What Transpired When CPI Leaders Met Stalin In 1951?
Prof KV Narayana Rao
In the history of the Communist Party of India, the period 1948-1951 was marked by confusion and conflicts over its understanding and attitude to matters like the nature of the national bourgeoisie in India, the Government of India and the path to be chosen for bringing about revolution in India. Added to this was the dissent, by the party leadership hailing from Teiangana itself, on the continuance of the armed struggle in Telangana. In this situation, prominent underground Communist leaders felt it necessary to seek enlightenment and advice from Joseph Stalin, General Secretary of the Communist Party of Soviet Russia (Bolshevik) and the Premier of Soviet Russia. Four leaders- Ajoy Ghose, S.A.Dange, Chandra Rajeswara Rao and Makineni Basava Punnayya (the last two from Andhra)-together left Kolkata for Russia as stowaways in a Russian cargo ship. After reaching Moscow, they listed their observations, opinions, doubts and the required clarifications and passed them on to Stalin. He was with them for more than three hours on 9 February 1951 and provided clarifications on the listed matters as well as those arising in the meeting. Subsequently the Indian leaders discussed among themselves, drafted a program for the party and sought some more advice from Stalin.
In light of these discussions, they returned to India. In October 1951, the armed struggle in Telangana was given up and decision to participate in the ensuing elections in India was taken. Some extracts from the minutes of the meeting are given below:
Basavapunnayya: Amongst us there exists confusion on the question of national bourgeoisie. What is to be properly understood under the national bourgeoisie?
Stalin: The national bourgeoisie- the middle and large-are your national exploiters. It is necessary to say that you are not against their continuance, but against the foreign enemy ,against English imperialism. …Concerning the division of India, that is a piece of fraud organised by the English. If you are drafting a program of action, then you must say that you need a military and economic union between Pakistan, India and Ceylon. These three States, which are artificially separated from one another, will come closer. This will culminate in these States uniting themselves. This idea of drawing together must be put forward and people will support you. The elite in Pakistan and Ceylon would be against it ,but the people have doubts against them..This artificial division is clear particularly in Bengal..The province of Bengal will fall away from Pakistan at the first opportunity…..I cannot consider the Government of Nehru as a puppet. This is not like the government of Bao Dai…Bao Dai is actually a puppet……It is also not true to assert that civil war in the country [i.e. India] is in full swing. In Telangana, land was seized, but it proves little. Some of your comrades consider that civil war has started in India. It is early to speak about that..The conditions for civil war grow but still have not grown.
…….In response to a question from Rajeswara Rao, Stalin said :In your propoganda, you need to speak against the feudal lords but not against the prosperous peasantry. You must not yourselves push the kulaks into a union with feudal lords…………
The program of the CPI ultimately released in India made no reference to coming together of Pakistan ,India and Ceylon, advised by Stalin
Achuta Menon ,the CPI CM of Kerala for the longest period, who ran a coalition, including Congress, was a Communist with a difference. All through his political career, he never ceased to think. Bound by discipline he never openly criticised the Party. In his article written in Malayalam, before his death in 1991 ,he made a very critical remark on the CPI leader’s meeting Stalin ..
English translation of it is : ‘
“Is it possible to find bankruptcy of thinking more pathetic than this anywhere? What revolution can a party of this kind lead? “
Comment is superfluous.