From Setback to REorganisation: 1930-1937

From Fragmentation to Reorganisation

“The building of a centralised, disciplined, united, mass, underground communist party is today the chief and basic task long ago overdue” — declared the Draft Platform of Action in December 1930. Even the rudiments of all-India party system had been effectively crushed by the Meerut blow and the scattered groups in the provinces of Bombay, Bengal, Punjab, the Central Provinces etc. were working according to their different perceptions in almost total isolation from one another. The three-party open letter to the CPI issued in May 1932 (Text VII-3) gave a correct portrayal of the state of affairs : “Instead of a struggle for a united all-Indian Communist Party, we find localism, provincialism, self-isolation from the masses, etc., which though it could be understood in 1930, now represents the main danger to the revolutionary proletarian movement.” Particularly disturbing was the factional fight in the Bombay organisation between the groups led by SV Deshpande and BT Randive (in early 1932 the latter formed the “Bolshevik Party of India” and sought the recognition of the CI, but in vain). Expressing the same anxiety, the open letter from the CPC (Text VII-5), issued a year later, called for “the Bolshevisation of your ranks”. It drew attention to the necessity of “struggle on two fronts” (i.e., against right opportunism and ‘left’ sectarianism) and added : “You must struggle against petty-bourgeois individualism, self-centred pride; you...

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Documents on Party Line

As we have seen, the CPI during 1929-34 refused even to try to unite with the Congress as a conditional and probably temporary mass ally against the main enemy, thus deviating from a basic tactical principle of Leninism. But the most peculiar feature of the Party line was that fire was concentrated against the relatively left elements within the Congress although the known rightists were not spared. The logic was that while essentially and at all critical junctures subscribing to Gandhian policies and decisions, they with their left phrases and gestures only served to arrest and reverse the process of popular disillusionment with the Congress, thus hindering a left polarisation in the freedom struggle under communist leadership. As the impotent role of Nehru and Bose at the crucial Karachi Congress revealed, this contained — in the ultimate analysis — an element of truth. But what is true in the ultimate analysis does not always deliver as an immediate slogan, for the masses have to be led up to it through intermediate stages in the development of their consciousness on the basis of their own direct experience. This was what the young communists either did not understand or lacked the perseverance to practice. They behaved as though what was obvious to them can be rendered obvious to the masses with a little reasoning and a sharp language. In real life,...

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Political Role of CPI

Thus ended the great COM in the very first year of which almost a lakh of people went to jail and the import of foreign cloth was reduced by 50% — to cite two of the many indices of the intensity and strike power of the movement. But for certain areas (e.g., Hindu-Muslim unity, boycott of educational institutions and courts, etc.), it marked a major advance for the national struggle. This is true not only as regards the resoluteness, sacrifice and heroic deeds of the people and their vanguards, but also the movement’s declared goal (Puma Swaraj, or at least Dominion Status, in place of the deliberately vague concept of swarajya as in the Non-Cooperation Movement), method (deliberate defiance of laws in place of mere non-cooperation), the relative tenacity of central command (for all its vacillations and compromises as noted above, the latter did not withdraw the movement just after incidents like Chittagong and the militant peasant and tribal movements in various places, as it did after Chauri Chaura). Together, all these reflected the enhanced self-confidence and maturity of the In­dian bourgeoisie to accommodate and utilise alien class movements in its own bid for power. This point the CPI failed to see. In its conception, the bourgeoisie had completely gone over to imperialism, doing everything, from the very start, merely to hoodwink and restrain the masses and sabotage the...

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The Civil Disobedience Movement

In Parts II and III we have seen how the Gandhian leadership scuttled the non-cooperation Khilafat movement when it went out of Congress control and started injuring landlord interests and also how the next six-year lull began to turn into its opposite, thanks most notably to the Bombay textile strike, the activities of HSRA and the anti-Simon agitation. The national mood for a showdown with the British continued to grow and reflected itself very powerfully at the famous Lahore session of the INC (December 1929) which adopted the resolution of Puma Swaraj. Readers will remember that a similar resolution had been adopted at the Madras session (December 1927) in the absence of Gandhi, who later repudiated it and, jointly with Motilal and others, gave the British a year’s respite at the Calcutta session (December 1928). Throughout 1929 Gandhi tried heart and soul to arrive at a compromise. The masters were tricky but adamant, and left with no other option, the Congress leadership at Lahore decided upon the promised Civil Disobedience Movement (henceforth CDM). Even in the face of strong objection by the powerful rightist lobby, Gandhi got the youthful Jawaharlal elected as the Congress President for the forthcoming stormy year, assuring the former that Jawaharlal was “extremist” in thought but “practical enough” in action and that “responsibility will mellow and sober the youth”. And Jawaharlal, in his, Presidential speech...

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Great Depression and India

A severe depression gripped the world capitalist economy from the end of 1929 and influenced the colonial economy and polity as well as people’s movements in India in more ways than one. In the first place, along with the general decline in prices, the agricultural price index (base 1873-100) slumped from 203 in 1929 to 171 in 1930 and 127 in 1931, Land revenue and rent burdens remained practically unchanged. So did interest payments, irrigation charges etc. All those having a surplus produce to sell were directly hit and the demands of middle and rich peasants (from rent and revenue reduction to no-rent, no-revenue; return of alienated land etc.) figured prominently in the peasant movements of the period. Secondly, on the industrial front contradictory pushes and pulls were set in motion, further promoting the love-hate relationship between British imperialism and Indian capital. Indian industry did face certain problems owing to dislocation in world commerce, but these were more than offset by lower prices of commercial crops like colon and jute and by enhancement of import duties on many items, resorted to by the Indian Government under severe financial constraints, which had the effect of a protective tariff. The 1930s therefore witnessed rapid development of cotton, sugar, cement and paper industries. British industry also sought to utilise the protective barrier by setting up behind it “India Limited” companies and manufacturing...

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PART- IV : From Setback To Reorganisation (1930-34)

With the Meerut arrests ended the era of WPPs, and the endeavour to reinforce the ideological purity and political-organisational independence of the revolutionary party of the proletariat came to a grinding halt even before take-off. Then began a period when the communist movement in India fought a life-and-death battle to reorganise its shattered forces and assert as a revolutionary pole in the mighty wave of national movement known as Civil Disobedience Movement. Great Depression And India The Civil Disobedience Movement Political Role of CPI Documents On Party Line From Fragmentation To...

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