‘‘Czechoslovakia after Hungary’’–I

Parimal Dasgupta

[Introductory Note by Vijay Singh : The author of this article was one of the most remarkable communist activists of India in the period after 1953. His contribution to the communist movement is insufficiently unknown outside Bengal as his polemics were largely conducted in Bengali. Parimal Dasgupta retained a commitment to the Programme and Tactical Line of the Communist Party of India which had been elaborated in 1951 by the CPl. The CPI in 1951 had rejected :
(a)       the right-reformist policies which had been adopted by the party under the leadership of P C Joshi which inter alia had over-estimated the changes proposed by the Mountbatten Award, stressed the democratic possibilities of allying with the Nehru wing of the Congress Party and for some years until early 1946 had given support to the demand for Pakistan;
(b)      the 'Trotskyist-Titoist' policies of B T Ranadive which spoke of the intertwining of the people's democratic and the socialist revolutions in a colonial country;
(c)       the line of the Andhra Committee of the CPI headed by Rajeshwara Rao and Makineni Basavapunnaiah which sought to emulate the Chinese path by engaging in peasant warfare.

The CPI dropped this last approach on the ground that the Chinese path had succeeded only after the intervention of the Soviet and Mongolian troops in Manchuria in 1945 which had defeated the Japanese army and so paved the way for the PLA to move south and defeat the Kuomintang. India did not have the advantage of having an adjacent socialist country which could decisively assist the democratic revolution. It required therefore the joint struggle of an armed working class alongside an armed peasantry which was defined as 'armed struggle'. This was a contrast to the armed revolution of the Chinese revolutionary process. From 1953 the CPI began to drop its understanding of the semi-colonial and semi-feudal character of the Indian society and state as well as distanced itself from the tactical line of armed struggle. Parimal Dasgupta began his conflict with the CPI from 1953 itself. His collisions with reformism continued in relation to the draft programme of the CPI M which was authored by Makineni Basavapunnaiah in 1964. Parimal Dasgupta in fact saw no reason to replace the 1951 programme in 1964. His third major battle as a member of the All India Coordination Committee of Communist Revolutionaries was directed to the reversion nominally to the discarded Andhra Line of 1950 but in reality adopting the focoist individual terrorist practices of Che Guevara and liquidating the work of the communist revolutionaries in the trade unions. This line was adopted by Charu Majumdar and the CPI ML in its initial years. The third section of the article here represents a searing critique of the line of individual terrorism in the countryside and the urban areas and stands by the tactical line adopted by the CPI in 1951.
[In a May 1969 issue of Deshabrati1 Sushital Roychowdhury (SRC) and Charu Majumdar (CM) respectively wrote 'Regarding Parimal Dasgupta' and 'Parimalbabu's politics'2. Parimal Dasgupta's article "Czechoslovakia after Hungary" was also printed in the same issue of Deshabrati but was signed as "Satyaneshi" (seeker of truth). It was this article which was the focus of attack by SRC and CM. In reply to these two articles by SRC and CM, Mr Dasgupta published an article in 1970 in 'Communist', a fortnightly magazine and was titled 'Regarding the politics of Sushitalbabu and Charubabu'. This article was reprinted in the July 1970 issue of the same magazine and with a new title "Sources of Incorrect Ideas in Revolutionary Politics".]

Deshabrati—2nd year, 1st issue, 1 May, the much awaited "ghatanaprabaha", ("Current Events"- ed) section was primarily focused on me. Two persons were the main writers—CM and SRC. They expressed their political opinion on my article on the situation in Czechoslovakia and some other issues. SRC's article is a mix of many, sometimes stray incidents with facts falsified. The politics of groupism has pulled SRC down to the level of peddling lies. It is sad but inevitable. Good thing about it is that now a large section of people can judge their politics. That is sufficient for me. Politics cannot move forward if your intention is to create a halo by hiding the truth; reality will strip it naked one day.

SRC has felt the need to unleash a campaign against me by quoting from earlier published articles of mine (including the ones I published under different pen names) as also from hitherto unpublished organisation-related writings. We used to call Pramod Dasgupta "prosecution's witness" for having used the same tactics against us. SRC is now becoming a party to such tactics. SRC did not have the honesty to publish my articles and then comment on them; his politics would have become clearer if he had done so. SRC supposedly became gradually more cautious about my articles and essays. What were those articles? Why did he not share it with the Coordination Committee? My written views on the interim election which I had given to him for discussing with members of the co-ordination committee were not shared with them despite his promise that he would do so. Why? Now I find him referring to that article. Why did he not express his views to me then and there? Who are the members of the coordination committee who think they have the right to classify others' writings and articles as 'secret'? Who gave them that right? This is the SRC group's groupism and divisive activities. In terms of analyzing articles/essays, what I got to understand is that for SRC and his group, unless the word "naxalbari' is mentioned and unless you have reference to Mao tse Tung, no writing is revolutionary. On such a yardstick one can only measure the amount of madness of the writer, but cannot judge an article.

In matters of campaign SRC's group believes in one dictum. First spread the lie; people would believe at least a part of it. If not anything, it would help create confusion. This is very clear from SRC's writing. He has presented his writing in a distorted manner based on lies. I was taken aback reading the last part of his article. It does not appear to me as an article; rather it is like a report presented by him at one of the co-ordination committee meetings, where as if I was present and he has put forth his views and suggestions about me referring to some of my articles etc. In this way he has created a dramatic moment. This is a set up and a complete lie. In the co-ordination committee meeting where I was present did he ever present any such view? In the last two meetings on the 8th and 25th of December, he spoke very little. Now I see the birth of a startling report. This is a political blackmail. Such activities are carried out by intelligence agencies who manufacture false evidences against political activists to entangle them in false cases. International secret service agencies also operate in this fashion. Where is SRC's group heading to? SRC's group is happy that even though not present, CM approved their views. This is even more startling. Comrades can now start analyzing CM. Another issue is that SRC has written that I, without informing anybody, omitted the word "Naxalbari" from the draft proposal on Trade Unions presented at the All India Co-ordination Committee meeting. I am saddened to think how he could utter such a lie without batting an eyelid. Groupism in politics can lead to anything. In the All India Co-ordination Committee meeting in May 1968 I had placed a draft proposal on trade union movement. The proposal was adopted with amendments. I read out the accepted proposal quite a number of times in the meeting. CM was present throughout the meeting and participated in the discussions. Next day in the State Co-ordination Committee meeting where CM was the main speaker, the amended draft proposal was again read out. Then I was given the responsibility to cyclostyle (produce multiple copies—ed) the document. However, after a few days, a member of the state co-ordination, who was also its convener, took my handwritten proposal (amended) taking on the responsibility of cyclo-styling it. After doing so he handed them over to SRC and also sent me a few copies. I also cycle-styled some copies and sent them to SRC. But afterwards we found out that SRC's group was circulating through the state co-ordination committee a document called "Turn your face against economism"—something written purely from the point of view of economism—as a document on Trade Unions. This was done with the intention to suppress the accepted proposal on Trade Union at the All India Co-ordination Committee meeting. Some members of the state co-ordination and myself strongly objected to the circulation of this document. SRC's group kept quiet but did not stop circulating the document. They used the organization for this work. Long after, in the 25th December meeting, somebody close to SRC, with the objective of attacking me, suddenly announced that I had omitted the word "Naxalbari" from the All India Co-ordination Committee’s proposal on trade union. Initially I was very surprised. But then I realized that for that particular person who was accusing me, such acts were very much a possibility. I challenged him with telling lies and reminded him of the drafting of the proposal, its amendment and then its cyclo-styling. SRC kept quiet; the convener of the state co-ordination did not utter a word. They did not place the proposal which I had written. After that there has been no discussion on this matter. Now I see that lie coming out through SRC's pen. Pen is an unconscious object; through its use the character of its conscious driver comes out in the open.

Why is SRC'S group doing all this with the Trade Union proposal of the All India Co-ordination Committee? What is the real reason? Actually, SRC's group is hell bent on suppressing that proposal. Because that proposal accepted the role of Trade Union movement in the current political situation of the country and refuted the analysis that cities are the centres of white tenor. SRC's group does not want to accept this analysis. They believe that cities are centres of white terror and do not believe in the role of working class movement. SRC's group is now circulating another document on the trade union movement. This document is also structured in a way which moves away from the accepted proposal of the All India Co-ordination Committee.

SRC has also written that they have differences with me on the role of party organisation in the working class movement. But have they really discussed my portion or their position? I would have been very happy if they had expressed their position. In 1969 SRC had given me and a couple of others what he claimed to be a document written by him on the question of trade unions. That document was entirely based on Trotskyist thought. When we told him so, he took the document hack and never again talked about it. Anyway I do not have any of his written position on this with me and so I will not discuss this any further. From CM's writings one gets to know his political understanding about working class movement. I presume SRC is not opposed to CM's views. I will discuss CM's thoughts later in this article. Actually a wrong understanding of the working class movement is creating all the confusion and distortion in their minds. Thus they are coming out with inconsistent positions and trying to create an element of surprise.

SRC has further written that I did not inform them or contact or update them about the strike in the Electricity Board. You have to forget many things in order to present lies. So to remind SRC I quote excerpts from a letter I had written to him on 20 June 1968 : "The strike in the Electricity Board is very important for us. I am heavily involved in this.... The government sources have been trying to get in touch with us to negotiate. Many officers want to talk to me. Further I cannot always be absent from Trade Union work-conventions, meetings etc.... I need to consult you on this matter, it is not possible in this meeting because of my absence. Thus I propose to meet two or three of you to discuss and arrive at certain decisions. Please keep such an arrangement.... everybody must be informed about extensive propaganda about the strike. This matter must be thought over with all seriousness...."

Further I hope SRC will also remember that I also talked to him and another member of the state co-ordination committee. I had discussed about my presence as the General Secretary of the Union along with other members of the Union in the discussion with the Governor (of West Bengal) on the strike. SRC had come back the next day to inform me about their approval for this meeting. Now it appears he has conveniently forgotten all this. Forgetting all this is but natural for him because he and his group did not do anything to make the strike successful. In fact they exhibited an attitude of not doing anything for the strike. SRC was the convener of the state co-ordination committee. Did he give any instruction to comrades of the co-ordination committee to work for the success of the strike? Why were posters supporting the strike not even put up? Did Calcutta co-ordination do anything to make this strike a success? The strike did not happen in secrecy. During the strike the union office was regularly open. Many responsible comrades worked openly. If comrades from Howrah co-ordination could work whole-heartedly for the success of the strike (even though many of them had arrest warrants against them) what was the difficulty for SRC's group and Calcutta co-ordination or other co-ordination committees to work for the strike? How could three other members of the state co-ordination be left alone to work for the success of the strike? Were they not entitled to the support of the State co-ordination? Is it only SRC and two three others, who sat quietly, who constitute the state co-ordination committee?

My further question would be—is playing a role in mass movement to be equaled with waiting for reports in a bureaucratic manner? Was our stand on a strike by government employees dependent on receiving reports? The Electricity Board strike went on for twenty-five days. Where were SRC and his people from Deshabrati during this time? Had they decided to shut their eyes till they received reports? Did they not understand anything from reports they received or news they got? Those who have commitment towards mass movements cannot silently sit out like this. The fact of the matter is SRC and his group, due to their negative stand on working class movement, were against supporting the electricity board strike something they could not express openly. That is why they remained inactive and kept other comrades inactive. Their altitude started becoming clear from the time of the first proposed strike of the union i.e. from July of last year. At that time the strike had to be deferred due to many reasons. I had, at that time, written an article to make the working class aware of the dangers of making a trade union a slave to the diktats of a party and sent it to SRC for his consideration to be published in Deshabrati. They did not tell me anything upfront but gave lot of bogus excuses and ultimately did not publish it. That is why on 24 July 1968 I wrote to them: "The day after I had sent you the article or may be a day or two after that, if you had given me an Opportunity to discuss the matter with you, things would have been easier. I had also written that you could make necessary changes. I wrote this article after I had discussions on this strike with electricity board union activists and our comrades. I also talked with some senior and experienced comrades associated with trade union movement. This article is not just about the strike of the electricity board. This is clearly about an ideological position. It is not correct that Deshabrati would use this strike to only criticise the United Front government. Deshabrati has to help play a role in raising the level of consciousness, awareness and understanding about the theory and practice of Trade Union. If that is not done then our proposal on Trade Union is meaningless. The problem is that differences have cropped up over our views and approach towards trade union movement. We have to learn from new experiences...." After this letter from me, SRC and his group kept quiet but also kept themselves aloof from the strike. This is the background to their not having "received" the report.

SRC has written that I have "in this way, during times of crisis and struggle, kept the workers of the electricity board, especially the communist revolutionary elements within them, disconnected from the co-ordination committee". During times of struggle and crisis, keeping himself dissociated from the electricity board workers and even after keeping himself inactive from their struggle, I now see SRC putting up a great act. The communist revolutionaries within the electricity board employees have through their experience understood SRC and his group. SRC's group did try to spread their anti-strike position amongst the electricity board workers; it's a different matter that it did not have much impact on the latter.

SRC has alleged that I have put together a counter co-ordination committee and have brought out counter documents and have begun groupism. The leaders of the Communist Party of India (Marxist) used to accuse us (SRC included) this way. Now SRC has taken up that role. According to SRC they can take any decision on other comrades based on groupist tactics and such comrades will have no right to express their political beliefs. There is no need to discuss this wonderful-theory of SRC.

SRC has said that I had tried to "establish control over Deshabrati to fulfill my political conspiracy''. Pramod Dasgupta had made similar allegations against SRC regarding Deshitaishi [the CPI(M) state organ]. Now SRC is bringing such allegations against me. SRC has got wonderful training from the neo-revisionists. SRC has said that I wanted to control Deshabrati. I feel they consider Deshabrati to be their personal property. Deshabrati was to serve as the political organ of the co-ordination; thus if Deshabrati did not reflect our politics correctly, discussing it and calling for necessary corrective steps is the right of all co-ordination members.

SRC has even said that I had threatened to leave the co-ordination if my views are not accepted or my articles are not published in Deshabrati. From where did SRC gather this utter lie? Where in my letter have I mentioned such a thing? SRC has further written that he had called me for a meeting immediately after receiving my letter but I did not turn up. This is also a complete lie.

SRC has compared me with Liu Shao Chi who was anti-Mao tse Tung. SRC's group might claim themselves to be the best disciples of Mao tse Tung but they actually should have no reason to believe so. Trotskyites likewise also considered themselves to be the best disciples of Lenin. But that did not make them the best upholders of Leninism. Same applies to SRC and his group. Based on the Naxalbari peasant struggle a new political dimension was added to the Indian communist movement relating to Mao tse Tung Thought—but this development also saw some people starting to believe that they or their group were the sole experts on Mao tse Tung thought. This is amply clear from SRC's writing. According to him whatever he or his intimate group understood about China is the final word. And when CM praised their statements as very important service, nothing doing after that! Thus my commenting on their statements or writings was a reflection of my "arrogance and high self-esteem''. I could not care less if I am criticized as anti-Mao for not accepting their arrogance and high self-esteem in claiming themselves to be the only specialists in understanding Mao tse Tung Thought. Thoughtless distorted roars are not reflections of strong understanding. On reading SRC's article I felt that we had made him the convener of the co-ordination committee, but he probably felt that we had made him the dictator. That is why he has repeatedly questioned as to who I was to call for a meeting, who am I to challenge what he says, on what basis did I write instead of coming to meet him or someone close to him, who am I to criticise Deshabrati etc. It would be pointless to discuss the nuances of Bolshevik organization with one who has such thoughts. One who has such dictatorial and feudal mindset is very difficult to work within a Bolshevik organization. My question to SRC's group based on which tenet of Mao tse Tung Thought or which article of his did they come up with their political point of view of supporting participation in elections? (And as far as I know, initially, CM had also asked comrades in North Bengal to participate in elections) How was my stand on election boycott opposed to Mao tse Tung Thought?

SRC has written that as I could not attend two meetings they had assumed that I had distanced myself from the Co-ordination. But many who do not come to meetings of the co-ordination continue to be pillars of the co-ordination. It is a lie that I did not go to meetings. In 1968 January I could not attend one meeting as I was tied up with work related to the strike of the electricity board, but I had sent a letter to the co-ordination with my views on different matters and issues. Then a meeting was called in October 1968 which I could not attend due to some difficulties prevailing then but I had sent an address to SRC, where I wanted the information regarding the meeting to be sent. But they did not inform me of the location of the meeting. A number of other comrades were also not informed about the location of the meeting. That is why we could not attend the meeting. Then a meeting was called in December '68. I got information and attended the meeting. This is about my attending and not attending meetings. To support the lie, CM wrote that because I was caught up in the strike of the Electricity Board, I did not attend the State Co-ordination meetings for a long time. Even CM supported a lie with a lie.

SRC has talked about another incident. That is about my meeting with minister Shambhu Ghosh where a photograph of the two of us was published with a report that I held a discussion with him on the political situation in the state. And because I did not protest against this, SRC's group have issued a statement against me through Deshabrati. And based on investigations by an "outsider group" of the Co-ordination, they have supposedly published a report regarding my interactions within the Co-ordination. What protest am I supposed to make regarding the photograph published or the news? Only people who have no relation with mass organizations or mass movements can think like this. I am the General Secretary of the Electricity Board Workers Union and Mr Shambhu Ghosh is the President of our Bandel Committee. Why should I protest against some picture which some journalist has taken while I was having a discussion with him about matters relating to the Union? And if somebody has reported that there was a discussion regarding the political situation in the state how is one to protest against it? And political situation could mean so many things. What political astuteness would have been reflected. It had poked the journalist about the publication of the photograph and the news? Only "revolutionaries" disconnected from the people would be disturbed by such things. These are reflections of revolutionary thoughts which circle within the four walls of a room.

SRC has written that my essay has opened their eyes. When closed eyes are opened after a long time they get dazzled—that is what has happened to them. And after opening their eyes what they have taken out of their basket and are peddling around is not Mao tse Tung Thought but a statue of Che Guevara. Now I will discuss about the politics of CM and SRC. ooo
[To be continued]

References :
1.      Deshabrati—Ideological fortnightly of the All India Co-ordination Committee of Communist Revolutionaries and later the Bengali mouth piece of the CPI(ML).
2.      Babu—In Bengali this word has huge cultural connotation. Taken simply it means like referring to somebody as mister somebody.

Vol. 50, No.27, Jan 7 - 13, 2017