People's Democracy

(Weekly Organ of the Communist Party of India (Marxist)


No. 16

April 27, 2008




Situation Conducive For Party’s Growth, But Hostile Forces Are Also Active

Naresh 'Nadeem'

AS with the 18th party congress held in Delhi in April 2005, the Political Organisational Report (Polorg Report) of the 19th congress was also divided into four parts. But the difference this was that, in place of certain policy issues, the functioning of the Left led governments formed the theme of Part 2 of the latest Polorg Report. While a review of implementation of the political tactical line formed the theme of Part 1 of the report, Part 3 was devoted to the questions of party organisation and Part 4 to the question of mass organisations.

Polit Bureau member S Ramachandran Pillai presented Parts 3 and 4 of the Polorg Report to the party congress in the forenoon session on March 31. Part 2 was introduced by Prakash Karat a day later.



In the beginning of his presentation, S R Pillai drew attention to the conclusion reached by the 18th congress, drawn on the basis of a review of experiences in the 3 year period from 2002 to 2005, that the party and the Left were placed in a favourable situation in the country, and that the party needed to make efforts to make use of the existing opportunities for expansion. Hence the Delhi congress set out 7 concrete tasks. These concerned making concrete plans for expansion and their implementation in a fixed time frame, launch of struggles at various levels, raising the political, ideological and organisational consciousness of the party members, a rectification campaign and fight against violations of the communist norms, among other things.

Some 17 months after the 18th party congress, the central committee adopted in September 2006 a document that was in the nature of a mid-term review. It noted down the achievements made in certain important areas and assessed to what extent had the party achieved expansion. The Polorg Report of the 19th congress presented a summary of the 2006 document and noted the main achievements made till then. But certain weaknesses still persisted --- in general, in the priority states and in Hindi areas.

The latest Polorg Report noted that there was no substantial progress in the strength of the party and of mass organisation in the weaker states though some positive signs were indeed there. The report made this observation on the basis of certain facts and figures. For example, the overall party membership registered a growth of 13.98 percent between 2004 and 2007 --- from 8,67,763 to 9,82,155. But a large past of this increase took place in West Bengal, Andhra Pradesh, Kerala and Tripura while there was some decline in Tamilnadu and Goa. At the same time, growth in Bihar, Gujarat, Karnataka, Kerala, Punjab and Uttar Pradesh was less than the all-India average. Though the priority states (Assam, Bihar, Jharkhand, Maharashtra and Uttar Pradesh) registered a higher growth of 14.31 percent, Bihar and UP lagged much behind this figure. In Hindi areas as a whole, the increase of 6,538 members meant a growth of 17.25 percent. Thus the percentage growth here was more than the all-India average. This is a welcome reversal of the earlier trend of Hindi states lagging behind the all-India growth.

More or less similar trends have been noted in case of the mass organisations led by the party.

However, having made specific reviews of the priority states and the time-bound plans made and implemented there, the Polorg Report noted that the earlier feature of uneven development of the party still persists. Out of an increase of 1,14,392 in party membership, the five stronger states accounted for an increase of 1,01,132. The corresponding figures for mass organisations were 1,26,38,196 and 1,11,66,293.

In this period, Pillai said, while the mobilising capacity of the party and the mass organisations has increased, this is not reflected in their membership recruitments. The unevenness in the party’s growth is also reflected in our electoral strength and we have members in parliament only from 5 states.



After presenting some ideas on the expansion efforts, the CPI(M) leader drew attention to the age-wise distribution of party membership, as given in the Polorg Report. This showed that as many as 61 percent members were aged between 31 and 50 years. However, there is the need to recruit more youth into the party.

While 60.15 percent members joined the party between 1977 and 2002, the positive thing was that as many as 35.31 percent joined after 2002. This devolved upon the leadership the task of arranging for political and organisational education for these new members.

Overall, the class composition of the party has also improved, with about 75 percent members coming from the working class, poor peasants and agricultural workers.

The social composition of the party has also improved, as more persons from the scheduled castes, tribes and minorities have joined the party. But intense efforts are needed to bring more Muslims and Christians to the party ranks.

Women form 11.93 percent of party membership, but Pillai expressed concern that their share in membership is below even 10 percent in several states. This means that the pace of improvement in this regard is not satisfactory, and calls for more concerted effort.

The report noted that at the all-India level the droppage amounted to 7.73 percent in case of full members and as high as 20.14 percent in case of candidate members. This was because of stricter implementations of party norms in some of the states, but is a matter of concern overall. While the droppage of 65.57 percent in candidate membership in case of Punjab may be because of the specific situation there, more attention is needed in case of Tamilnadu (64.29 percent), Madhya Pradesh (32.88 percent) and Kerala (25.91 percent). This also requires more efforts for the education of new members and activation of the party branches.

In the connection, the CPI(M) leader also referred to the status of party levy collection, functioning of the branches as well as party committees from the local to the state levels. The report stressed the need of periodical meetings of branch secretaries and their training, yearly review of members’ work at the time of renewal, yearly review of a lower committee’s work by the next higher committee, workshops at the district level, recruitment and training of more wholetimers and their deployment at proper places, education of party members, streamlined flow of information from top to bottom and bottom to top, fund drive to finance the party’s activities and to support the wholetimers, etc. These were some of the other issues which the Polorg Report had highlighted.

Of these, the report devoted specific attention to the issue of cadre as the “party is facing shortage of adequate number of equipped cadre at different levels.” Having noted down the importance of having full time cadre, the report recalled the conclusions drawn by the 18th congress in this regard and specified what the various state committees have to do.



Another issue the report highlighted was the joint efforts to be made for an expansion of the movement in the states neighbouring our strongholds. The idea is that the stronger states must supplement the Polit Bureau’s efforts in assisting the expansion efforts our committees in the neighbouring states are making. An example is of the West Bengal state committee helping the CPI(M) state committees in Sikkim and Andaman & Nicobar Islands. Leading comrades from West Bengal regularly attend the party’s and mass organisations’ meetings in these states.

Pillai said border committees represent a novel effort in this regard. An example is the border committees constituted by West Bengal and Jharkhand for expansion in certain districts. This is possible as 9 districts of Jharkhand adjoin 6 districts of Bengal, and both the state committees have identified 18 blocks for initial work. Bihar and Orissa too have constituted border committees in cooperation with West Bengal. While Tripura and Assam have also constituted a border committee and Kerala has initiated efforts for organising a party unit in Lakshdweep, Pillai said the decision to constitute a border committee between Kerala and Karnataka is yet to be implemented.

According to S R Pillai, the experience with the border committees has been positive so far and they indeed have bore some result. Yet there is need to prepare annual plans for them and review their performance on a regular basis.

The latest Polorg Report also summed up the experience of the all-India agitations as well as the state and local level struggles launched in the 3 year period since the 18th party congress. Pillai noted that these all-India agitations on some important economic and political issues as well as the observance of 150th anniversary of the Great 1857 Uprising, of the Bhagat Singh birth centenary and some other anniversaries have boosted the party’s prestige in the country and taken our viewpoint to wider sections of the people.

In this connection, the CPI(M) leader specifically drew attention to what the Polorg Report has said about two major struggles of the period. One of them was the Andhra struggle covering some 100 towns and 800 mandals in the state. This struggle, that braved brutal repression and involved heavy sacrifices, has helped to highlight the land issue at the state level.

The other major struggle was in Rajasthan --- for irrigation water from the Indira Gandhi Canal in some western districts of the state. Like the Andhra struggle, the one in Rajasthan also made some gain amid repression and sacrifices, and helped the party and mass organisations expand in several districts.

However, Pillai said, while it is not possible to reach wider sections of the people without taking up local and immediate issues, some state and district committees have not given adequate attention to this aspect. Moreover, some committees have taken up issues only in a routine manner.



After having taken up the agit-prop work of the party and the functioning of party organs at the centre and in states, the 19th congress Polorg Report also took up the question of democratic centralism and collective functioning, which may be described as the key aspect of the party organisation’s way of functioning. On the basis of organisational principles, Pillai said, only the constant activity of party members and entire party can strengthen collective functioning. Any division of party members into active and inactive ones foments factionalism, sycophancy and other harmful tendencies in party ranks. The report dwelt at length on the situation of party organisation in Kerala where serious violations of the norms of democratic centralism were noted in the past but where the Polit Bureau’s intervention and the state committee’s efforts to fight factionalism have brought some improvement. The report also devoted a paragraph to the situation of party organisation in Punjab where efforts have brought back a sizeable section of the party members who had left it. However, certain difficulties do persist in both these states and the document exhorted the concerned state committees to make more concerted efforts to fight back the wrong tendencies.

The report also dwelt on the importance of a rectification campaign to fight the violations of party norms and streamline the party at all levels. This is because grounds exist for penetration of alien class values, habits and practices, and the ongoing process of globalisation is further strengthening such values. In such a situation, preservation of the party’s revolutionary character and communist morality needs be given high priority and Pillai said the new central committee would initiate a full-fledged rectification campaign in the party at all levels.



After discussing the party’s relationship with mass organisations and some other issues, the Polorg Report drew attention to the new types of organisations that have come up in the recent past. The 18th congress had already taken up the question of self-help groups (SHGs) and, as directed, a workshop on the issue was organised at Hyderabad in February last year. This has generated a document on the party’s approach to the SHGs and the guidelines adopted.

Of late, the party has taken steps to promote the free software movement in all states. This can enable the party to reach the IT professionals, IT students and others who are interested in such a movement.

In Andhra Pradesh, the party has taken the lead in organising the resident welfare associations in urban areas. Seven other organisations --- of weavers, shepherds, porters and others --- are also functioning in the state.

There exists an organisation of disabled persons in West Bengal while party members are working among such people in Kerala, Tamilnadu, Jharkhand, Orissa and Karnataka also. Possibility exists in all the states of expanding the work among such persons.

West Bengal has a “Pioneers Organisation” and Kerala a “Bala Sangham” working among children, while some other states have also made efforts in this direction. Pillai said the party centre would soon study the situation in various states and issue guidelines for the formation and conduct of such organisations. This is essential to fight the reactionary drives to organise the children on caste and communal lines, and to rebuff the anti-scientific, obscurantist ideas being propagated by these forces.

The report exhorted each state committee to study the problems of various sections of the people and try to organise them in specific types of mass organisations.



In the end, S R Pillai said the experience in the last 3 years indicates that there are opportunities for an expansion of the party but, at the same time, certain forces are also working against us. In view of the increased Left intervention in the situation, these forces are virulently attacking us and seeking to stop our advance. Here the CPI(M) leader referred to the physical attacks the RSS-BJP goons had launched against CPI(M) cadre and offices in several parts of the country. To face these forces, we have to achieve a breakthrough in weaker states, without which we cannot maintain our position or expand even in our strongholds. The growing prestige of the party, its correct political line and its interventions at the national level have created a favourable situation for expansion, but the goal cannot be realised by routine methods. It calls for adoption of a series of vigorous steps in the direction.

Here the document listed a set of 6 measures that need to be translated into practice with a sense of utmost urgency. These include activation of party units and mass organisations for sustained struggles on local issues, improvement in the quality and capacity of party members for conduct of not only economic but also political and including ideological struggles, and improvement in the functioning of party bodies at all levels. Steps must be taken to implement the principles of democratic centralism and collective functioning in the party. As one of the situation’s requirements, the central committee would prepare a document on ideological matters and update the document on rectification campaign. Pillai then urged the delegates to thoroughly discuss the Polorg document, enrich it with their ground level experiences and adopt it for the guidance of all party cadre. He was quite confident that, with these steps, the party would forge ahead in the coming days and score still greater successes in its march towards people’s democracy and socialism.