Communist Party of Bangladesh

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Communist Party of Bangladesh a successor organisation to the All India Communist Party which was first formed in Tashkhand of Russia in 1920 at the initiative of the well-known Indian revolutionary MN Roy. But it had not continued for long. It was formed for the second time at a convention of the nationalist revolutionaries held in Cownpur on 26 December 1925 with Singaravelu Chettiar of Madras as president, SV Ghate and GP Bagarhatta as secretaries.

From its very inception the All India Communist Party had been a victim to repression by the British government in India, and most of the time the party had to work secretly and often under the banner of newly floated fronts and platforms like the Workers and Peasants Party (1925), Progressive Writers' Organisation (1936), All India Kishan Shava (1936) and All India Students Federation (1936). The Communist Party was banned by the British government in 1934, and consequently the party leaders had a directive to the workers to work with the INDIAN NATIONAL CONGRESS. However, the ban was withdrawn in 1942.

The Communist Party successfully organised the anti-war strike in Bombay in 1939 where 90 thousand workers participated. In the 1940s, the Party organised labour movements throughout the whole of India. Between 1943 and 1946 it organised peasant movements like tebhaga movement, Nankar Movement, tonk movement, Telengana Movement, Punnapa Viala Movement in Kerala, Kayur Movement. In the general elections of 1946 out of its 13 candidates from Bengal 3 came out successful.

After the partition of India in 1947, an attempt was made to form an independent Communist Party in Pakistan, and with this end in view a 7-member Regional Committee was formed in Dhaka (1947). The Communist Party of Pakistan was formed on 6 March 1948 by the councilors from East and West Pakistan attending the second congress of the All India Communist Party held in Calcutta. The central executive committee was constituted with Sajjad Zahir as general secretary. On the same day the 19-member East Bengal provincial committee was formed by the councilors from East Bengal with Khoka Roy as secretary.

The Communist Party faced persistent repressive measures taken by the Muslim League government during 1949-50. The police firing on the communist prisoners inside the Khapra ward of Rajshahi central jail on 24 April 1950 killed seven leaders while 31 of them were seriously wounded. In 1950, the historic santal rebellion and nachole uprising were organised under the leadership of Ramen Mitra and IlaMitra. In 1951, the Pakistan government constituted Rawalpindi conspiracy case against the leaders of Communist Party of West Pakistan, and some leaders of the party including its general secretary Sajjad Zahir were tried and convicted. Thus the activities of the Party in West Pakistan having been almost stand still, the party leaders in East Bengal came forward with separate programme for organising movement against the government.

The Communist leaders in East Bengal had important role in organising the language movement. In 1954 elections the Party supported the united front. Out of seven provincial candidates nominated by the Party, four were elected. With the promulgation of 92-A and the establishment of Governor's rule in the province in 1954, the Communist Party was declared banned.

The Party workers continued their activities under the banner of Awami Muslim League, and then under the shade of National Awami Party (1957). The military government of Ayub Khan launched deliberate repressive measure against the leaders and workers of the already banned Communist Party. Some party leaders had to undergo imprisonment for the whole period of Ayub Khan's rule (1958-69).

The Communist Party in East Pakistan had a rift in 1966 following the ideological controversy within the party caused by China-Soviet conflict resulting in the emergence of pro-Mosco group headed by moni singh and the pro-China camp under Mohammad Toaha. The Communist Party accorded full support to the six-point programme of Bangabandhu sheikh mujibur rahman (1966).

In the fourth conference of the Party, held in Dhaka in 1968, an independent Communist Party in East Pakistan was formed with Barin Datta (Abdus Salam) as secretary. The Party actively participated in the mass upsurge against the autocratic rule of Ayub Khan in 1969, and also during the nationwide upheaval including the non-cooperation movement of 1971. Later on after the independence of Bangladesh this fourth conference was renamed as the first congress of the independent 'Communist Party of Bangladesh'.

The leaders and workers of the Communist Party of East Pakistan actively participated in the war of liberation in 1971. Comrade Moni Singh, the president of the party, was a member of the advisory council of the Bangladesh government in exile. A special guerilla force under the direct command of CPB-NAP-BSU fought valiantly against the Pakistan occupation army. After the liberation of the country the Party changed its name as the Communist Party of Bangladesh (CPB), and the Party first in its history got the opportunity to mobilise its activities openly and freely. The Party formed Trade Union Centre with a view to mobilise trade union organisations and movements on revolutionary lines. A Gana Oikya Jote was formed on 14 October 1973 consisting of the Bangladesh Awami League, Communist Party and National Awami Party (Muzaffar) with a view to prepare ground for establishing socialism in the country, and a Jote Committee was constituted consisting of 19 members with three members from CPB. The party in its second congress held in Dhaka (1973) adopted a new constitution, and a 26-member central executive committee was elected with Moni Singh as president and Mohammad Farhad as general secretary.

The CPB leaders and workers were victims to serious repression under the military government in 1975 after the tragic killing of Bangabandhu. The Party leaders in the centre and in district lebels were arrested, warrants were issued against many (1976), and in October 1977 CPB was declared banned. In 1978 the ban on the party was, however, withdrawn and its leaders were released. The CPB participated in the general elections of 1978. As a member of the Oikya Front the CPB accorded active support to General Mohammad Ataul Ghani Osmany in the Presidential election in 1979.

The CPB joined the 15-party alliance in 1983 against the military rule of Hussein Muhammad Ershad. The party participated in the Jatiya Sangsad elections in 1986 and secured five seats. CPB had a vital role in the oust Ershad movement in 1990.

The CPB faced a great crisis in 1991 in view of the disaster of socialism in East Europe including Soviet Union. The party leaders were divided into two camps, one in favour of abolition of the CPB and its replacement by a new platform on democratic line, and the other in favour of maintaining the party in its original form. This conflict grew to be acute in 1993 when the two opposing groups arranged separate convention in Dhaka. The Marxist-Leninist group in their convention held on 15 June (1993) resolved in favour of the independent existence of the Communist Party in Bangladesh, and had their new central executive committee formed with working class leader Shahidullah Chowdhury as president and Mujahidul Islam Selim as general secretary.

The sixth congress of the CPB held in Dhaka on 7-8 April 1995 declared its 17-point programme of national democratic revolution. In 1996, in all 35 CPB candidates contested in the Jatiya Sangsad elections. The party celebrated its 50-year Golden Jubilee in 1998.

CPB has successfully held its seventh congress in 1999 and eighth congress in 2003. In the ninth congress of the party held on 7-9 August 2008 CPB had its new central executive committee formed with Manjurul Ahsan Khan as president and Mujahidul Islam Selim as general secretary. From then on four regular congresses were held by CPB, in the last eleventh congress CPB adopted the strategy of completing first a 'revolutionary Democratic transformation of the Society oriented towards Socialism'. In the adopted political resolution of the congress it calls the countrymen for “forming an alternative 'left-democratic front' outside the two other fronts led by the AL and BNP- which according to the resolution are the two factions of the same ruling class, the so-called 'Plundering Bourgeoisie'.

CPB is giving priority to the urgent task of fighting religious fundamentalism, and the party is also working to build up a united front with left and democratic force in order to become a third alternative in the field of politics. [Muazzam Hussain Khan and MM Akash]