People's Democracy

(Weekly Organ of the Communist Party of India (Marxist)


Vol. XXXIII

No. 46

November 15, 2009

Isolate the Maoists: Prakash Karat

 

IN a hard hitting speech on the “Maoists’ Role in India Today”, Prakash Karat, general secretary of the Communist Party of India (Marxist), denounced the Indian Maoists’ “warped and outmoded world view” and their terrorist acts against political activists and officials of the state. Suggesting that the “essence of Maoist ideology and polity today is that they are divorced of reality,” Karat called for the isolation of the Maoists by fighting them “politically, organisationally and ideologically.” The discussion was organised by a group of individuals under the banner of “Leftview” in New Delhi on November 6, 2009. The programme was chaired by Prabir Purkayastha of Delhi Science Forum. Preceding Karat's speech was the intervention by Professor Jayati Ghosh of the Jawaharlal Nehru University, who questioned both the violent means and the ends of the Maoists.

 

FILLIP TO THE

RIGHTWING FORCES

Jayati Ghosh argued that the areas where these forces were present, suffered from historical neglect and were mostly dryland farming or forest areas, lacking development and infrastructure, exposed unjustly and unequally to market forces. There remained many politico-economic reasons for dissatisfaction and distress and therefore anger in these areas. But far from channelising this anger for progressive change, the Maoists are engaged in worsening the situation by indulging in violent activities which invariably invites state action in the form of repression. By not offering a vision for the future beyond mere overthrow of the state, the Maoists have adopted an empty political agenda that was shaped by acts of violence. The non-participation of the Maoists in any agitation or movement against the increasing role of imperialism, against the policies of the central government or on livelihood issues such as agrarian distress, food security and unemployment showed up the hollowness of Maoist politics, she said. The socio-economic agenda of the Maoists is similar to a Narodnik vision of “peasant utopia” or a Pol-Potist tendency to attack the structures of modernity and industry, she said.

The Maoist attack on the organised Left and the CPI(M) in particular, in collusion with regressive forces of the right, is destroying the alternative to the rightwing polity and giving a fillip to rightwing and imperialist forces who are keen on the decimation of the Left, she emphasised. Despite such violent nihilistic means and empty ends, the Maoists have had sympathisers particularly in the urban intelligentsia who romanticise their violence, providing the state grounds for pushing a militaristic solution. Both of these had to be opposed, she said.

 

OUTMODED

IDEOLOGY

In his intervention, Prakash Karat mentioned that ultra-Left sectarianism has existed for more than 40 years in India and the Maoist have refused to learn lessons from the past. The Maoists continue to repose faith in concepts borrowed wholesale from the Communist Party of China in a period when it was itself in the grip of Left sectarianism and adventurism, during the so-called Cultural Revolution. The outmoded and warped ideology of the Maoists thus continues to term India as a “semi-feudal, semi-colonial” country and deny the strong capitalist base of the Indian state, the development of capitalism in agriculture, and has no place in its politics for the working classes. Despite claiming to represent the peasantry, the Maoists have been unable to build up any major peasant movement, limiting their activities to remote and backward tribal dominated areas where, taking shelter in this type of terrain, it is possible to  maintain or sustain to some extent armed squads and guerrillas. Paying lip service to the peasantry, the Maoists are engaged only in a violent war against the state, attacking its officials, the police, and also the representatives of other political parties. Maoist actions are limited to the violent methods which their armed squads resort to and, after receiving setbacks in Andhra Pradesh, they have squeezed themselves in a geographic area that adjoins Chhattisgarh, Orissa, Jharkhand and three districts in West Bengal bordering Jharkhand.

Commenting on the deliberate and violent attacks on the cadre of the CPI(M) in West Bengal, where nearly 70 of them were recently killed in continuing attacks, Prakash Karat said that this was not a new phenomenon. The naxalites, particularly in the years between 1970 and 1971, were directly responsible for the murder of 350 people associated with the CPI(M), taking part in a pincer attack. They were then a part of the concerted violent campaign unleashed by the ruling Congress against the CPI(M), which claimed lives of nearly 1200 cadres and sympathisers of the party. The collusion between the Trinamul Congress and the Maoists today is therefore reminiscent of the 1970s, which saw the unleashing of widespread violence against the CPI(M), he said.

Prakash Karat attacked the Maoist claims of “successful boycotts of elections” in West Bengal. He pointed out that in the epicentre of recent violence in the Jhargram constituency (of which Lalgarh was a part), the CPI(M) won by the highest margin of votes in the backdrop of CPI(M) suffering losses elsewhere in the state. The tribal voters enthusiastically voted for the CPI(M) in other constituencies as well in West Bengal. Even in other areas, where the Maoists called for a boycott, the people voted in large numbers, Karat said. He called into question their politics, suggesting that even in areas where the naxalite movement was relatively strong, as in Srikakulam in Andhra Pradesh in the past, there existed no movement led by the Maoists or any support for them today. He pointed out that the cycle of violence started off by the Maoists only invited a vicious state response, which affected the very people whom the Maoists claimed to represent, and this phenomenon was very true today as well. After the Maoists’ violent actions and state response, the tribal people are finding themselves in the worst situation possible, he said.

 

CPI(M) SAYS NO TO

PARAMILITARY RESPONSE

Calling into question the centre’s paramilitary response to the Maoists, he said that the centre should not deal with the Maoists in the same manner as it does with terrorist organisations such as the Lashkar-e-Taiba, Jaish-e-Mohammad or Harkut-ul-Jihadi-Islami (HuJI). He said that the security actions that were planned by the centre, according to media reports, would end up targeting the tribal people only, as the Maoists would slip away and expose the tribals to the repression of the state paramilitary forces. Instead, he said that the Maoists had to be fought ideologically, politically and organisationally, as the CPI(M) had done and was doing in West Bengal. The Maoists have to be tackled administratively wherever they are engaging in wanton violence but a purely militaristic solution would lead to disaster, he said.

Secondly, the centre has suggested that it recognises the socio-economic problems of people in areas where the Maoists are influential and the prime minister pointed out recently that it is necessary to implement the Forest Rights Act for the tribals. However, it is glaring that the centre is refusing to acknowledge the role of its mines and minerals policy in those areas. Pointing out that the neo-liberal policies have opened up the tribal habitats to depredations of the big mining companies, leading to the displacement, loss of livelihood and traditional habitats of the tribal people, Karat he called for reversal of such neo-liberal policies and for the implementation of a socio-economic programme in these regions. The centre has to ensure that the tribal people are not deprived of their elementary rights. In its stead, development should mean that the tribal people remain in their traditional habitats where they can find work, apart from the basic rights and facilities that a state should deliver to all its citizens including roads, education, health etc. This, he said, would negate the very claims of the support base the Maoists have built on the grievances of the tribals in those regions.

Prakash Karat pointed out that the outright hostility of the Maoists toward the CPI(M) was visible not only in West Bengal but also in other places like Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand and Andhra Pradesh, where party cadres are being deliberately targeted for annihilation. He said that the Maoists are indulging in these activities with their explicit belief that “elimination” of the CPI(M) is necessary for them to advance. But the CPI(M) would fight back ideologically, organisationally and politically by winning over the support of the poor, he said. He mentioned that sections of the urban intelligentsia had a romantic understanding of the Maoist activities, despite their violent methods. Thus, it is necessary to confront and engage with them to make them realise the futility of the Maoist politics, its inability to raise issues that matter to the people or its inability to work on alternative people friendly models of socio-economic development --- an agenda that has been taken up by the organised Left in the country.

Lastly, Prakash Karat said that these were difficult times when the opportunist political opposition in West Bengal, led by the Trinamul Congress, had joined hands with the Maoists in bringing about physical attacks against and to eliminate the CPI(M). this they are doing to destabilise the Left Front government in the state. Karat emphatically said that the CPI(M) will overcome this opportunist collusion by intensifying its democratic resistance and movement.