[From Liberation, Vol. I, No. 9 (July 1968)].
The party that is not engaged in directing an armed struggle has no business in talking about a united front. This is because such a party is quite unable to build a united front on the basis of an independent and clear-cut policy. Consequently, it inevitably finds itself at the tail-end of things. A united front can be successfully built up only by directing successfully an armed struggle. The principal thing about a united front is that it is the united front of the working class and the peasantry. Only such a united front can unite the middle classes and can unite, even though temporarily, with all those with whom unity is possible. Only a revolutionary party can carry out this task. And in the present era the sole criterion to judge whether a party is revolutionary or not is whether the party is directing an armed struggle or not.
At present much hullaballoo is being raised in India over the so-called united front. This united front is, however, nothing more than the ganging up of some reactionary parties to gain power. The sole object of their ganging up is to capture the ministerial guddis. The so-called Left parties also are uniting, as they did in West Bengal and Kerala, with the same object in their view. That no Leftism brought them together has been amply proved by the actions of the cabinets which they formed. And what was the result of all this? In Kerala the Congress has been able to secure a single party majority in the municipal elections, while in West Bengal even the Jan Sangh has been able to increase its strength. The nine-month United Front rule in West Bengal  has made it sufficiently clear that all the Left parties have united against the workers and the peasants and taken upon themselves the task of confusing the middle class. As it is no longer possible for the Congress to do this, the so-called Left parties have come forward to shoulder this burden in order to ensure that the reactionary forces can continue to wield power without difficulty. The Left Communist leaders have performed this task most faithfully. This is why Chavan  is now having second thoughts about the Left Communists. This is clearly proved by the fact that Dinesh Singh [a member of the Central Cabinet – Ed. Liberation] hurried to Calcutta just after the Burdwan Plenum had started, sent for Jyoti Basu and had a secret meeting with him. In other words, the reactionary Congress rulers instructed Jyoti Basu & Co. to raise a storm over the teacup, if need be, but to avoid a split. What happened at Burdwan was merely the monkey-dance at the waving of the baton by the Congress masters.
Didn’t we see how the United Front regime in West Bengal implemented the food policy formulated by the Congress? But when it came to owning up this dark deed, we found how without batting their eyelids, the firebrand revolutionaries, who adorned the U.F. cabinet, passed the entire burden of the crime on to the shoulders of Sri Prafulla Ghosh. One may ask, if as a member of the cabinet, Sri Prafulla Ghosh had the right to uphold and further the interests of a particular class, what prevented Sri Harekrishna Konar from upholding and furthering the interests of the poor peasants? The reason is obvious: the interests of the poor peasants run counter to the class-interests which Sri Harekrishna Konar and Co. represent. This shows that each and every constituent party of the United Front is an enemy of the oppressed workers and peasants. This explains why no real conflict ever developed in the United Front during its tenure in office. This United Front has been formed precisely on the basis of this class-antagonism towards the working class and the peasantry. In Bihar, U.P., Rajasthan and Madras, where the United Fronts have been formed on the basis of collaboration between the feudal classes and reactionary parties, it is not very difficult to understand the class-character of such fronts. One or two Communists of the Left or Right variety, who entered the cabinets formed by these United Fronts, have only exposed their class character. But it is necessary to have a close look at the United Fronts formed in West Bengal and Kerala in particular. This is because the Left Communists happen to be the largest constituent party in the United Fronts in both these states. This has clearly shown that the Left Communist Party as such is unworthy of being called Communist. They are merely the running dogs of the foreign and Indian reaction and of the Soviet revisionists. It was on behalf of the Indian and foreign reaction that Dinesh Singh came and warned Jyoti Basu not to expose their reactionary: character too much at the Burdwan Plenum. In this way the conspiracy of international revisionism was successful at the Burdwan Plenum. The revisionists of the world are congratulating themselves over the fact that they could, even if temporarily, at least do something to deceive the revolutionary masses of India. After this they are sure to launch an all-out attack against the revolutionary section of the Party and will infiltrate into and plant agents among the revolutionary ranks to sabotage the programme of action of the New Democratic Revolution at an opportune moment and to lower the revolutionary section in the estimation of the people . It is the tactics which international revisionism has mastered through practice over a long period. So every revolutionary must today study Chairman Mao’s article Combat Liberalism and draw lessons from it. China’s Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution has taught us that to carry on an internal struggle is a task which we must undertake. To neglect this task will inevitably mean that the fruits of our work will be grabbed by the enemies of the revolution.
When a revolutionary party wants to build up a united front it must first of all make an analysis of the classes in the country. As we all know, our Revolution is a New Democratic Revolution. This is because the Democratic Revolution in our country has not been completed. The bourgeoisie is unable to carry this Revolution through to the end. In one or two small countries and under special circumstances the democratic revolution may win temporary victory under the leadership of the petty bourgeoisie, as happened in Cuba under Fidel Castro. But even there it is not possible today to accomplish the main task of democratic revolution, viz., the seizure of all power from the feudal classes and to develop capitalism fully on the basis of nationalizing all land. That is why Castro, with all his empty revolutionary phrase-mongering, does not care to interfere with land relations. This has forced him to keep his country constantly dependent upon and under the tutelage of a big power. This is the main lesson of the Algerian Revolution also. To think of making a successful revolution under the leadership of the petty bourgeoisie in a vast country like India is sheer daydreaming. Here the democratic revolution can be victorious only as the New Democratic Revolution. And what is a New Democratic Revolution? It is the revolution which can achieve victory only under the leadership of the working class in alliance with the broad peasant masses and by carrying on armed struggle against the foreign and Indian reactionaries. Who are the allies of the working class in this revolution? Basically, they are the entire peasantry, that is, the poor and landless peasants and the broad masses of the middle peasants. A section of the rich peasants may also take part in the struggle at a certain given stage. Apart from these, the toiling middle class will also be with the working class. These three classes are the main force of the revolution. Among these, the peasants constitute the overwhelming majority. For this reason, the revolution depends mainly on them. The outcome of our revolution will depend on the extent to which we can win this class over to the side of the revolution. Hence, the working class as the leader and the middle class as a revolutionary class must unite with the peasantry. It is precisely this unity which we call the united front. This is the only Marxist understanding of the united front.
The united front can be built up only in the course of an armed struggle led by a revolutionary party. And only such a revolutionary party can unite the uprisings of various nationalities. The victory of the national struggles now being led by various petty bourgeois elements depends on how much such struggles develop into class struggles. Their complete victory will depend on how much class struggles can unite these national struggles. The revolutionary party must resolutely and unequivocally declare that we must firmly unite with these national struggles against the common enemy and that each and every nationality has and will have the full right to freedom and independence. A revolutionary party can unreservedly unite with the national struggles of the Nagas, Mizos and others on the basis of this principle. The precondition for forming such a united front, however, is that the nationalities must be carrying on armed struggle. Many people think that the Communist Party should lead the various national struggles and that the New Democratic Revolution can be accomplished through such struggles of the nationalities. This is an erroneous idea. The Communists should not be the leaders of national struggles. The Communists should, however, forge unity with the national struggles but the duty of the Communists is to develop class struggle and not national struggles. In order to prevent disruption of class struggle, the Communists must declare that every nationality has the right at self-determination including the right to secede. Such a declaration will assure the nationalities that by uniting they will not fall into the clutches of a new set of exploiters. And only when they feel assured of this, will they participate in the class struggle. We, Communists, can never become leaders of the national struggles, even if we try. By trying to become leaders we can only reduce ourselves into mere appendages of the petty bourgeoisie of various nationalities. But after we declare our attitude to the nationalities, we will find that as we march forward as the leader of class struggles, the character of the various national struggles itself will begin to change. And on the eve of victory every national struggle will ultimately be transformed into class struggle.
- The United Front in West Bengal, a conglomeration of 14 parties – Bangla Congress, a breakaway faction of the Congress, S.S.P., P.S.P., C.P.I., C.P.I.(M), S.U.C. and so on formed a ministry in West Bengal in March 1967 with Ajoy Mukherjee, the Bangla Congress leader as Chief Minister, and Jyoti Basu as the Deputy Chief Minister. It survived until November 1967, when it was dismissed by the Centre.
- Y. B. Chavan was then the Union Home Minister.