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Lal Nishan Party merges with CPI, calls this a precursor for unification of Left forces

Ashwin Aghor | Updated on: 10 August 2017, 21:56 IST
(Ashwin Aghor)

You can call it a strange twist: Some three-quarters of a century ago some comrades had dissociated themselves from Communist Party of India (CPI) over Quit India movement. The fledgling party had opposed it; the group that split supported the anti-colonial movement and later formed the Lal Nishan Party (LNP).

On Thursday, at a time when the country is celebrating 75 years of Bharat Chhodo, that party (now restricted majorly to Maharashtra) walked back into the CPI.

The official merger will take place on 18 August in Mumbai. Will this lead to bigger things? CPI leaders feel so.

“We have always been in favour of a single communist party in the country instead of fragmented groups. The merger with LNP will work as catalyst for the process. We have already sent a proposal to Communist Party of India (Marxist) (CPM) for unification. I hope, it will materialise soon,” said CPI Secretary Bhalachandra Kango. 

The Communist movement has seen several splits in India. Most notably, CPM split from CPI in 1964 over the 1962 India-China war. Half-a-decade down the line the Communist Party of India (Marxist-Leninist) split from the CPM, in turn. Them apart, there have been numerous other Left parties/blocs.

Of late, however, the Left has weakened both electorally and organisationally. From more or less a pan-India presence they have shrunk to mostly Kerala, Tripura and West Bengal. Unsurprisingly, the call for increased Left unity has been gaining ground.

On Thursday, Kango said on the backdrop of the current socio-political situation in the country, communist unification was the need of the hour. “We want to unite all the people and parties who believe in the Marxist ideology. It will help in ushering in much needed socio-political reforms in the country,” he said.

“I am highly optimistic that other communist parties and people who believe in Marxist ideology, will appreciate the CPI–LNP merger and follow suit,” he added. 

Kango said that the merger materialised after discussions and deliberations for over a year. “All the communist parties in the country are working for the same goal, but under different banners. Now the time has come that everyone comes together and fought in a united manner. The factors that resulted in the split in CPI 75 years ago do not exist today. So it is only natural and obvious that LNP and CPI came together.”

“Even after the split, LNP had been steadfastly committed to the goal of unification of left forces in the country. Communist unification was our main agenda for the last seven and half decades. Despite having eight MLAs in 1960, we decided not to contest elections after that as it would have harmed the mass base of CPI,” said LNP Secretary Milind Ranade.  

Instead, the party concentrated on developing a mass base at the grass root level among unorganised labourers in various sectors such as PWD, sugar mills, etc. 

“Though they were suspended from the party, these leaders and their followers continued to work for labour welfare through Navjivan Sanghatana and adhered to Marxism. “The present government at the centre led by Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) is working for international and Indian capitalists. This government has destroyed the labour movement in the country,” Ranade said.

According to LNP President MA Patil, “Factors that led to split in CPI in 1964 have become irrelevant in present international and national political context. Two major communist parties CPI and CPI(M) along with other communist and Left parties are working together. The points of differences are outweighed by the points of consensus.

"Even the differences are not of fundamental nature. As we merge with CPI, we once again underscore the necessity of unification of all communist parties, organisations and individuals. We appeal to everyone that they take a step forward in this direction and build one single communist party to defend and deepen democracy to build socialist society.”

First published: 10 August 2017, 21:57 IST