Democratic centralism – ‘freedom of thought (sic.) and unity in action’? Rajinder Chaudhary

This is a guest post by RAJINDER CHAUDHARY; you can view his previous post on democratic centralism, on Kafila here.

The title of this note uses a quotation from ‘On Democratic Centralism’ by Com Prakash Karat carried in The Marxist, XXVI, 1, January-March 2010. This piece by the then General Secretary of the CPI(M) and the constitution of CPI(M) available on its official site (as updated in October 2015) throws interesting insights into operationalisation of the principle of democratic centralism, which recently once again came into public view in the Jagmati Sangwan episode. (All quotations henceforth are from either of these two documents.)

            Prima facie ‘unity in action’ appears quite desirable but is it really so in all situations? Does it require to ‘bind the entire collective into implementing that decision’ in all situations as Karat argues, or ‘the individual shall subordinate himself to the will of the collective’ as article XIII 1(b) of party constitution requires? Do all actions-decisions that a communist party undertakes in a parliamentary democracy like ours are of the war like situation requiring marshalling of all resources without exception? Obviously, all organisational decisions cannot be equally crucial to require binding the whole organization to it. Why can’t there be freedom of action where some members or units decide to focus on health issues and others on educational issues, and some may refrain from either? Why can’t some members/units try particular tactics of organization, follow a calendar of their own and others a different one? If it sounds that one is stretching the centralism aspect a bit too far, it may be noted that Karat points out that the ‘democracy is practiced, before the conference when the political line is being formulated. Centralism comes in when the line is being implemented’, ‘when the party is formulating its policies, at the time of conferences etc., there will be democracy in action, free discussions within the party forums. Once a call for action is given, the aspect of centralism will predominate’. As if defining the political line once in three years, clinches everything and thereafter, on no other issues independent and dencentralised decisions can be taken. In fact article XXXIII of the party constitution, makes it explicit that democratic centralism means “the centralised leadership based on inner-Party democracy under the guidance of the centralised leadership”. There is a whole article on “Inner-Party Discussions” (article XXI) which states thatState Committee can initiate inner-Party discussion on an important question of Party policy concerning that particular State… with the approval of the Central Committee” (emphasis added). So, even discussion at state level on state issues can only be initiated with the approval of the Central Committee (and off course format has to be approved too). This amply clarifies the meaning of ‘freedom of thought (sic.) and unity in action’ and where emphasis lies in ‘democratic centralism’. No wonder many times one has come across situation where Party members are just curious to know what the party line on particular issue was and not the detailed arguments and would not speak on a current issue until unless party line was clear.

Continue reading “Democratic centralism – ‘freedom of thought (sic.) and unity in action’? Rajinder Chaudhary”

सी पी एम के भीतर जनतांत्रिक विरोध के अधिकार का प्रश्न – जगमती सांगवान के बहाने

सी पी एम या भारतीय कम्युनिस्ट पार्टी (मार्क्सवादी) पिछले दिनों अपनी एक सदस्य की वजह से खबर में रही. अनुशासनहीनता के कारण जगमती सांगवान को पार्टी से निकालने का निर्णय किया गया,ऐसी सूचना उसके वक्तव्य में दी गई है. जगमती पार्टी की केन्द्रीय समिति की सदस्य थीं.

जगमती सांगवान को पार्टी से निकाला बाद में गया, केन्द्रीय समिति की बैठक के दौरान ही पहले वे बाहर निकल आई थीं और प्रेसवालों के सामने पार्टी छोड़ने का ऐलान कर दिया था.लेकिन कम्युनिस्ट पार्टी में ही नहीं,किसी भी पार्टी में शायद ही किसी सदस्य को खुद पार्टी से अलग होने का गौरव लेने दिया जाता रहा हो! यह फैसला पार्टी ही कर सकती है कि सदस्य का रिश्ता पार्टी से कैसा और कितना लंबा होगा.इसलिए कम से कम इस आधार पर सी पी एम की आलोचना करने के पहले पार्टियों के तंत्र की आलोचना करने की आवश्यकता होगी. Continue reading “सी पी एम के भीतर जनतांत्रिक विरोध के अधिकार का प्रश्न – जगमती सांगवान के बहाने”

The Sin and the Error : Ravi Sinha

Guest Post by RAVI SINHA

…it takes an error to father a sin. ─ J. Robert Oppenheimer[1]

Future historians of India may well describe the past year as a year of political sin. This was the year in which the man who had earlier presided over the Gujarat Carnage was awarded the ultimate prize. The year saw an election that touched a new low marked by shallowness, vulgarities and lies – in no small measure by the labors of the man himself. Equally appalling have been the exertions of a large class of literati and glitterati to portray philistinism and inanities spouted by the most powerful mouth as wisdom of a visionary leader.

An entire country seems to have gone blind – unable to see that the emperor has no clothes. In this age of incessant television it should be obvious to anyone that the supreme leader does not carry conviction even when enunciating relatively higher banalities. He is at his natural best only when he mocks someone as a shehzada or slanders and vilifies an entire community through phrases such as ame paanch, amara pachees. It is an irony of history that the republic which had Nehru as its first prime minister has one now for whom even common mythology is too cerebral. He must vulgarize Pushpak Viman and Ganesha and reduce them to quackeries of aviation and surgery.

Misfortune of the nation goes beyond the man. Forces of the diabolic housed in the hydra-headed Parivaar can now accomplish the impossible. They can now occupy the political center stage without leaving off the lunatic fringe. They can adopt Gandhi without renouncing Godse; erect world’s tallest statue of a leader who had punished their forefathers for assassinating Gandhi; even co-opt Bhagat Singh without batting an eyelid about what he stood for and what he had to say about ideologies like theirs. They can further refine the art of doublespeak. Their “statesmen” can pave the way for corporate plunder and call it sab ka vikas (development for all). Their “ideologues” can advocate sab ka saath (inclusion of all) by exhorting Hindu women to give birth to a minimum of four children each, lest Hindus are reduced to a minority “in their own country”. Continue reading “The Sin and the Error : Ravi Sinha”

AAP’s Divide & Rule: Satya Sagar

Guest post by Satya Sagar

While the Indian media goes ballistic over the possibility of a split in the Aam Aadmi Party and ardent supporters stand demoralised, for me this is probably the best news I have heard since the party’s historic win in the recent Delhi assembly elections. I love anything with ‘splittist tendencies’.

The reason is simple. For anyone even vaguely familiar with the nature of living systems, particularly microbial life (and this is a bacterial planet we live on) one of its fundamental characteristics is ‘divide and rule’. Let me explain in more detail, before Markandeya Katju accuses me of being a ‘British agent’.

Basically, anything that possesses life, propagates and spreads its influence only through the process of splitting itself repeatedly till it finds its true balance within the larger ecosystem. All of evolution is possible only because of the constant churning, that results in repeated mutation of basic genetic structures, from which the most durable and relevant ones survive.

Lifeless, inanimate objects on the other hand, by definition, do not possess any internal contradictions and can move around only when pushed by external forces. In political terms it is simple to understand this point – when was the last time the Congress, BJP or for that matter CPI or CPM split anywhere?  If there is no opinion at all, there can’t be a ‘difference of opinion’ too. Continue reading “AAP’s Divide & Rule: Satya Sagar”

From dynasty to plain nasty: Satya Sagar

  Guest post by SATYA SAGAR

The shocking spectacle of Siddharth Varadarajan, the Editor of The Hindu, being forced out of his post by a cabal of its owners is a brutal reminder to journalists all over the country that however fine a professional you may be you will always remain at the mercy of media proprietors.

Just around two years ago when N. Ram, the then Editor of The Hindu, passed on the mantle to Varadarajan, a highly respected and independent journalist, he had touted the move as a radical shift away from being a family run outfit to one headed by professionals.

Ram’s motives were neither clear nor very noble, engaged as he was in a bitter struggle with his siblings over control of the newspaper. Still, for the newspaper to move away from its long tradition of tight family control was a welcome, positive departure in a land where dynasties run everything from politics and religion to cricket and cinema.

Unfortunately, this flowering of corporate democracy was not to last too long. Ultimately the family managed to strike back with a vengeance, ganging up in a Board of Director’s meeting to demote Siddharth from the post of Editor to ‘Contributing Editor and Senior Columnist’ prompting his immediate resignation. Continue reading “From dynasty to plain nasty: Satya Sagar”

Mad Rush for Top CPM Jobs!: CPI (Mohammad Rafi) News Service

Guest Post by CPI ( Mohammad Rafi) News Service

Mad Rush for Top CPM Jobs!:  CPI (Mohammad Rafi) News Service

New Delhi, 15 July 2012: The CPI(M) headquarters saw a mad rush of job applicants after General Secretary Prakash Karat said in a magazine interview that his party paid Rs. 3000-4000 to its whole-time cadre as salary every month. Job seekers from around the country clamoured for immediate appointment to as full time party cadre amidst unruly scenes reminiscent of a typical day at the Indian Parliament.

Karat had mentioned this figure while answering a question as to why the Party’s leaders were mostly from upper caste and middle class backgrounds. According to the CPM General Secretary working class members were hesitant to become whole-timers as ‘ it’s not easy to survive on this small amount’. Continue reading “Mad Rush for Top CPM Jobs!: CPI (Mohammad Rafi) News Service”

Mamata’s order that stoked the media war: Independent Observer

[This is a guest post by an independent journalist journalist and in Kolkata]

How difficult is to make a choice between the Caligula and the powerful senators who plotted against him, purportedly to save Rome from the populist-turned paranoid emperor?
The question comes to one’s mind in view of the ongoing public spat between Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee and a powerful section of Bengal media which has virtually likened her to a female (a non-libidinous also) version of Caligula. The row, that now involves pro and anti-Mamata media blocs also, has been triggered by a recent government order asking 2500 plus state-run and aided libraries to subscribe, initially, to eight pro-government newspapers —five Bengali, two Urdu and one Hindi— barring the market leaders in these segments. The circular of the state libraries and mass education department cited the ‘promotion of free-thinking’ as the reason behind favouring the chosen newspapers.

However, the issues involved are neither limited to Mamata’s increasing attempts to browbeat critical media as the aggrieved houses are complaining about nor her well-meaning effort to support ‘small’, resource-starved newspapers against their big brothers as she herself and beneficiaries of her patronage are claiming. A closer scrutiny reveals that there are more to it beyond the binary of Oraamra (them and us), now part of Bengal’s political and media lexicon after Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee’s infamous bragging over his government’s brute majority in the state assembly in order to rubbish all opposition to his policies. Continue reading “Mamata’s order that stoked the media war: Independent Observer”