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Beyond Naxalbari: Defective tendencies, mechanical copy of Chinese path

By Harsh Thakor*
Naxalbari Movement in May 1969 ushered a new era in Indian history. The scenes were reminiscent of a spiritual renaissance with Marxist political consciousness elevating at an unparalleled scale. This year it was its 55th anniversary on May 25th.
Similar to time of Naxalbari agricultural workers and the peasantry are enslaved with burden of debts and globalization has entangled them like an octopus.Corporates have virtually alienated tribals.
Inspired by the Chinese Revolution and Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution Naxalbari movement upheld the concept of agrarian revolution protracted peoples War and New Democratic Revolution, revolting against the revisionism of the CPI and CPM. It formulated that India was still engripped by semi-colonialism and semi-feudalism since 1947, with landlordism only abolished on paper and economy bounded to service of foreign capital.
Naxalbari inspired the peasantry and other oppressed sections that they could form their own organs of revolutionary democratic power. If any genuine rights were won by the peasantry it emerged only through the Naxalbari struggle.
Naxalbari was a precursor in sowing the seeds of a wide range of mass social movements, be it the working class, women, peasantry, nationalities, adivasis, dalits or students. It also steered the path for collaboration and intervention of the revolutionary vanguard forces in social movements.
The land reforms act of 1955 and the Zamindari abolition act of 1953 were rendered ineffective with owners of large holdings keeping land in the form of the name of their attached labourers Food Movements also encompassed the whole state f West Bengal in 1959 and 1966.In 1967 polls the United front govt seized power delivering a crushing blow to the CPI(M).
Left adventurism of the CPI(M.L) formed in 1969, diverted the mass movement into path of insurrection, whatever the heavy toll of sacrifice. Mass organizations and movements were abandoned. The national bourgeoisie and rich peasant classes were classified as enemies erroneously. Mao Tse Tung was hailed as the Chairman of the Indian party. Boycott of Parliamentary election was propagated as the strategic path. Urban work was totally neglected.CPI (ML) never grasped that tactics would vary in different regions. ‘Individual annihilation of class enemies’ replaced massline. Serious revolutionaries waged a sustained struggle against it like Suniti Roy Chowdhary against the bureaucratic tendencies within the CPI(ML). One of the most poignant criticisms was that by Chou En Lai of China to Souren Bose.
Tilak Dasgupta, who had been part of the Naxalite movement in Bihar, spoke of the movement’s legacy. “India was at that time an 80 per cent agricultural economy. The Naxalite movement centred on agrarian issues. For the first time, poor and landless peasants were brought into the political arena as independent actors. Earlier, peasant movements had been led by those who owned land. For the first time, too, adivasis and Dalits were brought into the class struggle.”
While the movement did not bring too many material benefits to the people, Dasgupta said, it led to the democratisation of society to a large extent wherever the movement was strong. “The Constitutional rights to free speech, to organise, even to vote – everything was crushed when we began working. All of these rights had to be won through struggle. Ironically, though we did not believe in Parliamentary elections, because of our struggle, those who had never been allowed to vote till then could now exercise their vote.”
Parallel struggles depicting massline were waged of the tribals and peasants in Darjeeling, Debra and in Koraput in Orissa and by the Maoist Communist Centre in Kanska,when the CPI(ML) was deploying line of ‘Annihilation of the class enemy.”

Post-Naxalbari Period

After 1977 a rectification campaign was undertaken by the Andhra Pradesh State Commitee, the CPI (Ml) COC and the Central Team of the CPI (ML). A very valid criticism was made by the Andhra Pradesh Coordination Committee. Here self-criticism was undertaken for CPI(ML) abandoning mass organisations and mass movements, calling China’s chairman India’s chairman ,China’s path as India’s path ,upholding concept of annihilation of class enemies and classifying the entire Indian bourgeoisie as comprador.
The CPI(ML) Peoples War summarised that the party had to form not one but several guerrilla zones as the character of the Indian state was centralised, unlike China. Within the CPI(M.L) Party Unity there was debate whether the Chinese model of struggle was suitable for India.-,with such an organised bureaucracy. Party Unity Group was also critical of the slogan ‘China’s path is our path’ and that of ‘Annihilation of the class enemies.’ Unlike the PW group the PU group attribute formal independence to the Indian state.
Significant achievements were made by the erstwhile C.P.I.(M.L) Peoples War Group in Andhra Pradesh and Telengana in challenging the oppression of upper caste landlords and distributing Thousands of acres of land .Most noticeable was the Jagtiyal land struggle in Karimngar mobilising over a lakh people and its spreading to districts of Sircilla, Warangal, Nizamabad ,East Godavri etc. Mass Organisations were formed like the Andhra Pradesh Radical Students Union, the Revolutionary Writers Association, the Jana natya Mandali and the Rytu Colie Sangham.5-10 lakh peasants attended the conferences of the Rytu Coolie Sangham in 1985 and 1990 in Warangal.
In Bihar the Mazdoor Kisan Sangrami Samiti led by CPI(ML) Party Unity and the Krantikari Kisan Commitees led by the Maoist Communist Centre gave an effective challenge to the hegemony of the Upper caste base of Rajput Brahmarshi and Kurmi landlord gangs. and in important zones crushed their power in Jehanabad, Magadh ,Gaya and Aurangabad districts. MCC expanded to regions of Dhanbad, Giridh and Hazariaghas well as ares like Palamau, Gumla and Garwah. The main area of Party Unity work was Patna, Gaya, Jehanabad and Palamau. In the 1980’s he Mazdoor Kisan Sangrami Samiti spread like wildfire to areas like Hussainabad, Chatrapur an Bisrampur. Before it’s ban in1986 the MKSS had a strength of 20,000 members.
The All India Peoples Resistance Forum rallies of 1992 and 1994 in Kolkata shimmered the flame of democratic revolutionary resistance.

Reason for Setback

Sadly all those movements had a dramatic reversal in the 1990's with the liquidation of the important leaders of the Peoples War Group in 1999 and the ban on the Mazdoor Kisan Sangrami Samiti which was ressurected as the Mazdoor Kisan Sangrami Parishad and of the Maoist Communist Centre and Krantikari Kisan Commitees.
One factor that accounted for the demise in Andhra Pradesh was the over reliance on military actions of armed squads without giving due respect to the subjective factors, which created repercussions for the state to unleash repression at an unprecedented scale, with the very people becoming victims. Movements were often dictated by the strength of the armed squads with actions conducted not in accordance with the political preparedness of the masses. ‘Boycott of Elections’ was called for which was not in consonance with the consciousness of the masses. Still thousands of acres of land remained fallow in Andhra Pradesh..Civil Rights activists perished in Andhra Pradesh and thousands of activists languished behind prison bars in the states of armed movements. In mass protests against falsely staged encounters by the revolutionary groups the masses were not mobilised. Mass organisations were utilised as a shelter for armed squads and often became cover organisations.
An effective base was hardly created in the industrial working class. All -India Fronts were formed like the All India League for Revolutionary Culture in 1983 and the All India Revolutionary Students Federation in 1985 which dissolved after 2000 .Inspite of making a significant contribution in nurturing mass democratic resistance the Revolutionary Democratic Front is virtually defunct today..

Defective tendencies

The CPI (Maoist) formed in 2004 with merger of the CPI (ML) Peoples War and the Maoist Communist Centre has a saga of glorious sacrifices..Illustrating courage in volumes compared to any great revolutionary struggle in the history of the world. Possibly it leads the largest armed movement of a Peoples Geurilla Army in the world today. Armed resistance has escalated to an unprecedented level in Dandakaranya.
It has established forms of democratic people’s power called Janathana Sarcars amongst the tribal’s be it in People’s Defence, Finance, Agriculture, Trade and Industry, Judiciary, Education and Culture, Health and Social Welfare, Forest and Public relations ,which was non –existent before. The Janathana Sarkar germinated the seeds for cooperative life and collective spirit, creating cooperative teams Collective agricultural farms. It also liberated women from the chains of patriarchy or bondage on a household.
They have moved like fish in water and heroically withstood encirclement from the armed forces, brunt of fascist attacks of the state.and even aerial attacks, through retaliatory actions in self –defence. Inspite of facing heavy losses leader Prashant Bose expressed optimism in an interview and the party’s commitment to overthrow Hindu Brahmannical fascism.
Gautam Navlakha in ‘Days and Nights of Heartland o the Rebellion' was convinced that the Maoists were spiritual heirs of Shaheed Bhagat Singh. No force in his view since 1947 has shown such fortitude or relentless commitment to ‘serving the people’ through social transformation.
Quoting Professor Amit Bhattacharya in ‘Storming the Gates of Heaven’ “In DK a new society has been built and is consolidating itself.” People oppressed for ages have stood up with their heads held high. The DK region is the scene of numerous new social, economic and political experiments and these become possible because of their inseparable ties with the ongoing armed revolutionary struggle. In DK region, even when the rest of the country witnessed a huge famine in 1997 taking a heavy toll of lives, not a single person perished.
However the CPI (Maoist) is vitiated with defective tendencies. It is unable to establish genuine agrarian revolutionary movement, revolutionary base areas or mass organizations with genuinely democratic functioning, like the CPC in the 1930-40’s. They have to be given credit for sustaining a movement for decades, but it is doubtful it is on the path of expanding beyond the tribal belt into the plain areas and urban regions. Overall even if it emulates mass line certain respects, in totality it cannot be described as an adherent of the mass line. The line and practice is incoherent with building a broad based revolutionary movement, Real self-governance has not been not established, with people not running their institution of power. Practice within mass organisations is controlled by dictates of the party.
In Jharkhand and Orissa there are many cases of people’s guerrilla army members abandoning their organisations and the armed squad actions not able to sustain people's movements of tribals or peasantry.
Writer Alpa Shah in ‘Night March of the Guerrillas’ reflects the glaring lack of genuine democracy in Jharkhand the Maoist Movement. ivil rights activists have been critical of many practices of the Maoists in Bastar. It is also regrettable that even there have been cases of extortion from the tribals by the party members, demanding levy from contractors and assassinating heads of panchayats or rich peasantry.
Adopting tactics of ‘Boycott of Elections’ as a strategy is not in consonance with Leninism, with Lenin even stating that extra- parliamentary tactics could be utilised. Regrettably today the flesh is being ripped off the Maoist resistance with hundreds f their important leaders or activists are being liquidated day by day ,either in false encounters or stage managed offensives..It illustrates weakness in fortification of its army. In most cases the Peoples Liberation Army has been unable to replenish its own losses and many members have deserted it to join Border security forces
Tendencies still exist of mechanically adhering to the Chinese path instead of devising a path of protracted peoples or forming a red army in accordance with the unique conditions of India,. Not only does India have a firmly entrenched parliamentary system unlike China but significant changes have also taken place after advent of globalisation and electronic age. India also has conditions distinctive from China in the 1940, in the correlation between urban and rural areas or even the terrain.
Tilak Dasgupta said the challenge before the movement was to break out of its narrow confines and reach wider sections of the people – the working class, as well as the small producers and farmers who were fighting a last ditch battle against big corporates.
---
*Mumbai based freelance journalist

Comments

Arjun said…
Good analysis of the naxalites movement of India. But, the Maoist weaknesses be analyses more deeply and thorrowly. Most of the CPIMLGROUPS have left the aim of Revolution.Only Maoists are trying to organise protected people's war. But, they are weak ideologically. They are practicising 'left deviation' in the name of Maoism. They are following Chinese path of revolution, which is not applicable anywhere in the world. Indian revolutionaries must devise its own path according to the socio-economic condition of India.

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