Party Foundation Day: 26 December, 1925

Despite all these major weaknesses, it was this conference that adopted the first Party Constitution and elected the nucleus of an all-India leadership where all the erstwhile communist circles were represented. This leadership or CEC (minus Satyabhakta who resigned in February 1926 and Bagerhatta who became aware of other comrades’ suspicions about him and resigned hi mid-1927) met irregularly from tune to time till the Meerut arrests (March 1929) and played a commendable role on the working class front and in organising the Workers’ and Peasants’ Parties during this period. If the subjective intentions of AO Hume did not determine the nature of the Congress, this was all the more true in the case of Satyabhakta and the CPI. Satyabhakta’s nationalist attitude was defeated, and the CPI started its journey as a part of the international communist movement. It was, therefore, quite natural that the foundation of the party should be counted form the Kanpur conference, as indeed was decided by the Central Secretariat of the CPI on 19 August, 1959. There was no debate about this, at least in public.

After the CPI-CPI(M) split, however, a peculiar position was taken by Muzaffar Ahmad who sided with the CPI(M). In his Myself and the CPI published in 1969, he describes the Kanpur conference as a “tamasha” and declares the Tashkent formation as “the real date of the foundation of the CPI”. His main logic is that the CPI formed in Tashkent was affiliated to the Comintern and the CPI established in Kanpur was not. Muzaffar thus makes international recognition the sole criterion in determining when and whether a communist party comes into existence, and disregards all other factors like organic links with the mass movements in the country concerned. And on this point also his argument is far from perfect, for as we have seen before, the CPI at Tashkent was indeed registered with the Comintern (with its Turkestan Bureau to be more precise), but the Comintern was not so stupid as to recognise the motley group as a full-fledged party.

However, the question remains as to why did the CPI formed in Kanpur not appeal for affiliation with the Comintern ? Muzaffar Ahmad, who was elected to the CEC in the Kanpur conference, explains this before the CPI-CPI(M) split in this way: “… as the party members did not consider the membership sufficient so they did not apply for the party being affiliated to the CI. All the same, the CI considered the CPI as a part of itself.”[1] Ahmad thus, did not consider non-affiliation as a great crime at that time, as he did after the split. In fact just like his other comrades he took the Kanpur decisions in all seriousness and made a fervent appeal to all “Communists in Bengal” to “come together and build the party” in a statement published in Langal on 21 January,1926.[2]

Without wasting time in explaining Ahmad’s self-contradiction, let us record here our own views on the relevant questions. First, the absence of formal recognition did not prevent the CPI, either during the 1920s or later, from making reports to and seeking advice from the Comintern, which on its part guided and issued directives to the CPI just as it did in relation to other affiliated parties. For all practical purposes, therefore, the CPI acted very much as a part of the international communist movement led by the Comintern. Perhaps there was a subtle tendency, even after the desertion of Satyabhakta, of avoiding an organic relationship with the Comintern, but that falls within the purview of inner-party debates and cannot render the party itself illegitimate.

Second, we regard the entire historical period between the Bolshevik revolution and the second world war as the formative years of the CPI, in the sense that a more or less full-fledged communist party actually developed only in the second half of 1930s after overcoming a prolonged setback by means of rectification of certain political mistakes and reorganisation of the leadership. It is in this total historical context that we take 26 December 1925, when representatives of all the active communist circles of the country met together and adopted the resolutions founding the all-India party, as the foundation of the CPI. If the October Revolution ushered in a brand new stage in national liberation struggles worldwide, for India this general advance was concretely realised — for the first time and therefore in an embryonic form — through this conference. Ideologically this meant a revolutionary leap from petty bourgeois revolutionism to Marxism-Leninism and once this was achieved, the political transition from individual terrorism to mass struggle could not be far behind, as we shall see in
Part III.

Notes :

1. Cited by G Adhikari, Vol. II, p 608, from Sama Kaler Katha written by M Ahmad (August 1963)

2. For details, see Ibid., pp 622-23