People's Democracy(Weekly Organ of the Communist Party of India (Marxist)
January 27, 2008
22nd State Conference Of CPI(M) Bengal Unit
22nd STATE CONFERENCE OF CPI(M) BENGAL UNIT
Jyoti Basu paying homage to the martyrs along with Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee, Biman Basu and others
The 22nd state conference of the Bengal unit of the CPI(M) held at the Mahajati Sadan (named after the late Bengal CPI(M) secretary and Polit Bureau member, Anil Biswas) and attended by 605 delegates, was undoubtedly a conference of confidence. The conference held on January 13-17, 2008 looked forward towards a further political-ideological unity of the Party, with an adequate stress on strengthening of the class and mass foundations of the organisation, and for a stronger coordination of the development of pro-people and pro-poor policy based on a class outlook. The conference dais was named after the late CPI(M) Polit Bureau member Chittabrata Majumdar.
Prakash Karat, general secretary of CPI(M) in the inaugural address, Biman Basu in the political-organisational report and Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee in his response to the document on panchayat, municipalities, and tasks (placed by central committee member Nirupam Sen) spoke on the importance of the need to further raise the political-ideological level of the Party and to further consolidate the organisation on a principled basis, while going in for a drive towards widening the Party’s class and mass base. All three Polit Bureau members emphasised the Leninist principles of democratic centralism and inner-Party democracy in their addresses and called for a proper balance of the two guiding principles in the task of Party building.
The conference started with Polit Bureau member Jyoti Basu hoisting the Party Flag. Prakash Karat set aflame a torch that burnt with bright glow over the four days of the conference. Polit Bureau members Prakash Karat, S R Pillai, Sitaram Yechury, Biman Basu, Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee and Brinda Karat placed wreathes at the Martyrs’ Column.
The presidium comprised Jyoti Basu, Mohd Amin, Benoy Konar, Shyamali Gupta, Kanti Biswas and Rupchand Pal. Jyoti Basu presided. The state secretariat acted as the steering committee. State committee member Sridip Bhattacharya headed the credential committee. Polit Bureau member and Tripura chief minister, Manik Sarkar, Orissa unit secretary Janardan Pati, Assam unit secretary, Uddhav Burman and Jharkhand unit secretary, Jnan Shankar Majumdar were present on the dais. Following the condolence resolution placed by Benoy Konar, the CPI(M) general secretary Prakash Karat formally inaugurated the conference.
Prakash Karat in his address recalled the big contribution that was made to the growth and consolidation of the Party by the late comrade Anil Biswas and also paid homage to the memory of comrade Chittabrata Majumdar who had defended the interests of the Party, sometimes under the most difficult of circumstances. Calling Bengal the ‘premier unit’ of the forward contingent of the CPI(M), and describing the Bengal Party as one of the advanced sections within the CPI(M), Prakash Karat pointed to the running for thirty years and more of a Left Front government in the state.
He said the hegemonic policies of US imperialism continued apace. At the same time, there was developing global resistance against imperialism, and multi-polarity was on the rise across the political horizon. The slowing down of global economy that grew at a rate of 3 – 4 per cent is now leading to recession. The militarisation of the US economy has a wide adverse impact on the global economy. The exploitation of ‘globalised’ countries was on the rise. The gap between the rich countries and the poor countries and between the rich and the poor people was increasing all the while. This has given rise to increasing divides at various levels. The contradiction between imperialism and the developing world was also becoming clearly manifest, he said.
Talking of global warming, Prakash Karat said that US which has not signed the Kyoto Protocol, does not really bother about environmental degeneration as an emerging threat to the world population and bio-diversity.
The use of the heaviest of military might on Iraq by the US did not produce the results it had hoped. Iraq is at war all the while. Ethnic and sectarian conflicts are on the rise. The US has failed in its strategy to use an occupied and quiescent Iraq as lever in the west Asian countries. The long-term plan of using the situation to allow Israel with US backing to run over the oil-rich west Asian countries was now gone what with Lebanon standing up against a US-backed Israeli invasion.
In Latin America, the Washington Consensus has been defeated and stopped in its tracks but the US would not take the Latin American alternative lying down. The Latin America countries are in the forefront against the US attempts at establishing a monolithic unipolar world.
There are alternative pluralist centres. Russia and China are armed with their resources of energy and are potential alternative centres in terms of plurality.
The US has been penetrating the subcontinent on the plea of fighting terrorism and is keen to control the strategic areas of South Asia. It would like to have India as its ally in the move to encircle the rising might and economic power of China.
Nationally,said Prakash Karat, the BJP following the electoral debacle in the previous Lok Sabha elections is back to the Hindutva agenda and its re-emergence is ‘portentous of latent danger.’ Initially it was not able to regroup because of internal dissensions, which it seemed to have overcome, to emerge with the slogan of hard and harsh Hindutva. The recent electoral successes are indicators of that re-emergence.
On the other hand, the people are discontented with the anti-people and anti-poor policies of the Congress led UPA government. This has helped the process of regrouping of the BJP. It has also emerged with its old slogans on Ram Mandir, and the newer ones on the so-called ‘Ram Sethu,’ putting the Sethusamudram project under communal attack. The struggle against communalism and religious fundamentalism must be fought apace, he said.
Prakash Karat said the CPI(M) supported the UPA government on the basis of a Common Minimum Programme to keep the BJP out of office. The Party opposed the anti-people policies of the central government. It was under pressure of the CPI(M) and the Left that such programmes as NREGA were adopted, the divestment of the PSUs stopped in tracks, and the financial sector including the banking and the insurance sectors were not liberalised.
The CPI(M) has sternly opposed strategic military partnership with the US as it is against multipolarity and both the independent foreign policy of the country and the sovereign status of India. India voted against Iran on the nuclear imbroglio, remained silent on the Palestine issue, and the CPI(M) decided that while it would allow the UPA government to take the India-US nuclear deal to the IAEA, it would be prevailed upon not to proceed further and not to operationalise the deal.
The logistics support agreement whereby US war machines would refuel and rearm in the Indian waters and lands was not signed. However, warned Prakash Karat, ‘we cannot allow the UPA government to collapse for that will open an opportunity to the communal forces of the BJP-RSS combine.’ Nevertheless, the present national situation provides the CPI(M) with a favourable ambience to grow—beyond the three strongholds.
Citing examples of the growing all-India strength of the CPI(M), Prakash Karat said that the Party has led struggles for land and house sites in Andhra Pradesh, kisan struggles in Rajasthan over irrigation and water supply for agriculture etc. However, he said, ‘we are not yet in a position to offer to the mass of the people an alternative to the mainstream political parties.’ The United Front experience was not good, and the People’s Front set up later, just fell apart. It is easy to project a combination, but very difficult to sustain that combination, he said.
The independent activities of the CPI(M) have picked up pace all over the country. At this juncture, the Bengal CPI(M) and the Bengal Left Front government led by the CPI(M) as the biggest LF constituent, have been made targets of vicious attack by the reactionary and sectarian forces joining hands with religious fundamentalists.
It is a complete anti-Communist attack. There are two reasons for this. The CPI(M) is targeted because it is against India-US alliance and resists the US designs on India and second, the big bourgeoisie and the foreign powers are not able to manipulate the UPA government as per their heart’s content because of the CPI(M). Bengal represents the strongest contingent of the CPI(M) and hence been the target of the recent series of attacks. Thus, one must proceed with discretion and increase the mass contact said Prakash Karat. There is a real threat from the Maoists and the various splinter groups of the remnants of the Naxalites who have now been joined hands with by the foreign-funded NGOs.
Wavering and vacillations amongst the Left Front constituents notwithstanding, the challenge of the opposition and especially of the Left sectarians must be met head on. The CPI(M) should work out a political-ideological plan to counter the ultra left threat. It devolves on the CPI(M) to see that Left Front unity is maintained. The CPI(M) will not keep quiet on political-ideological issues but the point to note is that should some of the LF partners join hands with the opposition, we have to think about the consequences. Discussions should be continued at various political levels with the LF partners towards a solid Left-based unity, said Prakash.
He said the Bengal CPI(M) must take up the issue of the minorities’ question as an issue of the working people. Apart from class position, the minorities always have had special problems. The SC/ST and the dalits have the same kind of backwardness affecting their economic status. Special efforts are needed to ensure that the minorities have an equal stake in Bengal’s development.
Prakash Karat noted the growth of the Bengal CPI(M) and said that Bengal was charting out a path not hitherto travelled on. The Bengal LF government had no landmarks to follow. The task of running a Left Front government in a bourgeois-landlord situation is always a tough challenge for the CPI(M) in Bengal. The Party has to be further developed on Marxist-Leninist principles, and imbued with a greater political consciousness in the days to come. The clutch of antithetical influences from liberalisation to social evils must be fought.
The rectification doctrine of 1996 holds true even today. High standards of the Bengal Party must be maintained and taken forward. The CPI(M) looks at Bengal and entire Party has great deal of confidence in the Bengal unit of the CPI(M). It has become a strong force and the CPI(M) functioning in the government, too, shall develop further and forge ahead, and shall continue to be an example to the Party elsewhere in the country, said Prakash.
State secretary of CPI(M), Biman Basu placing the political-organisational report said that the task of Party building was going on in adversarial circumstances, internationally, nationally, and in Bengal. The US wants India as its junior partner, and attempts to hegemonise Indian policies towards encircling China, aiming also at splitting the preliminary consolidation that had occurred between Russia and China over the Shanghai Coordination effort.
In India, a raging economic crisis has affected the lives and livelihoods of the mass of the people. The threat of communalism is increasing. The anti-people policies of the UPA government have seen it lose its credibility. A third alternative to the mainstream political parties is yet in the offing.
In Bengal, a virtual blue print of conspiracy exists with help from outside of the state and of the country to destabilise the Left Front government and to launch an all-out anti Communist attack on the Bengal CPI(M). The media chimed in with its anti-Left propaganda. The manner in which the Election Commission held the 2006 elections, with all kinds of manipulative moves in evidence, set up a challenge before the CPI(M) and the Left Front to emerge victorious. The winning margin of the Left Front went on to touch a new pinnacle and the opposition was left floundering in the wake of the popular electoral triumph.
The period since then was one of violence that was unleashed against the CPI(M) and the Left Front government. There was a ‘front of sorts’ comprising the entire political spectrum from the left sectarians to the right reactionaries to the religious fundamentalists of all kinds to a few vacillating Left Front constituents. Following the attempt that petered out at Singur, the anti-Communist grouping launched a full-scale battle against the people and against development in Nandigram. The governor issued statements, the courts of law gave judgements, and the CPI(M) was targeted in a merciless manner. Finally, the people’s won the battle for Nandigram but the CPI(M) and the Left Front government continue to be sniped at.
In the northern zones of the state, the separatists in the guise of the greater Coochbehar movement (having links with extremist outfits in lower Assam), the hue-and-cry raised anew over a separate Gorkhaland out of Darjeeling as the union government dilly-dallies over inclusion of the hill area in the sixth schedule of the Constitution can be seen. In the plains, the Muslim fundamentalists are active in destabilising the state. All their attempts at harming the people’s unity could be foiled by the CPI(M) by mobilising rallies of the people at the grass roots level. Their campaign of lie has been countered well.
The CPI(M), and the Left Front have to gear up preparations—political, organisational, and developmental to achieve success in the rural polls to be held in May 2008 across Bengal. Specific programmes for each level of activities must be fixed, reviewed, and then put into motion. The incomplete projects of the panchayats must be completed. The flow of funds must never get into bottlenecks. Adequate technological inputs must continue to nourish the rate growth of agriculture in Bengal. The achievements of the panchayat system must be highlighted across 3220 gram panchayats, (with 29, 440 representatives), 329 panchayat samities, and the 18 zilla parishads.
Speaking on Party building, Biman Basu said that through Party work, mass contact has to be increased. The Party must see to it that the LF governmental projects and projects of the local bodies, urban and rural, are implemented with a pro-people and pro-poor set of priorities. The work of Party discipline has been going on apace as part of the rectification campaign.
Quoting statistics Biman Basu said that over the past three years, 26,868 Party members have been expelled, and the membership of 21,595 dropped. Among those, whose membership had to be cancelled were 168 comrades at the district, zonal, and local levels. Nevertheless, the question that remained was whether the correct indices of the rectification campaign as outlined by the Party in its 1996 document were followed everywhere with equal vigour and logic.
In building the Party, a balance must be struck between the norms of democratic centralism and the practices of inner-Party democracy. Noting the need for increasing wholetimers as ‘professional revolutionaries’ and not as ‘wage earners only,’ Biman Basu was emphatic in pointing out that the wholetimers should be drawn from a pool of younger and promising Party activists.
Biman Basu called upon the entire Party, echoing the call of the political-organisational report, that a positive and pro-people political campaign must be started, and stepped up. At the same time, the campaign of mis-information and slander being orchestrated against the Bengal CPI(M) and the Bengal Left Front government must be countered in the increased circulation of the Party publication and Party literature. Biman Basu called for a consolidation of Party unity based on principles, and a new history should be created by the Bengal CPI(M) in the coming panchayat polls of 2008.
The draft political-organisational report noted the following organisational highlights
Year wise Membership
December 2004November 2007% (+)
2,74,922 3,18,025 15.68 %
Class composition of the Party
December 2004November 2007% (+)
Organised sector 23,176 26,220 13.13%
Unorganised sector 14,453 24,298 68.12%
Khet mazdoors 38, 274 56,831 48.48%
Party Members in Youth + students
Party Members in Women’s Front
The draft political-organisational report has called for the following future tasks:
The Party must be made more united around the political organisational resolutions of the 22nd state conference and the 19th Party congress. The Party must put its heart into the process of implementation of the resolutions adopted.
The ideological level of the Party must be further enhanced centred on the basic tenets of Marxism-Leninism, and thus augment the Party unity further. Emphasis must be attached to Party education, and re-education. Party comrades must be educated about the issue of alternative policy and the real alternative based on the Party programme in the reality of the present circumstances. Special emphasis must be attached to educating Party members who represent working class families. The Party committees must play a responsible role in enhancing self-education.
The campaign-movement against imperialist aggression and the role of the ruling classes must be relentlessly continued. Special endeavour must be made to involve every section of the affected people in the struggle against liberalisation, globalisation, and commodification. Ceaseless campaign must be continued on issues like alternatives, people’s democracy, and socialism.
A continuous struggle must be waged against fundamentalism, separatism, terrorism, and casteist politics, and for the safeguarding of democracy. The unity of the working class and the working people must be consolidated. Uniting the democratic and the secular people, the struggle against fundamentalist and counter democratic forces must be continuously fought. Democracy must be widened and developed. The danger emanating out of communalism must not be belittled.
The continuity of class struggle must be relentlessly pursued. The struggle must be kept alive in the organised and unorganised industries, on land issues.
Popular opinion must be formed on the need to maintain the independent role of the legislature, the executive, and the judiciary and against attempts at a pro-active role by the judiciary and its attempt to dominate the other two branches of administration. The continuity of struggle against an over-active judiciary must be continued.
Special stress must be given to strengthening mass contact and augmenting the forces of the working people and the democratic forces against the ceaseless slander of the corporate media against the Party and the Left Front government. The circulation of Party publications including Ganashakti must be increased.
People must be made conscious about the reality of agricultural development and industrial growth and urged upon to play a participatory role in support. The Party must look at such issues as creation of man-days, employment generation, education and health improvement programmes, and human development in proper pro-people and pro-poor perspective and help implement the tasks. Workers’-peasants’ unity must be consolidated, and the conspiracy of the anti-unity moves must be thwarted. Class outlook must be employed in developmental work and stress laid on class-based rallies and assemblages.
The struggle to strengthen further the unity of the Left must be continued defeating in the process all conspiratorial efforts against the Left Front and the Left Front government. The Party must play the leading role in this task. The people must be made conscious and urged upon to take to the streets against the foreign and indigenous conspiracies going on.
The preparations for the upcoming panchayat elections must go full steam ahead. The win for the Party and the Left Front must be ensured in the panchayat elections.
The leadership must be more careful in organising the AGs, branches, local, and zonal committees. Timely work and check ups should be emphasised.
The practice of paying Party levy as per income, and of donations to relief funds etc – all in good time, must be built up.
Stress must be attached to the rectification campaign and Communist values. A principled inner-Party struggle must be conducted against trends of destroying Party unity including factionalism.
The democratic drive must be maintained for the organisation of the functioning of the mass fronts. Importance must be given to the twin tasks of widening the mass base of the mass fronts, and specially educating politically the prospective section of the fronts.
The number of wholetimers must be increased, their minimum wage fixed, and this should be done as a regular process. On an understanding of the social position of the concerned persons, bright prospective young men and women must be selected and made wholetimers through a political-ideological process.
More people must be made part of the cooperative movement and the base of the cooperative movement must be widened.
Emphasis must be given to the task of building up more and more women’s self-help groups. Special emphasis is to be attached to the tasks of improving their qualities, their consolidation in well-knit groups, improvement in the quality of goods produced, and marketing of the goods.
A continuous struggle must be conducted against social erosion, atavistic practices, religiosity, persecution of women, and for an increase in the scientific outlook. Total literacy, total health, nutrition programmes must be transformed into mass movements.