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All you wanted to know about CPI-M

By George Iype in New Delhi
Last updated on: April 11, 2005 19:00 IST
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The congress of the Communist Party of India Marxist, held every three years, is now on in New Delhi.

About 800 delegates from across the country are participating in the conclave of this highest decision making body of the CPI-M.

But how well do you know CPI-M, the biggest Left party in India? Do you know that each CPI-M member has to pay a monthly levy to the party for the continuance of his membership in the party?

In structure, policies and management, the CPI-M is unlike other political parties.

Here is a ready reckoner on what the CPI-M is all about. 

When was the CPI-M born?                                                                    

CPI-M was formed at the Seventh Congress of the Communist Party of India held in Calcutta from October 31 to November 7, 1964.

CPI-M leaders claim that their party was born in the struggle against revisionism and sectarianism in the communist movement at the international and national level.  They also say that CPI-M today combines the revolutionary tenets of Marxism-Leninism in the concrete Indian conditions. Whatever be their claim, over the years, CPI-M has emerged as the foremost Left force in the country. 

How many members are there in the party?

When the party was born, it had 1,18,683 members. But it has now grown to become to 8,14,408 members, according to the official CPI-M figures. 

What is the CPI-M presence across India?

The CPI-M has its organisation in most of the states. It has 19 state committees and 7 state organising committees. But the party's bastions are only Kerala, West Bengal and Tripura. 

Who runs the party?

General Secretary, currently Harkishen Singh Surjeet, is the top leader of CPI-M. A 77-member Central Committee is the highest policy making body of the party. But the day-to-day running of the party is reviewed, managed and crucial decisions taken by the apex politburo. 

Who are the politburo members?

Harkishen Singh Surjeet, Jyoti Basu, Prakash Karat, Sitaram Yechury, S Ramachandran Pillai, Anil Biswas, V S Achuthanandan, Koratala Satyanarayana, Pinarayi Vijayan, Buddhadeb Bhattacharya and Biman Basu. 

What is the CPI-M flag?

A red flag, whose length shall be one-and-a half times its width. At the centre of the flag there is a crossed hammer and sickle in white. 

And, what is the party pledge?

Every person joining the party shall sign the party pledge: "I accept the aims and objectives of the party and agree to abide by its constitution and loyally to carry out decisions of the party. I shall strive to live up to the ideals of communism and shall selflessly serve the working class and the toiling masses and the country, always placing the interests of the Party and the people above personal interests." 

What is the procedure to get a membership in the CPI-M?

Any Indian of 18 years of age or above who accepts the party constitution and who agrees to work in one of the party organisations, to pay the regularly party membership fees is eligible for membership. 

What are the primary duties of a party member?

1) To regularly participate in party activities and to faithfully carry out the policy, decisions and the directives of the party.

2) To study Marxism-Leninism and endeavour to raise their level of understanding.

3) To read, support and popularise the party journals and publications. 

It is said that paying for the party membership every month is the most important custom in the CPI-M. In fact, the Central Committee of the CPI-M has issued the following guidelines on collection of levies from each member. The following are the rates:

For income

Up to Rs. 300/month 25 paise,

Rs. 301 to 500/month 50 paise,

Rs. 501 to 1000/month 0.5 per cent of income,

Rs. 1001 to 3000/month 1 per cent,

Rs. 3001 to 5000/month 2 per cent,

Rs. 5001 to 7000/month 3 per cent,

Rs. 7001 to 8000/month 4 per cent and

Above Rs. 8000/month 5 per cent. 

What happens if a member does not pay the levy?

The party insists that those whose incomes are of annual or of seasonal character have to pay their levy at the beginning of the season or at the beginning of every quarter on the same percentage basis. If a member fails to deposit his levy within three months after it is due, then his name will be removed from the party rolls.

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George Iype in New Delhi