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Political Play
Ratan Sharda
Dubious Role of Communists in 1962 War 29 October, 2012
Since the last few days, columns and columns have been written to remember 50 years of infamous 1962 war that has left a grave mark in the hearts of millions of Indians. There is one aspect that has either escaped the attention of the analysts.
THE WRITINGS are philosophical, alarmist, despondent, critical, some even questioning whether Nehru invited war on India by pricking Chinese without adequate preparations or background. All this is a good exercise if we learn from history and vow never to let 1962 happen to India again. We may have learnt the lessons from across the border, but have we learnt any lessons from within our borders? A few commentators note that we discovered happily that Indian people stand as one when faced with external aggression, inspite of fractious polity and wide divergence in faith, language and geography etc.
There is one aspect that has either escaped the attention of the analysts or is has deliberately been pushed under the carpet , viz. role of Communists in 1962 war. I do not know if this is collective amnesia of predominantly left oriented media. The dubious record of Communists tells us how parties influenced by foreign ideologies or finding inspiration from outside can weaken the country.
People vaguely recall that Communist party was pro-Chinese and supported Chinese claims, first on Tibet and then Chinese aggression. Politically conscious citizens also know that split in Communist Party was due to difference in world view as seen through Russian or Chinese glasses. As long as Russia-China were on the same page, the line of Communist party of India was simple – rebroadcast their truths as Communist views about Indian issue. But, with Chinese choosing their own path, our own Communists were in a quandary. The more ‘left of the leftists’ split and formed CPI (M) while other ‘right among the left‘ Russia and Congress oriented ‘revisionist’ group were left in the earlier avatar of CPI. But, we never bothered to critically examine how dependent Communists were on their comrades overseas to decide what was good or bad for India. 
I wished to avoid going too much back into history as I would like to stick to 1962. But, it is important to understand the nature of Communist movement in India. Communists supported 1942 Quit India movement as Russians and British were in opposing camps in initial parts of World War II. But, as soon as they came together, Communists opposed Quit India vehemently and were instrumental in getting many Congress leaders arrested.  Immediately after Independence, they launched farmer ‘rebellion’ in Telangana, Tripura and Kerala as they believed that time was ripe for ‘revolution’. However, it abandoned the strategy of armed revolution by 1950 in favour of working within the parliamentary democracy as a strategy, as wikipedia. Later, they went onto support Naxalbari uprising in 1967 (the forerunner of current Naxalite movement). Thus, their actions were not directed by sense of national good, but by their sense of internationalism as seen through Russian or Chinese eyes.
Coming back to their dubious role dictated by ideological straitjacket, I tried surfing in a little focused manner and came up with some information, of which I am only quoting two documents due to constraints of this column. has an article titled – Role of Indian Communists and 1962 War, dated 30th November, 2009 published by a gentleman with acronym ‘ppgi’. It was gleaned from declassified documents of CIA. The CIA dossier on Communists in these documents is around 165 pages.  Infact, the author found that CIA calls the role of Communists during 1962 as ‘high treason by Indian Communists’. It would not be fair to quote the whole article verbatim, so I am just quoting the summary highlight of the article.
•H K Surjeet (later famous for stitching together a ‘Third Front’ and also supporting minority Congress government for some time) was influenced by Russia to setup an underground organization
•CPI did proceed to recruit a secret organization within the Indian Army
•China and Russia insisted that the CPI must develop a standby apparatus capable of armed resistance, while intensifying penetration of Indian Military forces
•With the PLA now present along the Indian Border the Indian Communist Party had a channel of support for Armed Operations and a potential liberator in the event of mass uprisings  
•In Sept 1959, 4 powerful radio sets had been installed in the office of the China Review in Calcutta to listen to broadcasts from Peking.
•Chinese Financial Subsidies were given in 1959 to sections of the CPI particularly the left faction strongholds in West Bengal. A foreign supply base was now available for the underground organizations with Chinese occupation of Tibet and other frontier areas
•A letter asking for collaboration in Indian underground organization work aimed at an eventual revolution, because China has a border with India and can provide arms and supplies
• Jaipal Singh, head of the illegal organization within the Indian Army decided to reactivate his organization in May 1961 following the hard left faction gaining control of the party. 
The documents reaffirms that Communists looked for direction from Russia and China, sought support and approval and sub-ordinated national interest at the altar of a dubious ideology and subservience to the Chinese. It is noted that Ajoy Ghosh in his report to the Central Executive Committee in February 1959, noted that China-Russia insisted that the CPI must develop a standby apparatus capable of armed resistance, while intensifying penetration of Indian Military forces.
In April 1959 Ranadive met with the Chinese Ambassador during which he Offered CPIs support to China on Tibet, and advised China to concentrate its attacks on rightist Anti-Chinese Indian leaders like Praja Socialist Party and Jan Sangh. 
In Sept 1960 the first signs of a vertical split in the CPI became evident with the hard left faction comprising Jyoti Basu, Harikishen Singh Surjit, Basavapunniah, Sundarayya and Ranadive supporting the Chinese position on the Indo-Sino border dispute. When Z.A. Ahmed indicated that the Party should take a nationalist stand on Chinese incursions to India, he was severely berated by the West Bengal faction.
If we go back to news on domestic front at that time and figure out Communist role during 1962, we can see overt and covert Communist support to Chinese war effort.  The water transporting union in North East served a strike notice. This created problems for food and supply of other materials to Indo-Chinese border. Nationalist unions Bharatiya Mazdoor Sangh understood the conspiracy and they withdrew all kinds of strikes and put all demands on hold. They gave a call to workers to increase production in defence production and assist in all defence related efforts.  They worked hard to restore supplies to the borders. Role of RSS during the war was so noteworthy that Pandit Nehru, no friend of RSS, invited RSS to the next Republic Day parade of January 1963 in which nearly 3000 swayamsevaks took part, as per the book ‘RSS- Vision in Action’ by H V Sheshadri, Chapter 1, Page 30.
We are reminded once again that a nation can grow only on its own genius, not  by transplanting alien ideas in one’s own soil. Look at how Columbia came out of shadow of drug lords and guerrilla wars in just a decade, and racing to the top position in Latin American countries. The Communist folly was also a result of looking at all issues from Russian or Chinese standpoint through Marxist glasses. For Communists nationalism is a decadent thought not in line with feel good internationalism. We can see that Communist movements went their own way in different parts of the world in line with their nationalist characteristics. But, in the meanwhile, India suffered, her security suffered; and we as a nation suffered grievous harm.
Editorial NOTE: This article is categorized under Opinion Section. The views expressed in this article are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of In case you have a opposing view, please click here to share the same in the comments section.
About The Author
Ratan Sharda is a citizen journalist. He has authored books like 'Secrets of RSS'. A marketing consultant by profession, Mr. Sharda is a keen observer of the country's political scenario.
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