The communist movement started in India in 1920s inspired by the victory of the great October Revolution in Russia and formation of Soviet Union under the leadership of Lenin. During the next two decades the CPI organized the working class and peasantry in many parts of the then colonial India. It led many heroic struggles of the working class and led many anti-feudal movements with “land to the tiller slogan”. But it failed to apply the strategic line of the People’s democratic Revolution put forward by the Communist International in the concrete conditions of India. It failed to establish the leadership of the working class in the independence struggle and in effect surrendered it to the Congress and Muslim League, the parties of the big capitalists and landlords which were compromising with the British colonialists. As a result, when the people’s upsurge against British colonialists was intensifying during the post-Second World War period, they could communally divide the country to India and Pakistan and transfer power to these comprador parties in 1947. After the transfer of power, the CPI leadership in its 1948 party congress denounced the right deviation of the past decades. But it adopted a left sectarian line of armed uprising without any preparation which was soon crushed by the Congress government. Though a Party Program and tactical line conforming to the post-1947 period was adopted in the 1951 Conference, it was soon abandoned. Under the influence of the revisionist line which had come in to dominance in the 20th Congress of the Soviet Communist party under the leadership of Krushchov, the CPI leadership soon degenerated to revisionist path and adopted class collaborationist line. This led to the first split in the party in 1964 and the Communist Party of India (Marxist) came in to existence. Though its leadership claimed to reject the rightist line of the CPI, it refused to support the ideological struggle then waged against the revisionist line of the Soviet leadership under the leadership of Mao and the CPC. It also failed to make a concrete analysis of the changes taking place in the country after transfer of power, took a centrist line, refused to evaluate the comprador character of the bureaucratic bourgeoisie leading the state and soon degenerated to neo-revisionist positions by the time of the 1967 general elections.
By struggling against the revisionist CPI and neo-revisionist CPI(M), the communist revolutionaries, upholding Marxism-Leninism- Mao Tsetung Thought as their guiding ideology, led the Naxalbari Uprising in W.Bengal in 1967 with “land to the tiller” slogan, which was suppressed by the state forces of the then CPI(M) led government in the state and the Congress government at centre. Uniting the Communist Revolutionary forces in the country the All India Coordination Committee of Communist Revolutionaries was formed in 1968. Major sections of them took initiative to found the Communist Party of India (Marxist-Leninist) in 1969 under the leadership of com. Charu Mazumdar. It adopted its Program, Constitution and tactical line at the first or Eighth Congress in Calcutta ( Kolkata) in 1970.
Though the formation of CPI (ML) was a significant step forward, it mechanically upheld the left adventurist line which had come in to dominance in the CPC by the time of its Ninth Party Congress in 1969. According to this ‘Chinese path’ adopted by the Party, refusing to make a concrete analysis of the changes which were taking place after the transfer of power under the influence of imperialist camp led by US imperialism, India was evaluated as a semi-colonial, semi-feudal country like pre-revolutionary China with area wise seizure of political power and protracted people’s war as the path of revolution. Armed struggle was adopted as the only form of struggle and the Leninist Bolshevik concept of building party surrounded by class and mass organizations was abandoned. ‘Annihilation of class enemies’ was adopted to facilitate the armed struggle. Soon, ever intensifying external suppression by the state forces and internal dissensions led to severe setbacks to the movement including the elimination of its leadership and thousands of its cadres, imprisonment of tens of thousands of its activists and supporters and its disintegration to many groups by 1972. Even those who remained outside CPI (ML) had no alternative approach to put forward, and they also faced the same fate.
Though many of these groups talked of rectifying the sectarian line and adopted ‘mass line’ and utilization of all forms of struggle including the electoral forms of struggle, almost all these groups still adhered to characterization of Indian state and society as ‘semi-colonial, semi-feudal’ and path of revolution as people’s war, the Chinese line, refusing to recognize the vast changes that has taken place in the country under new forms of exploitation under the imperialist forces, their various agencies and MNCs through the comprador Indian state. One of the trends among them, the CPI(ML) People’s War, CPI(ML) Party Unity and Maoist Communist centre, who were still adhering to the 1970 line of armed struggle as the only form of struggle, have merged in 2004 to form the CPI(Maoist).
Another trend, even while upholding the 1970 line in name and, unlike others still upholding the present Chinese leadership as socialist, with the CPI(ML) Liberation as the major force among them, is veering round to the line of forming a ‘grand left alliance’ with CPI, CPI(M) like forces. A third trend, with the CPI(ML) New Democracy in the lead, in form upholds the 1970 line but is advocating the ‘resistance struggle’ as an interim phase of armed struggle, while accepting mass line and utilization of all forms of struggle. There are a number of small groups working at state or district levels which uphold the 1970 line in form along with mass line, but do not put forward any form of armed struggle or other forms of struggles in to practice. Their number and strength is getting reduced every day.
After the revocation of the internal emergency rule of Congress during 1975-77 period, a large number of communist revolutionary forces were released from jails. By this time after the death of Mao the capitalist roaders had seized power in China also. The imperialist forces beset with a new wave of crisis of the global finance capital system had launched the imperialist globalization and neo-liberal policies at international level. Within the country a new wave of agrarian struggles led by the newly emerging rich peasant-agricultural bourgeois class were taking place. All these developments called for a new analysis and evaluation of the concrete conditions internationally and in the country. A section of the CPI (ML) forces mainly from UP region initiated an evaluation of these changes which took them to the conclusion that the mode of production has become capitalist and India had become a capitalist country with the stage of revolution as socialist. In the interpretation and elaboration of this line soon differences surfaced among them, which led to a number of splits within these Communist League of India groups. They do not recognize the intensifying plunder of the imperialist agencies in the country and of the character of the ruling class which is basically comprador. None of these groups have so far succeeded to make any significant advance in political organizational fields.
In the post-emergency situation as explained above, the Central Reorganization Committee- CPI(ML), formed in 1979 with the merger of the CPI(ML) group in Kerala and a group from AP, initiated an evaluation that during the post-Second World War period the imperialists have transformed the colonial phase of plunder to neo-colonial phase in order to confront the challenges posed by the growing strength of the communist forces and to overcome the crisis faced by the imperialist finance capital system. Instead of utilizing the feudal forces as the social prop for imposing their domination as they were doing during the colonial phase, in the neo-colonial phase the agrarian sector was transformed with the entry of finance capital, market forces and technological inputs. Failure to recognize this transformation of imperialist camp under its new leader, US imperialism, including its ‘de-colonization’ policy led the socialist forces to grave mistakes. The Soviet party evaluated that as imperialist system has weakened, peaceful co-existence and peaceful competition with them and peaceful transition to socialism was possible. The 9th Congress of the CPC evaluated that as imperialism was facing total collapse, worldwide victory of socialist forces was possible with a last putsch. Both these evaluations led to serious setbacks to the ICM. On the contrary, imperialism had adopted more heinous and sinister neo-colonial form of plunder and world domination in order to intensify its hegemony. Based on this analysis, the CRC evaluated Indian state and society as neo-colonial, where capitalism is developing from above under imperialist domination. The ruling system has become more comprador and the all major social contradictions including the new one between capital and nature are intensifying. It also evaluated that in this phase of imperialist globalization the international character of revolution has increased calling for speeding up the unity of the Marxist- Leninist forces. Through a process of intense ideological struggle, the CRC-CPI(ML), later changed to CPI(ML) Red Flag and now CPI(ML), with Red Star as its central organ, has propagated this line and in its Ninth party Congress held in 2011 it has adopted new Party Program, Constitution and Path of Revolution rejecting the programmatic and path positions put forward by the 8th Congress of 1970. It has spread the Party organization at all India level and organized class/ mass organizations and various movements to intensify the mobilization of the working class and other left masses for seizure of political power through a countrywide mass upsurge. The CPI (ML) has succeeded to unite with fraternal forces and has found the International Coordination of the Revolutionary Parties and Organizations (ICOR), and to spread the international activities in different fields. It has built a Democratic People’s Forum uniting the revolutionary left and democratic forces as the People’s Alternative to the ruling reactionary system at all India level.
This brief narration explains which are the different trends of the Communist forces in the country and their orientation. Only by struggling against and defeating the wrong lines the correct line can be established and the revolutionary movement can be carried forward.