Being TOO LEFTIST this time

Karl Marx, Yesterday and Today | The New Yorker

LEFT … what is this left? No I am not talking about walking on the left side of the road, but what I am saying is the Leftist or would rather say COMMUNIST ideology. The last word was special as I am being called this by some nowadays. Before, anyone starts ‘abusing’ me calling a Leftist, let me tell you a big fact that BHAGAT SINGH also was very much influenced by Left ideology, he liked to read and write about it. Even before just being hanged he is said to been reading the Biography of LENIN, so better you decide how will you frame him. Now, for understanding about the Left, not only do we need to go deep into their origin but also let’s make a few terms very clear :

CAPITALISM : It refers to a system where the private individuals own properties and have the power of running the Economy. Economy will run as per the market demand and supply and not through a centrally planned economy.

SOCIALISM : It is a theory of social organization that calls for a completely equal distribution of the means of production. This form is also called UTOPIAN state, which is practically not possible.

COMMUNISM : It refers to the system of social organization in which all property is owned by the community only with each one contributing and receiving according to their ability and needs. It kind of calls out for a Revolution, to all the workers class (Proletarians) for moving forward and taking the power from the capitalists in their own hands. Wherever and whenever Communism emerged it emerged out of struggle, violence and Revolution. Here only, it differs from Socialism, because there is no room for violence in Socialism.

Communism,Capitalism,Socialism Storyboard par b472cc3a


Now, let’s quickly get into the ideology and history behind Left.

History behind LEFT

No surprises here … as the word LEFT definitely has connection with Direction. This term first originated in France, during the French Revolution. At that time, those who opposed old regime, Bourbon dynasty, royal veto privilege and supported creation of Republic and a secular society used to sit on the ‘Left’ side of preceding member’s chair and hence got the name. No surprise, those with ideology opposite to it sat to the right side and it became the Dividing Line. The term ‘Left’ got even more strengthened and frequent after the establishment of French Monarchy (1815). The defining ideological features of the French Left were Nationalism, Socialism, Democracy and Anti-Clericalism. But after the 1851 Coup by CHARLES-LOUIS NAPOLEANE BONAPARTE (Nephew of Napolean Bonaparte) a second empire was established within the Left … MARXISTS.

They claimed that whole history is defined by Class Struggle and predicted that a Revolution by the working class will eventually throw Capitalism out and establish a classless, moneyless and stateless society. Now, everybody had a different point of view about how that classless society will be achieved. So slowly, some further Bifurcations kept coming with MIKHAIL BUKANIN forming International Workingmen’s Association and in US, THOMAS PAINE being the influential over the theme of labor unions and asset distribution. With time, those who supported Trade Unions and even those who opposed the World War I were considered even further Left. Within the LEFT, there are terms like Centre to Left (or Right) and far/hard/radical Left signifying how strongly his beliefs are against Capitalism and with how much force they want to establish ‘Classlessness’.

Communism Timeline - HISTORY

Different Ideologies within the Left :

The very idea of COMMUNISM emerged from Russia where the class struggle was too high. The society was divided into the industrialists and working class respectively. The former class used to exploit the latter class too much leading to high disparities between the two classes, and very meagre benefit reaching out to the working class. From there emerged KARL MARX who stood against this very idea. It was he only, who gave the revolutionary idea of Communism, but it was an idea only which needed to be implemented.

  1. MARXISM : It was based on the ideologies and writings of KARL MARX and FRIEDRICKH ENGELS which aimed at overthrowing Capitalist structure by a Workers Revolution. But there were some defining specifications as well, such as it could have happened only in a technological advanced country that too by a social class of ‘Wage Earners’ leading the revolution.
  2. LENINISM : It came on the forefront during the Socialist Revolution (1917) in Russia by VLADIMIR LENIN who interpreted the classical Marxist theories in a different way. Actually, MARX’s theories were based on the observations of East-European countries which were quite developed, but that was not the situation of an underdeveloped Agrarian Tsar Russia. So, LENIN twisted some principles and said that the Revolution can take place even if the Imperialism is weak and even by Peasants (because working class was not developed enough there). His theory was called as VANGUARDISM which believed in seizing the state machinery and power on behalf of the workers and then leading the way towards Communism through Democratic Centralism, ie, freedom in discussion and unity in action.
  3. MARXIST-LENINIST : This is a proper combination of both these ideologies. It believes in the core ideas of MARXISM but with the advancements brought by LENIN. It is said that most of the communist believers are supporting this idea only.
  4. STALINISM which referred to JOSEPH STALIN’s governing totalitarian policies in Soviet Union (1927-1953). It focused on one-party police state, rapid industrialization, collective agriculture, intensive class struggle and ‘country above all’ kind of mindset which deemed Vanguard Party (Soviet) to be the leading communist revolution of that time. Brutality was also one of the features of Stalinism as around 40 million died or were in exile during Stalin’s rule due to forced collectivization and exile.
  5. MAOISM emerged in People’s Republic of China after differences between Chinese and the Soviet style of Communism occurred. Under the leadership of MAO ZEDUNG, who no one thought would win against CHIANG and team, China came forward as the parallel power force up against the US and the Soviet. Policies like GREAT LEAP FORWARD (GLF) paved the way for massive agricultural and industrial success in the country. MAO who himself came from a peasant background made sure of bringing a Peasantry wave in the country, if violent so be it, which it was.

Similarly, Communism has been bifurcating and modernizing with time, place and circumstances over various parts of the globe.

The Red blunders: The communists have consistently betrayed national  interests - Telegraph India

Roots of Communism in INDIA

As it should be very clear that though MARX gave the ideas, LENIN was the one who implemented them during the Russian Revolution (1917). Now, at that time in India, GANDHIJI was coming to the forefront on the backdrop of CHAMPARAN Movement. Here also, there was ‘class struggle’ as farmers were being exploited with heavy taxes. Then, some extremist leaders like BIPIN CHANDRA PAL and BAL GANGHADHAR TILAK, while drawing parallel to the Russian Revolution thought that if, coming together can overthrow a long standing, exploiting Monarchial structure in Russia, why can’t it happen in India ?

But, GANDHIAN politics was strictly against violence and at the same time, a significant section was losing confidence in Gandhi’s way as there was no main benefit visible from the SATYAGRAHA. Neither did India got anything from World War I and also the NON-COOPERATION MOVEMENT stood withdrawn. From then upon a large number of socialists started becoming Communists which alarmed the British citing the power of uprising that they saw in Russia. They started violently crushing the uprising by killing, jailing the communists and creating Communal tensions. But the fire was already spread, also the laborers here were suffering from exploitation, so the revolution got their support as well. It was the laborers only, who during their May Day celebration flagged the ‘Red Flag’ an integral symbol of Communism.

Emergence of the Communist Party in India

S.A. DANGE was one of the founding fathers of Communism Revolution in India. He in fact wrote a pamphlet titled GANDHI v LENIN, comparing both and conveying how Communism worked in Russia. In 1922, he started his English weekly SOCIALIST. The communist leaders also started attending the meetings in Russia. Even, LENIN met them and affirmed them to spread Communism even further in India. Now, M.N. ROY returned to India and formed COMMUNIST PARTY OF INDIA (CPI) on October 17, 1920. But, at that time it was quite unorganized and mismanaged, so officially it was on 25th December, 1925 when CPI came into place.

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Though, many communists were joining INC at that time but they showed no support towards any idea brought forward by Gandhi. The differences between Communist ideologies and Gandhian ideologies were getting wider an wider. Another main reason for that was Communists didn’t believed in equality and ‘Statelessness’ and had no nationalistic sentiment attached with the Independence struggle. They were kind of INTERNATIONALISTS and only believed in Soviet and LENIN’s ideology. And, this was the time where the politics changed and came a Twist in the story.

World War II

At the time of World War II, HITLER and LENIN came together aiming to gain a lot after the end of the war. But, HITLER being HITLER changed his stance and invaded Russia as well. Now, LENIN changed his stand and got with British. So, here in India also, the Communists walked on the path of their supreme leader. Yes, you guessed right, they turned towards the British and when Gandhiji brought the QUIT INDIA MOVEMENT, no communist supported it. This was a big turning point in the history and it was the time when time when Communist were getting away from India’s independence movement.

Aftermath Independence

In 1947, as we know India got independence. After that, slowly Communism started turning violent at places such as North East and Hyderabad. Farmers out of oppression by the landlords turned violent and lots of violence and bloodshed took place underway the struggle. After being banned in the 1952 elections, CPI came out victorious in the 1957 elections and E.M.S. NAMBOODRIBAD, the biggest communist face of India was made the chief minister.

Opinion | What's Left of Communism - The New York Times


MAO ZEDUNG had came in power in China in 1949. So, when China invaded India, communists came under a Dilemma that whom should they support, on one side was the country where they lived and on one side was the country with the leader of their Ideology. Those with MAO, acted too odd by claiming that it’s NEHRU’s policies only which aggravated the war. At this very point, CPI got divided ideologically for the first time as a big portion was supporting the India and decided to stood with it. This group along with JYOTI BASU stood aside and formed CPI (MARXIST) and maybe it was the first time CPI thought nationalistically.


In 1967, in Darjeeling a farmer was killed by a landlord. As an uprising, farmers came together and started killing landlords in large numbers, and not so easily with guns, but brutally with swords and HASUA (agricultural tool). CHARU MAJUMDAR and KANU SAHYAL, the believers of MAOISM came on the forefront as Communist leaders. They even aggravated the uprising the movement further by launching NAXALBARI Movement them to kill everyone who tortures you, Intellectuals, doctors, teachers, industrialists and landlords, of course. The situation aggravated as they were thinking of taking Villages by their side and then attacking the urban areas and capturing it also completely.

CHARU MAJUMDAR was very influential and on his call through speeches and pamphlets, many intellectuals and students also started joining the movement, and so did some Bouncer type people. The violence and killings reached an uncontrollable and undepictable level in West Bengal. Now, INDIRA GANDHI thought it is too much and launched Operation STEEPLECHASE (1971) under which the uprising was crushed down very violently. The communist extremists were jailed and tortured, including CHARU MAJUMDAR who also died during this. This was the defining point of Naxalism in India and also a notable point is that this branch of CPI (MAOIST) is BANNED from running elections. Also. it was the time when another branch emerged out of CPI; CPI (MARXIST-LENINIST) which spread in many parts of the country and got further divided and divided.

Naxalbari: How a peasant uprising triggered a pan-India political movement  | Research News,The Indian Express

The 34 Years of Left Regime in BENGAL

In West Bengal, Communism emerged out of years of struggle by peasants, workers and refugees as they were not happy with the Congress government or the Janta Party which came to power in 1977. There was high food insecurity in Bengal (keeping in mind they also experiences Famine in British Raj). Elections in Bengal were held right after the national elections, CPI (M) came into power with overwhelming three-fourth majority. From then on, the state government went on with some defining reforms in the state :

  1. LAND REFORMS : The land reforms initiated aimed at fixing Land Ceiling, distributing surplus vested land among the Landless and making the sharecroppers only the Owners of the land. Over 11 lakh acres of land were permanently brought under the 15 lakh beneficiary sharecroppers. So, in a way this policy was empowering the small and regional sections of the society whose support got even strongly glued with the CPI(M).
  2. PANCHAYATI RAJ : Another major move by CPI (M) was reorganizing local body elections and ensuring local participation through Decentralization of power through Gram Panchayats at the Anchal level, Panchayat Samitis at block and Zilla Parishads at district levels. Regular local elections helped in empowering even the poor, marginal and female of the society.
  3. AGRICULTURAL AND INDUSTRIAL SUCCESS : As expected, the land reforms helped in remarkable agricultural progress in Bengal with the state being one of the highest producers of rice and vegetables in the country and also contributing in the nation’s agricultural growth. But on the industrial front there was a complete stagnation throughout 1980s, Left alleges that Centre especially Congress has always blocked its pathway for industrial development. But once INDIA adopted LPG Model in 1990s, JYOTI BASU also announced his industrial policy for Bengal. During the period 1990-2005 massive industrialization took place in Bengal, of all scales and of all types (Over 1391 industrial units were set up generating over 32000 crore revenue and genrating over 2 lakh employment).

Other than this there were quite a many social welfare schemes as well. Increase in number of schools, enrolment within it as well the number of Self Help Groups (SHG’s) increased. Social security schemes for workers and 750/month for the ones from closed security were other social benefits of the Communist regime. So, overall we can say that the regime was just like what a Communist regime looks like, empowering the people at the ground level. The history of Bengal also helped them connect with Left’s ideas more than any other party.

The downfall of Left can be associated with complacency and incompetency that came within the CPI Bengal with time. The reforms which were looking pathbreaking initially started looking ineffective in the long run. It was combined with CPI leaders relaxed and complacent nature with every successive win. This started building the Anti-Incumbency force, which was very well used by MAMATA BANERJEE to come on the forefront and end the Communist regime in Bengal.

West Bengal Communist Propaganda, Kolkata photo - Matt Reichel photos at
Sakhavu Review - A Dummies Guide to Communism in Kerala "Malayalam Movies,  Music, Reviews and Latest News"

Still Relevant Communist Regime in KERALA

In KERALA also, the emergence of Communist party was a result of struggle, struggle against capitalistic and colonial forces during the freedom movement. Actually, the seeds of Communism also were sown inside KANNUR Jail by KAMAL NAT TIWARI after which the party started actively working against caste discrimination, educational deprivation and untouchability. There was a politically and administratively divided Feudal system in Kerala, the Left organized the masses, and weaving them into an ideological and political whole through class-based movements KARSHAKA SANGHAM. Some of the major reforms in the state were :

  1. AGRICULTURAL REFORMS : Despite being a moderate reform coming after many amendments and discussions, the bill was successful in abolishing feudalism and adopting a Capitalistic agricultural system. The bill aimed at securing wages and employment of workers, while improving working conditions. Landlords were only allowed to work if they paid compensation, protecting tenant’s right.
  2. ADMINISTRATIVE REFORMS : CPI aimed at building a Socialist government, and for building the system it distributed a Questionnaire to thousands within and outside the party. It was concerning the administrative machinery and government wanted to implement a consensual reform that a drastic upheaval. Building a more democratic and decentralized system was targeted, giving more autonomy and power at local levels, through Block, Village council and Panchayat levels.
  3. WELFARE REFORMS : As a major move, CPI tried to make food available as cheap as possible. Also, education was made affordable and cheap ensuring everybody comes to school. Well … no surprise here, why KERAL has the highest literacy in the country.

There were some Industrial reforms as well, but they somehow lagged and turned ineffective with time. But, it is a no brainer that the Left policies have somehow defined KERALA the way we know it today. In some way or the other, CPI Kerala didn’t went al along the Bengal way and that is the sole reason why it is still relevant in the state. Though it is not currently in power and also poorly performed in the National Elections 2019, but still BJP not winning a single seat in Kerala goes on to show that a ‘political vacuum’ has not been created as of now and Left is still alive here. How much is the relevance, will be a point to be seen in the upcoming state elections.

Conclusion : Future and Significance of LEFT in INDIA at this point of time

Well … it is no surprise that Communist party has lost its touch or influence it once used t have. The party had been a part of UPA government in 2004 and 2009, had governments in many states, Bihar and UP used to be its two strongholds. But, its rigidity with old and traditional way, and not adopting to changing times did not help it in staying relevant any longer. It is majorly alleged that the Left parties tried to implement the policies just the way they were implemented in their original country. I mean … it can’t work in a diverse and democratic country like INDIA where everything changes state by state and year by year. The dynamism which was required, never showed up actually. Also, having too much affection (say) and influence from Russia and China didn’t helped either, as in India NATIONALISM also plays a major factor in Politics and on that parameter Communism never fit in.

So … many of you must have been thinking why I have written this Article then. See, in m opinion, you may agree, disagree or criticize an ideology but i think that any of it should happen only after properly studying and knowing about the ideology. In that direction only, it was my attempt to present a study about the LEFT. Here, I would also like to say that some people say that “Communism didn’t worked in the country of its origin and people try to implement here” … but I think it is wrong. Let me show why, MNREGA (providing assured rural employment) is one of the most ‘Left’ schemes anyone could have thought of and it is one of the best poverty alleviating schemes of the country according to U.N. . Even the scheme offered in INC Manifesto 2019 NYAY (Minimum income of 72000 per year to every poor) and even the one being implemented by BJP KISAN SAMMAN NIDHI (6000 per year to farmers) are all Leftist in nature. So, my point is if the ideas of Left would have been so bad, then how come they would have been so relevant even now.

At last, I would only say, I hope that Communist Party revives itself and revives its way of functioning, it will be good for Indian Politics only. Whether it happens or not with the party necessarily, the LEFT thoughts will still live on always … and always.

Communism Timeline - HISTORY




References :

  1. 100 years and still a vital force: Viewing the Left from the shores of Kerala, Oct 17, 2019,
  2. COMMUNISM: KARL MARX TO JOSEPH STALIN, Credits: This page was curated by CES.,
  3. Hammer And Sickle: How Communists Lost Relevance In Bengal, Probir Pramanaik, 23 April 2019
  4. Thirty Years of the Left Front Government in West Bengal, June 17, 2007,
  5. What does the future look like for CPM in Kerala? Nidheesh M.K., Feb 27, 2018

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