Daya Varma and Vinod Mubayi


The August 2009 issue of INSAF Bulletin (#88) carried an article titled “Lalgarh, Maoist movement, and the left in India” by Vinod Mubayi and Daya Varma. Promptly we received  two responses, one by Soumitra Bose and the other by Sivanandam Sivasegaram (reproduced here). We think both have passed judgment without justifying the bases of their views. We stand by what we wrote and we explain why?


Soumitra Bose ( wrote on August 1, 2009: “I am appalled by the slant of this article, if one slips the names of the authors and reads the content it might appear that it is written by any trash CPM functionary from Delhi like Yechury or Karat or crassest renegades of revolutionary movement in India like Azizul Huq. What a shift of INSAF, now they are appendage of CPM – the most reactionary and rightist party of Indian Politics. The time is ripe to expose the real characters of CPM, Trinamool, Congress all being paid agencies of global Capital, each serving various aspects of the same CAPITAL- and now we find INSAF actually parroting their lines.”


Sivanandam Sivasegaram ( wrote on August 1, 2009: “Are the CPI and CPM seriously part of the Indian communist movement? A good number of their party cadres are probably good communists, but not the parties as a whole, and certainly not the leadership. The reference in the article to genuine Marxist Leninists is rather dismissive; and the explanations about Maoist gains are rather akin to what one finds in the ‘Frontline’ (especially those written as instructed by the boss).”


Our response


Soumitra Bose has passed judgment that the Communist Party of India (Marxist) or CPM is “the most reactionary and rightist party of Indian Politics” and “we find INSAF, actually parroting their lines”. It is difficult to respond to these rhetorical statements. Certainly it is neither our task nor responsibility to defend CPM but we do have some views on the Indian communist movement. We state here our response to both Soumitra Bose and Sivanandam Sivasegaram.

It is revealing that neither Bose nor Sivasegaram tries to deal in any way with the substantive issues raised in our article.  Over the years we have tried to judge events in India in general and the left movement in particular on the basis of some objective criteria and not on the bases of the proclaimed revolutionary credentials of individuals and organizations.  We have heard for as long as we remember the statement “that the rank and file of a communist party is good but the leadership is bad”.  There is some truth to this and it may even apply to CPM. However, leadership is the concentrated expression of a party and there is no functional role of the cadre outside the domain of the leadership.


In our view the leading period of the Indian communist movement was ushered in by its founding, ended with the expulsion of PC Joshi by Ranadive, and was buried with the split of the party into CPI and CPM. The highlight of the achievement of CPI was that all progressives worth the name in India had some affiliation with it and precisely because of its past achievements, CPI did better in the 1952 elections than any kind of communists have done ever since. Every progressive organization or trend that exists in India today is rooted in the works of CPI. Nothing new has been added except self-adulation and chaos. All further developments have only contributed to making the communist movement more and more irrelevant, albeit often enough more violent, militant and anarchic. 


In Indian villages there used to be a saying. It refers to the bullock of the teli (oil extractor), which was blind-folded and went round and round harnessed to the oilseed grinder. The bullock at least was productive, even when blind-folded. The defenders of Maoists or their non-violent version of Marxist-Leninists refuse to see and unfortunately are not even productive.


The purpose of a communist movement is to help usher in a transformation of society and provide the masses with a guide to this transformation. We do not think the purpose is to feel revolutionary by adopting a line, which in practice has failed to endure, much less sustain itself and grow.  


We hope to look forward to a rejuvenated communist movement not to mere rhetorical assertions.  In the present age, socio-political developments are rather swift.  It is abundantly clear from even a superficial perusal of political and economic developments in India.


CPM on its own also would never realize that its successes, which are likely to end soon, has nothing to do with its 1964 Party program but rather the split of the party between the lethargic lot which remained in CPI and the enthusiastic lot which joined CPM; it might be they are becoming CPI not of its revolutionary period but of the privileged sojourn with Congress. As to revolutionaries identified by Soumitra Bose and Sivanandam Sivasegaram, we wish them all success. However, our assessment is that what did not succeed in the past and has not succeeded for almost half a century because it is based on wrong premises and wrong deductions is not likely to succeed in the future either.    

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