• Shujat Shahid

CPIM and Left Politics in India

The parties which were once the charioteers of the spread of left-wing politics in the country are the same parties now playing the role of the morose pallbearers of that same ideology, with the only current exception being in the state of Kerala. The left bastion’s influence has gradually declined over time in the country. What was the course of this rather tumultuous journey of the CPIM and the left parties in the country?

Exasperated by the Gandhian principles, assertives like Tilak, Bipin Chandra Pal became expressive admirers of Lenin and the Bolshevik Coup and saw his ideology as a potent alternative.

1920: The first major breakthrough was reached, owing to the efforts of MN Roy who formed the Communist Party Of India (Tashkent Group).

1925: Communist groups from all around India formed the Communist Party Of India. The party constantly pestered the INC, the erstwhile face of Indian politics to adopt leftism.

1942 : During the course of the Quit India Movement, a state of dilemma surrounded the CPI as USSR urged them to support the British war efforts. Sadly enough, the party gave in and drove a wedge between themselves and the national movement.


Revolutionary activity rekindled and the party contributed significantly to the struggle for integration of princely states with India.

The groundwork in

• Manipur

• Bihar

• Hyderabad unearthed the need for a transition towards Parliamentary politics.

1957: CPI formed the state government in Kerala, which became

  • The first Communist government in India, with EMS Namboodiripad as CM

  • World’s first democratically elected Communist government.

The Curve

As ideological differences between China and USSR sprung up in 1956, its reverberations were directly felt in India’s political scenario also.

1962: Owing to the damages caused by Sino-Indian War , left-wing parties came to be seen as pro-China. A split was more or less inevitable at this point.

1964: Finally a split took place in the CPI --> CPI (Marxist) , which has been dominating left politics ever since.

1967: A peasant militant uprising took place in Naxalbari, Bengal which eventually transformed into Maoist movement.

1969: Another split took place due to the new parliamentary character of CPI(M). Charu Majumdar and some radicals formed the CPI(Marxist-Leninist) and the Naxalite Movement got resusticated.

1977: Jyoti Basu became the CM of Bengal, a position he would hold for the next 23 years. The situation seemed grim for Majumdar and the Naxalite movement was stifled ruthlessly.

1988: CPI(M) was elected to power in Tripura.


The left parties either

• Enjoyed power in these three states

• Or remained in serious contention for most of the first 10 years of the new millennium.

2011: Trinamool Congress defeated CPI(M), bringing an end to the rule of the world's longest running democratically elected Communist government. This, coupled with the defeat of the incumbent government in Kerala made the comrades worrisome.

2016: Pinnarayi Vijayan took oath as CM of Kerala, a position he still holds. After the defeat in Tripura in 2018 , only Kerala remains in Communist hands.

That was not the stop of the decline though. Further , in 2021 the party’s tally in West Bengal , which was once somewhere near 190 during Jyoti Basu’s time has come down to a sorry zero. While on one hand they have been completely decimated , Vijayan’s current government in Kerala shows promise and has been contentiously going from one high to another.


Sources : The Indian Express, The Print

~ Shujat Ali Shahid