Party building, the way of the Communists and the Congress

bjp congress

It would be interesting to recall in the context of the current India China relations that Liu Shaoqi’s book How to be a Good Communist was translated into Gujarati in the 1940s by Chandrakant Parikh, a full time CPI worker, in Mumbai.

How much history has changed. Gujarat has come to this sad pass politically today. But it had a much brighter political history and a not negligible presence of dedicated Communists.

There were several Gujarati comrades in Vile Parle in Mumbai alone, recalls senior Gujarati journalist Jashwant Shukla. Dr Jagnnath Vora and Dr Shirish Parikh were both public spirited doctors. Shukla himself lives a Spartan life spending most of his scarce resources on books, magazines and newspapers.

Dr Vora used to bring out a Gujarati journal Punarutthan (awakening) dedicated to progressive ideas.

Subodh More, CPM activist and grandson of veteran Marxist Ambedkarite R.B. More, recalls some more Gujarati Comrade names, artist and also activist Deena Gandhi-Pathak, Com. Ramesh Sanghvi who was the Editor of Communist party Gujarati weekly which was published from Mumbai communist party headquarter Rajbhavan.Some more Gujarati Comrades were active in teacher’s union like Com.Jagu Belani,Com Balubhai Panchal,Com.Ranveriya,Com.Arvind Desai who was active with LIC union and also with Com Godavari Parulekar.In SFI Mukul Pandya,Nayan Mommayya,Mahesh Wakhariya,Kinnari Vora ,Hutoxi Tawadiya(from Parsi community),all are very active in movement.

In Gujarat there were pockets of left influence and some city councils were headed by Communists. The question is are our centrist forces not to do any introspection on their role in weakening the Left movement and through own misrule ushering in the BJP to power.

To defeat the fascists you need dedicated workers. It may be relevant to recall Liu Shaoqi’s own words. The context may be different but they are applicable to non-Communists as well.

He said `A revolutionary must undergo a long period of tempering in revolutionary struggle, must steel himself in mass revolutionary struggles and all kinds of difficulties and hardships, must sum up the experience gained through practice, make great efforts in self-cultivation, raise his ideological level, heighten his ability and never loose sense of what is new. For only thus can he turn himself into a politically staunch revolutionary of high quality.

Confucius said “At fifteen, my mind was bent on learning. At thirty, I could think for myself. At forty, I was no longer perplexed. At fifty, I knew the decree of Heaven. At sixty, my ear was attuned to the truth. At seventy, I can follow my heart’s desire without transgressing what is right.” Here the feudal philosopher was referring to his own process of self-cultivation; he did not consider himself to have been born a “sage”.

Mencius, another feudal philosopher, said that no one had fulfilled a “great mission” and played a role in history without first undergoing a hard process of tempering, a process which “exercises his mind with suffering and toughens his sinews and bones with toil, exposes his body to hunger, subjects him to extreme poverty, thwarts his under-takings and thereby stimulates his mind, tempers his character and adds to his capacities”.5 Still more so must Communists give attention to tempering and cultivating themselves in revolutionary struggles, since they have the historically unprecedented “great mission” of changing the world.

Again the context is different. But Mahatma Gandhi did create a cadre of dedicated workers. Of course, the revolution he had in mind was different from that of the Chinese.

What has prevented the Congress all these decades from building a dedicated cadre ? It is true that for tactical reasons it is necessary to back the Congress to defeat the regressive BJP. But the point is the RSS has for decades gone about building cadres in different parts of the country. I have read accounts from Marathi speaking families in Gujarat which hosted Narendra Modi, then a simple pracharak, giving him food and shelter.

The Congress on the other hand has depended on mercenaries for elections and NGOs to run campaigns against communalism. There is a very perceptive article in today’s Mumbai Mirror by Sugata Srinivasaraju about the wrong way the Congress has gone about treating workers in Karnataka.

It has attached a tracker to each worker to monitor his or her movement, where the person slept, sat, campaigned and so on. It shows that the party has simply failed to create a dedicated cadre and has no faith in workers. This is clearly no way to build a party. This problem is not confined to Karnataka alone.

Besides, the Congress and its governments at the Centre and in the states in the past have over decades worked to weaken the Left movement, attacked trade unions, encouraged the contract system in employment. It is in good measure its poor performance which has helped the BJP to come to power. The vote for the BJP at least in 2014 was a negative one, it was mainly anti-Congress.

Vidyadhar Date is a senior journalist who worked for the Times of India in Mumbai for several years.



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