Amendments to the Draft Document on the Tactical Line of the Communist Party of India1

I.V. Stalin (March 1951)


The discussions in Moscow in early 1951 between the Soviet leadership headed by Stalin and the CPI leadership, S.A. Dange, Ajoy Ghosh and M. Basuvapunnaiah, were concerned with the elaboration of the Programme and Tactical Line of the Indian revolution. The meetings were considered necessary by the CPI in the light of the failures generated by the Ranadive and Andhra Committee lines in the previous four years. The Ranadive-Adhikari line under the influence of the Yugoslavs advocated a political line in which the democratic and socialist tasks of the revolution were immediately intertwined. Effectively this represented the pursuance of the perspective of socialist revolution in a semi-colonial dependent country. Stalin considered the line of socialist revolution to be dangerous for India and this had prompted the Cominform resolution of January 27, 1950, which stressed the democratic nature of the Indian revolution. Under Ranadive, moreover, the CPI had undertaken strike actions of the railwaymen which were way beyond their strength.

After 1935 when the policy of Popular Front was adopted in some of the imperialist and dependent countries the notion of direct socialist revolution was now passé. And after the Second World War Stalin and the Soviet party had developed the notion of People’s Democracy as the immediate task of the communist movement around the world as the road to socialism. This is evident from Stalin’s discussions with Harry Pollitt which suggested People’s Democracy as the immediate appropriate stage not only for Britain but also for other imperialist powers such as the United States and Canada. This is confirmed by the writings of W.Z. Foster and Tim Buck in this period as well in the works of the Soviet Marxist Leninist theorist, A. I. Sobelov.

The Andhra Committee upheld the democratic revolution but narrowly emulated the Chinese revolution by excluding the working class from its tactical line. Stalin pointed out that the Communist Party of China had the advantage of a friendly Soviet rear which saved the People’s Liberation Army from encirclement and destruction from the Nationalists. The Chinese were also beneficiaries of the liberation of Manchuria by Soviet and Mongolian troops. India had no such benefits and it had to compensate for this by organising the support of an armed working class. The overall perspective of both the drafts of the Programme and Tactical Line were based on the discussions of the Soviet leadership and the CPI leaders. Stalin in his suggested amendments stressed that the democratic revolution could not be done peacefully but though revolution. The most extensive suggestions related to the question of the use of individual terror by the Andhra Committee in the Telengana struggle. In his discussions with Stalin, Rajeshwara Rao sought to defend the practice of individual terror. Stalin countered his views by referring to the views of Lenin on the question. The national movement and the communists had terrorist components in India in the early twentieth century. Stalin from 1926 in his ‘Letter to Johnson’ had fought against the terrorist trend which had a retarding effect on the development of the mass movement. This fight by Stalin continued in the Moscow exchanges in 1951 and is equally relevant to the politics of individual terror in the countryside and towns which was initiated in India in the 1960s. The Programme and Tactical Line of 1951 was occluded by all major sections of the communist movement in the post-Stalin period. The consequence of this was the re-emergence of the parliamentary path and the complementary politics of individual terror. Effectively, all communist trends in India rejected the line of revolutionary parliamentarism advocated by the Bolsheviks and Comintern. These problems were summarised, highlighted and criticised in the suggested changes to the text by Stalin. The Tactical Line was a closed document in the CPI. An open version of the Tactical Line was entitled Statement of Policy of the Communist Party of India. It was adopted by the Calcutta Conference and published for the first time in November 1951.

Vijay Singh

1. In the upper left corner typed ‘Translation from English’ and stricken out by blue pencil.

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