Monday, August 15, 2011



                                                                                    ---- Anil Rajimwale

           The year 2009-10 is being celebrated as the birth centenary of one of the most outstanding Communist leaders of India, Ajoy Ghosh. That provides us an occasion to trace some of his lasting contributions to the Communist movement as well as to the country as a whole, both before and after independence.
           Ajoy Kumar Ghosh was born on 20 February 1909 and died on 13 January 1962, at the age of only 53, suffering TB for 20 long years. But he actually died of heart attack during a hectic election campaign. We will not go into details of personal biography as they have already appeared earlier.

Ajoy Ghosh and Bhagat Singh
          It is a matter of great pride that one the most outstanding Communist leaders, Ajoy Ghosh, was a close associate of Bhagat Singh. And he was not just an associate, but his guide and teacher also; he deeply influenced Bhagat Singh and set him on the path of Communism. It is a pity that Bhagat Singh’s life was cut short at the gallows; other wise he certainly would have become a Communist.
        In the 1920, Ajoy Ghosh jailed for sometime with the underground national revolutionary movement of Bhagat Singh and associates in the Hindustan Socialist Republican Association (HARA). This party and movement were undergoing transition of thought and practice. The rising Communist movement, organized as CPI in 1925, was having a deep influence on the young national revolutionaries and anarchists, who were not very clean about scientific socialism, class outlook, aims and objects and the future of the movement. They were cut off from the masses that led them to the needless individual violence. By 1930s, the anarchist and national revolutionary underground movement was all but over, having lost its steam and run out of ideas.
        Ajoy Ghosh never fully fell for anarchism and secret individualism. He soon came to the conclusion that such a movement cut off from the workers, peasants and the broader national movement, and bereft of any clear cut scientific aims, was bound to fail. Bhagat Singh also was coming to similar conclusions.
       Ajoy Ghosh exercised great sobering influence on the U.G revolutionaries. If Bhagat Singh was studying Marx and Lenin in jail, it was considerably due to Ajoy Ghosh and other Communists.
Ajoy Ghosh in CPI
       Ajoy Ghosh soon joined the Communist Party of India. S.G. Sardesai was the first Communist he came to know. That was at the Karachi session of the AICC in 1930.
       In the meantime, the HSRA never recovered from the blow it received in the death of Chandra Shekhar Azad in Allahabad. As Ajoy Ghosh himself wrote, the majority of the HSRA gave up politics altogether, disgusted at internal politics of the organisation. In such a situation, the CPI came up as a great hope for the youths.
       In the meantime, after return from Karachi, Ajoy Ghosh began to work in the trade union movement. He came in contact with the famous thinker M.N. Roy, who was propagating his own views known as Radical humanism, which came to be known as Royism. Roy was once associated with the Communist International, but later on separated because of a number of reasons.
       Ajoy Ghosh was arrested in the Lahore conspiracy case in 1929, and Sardesai was also arrested and kept in the same barrack for some weeks. Discussions and exchange of opinions between them and extensive Marxist study helped Ajoy Ghosh as lot.
He finally came out of the jail a confirmed Communist in 1933.
       Many or most of other HSRA leaders and revolutionary also became Communist, such as Batukeshwar Dutt (who accompanied Bhagat Singh in throwing bomb in the Central Assembly), Dr Gaya Prasad, Vijay Kumar Sinha, Shiv Verma, and many others.
Ajoy Ghosh was inducted in the Central Committee of CPI in a meeting held in Surat in 1933. He also worked in the T.U in Kanpur and other places. At that time, the CPI Headquarters (PGQ) were in Calcutta, wherefrom Ajoy Ghosh conducted active work. He worked hard for the unity of the T.U movement in the 1930s.
       Ajoy Ghosh worked in the party Headquarters (PHQ) in Bombay (now Mumbai), where they were shifted from Bombay and was the chief organiser at the desk of the National Front, CPI’s central organ. As member of the central committee, he was in-charge of organizing party in several provinces including U.P and Bihar, and particularly in western India. Soon he became the member of the Polit Bureau, along with P.C. Joshi, Dr. Adhikari, B.T. Ranadive, and R.D. Bhardwaj. As such, he played a very important role in organizing the party. P.C. Joshi was the general secretary at this time.
Ajoy Ghosh was arrested in 1940 again and kept in Lucknow District Jail. There he met Jaidev, Shiv Verma and Gaya Prasad again. Ajoy Ghosh was also detained in the famous (or infamous!) Deoli Detention Camp. It was while in detention in Deoli that he got severe infection of TB. As such, could not attend the first Congress of CPI (1943), but was elected to its and PB.
       As in charge from the centre, he often toured northern and western India including Punjab, which were very complicated from every point of view. Ajoy Ghosh was also sent to Kashmir to organise the Party, and he handled sensitive issues with great care and tact.
New India and Indian Communists
       The Indian Communists heartily welcomed the hard-won freedom of India in August 1947. Since 1946 itself, the CPI, under PC Joshi had been preparing for the country’s freedom. An Interim government had been formed in 1946 with Pt Jawaharlal Nehru as the prime minister.
       Ajoy Ghosh made his approach clear much earlier, in his articles in the National Front 1939 onwards. He emphasized the formation of national front for freedom consisting of all the anti-imperialist forces. He called upon all such forces, particularly the left, to transform the congress into a joint platform to achieve these aims. These views were expressed in connection with the debates around the Thirupati session of the congress in 1939 and on several occasions later.
       The, Ajoy Ghosh consistently followed a clear-cut line of broad unity of progressive forces. This was apparent in his later, post – independence writings and speeches also. At the same time, he underlined the importance of the independent role of the party.
So, at the time of independence P.C. Joshi, Ajoy Ghosh and others, and the CPI as a whole was poised to take the path of rapid advance, moving in tandem with the common masses and with the nation. Class and national outlook were finally combined. The Party joined the masses in rejoining over India’s freedom, for which the CPI had done so much. The CPI, moving with the masses, called for advancement and strengthening of the freedom by carrying out radical socio economic and political measures, and extended support whenever the Nehru government took any step in this direction. At the same time, also moving with the masses, the party opposed the anti-people policies of the government.
       Ajoy Ghosh was in the midst of such policy making and in practicing them. One of the results of such an approach was the creation of public sector, which played such a crucial role in the country’s development, and which has today become a point of crucial struggle between neo-liberal and progressive forces.
Ajoy Ghosh’s Great Contribution
       Ajoy Ghosh was one of the tallest leaders and political thinkers not only of the Communist movement but of the entire political spectrum.
He contributed in many ways to the evolution of the new vision of India.
It took some time for the communists to grapple and to come to terms with entirely new situation in the country. The situation and the tasks therefrom were new not for the Communists in India but also anywhere else in the world.
Ajoy Ghosh was a Marxist with a vision for the future of India, and for a crucial role of the Communists to fulfill it.
        But as the CPI was about to move forward, it suffered a setback in 1948-50 period of gross sectarianism and adventurism and of a total miscalculation of the Indian situation. The Party disintegrated. It has already been much discussed; so we will not go into details. The Communist movement learnt much from these serious mistakes.
The crisis also brought out the best in Ajoy Ghosh.
        He coolly, soberly and in a balanced manner surveyed and analysed the situation, and began to put forward corrective theoretical and practical measures that brought the CPI back into the political mainstream of the country. He became the general secretary of the CPI in 1951, signifying a return of the healthy course. During his tenure, he tackled many a major questions with theoretical and practical boldness and novelty.
Even before he became the general secretary, he put forward proposals and formulations to enable the CPI to play a major role in the country.
        For example, he, along with Dange and Ghate, authored the famous ‘Three P’s letter’. It is this Letter that began the corrective course in the CPI.
It is known as ‘Three P’s Letter’ because the underground names of the authors began with the letter ‘P’.
        Circulated on September 30, 1950, the letter brought out the weakness of the people’s movement and called for strengthening the same, called for the unity of the working class and the people, and opposed the armed struggle going on at that time but which was soon to be withdrawn. The ‘letter’ called for the formation of a broad anti-imperialist united front and to build a mass powerful Communist Party.
       Most important, Ajoy Ghosh, along with the two others, called for the participation in the elections and for a positive attitude to the electoral system, at a time when the party was shying away from them. The Letter emphasized left unity, which won a victory in Calcutta at the time. The letter emphasized struggle for world peace, and called for strengthening peace movement in India.
       These formulations of Ajoy Ghosh and others were a great contribution to the restoration of the Communist movement.
Path of Development
         Ajoy Ghosh assimilated all that was new in the Indian and world situation. The CPI became the second politico-social force within the Parliament in 1952 elections itself, next only to the Congress, as also in the larger society among the masses. More than that, it is the Communists to whom other political forces and people in general turned for the solution of the national and class questions. It was the CPI which actually struggled to deepen and go beyond the democratic vision that is sought to be diluted today by the Congress in public sector and on other issues.
       Ajoy Ghosh played a great in theorizing and demand practicing of the strategy of independent economic development centred around the public sector. Nationalisation, abolition of zamindari and princely privileges, heavy industrialization, five year plans, struggle to broaden and deepen democracy, nonaligned foreign policy, peaceful coexistence – there are only some of the historic theoretical and practical contributions of Ajoy Ghosh-led CPI.
        The Congress today is trying to dilute them through neo-liberalism.
Criticism of Nehru and Jaiprakash Narayan
       Ajoy Ghosh led the party in a multi-pronged struggle. He sharply criticized the internal policies of the Nehru government and its vacillations in foreign policy. Ajoy Ghosh also sharply attacked Nehru’s concept of socialism as divergence from what was being practiced. He at the same time did not hesitate to support the progressive features in his foreign and internal policies.
       Ajoy Ghosh sharply criticized the policies of Jaiprakash Narayan in a series of articles. At the same time he warned against the conspiracies of the rightwing reactionary forces.  The CPI along with other progressive forces managed to isolate the rightwing communal and fascist forces. As we have already mentioned, the CPI emerged as the main opposition party and the second party next only to the Congress in the first general elections of 1952. The three rightwing parties including the Jan Sangh could manage only a handful of seats. This trend continued, more or less, during the 1957 and 1962 general elections.
CPI’s Strategy and Tactics, and Resurgence
       The CPI won the Kerala assembly elections in 1957 and formed a government under the chief ministership of EMS. It was the first time, not only in India but perhaps anywhere else in the world that the communists were voted to power.
       These developments and the victories in the general elections opened new possibilities for the advance of the Communists, left and democratic forces. It also demanded a creative development of Marxist theory, to which Ajoy Ghosh contributed a lot.
       In the meantime, the CPI restructured itself to play a more effective and meaningful role and to give reflection to its growing strength and mass base. The Amritsar Special Congress of CPI (the 5th one) of 1958 was an important event. Two-tier structure gave way to a three-tier organizational structure, which exists till today. The CPI gave up the concept of the dictatorship of the proletariat. And another important is that the CPI included in the Preamble of its Constitution the provision of opposition parties in the future socialism in India. These were bold steps. EMS wrote in the very next issue of the ‘New Age’ after the Congress that through these decisions, the CPI was only carrying forward the legacy of Mahatma Gandhi.
       Ajoy Ghosh in his articles in 1955 and later made it clear that only a unity of democratic forces could replace Nehru government, but CPI would not allow the right reactionary forces to come to power in place of the existing governments.
World Communist Movement and CPI
         New developments of great significance were taking place after the Second World War world balance of forces was changing, great new possibilities of democratic, progressive and revolutionary advance had opened up, particularly through democratic and parliamentary path. World democratic front was widening. Communists were more acceptable among the people than ever before. Peaceful coexistence was the new form of world relations. Soviet Union, China and India were contributing a great deal to it. India and China had worked out Five Principles of peaceful coexistence in Bandung conference (Indonesia, 1955).
            The world communist movement (WCM) were busy standing and reformulating world situation. The WCM was creatively developing Marxist theory in the new situation. The practice of cult of personality was severely criticized, and the importance of democratic practice was underlined.
          Ajoy Ghosh played an important role and made a great contribution to this process. He was among those in the WCM who at once saw the necessity of assimilating new features, giving up certain outdated formulations and creatively developing theory of Marxism according to new situation.
Struggle to Chart out New Path
          In this internal and international situation, the CPI under Ajoy Ghosh’s creative efforts was trying to chart out a new path. The conditions were very favourable for democratic advance and for a greater role for CPI in this advance.
          It was precisely at this juncture that the WCM and the CPI were faced with the Maoist offensive. Today, the Communist Party of China has also condemned Maoism and has given it up.
         Amidst the complicated and tense situation within the CPI due mainly to Maoism, Ajoy Ghosh delivered a crucial speech at the 6th, Vijayawada (AP), Congress of the CPI in 1961. That speech has become a historic document of the Communist movement in many ways. That speech was unanimously adopted by the sixth congress, and is known as “New Situation and Our Tasks”. It was a balanced is realistic assessment of the Indian situation, and has been broadly vindicated by the subsequent history, in the crucial and critical situation, Ajoy Ghosh displayed wisdom and extraordinary restraint. In his speech he made and in-depth analysis of the situation and charted out party’s tasks. Taking a dialectical approach, he brought out the contradictory nature of the capitalist path of development, and charted out the task of building a broad domestic movement and front, with crucial role for CPI. It was in the course of this that anti-people tendencies in the government had to be fought, while simultaneously struggling against the reactionary rightwing attempts to take over the country.
       Ajoy Ghosh’s persistent and sincere efforts helped to save the unity of the party. Unfortunately, the split in the communist movement could not be averted in the subsequent years.
       Ajoy Ghosh died only a few months later, in January 1962, during hectic election campaign.
       Nearly five decades have passed since then. Yet his theoretical and practical contribution has proved to be a lasting value. Ajoy Ghosh was a Marxist theorist and leader of a new era.




Central Organ of the Communist Party of India

Tuesday, March 09, 2010 





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