Jyoti Basu Wanted CPI(M) to Move Closer to Congress?

Image

(the first polit bureau of cpim. akg, jyoti basu, ems, surejeet among them. photo courtsey: http://www.cpim.org)

Did the CPI(M) cadres in West Bengal suspect that Jyoti Basu wanted CPI(M) to move closer to Congress during Emergency? The party will vehemently deny it but US diplomats in India during 1976 believed that Basu, who came close to be the Prime Minister in 1990s, appeared doing so.

The new cache of cables of Henry Kissinger era, made public by whistleblower site Wikileaks, make such claims and also talk about CPI, the factions in CPI(M) and discontent among CPI-M and CPI affiliated trade union and peasant activists.

Some of the cables in 1976 goes on to describe a fall in status of CPI(M) in West Bengal but gets it completely wrong as the party and Basu storm to power in June 1977 and remained there in power till May 2011 of which the Marxist veteran ruled the first 23 years.

The information quoted in the cables are provided by unnamed sources and some of its claims appear farfetched like CPI(M)’s reluctance to fight emergency.

In a cable on September 18, 1975 on CPI(M) unit in West Bengal, it was claimed that the CPI(M) was “keeping quiet” during Emergency and it was causing “internal discord” in the party.

It also described the S A Dange-led CPI, which was supporting Indira Gandhi at the time of Emergency, as “burgeoise, somewhat flabby character in comparison to its chief rival CPM”.

It pointed to the non-resolution of “policy disputes” which were “diametrically opposed” as collaboration with Indira Government to “extreme underground violent opposition” in the CPI(M) and the existence of three factions — that of one led by Pramod Dasgupta and B R Ranadive, Sundaraiya and Jyoti Basu and E M S Namboothiripadu and Ramamurthi.

“The CPM has since during the past year since the proclamation of Emergency been torn between various factions…In West Bengal at least the CPM has tossed about almost rudderless while faction leaders fought over these issues,” a cable a year later on August 6, 1976 said.

Another cable in Septmeber 1975 said the CPM leadership seems to have lost its will to oppose the government and this has had an adverse effect on the cadre.

“According to our information, the party’s leadership has indicated it does not want a confrontation with the government and that it would like to come to an agreement with the CPI. The CPM’s trade union cadre reportedly does not agree with the leadership’s policy,” it said.

The cables said that the troubles faced by CPI, which was facing questions from its cadres led by Gurudas Dasgupta and Biswanath Mukherjee over its support to Congress, was “mild” compared to CPM.

“The latter (CPI-M) is so racked by dispute that its very existence as a major party in West Bengal may be threatened…Agitation by militants has been on the increase recently because of suspicion that some CPM leaders, notably Jyoti Basu, may be attempting to steer the CPM toward a modus vivendi with the CP and even with the Congress.

Image

“These suspicions were fuelled by the meeting Basu and four other members of the CPM Polit Bureau held early in April (1976) with Mrs Gandhi. It does appear that Basu would like to move the CPM closer to the CPI and might even be reafy to make gestures to Congress,” the cable on May 6, 1976 said.

The cable said the CPM leadership in West Bengal had resorted increasingly in recent months to expulsion and disciplinary action to maintain its position. The West Bengal CPM has experienced a drop in membership and collection of funds from Rs 50,000 in 1972 to Rs 10,000 (in 1976), it added.

The cables said the Central Committee meeting of the CPI(M) in July 1976 failed to settle policy disputes or put an end to “personal rivalries and squabbling” among senior leaders but it managed to bring the leadership into an agreement on main issues.

In the Central Committee meeting, the cables said, there was much criticism of both the USSR and China.

“The CPM has for some time been moving away from the Chinese. In a brief conversation some months ago, Jyoti Basu remarked…that the Chinese are the most difficult people on earth,” it said.

“The test will be whether the major factions led respectively by (Pramod) Dasgupta and Ranadive, Sundaraiya and Jyoti Basu and E M S Namboothiripadu and Ramamurthi will now work together effectively,” it said.

On Indira Gandhi’s views on the Communist parties, the cables said that she was aware that after the 1964 split, much of the old CPI’s dynamism and youth went into CPM.

“Today, the CPI retains its outdated leadership (Dange is in his sixth decade as CPI leader) and reflects a bourgeoise, somewhat flabby character in comparison to its chief rival CPM,” the cable said.

CPI leader Gurudas Dasgupta and Biswanath Mukherjee and their followers felt that CPI in West Nengal has been losing its leftist image because of its identification with Congress and its lack of ties with the CPM and the smaller Left parties.

The cables claimed that CPI has offered to be a “broker” between the CPM central leadership and the Indira government.

“One of the CPI’s goals can be expected to be to deepen the split between the CPM leadership and its labour affiliates, hoping to gain by the decrease in CPM powers. Yet because the CPI is considerably less radical than the CPM union leadership, there would appear to be little opportunity for the CPI to gain control of the disaffected unions.

“Perhaps just the opportunity to help wreck havock in the CPM ranks is enough incentive for the CPI to keep its divisive actions,” the cable on September 18, 1975 claimed.

Advertisements

%d bloggers like this: