|General Secretary||D. Raja|
|Parliamentary Chairperson||Binoy Viswam|
|Lok Sabha leader||K. Subbarayan|
|Rajya Sabha leader||Binoy Viswam|
|Founded||26 December 1925|
|Headquarters||Ajoy Bhavan, 15 Indrajit Gupta Marg, New Delhi, India-110002|
|Student wing||All India Students' Federation|
|Youth wing||All India Youth Federation|
|Women's wing||National Federation of Indian Women|
|Peasant's wing||All India Kisan Sabha|
|ECI Status||National Party|
|Seats in Lok Sabha|
2 / 543
|Seats in Rajya Sabha|
2 / 245
|Seats in State legislatures|
21 / 4,036(Total)
|Seats in State Legislative Councils|
2 / 75(Bihar)
|Number of states and union territories in government|
3 / 31
|Part of a series on|
|Part of a series on|
|Communism in India|
The Communist Party of India (CPI) is the oldest Marxist–Leninist communist party in India and one of the eight national parties in the country. The CPI was founded in modern-day Kanpur (formerly known as Cawnpore) on 26 December 1925.
The Communist Party of India was formed on 26 December 1925 at the first Party Conference in Kanpur, which was then known as Cawnpore. Its founders included M. N. Roy, his wife Evelyn Trent, Abani Mukherji, and M. P. T. Acharya. S.V. Ghate was the first General Secretary of CPI. There were many communist groups formed by Indians with the help of foreigners in different parts of the world, Tashkent group of Contacts were made with Anushilan and Jugantar the groups in Bengal, and small communist groups were formed in Bombay (led by S.A. Dange), Madras (led by Singaravelu Chettiar), United Provinces (led by Shaukat Usmani), Punjab, Sindh (led by Ghulam Hussain) and Bengal (led by Muzaffar Ahmed).
During the 1920s and the early 1930s the party was badly organised, and in practice there were several communist groups working with limited national co-ordination. The government had banned all communist activity, which made the task of building a united party very difficult. Between 1921 and 1924 there were three conspiracy trials against the communist movement; First Peshawar Conspiracy Case, Meerut Conspiracy Case and the Kanpur Bolshevik Conspiracy Case. In the first three cases, Russian-trained muhajir communists were put on trial. However, the Cawnpore trial had more political impact. On 17 March 1924, Shripad Amrit Dange, M.N. Roy, Muzaffar Ahmed, Nalini Gupta, Shaukat Usmani, Singaravelu Chettiar, Ghulam Hussain and R.C. Sharma were charged, in Cawnpore (now spelt Kanpur) Bolshevik Conspiracy case. The specific pip charge was that they as communists were seeking "to deprive the King Emperor of his sovereignty of British India, by complete separation of India from Britain by a violent revolution." Pages of newspapers daily splashed sensational communist plans and people for the first time learned, on such a large scale, about communism and its doctrines and the aims of the Communist International in India.
Singaravelu Chettiar was released on account of illness. M.N. Roy was in Germany and R.C. Sharma in French Pondichéry, and therefore could not be arrested. Ghulam Hussain confessed that he had received money from the Russians in Kabul and was pardoned. Muzaffar Ahmed, Nalini Gupta, Shaukat Usmani and Dange were sentenced for various terms of imprisonment. This case was responsible for actively introducing communism to a larger Indian audience. Dange was released from prison in 1927. Rahul Dev Pal was a prominent communist leader
On 26 December 1925 a communist conference was organised in Kanpur. Government authorities estimated that 500 persons took part in the conference. The conference was convened by a man called Satya Bhakta. At the conference Satyabhakta argued for a 'National communism' and against subordination under Comintern. Being outvoted by the other delegates, Satyabhakta left the conference venue in protest. The conference adopted the name 'Communist Party of India'. Groups such as Labour Kisan Party of Hindustan (LKPH) dissolved into the CPI. The émigré CPI, which probably had little organic character anyway, was effectively substituted by the organisation now operating inside India.
Soon after the 1926 conference of the Workers and Peasants Party of Bengal, the underground CPI directed its members to join the provincial Workers and Peasants Parties. All open communist activities were carried out through Workers and Peasants Parties.
The sixth congress of the Communist International met in 1928. In 1927 the Kuomintang had turned on the Chinese communists, which led to a review of the policy on forming alliances with the national bourgeoisie in the colonial countries. The Colonial theses of the 6th Comintern congress called upon the Indian communists to combat the 'national-reformist leaders' and to 'unmask the national reformism of the Indian National Congress and oppose all phrases of the Swarajists, Gandhists, etc. about passive resistance'. The congress did however differentiate between the character of the Chinese Kuomintang and the Indian Swarajist Party, considering the latter as neither a reliable ally nor a direct enemy. The congress called on the Indian communists to use the contradictions between the national bourgeoisie and the British imperialists. The congress also denounced the WPP. The Tenth Plenum of the Executive Committee of the Communist International, 3 July 1929 – 19 July 1929, directed the Indian communists to break with WPP. When the communists deserted it, the WPP fell apart.
On 20 March 1929, arrests against WPP, CPI and other labour leaders were made in several parts of India, in what became known as the Meerut Conspiracy Case. The communist leadership was now put behind bars. The trial proceedings were to last for four years.
As of 1934, the main centres of activity of CPI were Bombay, Calcutta and Punjab. The party had also begun extending its activities to Madras. A group of Andhra and Tamil students, amongst them P. Sundarayya, were recruited to the CPI by Amir Hyder Khan.
The party was reorganised in 1933, after the communist leaders from the Meerut trials were released. A central committee of the party was set up. In 1934 the party was accepted as the Indian section of the Communist International.
When Indian left-wing elements formed the Congress Socialist Party in 1934, the CPI branded it as Social Fascist.
The League Against Gandhism, initially known as the Gandhi Boycott Committee, was a political organisation in Calcutta, founded by the underground Communist Party of India and others to launch militant anti-Imperialist activities. The group took the name ‘League Against Gandhism’ in 1934.
In connection with the change of policy of the Comintern toward Popular Front politics, the Indian communists changed their relation to the Indian National Congress. The communists joined the Congress Socialist Party, which worked as the left-wing of Congress. Through joining CSP, the CPI accepted the CSP demand for a Constituent Assembly, which it had denounced two years before. The CPI however analysed that the demand for a Constituent Assembly would not be a substitute for soviets.
In July 1937, clandestine meeting held at Calicut. Five persons were present at the meeting, P. Krishna Pillai, K. Damodaran, E.M.S. Namboodiripad, N. C. Sekhar and S.V. Ghate. The first four were members of the CSP in Kerala. The CPI in Kerala was formed on 31 December 1939 with the Pinarayi Conference. The latter, Ghate, was a CPI Central Committee member, who had arrived from Madras. Contacts between the CSP in Kerala and the CPI had begun in 1935, when P. Sundarayya (CC member of CPI, based in Madras at the time) met with EMS and Krishna Pillai. Sundarayya and Ghate visited Kerala at several times and met with the CSP leaders there. The contacts were facilitated through the national meetings of the Congress, CSP and All India Kisan Sabha.
In 1936–1937, the co-operation between socialists and communists reached its peak. At the 2nd congress of the CSP, held in Meerut in January 1936, a thesis was adopted which declared that there was a need to build 'a united Indian Socialist Party based on Marxism-Leninism'. At the 3rd CSP congress, held in Faizpur, several communists were included into the CSP National Executive Committee.
In Kerala communists won control over CSP, and for a brief period controlled Congress there.
Two communists, E.M.S. Namboodiripad and Z.A. Ahmed, became All India joint secretaries of CSP. The CPI also had two other members inside the CSP executive.
On the occasion of the 1940 Ramgarh Congress Conference CPI released a declaration called Proletarian Path, which sought to use the weakened state of the British Empire in the time of war and gave a call for general strike, no-tax, no-rent policies and mobilising for an armed revolutionary uprising. The National Executive of the CSP assembled at Ramgarh took a decision that all communists were expelled from CSP.
In July 1942, the CPI was legalised, as a result of Britain and the Soviet Union becoming allies against Nazi Germany. Communists strengthened their control over the All India Trade Union Congress. At the same time, communists were politically cornered for their opposition to the Quit India Movement.
CPI contested the Provincial Legislative Assembly elections of 1946 of its own. It had candidates in 108 out of 1585 seats, winning in eight seats. In total the CPI vote counted 666 723, which should be seen with the backdrop that 86% of the adult population of India lacked voting rights. The party had contested three seats in Bengal, and won all of them. One CPI candidate, Somnath Lahiri, was elected to the Constituent Assembly.
The Communist Party of India opposed the partition of India and did not participate in the Independence Day celebrations of 15 August 1947 in protest of the division of the country.
During the period around and directly following Independence in 1947, the internal situation in the party was chaotic. The party shifted rapidly between left-wing and right-wing positions. In February 1948, at the 2nd Party Congress in Calcutta, B. T. Ranadive (BTR) was elected General Secretary of the party. The conference adopted the 'Programme of Democratic Revolution'. This programme included the first mention of struggle against caste injustice in a CPI document.
In several areas the party led armed struggles against a series of local monarchs that were reluctant to give up their power. Such insurgencies took place in Tripura, Telangana and Kerala. The most important rebellion took place in Telangana, against the Nizam of Hyderabad. The Communists built up a people's army and militia and controlled an area with a population of three million. The rebellion was brutally crushed and the party abandoned the policy of armed struggle. BTR was deposed and denounced as a 'left adventurist'.
In Manipur, the party became a force to reckon with through the agrarian struggles led by Jananeta Irawat Singh. Singh had joined CPI in 1946. At the 1951 congress of the party, 'People's Democracy' was substituted by 'National Democracy' as the main slogan of the party.
Communist Party was founded in Bihar in 1939. Post independence, communist party achieved success in Bihar (Bihar and Jharkhand). Communist party conducted movements for land reform, trade union movement was at its peak in Bihar in the sixties, seventies and eighties. Achievement of communists in Bihar placed the communist party in the forefront of left movement in India. Bihar produced some of the legendary leaders like Kishan leaders Sahajanand Saraswati and Karyanand Sharma, intellectual giants like Jagannath Sarkar, Yogendra Sharma and Indradeep Sinha, mass leaders like Chandrasekhar Singh and Sunil Mukherjee, Trade Union leaders like Kedar Das and others. In the Mithila region of Bihar Bhogendra Jha led the fight against the Mahants and Zamindars. He later went on the win Parliamentary elections and was MP for seven terms.
In early 1950s young communist leadership was uniting textile workers, bank employees and unorganised sector workers to ensure mass support in north India. National leaders like S A Dange, Chandra Rajeswara Rao and P K Vasudevan Nair were encouraging them and supporting the idea despite their differences on the execution. Firebrand Communist leaders like Homi F. Daji, Guru Radha Kishan, H L Parwana, Sarjoo Pandey, Darshan Singh Canadian and Avtaar Singh Malhotra were emerging between the masses and the working class in particular. This was the first leadership of communists that was very close to the masses and people consider them champions of the cause of the workers and the poor.
In 1952, CPI became the first leading opposition party in the Lok Sabha, while the Indian National Congress was in power.
In the 1952 Travancore-Cochin Legislative Assembly election, Communist Party was banned, so it couldn't take part in the election process. In the general elections in 1957, the CPI emerged as the largest opposition party. In 1957, the CPI won the state elections in Kerala. This was the first time that an opposition party won control over an Indian state. E. M. S. Namboodiripad became Chief Minister. At the 1957 international meeting of Communist parties in Moscow, the Chinese Communist Party directed criticism at the CPI for having formed a ministry in Kerala.
Liberation of Dadra-Nagar Haveli: The Communist Party of India, along with its units in Bombay, Maharashtra and Gujarat, decided to start armed operations in the area in the July 1954. Both the areas were liberated by the beginning of August. Communist leaders like Narayan Palekar, Parulekar, Vaz, Rodriguez, Cunha and others emerged as the famous Communist leaders of this movement. Thereafter, the struggle to liberate Daman and Diu was begun by the Communist Party in Gujarat and other forces.
Goa Satyagraha: The countrywide Goa satyagraha of 1955–56 is among the unforgettable pages in the history of freedom struggle, in which the Communists played a major and memorable role. The CPI decided to send batches of satyahrahis since the middle of 1955 to the borders of Goa and even inside. Many were killed, many more others arrested and sent to jails inside Goa and inhumanly treated. Many others were even sent to jails in Portugal and were brutally tortured. The satyagraha was led and conducted by a joint committee known as Goa Vimochan Sahayak Samiti. S.A. Dange, Senapati Bapat, S.G. Sardesai, Nana Patil and several others were among the prominent leaders of the Samiti. Satyagraha began on 10 May 1955, and soon became a countrywide movement.
Ideological differences led to the split in the party in 1964 when two different party conferences were held, one of CPI and one of the Communist Party of India (Marxist).
During the period 1970–77, CPI was allied with the Congress party. In Kerala, they formed a government together with Congress as part of a coalition known as the United Front, with the CPI-leader C. Achutha Menon as Chief Minister. This government continued governing throughout the emergency period and was responsible for the many acts of repression throughout the period carried out against political opponents in the guise of fighting naxals, manifesting most infamously in the Rajan case. The United Front government also used this opportunity to pursue class struggle by punishing those from the managerial classes, money lenders, bosses with anti-labour stances, ration shopkeepers and truckers engaged in black marketing, under stringent provisions of MISA and DIR.
After the fall of the regime of Indira Gandhi, CPI reoriented itself towards co-operation with CPI(M).
In the 1980s, CPI opposed the Khalistan movement at Punjab. In 1986, CPI's leader in Punjab and MLA in the Punjabi legislature Darshan Singh Canadian was assassinated by Sikh extremists. Altogether about 200 communist leaders out of which most were Sikhs were killed by Sikh extremists in Punjab.
CPI is recognised by the Election Commission of India as a 'National Party'. To date, CPI happens to be the only national political party from India to have contested all the general elections using the same electoral symbol. Owing to a massive defeat in 2019 Indian general election where the party saw its tally reduced to 2 MPs, the Election Commission of India has sent a letter to CPI asking for reasons why its national party status should not be revoked. If similar performance is repeated in the next election, the CPI will no longer be a national party.
On the national level they supported the Indian National Congress-led United Progressive Alliance government along with other parliamentary Left parties, but without taking part in it. Upon attaining power in May 2004, the United Progressive Alliance formulated a programme of action known as the Common Minimum Programme. The Left bases its support to the UPA on strict adherence to it. Provisions of the CMP mentioned to discontinue disinvestment, massive social sector outlays and an independent foreign policy.
On 8 July 2008, the General Secretary of CPI(M), Prakash Karat, announced that the Left was withdrawing its support over the decision by the government to go ahead with the United States-India Peaceful Atomic Energy Cooperation Act. The Left parties combination had been a staunch advocate of not proceeding with this deal citing national interests.
In West Bengal it participates in the Left Front. It also participated in the state government in Manipur. In Kerala the party is part of Left Democratic Front. In Tripura the party is a partner of the Left Front, which governed the state till 2018. In Tamil Nadu it is part of the Secular Progressive Alliance and in Bihar it is the part of Mahagathbandhan. It is involved in the Left Democratic Front in Maharashtra. In 2022 February CPI and Congress formed an alliance in Manipur named Manipur Progressive Secular Alliance. The current general secretary of CPI is D. Raja.
As of 2020, the CPI is a part of the state government in Kerala. Pinarayi Vijayan is Chief Minister of Kerala. CPI have 4 Cabinet Ministers in Kerala. In Tamil Nadu it is in power with SPA coalition led by M. K. Stalin. The Left Front governed West Bengal for 34 years (1977–2011) and Tripura for 25 years (1993–2018)
|S.No||State/||Govt Since||Chief Minister||Alliance||Coalition Seats in Assembly||Last election|
|1||Kerala||26 May 2016||Pinarayi Vijayan||CPI(M)||62||26 May 2016||Left Democratic Front (Kerala)||
99 / 140
|6 April 2021|
|2||Bihar||26 August 2022||Nitish Kumar||JDU||45||22 February 2015||Mahagathbandhan (Bihar)||
165 / 243
|28 October 2020 – 7 November 2020|
|3||Tamil Nadu||7 May 2021||M. K. Stalin||DMK||133||7 May 2021||Secular Progressive Alliance||
159 / 234
|6 April 2021|
|State legislative assembly||Last election||Contested
|Bihar Legislative Assembly||2020||6||
2 / 243
|Kerala Legislative Assembly||2021||23||
17 / 140
|Left Democratic Front||in government|
|Tamil Nadu Legislative Assembly||2021||6||
2 / 234
|Secular Progressive Alliance||in Government|
|State legislative assembly||Last election||Contested
|Bihar Legislative Council||2020||2||
2 / 75
Main article: List of Rajya Sabha members
|No.||Name||State||Date of appointment||Date of retirement|
|1||Binoy Viswam||Kerala||2 July 2018||1 July 2024|
|2||P. Sandosh Kumar||Kerala||4 April 2022||3 April 2028|
Main article: List of members of the 17th Lok Sabha
|1||K. Subbarayan||Tiruppur||Tamil Nadu|
|2||M. Selvarasu||Nagapattinam||Tamil Nadu|
The following are the members of the Central Control Commission, National Council and Candidate Members to National Council, National Executive, National Secretariat and Party Programme Commission were elected at the 23rd Party Congress of Communist Party of India held from 25 to 29 April 2018 in Kollam, Kerala.
Members from Centre:
Jammu and Kashmir
Article XXXII of the party constitution says:
"The tenure of the General Secretary and Deputy General Secretary, if any, and State Secretaries is limited to two consecutive terms—a term being of not less than two years. In exceptional cases, the unit concerned may decide by three-fourth majority through secret ballot to allow two more terms. In case such a motion is adopted that comrade also can contest in the election along with other candidates. As regards the tenure of the office-bearers at district and lower levels, the state councils will frame rules where necessary."
|1st||Sachchidanand Vishnu Ghate||1925–1933|
|3rd||Puran Chand Joshi||1936–1948|
|4th||B. T. Ranadive||1948–1950|
|5th||Chandra Rajeswara Rao||1950–1951, 1964–1990|
|Chairman||Shripad Amrit Dange||1962–1981|
|7th||E. M. S. Namboodiripad||1962–1964|
|9th||Ardhendu Bhushan Bardhan||1996–2012|
|10th||Suravaram Sudhakar Reddy||2012–2019|
|Founding Conference||1925 December 25 – 28||Kanpur|
|1st||1943 May 23–1 June||Bombay|
|2nd||1948 February 28–6 March||Calcutta|
|3rd||1953 December 27 – 1, 954 January 4||Madurai|
|4th||1956 April 19 – 29||Palghat|
|5th||1958 April 6 – 13||Amritsar|
|6th||1961 April 7 – 16||Vijayawada|
|7th||1964 December 13 – 23||Bombay|
|8th||1968 February 7 – 15||Patna|
|9th||1971 October 3 – 10||Cochin|
|10th||1975 January 27–2 February||Vijayawada|
|11th||1978 March 31–7 April||Bathinda|
|12th||1982 March 22 – 28||Varanasi|
|13th||1986 March 2 – 17||Patna|
|14th||1989 March 6 – 12||Calcutta|
|15th||1992 April 10 – 16||Hyderabad|
|16th||1995 October 7 – 11||Delhi|
|17th||1998 September 14 – 19||Chennai|
|18th||2002 March 26 – 31||Thiruvananthapuram|
|19th||2005 March 29–3 April||Chandigarh|
|20th||2008 March 23 – 27||Hyderabad|
|21st||2012 March 27 – 31||Patna|
|22nd||2015 March 25 – 29||Puducherry|
|23rd||2018 April 25 – 29||Kollam|
|24th||2022 October 14 – 18||Vijayawada|
In Tripura, the Ganamukti Parishad is a major mass organisation amongst the Tripuri peoples of the state.
|E. M. S. Namboodiripad||(1957 – 1959)||Kerala|
|C. Achutha Menon||(1969 – 1970; 1970 – 1977)|
|P. K. Vasudevan Nair||(1978 – 1979)|
|Year||Total Lok Sabha constituencies||Seats won / contested||Change in seats||Total votes||Percentage of votes||Change in vote %||Ref.|
16 / 49
27 / 109
29 / 137
23 / 109
23 / 87
7 / 91
|Seventh||1980||529 ( 542* )||
10 / 47
6 / 66
12 / 50
14 / 43
12 / 43
09 / 58
04 / 54
10 / 34
04 / 56
1 / 67
2 / 49
* : 12 seats in Assam and 1 in Meghalaya did not vote.
|State||No. of candidates 2019||No. of elected 2019||No. of candidates 2014||No. of elected 2014||No. of candidates 2009||No. of elected 2009||Total no. of seats in the state|
|Jammu and Kashmir||0||0||0||0||1||0||6|
|Andaman and Nicobar Islands||0||0||0||0||0||0||1|
|Dadra and Nagar Haveli||0||0||0||0||0||0||1|
|Daman and Diu||0||0||0||0||0||0||1|
  
|Seats won /
|Votes||Vote %||Change in|
0 / 1
17 / 23
0 / 1
2 / 6
0 / 10
2 / 6
0 / 7
0 / 18
0 / 16
0 / 3
0 / 7
0 / 16
0 / 3
0 / 1
0 / 3
0 / 68
|State||No. of candidates||No. elected||Total no. of seats in Assembly||Year of election|
|Jammu and Kashmir||3||0||87||2014|
Results from the Election Commission of India website. Results do not deal with partitions of states (Bihar was bifurcated after the 2000 election, creating Jharkhand), defections and by-elections during the mandate period.
As a protest against Partition, the Hindu Mahasabha and the Communist Party of India (CPI) did not participate in the celebrations of 15 August.
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