One of the issues which has kept Communist Party of India and the Communist Party of India (Marxist) strangling, happens to be the way that none of them have the splendid propaganda machine that most other political parties or BJP to be precise can brag about as a matter of course. In this manner, any criticism and allegation tossed at them happen to hit them with full drive in the face. CPI supporting the Chinese aggression in 1962 is being one them. CPI(M) hasn’t been able to get rid of the Chinese-traitor taint fathered upon it by the RSS.
Anyone willing to understand the bifurcation of the CPI and CPI(M), would likely need a 6-month long course in Marxist speculations, which is clearly impractical in an article. In any case, I can try to debunk the myth of CPI supporting China in the 1962 Sino-Indian war.
The foundation of defaming Indian Communists was a set of declassified CIA files which claimed that the hard left faction within the CPI voted to support the Chinese position. For anyone who has studied world history especially the cold war would have realised that this argument was spark ignited by Americans to cripple the communist movement in India. An old school American propaganda says “Marxism is good in theory, but not in practice”. Ironically, Marxism has no doubt been good in theory, but a Marxist government has always been trampled upon by a military coup led by CIA. The aggression against Cuba and Chile by the USA are the classic examples of the above-mentioned statement. It would surely not be a very difficult task to construct a propaganda against a communist party if it can attempt 638 assassinations, and spend $1billion to eliminate a single communist leader of country 30 times smaller than India. If you think that CIA wouldn’t have any interest in CPI since they weren’t in power then you’re mistaken. The first communist government elected through democratic elections was in 1957 in Kerala and it was successfully toppled by CIA after next 2 years.
CPI did a lamentable mistake of opposing Gandhi’s call for ‘Quit India movement’ in 1942 on the ground that Hitler wasn’t just a threat to the Jews, but to human civilisation itself who was out for world domination when he attacked the Soviet Union. It is not that Communists were, or are not, patriotic. They have fought, struggled and sacrificed for Indians and would do the same whenever required. The Communist felt that not supporting Britain (Allied powers) to struggle against Nazis was rashness. It’s not that they didn’t acknowledge the need for independence: they simply felt that the protests should be delayed until Hitler was in power since he was a greater threat to world peace with his fascist motives. This stance could have been legitimate in imperialist nations yet very wrong in India which was struggling for freedom.
A detailed analysis of the political positions taken by prominent leaders of CPI & CPI(M) during the 1962 war depicts an entirely different picture from that deliberately fabricated by the right-wing fascist forces.
Jyoti Basu, one of the pioneers of the Communist Party of India (Marxist) and the previous CM of West Bengal after the declaration of the war purportedly expressed that;
“Our stand is clear. I think India’s border defences should be strengthened and my party will not hesitate to put in all its efforts for the defence of India’s freedom, irrespective of the political character of the attacking country.”
E.M.S. Namboodiripad made an altogether crucial and often confused statement on the alleged pro-china stand;
“…the Chinese had entered territory that they thought was theirs and hence there was no question of aggression. At the same time, the Indians were defending territory that they considered theirs and so they were not committing aggression either.”
Though Namboodiripad’s stand seems conflicting with that of Jyoti Basu, In 1998, the general secretary of CPI(M), Harkishen Singh Surjeet, reiterated the position of E.M.S;
“He was an internationalist in the true sense of the term. During the India-China war in 1962, braving the chauvinist onslaught, EMS campaigned throughout the country advocating a peaceful settlement of the border dispute. Similarly, during the India-Pakistan war, he advocated a peaceful settlement of the dispute. As a true Communist, he always thought the Indian Communist movement to be a part and parcel of the world revolutionary process. In all solidarity campaigns in support of the national liberation movements, in defence of peace and socialism, he was always in the forefront.”
A CIA archive reveals that (CPI) general secretary, S.A. Dange, later stated that;
The Indian party had warned the CCP, in letters of 20 August and 13 September 1959, that border developments were providing the “right wing” ‘with the opportunity “to pull India towards the Anglo-American camp, If and that the 13 September letter had urged the Chinese to begin negotiations. (Dange : “Neither Revisionism Nor Dogmatism Is Our Guide, ‘ New Age, supplement, 21 April 1963)Famous historian Bipin Chandra, wrote “One wing of the party supported the government wholeheartedly against the Chinese attack, the other wing while opposing the Chinese stand on the question of India–China frontiers also opposed the unqualified support to the Nehru government because of its class character.” The Nehru government did not take kindly to this and jailed the communist dissenters for most of 1962 and ’63. This clearly explains that the real reason for putting the then communists behind the bars during Sino-Indian war was definitely not being sympathetic towards China but their anti-Congressism.
The only Communist party which is pro-China is CPI(ML). So putting old mistakes of CPI(ML) on today’s CPI and CPI(M) is not morally justified. It must not be forgotten that the first student organisation to fight for India’s independence was AISF; student wing of CPI. Jyoti Basu wrote about them in memoirs;
“They said they were followers of Mao and raised the slogan, ‘China’s chairman is our chairman’. Forgetting everything else that the country stood for, they followed the China model with disastrous consequences which had no relation to Marxist philosophy.”
Ironically, CPI(M) is blindly labelled as pro Chinese by its political and ideological opponents. This deception strategy of yesteryear, sadly, is utilized even today against any individual who is remotely distinguished as a leftist. Maligning the other is a political technique has always been used by the conservative party in power against any dissenting viewpoint. If it was China in 1962, its Pakistan today. It they were Communists and Socialists then, it is the left, seculars and liberals who are targeted by the right wing today.