Communist Party of India (Marxist) (abbreviated
CPI(M) or CPM) is a political party in India.
It has a
strong presence in the states of Kerala, West Bengal and Tripura.
of 2008, CPI(M) is leading the state governments in these three
states. The party emerged out of a split from the Communist Party of India
CPI(M) claimed to have 982,155 members in 2007.
Split in the Communist Party of India and formation of
CPI(M) emerged out of a division within the Communist Party of India
undivided CPI had experienced a period of upsurge during the years
following the Second World War
led armed rebellions in Telangana, Tripura and Kerala.
However, it soon abandoned the strategy of armed revolution in
favour of working within the parliamentary
framework. In 1950 B.T. Ranadive
the CPI general secretary and a prominent representative of the
radical sector inside the party, was demoted on grounds of
Bhavan, the CPI(M) national headquarters in Delhi.
government of the Congress Party of
Jawaharlal Nehru, independent India
developed close relations and a strategic partnership with the
The Soviet government consequently wished
that the Indian communists moderate their criticism towards the
Indian state and assume a supportive role towards the Congress
governments. However, large sections of the CPI claimed that India
remained a semi-feudal
country, and that
could not be put on
the back-burner for the sake of guarding the interests of Soviet
trade and foreign policy. Moreover, the Indian National Congress
appeared to be generally hostile towards political competition.
the central government intervened to impose President's Rule in Kerala, toppling
the E.M.S. Namboodiripad
cabinet (the sole
non-Congress state government in the country).
Simultaneously, the relations between the Communist Party of the
and the Communist Party of China
the early 1960s the Communist Party of China began criticising the
CPSU of turning revisionist
and of deviating from the path of Marxism-Leninism
. Sino-Indian relations
deteriorated, as border disputes between the two countries erupted
into the Indo-China war of
Controversial stand on India-China war
During the war, a faction of the Indian Communists backed the
position of the Indian government, while other sections of the
party claimed that it was a conflict between a socialist
and a capitalist
state, and thus took a pro-Chinese
position. There were three factions in the party -
"internationalists", "centrists", and "nationalists".
Internationalists supported the Chinese stand whereas the
nationalists backed India; centrists took a neutral view. Prominent
leaders including S.A. Dange
were in the nationalist faction. B. T. Ranadive
, P. C. Joshi
, Jyoti Basu
, and Harkishan Singh Surjeet
those supported China. Ajoy Ghosh
prominent person in the centrist faction. In general, most of
Bengal Communist leaders supported China and most others supported
India. Hundreds of CPI leaders, accused of being pro-Chinese were
imprisoned. Some of the nationalists were also imprisoned, as they
used to express their opinion only in party forums, and CPI's
official stand was pro-China. Thousands of Communists were detained
without trial. Those targeted by the state accused the pro-Soviet
leadership of the CPI of conspiring with the Congress government to
ensure their own hegemony over the control of the party.
Split in the party
In 1962 Ajoy Ghosh
, the general secretary
of the CPI, died. After his death, S.A.
was installed as the party chairman
(a new position) and E.M.S. Namboodiripad as general secretary.
This was an attempt to achieve a compromise. Dange represented the
rightist fraction of the party and E.M.S. the leftist
At a CPI National Council meeting held on April 11, 1964, 32
Council members walked out in protest, accusing Dange and his
followers of "anti-unity and anti-Communist policies".
leftist section, to which the 32 National Council members belonged,
organised a convention in Tenali, Andhra Pradesh July 7 to 11.
In this convention the issues
of the internal disputes in the party were discussed. 146
delegates, claiming to represent 100,000 CPI members, took part in
the proceedings. The convention decided to convene the 7th
Party Congress of CPI in Calcutta later the
Marking a difference from the Dangeite sector of CPI, the Tenali
convention was marked by the display of a large portrait of the
At the Tenali convention a Bengal-based pro-Chinese group,
representing one of the most radical streams of the CPI left wing,
presented a draft programme proposal of their own. These radicals
criticised the draft programme proposal prepared by M. Basavapunniah
for undermining class struggle
and failing to take a clear
pro-Chinese position in the ideological conflict between the CPSU
After the Tenali convention the CPI left wing organised party
district and state conferences. In West Bengal, a few of these meetings became battlegrounds
between the most radical elements and the more moderate
At the Calcutta Party District Conference an
alternative draft programme was presented to the leadership by
Parimal Das Gupta (a leading figure amongst far-left intellectuals
in the party). Another alternative proposal was brought forward to
the Calcutta Party District Conference by Azizul Haque, but Haque
was initially banned from presenting it by the conference
organisers. At the Calcutta Party District Conference 42 delegates
opposed M. Basavapunniah’s official draft programme proposal.
At the Siliguri Party District Conference, the main draft proposal
for a party programme was accepted, but with some additional points
suggested by the far-left North Bengal cadre Charu Majumdar
. However, Harekrishna Konar
leadership of the CPI left wing) forbade the raising of the slogan
Mao Tse-Tung Zindabad
(Long live Mao Tse-Tung) at the
Parimal Das Gupta
's document was
also presented to the leadership at the West Bengal State
Conference of the CPI leftwing. Das Gupta and a few other spoke at
the conference, demanding the party ought to adopt the class
analysis of the Indian state of the 1951 CPI conference. His
proposal was, however, voted down.
The Calcutta Congress was held between October 31
, at Tyagraja Hall in southern Calcutta. Simultaneously, the
Dange group convened a Party Congress of CPI in Bombay.
Thus, the CPI divided into two separate parties. The group which
assembled in Calcutta would later adopt the name 'Communist Party
of India (Marxist)', in order to differentiate themselves from the
Dange group. The CPI(M) also adopted its own political programme.
was elected general secretary of
In total 422 delegates took part in the Calcutta Congress. CPI(M)
claimed that they represented 104,421 CPI members, 60% of the total
At the Calcutta conference the party adopted a class analysis of
the character of the Indian state, that claimed the Indian big
collaborating with imperialism
Parimal Das Gupta’s alternative draft programme was not circulated
at the Calcutta conference. However, Souren
Basu, a delegate from the far-left stronghold Darjeeling, spoke at the conference asking why no portrait had
been raised of Mao Tse-Tung along the portraits of other communist
His intervention met with huge applauses from the
delegates of the conference.
Early years of CPI (M)
The CPI (M) was born into a hostile political climate. At the time
of the holding of its Calcutta Congress, large sections of its
leaders and cadres were jailed without trial. Again on December
29-30, over a thousand CPI (M) cadres were arrested, and held in
jail without trial. In 1965 new waves of arrests of CPI (M)
cadres took place in West
Bengal, as the party launched agitations against the rise
in fares in the Calcutta Tramways
and against the then prevailing food crisis.
general strikes and hartals
were observed on
August 5, 1965, March 10-11, 1966 and April 6, 1966. The March 1966
general strike results in several deaths in confrontations with
Also in Kerala, mass arrests
of CPI (M)
cadres were carried out during 1965. In Bihar, the party called for a Bandh (general strike) in Patna on August 9,
1965 in protest against the Congress state government.
During the strike, police resorted to violent actions against the
organisers of the strike. The strike was followed by agitations in
other parts of the state.
P. Sundaraiah, after being released from jail,
spent the period of September 1965-February 1966 in Moscow for medical
In Moscow he also held talks with the CPSU.
The Central Committee of CPI (M) held its first meeting on June
12-19 1966. The reason for delaying the holding of a regular CC
meeting was the fact that several of the persons elected as CC
members at the Calcutta Congress were jailed at the time. A CC
meeting had been scheduled to have been held in Trichur
during the last days of 1964, but had been
cancelled due to the wave of arrests against the party. The meeting
discussed tactics for electoral alliances, and concluded that the
party should seek to form a broad electoral alliances with all
non-reactionary opposition parties in West Bengal (i.e. all parties
except Jan Sangh
and Swatantra Party
). This decision was strongly
criticised by the Communist
Party of China
, the Party
of Labour of Albania
, the Communist Party of New
and the radicals within the party itself. The line was changed
at a National Council meeting in Jullunder in October 1966, were it was decided that the party
should only form alliances with selected left parties.
1967 General Election
In the 1967 Lok Sabha
nominated 59 candidates. In total 19 of them were elected. The
party received 6.2 million votes (4.28% of the nationwide vote). By
comparison, CPI won 23 seats and got 5.11% of the nation-wide vote.
In the state legistative elections held simultaneously, the CPI(M)
emerged as a major party in Kerala and West Bengal. In Kerala a
United Front government led by E.M.S. Namboodiripad was formed. In
West Bengal, CPI(M) was the main force behind the United Front
government formed. The
Chief Ministership was given to Ajoy
of the Bangla Congress
(a regional splinter-group of the Indian National Congress).
At this point the party stood at crossroads. There were radical
sections of the party who were wary of the increasing parliamentary
focus of the party leadership, especially after the electoral
victories in West Bengal and Kerala. Developments in China also
affected the situation inside the party. In West Bengal two
separate internal dissident tendencies emerged, which both could be
identified as supporting the Chinese line. In 1967 a peasant
uprising broke out in Naxalbari, in northern West Bengal.
The insurgency was
led by hardline district-level CPI(M) leaders Charu Majumdar
and Kanu Sanyal
. The hardliners within CPI(M) saw
the Naxalbari uprising as the spark that would ignite the Indian
revolution. The Communist Party of China hailed the Naxalbari
movement, causing an abrupt break in CPI(M)-CPC relations. The
Naxalbari movement was violently repressed by the West Bengal
government, of which CPI(M) was a major partner. Within the party,
the hardliners rallied around an All
India Coordination Committee of Communist Revolutionaries
the 1968 Burdwan plenum of CPI(M) (held on April 5-12, 1968), the
AICCCR separated themselves from CPI(M).
This split divided
the party throughout the country. But notably in West Bengal, which
was the centre of the violent radicalist stream, no prominent
leading figure left the party. The party and the Naxalites
(as the rebels were called) were soon to
get into a bloody feud.
In Andhra Pradesh another revolt was taking place. There the
pro-Naxalbari dissidents had not established any presence. But in
the party organisation there were many veterans from the Telangana
armed struggle, who rallied against the central party leadership.
In Andhra Pradesh the radicals had a strong base even amongst the
state-level leadership. The main leader of the radical tendency was
, a member of the state legislative assembly. On June 15,
1968 the leaders of the radical tendency published a press
statement outlining the critique of the development of CPI(M). It
was signed by T. Nagi Reddy, D.V. Rao
, Kolla Venkaiah
and Chandra Pulla Reddy
total around 50% of the party cadres in Andhra Pradesh left the
party to form the
Andhra Pradesh Coordination Committee of Communist
, under the leadership of T. Nagi Reddy.
Dismissal of United Front governments in West Bengal and
In November 1967, the West Bengal United Front government was
dismissed by the central government. Initially the Indian National
Congress formed a minority government led by Prafulla Chandra Ghosh
, but that
cabinet did not last long. Following the proclamation that the
United Front government had been dislodged, a 48-hour hartal was
effective throughout the state. After the fall of the Ghosh
cabinet, the state was but under President's Rule. CPI(M) launched
agitations against the interventions of the central government in
Party Congress of CPI(M) was held in Cochin, Kerala, on
December 23-29, 1968.
On December 25, 1968, whilst the
congress was held, 42 Dalits
were burned alive
in the Tamil village of Kilavenmani. The massacre was a retaliation
from landlords after Dalit labourers had taken part in a CPI(M)-led
agitation for higher wages.
The United Front government in Kerala was forced out of office in
October 1969, as the CPI, RSP, KTP and Muslim League ministers
resigned. E.M.S. Namboodiripad handed in his resignation on
. A coalition government led by
CPI leader C. Achutha Menon
was formed, with the outside
support of the Indian National
Elections in West Bengal and Kerala
Fresh elections were held in West Bengal in 1969. CPI(M) contested
97 seats, and won 80. The party was now the largest in the West
Bengal legislative. But with the active support of CPI and the
Bangla Congress, Ajoy Mukherjee was returned as Chief Minister of
the state. Mukherjee resigned on March 16, 1970, after a pact had
been reached between CPI, Bangla Congress and the Indian National
Congress against CPI(M). CPI(M) strove to form a new government,
instead but the central government put the state under President's
In Kerala fresh elections were held in 1970. CPI(M) contested 73
seats and won 29. After the election Achutha Menon formed a new
ministry, including ministers from the Indian National
Formation of CITU
Following the 1964 split, CPI(M) cadres had remained active with
the All India Trade Union
. But as relations between CPI and CPI(M) soured, with
the backdrop of confrontations in West Bengal and Kerala, a split
also surfaced in the AITUC. In December 1969, eight CPI(M) members
walked out of an AITUC Working Committee meeting. The eight called for
an All India Trade Union Convention, which was held in Goa April 9-10,
The convention decided that an All India Trade Union
Conference be held on May 28-31 in Calcutta. The Calcutta
conference would be the founding conference of the Centre of
Indian Trade Unions, a new pro-CPI(M) trade union
Outbreak of war in East Pakistan
Bangladesh (formerly East
Pakistan) declared its independence from Pakistan.
The Pakistani military tried to quell the
uprising. India intervened militarily and gave active backing to
the Bangladeshi resistance
. Millions of
Bangladeshi refugees sought shelter in India, especially in West
At the time the radical sections of the Bangladeshi communist
movement was divided into many faction
. Whilst the pro-Soviet Communist Party of Bangladesh
actively participated in the resistance struggle, the pro-China
communist tendency found itself in a peculiar situation as China
had sided with Pakistan in the war. In Calcutta, where many
Bangladeshi leftists had sought refugee, CPI(M) worked to
coordinate the efforts to create a new political organization. In
the fall of 1971 three small groups, which were all hosted by the
CPI(M), came together to form the Bangladesh Communist
. The new party became the sister party of CPI(M) in
1971 General Election
Martyrs Column in Haripad,
With the backdrop of the Bangladesh War and the emerging role of
as a populist national
leader, the 1971 election to the Lok Sabha
was held. CPI(M) contested 85 seats, and won in 25. In total the
party mustered 7510089 votes (5.12% of the national vote). 20 of
the seats came from West Bengal (including Somnath Chatterjee
, elected from
Burdwan), 2 from Kerala (including A.K. Gopalan, elected from
Trichur), 2 from Tripura (Biren Dutta and Dasarath Deb
) and 1 from Andhra Pradesh.
In the same year, state legislative elections were held in three
states; West Bengal, Tamil Nadu and Orissa. In West Bengal CPI(M)
had 241 candidates, winning 113 seats. In total the party mustered
4241557 votes (32.86% of the state-wide vote). In Tamil Nadu CPI(M)
contested 37 seats, but drew blank. The party got 259298 votes
(1.65% of the state-wide vote). In Orissa the party contested 11
seats, and won in two. The CPI(M) vote in the state was 52785 (1.2%
of the state-wide vote).
1970s, 1980s, 1990s
1977 election, the CPI(M) gained the majority in the Legislative
Assembly of the State of West Bengal, defeating the Congress (I).
became the chief minister of West Bengal, an office he held until
his retirement in 2000. The CPI(M) has held the majority in the
West Bengal government continuously since 1977.
2007 Nandigram conflict
January 2007 the controversies over the economic policies of the
West Bengal government were brought to the fore in the Nandigram dispute in which farmers in the
Nandigram area protested against an alleged government plan
to enact compulsory purchase of their farmland to make way for a
petrochemical complex proposed by the Indonesian Salim Group.
February 17-18 the CPI(M) politburo intervened in the issue and
halted the founding of SEZs until the SEZ Act would have been
revised. On March 14, 2007, 14 villagers were killed and 70 were
wounded as 4,000 heavily armed police entered the area on command
of the Left Front government. The killings led to heavy criticism
of the CPI(M) from opposition parties, other sections of the left
and NGOs. In the ensuing violence, CPI(M) cadres and sympathisers
were driven away from the area, CPI(M) sources claimed that 2,000
of their followers had to live in nearby refugee camps. Throughout
2007, CPI(M) and opposition parties traded mutual allegations of
killings and other violent crimes. Violence flared up again in
November 2007, as hundreds of CPI(M) followers re-entered the
barricaded areas in Nandigram.
The Comptroller and
Auditor General of India
, in a report said that Pinaryi Vijayan
(member of Politburo and Kerala state secretary of CPI(M)) had
struck a deal as electricity minister of Kerala in 1998 with
, a Canadian firm,
for the repair of three generators, which was a huge fraud and had
cost the state exchequer a staggering Rs 3.76 billion. On 16
January 2007, Kerala High Court ordered a CBI
enquiry into the SNC Lavalin case.. On 21 January 2009, CBI filed a
progress report on the investigation in the Kerala high court.
Pinarayi Vijayan has been named as the 9th accused in the case..
CPM has backed Vijayan saying the case is politically motivated.
The CPM led Kerala Governemnt decided not to let Vijayan to be
prosecuted in the case. Overruling the cabinet recommendation, the
Governeor allowed CBI to prosecute Vijayan based on prima facie
evidence. This is first time in the history of the party a
politburo member is being prosecuted in a corruption case .
Disciplinary Action Against V.S. Achuthanandan
On 12 July 2009, CPIM central committee has decided to remove
Kerala chief minister V.S. Achuthanandan from its politburo. This
decision invoked widespread criticism from general public and party
workers, as the decision looked favoring Pinarayi Vijayan who is
accused in a multi-crore corruption case and against the
anti-corruption stand taken by V.S..
The CPI(M) faces criticism from leftwing sectors regarding its
governance policies. Some CPI(M) insiders have also raised
questions about CPI(M) compromising with corporate interests.
Budhadeb Bhattacharya's own cabinet minister (Land Reform Minister)
and CPI(M) leader Abdul Razzak
opposed Buddhadeb's supposedly "neo-liberal
" line. He opposed the provisions of
the land acquisition bill in the West Bengal state assembly. Former
West Bengal finance minister and former CPI(M) Rajya Sabha member
Dr. Ashok Mitra
also expressed his
disagreements with what he sees as CPI(M)'s ideological shift
towards economic liberalisation.
In Kerala, Prof. M.N. Vijayan
, former editor of the CPI(M) owned
“Deshabhimani weekly”, argued that CPI(M) policies are now
influenced by neoliberalism
rebelled against the influence of foreign fund on party
functioning, influence of capital in the cultural field, and
attempt to replace class politics with that of identity politics
. Under M.N. Vijayan's
leadership, in Kerala Adhinivesa Prathirodha Samithi (Council for
Resisting Imperialist Globalisation), was formed.
, a CPI(M) economist,
has also questioned the influence of the logic of industrialisation
using the Grande Industry route as being the sine qua non of
industrial policy in West Bengal..
CPI(M) got 5.66% of votes polled in last parliamentary election
and it has 43 MPs. It won 42.31% on an average in the 69 seats it
contested. It supported the new Indian National Congress
government, but without becoming a part of it. On 9
July 2008 it formally withdrew support from the UPA government
explaining this by differences about the Indo-US nuclear deal and
the IAEA Safeguards Agreement in particular.
Bengal and Tripura it
participates in the Left Front.
Kerala the party is part of the Left Democratic Front.
Nadu it was part of the ruling Democratic Progressive
Alliance led by the DMK.
However, it has
since withdrawn support.
members in Great
Britain are in the electoral front Unity for Peace and Socialism
with the Communist Party of
Britain and the British domiciled sections of the Communist Party of Bangladesh
and the Communist Party of
It is standing 13 candidates in the
London-wide list section of the London
elections in May 2008.
of 2004, the party claimed a membership of 867 763.
CPI(M) leaders at the 18th party
The current general secretary of CPI(M) is Prakash Karat.
party congress of CPI(M), held in Coimbatore March 29-April 3, 2008 elected a Central Committee
with 87 members.
The Central Committee later elected a
The senior most member, V.S.
was removed from
the Polit Bureau on July 12, 2009.
The 19th congress saw the departure of the last two members of the
Polit Bureau who had been on the original Polit Bureau in 1964,
Harkishen Singh Surjeet
State Committee secretaries
The principal mass organizations of CPI(M)
Ganamukti Parishad is a major
mass organization amongst the tribal peoples
of the state.
In Kerala the Adivasi Kshema Samithi
, a tribal
organisation is controlled by CPI(M).
This apart, on the cultural front as many as 12 major organisations
are led by CPI(M).
From the Centre, two weekly newspapers are published, People's
(English) and Lok Lehar
central theoretical organ of the party is The Marxist
published quarterly in English.
As of 2008, CPI(M) leads state governments in three states, West
Bengal, Kerala and Tripura. Chief ministers belonging to the party
are Buddhadeb Bhattacharya, V.S. Achuthanandan and Manik Sarkar. In
West Bengal and Tripura, the party had a majority of its own in the
state assemblies, but governs together with Left Front partners. In
Kerala, the party is the largest component of the Left Democratic
CPI(M) is often called मार्क्सवादी
कमयुनिस्ट पार्टी (Marksvadi Kamyunist Party
). The official party name in Hindi is however
Bharatiya Kamyunist Party (Marksvadi)
During the initial period after the split 1964, the party was often
referred to as 'Left Communist Party' or 'Communist Party of India
(Left)'. The CPI was then, in the same parlance, dubbed as the
'Rightist Communist Party'. The party decided to adopt the name
'Communist Party of India (Marxist)' ahead of the March 1965 Kerala
Legislative Assembly election, in order to obtain an election
Splits and offshoots
number of parties have been formed as a result of splits from the
CPI(M), such as Communist Party of
India , Marxist
Communist Party of India, Marxist Coordination
Committee in Jharkhand, Janathipathiya Samrakshana
Samithy, Communist Marxist
Party and BTR-EMS-AKG
Janakeeya Vedi in Kerala, Party of Democratic
Socialism in West
Morcha in Tripura, the Ram Pasla
group in Punjab, Orissa Communist
Party in Orissa, etc.
In the 2009 Lok Sabha
the party lost several seats in two of its
strongholds, West Bengal and Kerala, whilst retaining dominance in
the third stronghold, Tripura.
Party related websites