2nd Congress of the Communist Party of India

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The 2nd Congress of the Communist Party of India was held in Calcutta, West Bengal from February 28 to March 6, 1948. [1] [2] [3] At the Second Party Congress, the party line shifted dramatically under the new General Secretary B.T. Ranadive and subsequently the party engaged in revolutionary insurrections across the country.

West Bengal State in Eastern India

West Bengal is an Indian state, located in Eastern India on the Bay of Bengal. With over 91 million inhabitants, it is India's fourth-most populous state. It has an area of 88,752 km2 (34,267 sq mi). A part of the ethno-linguistic Bengal region of the Indian subcontinent, it borders Bangladesh in the east, and Nepal and Bhutan in the north. It also borders the Indian states of Odisha, Jharkhand, Bihar, Sikkim, and Assam. The state capital is Kolkata (Calcutta), the seventh-largest city in India, and center of the third-largest metropolitan area in the country. As for geography, West Bengal includes the Darjeeling Himalayan hill region, the Ganges delta, the Rarh region, and the coastal Sundarbans. The main ethnic group are the Bengalis, with Bengali Hindus forming the demographic majority.

Communist Party of India Indian political party, established 1925

The Communist Party of India (CPI) is the oldest communist party in India. There are different views on exactly when it was founded. The date maintained as the foundation day by the CPI is 26 December 1925. The Communist Party of India (Marxist), which separated from the CPI in 1964 following an ideological rift between China and the Soviet Union, continues to claim having been founded in 1925.

Contents

Background

The party had seen a rapid growth in membership in the years preceding the Second Party Congress, reaching around 89,000. [4] In 1935 there had been only around 1,000 CPI members, and by 1943 the number had increased to around 16,000. [5]

Whilst the CPI constitution stipulated that an All India Party Conference be held yearly under normal conditions, the last one had been held in 1943. [2] By the time the Second Party Congress finally convened, P.C. Joshi had served a 13-year term as Party General Secretary. [2]

When the Second Party Congress convened, CPI stood at a crossroads. Either they would work within the constitutional framework of the newly independent Indian state or it would engage in insurrectional revolutionary struggles. [6] The incumbent CPI General Secretary, P.C. Joshi, represented the former position, B.T. Ranadive (BTR) the latter. [6] At the time of independence of India and Pakistan in 1947 CPI adhered to a moderate line of 'responsive cooperation' with the Indian National Congress and the Muslim League. [7] But as of December 1947 the leftist group around BTR had won control over the Central Committee of the party. [2] A key factor in the ascent of BTR and the defeat of the incumbent P. C. Joshi clique was post-Partition dissatisfaction with the past policy of alliance with the Muslim League. [8] The group around BTR began to purge the followers of P.C. Joshi. [2] The December meeting of the Central Committee sent out instruction to party branches to hastily elect delegates to the Second Party Congress. [2]

Indian National Congress Major political party in India

The Indian National Congress(pronunciation ) is a broadly based political party in India. Founded in 1885, it was the first modern nationalist movement to emerge in the British Empire in Asia and Africa. From the late 19th century, and especially after 1920, under the leadership of Mahatma Gandhi, Congress became the principal leader of the Indian independence movement. Congress led India to independence from Great Britain, and powerfully influenced other anti-colonial nationalist movements in the British Empire.

All-India Muslim League political party

The All-India Muslim League was a political party established during the early years of the 20th century in the British Indian Empire. Its strong advocacy for the establishment of a separate Muslim-majority nation-state, Pakistan, successfully led to the partition of British India in 1947 by the British Empire.

Central Committee is the common designation of a standing administrative body of communist parties, analogous to a board of directors, whether ruling or non-ruling in the 20th century and of the surviving communist states in the 21st century. In such party organizations the committee would typically be made up of delegates elected at a party congress. In those states where it constituted the state power, the Central Committee made decisions for the party between congresses, and usually was responsible for electing the Politburo. In non-ruling Communist parties, the Central Committee is usually understood by the party membership to be the ultimate decision-making authority between Congresses once the process of democratic centralism has led to an agreed-upon position.

Delegates

919 delegates were elected by the party branches, but only 632 were able to attend. [2] [3] For example, only a handful of the 75 delegates elected from Telangana were able to reach Calcutta. [2] Out of the 632, 565 were party whole-timers. [2]

Telangana State in Southern India

Telangana is a state in India situated on the centre-south stretch of the Indian peninsula on the high Deccan Plateau. It is the twelfth largest state and the twelfth-most populated state in India with a geographical area of 112,077 km2 (43,273 sq mi) and 35,193,978 residents as per 2011 census. On 2 June 2014, the area was separated from the northwestern part of Andhra Pradesh as the newly formed 29th state with Hyderabad as its historic permanent capital. Its other major cities include Warangal, Nizamabad, Khammam and Karimnagar. Telangana is bordered by the states of Maharashtra to the north, Chhattisgarh to the east, Karnataka to the west, and Andhra Pradesh to the east and south. The terrain of Telangana region consists mostly of hills, mountain ranges, and thick dense forests distribution of 27,292 sq. km. As of 2019, the state of Telangana is divided into 33 districts.

Three delegates represented party branches in West Pakistan: Eric Cyprian from Punjab, Jamaluddin Bokhari from Sind and Mohammad Hussein Ata from the North-West Frontier Province. [9] Estimates on the number of delegates from East Pakistan vary, party documents suggested that 60 delegates participated, an intelligence estimate put the figure at 32. [9] Delegates from East Pakistan included Kalpana Datta (P.C. Joshi's wife) and Khokar Roy. [9] Moni Singh claimed that there had been 125 delegates from East Pakistan, representing 12,000 party members, as well as five delegates from West Pakistan. [10]

West Pakistan western wing of Pakistan between 1947-1970

West Pakistan was one of the two exclaves created at the formation of the modern State of Pakistan following the 1947 Partition of India.

East Pakistan Former province of Pakistan

East Pakistan was the eastern provincial wing of Pakistan between 1955 and 1971, covering the territory of the modern country Bangladesh. Its land borders were with India and Myanmar, with a coastline on the Bay of Bengal.

Kalpana Datta Indian revolutionary and politican

Kalpana Datta was an Indian independence movement activist and a member of the armed independence movement led by Surya Sen, which carried out the Chittagong armoury raid in 1930. Later she joined the Communist Party of India and married Puran Chand Joshi, then General Secretary of the Communist Party of India in 1943.

From French India, the local Communist Party leader and member of the French Senate V. Subbiah participated in the Second Party Congress. [11] On February 24, 1948 he had made a visit to the French colony of Chandernagore together with the French delegate to the Calcutta Youth Conference (see below). [11]

Proceedings

The congress was held under a big tarpaulin in Mohammad Ali Park. [10] BTR held the opening speech of the conference, outlining the new party line. [2] His speech lasted four and a half hours, and presented detailed criticism on the performance of the party leadership. [3]

So far we have been taking a reformist path. We dovetailed with bourgeois interests. We could not take an independent stance in the movement on the issue of freedom. As a result, the reactionary forces of Congress and Muslim League through a forged alliance ushered in a so-called Independence. This is not real independence, it is false! Just as in a postwar situation, there is still grounds for revolution. That is why we must continue our struggle against the bourgeoisie. Strikes, mass rallies, demonstrations, and armed struggles must be used to challenge this false sense of freedom.

[10]

BTR echoed the notion that the world was divided in two camps, and in the struggle between the Anglo-American imperialist camp and the Soviet-led democratic camp the Indian state had aligned itself with the imperialists. [2] The second speech was held by Bhowani Sen who presented an overview of tactical questions. [2] Sen presented criticism of the performance of the party 1942–1948, including the support to Sheikh Abdullah's movement in Jammu and Kashmir. [2] The Telangana struggle was presented as the model to be replicated throughout the subcontinent. [2]

BTR and Bhowani's speeches were followed by a long presentation by the now isolated P.C. Joshi. [2] P.C. Joshi expressed self-criticism, stating that he had 'confused and corrupted' the party during his tenure as General Secretary. [2]

The main document debated by the Second Party Congress was its Political Thesis. [2] Many amendments to the document were suggested by delegates, and the Central Committee was tasked with amending it later. [2] The party constitution was amended at the Second Party Congress. [12]

CC election

BTR was elected as new General Secretary of the party. [1] In the election to the new Central Committee all of the candidates proposed by the outgoing leadership were elected, with the exception of P.C. Joshi, who was left out of the new Central Committee. [2]

New party line

The line adopted at the Second Party Congress became popularly known as the 'Ranadive thesis', the 'Ranadive line' or 'Calcutta thesis'. [13] [14] [15] The Second Party Congress raised the slogan that the independence achieved in 1947 was 'sham independence'. [6] The Indian National Congress was denounced as a party of the bourgeoisie. [16] The People's Democratic Revolution was outlined as a one-stage revolution, to be achieved through a united front of workers, peasants and revolutionary intellectuals. [17] Thus the Second Party Congress implied a drastic shift in CPI policy, gearing towards armed insurrection against the nascent Indian state. [17] The new line found inspiration in the Zhdanov Doctrine of the All-Union Communist Party (bolsheviks), which saw the world divided in an imperialist camp and a camp of people's democracies. [17] It also drew upon the experiences of Bengali communists in the post-Partition chaos in Calcutta and the resistance against the Nizam regime in the Hyderabad State. [17] [14]

Another meeting held in the city around just a few days before the Second Party Congress was the Conference of Youth and Students of Southeast Asia Fighting for Freedom and Independence, which has been credited with disseminating the Zhdanov insurrectional line throughout the continent. [4] [18] [19] [20]

Founding of the Communist Party of Pakistan

Bhowani Sen presented a 'Report on Pakistan' to the Second Party Congress. [3] He argued that both India and Pakistan were dominated by similar reactionary elites in alliance with imperialist forces. [3] Thus the task of communists in both countries would be the same, to struggle for people's democratic revolution. [3] The Second Party Congress deliberated on the Pakistan question for some time, and eventually agreed that a separate Communist Party should be built in Pakistan. [3] Sen's 'Report on Pakistan' was adopted with some amendments. [9] After the vote the delegates from West Pakistan held a separate meeting at the sidelines of the CPI congress on March 6, 1948 and constituted the Communist Party of Pakistan. [9] [10] Sajjad Zaheer, founder of the All India Progressive Writers Association and a CPI Central Committee member, was named general secretary of the Communist Party of Pakistan. [7] The other eight Central Committee members were Mohammad Hussain Ata, Jamaluddin Bokhari, Ibrahim (a labour leader), Khoka Roy, Nepal Nag, Krishna Binod Roy, Syed Abul Mansur Habibullah (from West Bengal, but moved to East Pakistan after the foundation of CPP) and Moni Singh. [10]

After the congress Zaheer travelled to West Pakistan to build the party there. [9] He was no longer considered a CPI Central Committee member. [9]

Notably, the party structure in East Pakistan would remain under the supervision of the West Bengal committee of CPI for some time afterwards. [9]

Foreign delegations

Four foreign delegations attend the Second Party Congress: the League of Communists of Yugoslavia (Vladimir Dedijer and Radovan Zogović), the Communist Party of Australia (Lance Sharkey), the Communist Party of Burma (Thakin Than Tun, Thakin Ba Thein Tin, yebaw Aung Gyi, Bo Yan Aung, Khin Kyi and Hla Myaing) and the Communist Party of Ceylon. [2] [21]

Dedijer's speech detailed the struggle of Yugoslav Partisans and was met with heavy applause from the assembled delegates. [22] Acting as de facto representatives of Cominform, the Yugoslav delegates provided important symbolic support to legitimize B.T. Ranadive's coming to power in the party. [22] The Burmese communist leader Thakin Than Tun also aroused the revolutionary fervour in his speech, highlighting that armed struggle alone would provide a path towards liberation. [10]

Along with the Asian Youth Conference, the CPI Calcutta Congress is credited to have influenced the Burmese communists to initiate armed rebellion at home. [21] Nevertheless, Bertil Lintner argues that the impact of the Calcutta meetings on CPB line is a myth, and that H.N. Goshal (who is credited with the 'Goshal thesis' of armed insurrection in Burma) never attended neither of the two Calcutta conferences. [23]

Aftermath

Following the Second Party Congress and under the leadership of BTR, the party embarked on an 18-month campaign of armed uprisings in Telangana, West Bengal (Kakdwip), Tripura and Travancore-Cochin between October 1948 and March 1950. [17] [4] [24] [25] In Malabar, the party raised the slogan "Telangana's way is our way" and "Land to the tiller and Power to the People" in a campaign April–May 1948. Paddy crops were seized by the party and sold at fair prices. The Malabar revolt was crushed by police forces. [26]

After the Second Party Congress CPI suffered a number of set-backs and repression, and party membership dropped to around 25,000 in early 1950. [4] Likewise the membership of the communist-led All India Trade Union Congress dropped from 700,000 to a mere 100,000. [27] On March 26 1950 CPI was banned by the West Bengal state government. [27] [28] The West Bengal ban would later be followed by prohibitions of the party in Amritsar, Malabar (1949–1951), Madras, Manipur, Ahmednagar, Hyderabad, Travancore-Cochin, Indore and Bhopal. [4] [27] [29] On April 2, 1948 S.A. Dange and other key party leaders in Bombay were jailed. [27] [28] By 1949 2,500 party members were imprisoned across the country. [27]

In January 1950 the Cominform instructed the party to abandon the insurrectional line, through an article in For a Lasting Peace, for a Peoples Democracy! . [4] [12] BTR was demoted in June 1950, denounced as a 'left adventurist' and replaced by C. Rajeshwar Rao as General Secretary. [4] [24] In April 1951 Ajoy Ghosh became the new General Secretary and the Chinese-inspired guerrilla warfare line was condemned by the new CPI leadership. [4] The Telangana rebellion did however, in spite of Cominform instructions, continue until late 1951. [4] In 1951 CPI contested the first parliamentary elections and emerged as the largest opposition party in the Lok Sabha. [4] [30]

The Madurai Party Congress, held in 1954, and the Palghat Party Congress of 1956 marked the definitive break with the 1948 line and fully embraced parliamentarian orientation of the party. [31]

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