Regarding the 1964 Programme Document of the CPI (M)

Parimal Dasgupta


Makineni Basavapunnaiah played a critical role in formulating the programmes and tactical lines of the CPI and the CPI (M) in the period 1950 to 1985: starting with the Andhra Thesis in 1950 which was rejected by the CPI within a year of its presentation after the discussions of the CPI and the CPSU (b); the Programme and Tactical Line documents of 1951; the effective replacing of the 1951 party programme by that of the CPI (M) in 1964 and the final winding up of the Tactical Line which was published, after the death of P. Sundarayya in 1985 (‘The Statement of Policy Reviewed’, Marxist’, Vol. III, No 3-4, April, 1986).

Parimal Dasgupta from 1951 onwards stood by the programme and tactical line of the CPI and that was the source of the collisions between him and the CPI in 1953 at the Third Congress of the CPI; he criticised, later, the Basavapunnaiah programmatic draft of 1964 which is given below. Subsequently Parimal Dasgupta entered into conflict with the CPI (ML) headed by Charu Mazumdar which followed the CPI and the CPI (M) in explicitly assailing the CPI programme of 1951 and, implicitly, rejecting the Tactical Line document of 1951.

In the immediate years after Stalin the future leadership of the CPI and the CPI (M) swiftly discarded the views of the CPI and the CPSU (b) as expressed in 1951 on the colonial character of the Indian society and state. The CPI Programme of 1951 had as its axis the understanding that India was the last biggest dependent semi-colonial country in Asia, that the Congress Party represented the princes, landlords, the collaborators of British imperialism, the reactionary big bourgeoisie. Foreign capital continued to dominate the Indian economy so that independence was not completely achieved. It was argued that the stage of the revolution was one of people’s democracy which had an anti-imperialist, anti-feudal democratic perspective. Only this path could lead to the liquidation of feudalism, the building up of industrialisation and political independence.

The consensus on the end of the existence of the colonial question in India was established in the immediate years after the death of Stalin. So far as Basuvapunniah is concerned his political report of 1960 confirms his adherence to the unanimity on this. It omits reference to the semi-colonial dependence of India on British imperialism despite the continuing and expanding domination of the foreign capital in the country. (On Draft Political Report, 6th May 1960, in M. Basuvapunniah, Selected Writings, Vol. 1, Prajasakti Book House, Hyderabad, 2015, pp. 11-41.) These views concurred with the views of the 20th Congress of the CPSU of 1956. Mikoyan as is known attacked the Institute of Orientalism for its emphasis on the impact of foreign capital in the colonial countries and advised them to study the independence of these countries. This presaged the accelerated distancing of the CPSU away from Lenin’s views on imperialism and the colonial question. They were replaced by the views of Kautsky who had argued that the withdrawal of the imperialist countries from their colonies represented the end of their imperialism and the establishment of the political independence of the colonial countries. The new reformist consensus represented a re-acceptance of the theory of ‘decolonisation’ which had been rejected in 1928 by the Sixth Congress of the Comintern which criticised the view that the imperialism assisted the development of industrialisation in the colonial world and weakened their dependency on imperialism thereby it ‘decolonised’ them. As early as 1926 it had been expressed by Stalin that while industry developed in colonies such as India it was an industry which was completed subordinated to imperialism so that the instruments and means of production were not produced but imported. Nearly nine decades after this analysis much the same holds true. Similarly the observation by the Sixth Congress of Comintern two years later that true industrialisation could only take place after a democratic revolution still holds. After the 20th Congress of the CPSU these understandings were turned on their head so that the semi-colonial and dependent countries where finance capital multiplied were regarded as independent. ‘Decolonisation’ theory became the norm so that recently Sitaram Yechury at the XIXth meeting of the Brezhnevite ‘communist and workers parties’ held in Moscow, which ‘celebrated’ the October Revolution, could say that the October Revolution opened the way for ‘decolonisation’.

In this analysis, dated 9th September, 1964, Parimal Dasgupta refers to the Programme and the Statement of Policy of 1951 of the CPI. The latter statement was an open version of the Tactical Line document which was closed at that time. Parimal Dasgupta conducted a critique of the Draft Programme outlined by Basavapunnaiah. Later this draft was reworked by the CPI (M) before it was published. The critique by Parimal Dasgupta applies equally to the final programme which was adopted by the party in 1964.

Vijay Singh


The major documents of the CPI of 1951, The Programme, the Tactical Line, the Statement of Policy and the Draft Programme of the Communist Party of India, 21st April, 1964, which was penned by M. Basuvapunnaiah and which was subjected to criticism by Parimal Dasgupta may be found at ‘Documents of the Indian Communist Movement’ at: Other documents relating to the writing of the Programme of the Communist Party of India (M) of 1964 and the programme adopted in that year may be located in (ed.) Jyoti Basu, ‘Documents of the Communist Movement in India’, Volumes X-A and X-B, National Book Agency, Calcutta, 1997.

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