1.1 The Communist Party inherited the progressive, anti-imperialist and revolutionary traditions of the Indian people. Since its formation in 1920, by a small group of determined anti-imperialist fighters inspired by the October Socialist Revolution in Russia, the Party had set before itself the goal of fighting for complete independence and basic social transformation. The Party pledged to work for the establishment of a socialist society in India, free from class exploitation and social oppression.

1.2 True to the cause of proletarian internationalism, the Party consistently supported the national liberation movements against the imperialist order and the struggles for democracy and socialism the world over, which were major features of the twentieth century. The Party adopted the principles of Marxism-Leninism as the guide to action for winning national independence, to attain the objective of socialism and to advance towards the ultimate goal of communism. The Communists were the first in the country to raise the demand for complete independence and put forward a resolution for this in the Ahmedabad session of the Indian National Congress in 1921.

1.3 The Communists, while demanding complete independence, also stressed the need for giving a radical content to the slogan of swaraj through a definite programme for social and economic change by including such vital questions as abolition of landlordism, end to feudal domination and elimination of caste oppression.

1.4 The Communists while participating in the freedom struggle, from the outset, devoted their energies to the task of organising workers in trade unions, peasants in the Kisan Sabha, students in their unions and other sections in their respective mass organisations. It was due to these efforts that national organisations like the All India Kisan Sabha and the All India Students Federation were founded and the All India Trade Union Congress strengthened. The Communists took the initiative in founding progressive, cultural and literary organisations like the Progressive Writers’ Association and the Indian People’s Theatre Association.

1.5 The British rulers were determined to stamp out communism in India. They unleashed brutal repression on the fledgling Communist groups and banned communist literature to prevent the spread of revolutionary ideas. They conducted a series of conspiracy cases against the young leadership of the communist movement — Peshawar (1922); Kanpur (1924) and Meerut (1929). The Party was declared illegal soon after its formation in the 1920s and had to work in conditions of illegality for over two decades. Inspite of severe repression, the Party made steady progress in mobilising people for complete independence and for fundamental social change.

1.6 The militant and consistent anti-imperialist stand of the Communist Party attracted the various revolutionary currents and fighters to join the Party. Among them were the Ghadar heroes of Punjab, the colleagues of Bhagat Singh, the revolutionaries of Bengal, the militant working class fighters of Bombay and Madras presidencies, and the radical anti-imperialist Congressmen from Kerala, Andhra Pradesh and other parts of the country. Thus the Party was enriched by the entry of the best fighters from all over the country. The Communist Party while working in close cooperation with the independence movement led by the Indian National Congress and later the Congress Socialist Party, consistently worked for building and strengthening itself as an independent party of the proletariat.

1.7 The post Second World War period saw the powerful anti-imperialist and anti-feudal upsurge of the Indian people. The Communist Party was in the forefront leading this upsurge in various parts of the country. Such significant struggles were those of Tebhaga, Punnapra Vayalar, North Malabar, the Warli adivasis, Tripura tribal people and above all the historic Telangana peasants’ armed struggle. The Communist Party also played a leading role in the people’s movements for responsible government in many princely states. The Party played an active role in organising and supporting the liberation struggles in the French and Portuguese enclaves of Pondicherry and Goa. The wave of struggles by workers, peasants and students and the demand for release of INA prisoners saw a new peak in the Naval Mutiny of 1946. In the international background of the defeat of fascism and the mounting tide of national liberation movements, faced with this popular upheaval, British imperialism and the leaders of the major bourgeois parties — the Congress and the Muslim League — struck a compromise. As a result, the country was partitioned and India and Pakistan as independent states under the leadership of the bourgeois-landlord classes came into existence. The fact that the national movement was under the leadership of the bourgeoisie helped this compromise. Thus, the stage of general national united front chiefly directed against foreign imperialist rule came to an end.

1.8 The Communist Party continued to face repression even after the country achieved independence. The fierce attacks by the Congress rulers between 1948 and 1952, particularly in Telangana, and the repeated bouts of repression, especially the period of semi-fascist terror in West Bengal, and later in Tripura, and the murderous attacks against the Party cadres in Kerala and in different parts of the country could not deter the Party from carrying forward the revolutionary movement. The Party was in the forefront of the struggle to defend the unity of the people when threats arose to national unity in the form of disruptive separatist movements. Hundreds of courageous Party activists sacrificed their lives in the struggle against the separatist and divisive forces in Punjab, Tripura, Assam, West Bengal and Kashmir.

1.9 The Communist movement has thus played a progressive role in Indian politics since its inception. With its mass base, popular appeal and its alternative policies to the bourgeois-landlord regime, the Communist movement is a significant force in the country’s political and social life. The first Communist ministry in Kerala formed in 1957 and later the succession of CPI(M) and Left-led governments in West Bengal, Kerala and Tripura showed the way by striving to implement pro-people policies. These governments implemented land reforms within the existing framework, decentralised powers and revitalised the panchayat system, ensured democratic rights for the working people and strengthened the democratic forces in the country struggling for alternative policies. In the course of arduous struggles, the Party registered substantial achievements. As a Party committed to self-critical analysis of its successes and failures, the Party consistently strives to learn from its mistakes and improve its capacity to apply Marxism-Leninism to the concrete conditions of our society.

1.10 The Communist Party of India (Marxist) was formed after a prolonged struggle against revisionism. It adopted the Party programme in 1964 and subsequently defended the strategy and tactics based on this understanding from both revisionism and dogmatism. The last decade of the twentieth century witnessed major reverses for the Soviet Union and other socialist countries and the world communist movement. This has necessitated a reappraisal of the international developments and the experiences of the movement. Major changes and developments have taken place in our country during the half-century after independence. The CPI(M) has reviewed these developments and experiences since 1964 to update its programme.

1.11 The CPI(M) presents before the Indian people the strategic objective to be achieved by the revolutionary forces in the present stage of the revolutionary movement. The Party sets out a programme which will guide the workers, peasants, all sections of the working people and the progressive, democratic forces in their fight against the ruling classes to achieve People’s Democracy as a step towards the goal of a socialist society.