People's Democracy

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


No. 17

April 29, 2012




Expansion Possible, Challenges Need to be Overcome


THE 19th congress of the CPI(M), held at Coimbatore four years ago, assessed the situation as one that offered opportunities for expansion of the party and decided that the party should make all efforts to achieve expansion, particularly in areas where the party was weak. This is necessary not only for expansion at the all-India level but also to sustain the strength of the party in the states where the party is strong.




This was the point which Polit Bureau member S Ramachandran Pillai (SRP) specifically underlined while presenting the Political Organisational Report (Polorg Report) to the 20th congress of the party at Kozhikode, April 4 to 9, 2012. The report, divided into four parts, was presented in the afternoon session on April 7 and adopted in the forenoon session on April 9. However, a part of the draft report, circulated beforehand, concerned a review of events in the last four years and it was presented, discussed and adopted along with the draft political resolution. Hence it was excluded from SRP’s presentation. 


In his presentation, SRP drew attention to the seven important tasks which the Polorg Report of the 19th congress had delineated after a review of the then existing situation. According to SRP, the party not only tried to implement in these four years the 19th congress decisions regarding organisation at various levels; the Central Committee also organised a mid-term review of the implementation of these tasks during its meeting on May 5-7, 2010, in order to have an idea of the efforts made, achievements registered and shortcomings noted. The process of review was carried out in the state conferences as well, and the Polorg Report summed up the findings in order to delineate the tasks for the future.


The report noted that in the last four years, more struggles and campaigns were conducted, more party schools and classes organised, more agit-prop material produced and more efforts made to take up the issues facing the tribal, dalit, disabled and minority people. In this period, the membership of the party and various mass organisations led by it, except the women’s and youth organisations, registered increases. There has been, on the whole, an improvement in the social composition of party membership also, as more members from the schedules castes and tribes, minorities and women have joined the party. 


Apart from adopting a document on the rectification campaign in this period, the party also adopted three other documents --- a draft Resolution on Some Important Issues, one on the Jammu & Kashmir situation, and an approach paper on restructuring of the centre-state relations. The Central Committee also reviewed the work on the trade union and agricultural workers fronts, and prepared guidelines for work among children and in urban areas. The work of the International Department was strengthened and the party jointly hosted the 11th international and workers’ parties at New Delhi on November 20-22, 2009, which culminated in Delhi Declaration of the Communist and Workers’ Parties. Work of the Central Secretariat, various sub-committees and various fractions was improved in this period.


The draft of the Polorg Report dwelt on all these points in adequate detail. 




But serious shortcomings have also been noted. We may take the case of priority states as an example. The selection of Assam, Bihar, Jharkhand, Maharashtra and Uttar Pradesh by the CC as priority states was motivated by the idea that the party centre would give more attention to these states and that the concerned state committees would utilise their resources in the best possible way to carry out specific tasks for expansion on a time-bound basis. However, while it has been found that this has helped in activating the party and the mass fronts in these states to an extent, the party has not been able to make substantial growth in any of the priority states.


The problem of unevenness of growth in membership continues, and the three strong states alone (West Bengal, Kerala and Tripura) today account for 73.12 per cent of party membership; the figure reaches up to 90.04 per cent if we add Tamilnadu and Andhra Pradesh to it. The case of our mass organisations is no different, their corresponding figures being 78.6 and 91.14 per cent respectively. 


This is mainly because, on the whole, weaknesses in the Hindi speaking states continue as ever. There has been some expansion in Rajasthan, and some growth in party and mass front membership in Haryana and Himachal Pradesh, but there have not been much improvement in the Hindi speaking states if we view them together. The Polorg Report was quite clear that soon after the party congress the party, at various levels, will have to review the whole experience and decide how to continue the efforts for expansion in these states. In this regard, the report underlined the need of taking up various local and immediate issues as well as various social issues like caste oppression, gender discrimination etc. It, moreover, stressed that struggles against casteism, communalism and other social evils from the party’s platform needs to become a regular part of our activities. The report noted: “There is still a lack of realisation in the party at various levels on the importance of the party directly taking up social issues, whether it concerns dalits or women. We have to take up social issues and mobilise people on the issue of social oppression if we are to draw these sections into the class based movements. Such an integrated approach of combining class and social issues is also needed if we are to counter narrow identity politics.”   


As for party literature, while there has been growth in the circulation of regional language party papers in some of the states, the circulation of People’s Democracy, Loklahar and The Marxist has declined and the Urdu monthly, Shabtaab, had had to be closed in 2009. The report said the central leadership of the party will have to take up this issue after the party congress.




While a substantial section (54.35 per cent) of the party membership is of those who joined the party after 2000, and while this is a positive aspect as the party cannot achieve expansion without new entrants, vigorous efforts are called for to raise the political, ideological and organisational consciousness of these members in order to free them from the influence of alien ideologies and negative tendencies including factionalism, careerism and individualism. This is all the more necessary as the neo-liberal economic dispensation is creating a lot of illusions among the youth regarding their prospects, and also because the continuing crisis of the bourgeois system presents new prospects for growth which must be utilised.


The report also dwelt in detail on the party organisation’s functioning at various levels --- from branches and local committees up to the Central Committee and the Polit Bureau. While some streamlining of functioning has indeed been there, vigorous efforts are still required to make the party capable of utilising the existing prospects for growth.


In the course of underlining the weaknesses, the Polorg Report listed the tasks which the CC document on rectification had fixed for the Polit Bureau members and also the tasks which the CC needs to undertake as part of its own rectification process.   


The fourth and the last part of the Polorg Report was concentrated on the functioning of various mass organisations led by the party.


In conclusion, this review of the existing situation of the party organisation endorsed the assessment of the situation made by the 19th party congress, saying that the “events followed confirmed the conclusions of the 19th congress.” It also recalled the warning issued by the latter that the situation may not last long as hostile forces are rallying together to stop our advance and to attack the party. The Polorg Report of the 20th congress then put forward five important tasks before the whole party so as “to make use of the present opportunities and to achieve the important objectives.” These tasks, each of which is in fact a bundle of tasks, concern five different areas of the party’s functioning and its streamlining and strengthening. One hopes that the entire party, at various levels, would take up these tasks on a priority basis in order to overcome the obstacles and vigorously forge ahead  




The discussion on the Polorg Report started on April 8 morning and continued in the afternoon session on the day. The following delegates took part in the discussion that followed the presentation of the Political-Organisational Report: 


Dakshinamuthi (Kerala), Sujan Chakraborty (West Bengal), Tapas Dutta (Tripura), Nur Mohd (Tamilnadu), Sandhya Shaili (Madhya Pradesh), Prasanna Kumar (Karnataka), Dushmant Das (Odisha), Anant Deka (Assam), Awadhesh Kumar (Bihar), Vijender Sharma (Delhi), Naginbhai Patel (Gujarat), Balbir Singh (Punjab), Madhuja Sen Rai (West Bengal), Prafulla Linda (Jharkhand), Madhu Garg (Uttar Pradesh), Venkateswara Rao (Andhra Pradesh), Kashmir Singh Thakur (Himachal Pradesh), Kranti (Rajasthan), Chandrachudan (Andaman & Nacobar), Iqbal Mohd (Jammu & Kashmir), Sarat Salam (Manipur), A K Balan (Kerala), Harpal Singh (Haryana), A R Sindhu (Trade Unions), Sriram Krishnan (DYFI), Bal Singh (Chhattisgarh), Bhanulal Shah (Tripura), D Raghavan (AIAWU), Rajinder Singh Negi (Uttarakhand), Saeed Ahmad (Maharashtra), N K Shukla (AIKS), Ziaul-Alam (West Bengal), Thalman Pareira (Goa), Minati Ghosh (AIDWA), Balram Adhikari (Sikkim), Rajendra Sharma (People’s Democracy/Loklahar), Ritubrata Banerjee (SFI), R Arun Kumar (CC Units) and A A Nainar (Tamilnadu).


While the discussion was free and frank as well as animated, it was at the same time highly disciplined, with all the participants presenting the viewpoint of their respective delegations in utmost sincerity. It was clear that only one desire informed their presentations --- the desire of how to enrich the report with their grassroots level experiences so that it could serve as an instrument of strengthening the party. Despite some differences, all the delegations conveyed their overall agreement with the general tenor of the Polorg Report.


On April 9 morning, summing up the whole discussion and replying to certain points raised by delegates, S R Pillai pointed out how the party centre, where seven Polit Bureau members and some Central Secretariat/Central Committee members had been working since after the Coimbatore congress, discharged certain important tasks and undertook several initiatives during the four-year period. (This was before the demise of Comrade M K Pandhe and retirement of Comrade Mohd Amin.) It was in this period that systematic and focussed work among some new sections, like tribals, differently abled people, children etc, started. PB and CC members functioning from the party centre have been regularly attending the state committee and state secretariat meetings in states. Yet there is no denying that certain shortcomings do persist; for example, organising collective discussions on reports from states and mass organisations has not always been possible. Then the most important problem of unevenness in the growth of the party and mass organisations is still there, but SRP assured that the central leadership would discuss the issue after the party congress and chalk out a plan of action.


In this regard, he again referred to the five tasks set out in the concluding section of Part IV of the Polorg Report and indicated how their implementation make help the party to break new grounds. He described the existing situation as one of opportunities and challenges, but expressed the hope that the party would come forward to meet those challenges squarely and utilise the opportunities. Loud applauses greeted this declaration.    


This found its reflection in the unanimous adoption of the Polorg Report. This took place amid the understanding that the Central Committee would incorporate the substantial suggestions coming from various delegations in the final version of the report.