Communist Party of India has played a historic role in the country since its formation 95 years ago
At this juncture of history, the challenge before the party is to face RSS and its divisive, sectarian, communal, fascist ideology, writes the party’s general secretary D Raja
On December 26, 1925, the Communist Party of India (CPI) was formally founded on Indian soil at Kanpur braving the brutal attacks and repression unleashed by the British and other colonial rulers.
Since then, the period of 95 years has been one of heroic struggles and supreme sacrifices. Now the party is entering into the 96th year of its heroic march. Communist Party of India was in the forefront of freedom struggle facing conspiracy cases, sedition charges, bullets, jails and gallows. Freedom of India was won over the bloodshed by communists fighting against British and other colonial rulers.
After independence, the CPI “remains firmly wedded to the goal of a just socialist society in which equal opportunities for all and guarantee of democratic rights will clear the way for ending all forms of exploitation including caste, class and gender.”
The Indian freedom movement took inspiration from the great October Revolution led by V I Lenin. The Marxist ideology, which altered the course of world order and experience of the first ever Socialist State in Russia, inspired all those who loved India and who fought for overthrowing the British colonial regime. The path of the revolution and the ideals of Lenin had lasting impact on the Indian freedom movement and especially on the communist revolutionary movements. Leaders of all hues welcomed the developments in Russia but for the revolutionary patriots of the country, this was an occasion to rethink their strategy of how they are going to fight the British Raj and once free, how the Independent India would be.
The efforts of these communist revolutionaries culminated in the formation of the All India Trade Union Congress (AITUC) in 1920 to fight for the rights of labourers. Braving the brutalities and repressions of the colonial rulers, more than 300 of such patriots gathered in Kanpur in the December of 1925 and after much deliberations, founded the Communist Party of India (CPI) on 26th of December, 1925.
CPI was in the forefront for the struggle for independence and tried to mobilise all sections of our people to build a popular freedom movement. During this period Dr Ambedkar returned from London in 1920 and Gandhi from South Africa.
The party played a historic role in organising the peasantry forming a mass organisation, the All India Kisan Sabha (AIKS), the students forming All India Students’ Federation (AISF) and also the Progressive Writers’ Association (PWA) coming into being in the year 1936 and Indian Peoples’ Theatre Association (IPTA) joining the struggle in 1943. The socialists had a significant role in the Congress party through the Congress Socialist Party. The freedom movement really became a people’s movement, which finally broke the colonial rule and won Independence.
In post-Independent India, the CPI has been leading peoples’ struggles for their rights and livelihood issues and remained committed to oppose injustice. During this long journey of 95 years, the party has recognised that our nation has its peculiarities, as the exploitation of working classes by the capitalist class through structures like caste hierarchies, communal divide and patriarchy. The caste structures have impaired many of our attempts in bringing economic equality and social justice.
Millions of people were subjugated because of the ‘sin’ of their birth, kept at a distance from education and opportunities for centuries and still getting lynched. The shackles of caste, the inhuman division of labourers, as Dr Ambedkar called it, has kept our country away from making scientific progress. The veil of patriarchy and disrespect towards women manifests in the barbaric acts of horrific crimes happening every day in our country.
In such a situation, we need to think about alternatives. Such an alternative can only be the practise of socialism with Indian characteristics. Possibly, since the birth of communist movement in India, there continues a search for building socialism with Indian features. Even in the writings of M Singaravelu, one of the founding members of Communist Party of India, there are references about formulating socialism in specific Indian conditions.
Gandhi vs Lenin was the famous title of a booklet written by Com SA Dange published in 1921 and was dedicated to analyse not only the ideologies of Gandhi and Lenin but also the specifics of Indian and Russian conditions. Nehru and Ambedkar too have taken active part in the discussions on socialism in Indian conditions. At least three important factors play vital role in defining the Indian society as we find it in reality. Class, caste and gender are the three factors that widely play an important role in characterising and conditioning Indian society.
The Communist Party and its cadres should address all these aspects, being context sensitive, and combine them in our struggle for equality, not just economic but social, political and cultural. This holistic approach towards the evils of poverty, caste and gender will be the cornerstone of a more inclusive, socially radical and forward looking Left political party and will pave the way for a major churning in Indian society.
At this juncture of history, the challenge before the party is to face RSS and its divisive, sectarian, communal, fascist ideology. The RSS was formed just three months before the CPI in 1925 itself. RSS, which had no role in the freedom struggle of our country, has come to the centre stage of country’s politics and is on its desperate effort to convert the Republic of India into a Hindutva Rashtra. The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), the political arm of RSS, is ruling at the Centre. The Modi government is executing the evil designs of RSS by aggressively supporting the corporate capitalism.
The CPI in its Party Congress held after the Modi government came to office correctly noted that “this is not a mere change of government.” The RSS, a self-proclaimed cultural organisation, is trying to impose its highly divisive, communal and Brahmanical Hindutva agenda through the government at the Centre and at the same time, serving its corporate bosses. We need to evaluate how deep the RSS has crept into our society and our Republic that it can hardly be called secular socialist now. No branch of the State and no strata of society is insulated from it and they are discriminating with the citizens based on their class, caste, religion and gender blatantly, putting strain on the very foundations of the Republic.
As a result of this, all sections of society, be it farmers, workers, Dalits, minorities, women, youth or students, everyone is out on the streets protesting against one or the other draconian measures of the government.
Our biggest challenge, when we are getting closer to observe the 100th anniversary of the party is to galvanize all these struggles into one inclusive and all-encompassing struggle against the majoritarian, divisive and exploitative designs of the RSS-BJP and provide able, rational, scientific political leadership to these struggles through the practice of socialism with Indian characteristics. The RSS-BJP combine is trying to impose uniformity on this country known for its diversities.
They are trying to create India and Indian society as a homogenous monolith. Earlier, the Sangh Parivar used to raise the cry for “one country, one civil code” but after six years in office and after imposing “one nation, one tax” to great difficulties for the people, “one country, one language”, “one country, one election”, etc, are on their agenda with disregard to the diversity of the country and contempt for federalism.
Soon, they will start working for “one country, one religion”, evident from the Islamophobia they are spreading on the pretext of ‘Love Jihad’, etc, and the way their propaganda machinery tried to malign the protesting farmers as ‘Khalistani’, merely because of them being Sikhs. The call for “one country, one religion” will be the end of the secular democratic country we built up and sacrificed so much for. In this light, the RSS-BJP should be defeated not just electorally but by working tirelessly to remove the hate and divisiveness they have filled among sections of our society, before they can turn this country into a theocratic, Brahmanical Hindutva Rashtra. That’s the challenge. They keep declaring ‘Hindi-Hindutva-Hindustan’ and Manusmriti in place of the present Constitution.
Our party, the CPI, will have to continue its historic march with highest level of ideological, political commitment and organisational discipline. The party will have to play a very constructive role, being in the front line in organising and uniting all revolutionary and democratic forces to take the country forward.