Forward to the Kolkata Plenum by Sitaram Yechury
Article appearing in the forthcoming issue of People's Democracy
THE strengthening of the CPI(M)'s organisational capabilities is of vital
importance in today's conjuncture to create a better India and significantly
improve the livelihood status of our people. This can only be achieved
through the power of people's struggles. The tasks at the forthcoming
CPI(M) Plenum on Organisation is to build our Party organisation in such a
manner that it shall speedily move towards achieving this objective.
The foundations of the organisation of a Communist Party at all points of
time, necessarily, remain the revolutionary principles of Marxism-Leninism.
These include the adherence to principles of democratic centralism;
criticism and self-criticism; collective functioning with individual
responsibility etc. However, the Party organisation is a dynamic organism.
It cannot exist in a vacuum. Hence, the Communist formulation of
'political-organisational' tasks. Therefore, the structure and character of
the Party organisation at any specific point of time, while based on its
revolutionary tenets, has to be in tune with the objectives laid out by the
Party's current political-tactical line.
The CPI(M) has to accomplish this task today in an international correlation
of political forces that has shifted in favour of imperialism since the
disintegration of the former USSR. We had analysed these developments in
detail in our 14th Congress and adopted our understanding as to how such
developments took place and its consequences for the Communist movement,
both at the international level and for us in India. We had then, protected
our rank and file, by and large, and certain sections of our sympathetic
followers from these tumultuous developments. However, we had then noted
that these will surely have an impact on the future potential of people's
attraction towards Marxism-Leninism and socialism.
Two decades later this impact is clearly visible. The disintegration of 20th
century socialism converged with global capitalism's gigantic accumulation
of capital and the emergence of the international finance capital leading
the global neo-liberal offensive. The consequent neo-liberal, ideological
and material offensive, that continues to intensify, negatively influenced
the Indian youth, apart from, bringing about important structural changes.
Imperialist cultural offensive and capitalist consumerism are designed to
depoliticise the youth and large sections of the society.
IN INDIAN POLITICS
Domestically, the Indian ruling classes, particularly its leadership, the
big bourgeoisie, embraced neo-liberalisation in a world where the bargaining
potential for advancing the development of capitalism in India, between the
cold war camps of imperialism and socialism simply vanished. Indian ruling
classes have, hence, virtually abandoned India's traditional foreign policy
of non-alignment. With the ruling classes playing second fiddle to
imperialism and neo-liberal policies, the anti-imperialist consciousness of
our people eroded considerably, distancing them from progressive ideologies
This rightward shift of the Indian ruling classes prepared the fertile
ground for the rise of the RSS/BJP with its communal and fascistic agenda
pursuing its objective of converting a secular democratic India into a Hindu
Rashtra. This rise of communal forces and their capture of the central
government has emboldened a wide range of anti-Communist reactionary forces
in the country.
Combating this communal ideology and offensive hence, becomes essential for
the CPI(M) to consolidate its independent strength and move towards a
progressive shift in the correlation of class forces amongst the Indian
people. This is a task that needs to be undertaken at all levels -
political, ideological and organisational. The Party organisation should be
so equipped as to meet the challenges posed by various organisational fronts
of Hindutva right wing forces to achieve the objectives we laid down for
ourselves in our 21st Congress political-tactical line.
Our Party organisation's capabilities must rise to the levels of meeting and
overcoming these challenges and successfully uniting the people in struggles
against this combined offensive of communalism and neo-liberalism.
Strengthening the Party organisation also becomes all the more important
given the concerted attack by the gang up of rightwing reactionary elements
against CPI(M) particularly in our stronghold of West Bengal through the
politics of terror and intimidation. The CPI(M) as a whole, our Party units
all across the country, must focus on the defence of our strong Left
bastions and outposts of the Indian revolutionary forces.
We are meeting in this Plenum to strengthen our Party organisation in the
background of having noted in our Party Congress our persistent weaknesses
in terms of stagnation if not decline in the strength of our Party and mass
organisation membership, its uneven composition and a sharp decline in our
Party's electoral strength.
The CPI(M)'s last Plenum on Organisation was the Salkia plenum held soon
after the 10th Party Congress in December 1978. That was a period when the
Party was in its ascendancy and emerged as the strongest Left communist
force in the country. That was also the period when the socialist camp led
by the former USSR was challenging with equal might global imperialism.
Today, in comparison, we are meeting at this organisation plenum in Kolkata
when the socialist countervailing challenge to imperialism has disintegrated
at the global level. We are meeting at a time when the Indian ruling classes
are mounting a combined onslaught of the communal and the neo-liberalism
offensive. This converges with the stagnation or decline in our Party's
strength and influence both inside and outside the parliament.
Along with the efforts for increasing its independent strength, the Party
needs to make efforts to enlarge and strengthen the unity of the Left
parties and forces in the country. The consequent Left unity will be the
fulcrum to forge the unity of the Left and democratic forces.
The successful forging of the Left and Democratic Front will be the
pre-requisite for forging the People's Democratic Front under the leadership
of the working class. This class front will be the force that will
successfully carry out the People's Democratic Revolution in the country.
The successful attainment of these objectives must begin with the forging of
a strong and effective Left and Democratic Front. The LDF was first spelt
out by the CPI(M) in its 10th Congress as the endeavour to bring about a
change in the correlation of class forces, to end a situation in which the
people are forced to choose only between two bourgeois-landlord
parties/combinations, and get imprisoned within the framework of the present
The Left and Democratic Front is not to be understood as only an electoral
front, but as a fighting alliance of the forces for an economic and
political change by isolating the reactionary ruling classes. The forging of
such a Left and Democratic unity, demands an unprecedented growth in the
organisational strength and struggles of all sections of the working people.
This in turn requires an enormous growth of the strength of the Party. This
can materialise when our Party's links with our people deepen ie, by the
Party implementing the mass line - Communists take to people like fish takes
On the basis of such growth of our independent strength, the 21st Congress
P-TL (political-tactical line) underlined the importance of united front
tactics in the process of forging the LDF. The revolutionary tactics of the
United Front have always emphasised the need to combine the principles of
unity and struggle ie, using conflicts within sections of the ruling class
parties while uniting with some of them to achieve our immediate objectives
and simultaneously strengthen struggles against the anti-people,
anti-working class policies pursued by these very parties. The underlying
aim of united front tactics is always to advance the class struggles by
drawing into our fold the masses who currently may be under the influence of
the bourgeois parties. The intensification of independent class and mass
struggles while utilising the conflicts within the bourgeois parties are two
aspects of the successful implementation of united front tactics.
At the same time, the 21st Congress P-TL also underlined the fact that the
CPI(M) must adopt flexible tactics to meet swift changes in the political
situation. Further, that electoral tactics should be dovetailed to the
primacy of building the Left and Democratic Front. The Party organisation
must be capable of discharging these tasks.
Further, the CPI(M) has, particularly since our 14th Congress, constantly
emphasised the Leninist principle of "concrete analysis of concrete
conditions being the living essence of dialectics." In today's Indian
conditions, it is incumbent upon us to note such concrete changes which have
occurred in these two decades since our 14th Congress. In pursuance of this,
the Central Committee had constituted three study groups to study the impact
of neo-liberal policies and the changes that were brought about in the
working class, in Indian agriculture and the middle classes. On the basis of
the findings of these studies, our slogans, the style of work and the
required organisational steps were discussed in our 21st Congress and the CC
and some decisions were taken. The required new organisational steps that
need to be undertaken on this basis have to be taken at this Plenum.
DEFEAT THE COMMUNAL
The current communal offensive has to be met in all its dimensions - the
political, ideological, social, cultural and educational spheres. This
requires an immense growth in our organisational capacities to meet these
challenges. Ideological and political propaganda material in popular style
will have to be prepared and disseminated on a large scale. A wide range of
intellectuals, historians, educationists and cultural personalities should
be mobilised to bolster this ideological fight against the communal forces.
Meeting these tasks and challenges requires of us to strengthen the Party
organisation both ideologically and politically.
The CPI(M)'s vision envisages that the resources of our country, both in
terms of material wealth and human capital must be used through an
alternative set of policies for building a better India and providing better
livelihood conditions for the people. At the moment the Indian ruling
classes utilise these resources to further enrich themselves, widening the
hiatus between the rich and the poor further and to provide greater
opportunities for international finance capital to maximise its profits. The
materialisation of such a vision however requires that we strengthen our
organisational capabilities enormously.
This monumental task can only be undertaken by the CPI(M), which must emerge
with a renewed vigour streamlining its Party organisation and strengthening
it. This is all the more important in today's concrete conditions when both
these aspects of neo-liberal reforms and rabid communalisation of our
society merge together as the policy direction of the Indian ruling classes,
subserving the interests of imperialism and international finance capital,
under this current BJP-led central government.
In this context, it is necessary to remind ourselves again, of the CPI(M)'s
legacy during the course of the Indian people's struggle for independence
and subsequent movements. The glorious sacrifices of our comrades, the long
list of our heroic martyrs, are part of our legacy of combating all
ideological and organisational deviations in emerging as the strongest
Communist force in India. No social transformation is possible, in fact,
cannot be conceived, without the vast mass of people belonging to all
exploited classes rising in revolt against the exploiting ruling classes. In
the final analysis, it is the people who make history. Revolutionary history
is no exception. A revolutionary party, the CPI(M), is the vanguard of this
people's upsurge. This is our historical responsibility. Let us redouble our
resolve to discharge this responsibility at this Kolkata Plenum.