Contemporary Maoist movement in India,also addressed as Left Wing Extremism (LWE) in the official vocabulary1 and in a section of academia is a continuation of the Naxal movement which, in turn, was similar to the Telangana (1946-1951) and Tebhaga movements, in form and contents with one pertinent difference. While the Tebhaga, Telangana and Naxal movements were open to the mediation of liberal democratic process, at least, theoretically, the contemporary Maoist movement considers it (the liberal democratic process) regressive, and detrimental to the development of revolutionary transformative social-political process which, therefore, is shunned. In other words, it does not contest the elections in bourgeois democracy.
Organisationally, ideologically and programmatically, the Maoist movement represen-ted by the Communist Party of India (Maoist) carries the legacy of CPI (Marxist-Leninist), CPI (Marxist) and the CPI2 in the reverse historical trajectory which, in turn, inherited the distorted versions of Marx’s, Lenin’s and Mao’s praxis. It was a mechanical application of their praxis, not contextualized politically and socially which also commands a section of urban support, of intelligentsia and academia in different forms prominently reflected in public discourse. Programmatically, it carries forward the application of land to the tiller policy, support to the minority rights, and opposition to the uniform civil code or to the globalisation process.
The failure of the Naxal movement propelled the Maoist to learn a lesson which was, subsequently, to create a Peoples’ Liberation Guerrilla Army (hence forth PLGA) and guerilla zones to sustain and expand the revolution in different regions. And to actuate it, the Party needed committed cadres which, in turn, could be fostered through application of land to the tiller policy on permanent basis. The Party had learnt it hard way through its experiences in Bastar, Telangana and Naxalbari. The experiences of the other regions such as Bihar were equally factored into. Both these process was successfully applied in the Dandakaranaya regions, spread over one lakh square km of area comprising of parts of Jharkhand, Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Odisha and Chhatisgarh. This region is hilly and forested, and is periphery, far away from Delhi and state capitals. By the time the administration realised the gravity of their existence and expansion, the Maoist had spread in vast areas, and had begun to control the revenue of the locality. Then, Raipur was not the Capital, neither was Chhatisgarh a State. Till 7-8 years ago, one third of the Party cadre was armed. 40 % of them were women. 5% of the arms were purchased, 15 % were looted and 80% were manufactured by the Party. 3,500 cadres were in military uniforms. The Party spent, in one year, Rs. 4 lakhs on each company, and Rs 450 was spent in a month on each armed cadre for their basic necessities. The annual budget of the Party is approximately Rs. 12 crore3. But this is the estimate of the Party. The official estimate is Rs. 1,000 crore.
The process of arming the Party had begun in 1981, when there were armed cadre from five dalams (squads). Today, in each company, there are 75 members and in each platoon there are 25. Majority of them are of Koya tribe. The government estimate is different : the armed cadres are approximately 9100 in number divided into basic, secondary and main groups. The existence of Central Military Commission and its five sub-units viz State Military Commission, Special Area Military Commission, etc., reflect the degree of its military strength and militarisation of Party. The next intended stage is to create Peoples’ Liberation Army, the base areas (the liberated zones) and the JanatanaSarkar. The idea, as it is claimed, is to create a system, even in embryonic form, in which people directly participate in determining their own destiny. And it claims to begin with three major works, from agricultural production to education: it actuated modernisation of agriculture, facilitated stoppage of Penda (shifting) cultivation, improve health care, and brought in social political awareness. It also brought in inter-villages and inter-tribal interactions through Party mobilisation. The different villages, isolated and spread over, have now better coordination, and are working jointly on different projects.
The Maoist had simultaneously embarked on a new work. It began to recruit women in the armed wing, who constitute 40% of their combat force and 60% of their regular cadres. In turn, it has enhanced their social status, has empowered them to fight for their rights, and has raised their political awareness. Also, their fight to preserve their habitat against the expanding business has consequently saved the forest in the Dandakaranya region despite depletion.
The function of the Party, both organisa-tionally and programmatically, however, has enraged a large population of the tribal. Its daily intervention in the cultural life of the villages, the application of the land reforms agenda in the social context of average poor land holdings (2.34 acre) per family and the anti-development stance have generated rebellions against the Party which has been used by the police in its fight against the Maoist leading to its success. The Maoist did all that they could do to suppress this movement at the initial stage. It might have succeeded, as in the past, but the timely intervention of the administration obstructed its design. It, therefore, adopted other tactics to scuttle the police’s role; it sought judicial intervention through public interest litigation and citizens intervention through civil society groups. Within Dandakaranaya, it was not forth coming. So it sought “outside” help using the inner contradiction of liberal democracy to deflect the inner rebellion against the Party and the pressure of the administration from outside. The English media of the metropolitan towns, the Public Interest Litigation (PIL) in the higher courts, the public intellectuals and the English speaking civil society groups with national- international profile were used against the government on the pretext that the BhartiyaJanata Party (BJP) with a Hindutva agenda was evicting the tribal from their habitat for the interest of the business4. And in their relief camps, they are being converted to Hinduism. Or, the other argument was that their human rights were being violated. Thus, the use of the judiciary, media and the civil society, which are to the Maoist part of bourgeois structure with limited autonomy, were successfully used to slowdown the administrative acts. And the battle against the Maoist was successfully converted into the battle against the administration. It was such a master stroke that the spontaneity of the tribal rebellion against the Maoist was relegated to the background and their protest against the Party was labeled as government sponsored acts which became the point of social discourse in the national media. The relief camps established by the administration for the tribal rebels, the victims of the Maoist, were deliberately termed as the organisation of the SalwaJudum funded and protected by the government. The condemnation of the Maoist for their acts was no longer on the agenda of public discourse. Rather, it was felt as an occasional aberration. Opposite of it, the fight of the state against the Maoist was presented as the violation of tribal rights.
It may be stated here that the Maoist intend to overthrow the contemporary liberal democracy which it thinks is possible through an armed revolutionary upsurge. It does not believe in this Constitution, which it treats as an ideal bourgeois text, and which can never be applied in its spirit due to the structural dominance of capital. What exists in praxis, therefore, is the caricature of the ideals of the Constitution. Opposite of it, the Maoist claims to fight for socialism; where the bourgeoisie duality won’t exist. From the failure and learning from the past experiences of Russia, China and other countries, it intends to improve it further. It does not believe in the surrender of arms and argues that by monopolising over the arms and denying the citizens the right to own it at their will, the state attempts to control any opposition against its rule. The parliamentary method is corrupt, creates cretinism and devoids its citizens of direct control over their representatives; Or, the system does not foster direct citizens’ rule as at the base is the capital-labor relation which has an in-built contradiction and it cannot be reconciled to.
However, the Party, which posits itself as an alternative to it, itself reflects the hierarchical structure of the existing society in its organisational functioning and ideology. The chain of command flows from top to bottom, instead of from bottom to top; Or, the very idea of vanguardism, the party functioning as vanguard on behalf of people, instead of letting the labor fight for itself in self-emancipatory mode, is problematic. And lastly, its ideology is non-Marxism, more Leninistic and closer to Mao’s Thought. It is distorted, unprincipled, and a compromise with the bourgeois ideology. To explain this point, let me illustrate an example. Maoist’s support peasants’ demands, and they are the bulwark of the organisation. But a reading of Marx tells us that he was antithetical to peasant agenda, always opposed the inclusion of their programs in the manifestoes of the Communist Parties and considered their social economic existence as an unfinished agenda of Capitalism. The second example can be of Maoist’s support to minority rights which again is unMarxism. Marx himself was a Jew which was persecuted in entire medieval European history. Yet, despite it, he never asked for minority right, never supported it. The third example can be of Maoist opposition to globalisation process which is contrary to Marx’s support for it. Marx had repeatedly asserted for a globalised economy and open trade where free movements of capital, commodity, technology and labor are not artificially restricted by national governments. The point here, anyway, is to state that Maoist praxis, programs and ideology do not conform to Marx’s praxis. The inner contradiction between the CPI, CPI(M), CPI(M-L) and the CPI(Maoist) are self-revealing about their Marxism and praxis5.
To conclude, the CPI (Maoist), which is the fusion of three Naxal parties namely the Peoples War (PW), Maoist Communist Centre (MCC) and the Party Unity (PU) is the most armed and deadliest party of the communist in India hitherto formed. Its areas of operation and its base areas have been the largest in terms of territory sustained for over two decades. Of late, however, the determined intervention of the administration has led its police to penetrate into its base area, has shortened its area of operation, has squeezed its revenue and has killed its cadres and leaders6. Yet, it remains a formidable armed force, trying to expand into urban labor unions. Its support base in the metropolitan academia and in the civil society groups remains intact. Only it has become muted for the time being due to the government of the BharatiyaJanata Party (BJP) at the centre.
It’s emergence, however, teaches a lesson; it reflects the failure of the governance. A connect with the people, an efficient, sensitive administration, and development of the regions are the prerequisites to check the further growth of the moemnt, and for the success of the liberal democracy.
1. https://mha.gov.in./division_of _mha/left-wing-extremism-division#
2. For detail, see GiridhariNayak, Neo-Naxal challenges, Pentagon Security International, 211, chap 1.
3. For detail, see Himanshu Roy, SalwaJudum : Another View, Occasional paper, Nehru Memorial Museum and Library, 214, p.10
4. Ibid. , p.4
5. For detail, see Himanshu Roy, ‘All the Phony Marxism’, Frontier, Volume 40: Nos. 12-15 October 7- November 3, 2007; Also ‘Peasantry against Socialism’, Science and People, Volume 3, No.2 March 1992.
6. https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india ; Times Of India, New Delhi, 28.5.2018
(Dr.Himanshu Roy is an Associate Professor of Political Science at
DeenDayalUpadhyaya College of Delhi University.)
(This article is carried in the print edition of July-August 2018 issue of India Foundation Journal.)