Anoop Saha has some recommendations for the the CPI(Maoist)
Inside the Naxalite Central Committee’s Head
November 14th, 2006
The naxalites are a confused lot these days. The last one year has been quiet eventful for them. On the one hand, they got the best compliment of their lives when the prime minister acknowledged that “naxalism is single biggest internal security challenge” ever faced by our country.
They have made significant gains post 2004, and have been successful in establishing their parallel rule over a large part of our country. They were able to conduct spectacular raids, such as that on Jehanabad jail in November 2005 . They have also strengthened their arsenal, and have demonstrated their ability to give a strong fight to police and paramilitary forces.
But they are worried. Prime minister’s statement, despite sounding like a compliment to the naxal movement is kind of a warning and a sign of difficult times ahead. It is slight consolation that till now the central government has not come up with any effective strategy to combat naxalism.
This government has accepted them as a grave threat, and are in no mood to allow them any more leverage. The security forces are attacking their cadres with ruthless zeal, the media is working overtime to demonize them, and the people of this country, especially the middle class, are increasingly getting fed up with their actions. Even their good friends in Nepal have got into a peace treaty with the ‘reactionary parties’, have surrendered their weapons, and are pontificating the Indian naxalites over the need to come to terms with the ’21st century world reality’.
Bad news for the party that always professed fraternal relations with CPN(Maoist). The ongoing state sponsored Salwa Judum campaign in Dantewada district has posed a significant challenge over their authority in the tribal Dandakaranya. Their brutal retaliation on adivasis has led to a further loss of public support, and has caused a large dent in their image.
What would the central committee (CC) be thinking right now? Although it is nearly impossible to speculate about the course that the party will take in the coming years, because of some crazy elements occupying high positions. I can still use my perspective to do some consultancy for them. Here I draw up an action plan for the CPI(Maoist).
21st century India is indeed different. There is large discontent among the masses, especially the farmers and labourers. Dalits, tribals, women, backward classes and minorities still remain marginalised and the benefits of 8% growth rate is yet to percolate to these sections (perhaps they never will).
Large corporations and a handful of individuals are able to extract unusual benefits from the governments (both central and state), while the schemes for poverty alleviation and public health and education remain the lowest priority item with chronic fund shortage. Peaceful protests across the country has been dealt with a heavy hand by the state, and farmers and adivasis were fired upon for trying to defend their rights.
Hence it is very important for the CC not to loose focus at this stage. The government has a list of 100 important figures to be murdered for eradicating naxalism. Even if all top naxalites are finished, naxalism will continue raising its head as long as there is oppression. It is a phenomenon, and if our state continues its repression of peaceful liberal democratic protests, naxalism will only grow stronger in coming years.
Provided of course that the naxalites don’t do anything foolish in the next couple of years. Here I try to draw up a seven point plan for the naxalites that can strenghen them.
I am making the following assumtions about the party and its perception about the current situation in India:
* The CC firmly believes that democracy in India is a sham, and the government is controlled by the moneybags. Its the goons and the ambanis who control all authority. The nature of oppression in India will not change as long as we don’t have a people’s democracy on marxist principles.
* Despite the naxalite’s enhanced arsenal, they are no match to that of the state army, police and the paramilitary. If an all out war breaks out now, the naxalites stand little chance of fulfilling their ideas without significantly diluting their stand.
* While the state will deploy all its firepower to counter naxalism and to kill the cadres, violate the human rights of a large number of people, such practical options as genuine land reforms, and effectively implementing nrega, pds and pesa will not be considered seriously. This is partly because of 1.
* The central committee has the interests of the poor and the oppressed at heart and the ultimate aim of the party is to benefit these sections.
Keeping in mind the above four axioms, here is what the central committee must do. Rather, if I were the central committee, I would take the following decisions immediately:
1. Spread into other parts of the country. Give special attention to the urban poor: Even though the naxalites have been successful in setting up parallel government in large parts of India, their presence is never felt in the urban areas. The urban poor are as poor, marginalized and oppressed as the people in villages. The country’s demography has undergone a huge change in last two decades, and more than a fourth of India lives in urban areas.
The weak and dispossessed in the cities feel the same kind of discrimination at the hands of executive, judiciary and private players. Their houses routinely grazed, their livelihood options snatched from them, it won’t be very hard to inculcate the spirit of revolution among the urban masses. Similarly, the Indian army is very strong now.
People are more important than land. Support from at least 50% of Indian masses is a must before harboring any illusions of establishing a people’s republic in India. The erstwhile areas with a vibrant communist movement are Gujarat, Punjab and Kashmir. The demise of communists went parallel with the rise of religious extremism in those states, and the rise of religious fascism and loss of communist mass movements augmented each other in one form or other. It is extra important for the naxalites to re-establish their bases in those states.
2. Gain public support and sympathy by their actions: As I mentioned above, support of at least 50% of Indian people is a must before launching a full-blown armed struggle. The media in all its colors is trying to perpetuate the myth of a shining India. This constant propaganda in effect kills all the revolutionary zeal in an individual. A large part of our country sees naxalites as a menace, and they have failed badly in presenting their side of the story. An occasional press statement is actually counter-productive.
What is needed is to forge an alliance with mass democratic movements, with trade unions, and with like-minded political parties. Launching the trade union wings, political and cultural wings is also something that the party can ponder upon. The armed wing should support and supplement the mass movements, not the other way round.
3. Assert their views on all major national debates: It is important for the naxalites to present their views on all matters of national interest. While the naxalites supported the centre’s proposed move to extend the reservations to OBCs, their voices have been extremely limited in many other major national debates. Land reforms are one area, where the naxalites can teach a lot to the state and the people of this country.
Similarly they must regularly present feasible solutions to other major events, like farmer suicides. They must also take active interest in addressing social issues, like disappearing girl child, child labour, environmental issues, sez policies, etcetra, within the existing framework of Indian constitution. They should also routinely present their side on important bills under consideration, for example, the tribal bill will be stronger after incorporating the maoist comments. Rather than harping on the ideology as a solve-all phenomenon, it is important to be perceived as people who do have imaginative solutions to the pressing problems.
4. Have a more representative body: Diversity always helps. The original CPI(ML) central committee, under the leadership of Charu Mazumdar, was drawn from all sections of the society, and had members from all parts of India. Now the situation has come to such a pass that in the last plenary in 2001, a motion, although defeated, was considered that there are too many people from AP in the top positions of the party.
Similarly there is not a single woman, or tribal in the CC. Let them be a part of the decision making process. The change and vibrance in the party working will be immediately visible after making a more representative central committee
5. Respect human rights, even of the oppressor:The naxalites discourse must not address the limited constituency in the country, but also for international organizations. Each slitting-of-the-throat, chopping-of-the-hands, every maiming of the individual by dropping boulders on his/her limbs, every such action is a huge setback for the party and detrimental to the cause. If you have to kill, kill humanely.
Never degrade humanity and make sure that the party does not condone such individual actions. Make sure that the cadres who are responsible for human rights violations and/or callous behavior are adequately punished and thrown out of the party. The onus is on the naxalites to prove that they are fundamentally different from the state in their nature.
6. Use the latest communication techniques. Use technology as an asset to the revolution: Improve dexterity in using current technological advances. Keep abreast with all the latest innovations, have a research and development unit in the party, that is devoted not just in making bombs. They should work in improving agriculture, use better techniques in all fields, educate the masses, and give special focus on spreading computer literacy among them.
Use the technological wing along with the cultural wing as important instruments to further the struggle. Let the adivasis living in the liberated zone talk directly to the world, upload videos on youtube, write blogs and interact with everybody else.
7. Live and not die: This is the most important axiom. Don’t daydream, and don’t over-estimate your capabilities, and never underestimate the Indian army. In short, don’t be foolish. Implement the points 1 to 6 sincerely, and only then think of launching a full fledged armed assault supplemented by mass support. If the naxalites are killed at this moment, this will be a huge opportunity lost for them. More than ever, it is important now for the movement to survive. The naxalites can become the last hope for the masses, and it would be a betrayal of that hope, if they take a stupid stand of an open armed confrontation with the Indian army without fully understanding the consequences.
As Mao said, “Revolution is not a cup of tea”. The naxalites must not be teacup revolutionaries.