Draft of the Programme of the Communist Party of India

(15th February, 1951)


A delegation of the CPI several times met representatives of the CPSU (b), including J.V. Stalin in two of the sittings, in February and March 1951. The meetings had become necessary as a consequence of the virtual collapse of the CPI as a result of the rightist line of P.C. Joshi, the severe left sectarian line of B .T. Ranadive and the Andhra Committee line which had been headed by Rajeshwara Rao and M. Basuvapunnaiah and which wished to replicate the path of revolution which had been successful in China. It was apparent from the discussions of the two parties that the CPI had to go beyond the limitations of the three earlier failed approaches. In accordance with this the decision was taken to draft a programme and tactical line for the CPI which could be the basis of unity of the communist movement in the country. In the draft published here for the first time a clear break was made from the understanding of people’s democracy which had been adumbrated after the Second Congress of the CPI which was tantamount to advocating socialist revolution in what was still, in 1951, a colonial country.

Moreover, the notion of People’s Democracy was extensively developed in the period after the Second World War absorbing the experiences accumulated after the Seventh Congress of the Comintern held in 1935. People’s Democracy now became the universal preliminary stage of the revolution embracing the countries of imperialism (USA, Britain); the countries of medium level capitalist development of central and eastern Europe which had been dominated by foreign finance capital, which had yet to embark on the establishment of industrial capital involving the factory production of the means of production, and which had strong survivals of feudalism; as well as the colonial countries (India) and the ex-colonial countries (China).

The elaboration of People’s Democracy is abundantly evident in the discussions held by Stalin with Harry Pollitt of the CPGB in the drafting of the British Road to Socialism. In the exchanges with the Japanese communists (K. Tokuda, S. Nosaka, and Nisidzava) Stalin agreed that the National-Liberation Democratic Revolution was the appropriate preliminary stage of revolution in Japan. People’s Democracy was in the fore of the discussions on the party programme with the leaders of the Communist Party of India as also in the correspondence between J.V. Stalin and D. N. Aidit who led the Communist Party of Indonesia.1

The Draft of the Programme of the Communist Party of India was prepared by S. A. Dange, Ajoy Ghosh, Rajeshwara Rao and M. Basuvapunnaiah in Moscow and a copy of it was sent to the CPSU (b) on 15th February, 1951. After the return of the CPI delegation to India the Politburo of the Communist Party of India published a draft of the Programme in April 1951 for the Party and this was discussed in conferences of various units of the party and approved with amendments. An All-India Conference of the Party met in October 1951 and it discussed the draft and the amendments suggested, approved of some and finally adopted the Programme in October, 1951.2

The CPI Programme united the various segments of the leadership of the Party including members of the groups around the rightist P.C. Joshi and the ‘leftist’ B.T. Ranadive who had previously been criticised and disciplined. This unity, in the event, was but temporary. After the death of Stalin and before the Twentieth Congress of the CPSU the earlier divisions on the character of the Indian state and the path of Indian revolution re-emerged. The schisms became accentuated after 1956.

After the 20th Congress of the CPSU the role of imperialism in subjugating the colonial and semi-colonial countries through the export of finance capital was under-rated even as capital imports multiplied in countries such as India. The industrial developments sponsored by foreign capital in India which took place in the second and third five-year plans, and which were almost fully lacking the development of the production of machinery by machinery, were considered to be equivalent to the rise of an industrial bourgeoisie. The tinkering with big landlordism in the 1950s was pictured as the end of feudal relations rather than as its modification. The new Khrushchevite interpretation was most pronounced in the case of the CPI but it was also deeply embedded in a more subdued way in the thinking of the CPI (M). The CPI abandoned the stage of People’s Democracy and adopted the ‘new’ perspective of National Democracy.3 The CPI (M) retained its support, formally, for People’s Democracy and the Tactical Line document formulated in 1951 but in practical terms it adhered to the reformist model based on the ideas of the Twentieth Congress of the CPSU practiced in Kerala by E.M.S. Namboodiripad and later by Jyoti Basu in West Bengal. After the rejection of the perspectives of the CPI and the CPI ML on the basis of a defence of the positions of 1951, the CPI M itself began to abandon these very stands. The letter of resignation of P. Sundarayya as general secretary of the party registered the further abandonment of the perspectives of 1951 and the conversion of the party into one of reformist and parliamentary illusions.4 The codification of the new reformist line was initially elaborated by Basuvapunnaiah and further deepened step by step by the party in the following three decades.5

Vijay Singh


1. Extensive documentation of the international communist movement on People’s Democracy country by country is available at:       http://revolutionarydemocracy.org/archive/index.htm

2. ‘Programme of the Communist Party of India’. Adopted by the All-India Party Conference, October 1951, Communist Party of India, Bombay, 1951. www.revolutionarydemocracy.org/archive/1951prog.htm

3. Mohit Sen, ‘National Democracy – A Note, New Age, Vol. XI, No. 9, September 1962, pp. 46-54.

4. P. Sundarayya, ‘My Resignation’, New Delhi, 1991. www.revolutionarydemocracy.org/archive/resig.htm

5. M. Basavapunnaiah, ‘The Statement of Policy Reviewed’, The Marxist, Vol. III, No. 3-4, April, 1986. www.revolutionarydemocracy.org/archive/ basavapunnaiah.htm

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