Harbhajan Sohi -10th death anniversary

Harsh Thakor

On June 15th, this year in 2019 we commemorated the 10th death anniversary of Comrade Harbhajan Singh Sohi or HBS. In the last 4 decades no Indian Communist leader defended the mass line with such depth or had such theoretical mastery over machinelike a rock withstanding the most hazardous of storms he refuted all the deviationist trends in the Communist movement.
We must resolve to resurrect the spirit of Comrade HBS to emblazen the torch of Revolution. A meticulous study of his writings is a must for all cadres as his works are a permanent part of the treasure house of Marxist-Leninist-Maoist writings. We must tooth and nail refute those who term HBS is a 'rightist' or promoting 'economism' like C.P.I.(M.L.) New Democracy and C.P.I.(Maoist) who allege that he took the movement to path of economism. Today in Punjab there is still a tendency to soft-pedal with Sikh religious fundamentalist politics in the Maoist camp which HBS fought against till his last breadth. The shape of the mass movement led to day in Punjab by organization is implementing the mass line have a lot to do with the political guidance of Comrade Sohi. It was noteworthy or in his commemoration meeting 10 years ago every section within the Communist revolutionary camp credited Sohi for the immortal role he played in upholding the essence of the communist revolutionary line nationally and internationally.
Comrade HBS played major role in the rejection of the left adventurist line of the C.P.I.(M.L.) and in leading the Punjab Communist revolutionary Committee which was instrumental in leading the mass movement of the early 1970's of the Punjab Students Union and the Naujwan Bharat Sabha. With great skill he countered the rightist JP movement trend of SN Singh from 1973. He and his organization merged with the Unity Centre of Communist Revolutionaries of India only in 1976 after the death of T. Nagi Reddy but he upheld his line from early 1970's itself. Arguably the organization he led namely the Punjab Communist revolutionary Committee had a tighter or more Bolzhevised practice than the Nagi Reddy DV Rao led APCCCR IN practice. In 1974 the Punjab Co-ordination Committee led by HBS published a document why they demarcated themselves from Charu Mazumdar’s CPI (ML). “Since the socio-economic conditions differ and political consciousness varies from place to place, the revolutionary movements have to pass through various stages, and different tactics would have to be used at various places. To ignore open and legal struggles is left adventurism. These will contribute to the development of armed struggle. Annihilation of class enemies leads to the emergence of feelings of hero worship and retards revolutionary initiative.”
Later in the 1980's HBS e stood like a boulder against pro-Khalistani deviationist politics and his leadership was instrumental in practice of the correct mass revolutionary resistance line to combat Sikh religious fundamentalism and state terrorism. He played a great role in the unity of Communist revolutionary forces first into the Centre of Communist revolutionaries of India in 1988 and the Communist Party Re-Organization Centre of India (Marxist-Leninist) in 1994. He moved all around India consolidate the party organization units. More than the quantitative impact it was the qualitative aspect here that was noteworthy. He handled aspect of left adventurism in regions like Orissa and Andhra Pradesh with great care guiding party forces not to be openly critical of it as in his view left adventurism corrects itself and right deviation was the main danger. Sohi’s leadership practice was a lesson for the leadership of other revolutionary groups within the revolutionary groups on how to resolve the mutual problems and conflicts with each other. Above all he maintained that all the Communist revolutionary groups were components of the Communist party and tooth and nail defended the revolutionary camp as a whole’s defended the trend that deferred armed struggle because of lack of the subjective factor prevailing but defending path of protracted peoples war.
Theories advocated by HBS have great relevance when Maoist parties world over pledged for pre maturely forming a Communist International through the Revolutionary Internationalist Movement. He wrote the document on International Political resolution in 1996 which reflected how some Communist parties exaggerated the subjective conditions prevailing for reorganizing an International Communist body. He fought the eclecticism of the RCP-America in being over critical of Stalin and the trend of the CRC in India that rejected the concept of the vanguard party. Today his writings would have had great relevance in combating trends in the International Communist Movement like 'Principally Maoism”, ‘Militarised Communist party which relegated Leninism to the museum and treated Maoism as a separate entity. Writings of HBS defended the essence of Mao thought more than any Communist leader against post- modernist trends and refuted all leaders who accused Stalin and Mao of fostering personality cult over collective leadership.

Comrade HBS's written document on In Defence of Marxism-Leninism-Mao Tse Tung Thought and General Line of the International Communist movement in 1982 is the best work on International line after the death of Chairman Mao. It refuted the theory of 3 worlds at its very core as well as the trend that treated US imperialism as a greater danger than Soviet Social Imperialism.

There is also great theoretical clarity in his position on nationality struggle in Kashmir. He combated all comrades who supported Sikh separatism and Punjabi nationality struggle in those terms. With outstanding clarity, he defended the Kashmiri people’s right to self –determination condemning the oppression of the Indian state but did not uphold the movement of the Jammu and Kashmir Liberation front as a proletarian nationality struggle. There were powerful deviations in the Maoist camp when forces like Al India people’s resistance forum upheld ULFA in Assam, JKLF in Kashmir and Akali Dal in Punjab. HBS felt that “Only if the Kashmiri democratic Forces, having anti-imperialist anti-feudal political orientation, gain ascendancy, and if all the active fraternal support of all the oppressed masses is secured on the basis of common interests, would the Kashmiri National Movement be able to withstand the strong enemy pressure and the Challenge of Fundamentalist Forces. "

It is HBS who was the proponent of the most correct tactics regarding election sin the Indian Communist movement being the pioneer of tactics of 'Active Political campaign' in contrast to tactics of 'Boycott' and 'participation'. They are of great relevance where today the Communist revolutionary camp is vitiated by the right deviationist trend of participating in elections on one hand and the left sectarian trend of tactic of 'Active boycott' by the Maoist party.

His 1972 writings on elections is to me the best theoretical document written on parliamentary elections and tactics by any comrade. It brilliantly sums up the subjective factors required which still do not exist for using the tactical path of participation as well as that of active boycott. With dialectical precision he explained how even extra-parliamentary tactics would take a distinguished form in 3rd world countries from that of Western countries.

The launching of peoples war also in his view was not possible in the immediate period because of the subjective factor or even the preparation of it. Conclusively he felt only the tactic of 'Active political campaign' was appropriate. Sohi explained how the subjective aspect was very weak with party forces were scattered and the Communist party had no unified existence and thus not at a rudimentary stage.

HBS felt slogan of election boycott could only be effective when the revolutionary movement should be in ascendancy, Political slogans are evoking a powerful response from the masses, Parliamentary system has been rendered ineffective or irrelevant and alternative form of struggle for the expression and presentation of the peoples will is available.

Of course, HBS had weaknesses as every great Communist. Arguably he did not place enough emphasis on sharpening the agrarian revolutionary movement and protracted peoples war and placed over-emphasis on aspect of re-organization of the party. He also never guided his organization to use the internet or project itself and its documents online, while maintaining the party structure. HBS lacked the essence of revolutionary creativity for sowing the seeds of a revolutionary armed struggle or sufficient open mass work. He also failed to formally uphold 'Maoism' as a third stage of Marxism-Leninism and uphold it as a qualitative leap from Leninism.

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Jul 9, 2019

Harsh Thakor [email protected]

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