India's Third Communist Party

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  • 8/3/2019 India's Third Communist Party


    India's Third Communist PartyAuthor(s): Marcus F. FrandaReviewed work(s):Source: Asian Survey, Vol. 9, No. 11 (Nov., 1969), pp. 797-817Published by: University of California PressStable URL: .

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  • 8/3/2019 India's Third Communist Party



    On May Day, 1969. ongprocessions ended heirwaythroughthestreets f Calcutta nd eventuallyssembled nthe arge open spaceinthe enter fthe itywhich s known s themaidan.A crowdofmore han10,000peopleheard hefollowingtatementyKanu Sanyal, he eaderofthe Communistarty f ndia (Marxist-Leninist),r CPML, India'sthirdcommunistarty.With reat ride ndboundlessoy wish o announceoday t thismeetinghatwe haveformed genuine ommunistarty-theCom-munist arty f ndia (Marxist-Leninist). . Our Partywas formedona memorableayofthe nternationalommunist ovement-the100th irthdayf he reat enin.When urPartywasborn,he istoricNinth ational ongressf hegreat ommunistarty fChinawas nsession nder hepersonal uidance fChairman ao Tse-tung. feelproud hat hetask of making hishistoric nnouncementas been

    givenome. firmlyelieve hat hegreat ndianpeoplewillwarmlywelcomehis vent, ill ealise he ormationf his artys anhistoricstep orwardor he ndian evolution,nd will come orwardo raisethe truggleoa highertage nder he eadershipftheParty.'The CMPL is madeup almost xclusivelyfpeoplewhohavebrokenwiththeCommunistarty f ndia (Marxist),orCPM,which ad split romheregular ommunistartyof India (CPI) in 1964. Even thoughmostofIndia's communistsre still rganizedwithin heCPI and CPM (claimingcombinedmembershipf morethan200,000),the CPML has alreadybe-come significantolitical orce n several ndian tates. he newparty asattracted membershiphat s estimated t twenty r thirtyhousand; heIndian HomeMinister as been seeking dditional owers o deal with t;andthe wo stablishedommunistartieshave viewed heCPML as botha political nd deological hallenge.The formationfa third ommunistarty aisesa number fquestionsofparticularelevanceothose nterestedn theoperation f ndia'spoliticalsystem,henaturef ndiancommunism,ndtherelationshipf ndians othe nternationalommunist ovementndto internationalolitics.Whatarethe actorshat edtothe ormationfa third ommunistartyn ndia?What s theCPML seekingoaccomplishnd how doesithope to achieve1The fulltext ofKanu Sanyal's May Day address is reprintedn Liberation (PartyOrgan of theCPML), Vol. II, No. 7 (1969), pp. 110-122.The quotation s takenfromp. 119 of this publishedtext of theaddress.


  • 8/3/2019 India's Third Communist Party


    798 INDIA'S THIRD COMMUNIST PARTYit's goals? How do India's three ommunistarties nteract newith n-other?What s the ikely mpact fa third ommunist arty n regional,national, nd internationaloliticaldevelopments? he following ssayseeksto furnishentativenswers o thesequestions,n such a wayas toprovide n overview or hose nterestednmoredetailed esearch.SOURCES OF LEADERSHIP RECRUITMENT

    The communist ovementn India has been ed by essentiallyhe sameleadership or hepast three ecades.The main portion f this eadership,which ad oined the CPI in the ails and colleges n the 1930's and early1940's, was drawn rom amilies frelatively igh status.Whenthe CPIheld t's first artyCongressn 1943,more han wo-thirdsf the delegatesto theconference92 of 139) listedthemselvess landlords, raders, rmembers f "the ntelligentsia,"hile lmost alfof the delegates ad col-lege degrees nd more han90% (126 of 139) had been to collegeforatleast year.2 hemorehighly ducatedmong his eadership ere ttractedto communismy thewritingsfJawaharlal ehru,Rabindranath agore,R. PalmeDutt,HaroldLaski,John trachey,nd otherMarxistwriters,ndmany fthem ad established ontactsver heyearswith he eadership fEuropean ocialist nd communist ovements.3hose who acked collegedegreesweregenerally rawn romheformererroristroups rfrom heCongress ocialist organization,men whohad initially bandonedtheireducation o takepart n the organizationf resistance o theBritish. heintellectualsn the ndian communist ovement ererecruitedn Indianand European collegesand universities;he organizationaleaderswererecruitednthe ails.4When his eadershipoined theCPI inthe ate1930'sandearly 940's trepresentednewgenerationn ndianpolitics: lmost 0% ofthedelegatestotheFirstPartyCongressn 1943were essthan35 years n age.5 Subse-quently, owever,hese eoplemanaged o retain heir ontrol fthemain-streamof the Indian Communistmovementnly by excluding eadersyoungerhan hemselvesrom hemostprominent ositionsn the move-ment.The extent o whichthe older, pre-Independenceeadershipnowdominates he Central xecutive ommitteesfboth heCPI and CPM isindicatedythe verage ge of the CPI Central ecretariat, hich n Feb-ruary, 968 was justover60, andbythefact hat ll butoneof theninemembersf heCPI Central ecretariataveheldparty eadership ositions

    2Figures orthefirst arty Congressofthe CPI are taken from eople's War,Vol. II(June 13,1943), p. 1 and ibid.,August 1, 1943,p. 8.'The intellectual ackground fIndian communisms tracedout in SibnarayanRay,"India: Intellectuals nd Rural Problems,"Leopold Labedz (ed.), Revisionism:Essayson theHistory fMarxist deas (London: George Allen and Unwin,1962), pp. 374-386.'See myforthcomingolumeon Bengali Communism or an analysis of recruitmentpatterns mong ndian communists n West Bengal: The Phenomenon of Leftism nWestBengal,MIT, 1970.'People's War,June13, 1943,p. 1.

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    MARCUS F. FRANDA 799since he1940's.6 imilarly,he verage ge oftheninemembers ftheCPMPolitbureau,n January, 969was ust under 0 and all ninemembers adbeen activeCommunisteadersn the1940's.7The Chairman f theCPI (S.A. Dange) was born n 1899 and the General ecretary f the CPM (P.Sundarayya)was born n 1913.In contrast o the two olderCommunist arties, he CPML is led by aconsiderably oungereadership. he Chairman f the new party,KanuSanyal,was born n 1932. Theoldestmember f the CPML Politbureau sthe party heoretician,haruMajumdar,who was born n 1920, butevenhe s younger han ll membersf heCentral xecutive ommitteesfboththeCPI and CPM.8 It is obvious, herefore,hat he CPML's Politbureaumembers re considerably ounger han those n the CentralExecutiveCommitteesf both he CPI and CPM. Moreover, he eadership f thoseagitationalmovementsnwhich heCPML has been nvolved ave alsobeendominated y menofthegenerationf Kanu Sanyal,who became ctive nIndian politics fterndependence. one of theknownCPML leadershaveeverheldparty ositions t thenational evel, ndindeedvery ewofthemhave even had experiencen state eadership ositions, uthave insteadbeen drawn rom arty ommitteest the district nd branch evelsofthemovement.n largepart hemotivationor heformationf theCPML canbe explainedn terms fthefrustrationsxperienced ythis ower evelofIndiancommunisteadershipn it's attemptso rise withinhemovement.Therevolt fyoungerndiancommunisteadersbeganto assume ignifi-cant proportionsn the early1960's, whenmanypartymembers ecamedisenchanted ith he events urroundinghe splitbetween heCPI andCPM.9Theyoungereadershipfthe ndiancommunist ovementadbeenrecruitedfterndependence,hrough ommunistartymassorganizationsandcultural ront roups, ndit's contributionsothe movementhrough-out the 1950's had been confined lmost xclusively o electoral olitics.By the early1960's,however, number fyounger eaders had become

    'The members f the Central Secretariat of the CPI are listed in New 4ge (CPIWeekly), February 5, 1968,p. 6. Informationn the ninemembers-S. A. Dange, C.Rajeswara Rao, BhupeshGupta,YogindraSharma,N. K. Krishnan,S. G. Sardesai, C.AchuthaMenon,Avtar Singh Malhotra, and Bhowani Sen-was gatheredfromWho'sWho,Legislativebiographies, ewspaperclippings,personal interviews,nd fromthebiographical ketchesfurnished n Gene D. Overstreet nd Marshall Windmiller, om-munism n India (Berkeley:University f CaliforniaPress, 1959), pp. 556-575.'Members of theCPM Politbureau-P. Sundarayya,B. T. Ranadive,M. Basavapun-niah, E. M. S. Namboodiripad, ramodeDas Gupta, JyotiBasu, P. Ramamurti,Harki-shan Singh Surjeet,and A. K. Gopalan-are listed in People's Democracy: Organ oftheCPM, January 2, 1969,p. 1. Biographical data on the CPM was obtained from hesame source as those isted n footnote .8Whilebiographicaldata on leaders of the CPML is not readilyavailable, some in-sight nto thenature f the eadership an be gained from atindranathChakravorti,AParty is Born,"Now: A Political and Cultural Weekly (Calcutta), June 6, 1969, pp.8.10 and June13, 1969, pp. 9-11.Data on CPML leaderswas also gatheredfromnews-paper clippings nd personal nterviews.9An nner-partyescription f theactivities ftheyoungereadership nWestBengalis contained nTheGrowth fAdventurismn WestBengal: CentralCommitteenforma-tionDocument (Calcutta: Communist arty of India Marxist, 1967).

  • 8/3/2019 India's Third Communist Party