What is the ideology of the CPI party

suedasien.info - the information portal on South Asia

On the history of the communist parties

The Communist Party of India (CPI) is the oldest left-wing party in India and the "mother" of the numerous communist splinter parties. It was founded in the 1920s by Indian exiles in Tashkent with the support of the Soviet Union. Soon afterwards, it managed to lead the many to take over left groups that agitated underground against British colonial rule. Their political work was regularly controlled by instructions from Moscow. For example, the CPI had to withdraw from the independence struggle after the German Reich had invaded the Soviet Union in 1941 and Stalin was an ally of the Western powers The accusation of "treason of the fatherland" still rests on the communists. After independence they returned to the revolutionary struggle. In Telengana, southern India, the CPI cadre organized a great peasant uprising, which was however severely suppressed by the military Failure of the armed struggle integrated it ch the CPI into the young parliamentary system. In 1957 the communists came under E.M.S. Namboodiripad came to power in free elections in Kerala, southern India, but was ousted by the central government two years later.

Frustrated by the failures, a strategy debate broke out within the party. When the Indo-Chinese War broke out in 1962, the party split into two camps. While one wing sided with Beijing, the other wing condemned the attack and at the same time took a stand on Moscow's side in the Sino-Soviet opposition. As a result of these conflicts, the pro-Chinese wing separated from the mother party in 1964 and constituted itself as the Communist Party of India (Marxist) (CPM). In the years to come, the CPI increasingly lost voters to the CPM. Support for the emergency regime of Indira Gandhi, which had been allied with the Soviet Union since 1971, was decisive for the CPI's weakness, which has persisted to this day. After 1977 the CPI distanced itself from its cooperation with the Congress and thereby emancipated itself a little from Moscow. The CPM, on the other hand, had stepped out of the shadow of Beijing in 1968 and was looking for its own ideological standpoint.

At the beginning of the 1980s, the two communist parties came closer together again. Together they formed governments in Kerala and West Bengal. On the initiative of the CPM, the Left Front election platform was founded in 1989, which the V.P. Singh government supported. In 1996 they took part in the UF governments under Deve Gowda and I.K. Gujral. With Indrajit Gupta, the CPI even provided the interior minister. Right now, CPM-led Left Front governments are in power in Kerala, Tripura and West Bengal. CPM leader Jyoti Basu is the longest serving Prime Minister of India as head of government of West Bengal. While the communist voters in these strongholds were for a long time members of the urban middle class, today it is more the poor and the poorest who vote on the left.

In addition to the two large communist parties, there are various left splinter parties, such as the Forward Bloc, the Revolutionary Socialist Party or the Peasants and Workers Party of India. In the past, the left parties have often appeared as a Left Front electoral alliance.

Communist politics apart from parliamentary democracy are pursued by the so-called Naxalites. This movement, which emerged in West Bengal at the end of the 1960s, has its origins in the radical youth of the CPM party, which - inspired by Maoist ideas - chose the rural revolution as its strategy. Since then, the Naxalites have organized the resistance of agricultural workers and smallholders against the oppressive relationships of dependency. Centers of militant struggle are Bihar, Jharkhand and Andhra Pradesh.


While the basic programs of the communist parties are still bursting with class struggle rhetoric, both are now following a pragmatic course. While the CPI is ready to participate in coalition governments with ministers, the CPM rejects this if it is not the strongest force. In 1998 the left parties entered into a joint program. The most important demands were: The strengthening of the secular system through the prohibition of the political instrumentalization of religious questions and the protection of religious freedom, the strengthening of the federal system through a financial and political upgrading of the states and a modification of the instrument of the President's Rule and the inclusion of the Dialogue with the separatist forces in Kashmir and the Northeast. In terms of foreign policy, they called for the continuation of an independent policy, a deepening of regional cooperation in South Asia and with ASEAN, the failure to sign the nuclear weapons treaty, the expansion of relations with China and Russia, and the breach of the treaty on military cooperation with the USA. In terms of economic policy, they stood for a strengthening of agriculture, radical land reforms, the revitalization of the state sector and a policy of economic "self-confidence" in relation to the world market. In terms of social policy, they called for strong minority protection, the ban on child labor and the enforcement of compulsory schooling.


  • Nhalileveettil Edapalath Balaram (1967): A Short History of the Communist Party of India, Trivandrum: Prabhath
  • Gerd von Olnhausen (1992): Lal Bangla. An investigation into the causes and consequences of communist rule in West Bengal, Egelsbach / Cologne
  • G. Overstreet and M. Windmiller (1959): Communism in India, Berkeley
  • Indira Rothermund (1968): The split in the Communist Party of India. Cause and Consequences, Wiesbaden
  • S.N. Talwar (1985): Under the Banyan Tree. The Communist Movement in India 1920-1964, New Delhi: Allied


  • The official pages of the CPI with party history, program, further documents and press releases: Communist Party of India
  • The official pages of the CPM with the party program, excerpts from the statutes, documents, speeches, photos and links to party organs and other communist parties: Communist Party of India (Marxist)
  • The official pages of the Naxalite CPI (ML), which has found its way from revolutionary struggle to parliamentary politics. In addition to a short self-presentation, a history of the Naxalite movement, texts by the party organ LIBERATION, there are press releases and references to the front organizations: Communist Party of India (Marxist-Leninist)