Admitting Mistakes

communists in India have a chequred record of committing mistakes at every crucial juncture of history. The usual style of their functioning is to admit mistakes at a time when they find it increasingly difficult to defend the indefensible. They opposed Subhas Bose’s mission to liberate India with the help of axis power—Germany and Japan—but finally made a u-turn to eulogise Bose. They now celebrate Bose’s birth day with a lot of fanfare. Once they ridiculed Bose in such a derogatory manner that even ordinary people, not to speak of conscious political beings, didn’t accept it. But they didn’t bother about people’s sentiments. Nor did they take into account the concrete conditions of Indian reality.

While observing the 75th Independence Day in a big way for the first time the CPI-M tried to prove that they were more national than the so-called nationalist parties. The decision to mark the August 15 in a grandiose fashion was made after the central committee of the CPI-M which assumed the role of big brother among the left in the country after the split in the undivided CPI, put its seal of approval to the proposal of the West Bengal state committee at a virtual meeting in which state committee members attended the deliberations. In truth the last minute wisdom of state stalwarts emerged in the wake of very poor performance of CPI-M in the 2019 Parliamentary and 2021 Assembly Polls in Bengal. For the first time they have no representation in the West Bengal assembly. Even lower-level workers of the party are now blaming it on the top-heavy leadership for their tactical blunder, particularly their alliance with a minority communal outfit and refusal to target Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) as the principal enemy. When the CPI-ML (Liberation) approached them for a broad united front against the BJP—the main enemy in Indian polity today—their idea was summarily rejected on the specious ground of Bengal-specific twin danger of BJP-TMC . BJP means fascism ,BJP means war against people . All the tall talk of democracy and constitutional rights will vanish in the thin air unless BJP is defeated on all fronts.

In a first CPI-M hoisted tri-colour in all party offices as per decision of the central committee. Immediately after transfer of power in 1947 the undivided Communist Party of India (CPI) had raised the slogan of ‘Ye Azadi Jhutha Hai’ (this freedom is false). That slogan is now an archival matter. After the assembly poll debacle in West Bengal CPI-M seems to have learnt some bitter lessons while taking a little bit of moderate approach to the ruling Trinamul Congress (TMC) and getting more involved in nationalist rhetoric.

The patent allegation against the communists by the mainstream parties like Congress, BJP and others is that they are less national and more international in their political orientation. This time the communists would like to show the world that they are more national than international. Former foreign secretary Vijay Gokhale claimed in his latest book ‘The Long Game: How the Chinese Negotiate with India’ that China used its close connections with the left parties in India to build ‘domestic opposition’ to the notorious Indo-US nuclear deal between 2007 and 2008. The CPI-M leaders, however, have refuted this charge very feebly, only to strengthen Gokhale’s assertion. Gokhale has also mentioned the now infamous Harry Pollit letter in which the Communist Party of Great Britain (CPGB) urged the CPI to abandon all efforts at opposition to the British while asking trade unions controlled by them to maximise war production. This humiliating letter was allegedly hand-delivered by Sir Reginald Maxwell, then Home Secretary in the Government of India. In exchange, the CPI was made legal, allowing it to function openly in trade unions, and party leaders were released from jail. As the CPI stayed away from the ‘Quit India’ movement that shook the British Crown, they were later dubbed as anti-national and betrayer. They are still fighting hard to erase that chapter to get back what they have lost—nationalist and patriotic image.

Strictly speaking there is no contradiction between nationalism and internationalism. Russian communists, Chinese communists are all nationalist to the core but for the Indian communists internationalism borders on ideological slavery. Their ideological subservience to Moscow in the yester years and later to Beijing was anything but ludicrous. No communist party ever sacrificed their independent thinking process for the sake of maintaining party-to-party relationship . The Chinese Party never imitated the Soviets. Nor did the Vietnamese party ever followed the Chinese strategy of revolution. But Communists in India never asserted their own assessment in respect  of  India’s revolutionary strategy and tactics. As no guidelines are coming from China these days even Naxalites are wandering in political wilderness. As there is no communist international today, the entire communist left, including the far left, looks orphan. There is every reason to believe that the Chinese communists otherwise die-hard nationalist, if not chauvinist, supported the Naxalite movement with a view to mobilising public opinion against India government’s stand on India-China border dispute. They once encouraged insurgency in the north east, particularly the Naga insurgency to create troubles along the volatile India-China border. The Chinese are no less responsible for the total disarray the naxalites are in. A parliamentary communist party apart, the Chinese communist party today maintains fraternal relationship with all major political parties of India including Congress and BJP. They invite their leaders quite often to witness their market miracle.

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Vol. 54, No. 9, Aug 29 - Sep 4, 2021