Com. Chandra Pulla Reddy, affectionately called comrade CP, was the creator, organiser, leader and inspirer of the prestigious Godavari Valley Resistance Movement of the erstwhile united Andhra Pradesh State. Many don’t know that the other name of Godavari Valley was/is Chandra Pulla Reddy. There are numerous folk songs dedicated to him and his heroic courage shown in the Godavari Valley Struggles. The comrades of his time have written that ”The other name for Godavari Valley movement is Com. Chandra Pulla Reddy. It might be the name of an individual at one time, but today it symbolizes people’s resistance struggles.”
Once the most scenic place in Andhra, Godavari Valley, later after 1968 and onward, became famous for the Armed People’s Resistance Struggle organised and led by Comrade CP Reddy. This was in the tradition of and in continuation of Naxalbari peasant uprising. Naxalbari was previously a remote and unknown place in Darjeeling District of West Bengal till 1967 when it became well-known as the place where the famous Spring Thunder occurred and since then it became a symbol of unrelenting revolutionary struggle against the capitalist-landlord state. Later on, Srikakulam, that lies in the North Coastal region and was a backward region, then constantly plagued by drought and poverty, also became known as one of the regions of the most heroic people’s armed struggle after Naxalbari. Thus, Naxalbari, Srikakulam and Godavari Valley resonate the most in the history of revolutionary struggles of India after 60’s that hailed Marxism-Leninism-Mao Zedong Thought and proclaim that the Path of Indian Revolution is that of People’s War. They have been the most widely known centres of the most heroic revolutionary struggles. Comrade CP Reddy’s name is permanently and indissolubly associated with these and in a particular sense, he was the tallest figure among his contemporaries.
He Always Stood For Genuine Unity Of Revolutionaries
He not only stood for the idea of Unity of Revolutionaries, but also fought for this throughout his life. Com CP believed that the lack and weakness of a revolutionary party is one of the main problems of the Indian Revolution. He rightly used to say that ‘it is the subjective element i.e. the weakness of the revolutionary organizations that is delaying the Indian revolution.’ This is true even now. He always believed that ‘the revolutionary situation prevailing in the country is conducive for the onward march of Indian revolution but it is the disunity and splits in the ranks of revolutionaries which is delaying the revolution.’
He always stood for a genuine unity of revolutionaries. He always emphasized that the supreme need of Indian Revolution is the unity of revolutionary organizations and individuals with similar or near similar views on a Revolutionary Program and thereafter enhancing and boosting the morale and the struggle of the people. But it is true that the trend of disunity was the main trend which emerged first with the rise of Left and later Right Opportunism that reigned supreme after the time following the end of Emergency in particular. So, what we see is that though he wanted and strived for unity, yet he became not only unsuccessful but also fed up with people like Com Satya Narayan Singh who tried to split the party again in 1984 in the name of requesting for unity by which he meant reverting back to the age of co-ordination. There is a mischievous attempt on the part of many to conceal the fact that when CP came to know that Comrade SN Singh wanted to form a co-ordination in the name of unity in 1984, he withdrew his attempts even to meet him once while a few CC comrades of his CC were always pressurising for this and had actually broken the unity of the party from within in this name. There is a dirty history to this. This was the third split in the party after Emergency and had naturally hurt him much.
He suffered sudden and repeating heart attacks in the train while journeying alone to Calcutta where he was going to have a talk with his most trusted comrade-in-arms comrade Phani Bagchi to discuss the post-split situations. By the time he reached Calcutta, the third and a very serious attack came. First heart attack came while he was in the train. Because of his underground life and the danger of arrest, he couldn’t summon railway medical services for immediate arrangement of his treatment. Till he anyhow reached his destination in Calcutta, third attack had already come. The comrades of Calcutta rushed him to Hospital and was past half way before being operated while his whereabout was clandestinely flashed in the newspapers of Andhra by some traitors of the party after which he was forced to be transferred to some other hospital. It was impossible to get him operated while keeping his identity secret once his stay in Calcutta was made known to the State and as expected he couldn’t survive the delay in operation, too, and died in the meantime while hasty preparations were being undertaken to transfer him secretly to other hospital. Com CP thus died on November 9, 1984. Later the CC decided to call him Martyred as he died because his treatment wasn’t allowed by the state.
It is heartfully interesting to remember a coincidence of his life. The state level top committee had decided to send CP to work in strategic areas of Godavari Valley in 1968 November where he immediately went on November 9th. This is the same day, 16 years later, he died in 1984 due to severe heart attack as told earlier in this article. He died all suddenly without having completed a lot of urgent work he had taken up. Just before he breathed his last, he had spoken about it to comrades surrounding him.
His close comrades used to cite this fact about him that all along in his 16 years of underground life, he always expressed his ardent desire that police must not be able or allowed to get hold of his dead body and his ashes. The comrades fulfilled his desire but with a high cost. To my mind, CP himself would have ordered the comrades surrounding him to get him transferred to another place even if it meant his certain death.
His body was then taken to AP where he lived and worked. This all was done so secretly that AP police even could not smell it. Till he was cremated the news of his death wasn’t announced. Thus, police couldn’t catch hold of his body and ashes even after his death as was his last wish. This news was also carried by TOI on the editorial page, in which it was said that police was unable to catch hold of his body even after his death. When his death was announced and a repeat of his funeral was organised, there arose a sea of grieving, weeping and wailing people, forming an everlasting queue to pay homage to their departed inspirer, leader, comrade and friend.
His Journey To Revolutionary Struggles
Com CP’s journey to Revolution is exceptionally long and tumultuous. He was born in 1917 at Velugodu village which currently comes under Kurnool District in a middle level landlord family. He completed his secondary and high school in Kurnool. After this he went to pursue higher studies to Madras where he did his F.A. While in Madras, he had started participating in various students’ movements including Anti-British movements. Later, when he joined Guindy engineering college in Madras, then in his very first year he fought and objected strongly against the principal’s order to make a scheduled caste student sit in the last row. He mobilized a student movement against caste discrimination and led it to victory. But he had to pay a price for this. He was rusticated from the college by the principal. Later when CP’s father took him to the principal, he demanded an apology in lieu of re-admission, but young CP squarely refused to apologize, though his father continuously pleaded for it in front of the principal in his chamber. The principal, however, had to re-admit him, of course, without an apology, under the pressure of students’ movement.
It was the period in early 40’s when the anti-British Colonial struggle was surging ahead in India, as also in AP and at the same time Soviet Red Army was making advances in the second world war by launching heavy counter-assault on the German Fascist Army. Com CP was active in this movement from the very beginning. He left his engineering studies in the middle and became an active organizer in this struggle. He was arrested and sent to Alipore jail by the British for 6 months. After his release, pressure was built by his family on him to re-join engineering college, but he refused to budge. By then, he was already shouldering responsibilities of people’s movement and had become a part of the communist movement which was very young in AP given that communist party was formed in Andhra in just 1933. His role in the then ongoing communist movement can be assessed by the fact that in 1944 Com. CP was elected Kurnool district secretary of the CPI.
Under his leadership, many mass struggles in Kurnool district were organised, launched and conducted successfully. People occupied thousands of acres of land under his leadership. Seeing his ability, he was elected to the State Committee in 1944. He also led mass organizations under his direct leadership.
He was an active participant in the Great Telangana Armed Struggles that greatly inspired him. He had put a plan to extend the Telangana movement to other areas and as a part of the plan he worked in Nallamala Forests as per the decision and instruction of the party. He also worked in neighbouring Mehboob Nagar district to expand the Telangana movement as a part of the plan to staunchly oppose and defeat the line of withdrawal of the movement and succeeded in holding positions on the ground in spite of the incipient revisionist leadership trying everything to suppress him. He became so popular that the party asked him to fight state assembly elections from Nandyal, although he lost because of severe repression. The situation prevailing at that time is vividly expressed by the fact that he was arrested in 1949 for more than 3 years and released only when the announcement of 1952 elections were made. This time, he successfully fought from Nandikotkur assembly constituency. It is a well acknowledged fact that he spoke for 6 hours at one stretch on a single day on the problems of Rayalaseema people in the Madras Assembly. It had surprised one and all. The entire assembly heard him with stunning silence. His speech was later brought out as a booklet.
When Khrushchev’s neo-revisionism raised its head, he fought against it along with the communists of the whole world. Against Khrushchev, nine Commentaries were released by the CPC and he immediately supported this and fought for this in the party. As a result, he became very popular in the revolutionary sections of the party rank and file. However, this crisis led to a split in 1964.
He staunchly opposed the revisionist theories of Khrushchev and his ilk. At the same time, he supported the revolutionary positions of the CPC and the Albanian Party. The debate also arose about how to characterize the 1947 transfer of power. He supported the position that the 1947 independence was sham and not real. The debate was also very acute on the question of Telangana Armed Struggle. There was an intense debate on the issue of Indo-China war. In all these, he always took correct and revolutionary positions.
It is a well-known fact that the CPI leadership of that time was divided and one of the leading factions at that time was one that supported the ruling classes, whether on the question of Indo-China war or on the question of Telangana Struggle or on the question of Khrushchev’s revisionism. It had become a lackey of Khrushchevite revisionism. It opposed China blindly, while it had from the very beginning supported the line of withdrawal of Telangana Armed Struggle after Nehru’s army entered into the scene in September 1948 and supported national chauvinism on the question of Indo-China war that took place in 1962. It had also opposed the protracted people’s war right from the very beginning. That very faction hailed India’s ruling class as a ruling class independent of imperialism or even called it anti-imperialism. Com CP along with his comrades staunchly and resolutely opposed all such policies.
It is also well known that all those leaders who were opposed to India’s war against China were jailed by Nehru Government. Com CP was also jailed and from within the jail he wrote ‘International Communist Movement and Developments’ which was hailed as an original work by many leaders including P. Sundaraiah who allegedly even requested CP to write the history of the Indian Communist Movement.
With this and from here, Com CP proved that he was a prolific writer. He wrote articles, booklets, books according to the situations and needs of the movement. He also wrote ‘The Russia-China Debate’ while he was in CPM. This was quite helpful in clarifying the position of the CPC and the CPSU on almost all important ideological-political issues. This book became very popular among cadres as it was of great help to them to understand the core issues involved in the debate.
The CC led by comrade Phani Bagchi had published seven volumes of CP’s selected writings, but there are several other unpublished writings that are yet to be published.
Com CP was the first to launch ideological-political struggle against the revisionist leadership of China after the demise of Mao. As he was a staunch supporter of comrade Mao and his thought. He wrote a book called ‘Defend Mao and Mao Tse Tung’s Thought’ in which CPC’s 1981 resolution ‘On some problems of history’ was analysed and warning were issued in case China pursued revisionism. He gave a clear warning of things to come in future. Later he wrote few more articles on the revisionism in the Chinese Party. The ‘Creative Marxism of CPC’ is an important work as in this he explained how the CPC was following a revisionist policy in its internal as well as external affairs. CPC in those days had initiated a pro- ruling class line in relation to India. He exposed how it goes against the path Mao followed till his death in relation to China. It was CPC under Mao who had supported the Spring Thunder over India. Later, the fact that China became a capitalist-imperialist country has proved the correctness of comrade CP as he had warned the revolutionary camp for the first time about in 1978 itself. Now almost all the progressive and revolutionary circles accept that China has turned not only capitalist but is also set to become an imperialist country as it is not only exporting finance capital but also competing with western imperialist powers, mainly US imperialism, to re-divide the world to have a greater share of loot of resources, labour and market.
CPI was split in 1964. After the split, CPI(M) was formed, but it also immediately slid into revisionism i.e. neo-revisionism. It had started adopting the same policies of CPI under a different cover. For example, instead of fighting against Khrushchevite revisionism, it made all attempts to actually follow it by adopting the tactics of opposing in words but supporting in deeds. It also took a line of equidistance with respect to Soviet and Chinese Party that was fighting the new Soviet leaders’ revisionism. It also didn’t support Enver Hoxha’s fight against Khrushchevite revisionism. Therefore, another ideological, political struggle had become inevitable. Within four years, another struggle came up fiercely in CPI(M).
In this, too, comrade CP stood in the fore front exposing the CPM revisionism.
In April 1967, CPM leadership released a draft document called ‘New Tasks for the Party in the Changed Conditions’ for discussion. It was Com CP who immediately submitted his criticism to the politburo in May 1967 as it contained a shift to a political line loaded with a clandestine support to pro-Soviet revisionist policies in the international field. It had also put forth a wrong picture of national and international situations and had sought to adopt revisionist policies in the party.
After this, CPM leadership released another set of three draft documents in 1967 August, namely ‘On some ideological issues, Programme and On left sectarianism’ (this one was an attack on those pursuing revolutionary line in Bengal). The CPM leadership declared that these were draft documents but also said that there would be no discussion on programme and path. Naturally, it was the sign of a serious ideological-political conflict that CPM leadership sought to suppress by taking to dictatorial attitude and anti-communist organizational practices. The attitude of CPM was not to resolve differences but supress them. It is a historical fact that Com. DV, who was a CCM in the CPM at that time, presented an alternative document but that was also suppressed as the leadership and the majority CC decided not to circulate it among the delegates. As the debate was already going on in the whole party particularly among the lower rung comrades regarding the leadership’s approach to Naxalbari Peasant Movement, these dictatorial organizational attitude and practice led to numerous revolts in the party, particularly in Andhra and Bengal.
However, CP was of the opinion that the revolutionary elements within the CPM must not immediately leave the party but launch strong ideological and political battle in the whole party before breaking and forming another party so that a correct understanding and a correct revolutionary line/program be gradually and solidly be formulated on the basis of an All India Conference by having a patient debate on all the important issues.
Accordingly, when Andhra Plenum of CPM was held in Palakollu in February 1968, an intense struggle was launched by com. CP and his comrades like comrade DV, comrade TN and comrade Kolla Venkaiya. The Central leaders of the party, Sundaraiah and Basava Punnaiah, had also attended the Plenum to explain the CC policies and positions but they could not satisfy and convince the majority party delegates. The questions put forth by the delegates couldn’t be adequately and correctly addressed. The above central leaders i.e. Sundaraiah and Basava Punnaiah had become so perplexed by the volley of questions put forth by the delegates that they started admonishing them. It was comrade CP who was leading from the front. It was he who was entrusted to explain the alternative document jointly prepared by Comrade CP and TN. The result was historic. Out of the 231 attending delegates a huge majority (158) supported the arguments placed by Comrade CP. Only 52 had come out in support of the CC document. The remaining 8 members had remained neutral.
CP’s alternative document contained an explanation of the ideological issues present at that time in the international movement. It also explained about the character of Freedom obtained on 15th of August 1947. It also talked about the character of the Indian big bourgeoisie subservient to Imperialism. It also contained an explanation of the contemporary contradictions in the country and also about the united front, the right of self-determination to the nationalities and the path of Indian revolution which was primarily based on the agrarian revolution as the axis. Com CP had emerged in that plenum as the most vocal and able challenger of CPM’s revisionism, as a leader who was capable of defeating the neo-revisionist line of CPM in AP.
This showed the correctness of CP’s thinking and line upon which the communist revolutionaries, instead of leaving the party in haste, must have conducted an intense inner party struggle by taking advantage of every platform that was available. But unfortunately, CP’s important suggestions in this regard were not followed. That’s why the revolutionaries could not defeat CPM’s revisionism or even could not fully expose them when the All India Plenum of the party at Burdwan in April 1968 was held. By then, most of the revolutionaries in Bengal and other states had left the CPM in haste without even formulating any All India line, path and organisational way ahead. Those who had already left were not united in their own views, too.
In the above-mentioned plenum i.e. Burdwan All India Plenum held in 1968, it was again Com CP who explained the alternative document to the delegates for about seven hours. He excellently exposed the neo-revisionism of CPM being pursued on all fronts covertly or overtly. In his speech he had severely condemned the repression that was let loose on the Naxalbari movement by the Bengal Government in which CPM’s stalwarts like Jyoti Basu and Hare Krishna Konnar were holding important ministries such as home and agriculture respectively.
After the Plenum, CPM leadership had tried all methods to rope in Andhra’s leading comrades to gain a majority in the PC but failed. Then they took to nominating their followers in Andhra to different committees on the strength of their brute majority in the CC. Comrade CP, Com DV, TN, CP and Kolla Venkaiah, who opposed this openly, were later unilaterally removed from the state secretariat. Then these four comrades wrote an open letter to all party members further exposing the leadership’s revisionism and announcing their own revolutionary view point. This letter was also written by Com CP.
As mentioned above, it is worth repeating here that the struggle against the CPM’s neo-revisionism was not a co-ordinated struggle at all India level. As told before, many revolutionaries had hastily left without waging a struggle. On the one hand, there was no leader of All India stature who was on the side of CP, DV, TN to coordinate this struggle at all India level. On the other hand, state and district level leaders, who felt that CPM’s leaders and CC were pursuing revisionism, left the party in haste following the call of Bengal comrades led by comrade Charu Mazumdar, the architect and the leader of the great Naxalbari Movement. This, in short, was a queer situation for revolutionaries like CP. The surge of Naxalbari spearheaded the whole situation in an emotional manner and the AICCCR as well as the party CPI(ML) were all formed in haste, under the tremendous pressure being exerted by the Naxalbari uprising that needed an all India Party. The Prestige as well as the heat of Naxalbari was too enormous to be defied. This led to very serious deviations in the struggle against the CPM policies as well as in the struggle to build a revolutionary Party and conduct revolutionary struggles. Here I cannot go into its details.
Where as in Andhra this internal debate helped to mobilize most of the rank and file to the side of the revolutionary movement, the same was not repeated in any other state.
In Andhra, the leading state level comrades had decided to stay within CPM till Burdwan plenum to polarize as many as possible in favour of the revolutionary line. But the actual galvanisation of the revolutionaries around a revolutionary program didn’t conclude due to the reasons cited above in the main. This was a very dangerous situation for the revolutionaries of India at that time. If they still continued to stay in CPM, the gain of fight against CPM’s revisionism would go in vain, so, they came out and since many revolutionaries had already come out of CPM, another danger was facing them i.e. the danger of isolationist trend, the danger of impatience in pursuing revolutionary line and struggle. On the whole comrade CP was aware that a left opportunist line was taking shape very fast and with ferocious speed under the banner of AICCCR and CPI(ML). He criticised this, too. But the result was that the Andhra revolutionaries were either expelled or were not allowed to join.
Only in this condition, they had to continue for about 2 months in CPM even after the Burdwan plenum. The credit of following the great tradition of self-criticism also goes to Com CP who announced his self-criticism about this in 1973 state conference of APCCCR. However, those who had criticised participation in state and central plenums didn’t do any such self-criticism even after so many decades when it has been proved beyond doubt that the participation in state and central level plenum had helped to take the revolutionary line and politics into wider sections of the revolutionaries. The mistake was not that they had participated, but the mistake or failure was that they couldn’t successfully organise this ideological struggle at an all India level and the main fault for this lies with them who were impatient and thought that leaving CPM then and there would solve all the problem. History has proved that Comrade CP was correct in his understanding. CP’s effort had at least helped to mobilize the majority section in the party against neo-revisionism in Andhra. The future strength of the Andhra’s Revolutionary Movement lies precisely in this.
The revolutionaries in Bengal wrongly felt that to stay and struggle within CPM for revolutionary line is meaningless as Naxalbari movement had already started and the Bengal Government was bent on suppressing the revolutionary movement. They felt that it will work to increase illusions about neo-revisionists. Communist revolutionaries in most of the states felt likewise that Naxalbari struggle had drawn a line of demarcation between revisionism and neo-revisionism and revolutionary Marxism and that it was no longer a matter of inner debate but of struggle between those who were conducting revolutionary struggle and those suppressing them. There is not much substance in this thinking as the revolutionary struggles of the world teach us differently. To constantly work to expose till not only the revolutionary cadres, but the masses are also won over was the real issue.
What we saw as a result is a history and more or less everyone knows this.
Com. CP had realized the reason of the failure in advancing the mass movement on the people’s war path while conducting the ideological-political struggle. He realized that the failures in formulating correct line and tasks for the movement was the main reason. After the victory of CPM in all India Plenum, by this time, CP knew very well that to implement his thinking is impossible till a truly all India revolutionary Party was formed on the basis of the sound traditions of Marxism-Leninism. He also knew that Naxalbari was surging but at the same time, there were huge losses as many who took the side of the revolutionaries left the revolutionary camp due to incorrect handling and understanding on many important issues as they were not integrated into the movement. It gave the neo- revisionists a chance to mobilize most of them. The emergence of left opportunism further damaged the revolutionary cause quite immensely. This is a history now and most of us know how the great Naxalbari and later Srikakulam struggle became a faded shadow of their own in just a couple of years while we lost innumerable excellent comrades in pursuance of left sectarian line.
Journey After CPM
Comrade CP along with DV, TN and others formed a State Committee (later APCCCR) that had released a circular named ‘Build Areas of Struggle’ to give direction to building the movement at village level and area level. That gave a direction to cadres and it also achieved good results, but it was not a match to what was lost. But there was no option left to Com CP other than to strive hard to implement what he and his comrades thought was revolutionary in the given circumstances. But CP was never satisfied with this. He always strived very hard to implement what he thought was necessary for revolution i.e. an all India Party based on the best tradition of Marxism-Leninism.
The new state committee had given a call in 1968 October to hold a week-long programme to commemorate Telangana Armed Struggle. This was intended to give a direction to the people’s movement and re-orient the movement along a revolutionary path in isolation from other revolutionary movement in the country. To fulfil this task, Com CP wrote ‘The Great Heroic Telangana Armed Struggle’ which was meant to draw lessons from that struggle and enlighten both the ranks of the party and the masses. It was an inspiring piece and till then no one else had written on Telangana armed struggle. Com DV and Sundaraiah wrote only later.
Till 1968, Com. CP was working legally and wasn’t underground. So, he was able to rally thousands in struggles. Hunger Marches led by him are excellent examples of revolutionary mass movements that proved his capabilities as a great organiser and mass leader, too. It must be cited that in Nalgonda district, one such Hunger Marche led to mass raiding the granaries of the landlords in which two of our comrades Com. Pullaiah and Com. Ramulu were killed. Com. CP attended their memorial meetings and utilized it to not only give revolutionary direction to their anger, but also to place before people in general in all details the tasks that confront them and the people. These movements grew further and the state was much terrified by his activities. In this sense, these mass meetings were his last public and open meetings as he was forced to go underground (UG) after these movements because with rising state repression grew the danger of him being arrested and killed as was the tends and tradition of Police atrocities on communist revolutionaries in AP. To send him UG was also aimed at achieving another purpose. Seeing his ability of an all-round organiser of revolutionary movement, the state committee, on his own advice and plan, decided to send him to work and develop revolutionary struggles in Strategic Areas suitable to implement people’s war path. This was the main trend of the revolutionary movement of that period and CP Reddy on his own took a decision to fulfil this task with the consent of his organisation’s leading body. However, the intention was also to prove the fallacy of left adventurist line as practiced in Srikakulam Movement by way of setting practical examples. On the other hand, Congress led State Government was hell bent to arrest CP and finish him either by foisting false cases against him or by any other means. The Congress government had announced a huge reward on him, dead or alive.
Com. CP who went into forests in 1968 November did not come out frequently except for special occasion organised by the party. For example, he came out to attend the 1969 state convention of the party. It shows his strong determination to implement the decision. After that, he again came out in 1974 when revolutionary organizations from different states wanted to discuss unity with him. In that period, he toured Maharashtra, West Bengal and Kerala. He discussed the unity of revolutionaries with them. Comrade Neelam Ramachandraiah was instrumental in bringing about these different organizations to sit together. It may be mentioned that comrade CP discussed with Maharashtra Comrades for three days and nights in a small hut in a paddy field. Com. CP felt strongly that CPM had sold itself to the bourgeoisie and had given up on the path of revolution. He also felt that the tasks necessary to implement revolutionary movement i.e. People’s War with a mass line perspective must be urgently formulated and implemented. He was against the concept of positional advantage in deciding for strategic areas of work. He was of the view that the party must select strategic areas and allot strongest cadres to work in those areas. His complete concentration in Godavari valley was a way to show path to others. And it bore fruit. In just 4 to 5 years, the revolutionary people’s movement without succumbing to left and right deviation grew and developed in the whole of Godavari Valley comprising of many districts. The movement spread to plain areas, too. Just after 1980, the Karimnagar movement led under his direct guidance came out as the most important movement from whose in-depth experience he theorised his special theory of Resistance Struggle as a successful path to people’s war with a mass line perspective. One may differ from the theory on account of many reasons, but it certainly shows his enduring revolutionary practice and endeavour to fight both Right and Left opportunism. While the fire of Naxalbari and Srikakulam extinguished, the revolutionary movement of Godavari valley that was built fighting left and right opportunism was shining in the path of people’s war. It grew amid the severest repression that was let loose in the time of Emergency.
It was his great habit that before he mobilized the masses for struggles, he led to conduct wide political propaganda among the tribals to make clear the real issues behind their problems. Herein lies the key to his success in awakening even the most backward people.
With the steep rise in the forest movement and the participation of large number of people, attacks of the landlords and the police both came and simultaneously with this the issue of self-defence of cadres came pressing to the fore. To move in teams with safety became the rule. With this the left adventurism also raised its head. In 1969 April adventurist attacks were launched against landlords in Pagideru to seize weapons. Hunters with foreign automatic arms were also attacked. This incident had precipitated a crisis within the organization. Being in charge, comrade CP made no delay in doing self-criticism and taking the main responsibility without ifs and buts. He categorically said that though there were many reasons for this incident, he was responsible for its occurrence. He thus again made others learn from this that whatever the reasons, the in-charge must take up the responsibility from the front and come out to correct a wrong trend whenever it occurs. Quoting his words, he courageously said, “this attack is against the essence of the documents of 1969 convention. In them we emphasized on the need to mobilize people for the agrarian revolutionary struggle and on formulating tactics suitable to the consciousness of the people. There is only one main reason behind all these mistakes. I was swayed by left adventurism while integrating peoples’ mobilization with peoples’ resistance”.
Such a trend was nowhere visible among those whose acts of right and left deviations got the whole movement destroyed and detached from the essence of Marxism-Leninism.
After, 1980, the right deviation had become very powerful and was deviating the whole movement including his party comrades in Andhra. Identity politics particularly Dalitism was raising its head everywhere in the revolutionary movement along with regionalism, separatism, religious fundamentalism etc. A fatigue had crept into the mind and body of those comrades who were underground for long time as movement was not picking up all over India with the same speed and intensity. Though it seems clear from his writings that he was aware of the internally debilitating state of the movement, he stood as a rock against right deviation, whereas all others were succumbing to it in the name of taking the movement out of stagnation. Different sorts of hobnobbing with the opposition ruling classes were being tried in the name of fighting the Indira’s authoritarianism or forming Patriotic and Democratic front.
In 1980 itself, the most rabid right deviationist line had attacked and tried to capture the party. It advocated to ally with US as against the USSR and also with all sorts of pro-US regional parties. Right opportunist line came thrusting upon the whole movement. It was only CP who could alone keep fighting by writing articles and as well as by way of showing practical examples.
When a real time had come to assess the whole revolutionary movement with a correct proletarian revolutionary perspective about which he always thought of, he unfortunately became martyred.
Comrade CP Integrated Theory And Practice
Com. CP was also a theoretician. He was a good speaker, too. But more than that, he was a man who integrated theory with practice. He always had time to know what is happening out side in whole of India and the whole world, even when he was involved in practical resistance movement of the forest. He was a great listener too, particularly to poor people. That’s why he could not only impress intellectuals but also the most backward and illiterate tribal people. He was expert in conducting wide ranging surveys before launching struggles. His role in building Godavari valley resistance movement is a shining example to show that he was in the habit of attending to even minor things if it constituted a matter of the movement. He had a great smelling power and could smell a rot in the party or the movement even from a faraway distance and instantly wrote on that. He believed that we have to learn more from the people than to teach them in practical movement. However tired he might be, he always listened to them. He always took notes whether he talked to people, read papers or listened to radio. All the important documents were always ready in his bag to be produced on the table if needed. He always carried a small briefcase for this. He was self-reliant in this respect and didn’t need other’s help.
In 1969 April, when the State convention of the party was held, comrade CP wrote and presented the political organizational report. Com. DV Rao had prepared ‘Immediate programme’ and ‘Srikakulam tribal movement – some problems’. All these three drafts where agreed upon unanimously with certain amendments.
Comrade CP further on many occasions wrote on the need “to coordinate properly armed struggle, peoples’ mass movement and self-defence.” He also worked tirelessly for this and always criticized armed activity that was executed in a manner unrelated to the demands and consciousness as well as the strength and level of the movement. He was quite scathing in this and he also didn’t spare himself. So, while reviewing the great successes achieved in the Forest Movement in Godavari Valley that was advancing in spite of severe state and landlords’ repression, Com CP never got his head unnecessarily swollen with success. He also correctly assessed and said that the success mainly lies in the squads (political cadres were armed and moved in groups to defend themselves whose main work was political while defending themselves from attacks. They were not for offense except in some exceptional or unexpected situations) being able to defend themselves in the face of very heavy repression while, on the other hand, being able to mobilise the masses in struggles and carry on the political programme of the Party and lead people’s struggles relentlessly. He always used to say that repression is a common thing in a people’s movement, but the success of a movement lies in this that it must continue taking newer forms even if repression is mounted which shows that the movement has strong roots among people without which no movement can survive amid repression and attacks. A movement and the party have to learn how to defend revolutionary movement in such precarious situations. Godavari Valley movement showed these characteristics of a genuine people’s movement with flying colour. That is why we see that in spite of the very high prestige of Srikakulam and Naxalbari still impacting the whole country as well as Andhra revolutionaries, a huge number of students and intellectuals of all sections had come in support of CP led Godavari Valley struggles and become a part of it. The student movement (Progressive Democratic Students’ Union or PDSU) attached with the comrade CP-led party used to provide dozens of whole timers every two years (at the time of its conference).
A short while after Pagideru incident, the party had got the first martyr in Com. Bathula Venkateswara Rao who happened to be the youngest state committee member of the party. When much heavier repression was further let loose on the movement, the party in the leadership of CP had to develop newest ever forms and tactics to defend the movement in the face of this repression so that movement goes on and spreads despite losses. Special measures were particularly taken to defend cadres. Forms based on the local conditions had to be evolved while at the same time the party and movement were both safeguarded from slipping in the quagmire of both left opportunism and rightist surrenderous line.
It must be mentioned that a serious danger of right deviation had raised its head taking advantage of the confusion created by one minor act of left adventurism in Pagideru, particularly from the jailed senior leaders of the party (In 1969 December most of the state leadership attending the state committee meeting were arrested. Com CP and Com Ramanarasaiah could not attend the meeting as they did not get the information in time. Hence, they were not arrested. These arrests were a severe setback to the movement.) who wanted to altogether disband the squads and join congress peasant and workers organisation in Godavari Area to escape from repression and attacks. The whole Godavari movement stood united against it and defeated this line of abject surrender. Comrade CP wrote extensively on this and educated the whole movement.
Comrade CP always used to say that practice cannot be perfect like writing a document. There will be mistakes towards left or right. Leftist or Rightist deviations may crop up here and there. The main thing is that one should advance the revolutionary movement overcoming these mistakes at the right time. He was also against those who victimised comrades in the name of fighting and correcting errors. That’s why we see that he better took all the responsibilities himself for whatever mistakes were committed in the Godavari Valley. He always stood for discussions that help the comrades to rectify their mistakes. He was against cornering them. He always said, ”Mistakes are bound to happen when we go into practice. We should learn from them. But, yes, this method is not helpful to those who don’t want to go into practice and naturally they can believe that they never commit any mistake.” CP wrote about all these practical problems extensively.
Com. CP strived very hard to implement the tasks in the face of all odds. He was well versed about the revolutionary movements in different countries and their experiences. He read extensively the works of the founders of Marxism. He always said that he read them not only for acquiring knowledge but to put them into practice in the concrete conditions of our country. He wrote his famous writing ‘Lessons of Chinese Revolution – Peoples War Path’ to fight against right and left deviations in India. He also wrote splendidly on Mao’s ‘Hunan Report’ of the peasant struggles. He also wrote ‘The Advancing Revolutionary Movement in Khammam, Warangal and Karimnagar Districts” to enlist details of lessons and tasks for the work in the forest resistance areas. He also wrote ‘Some Problems of People’s War Path’. It clearly explained his differences with Charu Mazumdar on strategy and tactics. It explained in detail how Com. Charu Mazumdar’s views were mistaken on the issues of mass organizations, people’s issues, economic struggles and people’s movements on partial issues. These documents were approved by one and all engaged in Khammam, Warangal, East and West Godavari districts. Comrade CP used to regularly write in the Party Organ ‘Janasakti.’ Comrade CP had written on and fought decisively against the wrong policies advocated in the document ‘Present Situation – Our Tasks’ sent by jailed comrades T. Nagi Reddy and DV Rao in September 1970. With this the differences between the jailed leadership and those who were outside and leading the movement increased particularly since April 1971. Again, a meeting of all the cadres of the resistance movement took place that reviewed the movement. It found that the jailed leadership had levelled charges of both right and left deviation against CP in two separate documents i.e. ‘Left deviation in the party’ and within a short span of few months, ‘Right deviation in the party’. The cadres took note of it that both the allegations were made against the same comrade i.e. comrade CP. The differences couldn’t be resolved and thus the party split in July of 1971. Comrade CP didn’t want a split but he could not avoid it either as everything was not in his hand. Though, it resulted in a setback, the able leadership of the movement brought vigour again and the movement grew in newer areas. Actually, CP didn’t confine himself to ideological and political debate that he led successfully a number of times in his revolutionary life, but could also brilliantly and in a systematised manner formulated future tasks of the ongoing revolutionary movement with an all India perspective and tirelessly worked to achieve them. He thus imparted huge confidence to the cadres engaged in a tedious struggle during unrelenting repression and helped them overcome the demoralization caused by the split.
After the split, state conference was held on 24-27 September 1973. Com CP discussed with everyone on all important issues and wrote the party programme, on the path of people’s war and also the political organizational review. The state conference adopted them unanimously after discussions.
After this conference, the movement extended further to the other side of the Godavari Valley. Appropriate forms of resistance against repression were formulated. The level of the movement also grew.
His Efforts To Unite All Genuine Revolutionaries In One Party
Comrade CP worked relentlessly for the unification of revolutionaries and for the emergence of a unified strong CPI (ML). After a long debate, Andhra State Committee under his leadership held extensive unity discussions with the CPI (ML) led by S N Singh. CP felt that there were serious differences of varying nature that also included the danger of right deviation, yet there was unity on fighting left opportunism and revival of mass organisation. He thought that right deviations had to be fought every time as a regular phenomenon whenever and wherever it raised its ugly head. So, it must not be a hinderance in the path of unity. Com CP and Andhra committee got united with SN Singh led CPI (ML) with SN Singh as the General Secretary. He relied on the fact that the strong base of the Andhra movement would work as a strong deterrent against the right deviation. The history however has proved that this optimism was misplaced. The party was split in 1980 by SNS-Bhaskar Nandi-Santosh Rana clique on the question of making united front with US imperialism on the international level and US led forces in the country. The plank was the imminence of the Third World War led by the USSR. Comrade CP led this fight and later in 1981 party plenum became the General Secretary. But by then the right deviations had emerged very strongly in the whole revolutionary movement. CPI (ML) led by Vinod Mishra had already given a call to make united front with ruling classes of opposition sections in the name of fighting Indira authoritarianism.
The roots of this newly emerging right deviation were present in the very soil of the movement that was badly suffering from incompetence of advancing the revolution, the people’s war. Naxalbari and later Godavari valley were to become the last boom of the anti-feudal revolutionary struggle. The history of last six decades proves this beyond doubt.
The land of the second most prestigious revolutionary movement – Andhra, was to later become the hot bed of all sorts of rightist leftist deviations. The Party again split in 1984 whose reason was broadly a tilt towards the irresistible rise of the right deviation in the movement. CP who was 67 and in the last leg, was deeply hurt and probably had lost the hope of revolution. It is possible that it caused him the heart attack.
Just after his death, from within Andhra’s Revolutionary Movement itself emerged a strong trend of identity politics that heavily wrecked the party again in 1989. Even in the whole movement right deviation had engulfed from all sides.
Why it emerged so strongly and could not be successfully resisted in the whole ML movement is a long and a highly debatable issue and can’t be dealt here. However, it can be surely said that the old great Naxalbari uprising had lost its momentum for ever and had reached a point of no return so far as stagnation is concerned. The reasons lie in the inability to review the main slogans and political-ideological orientation of the movement even after so many decades of failure in advancing it on old lines. In no way could the movement continue in old spirit in the light of new developments i.e. new permutations and combinations of the class forces. It could go on only in forms and shape like we see it today – shattered, disintegrated, surrounded by pragmatism and empiricism and thus completely debilitated internally, like a poor fading shadow of its once unmatched glorious past.
We see that many of the heroes of yesterday became traitors. We find that in the post-1980 scenario this movement turned fatigued in the face of complete failure in making advancement, whose real reasons were never tried to be grasped and understood by the heroes of the movement. The worst that came out of this is that though the old slogans and forms were retained or even more forcibly clutched upon with every failure, yet the very revolutionary soul was gradually abandoned, in both the cases whether the movement turned to Left or Right opportunism. Now, a time has come when the whole movement has gathered under its wings all sorts of signs of internal decay. To me, it is not a simple phenomenon of some persons turning traitors. No. Not at all. It is as if the ‘heroes’ having found no possibility or any sign of light at the end of the tunnel they were travelling in, lost all hope and got bewildered. This brought many to change the track either to left or right opportunism in the name of overcoming stagnation, while others turned to anyhow keeping alive their existence that finally led to defeatism.
Comrade CP though sensed all these quite early, particularly after 1980, and we can find plenty of this in his writings as hints, and that’s why he was in a hurry (to some extent) to take all steps to bring about revolution as quickly as possible. He knew that the movement will otherwise turn into ashes. The years after his death prove this beyond doubt.
I would like to end this piece with these lines that we wrote in 2013 about comrade CP –
“We thus see in general that Comrade CP was also ill-fated as all others of his time to remain tied with the ‘old frame’ till his last breadth under the heavy burden of limitations of the most momentous era that his whole career belonged to, imposed upon him by history, in the same manner as all other real heroes of history were usually forced to and who had but to keep flowing with the fastest currents of their time. Unlike the present time when the revolutionary current has slowed down, CP’s time was so momentous throughout that it seldom allowed him enough time and space to notice some of the important changes that he, a leader of such a stature, ought to have, as those changes were also blasting the ‘old frame’. Even the facts he used to cite in his essays while fighting his adversaries’ right and left opportunism were also confronting his ‘frame’. While explaining the facts he himself incessantly kept attacking and breaking his own ‘frame’. Such was the dialectical contradiction that existed between his ‘facts’ and his ‘frame’. It proves that such a blindness, if at all we can call it a blindness, was imposed on him by the ever-momentous era in the thick of which he lived, worked and led. Had he remained alive for a few more years, this contradiction would have surely reached its zenith and got resolved dialectically marking a great turning point. Why do we say so? Because he himself allowed this contradiction to flow freely in the open i.e. in his writings and did never try, knowingly or unknowingly, to annihilate ‘facts’ for sake of the ‘frame’ for and with which he lived and died.”
This is again where Comrade CP stands tallest of all from among his contemporaries.
Red Salute to Comrade CP, the valiant fighter of the Indian proletariat!
(An abridged and rewritten version of an old but unpublished long article written when Comrade Phani Bagchi was alive.)
[Published in The Truth: Platform for Radical Voices of The Working Class (Issue 8 / December 2020)]