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MN Roy: brief outline of life-events and thoughts- Part 13

MN Roy: brief outline of life-events and thoughts- Part 13

Continued from Part 12

Comintern years – rise and fall of Roy

Before we end this section, let me mention in a summary form Roy’s career in Comintern:

After the Second World Congress, M.N. Roy had a meteoric rise in the International Communist movement.  Roy grew rapidly in the Comintern hierarchy. In 1922, he was elected a candidate member of the Executive Committee of the Communist International (ECCI) , and , a full voting member in 1924.  He was appointed a member of the Presidium in 1924. By 1926, Roy was enjoying a very influential position   in the Comintern. In Feb 1926, he was appointed to the Editorial staff of the Communist International; and, in the following December he was re-elected to the Presidium and joined the Political Secretariat of the ECCI. At the time of the Seventh Plenum of the ECCI (Nov 12-Dec 16, 1926), Roy became the Secretary of the Chinese Commission. By the end of 1926, Roy was an elected member of all the four official policy making bodies of the Comintern – the Presidium, the Political Secretariat, the Executive Committee and the World Congress.  The Plenum that was convened for the purpose of considering the Chinese problem adopted a thesis on the question and Roy was sent to China in 1927 as a representative of the Comintern to carry it out.

At the same time he authored many Marxist books, such as:  India in Transition (1922), The Future of Indian Politics (1926) and Revolution and Counter-revolution in China (1930). He also founded the organ of the émigré Communist Party of India, The Vanguard (and later The Masses) and edited it for seven years (1922-28).

In the meantime, Roy along with Joseph Stalin established Communist University of the Toilers of the East. Many of the future Presidents and Prime Ministers of colonial countries underwent training in this Institute where Roy and Evelyn taught.  Ho Chi Minh, later the supreme leader of Vietnam, studied in this school. Roy and Evelyn wrote large number of articles, pamphlets and Books; and edited journals and newspapers. Their mature writings written understanding and clear analysis influenced the course of events in Communism, in Indian national movements and on the Indian National Congress.

For some reason, Roy and Evelyn separated sometime during 1925.

Following the events in China in 1927, Roy’s influence declined significantly, though he was not formally expelled until 1929.

 

divider1

 

As Roy’s influence on Communist movement in India began to wane, his work area was shifted to China. And, the Comintern sent Roy on a mission to China.  The circumstances surrounding Roy’s China mission were briefly as under.

Sometime in the fall of 1926, Roy reached Moscow, from Berlin, to attend the Seventh Plenum of The ECCI (Executive Committee of the Communist International) scheduled from 22 November to 16 December 1926. During the Plenum, China was the principal subject of discussion. The debate, again, was about the role of the bourgeoisie in the liberation movement. The bourgeoisie now   in question was Kuomintang. And, the question had a long history.

Following the success of the October Revolution in Russia, there arose in China a national revolutionary movement of the working class and peasants against feudalism and foreign capital. With that, an old party dating back the last decade of the eighteenth century named Kuomintang (Kuo Min Tang = the Peoples Party of China) was revived.  Sun Yat-Sen took over the leadership of Kuomintang (KMT).

Sun Yat Sen 1920

The Second World Congress of the Communist International held in 1920 had resolved to support the national bourgeois revolutionary movements in the colonies and the semi-colonies. Accordingly, in 1923, the communists decided to support the nationalist movement of Sun Yat-Sen in China. And, that decision was formalized through an agreement signed on 26 January 1923 by Sun Yat-Sen and Adolph Joffe, the Soviet representative stationed in Shanghai. This agreement came to be known as the Sun-Joffe Manifesto, a declaration of cooperation among Comintern, Kuomintang (KMT) and the Communist Party of China (CPC). . The manifesto also asserted that the Soviet system was not suitable for China; announced in general terms the willingness of Soviet to cooperate with the KMT in its struggle to unify China. The manifesto, thus, became the foundation of cooperation between the Kuomintang and Soviet Union.

Following that agreement, the Comintern agent Mikhail Borodin arrived in China in 1923 to aid in the reorganization and consolidation of the KMT along the lines of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union. The Communist Party of China (CPC) and the Kuomintang (KMT) thus formed the First United Front.

In July 1923 Sun Yat-sen sent Chiang Kai-shek, one of his lieutenants for military and political training at Moscow. By 1924, Chiang rose to prominence and succeeded Sun Yat-Sen   as the head of Kuomintang forces.  Comintern allowed the members of the Chinese Communist Party (CPC) to join the Kuomintang (KMT) on an individual basis. The CPC was still small at the time, having a membership of only 1,500 as compared to about 50,000 of Kuomintang. The Communists within the Kuomintang came to be known as the Left-Wing of Kuomintang.  

Chiang Kai-shek2

After the death of Sun Yat-sen in March 1925, the hostility of the Chinese bourgeoisie to the working class became clearly evident in the political rise of Chiang Kai-shek. The son of a wealthy merchant, Chiang had close ties with Shanghai’s bankers and compradors. Unlike Sun, Chiang Kai-shek was no intellectual. He had spent his early years among Shanghai’s gangsters, murderers and smugglers, who would later become his shock troops against the city’s working class.

The radicalization of the working class forced the CPC leadership to reconsider its relations with the KMT. In October 1925, Chen Duxiu again suggested that the Chinese Communist Party (CPC) quit the KMT and cooperate only externally.  But, the Comintern rejected the proposal. The Stalin favored trying to use the death of Sun to install “Left-Wing” or pro-Moscow leaders.

Stalin’s transformation of the Chinese Communist Party (CPC) into an appendage of the KMT left the party wide open to great dangers. On March 20, 1926, Chiang suddenly carried out a coup to tighten his stranglehold over the KMT. He not only toppled the so-called “left-wing” KMT leadership, but also detained 50 prominent communists and placed all Soviet advisers under house arrest.

Thereafter, the CPC and the Left-Wing of the KMT decided to move from Guangzhou (also known as Canton, and less commonly as Kwangchow) – the port city in southern China northwest of Hong Kong on the Pearl River –  to  Wuhan (in Central China, comprising three  major cities of Wuchang, Hankou, and Hanyang ) where communist influence was strong.

Wuhan_location

At the same time, the CPC had also gathered considerable mass support in the countryside of Wuhan area, mainly from the peasants. The peasantry supporting the CPC and some members of the Left Wing KMT who essentially were Communists,  started demanding abolition of feudal landlords, confiscation of their lands and handing over of those lands to the tillers. Some picked up  fight with the  bourgeois landowners.

But, the problem was that the leadership of the Left-Wing of the KMT was dominated by landholding-class.  And, most of the officers of the KMT army also came from feudal families.

There was therefore a conflict of interests within the Left-Wing of the KMT.

The Communist support   for the demands of the peasants to confiscate lands from the feudal and to hand it over to the peasantry would effectively mean their certain expulsion from the KMT.

***

The conflict, in the perspective of Comintern was, in essence, the old conflict re-born; whether to support ‘the revolution from above’ or the ‘revolution from below’.

In the ECCI at the seventh Plenum (22 November to 16 December 1926), the Communist delegates from China were in favour of the status quo; and were not prepared to risk their relations with the KMT.  But, Roy who then was a member of the Presidium strongly objected to the stand of Chinese Communist delegation. He stuck to his well known faith in the ‘revolution from below. Roy argued in favour of the agrarian revolution and the revolt of the peasants.

Trotsky insisted that the most urgent task was to establish the political independence of the Communist Party and de-link it from the “Left” KMT. “Precisely its lack of independence is the source of all evils and all the mistakes”. He also warned: politicians of the Left-KMT such as of   Wang Ching-wei type, under difficult conditions, will unite ten times with Chiang Kai-shek against the workers and peasants. And, therefore, it is imperative to support the Communist Party of China in its revolution.

However, the Chairman of the Chinese Commission in the Seventh Plenum Tan Ping-shan   did not agree with Roy and Trotsky.  He rejected the proposal that Communists should either revolt or leave the Kuomintang. On the other hand, the Chairman of the Chinese Commission said, ‘we are of the opinion that the relations between the Communist Party of China (CPC) and the Kuomintang (KMT)  must be consolidated even more than before’.

It was decided that taking into account the whole character of the development of the Chinese revolution and its perspectives, the Communists must stay within the Kuomintang (KMT) and must intensify their work in it. It was said , the KMT , despite its bourgeois–democratic character , contained the embryo of revolutionary bloc of proletariat peasantry ; and therefore the CPC  must  stay in KMT and penetrate into it  through  the Left-Wing of KMT;   and must eventually take control of the KMT , in entire.

Basically, it meant that the Chinese Commission in the Seventh Plenum had renounced ‘revolution from below’ in favour of ‘revolution from above’. And, that the uprising by the peasants must be contained and withdrawn, at least for the present.

This was totally against Roy’s stand on the issue.  He argued vehemently against such decision. Yet, the Comintern ordered Roy to proceed to China in order to ensure the right implementation of the decision taken by the Seventh Plenum.

**

It is not clear why Roy, of all the persons, was asked to monitor and supervise the implementation of an order that he had passionately opposed. Further, M. M.  Borodin who had been serving as the Communist Advisor to the Kuomintang and to the Chinese Communist Party for the past four years since 1923 was already in position. Borodin was well familiar with all details of the problem and its implications. Further, he had also established contacts with the leaders and elements on either side of the question. He could very well have been asked to ensure implementation of the order issued by the ECCI at the Seventh Plenum. There was no need whatsoever to depute Roy to China, just to check on Borodin. And the irony was that it was Borodin who had indoctrinated Roy and converted him into Communism. He was thus Roy’s teacher and guide; and they had grown into good friends. Now, Roy was being sent to check on his teacher and friend.

When Roy pleaded his case and requested to be sent to India instead of to China, Stalin just asked Roy to go; and he would look into his request for India on his return from the mission assigned to him.

Perhaps , the Comintern deliberately intended to keep Roy out of India and Europe , just at the time when CPGB  was making efforts to  take control of  Communist movement in India and a lend it a new direction.

***

Another indicator to support the above premise (of shunt Roy away from Europe ) is that just as Roy was entering into Canton on 12 February 1927, a conference called as the Congress of the Oppressed Nationalities was being held in Brussels from 10 February to 15 February 1927. About 175 delegates from about 37 countries representing various trade unions and other communist–inspired   organizations attended the Congress.  The more prominent among the participants was Virendranath Chattopadyaya, Roy’s old rival in Berlin. One of the decisions taken at the Congress was to set up the League Against Imperialism with which another rival of Roy MPBT Acharya got associated. 

The Congress was significant for one more reason. It was attended by Jawaharlal Nehru, as an official delegate of the Indian National Congress.  Nehru had left India in March 1926 to accompany his ailing wife Kamala Devi to Switzerland for medical treatment. While he was in Berlin, Nehru heard of the Congress of the Oppressed Nationalities to be held in Brussels; and, asked the Indian National Congress to sponsor him as its delegate to the meet. After attending The Congress at Brussels, Nehru, also agreed to serve on the Executive Committee of the newly formed League Against Imperialism (LAI ) ; and continued in that position until end of January 1930*.

 [*Regarding the relationship between Nehru and LAI which ended in January 1930: 

When Nehru signed the Delhi Manifesto in November 1929, the Gandhi inspired attempt to seek dominion status for India in exchange for end of the Civil Disobedience. The Manifesto also called for reciprocal amnesty and freedom for political prisoners. Then LAI sent letters to Nehru calling his signing as a ‘betrayal of the Indian masses’. Nehru in January 1930 in his letter to LAI secretariat shot back:  I am afraid you have not the least notion of conditions in India; and yet you do not hesitate to lay down the law for us. The Indian National Congress has welcomed you and has agreed to cooperate with you, but it cannot tolerate of the outside interference of the kind you have been carrying on”

With that, Nehru ended his association with LAI, although nothing came of the Manifesto. The events that followed proved Nehru right. Had he not signed the Agreement, the Congress would have split on the eve of the Civil Disobedience movement.]

In any event, it appears that the Comintern had already made up its mind to keep Roy away from the centre of action. Zinoviev had hinted about that in the Fifth Plenum of ECCI following Roy’s hostility with the CPGB.

***

Roy was assigned the task of trouble-shooting the alliance between the Kuomintang and the Chinese Communist Party which was suffering increasingly disruptive stress. But, by the time Roy arrived in China in early 1927, the events were moving rapidly and were going beyond control.  And, a totally new and an alarming situation confronted the Chinese Communists, Borodin and Roy.

On April 7 1927, Chiang Kei-shek and several other Right-wing KMT leaders held a meeting, during which they came to the conclusion that Communist activities were socially and economically disruptive and must be undone for their national revolution to proceed. And, by about the next week, 12 April 1927, the KMT decided to expel the members of the Left-wing of the KMT along with other members of the CPC from its fold.

northen-expedition-eng

After completing his northern expedition, Chiang Kai-shek broke his ties with the Left Wing of the KMT; and, began an onslaught on the Communists, on the streets of Shanghai.  This was followed by arrest and execution of hundreds of CPC members at Shanghai. This came to be known as Shanghai massacre.

After the bloodbath in Shanghai, landowners in Wuhan region anxiously looked to Chiang Kai-shek’s regime for support.  For, they were scared of retaliation by the communist-peasants in the Wuhan for what happened in Shanghai. They resisted workers’ strikes by closing down factories and shops. They deliberately organized runs on banks and shipped their sliver to Shanghai. In rural areas, merchants and usurers refused to lend money to the peasantry, making them unable to buy seeds for the spring months. Feudal powers joined, by shutting down their firms, while speculators drove up prices to unbearable levels. The economic collapses and rising mass movement terrified Wang Ching-wei, the leader of the Left-Wing KMT.

Following that massacre and onslaught, the gulf between the Left Wing KMT / Communists and Right-Wing KMT further widened. And, Chiang Kai-shek with his base in Canton (in South China) and Wang Ching-wei, the leader of the Left -Wing of KMT in Wuhan province (in Central China) became bitter enemies. Wang Ching-wei, in anger, therefore wanted to march against the Right -Wing forces of   Chiang kei -shek.

 Wang Ching-wei

But, in the meanwhile, Wang Ching-wei was confronted with another serious problem, at his home province, Wuhan. There suddenly was a violent uprising of the peasants in the Wuhan area, much to the annoyance of Wang Ching-wei. Some members of Left Wing KMT belonging to the peasant class were joined by members of the CPC who adopting the Communist Party line started a fight against the bourgeois landowners.  They demanded abolition of feudal landlord-system of Wuhan province, confiscation of their lands and handing over of those lands to the tillers. In many rural areas, peasant associations had, in fact, driven out the landlords and were functioning as the local authority.

But the problem was that Wang Ching-wei and most of other leaders of the Left-Wing of KMT and Army officers in Wuhan, despite their left leaning, belonged to the landowning class. Now, they had become the target of the agitation raised by their own members and followers.

The CPC was caught on the horns of the dilemma. They were unable to decide whether they should take control of the Wuhan area, support the peasants, and lead them on to a full scale agrarian revolution against the landlords in the   Wuhan branch of the Kuomintang (KMT).  Or, whether they should (for the present) suspend support to local peasants; and, now join hands with the Wuhan Kuomintang (KMT) and march  on with it to fight against the Right-Wing Chiang kei-shek.

The conflict had now opened up on many fronts; and, was indeed very complicated.

**

Roy, who had just then appeared on the scene, it appears, urged the Communists to support the revolutionary uprising of the peasants; and fight against the leaders of the Wuhan Kuomintang. He seemed to think that immediate campaign against the Chiang Kei-shek in the North was fraught with great danger. His argument was based on the information he had obtained that Chiang Kei-shek was threatening the right flank of the Wuhan forces, while its left flank was also vulnerable to attack. The basic position of Roy was that the Chinese Communists had two options: either to support the peasants’ demand on the land or to retard the agrarian revolution. But, supporting peasants demand right then would lead to confrontation with Wuhan Kuomintang.

But, Borodin, Roy’s friend and teacher from his Mexico days, who was stationed in China, for the last four years, as a representative of the Comintern, advised otherwise.  He was asking the Communists to support Wuhan Kuomintang in their march against Chiang Kei-shek. The true intention behind his argument seemed to be that Communists cannot possible establish a firm base in China unless the proletariat take control of the situation ; and for that to happen , it was necessary to relay on Wuhan Kuomintang. The implication of Borodin’s argument was that the agrarian revolution should be deferred for the present, otherwise it would antagonise the military officers and the Wuhan Kuomintang; and thus destroy ‘revolutionary bloc’ before the Peking regime could be over thrown.

[For more, please see the very well documented M.N. Roy’s Mission to China: The Communist-Kuomintang Split of 1927 by Robert C North and Xenia J Eudin]

 

 Since no decision could be made on the ground, the issue was referred to Moscow seeking instructions.

On 1 June 1927, Roy received a telegram from Stalin containing his instructions. And, that worsened the confusion.

Stalin instructed that both the courses should be followed at once – that is to support the agrarian revolution and also to support Wuhan Kuomintang. Stalin had made it clear that the support to the Wuhan group was to be only a temporary expedient. He had said “The leadership of the Left Wing Kuomintang must be freshened and reinforced by new leaders who have come to the fore in the agrarian revolution. It is necessary to liquidate the unreliable Generals immediately…Organize a revolutionary tribunal headed by prominent non-Communist Kuomintang. Punish officers who maintain contact with Chiang Kai-shek… The scoundrels must be punished. If the Left-Wing Kuomintang do not learn to be revolutionary Jacobins, they will be lost both to the people and to the revolution.”.

The flaw in the instructions conveyed by the Comintern’s telegram was that the support for the Kuomintang and the support for the agrarian revolution were conflicting, mutually exclusive policies.  The Chinese Communists, left to themselves, might have chosen one course or the other. But the attempt to do both was a sure recipe for disaster. It also showed how little did the Comintern understand what was actually taking place on the ground. It also did not foresee the difficulties inherent in bringing together ‘the revolution from above’ and the revolution from below’.   It also showed how the Communist leaders in Moscow and in China were working at cross-purposes.

In any case, soon after the receipt of the telegram, Borodin who had greater influence with the Chinese Communists, because of his long association with them, asked them to withdraw their agitation and support Kuomintang (KMT) of Wang Ching-wei. And, they had agreed to abide by Borodin’s advice.

mikhail-borodin-wang-jingwei-and-zhang-tailei-in-1925

But, the events that followed overtook Borodin and even the left wing of Wuhan branch of the Kuomintang.

 Roy read out the substance of Stalin’s telegram to the Chinese Communists (CPI). It is said; they were totally bemused and did not know whether to laugh or to cry at the fairy tale from the overseas. They all agreed that what the Russians had asked to do did not make sense; and cannot be carried out.

Roy then thought that Wang Ching-wei the leader of the Left Wing KMT, which is Wuhan branch of the Kuomintang, would perhaps be able to convince the Communist Party of China.  Roy was also hoping that Wang Ching-wei could be persuaded to follow the mass revolutionary way if he was assured that Moscow will back him up fully.

When Roy discussed the issue, Wang Ching-wei wanted to see the telegram from Moscow. Roy then committed an act of utter indiscretion for which he was later blamed and virtually hounded out of the Communist Party. Roy showed Stalin’s telegram to Wang, who in turn showed it to his followers (who were already in touch with the Right- Wing leader Chiang Kei-shek). Therefore, within about an hour, what was till then a secret instruction from Moscow became common knowledge and spread among all sections of the Chinese conflict – right, left and centre.

Wang Ching-wei consulted his colleagues and followers to decide upon the future course of their action. Wang understood that he was one among the ‘unreliable generals’ referred to in the telegram. And, he debated within himself that   even if Moscow were to support him for the present, he surely was marked for ‘liquidation’ eventually. He realized that his position in the Soviet camp was temporary, vulnerable and highly insecure.  The Wuhan Kuomintang leaders (most of whom were landlords and army officers) also, by then, realized that they had more in common with Chiang Kei-shek than with Russian backed Communists. Wang Ching-wei then decided that it would be wiser and safer for him to make peace with Chiang Kei-shek at Nanking; to dismiss the Russian advisors; and, to expel the Communists from KMT.

The two wings of the Kuomintang then became one; and together fought against Chinese Communists.  The Communists, of course, lost all sectors of the battle; its troops were disbanded; thousands of its fighters were arrested; and many were executed.  Trade unions and peasants unions affiliated to Communist Party were destroyed. The Chinese Communist Party was outlawed. And Martial Law was declared against Communists and all communist affiliated units.

As John Chan writes :   “on July 15, Wang Ching-wei formally issued an order demanding all communists leave the KMT or face severe punishment. Like Chiang, it was Wang who squeezed the CPC “like a lemon” and then cast it aside, unleashing another, even more brutal, wave of repression against the communists and the insurgent masses….

The Kuomintang’s “white terror” lasted for years. From April to December 1927, an estimated 38,000 people were executed and more than 32,000 jailed as political prisoners. From January to August 1928, more than 27,000 people were sentenced to death. By 1930, the CCP estimated approximately 140,000 people had been murdered or had died in prisons. In 1931, over 38,000 people were executed as political enemies. The Chinese Left Opposition was not only hunted down by the KMT’s police, it was also betrayed to the authorities by the Stalinist CCP leadership.”

Thus, victory of the counter-revolution, very swiftly, was almost complete; at for the time being.

The duo of Borodin and Roy having nothing more to do were, mercifully, allowed to escape. After being in hiding for some time, Borodin with help from Wang Ching-wei boarded a special train from Hankow on 27 July 1927. Roy also thereafter, on 8 August 1927, left Hankow.  After crossing the Gobi desert by car, he caught the Trans-Siberians railway to reach Moscow.  In the end, both Borodin and Roy banished from Wuhan and had to return to Moscow crestfallen.

***

Roy’s mission to China was a disaster. He was blamed for his colossal blunder of sharing Stalin’s telegram with Wang Ching-wei.  Some went even to the extent of calling him a betrayer to the cause. Thereafter, his stock in the Comintern plummeted, leading ultimately to his expulsion. 

There were also a few who defended Roy’s position. Yes, the Chinese mission was indeed a failure they too agreed. But, they pointed out it was not the failure of the individual; it was in fact the failure of the system. The fault, they argued, basically was, in the Comintern policy and in its decision of preserving Kuomintang alliance at the cost of the just emerging Chinese Communist Party.  The Comintern had in fact sacrificed the Chinese Communist Party for its own reasons. And, it would not be right to blame Roy for the inevitable failure of Comintern’s faulted policy.

It was also said that the leadership of the Wuhan Kuomintang (inclusive of Wang Ching-wei) had already decided, as advised by the Christian General Feng Yu-hstang, to dismiss the Russian advisers and suppress the communist party in the interest of the unity of all nationalist forces. Thus, Wuhan Kuomintang, in any case, would have done whatever it did, regardless of the telegram or Roy. There is therefore no need to blame Roy.

**

[Given the blunders that Comintern committed in 1927, it is indeed a wonder that Communism could even have a presence in China. Ironically, in a way of speaking, it was the quick and hurried exit of the Russian communists and advisors that helped Communism to take root and to succeed in China.

Mao Zedong in 1927

The failure of the Kuomintang uprising had marked the end of the revolution in the urban centers. Those CPC leaders, who did not join the Left Opposition such as Mao Tse-tung   , fled to the countryside. Mao, whose political outlook had more in common with peasant populism than with Marxism, emerged quite naturally as the new leader.

Before joining the Communist Party, Mao had been deeply influenced by a Japanese utopian socialist school, ‘New Village’. The New Village advocated collective cultivation, communal consumption and mutual aid in autonomous villages as the road to “socialism”. This “rural socialism” reflected not the interests of the revolutionary proletariat, but the hostility of the decaying peasantry towards the destruction of small-scale farming under capitalism. Even after joining the Communist Party, Mao never abandoned this orientation towards the peasantry.

The withdrawal  of the Russians from the scene  made room for Mao Tse-tung   and  offered him  complete  freedom to form his own army , his own police force, and  to build his own  political institutions ; as also to work out his own special  mixture of varied indigenous and revolutionary  tactics and  elements ‘ from below’ as also those from ‘above’ . The Chinese Communism is thus a result of its indigenous effort.  The Communist movement in China has therefore stood independently on its own and has flourished regardless of the vicissitudes in the fortunes of Communism in Russia.

Mao Zedong meets with Snow again in Yan'an in 1939.

About nine years after the Russian-Kuomintang  fiasco , it appears that Mao Tse-tung in a conversation with Edgar Snow,  the American journalist noted for his books and articles on Communism in China  called Borodin a ‘ blunderer’  who in 1926 favored radical distribution of land among peasants ; but , in 1927 he completely reversed his position  opposing his own earlier stand of 1926. Borodin was just an official obeying orders and eager to please his bourgeois masters.

As regards Roy, Mao Tse-tung called him ‘a fool’ who just stood and could only talk; and he talked too much, without offering any method of realization.

As per Mao’s analysis, it was Chen Tu-hsin the leader of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) who was most responsible for the failure and defeat of the peasants’ revolution; Borodin who completely reversed his stand between 1926 and 1927 was next; and, Roy who just stood and talked was the last.

But, although Mao called Roy a ‘fool  … who just stood and talked and talked’, his method of creating a mass proletariat movement and rising agrarian revolution was much similar to the one that Roy had been advocating all along. ]

 

***

Roy left Hankow for Moscow on 8 August 1927. On his arrival in Moscow Roy had more troubles waiting for him.

 While he was in China, a delegation of Indian Communists in Moscow submitted a complaint to Comintern charging Roy with exaggerating the size of the Communist apparatus in India and with misappropriation of Comintern funds.

 

But, the major trouble was that while Roy was away in China, Stalin had despatched his trusted confidant fellow Georgian Vissarion Vissarionovich Lominadze to check on the situation there. Lominadze was appointed Secretary of the Communist Youth International in the spring of 1927; and later was made a full member of CPSU Central Committee.  He had a voice in Comintern affairs; it was also well known that he enjoyed the confidence of Stalin; and therefore Lominadze was very powerful person indeed in Comintern.

Stalin had sent Lominadze to China because he did not trust Roy or Borodin. Lemonade’s mission in China, initially, was to find some remnants of the Kuomintang left-wing leadership still willing and able to allow a communist fraction to operate within the Kuomintang.  During about the same time, Stalin had also dispatched a young German named Heinz Neumann to South China to look for some stray communist elements who could stage an urban uprising .

Both, Lominadze and Neumann reported back to Stalin saying that leaders of the Kuomintang ,  the Chinese Communist Party  and Roy had messed up things in China; and communists were lying low unable to create to any trouble  for the bourgeois .

Lominadze complained that many mistakes had been committed in the recent past by the personnel of the Comintern and the Central Committee (CC) of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) particularly with regard to Chinese revolution. Lominadze charged that the CC of the CCP had committed ‘serious errors of rightist opportunism and had violated the directives of the Comintern’. He demanded that an Emergency Party Conference be convened as soon as possible to reorganize the party leadership.

Lominadze convened an Emergency Conference, starting from 7 August 1927 (that is a couple of days before Roy’s return to Moscow from China) with the object of correcting mistakes and re-organizing party leadership.

Trotsky (Lev Davidovitch Bronstein)

What was really happening in Moscow was an on-going power struggle within the Comintern. Stalin was intent on eliminating all trouble-makers and potential rivals. Roy returned to Moscow where factions supporting Trotsky and Lenin’s former ADC Grigory Zinoviev were busy fighting with Stalin.

 [Earlier during 1926, Grigory Zinovyev, Lev Kamenev and few others had come close to Trotsky’s supporters in forming what was known as The United Opposition. Stalin who was annoyed with splinter opposition groups had sent threats to Trotsky. And, Trotsky, then, had made tactical retreat, mostly to preserve his alliance with Zinoviev and Kamenev. Though the United Opposition was formally ‘out’, it did still exist; and, Stalin was intent on wiping it out clean. In 1927, Stalin started using the GPU (Soviet secret police) to infiltrate, harass and discredit the opposition. Some were expelled from the Party and some were arrested.

Trotsky kept on criticizing Stalin’s economic policy which opposed rapid industrialization and collectivization in agriculture. Stalin had then used Bukharin to rebut and undermine his chief rivals—Leon Trotsky, Grigory Zinovyev, and Lev Kamenev.

But, with failure of his attempts in Germany, Trotsky came under attack. Bukharin and Roy had stood by Stalin against Trotsky. They were promoted in the Party hierarchy.

And, earlier at the ECCI, on the question of alliance with Kuomintang, Trotsky and Roy had opposed the proposal. But Bukharin had argued for the proposal; and Stalin agreed with Bukharin.

 Thus, there were many un-settled issues that had to be straightened out.]

 The Emergency Conference was held at time when Stalin was seeking to consolidate his power. He needed to sideline and subdue Trotsky who was still airing his opinions about Stalin’s economic policies. Now, Trotsky using the failed policy of the ECCI on Chinese Revolution was attempting to pin the blame on Stalin.

The Emergency Conference would not have been convened by Lominadze unless it had Stalin’s sanction. In fact, Stalin, on 8 July 1927 had warned the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) to correct the fundamental errors of the Party as per the directions of the ECCI.

At the Emergency Conference, Trotsky committed the indiscretion of blaming Stalin for approving the Kuomintang-policy that was bound to fail.

Roy sprang to the defense of Stalin, shielding him against the charges made by Trotsky. Roy placed the entire blame for the failure of the ‘China-Mission’ with Kuomintang and on the leadership of the Chinese Communist Party (CPP). Roy supported Stalin, justifying his decision. (The plain truth was that Roy along with Trotsky had earlier opposed Stalin’s proposal).

[In October 1927, Leon Trotsky and Grigory Zinoviev were expelled from the CPSU.

Trotsky, after being expelled from the International Communist Party in November 1927 was exiled to Alma Ata in Kazakhstan on 31 January 1928. He was then expelled from the Soviet Union to Turkey in February 1929. Trotsky continued in exile to oppose the Stalinist bureaucracy in the Soviet Union. On Stalin’s orders, he was assassinated in August 1940 while he was exiled in Mexico.

 As regards Grigory Zinoviev who was at one time the head of the Communist International for a fairly long period, was forced out of the Politburo and the Comintern, in 1927. Zinoviev remained politically inactive until October 1932, when he was expelled from the Communist Party. In 1935 he was arrested, secretly tried for “moral complicity” in the assassination of the party leader Sergey Mironovich Kirov (December 1934), and sentenced to 10 years’ imprisonment. The following year, however, he was re-tried at the first Great Purge trial, found guilty on the fabricated charge of forming a terrorist organization to assassinate Kirov and other Soviet leaders, and was executed. ]

***

Roy was aware that Trotsky was right in his view. But, to say that openly would have meant facing the same fate as Trotsky and Zinoviev. Roy therefore chose to support Stalin and his policy; and wrote articles and books vindicating Stalin’s Kuomintang policy. Roy, in his writings, continued to place the entire blame for the 1927 debacle on the Chinese Communist Party (CCP); and totally absolving the Comintern and Stalin of any responsibility.

Roy, lucky to scrape through the Emergency Conference did not stay much longer in Moscow. And, on 3 October 1927 he left for Berlin.

***

Despite his tactical alliance with Stalin, Roy was vulnerable because of his association with Trotsky, Borodin and Bukharin.

Some say that fall of Roy was easy to accomplish, for he had many powerful rivals and his theories were also suspect. And above everything, for all practical purposes, Roy was an outsider.

As regards his theories that were found suspect were: (a) his skewed theory exaggerating the strength of the proletariat and deprecating the Indian National Congress, thus misleading’ the ECCI of the Comintern; (b) his thesis on the national and colonial question presented at the Second World Congress (1920) though was a Supplementary thesis, officially, yet considerable attention paid to it by the Comintern policy makers. But, the failure of the attempts to carry the revolution to industrialized countries, brought attention back to Roy’s thesis. And, in the Seventh Plenum, Roy was asked to explain; and (c) the theory that caused much discomfort to Roy was the one that came to be known as the ‘decolonisation’ thesis.

In regard to the last mentioned ‘decolonisation’ thesis:

On his return from China where the right wing forces had dealt a huge blow against the Communists, Roy was asked to review the India situation and submit a thesis. Roy stated that during the post-war period the British were forced to revise their old policy of obstructing industrial growth in India. He pointed out that a significant change was taking place in the Indian industrial scene. In his draft-thesis, Roy said “The Indian bourgeoisie, instead of being kept down as a potential rival, will be granted partnership in the economic development of the country under the hegemony of imperialism.”

The new policy, according to Roy, will encourage industrial development in India and will also expand the market for British goods and services in India. He also said, encouraged by the British move, other countries will also try to find openings in India. He also predicted that India would eventually be granted Dominion Status; and, the Indian bourgeoisies will be granted partnership by the imperialist bourgeoisies for the joint exploitation of India.

Thus he said:” A gradual advance of the Indian bourgeoisie from the state of absolute colonial oppression to self government within the British Empire is taking place. Therefore, it is not necessary for them to travel the risky path of revolution.

In other words, the progressive ‘decolonization’ of their economic and political status would make Indian bourgeoisie averse to revolution, and in the near future it would turn out to be counter-revolutionary. The transfer of some political power to colonial bourgeoisie would not weaken, because the native bourgeoisie  would come to  wield this power, not to further develop the struggle against imperialism, but to suppress the revolutionary movement… ‘Decolonization’ of the Indian bourgeoisie thus is not an illusion. It is a fact which is the key to the situation”

 This theory of Roy produced a storm. The ECCI members of the Comintern were horrified with the thesis which suggested that  industrial grown and Commerce will flourish under the benevolence of imperialism; and that there is no need for a revolution in India. At the Sixth Congress of the Communist International (1928) Knusinen accused Roy of ‘fathering a theory of decolonization’ which would gradually lead the Indian people to freedom.

Roy kept denying such interpretation; that he never meant it that way; and never did he try to show imperialism in better light. He also said, the term ‘decolonization’ was originally used by Bukharin; and it was not truly his own. And, that made it worse for Roy. He was accused of being a lackey of Bukharin who already was a suspect and was sidelined.

Another problem that the Comintern had to deal with during 1928-9 was the question of fascism that was raising its hood in Germany. The German Opposition Communists August Thalheimer and Heinrich Brandler advocated joining hands with the German Social Democrats to defeat fascism. Roy also expressed his support to such joint action to bring down fascism. But, the Sixth Congress was strongly against any collaboration with the Social Democrats, even for defeating the worst form of fascism – the Nazis. Roy who supported the proposal of the German Opposition was branded and clubbed with the ‘Brandlerite Opposition’ .This together with the controversy over ‘decolonization’ contributed to Roy’s expulsion from Comintern.

When the Ninth Plenum of ECCI (9 – 25 February 1928) opened in February 1928 and when he still was a member in the good standing of the ECCI, Roy continued to be under the belief that that both Stalin and Bukharin were his personal friends. Roy tried to meet Stalin and to explain to him the true intent of his thesis. Stalin refused to meet Roy and give him a hearing at the plenum in February 1928.

It was the ‘decolonisation’ thesis that was to get Roy booted out of the Comintern. Further, Roy had the ill fortune of being championed by Bukharin, who was then chairing the Congress. Stalin, desperate to be rid of the Old Guard, allowed his apparatchiki free rein in distorting Roy’s argument, and his theses were construed to mean that the British were, for some reason,   literally de-colonising India.

[ To make matters worse for Roy, while he was still under attack ,the British Statuary Commission began considering proposals for granting  further autonomy to Indian bourgeoisie ahead of the schedule; and to offer Dominion Status as the natural ‘issue’ of India’s constitutional progress.]

 **

When you look back and take a historical perspective, you will realize that the campaign against ‘decolonization’ and against Roy was not of much significance. But, what was more damaging to the communist cause was the directive issued by the Ninth Plenum of the ECCI to adopt an Ultra-Left policy of isolation and adventurism. That policy was amplified in the Tenth Plenum of the ECCI.

The Indian Communists were asked to break off relations with ‘counter revolutionary’ organizations like the Indian National Congress (INC) and the Leftist bodies like the Independence League (IL). They were instructed to organize mass rallies against INC and IL shouting them down as imperial lackeys and betrayers of the revolution of the proletariat.  The worse was, the Indian Communists were asked to liquidate Peasants and Workers Party (PWP) established earlier ; and to build new anti-imperial united front against Congress. The new PWPs were asked to be organised along the lines of resistance movements- centralised, illegal, and furtive. Similarly, the Trade Unions built earlier were to be dismantled and build new Red Trade Unions preparing them for a countrywide strike.

These directives, proved to be most unrealistic, disruptive and disastrous.

 It was a calamitous injunction – globally, and in India. In India, the Communists were driven into wilderness and broken into small sects.  The CPI was wiped out from effectual political process, right at the critical juncture when they were consolidating their power in the main national stream. Similarly, the new directives had equally disastrous effects in Europe, particularly in Germany. And, some historians opine that the new injunctions contributed, in some measure, to the raise of fascism and the Nazis. The Communists in Germany, under their new prescriptions, came to be looked down as worse enemies of Communism and its principles than the fascists. Because, as the Communist Party of Germany (KPD) under fresh instructions from Moscow began to split and ruin the established trade unions; and that  broke the spirit of the workers and weakened their will and strength to resist  to Nazi menace.

That policy arrived at the Ninth Plenum and amplified in the Tenth Plenum of the ECCI, was totally against the line that was developed, and followed , till then, under the guidance of M N Roy. He had devised a strategy of working along with INC, infiltrating it, influencing its policies and eventually taking control of its leadership. Philip Spratt too had followed much the same line. Although the Communist Party of India had not entirely succeeded in its scheme, its groups (covert or otherwise) had managed to infiltrate the INC, influence some of its policies and draw some Congressmen into its fold.

Roy’s aim in all this was to capture the bourgeois Indian National Congress and make it a ‘people’s’ or ‘revolutionary nationalist’ party based on a democratic programme of national independence. Historian John Patrick Haithcox writes: “Roy hoped that Indian communists would be able to duplicate the apparent success of their Chinese counterparts in working within the Kuomintang.”

 (Haithcox, Communism and Nationalism in India: M.N. Roy and Comintern Policy, 1920-1939 [Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1971])

Yet; Roy had not learnt his lesson – even after the debacle in China and rebuke for his ‘decolonization theory. When Stalin launched the Comintern on its “third period” the Ultra-left turn, Bukharin and Roy opposed Stalin from the right. But, Bukharin soon capitulated to Stalin.

 [As the Nazis came to power in Germany, the views of the Comintern changed once again. The Seventh Comintern Congress , held between July 25 and August 20 of 1935 , decided to replace the tactics of ‘ class against class ‘ by the struggle of ‘ nation against nation’, in which all classes including democratic nationalist bourgeois were expected to unite in a common front against fascist powers. Those tactics were extended to the colonial countries, because of the ‘necessity to re-adjust the program of world revolution with the bourgeois democratic movement’.

In effect, the Seventh Congress went back to Lenin’s call (in the Second Congress -1920) to build alliances of communists with the national movement. The Comintern now abandoned its earlier stand of ‘ultra-left’ taken in the Sixth Congress (1928) about seven years ago . It now made a total reversal and directed that: ‘while maintaining their political and organizational independence , the communists in India must carry on active work inside the Indian National Congress to facilitate progress of crystallization of a national revolutionary wing among them.’

Roy, in a way, was vindicated. He might have been hoping that he would be re-admitted to Comintern. But, that did not happen.

As regards the Communist Party of India, the reversals, the twists and turns in Comintern’s policy did not help in reviving its fortunes, because by then, as they say, much water had flown under the bridge. Add to that, most of the active Indian communists had been rounded up and put behind bars in Meerut Conspiracy case which dragged on from 1929 to 1933; and thereafter the accused were sentenced to various periods of imprisonment. The Communist movement in India during those periods was in its lowest ebb.]

 

***

Even while the Ninth Plenum of the ECCI was in progress at Moscow during February 1928 Roy fell ill. But, he was denied a decent treatment for an infected ear (attack of mastoiditis). That truly scared Roy. However, with help from Bukharin and Borodin, Roy managed to escape from Moscow in March 1928 by boarding Berlin-bound plane of the Russo-German Airline Deruluft, under a fictitious name. But for that flight, Roy might have been shunted out to a Siberin prison. The cruel irony of it was that his friends -Bukharin and Borodin- who rescued Roy at a grave risk to themselves, were, later, condemned, arrested and executed by the order of Stalin.

Soon after the Ninth Plenum, there began a campaign for ‘enforcing discipline’ within the Party. As a part of those ‘disciplinary measures’, it was decided to throw out of the Party and Comintern all those who did not accept the new policy of shift to the extreme Left. Under this prescription, large numbers of communist leaders were expelled, arrested and executed. Even senior leaders like Bukharin and Borodin were not spared. Roy’s rivals, taking advantage of Stalin’s need for a shift of policy to the extreme Left, pressed elimination of Roy from the Communist International.

Some surmise that action against Roy was delayed, perhaps, because the Comintern gave him some room and expected him to recant, to apologize and to send a note of regret. On the contrary, soon after his escape from Moscow, Roy joined hands with the Opposition Communist Party (KPO) in Berlin and started writing articles criticizing Stalin and his policies in the journals published by Heinrich Brandler and August Thalheimar.

[The real reason for Roy’s expulsion could be the power struggle that was taking place within the Comintern, specially after the Fifth Congress  when Stalin was trying to consolidate his position by ruthlessly eliminating the old gourds of the Bolshevik revolution. With the support of the Left-wing Bukharin he successfully sidelined and banished the Right-wing Trotsky; and ultimately eliminated Bukharin too. 

Roy from his early days in Comintern had aligned himself with the Left-wing Bukharin regarded as ‘the theoretical authority, next only to Lenin.’  With the rapidly changing developments in International Communism, following the Chinese debacle, Roy and Bukharin came together to form a central position.  Meanwhile, Stalin had shifted his stance to extreme Left. Roy and Bukharin had to be expelled, by necessity, as they might oppose Stalin’s ultra-left policy adopted in the Sixth Congress in July/August 1928. Roy writing articles in the journals of the Opposition Communist Party of Germany , only made it easier for ECCI.]

But, for some reason, action against Roy was delayed for while, even though he was accused of being a ‘lackey of imperialism’ and ‘father of the decolonization theory’. The Tenth Plenum which met in June 1929 also condemned Roy as a ‘renegade’. But, Roy’s expulsion from the Communist International was affected in September 1929. The announcement of his expulsion appeared in Inprecor of 13 December 1929, almost simultaneously with Bukharin’s disgrace.

[Bukharin lost his Comintern post in April 1929 and was expelled from the Politburo in November 1929.]

The notice published in Inprecor of 13 December 1929 mentioned the cause of Roy’s expulsion as:  “contributing to the Brandler press and supporting the Brandler organizations.” It clearly said; ‘’In accordance with the resolution of the Plenum of the ECCI and the decision of the Presidium of the ECCI of 19 December 1928, adherents of the Brandler organization cannot be members of the Communist International. The Presidium declares that Roy, by contributing to the Brandler press and by supporting Brandler Organization, has placed himself outside the ranks of the Communist International, and is to be considered as expelled from the Communist International.”

[Heinrich Brandler (1881–1967) was a German Communist trade-union politician. After being expelled by the Communist Party in December 1928, Brandler, along with Thalheimer, set up in Germany a rival Communist Party named the Communist Party of Germany Opposition (KPO).

August Thalheimer (1884 to 1948), a journalist and theoretician,   was initially a member of the Social Democratic Party before the First World War and later formed the Communist Party of Germany (KPD) . However a during 1928, he and Brandler were expelled from the KPD; and the two together went on to form the Communist Party Opposition (KPO) , a faction within German  Communist Party.

The KPO, in its new communist opposition journal, Gegen den Storm (Against the Storm) edited by August Thalheimer started publishing articles criticizing the foreign policy of the Soviet Union; which meant criticism of Stalin.

The Comitern was properly annoyed with Brandler and his organization – the KPO. Roy contribution to Brandler – organization journal Gegen den Storm, criticizing Soviet policies was the last straw. And with that the ECCI decided to expel Roy from Communist International.]

Roy felt that he was expelled from the Comintern mainly because of his “claim to the right of independent thinking.” Roy asserted:  ‘the crimes attributed to me, I have not committed. My offence is that I lay claim to the right of independent thinking. and this is not permissible in the present  critical period through which the Communist International is passing through.’ In a way of speaking, Roy had burnt his boats; and there was no way he could return to the official communist fold.

But Roy’s career in Comintern all along was dotted with controversies, stating with his Supplementary thesis on the colonial and national question in 1920 , just as he was entering the  portals of Comintern. He had opposed Commenter’s supporting bourgeoisie nationalist organizations.  He fought against putting the Indian Communist party under the control of the Communist Party of Great Britain. He had opposed ECCI’s decision asking the Chinese Communist Party to withdraw the agrarian revolt.  He almost always had a running-battle with Trotsky. But , his  argument  against Stalin’s extreme Left Industrial policy, just when Stalin was eradicating all rivals and establishing his sole authority in Comintern , proved to be his final undoing in the Communist Party.  Given the highly dangerous environment prevailing in the background of power struggle, it is a wonder that Roy could survive and even thrive for about eight years in the dog-eat-the-dog world of Comintern.

The break with the Comintern was, of course, a serious blow to Roy. He lost the power, prestige that he had as a member of the ECCI. He also lost the capacity to influence the India question. Yet, he went on writing articles in the Communist journals.

He then had to consider other means of being connected with India- its communism and its national independence.

More of that  In   the next part

divider

 

 

Continued

In

Next Part

Sources and References

Communism and Nationalism in India: M.N. Roy and Comintern Policy, 1920-1939  by John Patrick Haithcox

Communism in India by Marshall Windmiller

Communist and Socialist Movement in India: A Critical Account  by Chandrika Singh

In Search of Revolution: International Communist Parties in the “Third Period”  edited by Matthew Worley

 M N Roy – apolitical Biography by  Samaren Roy

M N Roy by V B Kulkarni

Political Philosophy of Rammanohar Lohia: Alternative Development Perceptions by K. Gopinath Pillai

Communism and Nationalism in India: A Study in Inter-relationship, 1919-1947  By  Shashi Bairathi

M.N. Roy’s Mission to China: The Communist-Kuomintang Split of 1927 by Robert C North and Xenia J Eudin

Mao: The Real Story by Alexander V. Pantsov, Steven I. Levine

Mao Tse-tung in Opposition, 1927-1935 by John E. Rue, Hoover Institution on War

Political Philosophy of M.N. Roy by Prakash Chandra

Modern Indian Political Thought: Text and Context by   Bidyut Chakrabarty, Rajendra Kumar Pandey

The tragedy of the 1925-1927 Chinese Revolution – Part 3 by John Chan 

All pictures are from Internet

 

 

 
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MN Roy: brief outline of life-events and thoughts- Part 12

MN Roy: brief outline of life-events and thoughts- Part 12

Continued from Part 11

Communism – India – Nationalism – (Continued)

Roy had much more trouble with the Fifth Congress ( held during June/July 1924)  than he ever had at the previous Congresses

The Chairman of the Colonial Commission, Manuilsky took Roy to task for exaggerating at the Second Congress the strength of ‘social movements ‘in India against the national movement. He said that Roy had failed at ‘winning over the revolutionary movements for emancipation’ in India. Manuilsky‘s ire at Roy perhaps had its root in a note recorded by Stalin in 1923.

By about 1923, Stalin was getting impatient with Roy for there was hardly any progress on the Indian front. The secret Memo 647/5 of the Political Bureau of the Russian Communist Party, issued under the signatures of Stalin and the Bureau’s Deputy Secretary Ter-Avanesoff said: “the mistakes have committed by the Communist International in its first efforts to promote a revolution in India.  It has been longer, more uncertain and more expensive business than had been · anticipated. It has been realized that Communism is completely unacceptable to Hindus in their present state of development, and independence is a condition which must precede it. Our propaganda agents did not realise this and did not report it, and continued to work on completely the wrong line”

The Fifth Congress thereafter appointed a now Colonial Commission (which included, among others, Roy, Manuilsky, Stalin and Katayama) to review the colonial question and prepare a detailed report. Roy, thus, was no longer the sole authority on Colonial question. In the three years that followed, Roy was progressively kept away from the India question.

**

After the not-so-happy Fifth Congress, Roy returned to France by August 1924 which was after about six months of stay in Switzerland. He was hoping that under the Government of Édouard Marie Herriot which had came to power  in June 1924 he would find a safe refuge on the soil of France. Herriot was known to be sympathetic to socialists and local unions.  But, the rest of the year continued to be distressful. With the Cawnpore Case being brought to trial his contacts with India almost dried up.

And, in the following January (on 30 January 1925) Roy and Evelyn were arrested in Paris, due to to British pressure brought to bear upon the French Government. Evelyn was released and allowed to stay in France. Roy, however, was deported to Luxembourg. But he managed to escape from there; and reach Moscow by 21 March 1925 to attend the Fifth Plenum of the ECCI.

[A plenum, meaning a “full assembly,” is a meeting where the Party’s Central Committee deliberates and announces policy initiatives and key personnel appointments. It is usually held at least once a year.]

***

The Fifth Plenum (March-April 1925), in regard to India, persisted with two uncomfortable questions. One, what should be the attitude of the Comintern towards the Indian National Congress?; and, the second, what type of ‘direct contact’ should be maintained by the  ECCI with Indian National Congress?

The Plenum was well aware of Roy’s position on both the questions. But, it was not convinced either with his stand or with the ‘progress’   he had made on the India front. After some discussion, the Fifth Plenum laid down its India-Policy;

“It is now necessary for the Communists to continue to work in the Indian National Congress and in the Left Wing of the Swarajya Party. All nationalist organizations should be formed into mass revolutionary party, an All-India anti-imperialist bloc. The slogan  of the Peoples Party , having for the main points in its program : separation from the Empire; a democratic republic; universal suffrage; and , abolition of feudalism – slogans put forward and popularized by the Indian Communists – is correct.

The Indian Communists should direct their efforts towards securing leadership over the masses of the peasantry, to encourage organization and amalgamation of trade unions, and to take over the leadership of their struggles.”

 

The resolution of the Fifth Plenum continued to regard the bourgeois Indian National Congress as revolutionary; and, still wanted to work with Indian National Congress.  That meant that Roy’s strategical formulations and his view of Indian National congress were rejected. The Plenum did, however, endorse formation of ‘mass revolutionary party’. But, it said, should be made up of ‘all nationalist’ organizations’.  This rider imposed by the Plenum on the membership and coverage of labour organization ran counter to Roy’s proposal for the WPP.  Roy had conceived WPP primarily as leftist trade union organizations of the Communists in India; and, it was to be a legal front for the illegal apparatus.

Another setback for Roy was that the Fifth Plenum stipulated that there should be very close contact between the sections of the Comintern in the Imperialist countries with the colonies of those countries’. That, effectively, meant that the Communist Party of Great Britain (CPGB) will have a say and participate fully in the affairs of the Indian Communist Party. The CPGB would in effect be a sort of natural-guardian of the CPI providing advice, guidance and support.

That would go to undermine Roy’s authority and influence in India.

Following the clearance from the Fifth Plenum , Percy E Glading , a reprehensive of the  CPGB toured India during January – April 1925 , and reported back saying ‘ no Indian Communist groups existed at all’.

This really put Roy on the mat.

**

Evelyn, stationed in Paris and aided by a small group of Indians (GAK Gulani, Md. Sipassi and few others) ,  was engaged in publishing The Vanguard ( which changed its name to Masses of  India on 1 January 1925) . Her efforts to secure from French Government reversal of Roy’s expulsion did not succeed.

After the Fifth Plenum, Roy, unable to return to France, slipped into Berlin, by the spring of 1925.

**

Now, too many overseas leftist groups were trying to direct the Indian communist movement – Roy from Berlin; the   Colonial Committee of the CPGB from Britain; and Chattopadyaya and his associates from Europe. There was also group of twelve Indian leftist students mostly in London calling themselves the India Bureau; and , they got busy with the Indian affairs. Shapurji Saklatvala who had been elected to the British Parliament  in 1922  was  working with CPGB and the Indian Bureau  In addition, there was in France Comite’ Pro-Hindou a group headed by  Henri Barbusse  which  did propaganda work in favour of Indian Independence. Evelyn Trent who was in France was guiding the Comite’ Pro-Hindou.

There were competitions within India and in Europe over gaining control of the India-cantered Communist movement in particular, as also the national movement.

With so many disjointed groups working at cross-purposes, confusion and conflict was bound to be there.

In order to clear the confusion resulting from multiplicity of Communist agencies , all of which interested in the Indian movement , the CPGB invited  about twenty-five leading  party workers active in Europe ( including Roy, Evelyn,  Percy  Glading , Clemens Dutta and others) for a meeting ( named as Oriental Conference )  organised at Amsterdam on 11 and 12 July 1925. As expected, it turned out to be an ugly affair.  Roy, who had previously complained about neglect of CPGB, now accused it of excessive and needless interference with Indian affairs of the Communist Party.  Robinson of CPGB shot back saying that the Fifth Plenum had authorized CPGB to take control of the work conducted in India, a British colony; and participate fully in the Indian affairs. Roy challenged Robinson’s assertion and screamed it was ‘imperialism at its worst’

Roy also challenged Glading’s report to the CPGB which had said that ‘no Indian Communist groups existed at all’.  Roy rejected Glading’s findings; and asserted that he had documentary evidence to prove the existence and working of the Indian Communist groups. If Glading could not spot them, while he was in India, it was because the Indian Communist groups were too well camouflaged; and also because groups were not sure whether they could trust Glading and reveal themselves to him.

A couple of months after the Oriental Conference, the conflict between Roy and CPGB was somewhat eased.  Comintern’s Colonial Bureau issued a letter on 25 September 1925 outlining Roy’s role in the Indian movement. The Comintern’s letter did not lay down a clear line of authority.  It said that CPGB should not work independently of Roy. But, at the same time, it directed that  various  Indian Communist groups operating from Europe  should organize themselves as the Foreign  Bureau of the Communist Party of India (CPI)  , thus becoming a wing of the Indian organization, which again would be under CPGB.

The entire set of correspondence that took place between Comintern, the CPGP and Roy; as also the deliberations of the Oriental Conference were leaked to the British Intelligence.  The copies of all such documents were presented by the prosecution before the Sessions Judge presiding over the Cawnpore Case. The judge while evaluating Roy’s role, observed:

‘Roy definitely wanted to keep the control or guidance of the communist activities in India in his own hands and was inclined to criticize the efforts of CPGB  as based on  insufficient understanding of the problems. This view seems to have been partially accepted by the Communist International. This conclusion is supported by available evidence’.

What was interesting was the stand taken by the defendants Cawnpore Bolshevik Conspiracy Case. They agreed: Yes, we are Communists and work for the establishment of a universal order. But, they strongly rejected prosecutions charge that they were working against India’s interests or against national freedom. They said, in the present stage in India, the movement for national freedom is a progressive force.  We are ready, they declared, to work with anybody if it helps in pursuing genuine national revolutionary policy and national independence.

[The Cawnpore Bolshevik Conspiracy Case of 1924 was against the newly recruited communists (apart from Roy), abhorred by the British Government. Some newly turned communists such as Muzaffar Ahamed, S A Dange, Shaukat Usmani, Nalini Gupta, Singaravelu Chettiar, Ghulam Hussain were charged with the crimes and conspiracy “to deprive the King Emperor of his sovereignty of British India, by complete separation of India from imperialistic Britain by a violent revolution.” But this case brought the communists in the lime light. The newspapers covered the matter exhaustively; and thus, for the first time the people of India could learn of the communist doctrine in fair details. The case was a sort of introduction of Communism to the Indian Public.

However, when the Case began in April 1924, only four defendants were in India (Gupta, Dange, Usman and Ahmad). And, Singaravelu Chettiar was certified to have been too ill to travel from Madras to Cawnpore; and was therefore excused. Hussain turned a British informer and was pardoned. In this case, M N Roy was charged in absentia. Rest all people were arrested and sent to jail for 4 years.

The Case –trial which commenced in April lasted till 20 May 1924. It again came up for appeal before the High Court. In a lengthy judgment handed down on 24 November 1924, the Presiding Judge described the theory of conspiracy as ‘absurd and unbelievable’ and that the schema had never been a threat to the security of the State. However, since the defendants had acted in ‘the most serious spirit, the appeal was denied and their conviction was upheld.]

***

By about the middle of 1925 an idea began to germinate among the Indian Communists that after all it was not illegal in India to advocate Communism; and, a Communist party could exist and function in India without engaging in activities which the Government would regard as treasonable. 

Roy seemed interested in the idea of forming a Communist Party on Indian soil. As the idea gained strength, it was decided that the Communist Party of India should be launched from the venue of the Annual Session of the Indian National Congress scheduled to commence at Cawnpore from 25 December 1925. Most of the members involved in this effort belonged to the Roy group.

The organisers of the Cawnpore session of the INC however refused permission to conduct the Communist meeting within the pendal erected for holding the Congress Session.  Therefore   in a tent erected close to the venue of the Congress session, the Communist Party of India was launched on 25 December 1925, with Singaravelu Chettiar as the Chairman. It was also resolved that headquarters of the newly formed Party would be at Bombay.

What was very interesting of the launch was the speech made by Maulana Hazrat Mohani, the convener of the meet.  He emphasized that the newly formed Party would not have anything to do with the Communist International. He clarified: ‘Ours is a purely Indian organization. Our relations with similar parties of other countries will be only that of sympathy and mental affinity to  all these  in general and to the Third International in particular’.

singaravelu chattiar

Singaravelu Chettiar in his presidential speech did, in fact, went beyond Mohani’s assertion. He said, clearly:  Indian Communism is not Bolshevism; for Bolshevism is a kind of Communism which the Russians have adopted in their country. We are not Russians; and we are not Bolsheviks. Bolshevism may not be needed in India… We are one with the world community; but not with Bolshevism.

[Even later in 1927, SA Dange after his release from prison issued statements saying that he was an ‘Indian Communist ‘and ‘not a ’Bolshevik’.]

Roy, when he read the speeches of Mohani and Chettiar, surely, was not amused. He called them ‘childish’. He wrote in the Masses of India :  Nothing can be more  non-communistic that to say that the Indian working class will play its historic role in the struggle for national freedom and work out its own salvation independently of the International proletarian movement . Those who maintain and propagate this point of view are far from being Communists: they are veritable enemies of the Indian working class.

**

It was around this time in 1925 or early 1926 that Roy and Evelyn decided to end their relationship. They were separated for ever. The exact dates and reasons  for separation are not clear. Their separation was so complete that never after met ot corresponded. And, there is not a single word or reference to Evelyn in Roy’s Memoirs.

The British Intelligence was under the impression that after her separation from Roy, Evelyn moved back to USA. Neither her name nor her pseudonym (Santi Devi) appears in any of the documents, pamphlets or literature relating to communism after 1925.

The separation was very painful to both. Roy’s party work in Europe suffered a great deal, because till then Evelyn had been managing and editing Vanguard/ Indian Masses; writing articles in Inprecor.  She was his secretary assistant and co-worker.

[We shall talk about Evelyn separately later in the series.]

**

During 1925-6 Roy’s influence over the Indian question sharply declined and the CPGB began taking control of the direction of Indian Communist affairs.

In regard to influencing the Indian national Congress, Roy’s plan had been to form a legal party within the Congress party comprising Communist groups. At the same time influence the liberal Congress members through his writings in the journal; and also sending messages to the INC.

Accordingly, the CPI sent a manifesto to the Gauhati session of the INC in December 1926. Its objective was to influence the left wing in the Congress and induce the Congress leadership to adopt more radical programs. The manifesto included demands of peasants and workers, such as agrarian reforms to abolish landlord –system, abolish indebtedness, reduce exorbitant rents etc. It also urged to enact labour laws to end exploitation of labour and to ensure a minimum mages and eight-hour day work, the right to strike and to form unions. The Manifesto concluded  by cautioning the Indian National Congress that it could save itself  and find the road to  national freedom only by forming a ‘people’s Party’.

 CPI knew very well that the Congress would not be able to take decision on these issues.

**

Nehru

Nehru the Socialist-thinking leader came to prominence by 1927. During 1926-27, he travelled widely in Europe. At Brussels he  had attended the Congress of Oppressed Nationalities and had actively participated in the ‘League against Imperialism’ (LAI). Nehru also agreed to serve on the Executive Committee of the newly formed League Against Imperialism; and continued in that position until end of January 1930.

In November 1927 Nehru with his father visited Moscow to attend the Tenth Anniversary Celebration of the Bolshevik movement. He was properly impressed the progress made by Russia under the Soviets.

During this period, the younger elements within Congress began to veer around new ideas and the socialist ideas of Nehru which induced a new tone in the Congress way of expressing or terming its programs.

The Congress left wing made its first collective move in Madras session of INC in 1927. Nehru proposed radical resolutions. And, surprisingly they were accepted and passed by the Congress session.

 

The left wing within Congress differed from Gandhi on the question of Swaraj –complete freedom. They demanded the leadership to define their conception of Swaraj.  Swaraj they insisted should be complete freedom and not mere dominion status.

It was in this context that the Independence for India League (ILL) was formed by the radical Nationalists led by Nehru, Bose and others. The basic objective if the IIL was to step up the demand for full-independence. It also asked for several social and labour reforms. It also said : the League aims at a socialistic , democratic  state in which every person has the fullest opportunities of development and the  state controls the means of production and distribution.’

By about 1928, a wave of socialist/ leftist ideas was circling around the youth in Congress. It provided a platform for young radicals, youth leagues and student organizations to express their ideas of socialism.

In the Congress session of 1928, an amendment was moved by the Congress-left in favour of complete independence, while Gandhi presented a resolution seeking Dominion Status. The amendment was introduced by Bose and supported by Nehru. The amendment secured 973 votes as against 1350 votes in favour of Gandhi‘s resolution.

Encouraged by the numbers it could muster in the 1928 session, the left wing tried to present the issue again next year in the session at Lahore. Gandhi avoided confrontation by nominating Nehru as the Congress president and accepting the demand for complete independence. At the same time, a resolution moved by Subash Bose on behalf of the left calling for setting up a parallel government was rejected.

After the Lahore session, Nehru did not effectively come back to the fold of the Congress-left- wing.

***

By 1927, the Communist Party of India had almost come under the control of the CPGB; and its activities were directed by Philip Spratt (1902-1971), a young communist who joined the Party in Britain during his student days at Downing Collage, Cambridge. He had worked for some time in Labour Research Department. His credentials and background were unknown to the Police in India.  He came to India under the guise of a Bookseller.

One his major aims was to place communists in positions of leadership within the Congress organization. He listed the principal tasks of the new Party as:  (1) obtaining representation in the National Congress Committees; (2) getting program accepted and our delegates elected by the TUC ; ( 3) and, support for textile paper. Spratt also aimed to build a united front comprising the National Congress Committee, the Swaraj Party, Trade Unions and WPP.

The increased activity among the Indian Communists during 1927 was largely due to the efforts of Philip Spratt. He brought new energy to trade union and Party work. He was able to secure funds from Europe for Party work in India.  In September 1927, Spratt was joined by another member of the CPGB, Benjamin F Bradley an engineer by training.  He posed himself in India as a technical consultant to Textile companies.  Now, Spratt and Bradley became the de-facto leaders of the Indian Communist Party. Under their leadership the Communist movement gathered momentum.

Their tactics of the left elements grouping within Congress and the Swaraj Party in 1926, which was ‘to carry on a battle of clarification within the existing movement and organizations’ was working well. The Communists had infiltrated into INC, WPPs and the Trade unions affiliated to Congress. It is said; of the WPP within Congress as many as sixteen were communists. And, Nehru*, had moved closer to the Communist position, successfully encouraging the Indian National Congress to affiliate to the LAI (League Against Imperialism) . Bradley became the vice president of the Railway workers Union, the Great Indian Peninsular (GIP) which took sympathetic actions during the textile.

[*Nehru’s view of socialist views was , perhaps, based on individualism.  Nehru did not criticize Communism.  But, he often made it clear that he accepted the Communist ideology of the society but not its methods or its political philosophy. Nehru also sharply disagreed with Communists’ evaluation of Gandhi and the Indian National Congress. He regarded the Congress as a truly democratic-revolutionary force. He was keen on influencing the Congress with his socialistic ideas; and, he did not think of cutting himself off from Congress. The Communists labelled Nehru as a ’timid reformer’.

But, when you take a historical perspective of Communist development, you find that over the years it has changed vastly. The dogmas of violent armed revolutions and dictatorship are no longer valid. The Socialist content of Nehru’s views had also not made room for such dogmas.]

***

Philip_Spratt

With Spratt and Bradley taking over CPI, it meant Roy was effectively removed from the Indian scene.  And, by about this time, his work area was shifted to China. His absence from Europe gave the CPGB a free hand in the Indian affairs.

The question of affiliation of the CPI with Comintern came up at a meeting held in Bombay on 31 May 1927; and, it was resolved: ‘The CPI looks up to the CPs of the world as well as the International for lead and guidance in the work undertaken by the party in this country’. Even at this stage there was no clear resolve to seek affiliation with Comintern. The reason for that was more likely that the communists in Bombay were anxious to avoid persecution by the police. And , Dange , around this time , on release from jail said he was an ‘Indian communist’ and not a ‘Bolshevik’.

Roy, of course, in his   The Masses of India (July 1927) called the whole thing as absurd; and rebuked the Indian communists.

**

After the Communist Party was formed in 1925, the left wing groups which had been formed in Madras, Bengal and Bombay soon got converted into Workers and Peasants Party (WPP).

The formation of the WPP in 1928 was made possible by the co-operation of the left wing Congressmen in the Indian National Congress.  The conversion of the Labour Swaraj Party of the INC in Bengal into WPP in 1928 reflected the co-operation between the emerging left wing and the Communists. This was followed by changeover of the Congress Labour Party in Bombay into WPP in 1928 and formation of WPP in UP (Meerut) , Punjab  and other centres. By 1928, all these groups were brought together as an All Indian party; and , new out posts were set up in other parts of India.  They began to function as left-wing within the Indian National Congress, especially in Bombay, with encouragement from Nehru. Bombay group by the end of 1928 grew into prominence as the centre of the Communist Trade Union movement.

By about April 1928, penetration of the communists in the Congress controlled trade unions had almost been complete. They as WPP had not only secured a voice in airing the views of the movement but had also gained full hold of the workers in Bombay and Bengal.

During the Madras session of the Indian National Congress in 1928, the Communists within the Congress held a separate meeting to consolidate the WPPs and take control over their working. But Roy who since the Gaya Congress -1927- had been, talking about formation of WPPs, rued the WPP was now been ‘too openly’ being identified with Communists. ‘It is publicly known’ he remarked ‘ that practically all the members of the CC of CPI are leaders of WPP’. He said ‘the cat has been needlessly left out of the bag by publishing the list of CC members.’

At the AITUC session held at Jharia in 1928, the WPPs attempting to capture AITUC set up a communist candidate D B Kulkarni ( a Railway worker from Bombay) against Jawaharlal Nehru, the Congress Secretary. Nehru was elected with a narrow margin. But at the same time, at Jharia, the AITUC got affiliated to the League Against Imperialism (LAI) with which Nehru was also associated.

The Congress session at Calcutta in December 1928 marked an almost split among the leaders who wanted dominion and leaders who wanted complete Independence. Gandhi had proposed a resolution that called for the British to grant dominion status to India within two years. Bose and Nehru objected to the time given to the British. Gandhi brokered a further compromise by reducing the time given from two years to one. Jawaharlal Nehru voted for the new resolution, while Bose told his supporters that he would not oppose the resolution, and abstained from voting himself. The WPP members violently rejected even the ‘one year ultimatum’; stormed into the session; and occupied almost the whole of Congress pavilion. They demanded immediate independence.

Ultimately the Congress Session of 1928 at Calcutta adopted Nehru (Motilal) Report which demanded:  India must be given Dominion status within a year; the Governor-General would be only the constitutional head; no separate electorate; and, citizenship and fundamental rights to be clearly enunciated.

***

[However, all such efforts and exercises were undone after the Communists in India were asked by Comintern, during the Third Period, to severe all connections with INC, just when they were proving useful to the Communist Party.

In What came to be known as the Third Period  the Communist Party  during 1927-28 , asked  the Communist parties in various countries to move away from the bourgeoisie nationalistic organizations , disrupt the  covert bodies and unions  already formed; and, to start new Communist organizations.

In regard to India, all alliances with bourgeois including the Left-wing of Indian National Congress were shunned. It was pointed out that Left-wing of the Congress was more dangerous than the Right. The ECCI observed: for some time the workers and peasants of Indian have been showing an increased class-awareness interests. And, henceforth, conditions are such that the toiling masses can become an independent political force, under the leadership of the proletariat.

That meant the end of united front with revolutionary nationalists.

 The policy of nurturing Indian National Congress-Left was dropped at the very moment when its leaders were expressing publicly their commitment to socialism and even Marxism. That directive, instead of advancing the communist cause threw the movement into despair, drove the movement underground, marginalized within their respective labour movements or shattered by internal disputes workers broken spirit. ]

**

The WPP met in Calcutta (21-24 December 1928) to adopt the ultra-left-policy directed by the Sixth Congress of the Comintern. It met again on 27-19 December 1928 as it was hesitant to adopt the Comintern directive in toto; and did not dissolve the WPP forthwith. At its next meeting in Bombay (17-19 March 1929) the CPI resolved to re-organize the party; but, decided to keep the question of dissolving WPP in abeyance. But, soon after the conclusion of the meeting, about 31 communist leaders and number of trade union leaders were rounded up and arrested. They were charged on 30 March 1929, with conspiracy to wage war against the King Emperor.  The Congress, the Socialists and the Communists all joined in huge protest marches. Bipin Chandra Pal called upon the youth to ‘enlist themselves as active members of the labour movement; to close ranks and to present a united front’.

By then Roy’s influence on Communist movement in India had sharply declined. And, by about this time, his work area was shifted to China. His absence from Europe gave the CPGB a free hand in the Indian affairs.

**

AS Shashi Bairathi summarizes in his Communism and Nationalism in India: A Study in Inter-relationship, 1919-1947:

Historically speaking, the Communist movement in India grew out of the national environment. It was the result of the efforts of the Indian revolutionaries and nationalists who were groping their way towards a new ideology and form of struggle following disappointment over the withdrawal of the non-cooperation movement of Gandhi in 1922… The Comintern only brought together such disillusioned youth to form an All-India Centre…

To speak, therefore, of the Communist movement in India as a foreign conspiracy is to distort the historical facts. It would also be incorrect to harp on so-called antagonism between Communism and Nationalism. And yet, in India, the Communist movement could not forge a fusion or a co-operative relationship with the nationalist movement.

 **

[While on the question of Communist movement in India, let me be a little more candid.

The Left-wing in India had a strange and chequered career. The pioneers and early members of the Communist Party in India all started as extreme right-wing militants and nationalists. In fact, the RSS, the right wing Hindu organization and those who took to Communist ideology both originated from revolutionary nationalist outfits   like Anushilan Samiti and Jugantar of Bengal preaching and practicing violence. The RSS chose its own way during 1925.

But the Communist ideology took root in India much earlier by the end of the First World War and with the exhilaration of the success of the Bolshevik Revolution in Russia. The disappointment with Gandhi, his ways and his sudden withdrawal of mass agitation because of a stray incident of violence, all deeply disappointed the Youth. Strangely, most of those who took to Communism after disgust with Gandhian methods had their indoctrination while they were held in British prisons.

The early Communists in India came from varied walks of life. They were a combination of diverse strands of approach, traditions and practices. While many came through the path of rebellion, terrorism and conspiracy, there were also intellectuals and theoreticians who could think and write with clarity.

The Russian Revolution made a deep impact on the youth of India during the early 1920s. The left-wing and Socialism became the idiom of the thinking of the youth. Obviously, the class-struggle, the problems of the workers and peasants became the centre of their program. The general attitude and mode of thinking was veered towards anti-imperialism, socialism and revolution.

The first birth of Communist Party of India took place outside of India in Tashkent, in what is now Uzbekistan, Central Asia, in October 1920. It had its re-birth on Indian soil in December 1925 at Cawnpore.  It’s very unlikeliest founding President was Singaravelu Chettiar from deep South in the conservative Madras Presidency. Singaravelu Chettiar in his first Presidential address clearly said: “Indian Communism is not Bolshevism; for Bolshevism is a kind of Communism which the Russians have adopted in their country. We are not Russians; and we are not Bolsheviks. Bolshevism may not be needed in India… We are one with the world community; but not with Bolshevism”.

And yet, one of the major problems in the growth of the Communist party in India was too much external interference by Comintern (unlike in China)  ,by  the CP of Great Britain , by the Roy  Groups  and such others. Add to that was the question of   alignment of communist groups  in India to one or the other outside Agency ( to Russia or to China); and , birth of splinter groups  or sects each  trying to outsmart the other.

The other factor which seemed to have hurt a healthy growth of Communist Party in India was the lack of clear stand on the question of colonialism and nationalism. That question has continued to bother the Communist Party at the International level and at the national level since the Second World Congress held in 1920.

The inconsistency in the Comintern policies; its lack of clear stand on the question of colonialism and nationalism; it’s a mixed approach to Indian National Congress and the Indian National movement; its sudden shift to ultra-left in 1927-28; reversal of that policy in 1934-35; and, shifting signals during the second world war, all these created much confusion within the Communist party in India.  That disarray was exploited by the British, who played one against the other, and ultimately crushed all the groups along with their allied unions and organizations, ruthlessly.

A similar confused thinking was repeated when the question of nationalism again raised its hood in the wake of Chinese incursion into India during 1962. The Communists as a body politic showed itself in a poor light and split the in two (CPI and CPM). And later, a breakaway group within CPM calling itself as CPM- L (otherwise called Naxals) took to extreme violence.  Each splinter group professing its own doctrine vied with the other, claiming it was the true heir to the Communist doctrine in its purest essence.

Thus, the Left wing parties could not unite.  Apart from the Communists, the Left-oriented groups in India also failed to unite. The Congress Socialists and Jawaharlal Nehru generally abided by Gandhi’s leadership; Subash Bose who tried to make a synthesis of Socialism, Fascism and Nationalism was deserted by both the Socialists and Communists.  And, similarly M N Roy who pioneered communist movement in India and who was intimately involved in building communist groups and guiding their policies and methods, was sidelined by communists, the socialists and the congress alike. Roy, in his isolation lost interest in traditional politics; and with the dawn of Independence, he turned into a political philosopher. The Left–wing was in total disarray during the Second World War, and hopelessly failed to influence the Indian politics.

Somehow, the Communists Parties in India could not comfortably handle the National Question. And, turn after turn it went the wrong way. The position of Communist Party in India was worsened by the incorrect turn taken by Kuusinen, Manuilsky, and Dmitrov. They overturned a correct understanding just when the United Front approach seemed to be doing fairly well.

CPM’s website also talks of the alien influences, distortions and deviations and  also serious mistakes committed during the Communist History in India,

Perhaps the major tragedy of Communism in India was flittering away the great opportunity it had gained in West Bengal of bringing to practice the left-wing ideas. During the long tenure of its rule over the state, uninterruptedly stretched over twenty-five years, the Party working was marred by internal strife; and, sadly the Left Government failed to make any significant impact on the development of the State. During its rule,   neither the industrial workers nor the peasants were benefitted; and sadly the Communist Party and the State of West Bengal steadily went down the drain.

The Communist Party in India however could build and control trade unions and Kisan Sabhas. But, now the Communist Party seems to be losing or has lost its influence on such bodies.]

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Continued

In

Next Part

 

 

 

Sources and References

Communism in India by Marshall Windmiller

Political Philosophy of Rammanohar Lohia: Alternative Development Perceptions by K. Gopinath Pillai

Communist and Socialist Movement in India: A Critical Account  by Chandrika Singh

Communism and Nationalism in India: A Study in Inter-relationship, 1919-1947  by Shashi Bairathi

The Indian revolutionaries and the Bolsheviks – their early contacts, 1918-1922 by Arun Coomer Bose Top of Form

In Search of Revolution: International Communist Parties in the “Third Period”  Edited by Matthew Worley

Political Philosophy Of M.N. Roy

In Search of Revolution: International Communist Parties in the Third Period  by Matthew Worley

Peasants in India’s Non-Violent Revolution: Practice and Theory by Mridula Mukherjee Top of Form

 

 
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Posted by on January 16, 2016 in M N Roy

 

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