Advice to the Communist Party of India from a Fraternal Communist Party (3rd May 1951)

P.C. Joshi


With this document from the former Central Party Archives of the Soviet Union we continue the publication of the materials which relate to the exchanges between the CPSU (b) and Stalin and the leadership of the Communist Party of India in 1951. As is known, after the removal of P.C. Joshi from the general secretaryship of the CPI, Joshi maintained a political diary in which he gave his analyses of developments in the CPI under the leadership of B.T. Ranadive and Rajeshwara Rao. Extracts from his political diary were circulated within the CPI and also the international communist movement to the CPGB, the Communist Party of France, the CPSU (b). The document here was received by the CPSU (b) via the English Communist Party. It is located in the Molotov holding of the former Central Party Archives now known as RGASPI. The political diary, while tendentious, is nonetheless informative about the ideological and political collisions within the CPI.

This document confirms the rejection by the CPSU (b) of all tactical lines for India which did not accept the necessity of armed struggle. Stalin in 1951 in the exchanges with the CPI had defined armed struggle as being constituted by the joint armed activity of the working class and the peasantry. On this basis he rejected the views of B.T. Ranadive and the Andhra Committee (Rajeshwara Rao, Basuvapunnaiah) both of whom based their tactical lines on just one class. Stalin pointed out there were misconceptions about the Chinese example in the Indian communist movement: ‘Concerning the armed struggle it needs to be said that the Chinese did not speak of the armed struggle, they spoke of the armed revolution. They regarded it as partisan war with liberated regions and with an army of liberation. This means that it is necessary to speak of the armed revolution and partisan war and not of armed struggle. The expression ‘armed struggle’ was first mentioned in the Cominform newspapers. The armed struggle signifies more than a partisan war, it means the combination of partisan war of the peasantry and the general strikes and uprisings of the workers. In its scale a partisan war is narrower than an armed struggle. Stalin pointed to partisan struggle being successful in China as the People’s Liberation Army came to Manchuria where it benefitted from the proximity of the Soviet Union. Modesty prevented Stalin from saying that Manchuria had been liberated from the Japanese by the Soviet and Mongolian armies which laid the basis for the subsequent offensive of the PLA against Chiang Kai shek and the victory of the people’s democratic revolution in China. Yudin rejected the understanding of the Andhra Committee on what was called ‘armed partisan struggle’ by the Rajeshwara Rao and Basavapunaiah and stated there was no such thing. He pointed out the differences between the situation in the Chinese revolution and those pertaining in India. The Chinese had benefitted from the support of the liberated areas where they had Soviet support. Without such support the Chinese forces would have been surrounded and destroyed. Regarding Telengana, Yudin gave his opinion that it could not be sustained and went so far as to say that the activities of the CPI in Andhra constituted ‘terrorism’. Similarly, Yudin sharply assailed the views of Rajeshwara Rao saying that they constituted ‘terrorism’; he opposed both the individual and group terrorism of the CPI saying that this was contrary to the views of Lenin.

Yudin argued that the question of armed struggle should only be discussed in the Central Committee of the party and not in public as was done in India. The CPI should speak only on everyday tactical issues. This is the reason, no doubt, that the Tactical Line document of the CPI of 1951 was not published at the time.

Rajeshwara Rao had directly posed the question to Stalin whether the CPI should terminate its partisan warfare in Telengana. In his private handwritten note which was not for circulation Stalin wrote that ‘No, if the people want to continue the partisan struggle’. Stalin expressed the view that it was necessary to support what were the first sprouts of civil war. Stalin countered the view of a section of the CPI that civil war had started in India, saying that it was too early to speak about this, the conditions for civil war were growing but they had not thus far grown. Whatever had originated in Telengana required support. The emphases of the CPSU (b) Commission on the question of the Indian revolution with regards to the question of Telengana, according to Yudin, was that while they did not know about the nature of this movement it was their opinion that the CPI would not be able to sustain it. A fuller understanding of the views of the CPSU (b) on the question of Telengana will emerge only when the transcript of the second meeting of Stalin and the CPI leadership is opened up in the Russian archives.

Very valuable information is given here of the views of various CPI leaders on the question of the continuation or otherwise of the Telengana struggle. Rajeshwara Rao and Basuvapunnaiah of the Andhra Committee, who at time led the CPI, came to the conclusion that it needed to be discontinued. They were supported by Dange and Ajay Ghosh. Sundarayya wanted its continuation as the movement was expanding. E.M.S. Namboodiripad was not firm on the question. Important fragments of the history of the withdrawal of the Telengana struggle are given here which are expanded upon in the autobiography of Sundarayya which was published in 2009.

Vijay Singh

To Comrade Stalin

I am forwarding a note, translated from English, received from comrade H. Pollitt and written by Joshi, the former general secretary of the CC CPI titled “Advice to the Communist Party of India from a Fraternal Communist Party.” This note, written after the Indian comrades returned to India from the Soviet Union, contains the facts of their stay in Moscow and partly the content of their discussions with us.

As pointed out in the note, this information was received from one of the provincial party workers who in turn had received it from a member of the Politbureau. Joshi does not mention the names of these persons.

Comrade H. Pollitt mentioned that the journal of the Communist Party of England “World News and Views” of 9 June of this year carries a detailed review of the draft programme of the Communist Party of India, and in the next number of the same journal an article by Palme Dutt approving the draft programme will be published.

According to the latest information, Joshi has been reinducted in the party.

Chairman of the External Affairs Committee of the CC AUCP/b/
V. Grigorian
11 July 1951

Copies have been dispatched to:

Comrades: Malenkov

No 25 – C – 1241

Translated from the English Pages from the Diary

Advice to the Communist Party of India from a Fraternal Communist Party *

* International advice in the text

P.C. Joshi

Source. Below I give an account of what a member of the Politbureau told a provincial worker in order to convince him of the correctness of the party line, and also to convince P.C. Joshi to follow the party line and that he himself should not ever follow P.C. Joshi.

This member of the Politbureau is one of the most honest leaders of the party at present.

The Representatives of Both Streams Were Invited.

During the December meeting of the Central Committee a message was received from a fraternal party, that two representatives from each faction (Dange’s faction and Rao’s faction) are being invited for consultations.

At the December meeting it was decided that Dange and Ghosh (representatives of one faction) and Rajeshwar Rao and Punnaiah (representatives of the other faction) will go for the consultations.

They were absent from the middle of December to the end of April mainly due to technical difficulties etc. as the consultations were held only for a month.

Commission for Fraternal Support

The fraternal party formed a commission with comrade Yu(din) as its head for conducting the consultations with the leaders of our party. The leaders were of the view that they have read our materials and were ready for discussions.

Our leaders held a series of long meetings above all with the members of the Commission during which they informed the members of the Commission about the situation in India etc.

On the Path of Action

Yu. held long talks with them, asked them questions etc. He also asked them about their (our leaders) documents and said that the concept of “armed partisan struggle” as a tactic doesn’t exist, and asked them “Where have you borrowed this conception of armed struggle from?” What do you mean when at times you speak of following the Russian path and at another of following the Chinese path? You should follow your own path while learning from the experience of both the revolutions. But all the while you should maintain your Indian path.


There should be no terrorism, neither individual nor group. This contradicts Marxism.

R. Rao said: But Lenin in certain situations stood for the use of individual terror.

Yu. Who told you such a thing? We will give you Lenin’s works and you will find that he has a lot to say against terrorism and never argued for terrorism, not under any circumstances.

Yu was not angry, he was smiling when he talked about Lenin.

Yu: Indiscriminate killing of the class enemy is not acceptable at any stage of the struggle. Even at the most advanced stage you can only destroy the armed forces of the enemy and if during the war the class enemy helps the armed forces of the ruling class – they are destroyed, it is all together a different matter. Yu. hinted that the question of physical annihilation of a whole class doesn’t even arise.

China and India

Yu. said that there is a big difference between India and China.

China does not have a dense network of communication ways as in India.

In China a 30,000 strong National Army has come over to side with the revolutionary forces. China has a huge territory. The central government in China is not so united. The great advantage that China had in the beginning of the struggle, and which is absent in India, is that the Chinese partisans could move to the north toward the liberated areas /i.e. toward the USSR/. Without full fledged support they would have been surrounded and destroyed.

Workers’ and Peasants’ Unity

In India you should combine the tactics of partisan struggle with armed uprising in the cities. Only in this way one may compensate for the lack of such a favourable position of a common border with the USSR, and can disrupt the working of a more centralised government and paralyse the means of transportation. Intervention in the leadership of the workers and the peasants is absolutely necessary. The concentration of the workers in the transport i.e. concentration of railway workers – is very important for your country.

Yu. said: We do not intervene in the affairs of parties of other countries, and if we wanted to do so, then we will have to take full moral responsibility for the direction and the leadership.

On the Bourgeoisie

The members of the Commission stated that the big bourgeoisie has not gone over to the other side. Not even a single group of big bourgeoisie lies outside the definition of national bourgeoisie. A part of the big bourgeoisie has gone over to the enemy, but do not demand immediate nationalisation of the industry. Even in those branches of the industry where the proportion of the national and foreign capital is 50:50, only the foreign capital needs to be nationalised. That part of the big bourgeoisie which, in the course of the struggle undertakes anti-national crimes, one should deal with as with betrayers of national interests.

It is necessary to conduct political struggle against the big bourgeoisie as a collaborationist force.

On the Agrarian Problem

The agrarian revolution, i.e. peasant revolution, is the base of the revolution. But the peasant revolution can be successful only if it enjoys the support of and leadership by the workers.

Yu. said that a spontaneous unrest may occur, but you will not be able to take advantage of it because of your internal party crisis. You will be able to take advantage of a spontaneous unrest only if you are able to bring about the unity of the workers and the peasantry. The worker-peasant unity is crucial for you. Without the unity of the workers and the peasants you cannot even establish a genuine D.F. (Democratic Front).

Tactical Line

The proposition that the struggle in the countryside should be combined with general strikes leading to armed confrontations in the cities runs contrary to both the line of B.T. Ranadive as well as the line of R. Rao.

However he said that a partisan struggle must undergo three stages. You should undertake preparatory activities; immediately create a mass movement; no revolution from behind the corners. Any form of struggle may be used according to the time and place.

You don’t have to speak about your tactical line prematurely, as you had done mistakenly, and it is never done in any country. The Russian Trotskyites tried to do this in Russia and Lenin condemned them. Such actions disarm before the enemy.

The question of armed struggle should not be discussed in public and only within the Central Committee. One needs to talk about only about everyday tactical issues on specific questions.

There are no doubts, that the leadership must have plans for the future but this does not mean that you speak about it prematurely. For God’s sake don’t pass on these documents to Nehru, as you have been doing so far.

Draft of the Programme

They (the members of the Commission) asked questions, gave their opinions and held conversations with our leaders.

Then they asked them to prepare a draft. This draft of the programme was drafted by A.K.G. [A.K. Ghosh] The draft was sent to Yu., who himself made corrections, shortened or totally changed the formulations. Many modifications have been made in the document on the tactical line.

There Should Not Be Any Differences

Yu. made special mention of the fact that no differences should be allowed. He said: Your party is going through a very serious crisis and arguments should be avoided. You should immediately remove all differences on the basis of the new line of the party, set aside grievances, the main thing is the unity of the party.

About B.T. Ranadive

Yu. asked about Ranadive, has he understood all the seriousness of his mistakes? The members of our Politbureau said that he has written a self-critical report.

Yu.: I read it. It does not satisfy me. What do you think is he capable of anything. Give him something to do. But not of any importance. You have too small a capital to squander it. Use all the resources that you have.

On the Commissions

Yu. said that you will not get anything out of these commissions, you will not get any evidence of the links with the agents of imperialism. It will be difficult for you to find evidence but be watchful when it comes to political mistakes. If you will be watchful the traitors will be exposed.

Regarding P.C. Joshi

Yu. also inquired about P.C. Joshi. Yu asked, what is it with you? Has he been removed for reformism?

The members of our politbureau did not offer a direct answer, but stated that a commission has been nominated and it is very probable that he will be reinstated in the party.

Yu. did not make further inquiries about Joshi. But the members of the Commission did make inquiries. (What precisely were the inquiries about nobody is ready to explain.)

The comrade from Andhra declared: I think that he should now be inducted in the Central Committee.

Why in the Central Committee? they were asked.

They replied that he represents a particular line. The members of the commission said: there can be no question of any line being represented. Induct into your Central Committee old and trusted comrades. And they emphasised that these should be trustworthy comrades.

Party Congress

They did not speak out for immediate convening of the party congress, but advised to go and work out the party line. What will you do at the congress right now? Only argue, some will say do this, and others will say do that.

First you should work out your party line and then conduct the congress. First establish the foundations otherwise you will only be hurling accusations at each other. A new party line needs to be established and its positive dimensions be demonstrated, and on this basis assess your party.

Regarding S.A. Dange:

The members of the Commission inquired about the result of the work of the commission on Dange.

The members of our politbureau replied that the girl (in relation to whom Dange is charged) is presently in the embassy of Czechoslovakia and that we have nothing against her. No more questions about Dange were asked.

On Andhra and Telengana

The members of the Commission said that the movement in Andhra is terrorism.

Regarding Telengana it was said that we do not know about the nature of this movement, but “in our opinion you will not be able to sustain it.”

The Situation After the Return of the 4 Member Delegation to the Party Centre.

R. Rao (Ram) and Punnaiah (Bhanu) returned to the party headquarters with the conviction that the movement in Telengana must be discontinued. They admitted that they have made serious mistakes and do not mind the severe criticism by others. They say maybe we are bad communists and we are terrorists, but you all too glorified terrorists in the past then why do you call us enemies. (This happened after they read the P.C. Joshi documents and heard that he wants a trial of all members of the Central Committee.)

But after a conversation with Sundaraiah (Nag) they have begun to change their views. Sundaraiah lives with Dharani Goswami/ Digin ex member of the politbureau and member of the Commission on the matter of Joshi and B.T. Ranadive and is on friendly terms with him. R. Rao and A.K. Ghosh also live there.

Sundaraiah is of the view that the movement in Telengana is expanding and that there is no need of discontinuing it.

He pressurised R. Rao and Punnaiah and they began to waver on the Telengana question but are unwavering on the issue of discontinuation of the movement in Andhra. Dange, Ghosh and Yu. firmly stand for the discontinuation of the movement in Telengana.

In the forthcoming plenum of the Central Committee the final decision will be taken but the majority in the CC support the July decisions and so Dange and his supporters are at a loss about how to quash it.

Namboodiripad is not firm on the Telengana question.

Organisational changes shall be brought about in this plenum. A new Central Committee and a new politbureau will be elected. The new constitution of the politbureau will be recommended by the plenum.

The list of topics for discussion will probably be held secret.

In the future not every document will distributed among the party members. Rao, Punnaiah, Ghosh and Dange and also all the members of the Central Committee are very displeased with Yu. for having published the interview of Diben-Balkrishna. They think that this document should not have been published without consent from London.

Yu. said he will continue to work for inviting Joshi to the session and even for including him in the Central Committee.

Yusuf is very unhappy with the working of the commission with its investigations of the Joshi case. He told Rustam (Raj Narain), member of the commission, that he should conduct the investigations related to the Joshi case and not criticise the Central Committee and stop the infighting.

Yusuf said: when I spoke with P.C. Joshi, I was indisposed toward him because Joshi is very vain, and any person who does not tell him this is not his friend and is contributing to his fall. In the presence of others I spoke out in his favour and put forward certain arguments which at times led to certain differences.

Ranadive informed Rustam about his conversation with Sundaraiah, who said that the politbureau had no right to take decisions regarding the Joshi case on 26 April 1951. In the December session of the Central Committee it was decided that the Central Committee will act as a central technical apparatus and only in this sphere they (Yusuf and Namboodiripad) had the power to act on behalf of the politbureau or the Central committee.

The session of the Central Committee will be conducted in this week and after 4-6 weeks the plenum will be convened.

3 May 1951

Translated into Russian by V. Sukhanova

10 lk
RGASPI  Fond 82, Opis 2, Delo 1205, Listy 83-90.
Translated from the Russian by Tahir Asghar.

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