Communist Party of India


Communist Party of India
(CPI)
   According to its official history, the Communist Party of India was formed in 1925, though it spent its early years as something of a disjointed unit impeded by British-enforced illegality. In 1935 the CPI joined the Third International, and in line with Soviet popular front advocacy the party dropped its criticism of parliamentary democracy and joined the Indian National Congress by virtue of an alliance with the Congress Socialist Party. Though the CPI was expelled from this union in 1940, it had already attained influence in several Indian states, and party members remained in the National Congress. At the close of World War II, the party was legalized, and its profile was further raised through its involvement in the Quit India campaign, which aimed to end British colonial rule in the country. This aim achieved in 1947, the CPI moved leftwards and began to advocate the use of violence to prompt revolution, encouraging peasant militias to become embroiled in armed struggles against regional feudal monarchs. This policy came to an abrupt halt in 1951 following the violent crushing of a rebellion in Telangana state.
   From this point onwards, the CPI pledged itself to bringing about communism via the ballot box and not the barrel of a gun. The early consequences of this decision were positive, with the CPI becoming the largest opposition party at the 1957 general election, and the first to assume control of an entire Indian state, Kerala. However, this buoyancy came to an abrupt halt when the government declared President’s Rule in 1959, and CPI gains were annulled. The CPI suffered further turmoil in 1962 as party members entered into a divisive quarrel over the Sino–Indian War. Pro-Muscovite elements backed the Indian government, while other CPI members rallied behind China owing to its status as a communist country. Many in the latter group found themselves under arrest, and in 1964 broke away to form the Communist Party of India (Marxist). CPI strength never reached its early 1960s peak again as a result, though the party has continued to exist as a minor opposition group.

Historical dictionary of Marxism. . 2014.

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