome of their anti-imperialist struggles of the past, than even the fiction of the fundamental rights and guarantees is thrown out of that very constitution and the freedom of person, the press, speech and assembly, which the masses wanted to use to shake up this antidemocratic government, are subjected to the rule of the police baton and the bureaucrat. Even a liberal would now feel ashamed to maintain, let alone the Communist Party and other democrats and revolutionaries, that this government and the classes that keep it in power will ever allow us to carry out a fundamental democratic transformation in the country by parliamentary methods alone. Hence the road that will lead us to freedom and peace, land and bread, as outlined in the program of the party, has to be found elsewhere.

History, enlightened for us by Marx, Engels, Lenin and Stalin, places before us its vast experience, arising out of struggles which have led nearly half of humanity to socialism, freedom and real democracy, at the head of which stands the Soviet Union and in which the great Chinese and people's democracies join hands.

Thus our main road is already charted out for us. Even then each country has to seek its own path also. What is the path for us?

The communists in India have been working with the people for the last thirty years first as communist groups and later a party. During these years they built a mighty movement of the working class, fought their struggles and won their demands. They built a kisan movement and in vast areas, as for example in Telangana, led them out of landlessness to land and from forced labour to freedom. They have fought for the rights of the people, and in these struggles hundreds and thousands have been killed, hanged, imprisoned, tortured and ruined. Naturally, while leading the working masses, many a time, at crucial points in our history, we were confronted with the question: which path to follow, what tactic would best secure the interests of the country and the people?

We do not refer here to the path that we traversed all these years, except in recent times, so that we can be clear as to what the path would be henceforth to lead us to achieve the program.

After the second party congress, differences and controversies arose inside the party about the path that the Indian revolutionary movement must adopt. For a time it was advocated that the main weapon in our struggle would be the weapon of general strike of industrial workers followed by countrywide insurrection as in Russia. Later, on the basis of a wrong understanding of the lessons of the Chinese revolution, the thesis was put forward that since ours is a semi-colonial country like China, our revolution would develop in the same way as in China, with partisan war of the peasantry as its main weapon.

Among comrades who at different periods accepted the correctness of the one or the other of these views, there were differences on the estimate of the situation in the country, on the degree of isolation of the present government from the people, and on many other vital issues. 1t was clear that these differences had to be resolved in order that the party could lead the people to victory.

After long discussions, running for several months, the party has now arrived at a new understanding of the correct path for attaining the freedom of the country and the happiness of the people, a path which we do not and cannot name as either Russian or Chinese. It should be, and is, one that conforms to the teachings of Marx, Engels, Lenin and Stalin, and that utilises the lessons given by all the struggles of history, especially the Russian and Chinese, the Russian because it was the first socialist revolution in the world carried out by the working class under the leadership of the Communist Party of Lenin and Stalin in a capitalist and imperialist country; and the Chinese because, it was the first people's democratic revolution in a semi-colonial, dependent country, Under the leadership of the Communist Party, in which even the national bourgeoisie took part. At the same time one has to remember that every country has its own peculiarities, natural and social, which cannot fail to govern its path to liberation.

In what way then shall our path be different from the Chinese path?

China and India: Similarity and Difference: OUR PERSPECTIVE

First, let us see where we are the same as the Chinese. It is in the character of our revolution. The thing of primary importance for the life of our country, same as the Chinese, is agriculture and the peasant problem. We are essentially a colonial country, with a vast majority of our people living on agriculture. Most of our workers also are directly connected with the peasantry and interested in the problem of land.

Our real freedom today means taking the land from the feudal landlords and handing it over without payment to the peasant. This antifeudal task, when fulfilled, alone will mean the real liberation for our country because the main props of imperialist interests in our country, as they were in China are the feudal. So, like the Chinese, we have to fight feudalism and imperialism. Our revolution is antifeudal, anti-imperialist.

That makes the struggles of the peasantry of prime importance. Drawing upon the fact that in China the liberation war was fought mainly on the basis of the partisan struggles of the peasantry, during which the peasants task land from the feudal landlords, and in the process created the liberation army, it was asserted that in India too the path will be the same, the path of partisan struggles of the peasantry would almost alone lead us to liberation.

The CC finds that drawing upon the Chinese experience in this way and to come to such a conclusion would mean neglecting to look into other factors of the Chinese revolution and also neglecting to look into our own specific conditions. For example:

We cannot fail to take note of the fact that when the Chinese party began to lead the peasantry in the liberation struggle, it had already an army which it inherited from the split in the revolution of 1925.

We cannot fail to note the fact that China had no unified and good communications system, which prevented the enemy from carrying out concentrated and swift attacks on the liberation forces. India is different in this respect from China in that it has a comparatively more unified, well organised and far-flung system of communications.

India has a far bigger working class than China had during its march to freedom.

Further we cannot fail to note the fact that the Chinese red army was surrounded and threatened with annihilation again and again until it reached Manchuria. There, with the industrial base in hand, and the great friendly Soviet Union in the rear, the Chinese liberation army, free from the possibility of any attack in the rear, rebuilt itself and launched the final offensive which led it to victory. The geographical situation in India in this respect is altogether different.

This does not mean that there is nothing in common between us and China except the stage of our revolution and its main tasks. On the contrary, like China, India is of vast expanses. Like China, India has a vast peasant population. Our revolution, therefore, will have many features in common with the Chinese revolution. But peasant struggles along the Chinese path alone cannot lead to victory in India.

Moreover we must bear in mind that the Chinese party stuck to the peasant partisan war alone, not out of a principle, but out of sheer necessity. In their long-drawn struggles, the party and peasant bases got more and more separated from the towns and the working class therein, which prevented the party and the liberation army from calling into action the working class in factories, shipping and transport to help it against the enemy. Because it happened so with the Chinese, why make their necessity into a binding principle for us and fail to bring the working class into practical leadership and action in our liberation struggle?

Such an outlook ignores the fact that we have a big working class and that it has a role to play, which can be decisive in our struggle for freedom. The grand alliance of the working class and the peasantry, acting in unison, the combination of workers' and peasants' struggles, under the leadership of the Communist Party, and utilising all lessons of history for the conduct of the struggles, is to be the path for us.

It can thus be seen that while the previous line of reliance on the general strike in the cities neglected the role the peasantry, the subsequent one of partisan struggle minimised the role of the working class, which in practice meant depriving the peasantry of its greatest friend and leader. The working class remained leader only ‘in theory’, only through the party, because the party is defined as the party of the working class.

Both the lines in practice meant ignoring the task of building the alliance of the working class and the peasantry, as the basis of the united national front, ignoring the task of building the united national front, ignoring the task of putting the working class at the head of this front in the liberation struggle.

This, it has to be realised, was a wrong approach. The leadership of the working class is not realised only through the party and its leadership of the peasant struggle but actually, in deeds, through the working class boldly championing the demands of the peasantry and coming to the assistance of the peasant struggles through its own action. The alliance must function in deed and fact, and not only in theory. The working class is the friend in action, that must help the fighting peasants and must ensure victory over the common enemy.

The working class, relying on agricultural workers and poor peasants, in firm alliance with the peasantry, together with the whole people, leads the battles in towns and rural areas to liberation, to land and bread, to work and peace.

The CC wishes to convey to comrades this great lesson of history, a lesson which is neither only the Russian path nor the Chinese path, but a path of Leninism applied to Indian conditions.

Such an understanding of our perspective gives us a new outlook on how to build our mass movement, our trade unions, kisan sabhas and also a new way to build the party.

The understanding will also show to comrades that the main question is not, whether there is to be armed struggle or not, the main question is not whether to be nonviolent or violent. It is the reactionary ruling classes who resort to force and violence against the people and who pose for us the question whether our creed is violence or nonviolence. Such a poser is a poser of Gandhian ideology, which in practice misleads the masses and is a poser of which we must steer clear. Marxism and history have once for all decided the question for the party and the people of every country in the world long ago. All action of the masses in defence of their interests to achieve their liberation is sacrosanct. History sanctions all that the people decide to do to clear the lumber-load of decadence and reaction in their path to progress and freedom.

This should also tell us that all our previous understandings have to be discarded as being one-sided and defective.

Combat Individual Terrorism

But one action history does not sanction and that is individual terrorism.

Individual terrorism is directed against individuals of a class or system and is carried out by individuals or groups and squads. The individuals who act may be heroic and selfless and applauded or even invited by the people to act and the individuals against whom they act the most hated. Still such actions are not permissible in Marxism. And why? For the simple reason that therein the masses are not in action. Therein the belief is fostered that the heroes will do the job for the people. Therein it fosters the belief that many more such actions will mean in sum-total the annihilation of the classes or the system. Ultimately it leads to passivity and inertia of the masses, stops their own action and development towards revolution and in the end results in defeat. Hence Marxism warns against individual terrorism and bans it.

Immediate Situation and Tasks

The question that now remains, and an important one, is – we have got the path and the perspective, but what now? The question of the immediate, while certainly influenced by the perspective, is not solely determined by it. It is also governed by the assessment of the present situation. How far is the government isolated, how far are the people disillusioned, how far are they ready to struggle, are some of the questions that determine the immediate tasks and slogans for them.

Some say that the government is thoroughly discredited and isolated; the people are ready to rise in revolt and in places are clashing with the government, which with the blatant rule of police firing has already created conditions of civil war in the country. Hence all our work must be guided by such an understanding of the situation. We do not think it necessary to argue the question in detail.

No doubt the crisis of the government is deep, but it is not yet thoroughly isolated. As the program of the party puts it: “the masses have lost faith in the present government, they are becoming deeply distrustful of it and start to consider it their enemy, who is protecting the landlords, moneylenders and other exploiters against the people.” Hence “the masses are slowly rising in struggle, no longer able to withstand this state of slow starvation and death.” But it would be gross exaggeration to say that the country is already on the eve of armed insurrection or revolution, or that civil war is already raging in the country. If we were to read the situation so wrongly, it would lead us into adventurism and giving slogans to the masses out of keeping with the degree of their understanding and consciousness and their preparedness, and the government’s isolation. Such slogans would isolate us from the people and hand over the masses to reformist disruptors.

Equally wrong are they who see only the disunity of the popular forces, only the offensive of reaction and advocate a policy of retreat in the name of regrouping of forces, of eschewing all militant actions on the plea that this will invite repression. Tactics based on such an understanding of the situation will lead to betrayal of the masses and surrender before the enemy.

We have to lead the struggles of the people in the context of a sober evaluation of the situation. While it should not lead us into adventurism, we must also not forget that the crisis is not being solved but is growing. Hence we cannot take a leisurely attitude and behave as if no deep crisis is moving the people and furious struggles are not looming ahead. Because insurrection and civil war do not exist, some would like to move and work as if they are living in a democracy with rights and liberties and nothing need be done to protect the party and the leadership of mass organisations from onslaughts of the law run mad. With such an outlook, we shall get smashed and will be able to build nothing.

But because the crisis is growing, and even a simple food procession like the one in Cooch-Behar leads to firing and brings thousands on the streets, some would like to do away with the daily humdrum task of running mass organisations. Taking fascism to be inevitable or already in power, they would scoff at parliamentary elections or fighting for civil liberties, for which broad sections of the people can and should be mobilised.

We have to realise that although the masses are getting fast radicalised and moving into action in many parts of the country, the growth of the mass movement has not kept pace with the growth of discontent against the present government and its policies and methods. To ascribe this to repression alone would be wrong. This weakness of the mass movement is due, above all, to the weakness of our party and the division in the camp of progressive forces. The party therefore must strive to overcome this division and must stress the supreme need for unity of all progressive forces, build this unity in action and itself grow into a mass party by drawing into its fold the best elements from the fighting masses.

We must fight the parliamentary elections and elections in every sphere where the broad strata of the people can be mobilised and their interests defended. We must be wherever the masses are and would like us to be.

Role of Working Class Unity and the Party

The party has to build the unity of the working class and make it conscious of its tasks in relation to our entire people. The existing split in the working class movement which hampers the development of working class struggles must be overcome at all costs in the shortest possible time and united mass organisations of the working class built. The class has also to be made politically conscious. Only a united and politically conscious working class can fulfil the role of the leadership of the people.

We have to rouse all sections of the peasantry, including rich peasants, for the struggle for agrarian reform and in the course of this struggle rebuild the mass peasant organisations, basing ourselves firmly on the agricultural workers and poor peasants who together constitute the majority of our agrarian population.

It must be understood that because of the vast expanse of our country, because of the uneven development of the agrarian crisis and of the working class and peasant movement, and the uneven state of organisation and consciousness of the peasant masses and the influence of the party, peasant movement will not develop at the same tempo everywhere and different forms of organisation and struggle will have to be adopted depending on the maturity of the crisis, the degree of unification of the peasant masses and their mood, the strength and influence of the party, and other factors.

All these tasks call for the most intense, patient and daily work among the masses, continuous agitation on our basic program and immediate simple demands of the people, a concrete working out of such demands for every section of the people according to general and local conditions, practical leadership of mass struggles, a combination of various forms of struggles, and a systematic building up of a network of mass organisations.

Above all, it is necessary to build up through patient struggle a communist party, equipped with the theory of Marxism-Leninism, a party mastering strategy and tactics, a party practising self-criticism and a strict discipline and which is closely linked with the masses.

The mass organisations and the party that are built up must also be able to withstand the fire of repression to which the government continually subjects them and the people's movement.

Struggle for Peace

One of the key tasks that faces us in defence of the people is the building of the peace movement. The struggle for peace must become an integral part of our work in all mass organisations, on all platforms. We have to bring it to the active consciousness of masses that the ruling classes, in order to preserve their power, will ever be ready to embroil us, the people, in a war so that we may give up our war against them. We must bring to the consciousness of the people the immense danger of the outbreak of a third world war and the possibilities of averting that danger, if the people will it. We must bring into the consciousness of the people that while we support any move of any class or group including this government for preserving peace, yet we must not forget that this government under the influence of imperialist warmongers, landlords and profiteers follows not a consistent and honest policy of peace but plays between America and England to gain from their rivalries and also plays between the peace-loving countries and warmongers. Such inconsistency must be overcome by the action of the masses. We must fight for a pact of peace between Pakistan, India and Ceylon, for banning of the atom bomb and reduction of armaments and military budget. We must above all fight for the conclusion of a pact of peace between the five great powers. The peace movement must be made real to the masses in terms of their own problems of land and bread, work and wages, and prosperity for all.

The peace movement must mobilise widest opposition to the colonial wars waged by British, French, Dutch and American imperialists in Southeast Asia and prevent all direct and indirect support to these imperialists given b the present Indian government.

The program that the Communist Party has placed before the people is a program which conforms to the interests of all progressive forces and classes in the country, of all sections who desire India to be free, happy and strong. We shall therefore strive to unite our entire people for the realisation of this program and build their unity in action on on all issues facing them. We shall strive to develop the struggles of all sections of our people and merge them into the common movement for freedom, democracy and peace.

While carrying out these tasks, we must learn skilfully to combine the struggles of workers, peasants and other classes and sections in each province and district, and in the country as a whole. From all these struggles, the her [sic] fighters that will come forth must be transformed into the makers and builders of the party, which then alone will become a real mass party and yet a well-knit party of tested and tried revolutionaries. With the perspective and path clear, and immediate tasks outlined, we shall surely succeed in our liberation struggle against our feudal and imperialist enslavers and replace this antidemocratic government by a government of people's democracy.

Click here to return to the index of archival material.