How Tricontinental Pens History: “One Hundred Years of the Communist Movement in India”!!

workers and peasant party

Tricontinental published their “One Hundred Years of the Communist Movement in India” on September 1, 2020 [1]. We are dealing with it only snappily. From here one can learn what may be called a ‘left’ way to rewrite history of the ‘communist’ movement; a ‘left way’, that is certainly different rom a ‘communist’ way – where the ‘left’ stands for decent ‘socialist’ political line that, in short, you can find in the World Social Forum for example and also the high-placed journals which back those. By the way, how many times did Lenin or Mao describe them or their parties as ‘left’?

What Tricontinental Tried to Obliterate / Obfuscate History 

In this journey of 100 years, nearly at the mid-point, stands Naxalbari. Tricontinental dwelt on this and aftermath in ‘Twenty-One Words’ only, yes 21, out of some 7000 words in total of the article. All they said was, “In 1969, convinced of the necessity of armed struggle, other communists formed the Communist Party of India (Marxist-Leninist) or CPI (ML).”

Again, just before these 21 words, they wrote, “These debates ultimately led to the Communist Party of India splitting into two in 1964. The faction that opposed the path of cooperating with the Congress formed the Communist Party of India (Marxist), or CPI(M); the other faction retained the name Communist Party of India (CPI).” But they did not mention how farcical this ‘difference’ was by not mentioning CPI(M)’s cooperation with Mrs Gandhi only a few years after 1964; how CPI(M) found ‘socialist’ steps in Mrs. Gandhi’s steps like ‘nationalisation’; how CPI(M) and its General Secretary Mr. Surjeet, always stood beside Mrs G in her fierce fights against ‘secessionism’ in Assam, Punjab and elsewhere and even the Congress line regarding Sri Lanka; and etcetera.

Tricontinental naturally would not mention how CPI(M) and its parliamentary associates helped the (fascist) BJP and Janta coalition in winning the 1989 election!

Tricontinental naturally would not mention how CPI(M) and its parliamentary associates helped a minority Congress ministry in the Union Govt. in early 1990s in spite of it taking dangerous neo-liberal lines, just because vote against that govt in parliament ‘would mean another election and election means taxing the poor, increasing prices’ etc, till that minority govt. could purchase MPs to become majority!

Tricontinental naturally would not mention how CPI(M) and its parliamentary associates helped a minority ministry of National Front in 1996 in spite of its not undoing a single dangerous neo-liberal program initiated by the Congress regime.

And how effectively these lines of the lefts (including their line of govt. formation and mollification directly and indirectly contributed to rising frustration among masses of toiling people, making the masses ideologically defenceless, rising of fascism in India and etcetera.

The Memories They Cherish Most 

Tricontinental naturally gave left government formation and their immense contribution the biggest space in their article, almost half. They showed the biggest land reform program that happened in India, land reform in West Bengal, naturally with great pomp. Economist observers like Pranab Bardhan wrote (in a 2004 paper) “West Bengal witnessed large changes in land distribution, high rates of household division and a large land reform program during the 1970s and 1980s compared to other Indian states. Approximately 20% of the rural population directly benefited from this program, which covered 11% of agricultural land.” [Evolution of Land Distribution in West Bengal 1967-2004: Role of Land Reform and Demographic Changes by Pranab Bardhan, Michael Luca, Dilip Mookherjee and Francisco Pino] [2] This land reform could get sufficient praise from Mr. Wolf Ladejinsky, the US economist who spearheaded land reform in Taiwan, and also was one of the masterminds behind land reforms in South Korea and Japan directly under US imperialist supervision., had Mr. Wolf Ladejinsky lived to see the first decade of the Left Front Govt. rule in WB. Whatever grand achievement it was, the WB land reform result would look miniscule if compared to what happened in Japan or South Korea when the ‘spectre’ of a revolution was haunting imperialism and the ruling classes more. However, there are other estimates which put the amount of net-land-transferred by WB land reform from the rich to the poor to be less than one-twelfth.

Tricontinental could have mentioned the wonderful class-collaboration between the Left Front Govt. and the capitalists in the overwhelming majority of factories which saw less man-days lost due to strike and lockout compared to other industrially developed states of India.  How the left trade unions turned to be the second layer of management could be a good subject of research in govt. set up by revisionists-reformists of the world.

Tricontinental, while zealously describing achievements of Kerala could have written the ‘bad practice’ of the Keralites which resulted in continuous change in governments – and how in spite of these continuous change the sacred ‘Kerala Model’ could work all through – which may give rise to some disturbing question regarding the ownership of the ‘intellectual property right’ of the Kerala Model.

To Conclude 

There are so many points to probe – but let us not waste time – because the article by Vijay Prasad’s Tricontinental is not worth that much.

Indeed, Tricontinental and all its jolly good fellow communist parties have learnt a lot from world history. We can here mention only one – the 11/9 incident of Chile, 1973. While the ‘project’ of transition to socialism under bourgeois order by winning election and forming govt. failed by an imperialist sponsored coup, all parties that experimented with government formation (and maintaining the govt. at any cost, like the CPIM) took lessons regarding how much they should do and what they should not do. The Indian ‘lefts’ too took the lessons and maintained that stance in their post-1977 efforts. Marta Harnecker wrote, “Yet there is something else that was only understood later on, namely that this type of ‘peaceful’ transition from capitalism to socialism – using the resources and the possibilities of power within a system of democratic representation – needs another conception of socialism.” [Understanding the Past to Make the Future: Reflections on Allende’s Government, by Marta Harnecker, Historical Materialism, volume 11:3 (5–15)] This is indeed significant. WSF and its constituents searched for a ‘socialism’ that can be achieved by ‘peaceful’ transition from capitalism – and using the resources and the possibilities of power within a system of democratic representation – which is very different from the revolutionary past. And so, they had to name it socialism of the twenty-first century so as to differentiate with the past communist movement. This explains why they write history like this.

Hopefully in the near future, communist movement in India, rejecting revisionism-reformism and also the ultraleft errors, will be able to ‘merge’ with the masses [3], will gain momentum and try rewriting their glorious history. Yes, this is a movement, and not a ‘project’.

[1] (


[3] as said by Lenin, “…by its ability to link up, maintain the closest contact, and—if you wish—merge, in certain measure, with the broadest masses of the working people—primarily with the proletariat, but also with the non-proletarian masses of working people.” Ch 2, “Left-Wing” Communism: an Infantile Disorder, V.I. Lenin

Sandeep Banerjee is an activist who writes on political and socioeconomic issues and also on environmental issues. Some of his articles are published in Frontier Weekly. He lives in West Bengal, India. Presently he is a research worker. He can be reached at [email protected]

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