CIA had predicted CPI split two years earlier


Washington : The Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) had predicted a split in the Communist Party of India (CPI) into "pro-Soviet and pro-Chinese factions" in 1962, two years before its actual break-up.

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A recently declassified CIA working paper dated Feb 7, 1962 said: "By January 1962 the CPI had reached a point at which an open schism in the party in the coming year had become a serious possibility." The CPI actually split in 1964, leading to the formation of the Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M).

According to the CIA, the Sino-Soviet conflict had "strengthened forces which for many years had been working toward a split in the CPI".

The paper said that in 1947, then CPI leader B.T. Ranadive followed "what he thought was CPSU (Communist Party of the Soviet Union) policy" but his "tactics failed dismally, and were disastrous for the party. Opposition to Ranadive rose throughout the CPI and he attempted to suppress it ruthlessly, increasing the chaos within the party".

Between 1951 and 1955, the Soviet Union improved its relations with India's first prime minister Jawaharlal Nehru, which created a problem for the CPI leadership, the CIA paper pointed out.

The CIA traced how Moscow applied pressure on CPI leaders to soften their criticism of Nehru. "Each such gradual modification of line toward Nehru was accomplished only over the strenuous objections of a large section of the Indian party," according to the CIA paper.

The Chinese influence over CPI increased after Stalin's death (in 1953), the CIA paper said.

"The 20th Congress of the CPSU in February 1956 and the events which flowed from it administered a series of fundamental shocks to the CPI with results which were to affect greatly the relationship of the Indian party to Moscow and to (Beijing)."

The paper said that in 1957, "the left wing of the Indian party led by the Andhra, West Bengal and Punjab organisations… became more and more inclined to regard the long-respected Chinese party as a source of inspiration more congenial to its interests than Moscow".

For various geopolitical reasons, the paper said, there was a "conscious turning to the right by the CPSU and to the left by the CCP (Chinese Communist Party)" in 1959.

As a result, the CPSU restrained the CPI from an all-out attack on Nehru for the dismissal of the communist government of Kerala. "On the Chinese side, there was instead a hardening of attitude toward Nehru," the paper pointed out.

The Sino-Soviet conflict came into the open repeatedly in 1960.

"The Indian party eventually had to be drawn into that dispute if only because bloc policy toward India was one of the key matters at issue between Moscow and Beijing," according to the CIA paper.

Finally, faced with a clear choice, "vacillating and opportunistic CPI leaders (the majority) swung to the rightist side identified with the CPSU, and the CPI passed a secret resolution attacking Beijing and supporting Moscow.

"Passage of this resolution was resisted by the leftist CPI national leaders… One important provincial party organisation, in West Bengal, went so far as to pass a counter-resolution directly attacking the conduct of the CPSU and (Soviet premier) Khrushchev by name and supporting Beijing – the only such resolution definitely known to have been passed in any communist party in the world."

In 1961, when the CPSU attacked Stalin and the Albanian leaders, "there were widespread attacks on Moscow and Khrushchev over these actions within all factions of the CPI, and one provincial party organisation – that of Andhra Pradesh – passed a resolution condemning the CPSU, the second such resolution to be passed within the CPI in little more than a year", the CIA paper said.

The flare-up in the Sino-Indian border dispute worsened this infighting, according to the CIA paper. "At the close of 1961, both leftist and rightist CPI leaders were warning of the likelihood of an open split in the Indian party after the elections of February 1962."

The paper concluded by predicting the CPSU would try its best to prevent such a split, but its chances of success "were dependent on such factors as the future course of Sino-Soviet relations, the fortunes of the 'peaceful coexistence' line, and the number of concessions Moscow was willing to make again to the CPI leftists". As we now know, the split did take place, in 1964.