After the discussions in February and March 1951, which took place between representatives of the CPSU (b) and the CPI in Moscow, a slew of important documents were published in India. These were the Party Programme; the Tactical Line, which remained a closed statement for many years, and the Statement of Policy which was an open version of the tactical line understanding; and the Election Manifesto prepared for the first general elections in India. (1) As is clear from the CPSU party archives all of these documents secured the approval of the CPSU (b) and its leadership headed by Stalin.
Discussions between the two parties - initially it had been thought to involve Liu Shao-Chi of the Communist Party of China - had been necessitated as a result of the failures of the three successive lines identified with P.C. Joshi, B.T. Ranadive and Rajeshwara Rao which led to the crashing of the CPI activities. P.C. Joshi had welcomed the Mountbatten Award despite its compromising character; he had supported the Pakistan proposal between 1942 and April 1946 until the CPI leadership was otherwise convinced by Rajani Palme Dutt; and had wished to ally with the Nehru wing of the Congress Party. The 2nd Congress of the CPI which was held in Calcutta in February, 1948, decisively threw out what was considered to be the reformist line of the Joshi leadership. However the new B.T. Ranadive leadership embarked upon a new course of activity which all but destroyed the party. Ranadive, ostensibly, sought to emulate the course of the Russian revolution, under which the workers’ uprisings had precipitated peasant revolution, but under his leadership, in its stead, the working class was expected to engage in insurgent offensive actions when it lacked the capability and force to do so. Ranadive, moreover, denied the colonial and feudal character of the Indian economy and proposed to intertwine the democratic and socialist revolutionary processes. He was under the influence of the views of the Yugoslav Communist Party in this matter. Stalin directly rejected the immediate perspective of socialist revolution in India as being ‘stupid’ and ‘dangerous’. The views of Ranadive were dismissed as being akin to ‘Trotskyism’ and ‘Titoism’ both by Rajani Palme Dutt and sections of the CPI. Rajeshwara Rao and M. Basuvapunniah of the Andhra committee rightfully stressed the democratic character of the Indian revolution. They drew their inspiration from the experience of the Chinese revolution and proceeded to suggest that the path to the Indian revolution lay through partisan warfare such as was being practiced in Telengana. The elevation of Rajeshwara Rao to the CPI leadership did not, however, resolve the party differences. CPI leaders who had a base in the working class and the trade unions such as S.A. Dange and S.V. Ghate did not accept that immediate armed struggle based on partisan warfare could be the order of the day. P.C. Joshi and Ajoy Ghosh adopted similar stands. The party was now exhibiting paralysis as a result of the collisions between the contradictory approaches of different sections. It was this impasse which prompted the CPI to suggest a meeting with the leadership of the CPSU (b). (2)
In the discussions in Moscow, Stalin rejected the perspectives of both the Ranadive and the Rajeshwara Rao groups. He poured scorn on the possibility of socialist revolution in a country which was still colonial and under the grip of British imperialism and rejected the notion of revolution initiated by the working class which would lead to the revolution of the peasantry. Accepting the need for people’s democratic revolution he dismissed the possibility that partisan warfare by itself could lead to revolution in India. In China the People’s Liberation Army achieved success, Stalin said, only after it was able to move to Manchuria. There it had a friendly Soviet rear so that the PLA no longer had to fear encirclement by the troops of the Kuomintang and indeed was later able to go on to the offensive against the Chiang Kai-shek armed forces. The Indian revolution had no such advantage. This suggested that in India partisan war had to be accompanied by the revolutionary actions of the working class. The CPI had to win over the majority of the working class, engage in strike actions and form armed workers’ detachments in the urban areas. (3) Stalin noted that the partisan warfare in Telengana did not represent the main form of struggle in the country. Rather it was only the beginning of the opening of the struggle in India. The CPI was a weak party so that it should not at once speak of armed struggle as this would lead to serious difficulties arising.
After discussions with Stalin the CPI delegation in Moscow produced the initial drafts of the party programme and the tactical line. The latter was founded on the perspective of combining the armed activity of the working class with peasant partisan warfare.
The Draft Tactical Line text published here, after amendments, was adopted by the Communist Party of India but it was produced and circulated only as a closed document. The Statement of Policy represented the public statement of the CPI on tactical questions.
While the Tactical Line was supported by the CPI it became contentious after the rise of Khrushchev. The document fell out of favour amongst those sections of the party which supported a peaceful transition to national democracy, indeed it also was marginalised by the bulk of those revolutionary sections of the communist movement which were influenced by the CPC and retained their support for the people’s democratic revolution. For a number of years the CPI M trend defended, on the whole, the Statement of Policy and the Tactical Line. Whilst the CPI and the CPI M had veered around to the understanding that India could no longer could be characterised as a colonial and feudal country (in consonance with the acceptance of the social democratic ‘decolonisation’ theory(4) ) and that now India was a politically independent state they were sharply divided on the stage of the Indian revolution. While the CPI considered the desirability of an alliance with the progressive bourgeoisie in a national democratic revolution, the CPI M advocated people’s democratic revolution under the leadership of the working class. The CPI M, moreover, supported the Tactical Line in its opposition to the understanding of the CPI ML in its initial years that it was necessary to replicate in India the path of revolution by partisan warfare as had been successful in China. The limitations of partisan warfare in India being the sole mode of struggle had been pointed out by Stalin in 1951.
However from the foundation of the party in real terms the CPI M was not seriously committed to the Tactical Line and Statement of Policy documents. It may be recalled that P. Sundarayya was General Secretary of the CPI M from the foundation of the party in 1964 right through to October 1975. All attempts by him to apply the Tactical Line were stalled by the rest of the leadership of the party, particularly by B.T. Ranadive and M. Basavapunnaiah. In his letter of resignation from the general secretaryship of the party, P. Sundarayya in October, 1975, was to state ‘Though our party congress and CC Resolutions again and again endorse the “Tactical Line” (the policy statement), but in practice it is being negated. The line and understanding given in the policy statement must be strictly adhered to.’ (5) This meant that the revolutionary perspectives of the workers’ revolution in conjunction with partisan warfare was not acceptable to the party. The Tactical Line which sought to combine workers’ and peasants’ military insurgency demanded that locales be developed which could establish contiguous and continuous areas which would be centres of workers and peasants political activity. This too could not be enacted. Sundarayya indicated his experiences that: ‘I have enumerated priority regions and areas to be developed as compact and contiguous areas, making major industrial and administrative centres as centres of our working class and peasant movements, in March 1969 in a note to PBMs (No. 27/69). There are about 20 inner-PB letters prepared by PB members in this connection during 1969 and 1970, and yet, when we could not come to a common understanding. Feb. 1970. It was broadly endorsed by the CC. Yet when it was to be finalised by the PB, there was sharp criticism..
Sundarayya reminded the party that the Muzaffarpur Central Committee Resolution of March 1973 on organisational tasks had resolved as follows:
“This concept of priority areas and developing them first as political bases from which the revolutionary movement can be extended and defended better, will become a reality if the whole party takes it up seriously. There is no use accepting this in words, but the first opportunity running after every part of the state and dispersing cadres all round.
“The present tendency of totally neglecting the work among the peasantry in the surrounding areas of an industrial city and among the other sections of the people in that industrial hub and city itself and only of thinking in terms of trade union extension into some farther away centres, would not help either the politicalization of the working class or building the alliance of workers and peasants, nor does it become the basis for broad people’s front.”
In practical terms the Tactical Line document was inoperative for the CPI M.
In the same occasion in Muzaffarpur it had been reiterated that it was necessary to build up a secret part of the organisation. Sundarayya reminded the CPI M:
‘Party programme lays it down that our party must be prepared to face any twists and turns. The Tactical Line lays down that it is necessary to build underground units in villages, in factories, shops and departments. C.C. resolutions of 1967 and 1973 (Muzaffarpur reiterated this aspect) Muzaffarpur C.C. resolution lays it that CC should get report and review about the progress of this organisation of secret units every 6 months. But except in terror ridden areas in certain parts of our country nowhere else this has been attempted. Practically every member, every candidate, every sympathiser is exposed and open, in all sectors, and even in Government Services.’
In resigning from his party position Sundarayya said that one of the reasons for this was that the Party had ignored the building of a secret part of the party organization.
The hiatus between the revolutionary pretensions of the CPI M in terms of the programme, statement of policy and other documents, continued Sundarayya, and its practice meant that it had not broken from parliamentary, legalistic and peaceful illusions:
Perhaps no communist party has ever been so acidly criticised as this by its own General Secretary.
After the resignation of P. Sundarayya the CPI M re-examined the Tactical Line and Statement of Policy in 1976. The ensuing document ‘The Statement of Policy Reviewed’ was written by M. Basavapunnaiah who had been a member of the original four-member CPI team who had written the Draft Tactical Line in February 1951. The review was adopted in 1976 but published only in 1986 after the death of P. Sundarayya. (6)
The case of P. Sundarayya revealed his utter isolation in the CPI M in his attempt to apply the Tactical Line document between 1964 and 1975.
Much the same situation existed in the developing Marxist-Leninist movement in the period before and after the formation of the CPI M and the CPI ML.
This is also evident from the attempts of Parimal Dasgupta in the decades after 1953 to stress the importance of the CPI Programme and the Tactical Line of 1951. (7) In consonance with the 1951 documents he denied from 1953 onwards that the country had an independent government, he accepted that foreign capital and the native bourgeoisie controlled the industrial sector; that despite modifications feudal interests dominated in the rural economy; and, that the incomplete national liberation struggle had merged with the Democratic Revolution. Further he was not in agreement with the view in 1955 that India needed to follow the ‘Kerala way,’ or that a ‘peaceful and parliamentary path’ could achieve success. Parimal Dasgupta later rejected the political formulations of the CPI M on the grounds that they had inherited their understanding of the Indian state, economy and society from the united CPI of the period between 1953-1964. The two parties differed on whether national democracy or people’s democracy was the immediate revolutionary stage. In the aftermath of the Naxalbari struggle sections within the CPI M formed the Coordination Committee of the Communist Revolutionaries (CCCR). But this led to a further division when the majority section adopted the ‘extreme ultra-left’ view that the only form of struggle was to be ‘armed struggle’ in the rural areas, which, in actuality, expressed the over-riding practice of individual terrorism. The majority section went ahead and formed the CPI ML. Writing three decades later in 1999 and still under the impress of the Tactical Line he continued to stress the necessity of the revolutionary party to carry out joint struggles of the industrial working class and the peasantry. (8) Parimal Dasgupta continued to defend the Tactical Line document with its stress on the revolutionary path not the peaceful path, the combination of partisan warfare in the countryside and the workers’ rising in the cities and the understanding that the alliance of workers and peasants was the condition of victory. Projecting the perspectives of the Tactical Line when the bulk of the communist revolutionaries were captivated by the example of the successful partisan warfare in China was an uphill task. That Parimal Dasgupta was not engulfed by the atmosphere of hostility to the working class, the trade unions in the 1960s is itself most extraordinary.
References1. (ed.) Mohit Sen, ‘Documents of the History of the Communist Party of India’, Volume VIII, PPH, New Delhi, 1977, pp. 1-54.
2. Further details of the difference revolutionary strategies of the CPI may be found in: Vijay Singh, ‘Some Strategies of Indian Communists after 1947’, in (eds.) Andreas Hilger and Corinna R. Unger, ‘India in the World since 1947’, Peter Lang, Frankfurt Am Main, 2012, pp. 99-119.3. Record of the Discussions of J.V. Stalin with the Representatives of the C.C. of the Communist Party of India Comrades, Rao, Dange, Ghosh and Punnaiah, (9th February 1951), Revolutionary Democracy, Vol. XII, No. 2, September 2006. http://www.revolutionarydemocracy.org/rdv12n2/cpi2.htm
4. On the question of ‘decolonisation’ theory see: ‘Dekolonizatsii Teorii’ in Ekonomicheskaya Entsiklopedia Politicheskaya Ekonomia, Tom I, Izdatel’stvo ‘Sovetskaya Entsiklopedia’, Moskva, 1972, p. 374; ‘Revolyutsionnoe dvizhenie v kolonial’nykh i polukolonial’nykh stranakh. Tezisy, in: ‘Komunisticheskii Internatsional v dokumentakh, 1919-1932’, Moskva, 1933, pp. 832-870; Kuusinen, ‘The Revolutionary Movement in the Colonies’, Volume 8, No 68, International Press Correspondence, pp. 1225- 1233; ‘Concluding Speech of Comrade Kuusinen on the Colonial Question’, Sixth World Congress of the Communist International, International Press Correspondence, Vol. 8, No. 81, 21st November 1928, pp. 1519-1528. V Serebryakav, L. Kasharshii, ‘Protiv trotskistskoi kontseptsii imperializma,’ Leningradskoe otdelenie kommunisticheskoi akademii pri Ts I K SSSR, Institut ekonomiki, Partiinoe izdatelstvo, Moscow, Leningrad, 1932. L. Gruliow, Soviet Views on the Post-War World Economy, Washington, 1948, (Translated from the Russian). Sobhanlal Datta Gupta, ‘Comintern and the Colonial Question: The Decolonisation Controversy, CSSS, Calcutta, 1976, and ‘Comintern, India and the Colonial Question, 192037, K. P. Bagchi & Company for CSSSS, Calcutta, 1980.5. (ed.) D. Prempati: P. Sundarayya ‘My Resignation’(1975), India Publishers & Distributors, New Delhi, 1991. http://www.revolutionarydemocracy.org/archive/resig.htm
6. M. Basavapunnaiah, ‘The Statement of Policy Reviewed’, The Marxist, Vol. III, No. 3-4, April 1986. www.revolutionarydemocracy.org/archive/basavapunnaiah.htm
7. Details of the struggles of Parimal Dasgupta may be located in Pradip Basu, ‘Towards Naxalbari 1953-1967’, An Account of Inner-Party Ideological Struggle, Progressive Publishers, Calcutta, 2000.
8. Parimal Dasgupta, ‘People’s Democratic Revolution in India’, Published by Prof. Nripen Chatterjee, for Communist Darshan Prakashan, Howrah, June, 1999. Acknowledgements to Basudeb Acharya for this.
Whom to despatch
To Comrade Stalin
Sending you the draft, translated from English, on the tactical line of the Communist Party of India presented by comrades Dange, Ghosh, Rao and Punnaiyah.Chairman
On your request we are sending a draft prepared by us explaining the tactical line which the Communist Party of India shall follow. We have tried to include all the questions that comrade Stalin asked us to consider.
On the question regarding the guerrilla warfare comrades Rajeshwar Rao and Vasu Punnaiyah do not agree with some of the formulations included in the present draft and their arguments are presented in a separate letter. They agree with rest of the points included in the draft.
With best wishesS.A. Dange
The objective of partisan struggle should be the liquidation of the enemy’s armed force with the participation of the mass of peasants. Actions directed against individual oppressors in order to terrorize all the rest of the oppressors so that they desist from oppressing others is called terrorism. I cannot understand why, in principle, is any action against individual oppressor is prohibited, be it a land lord, official or a spy.
In my opinion at times in the earlier stage of partisan struggle it becomes necessary to take such actions against some known oppressors not to, by these means force other oppressors to desist from oppressing, but to defend the movement itself and the partisan units. I do not understand how do such action make the people passive.
As far as I understand the international literature on this question, such actions against particular individuals were taken by the partisans against German and Japanese fascists in the occupied countries during the antifascist war and similar actions are being taken presently in Asian countries where partisan war is being conducted - Malaysia, Burma, Indo-China etc. As far as I understand Lenin not only did not oppose such actions in his article on partisan war, but, on the contrary severely criticised the Mensheviks who opposed such actions denouncing them as anarchism.
We request clarifications on this question.
K. Rajeshwar Rao [sic]
The signature is in ink of different colour. The letter is written by the hand of K. Rajeshwar Rao [sic]. — Translator's comment.
Translated by Pavlov Translation from English
1. The main immediate aims proposed in the draft programme of the Communist Party of India is the liquidation of feudalism, distribution of all land in the possession of the feudal elements* among the peasants and the agricultural workers and achieving full national independence and freedom. These aims can be reached only by overthrowing the existing order in India and replacing it with a peoples’ democratic order. With this in mind the Communist Party will make all efforts to mobilize the peasantry against the feudal exploiter, strengthen the unity of the workers with the peasantry and establish on a national scale, under the leadership of the workers, a broad united front of all anti-imperialist classes (including the national bourgeoisie), sections, groups and other elements ready to fight for democracy, freedom and independence of India.
2. While resorting to all forms of struggle. Including the most elementary forms and using all legal possibilities for the mobilization of the masses, and moving forward in the struggle for freedom and democracy, the communist party has always maintained that in present colonial order in India and in view of absence of any genuine democratic freedom legal and democratic opportunities are strictly limited and therefore replacing the existing order supported by imperialist-feudal order by a people’s democratic state is possible only by means of an armed uprising of the people. The concrete experience of the past 3 years of so called independent transition of power+ is a proof of this assertion.
3. Still, among the rank and file of our party incorrect and distorted views prevailed regarding the exact nature of the armed struggle and the form of such a struggle in order to achieve success. In the period since the 2nd Congress of the party the dominating tendency among the leadership was to ignore the colonial character of the economy of India, reject drawing any lessons from the experience of the revolutionary movement in China and other colonial countries, undermine the great importance of the peasant struggle to promote the view that general political strikes in the cities and industrial regions is the main tool of our revolution, that such strikes on their own would suffice to cause a revolt all over the country and would lead to the overthrow of the existing order. Later, on the basis of misreading of the experience of the Chinese revolution, the thesis that the revolution in India will develop along the same path as the revolution in China and that the partisan struggle will be the main or even the only tool in achieving victory was put up. While the former thesis undermines the importance of the peasant masses and their struggle, the latter undermines the importance of the workers and their actions. Both the tactical lines were a result of ignoring of the particular conditions in India and the tendency of a mechanical comparison with other countries.
Both theoretically and practically these two tactical lines rejected the main objective of uniting the workers and the peasantry, rejected the aim of building a united national front on the only solid foundation of such unity, rejected the leading role of the class of workers in the anti-feudal and anti-imperialist revolution.#.
4. In order to develop a correct tactical line it is necessary to reject these incorrect theses and to take account of all the particular conditions existing in India. India is a large country with a backward largely colonial economy and 80% of its population is dependent on (tied to – in pencil) agriculture. In such a country, a partisan struggle, as the experience in China shows, is one of the most potent means in the arsenal of the revolutionary movement and the communist party must make use of it in the struggle for national liberation. At the same time, we need to understand that there are factors, characteristic for India, which are such that the exclusive use of this means cannot lead to victory. A split in the national front in China in 1927 brought about a simultaneous split in the armed forces and in the beginning the communist party had only 33,000 combatants.
Apart from this, an underdeveloped network of railways and other means of transport did not allow the enemy to quickly concentrate its forces against the regions occupied by the communists. Despite of these advantages that the revolutionary forces enjoyed, they were on numerous occasions encircled by the enemy. They were forced to break out of this encirclement and move to newer regions to escape annihilation in order to regroup their forces. Only when they moved to Manchuria and found a solid rear in the Soviet Union, the threat of encirclement was receded and could conduct a strong offensive that in the end brought about the liberation of China. So, precisely the support in the form of a powerful and solid rear provided by the Soviet Union had a decisive role in the victory of the tactics of a partisan war in the Chinese countryside.
5. In this sense the situation in India is different. Firstly, we do not have an army and it needs to be created. The transport network in India is much more developed than in China allowing the government to quickly concentrate large number of forces against the partisans. And most importantly, the geographical location of India is such that we cannot depend on any friendly state which could offer a strong and solid rear. This does not mean that there can be no partisan struggle in India. On the contrary, on the grounds of the above cited factors, a partisan struggle should be one of the main weapons in our arsenal as in all colonial countries. However, just this weapon alone cannot provide victory. It should be used along with other weapons – a general strike and revolt in the towns under the leadership of the armed units of workers. Intensive work should also be done among the armed forces which almost totally consists of people from the oppressed and exploited sections of the peasantry that can be won over to the side of the revolution. The presence in totality of these three factors is absolutely necessary in India.
6. Partisan occupied areas would inevitably come up in various parts of the country as the crisis would deepen and the peasant movement would grow to the level of a revolutionary takeover of the lands and the grain reserves, thereby, paralysing and destroying local forces enemy. These regions and the revolutionary forces operating in these areas will always be under the threat of being encircled and destroyed by the enemy. Even the formation of liberated territories with armed units of their own in many parts of the country will not eliminate this threat as the regions themselves will be surrounded on all sides by the enemy forces. Therefore, a partisan struggle alone, independent of the fact that how widespread it will be, cannot lead to victory over the enemy under the present concrete circumstances in India. When the intensifying crisis will lead to widespread struggle and when the partisan forces in a number of areas will fight against the enemy, the workers in the towns and in the main branches of industry, particularly in transport, will have to play a decisive role. The offensive of the enemy on the partisans and against the liberated zones must be resisted and paralysed through massive strikes by the workers. If a broad surge of partisans will combine with the general strike and revolt of the workers in the towns, the enemy will not be able to concentrate its forces in any one area to defeat the revolutionary forces and will itself then face the possibility of defeat and destruction.
7. Both these theses held by the party – the thesis of a general strike leading to a revolt in the countryside, as well as the one that simple expansion of the partisan struggle will lead to victory – need to be rejected. It must be realised that only when the peasant movement grows into a partisan struggle in several parts of the country, only then this struggle can be combined with strong mass general strikes of the workers that will paralyse the enemy and result in a rebellion in the towns under the leadership of the armed units of the workers and when under the impact of a mass movement and as a consequence of our direct activities among the masses, the armed forces will begin to waver and large number of them will break away and join the people – only then will the victory of the revolution guaranteed. The task of the communist party of India is to work with a clear objective of leading the masses in the towns as in the countryside in their day to day struggle for concrete demands and direct their movement toward this aim in a planned and agreed manner.
8. Such a perspective demands extremely close unity of the workers and the peasantry and leadership role by the workers on the basis of such a unity. This unity is created in course of actions, boldly defending the demands of the peasants through direct support which will be given to the peasants by means of demonstrations and strikes. Leadership by the workers will be done not simply through the communist party, but primarily through direct massive actions of the workers in support of the demands and struggle of the peasantry. The class of workers is closest to the peasantry which sees it as its closest friend and ally. Many workers are natives of agricultural regions and are connected to the peasantry by innumerable ties. The actions of the workers do not only help in the ongoing struggle of the peasantry but also, as history of our national movement shows, galvanises the peasantry in the nearby regions, revolutionises it and helps in attracting new masses of peasants into the struggle. In the present situation in India when all the classes and all the sections excluding a handful of exploiters are facing the threat of death from hunger and when the hatred against the government is on the rise, the actions of the workers on questions of decreasing food rations can be a great tool for galvanising the whole population to give concrete form to expressing their discontent, for creating the unity in the actions and promoting the peoples movement to higher levels. While carrying on its struggle not only for its own demands, but also for the demands of all classes and groups, specially the peasantry, and acting as the main defender of a genuine democratic movement, the class of workers acts like a leader of the revolutionary population and builds its revolutionary unity.
9. Therefore, of prime importance is creating political consciousness in the class of workers, of making it aware of is role as the hegemon, overcoming the present lack of unity of the class of workers, attracting to our side the majority of the workers in the main branches of the industry and building a strong movement of the worker class with underground committees in the factories and workshops as its core. The best and the most active elements must be brought into the party and preparatory work needs to be done for creating armed units of workers in major industrial centres. All of this requires intensive political propaganda work among the workers, patient daily work, leadership of the struggle for the immediate demands of the workers and creation of a strong trade union movement. Only a united class of workers and a class of workers aware of its hegemonic role can create unity.
10. In agricultural areas, the party needs to mobilize every layer of the peasantry against feudal exploitation including rich peasants and create unity among them on the support of agricultural worker and poor peasants who together constitute the majority of the population. Though the liquidation of feudalism and distribution of land among the peasants must continue to be our main slogan of an agrarian revolution during the whole period, we need to formulate the immediate concrete demands for each province and for each region such as reduction of rent, just payment for agricultural products, abolition of feudal taxes and forced labour, a basic minimum for agricultural workers etc., and head the actions for implementation of these demands. The agrarian crisis is about to come to a boil, against the present government, that has come to power because of the their support and has then betrayed them, discontent is all pervasive among the peasants. However, despite the widespread discontent against the government despite the frequent demonstrations by the peasants in many parts of the country, the peasant movement in the country is still quite weak, and large sections of the peasantry are not yet engaged in active struggle because of lack of organisation and leadership. Our objective should be to overcome these weaknesses through persistent popularisation of our agrarian programme, by putting forward specific and easy to understand demands that can become the foundation for wide ranging actions by means of patient day to day work correct leadership of the struggle for these demands and also by creating during this struggle a network of organisations of the peasants and of the agricultural workers with underground cells in the countryside as leadership and directive centres. Volunteer units consisting of combatants and committed groups of peasantry need to be formed for the defense of the peasant movement against the enemy’s onslaught. These units will become the core of partisan units as the movement progresses and reach the stage of seizure of land and partisan war.
11. As the crisis grows, the movement and the unity, consciousness and organisation is strengthened, the strength and the influence of the party increases and as the enemy resorts to more and more ruthless measures to destroy the peasant movement, so will the question when and where to use arms become more and more important. As this question is very important practical question it is undoubtedly necessary that the party must come up with a clear and unambiguous answer.
12. It is necessary to understand that due to the large territory of India, different levels of consciousness of the masses and different levels of mass movements in different parts of the country, unequal intensity of the agrarian crisis and varying influence of the party itself , the peasant movement cannot develop at an even pace everywhere. Undoubtedly one must avoid untimely revolts and adventurist actions of any kind. At the same time it would be a mistake to assert that one should resort armed actions of a partisan war in a particular area only when the movement in the rest of the regions reaches the stage of a rebellion. On the contrary, as the movement progresses a situation may be created in some regions that will require armed struggle taking the form of a partisan war. For instance in the large topographically advantageous regions where the peasant movement has matured enough for seizure of lands, the question how to carry out such a seizure of land and how to defend the seized lands will become the most urgent question of the time. We hold the view that, in these conditions, the partisan struggle begun by the masses of the peasantry especially by the most oppressed and exploited on the basis of a genuinely mass peasant movement and strong unity under the leadership of the party, combined with other forms struggle such as boycott of the landowners, mass refusal to pay rents, strikes by agricultural workers can, if properly carried out and directed, stir up and revolutionise the peasant masses in all the regions of the country and raise their struggle to a higher level. As the peasant movement progresses it must be combined with mass actions of the class of workers especially in neighbouring regions such as strikes and demonstrations. Begun on the basis of careful preparations and accounting for all possible factors the partisan struggle must be carried on with courage and perseverance and the accomplishments of the movements be defended by all means at our disposal. At the same time the party must act with utmost flexibility when the superior enemy forces are concentrated against the partisan areas and the partisan forces face the threat of defeat or complete annihilation.
13. We need to, in our agitation and propaganda, emphasise the defensive nature of the partisan struggle, pay special attention on the demands that the peasants are fighting for and on the atrocities that have forced them to take up arms. It is necessary to point out that it is the enemy who is responsible for the violence and bloodshed.
14. For the party to carry on the partisan struggle in genuine and correct bolshevist way so that the partisan struggle becomes a weapon of the revolution, it is necessary that the position of the party toward individual terror is fully explained. The communist party is irreconcilably against individual terror in any manifestation. Any attempt to show the tactics of individual terror as a tactic of partisan struggle, any tendency to equate these two tactics and any tendency to blur the difference between the two – each and every such tendency must be severely opposed. It is necessary to clearly understand that any sort of armed action is not a partisan struggle even if it is carried out by a unit that consists totally of peasant combatants and even if such actions are organized by party cells.
15. In a partisan struggle, the masses are the active participants, heroes and creators of their own history. Partisan struggle is a product of the mass movement and is directly tied to this movement, and in the concrete conditions of India of our time it manifests itself when this movement reaches a particular stage of seizure of land and grains stocks and also the stage of rebellion in the regions under consideration. The partisan struggle should not be conducted in isolation from the masses, not in a manner that the masses play only the role of a passive sympathizer that provides food, shelter and information. On the contrary, partisan actions should be combined and conducted with the aim of conducting other forms mass actions such as seizure of lands, abolition of rent payments, active boycott of oppressors of the people. Only a partisan struggle combined inseparably with such a mass movement can develop and expand and instill revolutionary confidence in the people.
16. Partisan actions, contrary to individual terror, are undertaken not to liquidate a particular oppressor or this or that “marked” landowner or police officer. The objective of the partisan actions is defending the peoples’ movement, disorganisation and destruction of the forces that want to destroy the movement. These forces may be the armed forces, police units, fascist armed bands like the bands of internal security. The task is to destroy these forces in parts through a series of engagements and sudden attacks, seize their arms, liquidate them and render impossible their operations against the people by breaching their transport , and thus create such conditions that in favourable situation the partisan dominated regions could become liberated zones and the partisan units become a liberation army. In contrast to these genuine partisan actions, the fine edge of individual terror is directed against particular oppressors of the people. Particular oppressors - landowners and police officers - are “marked” and separate armed individuals or units organize their liquidation. The aim of such actions is to terrorize other oppressors and force them to stop oppressing the people. As the experience of all countries show such actions never achieve this objective. Such actions make people passive instead of making them active and are futile and harmful in every way.
17. In the process of encounter between the peoples’ partisan forces and reactionary forces of the enemy, individual oppressors including the most hated ones may be killed, but such killings are not the objective of partisan actions. In the liberated areas peoples’ courts will try and punish individual oppressors for crimes committed by them, but this is not the same as organizing actions specifically with the aim of killing one or the other oppressor.
18. Since such is the nature of the partisan war, and since such are its objectives, it is necessary to understand that partisan struggle is an extremely serious matter and cannot be started without adequate political, organisational and technical preparations, without a careful assessment of the concrete conditions in the country in general and a given region in particular. Just as the party should not allude to the existing weakness of the peoples’ movement in the whole of the country as an argument to reject all partisan actions even in areas where the conditions are favourable for such actions, it should, presently, conduct partisan war in a flexible manner and to strengthen the peoples’ movement in general.
19. The party can achieve this and develop the mass movement to the level of a partisan struggle at the national level and a general strike of the workers leading to a revolt only if it will, at any given moment, correctly assess the national-political situation, if it will reject subjectivism and will not accept the desirable as reality, if it will not confuse opportunity with reality, and if moreover, it will keep in mind that the objective conditions are not sufficient and that there should also be the subjective factor – a mass party, which has deep roots among the masses, in particular among the class of workers, a party in which they have confidence and one that can lead them to the victory of the revolution.
20. Despite the great revolutionary surge among the masses during the last 3 years and despite the numerous mass actions that occurred and are occurring, it will be an great exaggeration to state that India is on the verge of a revolutionary revolt and revolution, that there is already an ongoing civil war in the country, that the government and its leaders and the agents are already isolated etc. etc. Such an exaggeration inevitably leads to ignoring of concrete tasks confronting the party, to organisation and propaganda of adventurist actions in isolation from the people, to futile calls for action and pompous slogans that have no relation either to the existing level of consciousness of the masses or to the real situation. In practice it results in the isolation of the party that makes it easy for the enemy to destroy it. Its result is that the masses go over to the socialists and other subversive elements. Equally wrong are those who view, through the lenses of reformism, only the weakness and lack of unity in the peoples’ movement and the offensive of the enemy, and preach the policy of retreat and “waiting”, the policy of regrouping their strength and rejection at present of all armed actions in the towns and the countryside. The tactics, based on this understanding of the situation will result in the worst form of reformism and will lead to situation in which the party follow behind the masses instead of leading them.
21. The reality of the situation is that the crisis is quickly growing, under its influence the masses are being revolutionized and a period of large scale clashes lies ahead. The fact the government has not fulfilled even a single obligation promised to the masses, the inability of the government to solve even a single problem – especially the question of agrarian reforms and food supplies for the population – all of this rapidly shatters all illusions and already the majority of our people view the existing government as a government of the exploiter classes, as a government of landowners and capitalists. The majority of the population thinks that the government can be changed and a genuinely popular government be elected without resorting to armed revolt but through general elections, but in the struggle for day to day demands – sufficient pay, just prices for agricultural goods and restoration of ration cards system etc. – hundreds of thousands of people are beginning to act in all parts of the country. The growth of peoples’ movement still lags behind the growth of discontent among the masses and only a small part of the population is drawn into the real struggle against the government. This lagging behind is a result of not only repressive measures by the government, but above all a result of a weak party and the existing disunity of the progressive forces. Therefore, one of the main tasks of the party is to strengthen the unity of the class of workers, unification of the popular forces based on a concrete programme and building of a mass party so that the party can provide leadership and only such leadership can unite and expand the mass movement and bring it on to a much higher level.
22. The party must put forward the slogan that the present government must be dissolved and replaced by a peoples’ government that represents the unity of the democratic forces, a government that fights against the British empire and which will bring about the agrarian reform and democracy. It must use the forthcoming general elections for widely popularizing it programme, for mobilization and unification of democratic forces, for exposing the policies and methods of the present government. The party should lead the masses in their day to day struggle and take them forward step by step so that the people on their own experience are convinced about the necessity and inevitability of an armed revolution. The party must not speak about the inevitability of fascism and instead use the huge resources of democratically inclined people in the country to unify the people and retard the strengthening course toward fascism taken by the present government. Through patient and systematic day to day efforts, by openly fighting for the demands of the people, by correct leadership of the concrete struggle of all the layers of the people, the party shall grow and be able to fulfill its role as the organizer and leader of the popular- democratic movement.
23. Therefore, we should stop these endless debates being carried out in our party during the course of this year on the question of the Chinese path, on the question of how to conduct an armed struggle. Such debates lead to disorganization in the party, dilutes it strength and deprive the masses of leadership just at a time when they need leadership of the party the most. Debates on these questions conducted openly as the case has been till now reveals all our plans to enemy and makes it difficult to implement them.
The fact is that there is going to be a crisis very soon and the party in its current state, being disorganized and weak, cannot fully utilize the crisis to carry the people toward a revolution. The party is not prepared to carry the huge responsibility that such a situation will put on it. Therefore, the present weaknesses should be overcome as soon as possible so that the rank and file of the party are united and measures are taken to broaden the mass base of the party and strengthen it. While drawing in the best from among the workers and other classes involved in the struggle and transforming it into a mass party, it is also necessary at the same time to be alert to admitting elements in the party who are still not considered to have been adequately checked out and to be trustworthy. For this purpose we should have a system of candidature to membership of the party. Using all legal means it is also necessary to decisively strengthen the illegal present apparatus of the party.
24. One of the most important task for the party in our country is the task of mobilising the Indian people for defending peace. As it is one of the largest and most densely populated country of the world and one that occupies key position in south-East Asia, India must play a key role in the battle against Anglo-American war mongers and maintaining peace. The task of the communist party is to see that India plays this role.
25. Forces of peace in our country are potentially great. And these forces are becoming stronger. The love and administration for the Soviet Union is widespread in all the layers of the population including the middle class intellectuals. The liberation of China and its rise as a great power, the methods that have helped the peoples’ government of China solve the food problem, famine, floods and illnesses make a great impression on our people. Equally strong is the mood in the country against the American aggression in Korea and so widespread are sentiments of sympathy for the Korean people that even the most reactionary newspapers were forced to criticize the Americans. These unqualified sentiments among the masses and other factors have forced the government of Nehru to oppose the most ugly evil doings of the American imperialists (threat of use of atom bomb, declaring Peoples’ China as the aggressor etc.).
26. The party, however, as so far has not been able to convert the widespread striving toward peace into a great movement for peace because, as regarding other questions, our approach to the question of peace was extremely sectarian. The movement for peace remain just a movement limited to the supporters of the party, trade unions and the peasants’ organisations under our influence. The platform for peace was used of general attacks on the government in regard any problem and for popularising the struggles conducted by the party. This has inevitably resulted in restricting the scope of the peace movement and that all the people for whom peace is dear could be drawn into the struggle. It is only lately that we have started to move away from such a damaging method.
The other manifestation of sectarianism was that we could not connect the question of peace with other key questions confronting the people, we could not show the connection of the course taken toward war and increasing defense budget of the Nehru government with rise of prices of essential goods, budget cuts in education, unsatisfactory situation in the housing sector and increasing offensive on civil rights etc.
27. It is extremely important to reject all forms of sectarianism so as to expand the struggle for peace that will have wide support. The growth and expansion of the national liberation movement helps the cause of peace. The growth of peace movement also helps in expanding the national liberation movement. In this manner these two movements are closely linked to each other, one strengthening the other. The peace platform is wider platform. It can and should include all supporters of peace, all the elements that for one reason or the other are against war and are ready to oppose all measures meant to start and spread war.
28. The peace movement should correctly assess the foreign policy of the Nehru government regarding peace and take up correct position regarding all particular manifestations of this policy.
Though the peace movement should support special measures of the government that stop the war mongers; for instance, Nehru’s statement against the atomic bomb and his vote against the American proposals in the UN condemning China, but at the same time point out the vacillating and half-hearted policies of the government and conduct a resolute struggle to mobilize the masses for a consistent policy of peace.
In reality the policy of the Nehru government cannot be called a peace policy. Essentially it is a policy of manoeuvring between the American and the British imperialism. Nehru is afraid of the consequences of a world war and therefore defends the policy of “moderation”, a policy of “not going to far”. At the same time the Indian government continues to be an active member of the British Commonwealth of Nations which is a partner of American imperialism in its aggressive wars. The Indian government has not condemned the aggressive American war in Korea, has not renounced its support to the illegal UN resolution sanctioning this aggression. It has not condemned British imperialists that are waging a war in Malaya, on the contrary, have allowed to recruit gorkhas for the war against the Malayan people. It has not condemned the French aggression in Vietnam and continues to provide service to French imperialists transporting its military and military material.
29. Therefore, apart from mobilizing the population against the threat of atomic war, in support of the Stockholm and Warsaw Appeals, one of the main tasks of the peace movement in India is to unite the people against political actions of the present government that help and facilitate colonial wars being conducted by the imperialists from England and France against the peoples’ of South-East Asia. The peace movement is not a pacifist movement and not a movement for just registering a general support for peace. It is a movement for concrete actions for defending peace and against imperialist war mongers including those waging colonial wars.
30. The supporters of peace must wage a struggle against all attempts to sow enmity toward the Peoples’ Republic of China. They should explain to our people that the liberation of Tibet is not a threat to peace but decisive blow to war mongers. They should support the heroic actions of the Chinese volunteers who, having thwarted the plans of the American war mongers directed to enslaving the Korean and the Chinese peoples, have strengthened the cause of peace in the whole world.
31. We should also fight against all war propaganda directed against Pakistan by pointing out that the increasingly tense relationship between India and Pakistan are a result of the imperialist manoeuvers and that it plays into the hands of the enemies of the peoples of both the countries. We should demand decisive cutting down of military budget and a policy of peace and close alliance between India, Pakistan and Ceylon.
32. The supporters of peace should carry out decisive struggle against the defamation of the Soviet Union and against all those who are trying to show the consistent peace policy of the Soviet Union as a policy of war and aggression. Based on the clear and bold statement of comrade Stalin in his answer to the question of the correspondent from “Pravda”, we should specifically expose the real war mongers and follow the shining example of the Soviet Union, which is putting in all its energy and resources toward the further betterment of the life of the people and is leading the whole of progressive humanity in the fight for preservation of peace. A strong friendship between the peace loving peoples of all the countries will facilitate to save the world from the threat of war and the people of India must play a big role in establishing such a friendship - this fact must sink into the consciousness of the whole population.
Translated – Pavlov
Handwritten remarks and underlining by V.M. Molotov.
RGASPI Fond 82, Op. 2, D. 1205, LL 28-48.
* Following handwritten remark on the margin intended to be inserted here:
measure for safeguarding the interests of the workers.
+ Following handwritten remark on the margin intended to be inserted here:
from a semi-colonial regime in the country
# Following handwritten remark on the margin intended to be inserted here:
directed also against imperialism and its agents in India