Archive for the ‘CPI(M-L)Liberation’ Category

Betrayed by the revolution

June 13, 2007
SHELVED: Kaushalya Devi next to her son’s photographs

KAUSHALYA DEVI is not a political leader and she is
not rich. Still, she commands obvious
respect from the man on the street in this small town in
northwest Bihar — whether it is the rickshaw
puller or the roadside hawker. After all, her son’s statue
graces the town’s Gopalganj More Chowk.

Chandrashekhar Prasad was an office bearer of the CPI (ML).
While studying at the Jawaharlal Nehru University in New
Delhi, he was elected president of the student’s union twice.
He was 34 when he was gunned down, allegedly by men belonging
to Mohammad Shahabuddin’s gang.

Shahabuddin is a member of the Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD)
and represents Siwan in the Lok Sabha. He was recently
convicted by a special fast track court in Siwan in two
cases of abduction. Gopalganj More Chowk, a small junction
from where the highway to Gopalganj (RJD chief Laloo
Prasad’s home) leads off, is now officially
called Chandrashekhar Chowk.

“Shahabuddin will surely be convicted and hanged for the
murder. It is the prayers of many mothers and widows in Siwan
who lost their beloveds over the years by his bullets,”
72-year-old Kaushalya Devi told TEHELKA at her small house
in Bindusar village, four kilometres from Siwan town.

The CPI (ML) leadership greeted Shahabuddin’s convictions
with great joy, but their enthusiasm is not shared by her.
“The party says the convictions are the victory of the downtrodden
or the proletariat. There is no such thing. The murders by
Shahabuddin were all for political reasons:
to capture power.

Like Shahabuddin, it was pure politics for the CPI (ML) too.
The same ugly politics continues even today,” she said.
It wouldn’t be too much of an exaggeration to say that after
her husband, a sergeant in the Air Force, died of cardiac arrest
in 1973, she only lived for her sevenyear- old son. She only got
Rs 150 as pension but she made sure that her son was
educated well.

He first attended the Sainik School in Jhumri-Tilaiya, then
went to the National Defence Academy in Pune and
then to JNU.“I was sad when he came back to Siwan
after finishing his studies at JNU to become a fulltime activist
of the CPI (ML),” she said. “But his passion for national politics
and sincere love for the poor convinced me that he had
a noble purpose in life. Seeing his selfless work,
I stopped telling him to take up a government job.

Ten years after his murder, I realise how selfish the political
party is.” She lives alone in her two-room house at
Bindusar. A visit by a CPI (ML) activist is rare.

“For the CPI (ML), my value as a useful political
weapon was over. Today, nobody in the party is bothered
about how Chandrashekhar’s old mother lives,” she said.
“The party made full use of me during the two-three
years after my son’s murder. The CPI (ML) has
been thriving on the politics of dead bodies.”

Soon after Chandrashekhar was killed, people from across the
country and even abroad flocked to Siwan and participated in
processions. T-shirts bearing Chandrashekhar’s image were
distributed by the CPI (ML).

“I was very sad to see party cadres, even senior
leaders, selling these T-shirts secretly at very high prices,”
Kaushalya Devi said. She had returned the Rs 1-lakh compensation
given to her by the prime minister.WHEN THE Siwan unit of
CPI (ML) decided to install a statue of
Chandrashekhar, they asked her to “donate” Rs 40,000.

“They almost forced me to donate the amount. Then
they forgot about the statue. After three years of constant
complaining, they installed it last year,” she said.

She had to complain to the party general secretary Dipankar
Bhattacharya to get it installed. “The statue was installed by
the people who didn’t even pay for a funeral shroud when his
body was brought for the cremation. I had to pay for it,” she said.

She has donated a piece of land close to Chandrashekhar’s
memorial for a school and a library. It still remains a dream.
“Setting the school up is nowhere in sight. The memorial lies
neglected,” she said.

Kaushalya Devi holds the CPI (ML) responsible for her son’s
murder. “When there were constant threats and warnings to my
son from the Shahabuddin gang, several
party workers had been in touch with Shahabuddin.

The party never cared for his security. The CPI (ML) leader
who had lodged the FIR after Chandrashekhar’s murder later
turned hostile and joined Shahabuddin’s gang,”
she said. “Sometimes, I see the party’s hand in my son’s murder.”

The CPI (ML) leadership says that her charges are “a grieving
mother’s emotional outbursts”. The CPI (ML) Bihar secretary
Nand Kishore was the Siwan regional secretary when
Chandrashekhar was killed. “She is the mother of all the
CPI (ML) workers. We respect her highly,” he told
TEHELKA. “There is no truth in what she is
saying. The delay in installing the statue
was due to the difficulty in finding a suitable
site and the fear of Shahabuddin.

As far as Chandrashekhar’s security goes, all CPI (ML)
workers in Siwan were under severe threat during those days.”
CPI (ML) general secretary Dipankar
Bhattacharya was apologetic. “I am unaware
of any such activities by party workers.

The party is with Chandrashekhar’s mother, and will look
after her well. I will look into her grievances,” he said.



The Three Contemporary Currents among Indian Communists

April 19, 2007

The Three Contemporary Currents among Indian Communists

– Dipankar Bhattacharya

(This article appeared in an abridged form in the Economic and Political Weekly December 16, 2006 titled ‘The Trail Blazed by Naxalbari’ – Ed.)

Recent developments in Nepal seem to have triggered a renewed debate in the Indian communist movement around the most vital questions of programme and tactics. In an interesting reversal of roles, the CPI(M) has emerged as the most enthusiastic admirer of the Nepali Maoists (EPW, July 22, 2006) while the Indian Maoists are quite understandably uncomfortable with several recent pronouncements and steps of their Nepali counterparts (People’s March, June-July 2006; EPW, October 14, 2006).

Yechury’s Caricature of Ideological Trends
Sitaram Yechury who went to Nepal as a de facto emissary of the UPA government after the obvious failure of the Karan Singh mission seems to believe that the Maoist experiment of Nepal corroborates the CPI(M) line in India and can be used to rubbish, for the umpteenth time, the entire history of the Naxalite or CPI(ML) movement in India.

In the name of “learning from experience and analysis”, Yechury has presented us with a highly simplistic and crude caricature of the ideological-political struggle in the Indian communist movement which, according to him, led to the crystallisation of three trends – revisionism, Marxism and Left adventurism – epitomised respectively by the CPI, CPI(M) and the various groups of Naxalites and Maoists.

This of course raises one interesting question. If the CPI is the repository of revisionism in the Indian communist movement and the CPI(M) is the custodian of Marxism, how come the two parties are working so closely together, prompting many observers to suggest that the time has come for the two parties to merge into one? Every student of Marxism knows that Marxism can only be defended and developed in the course of a relentless struggle with both reformism/revisionism and Left sectarianism/adventurism/anarchism.

We are all aware of the CPI(M)’s differences with the Naxalites and Maoists, but what about the CPI(M)’s differences with the CPI? Are there any still left – except perhaps the fact that while both of them are united by their shared ties of mutual collaboration with the Congress, the CPI(M) prefers Laloo Prasad to Ram Vilas Paswan while the CPI prefers the latter to the former? Where has all the revisionism gone, comrade?

Yechury would like us to believe that the CPI(ML)’s characterisation of the Indian bourgeoisie as comprador meant that it considered the big bourgeoisie to be pretty weak and devoid of a “solid social base”. Similarly, he tells us that landlords too were considered so weak that it was presumed that the whole class could be eliminated just through ‘physical annihilation’ of individual landlords.

Well, the first phase of the CPI(ML) movement (1969-72) was definitely premised on the assessment of the maturing of a revolutionary crisis in the country which led to the call for direct action and boycott of many of the familiar forms of struggle and organisation. No revolution can ever be waged by treating the system as rock solid and the ruling classes as invincible. True, Naxalbari did not succeed in terms of its immediate goals, but it certainly succeeded in blazing a new trail and future revolutionary attempts in India would always recognise it as an important dress rehearsal.

While mocking at the revolutionary campaign inspired by the Naxalbari uprising and unleashed by the CPI(ML), Yechury tends to give the impression that it was the formation of the United Front government in West Bengal in which the CPI(M) shared power with one section of the Congress that inspired all the agrarian and working class struggles in the late sixties. He has got his sequence completely wrong. It was the great people’s struggles of the sixties that had facilitated the formation of the UF government and the government proved its worth to the central authority of the Indian state by drowning the Naxalbari uprising in blood. It is of course another story that the repression let loose on the Naxalite movement under the UF regime did not spare the CPI(M) and eventually the anti-Naxalite semi-fascist terror was universalised as anti-Left and even anti-Opposition repression during the infamous reign of Emergency.

Doing Business with Big Business
However much the CPI(M) may try to restrict the meaning of the word comprador to the original Comintern usage, the whole world knows that the word has evolved since then. In China, Mao used the word more as a political category to differentiate the Chinese bourgeoisie on the basis of their ties with imperialism. Comprador was synonymous with pro-imperialist while the non-comprador or national (in one place Mao also explained the distinction as that between more comprador and less comprador) section of the bourgeoisie was considered anti-imperialist and hence an ally of the revolution which was directed against imperialism as well as powerful feudal remnants.

In India too, the term comprador is increasingly used not only by ideologues of the ML movement but also by many other economists and political commentators, not to suggest that the Indian bourgeoisie lacks any manufacturing muscle but to emphasise the growing and open pro-imperialist tilt in the economic policies of the Indian state and increasing organic integration between the Indian big business and the imperialist global capital.

Yechury claims that the CPI(M) programme has turned out to be more in tune with the concrete Indian reality because only the CPI(M) recognises the fact that the Indian state is led by the Indian big bourgeoisie. The big bourgeoisie leading the Indian state is certainly not a unique CPI(M) discovery. Nobody is arguing that feudal landlords have the ultimate say in the affairs of the Indian state or that imperialism enjoys a direct stake in state power in India. In spite of growing imperialist intervention and domination in India’s internal affairs, few would equate India with a banana republic or with the kind of puppet regimes currently installed by the US in Afghanistan and Iraq. But even after we all agree on the leadership of the Indian big bourgeoisie over the Indian state, the question of characterisation of this bourgeoisie still remains.

The CPI(M) describes the character of the Indian bourgeoisie as ‘dual’, implying thereby that the relationship of the Indian bourgeoisie with imperialism is marked by both conflicts and compromises. Now as a party of professed Marxists, the CPI(M) would still have to answer whether conflict or collaboration is the dominant aspect in this relationship. And this is where the updated CPI(M) programme expects the conflicts to grow in the era of globalisation, something that clearly flies in the face of the actual state of affairs and one does not have to be a member of the CPI(ML) to recognise this obvious fact. While the economic and foreign policies of the Congress and the BJP show a growing pro-US concurrence or convergence, the CPI(M), which began propping up the Congress-led UPA government in the name of keeping the BJP out of power, is now awaiting the right ‘policy platform’ that would enable it to share power with the Congress at the Centre (Prakash Karat in conversation with the Indian Express, 29 October, 2006).

Underestimating Feudal Power
Imperialism apart, the other important question of a democratic revolution in India concerns the role of feudal remnants, and the CPI(M) programme is equally vague on this score. Even after nearly six decades of ‘Independence’, five decades of zamindari abolition and four decades of green revolution, feudal remnants in India remain quite visibly powerful and stubborn. And they are not to be found only in some obscure villages in ‘backward’ Bihar where state-sponsored landlord armies and massacres of dalits and other sections of the rural poor are more rampant.

Feudal atrocities on dalits, adivasis and women are very much still a pan-Indian reality, and so are patterns of usury and semi-bondage that are currently thriving right in areas of advanced agriculture in Punjab, Maharashtra, Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh. The CPI(M) programme does not lay any particular emphasis on the crucial task of sweeping away the vestiges of feudalism and no wonder the party looks more like a political stranger to the real world of feudal oppression, landlord-kulak violence and anti-feudal awakening of the rural poor in large parts of the country. By contrast, the CPI(ML)’s vigorous opposition to feudal remnants and its consistent commitment to the anti-feudal task of India’s democratic revolution has enabled it to break new ground in many parts of rural India.

The CPI(M)’s claim to ‘correctness’ rests primarily on its ‘successful experience’ with multi-party democracy in India. Apart from ruling West Bengal for nearly three decades, and periodically returning to power in Kerala and Tripura, the CPI(M) has now also accumulated a fair amount of experience of doing political business with the Congress and several regional parties both at the Centre and in different states. As a ruling party or friend of a ruling coalition, its job has now become primarily one of implementing the whole range of official policies formulated at the central level, or at best designing a ‘human face’ for the package of liberalisation, privatisation and globalisation and forcing it on the very people the party had once promised to fight for.

From Naxalbari (1967) to Singur (2006), whenever the CPI(M) in power has been confronted with a ‘choice’ between the people and the state, it has turned against the former and sided with the latter. In Naxalbari, Yechury may say that the fighting rural poor were ‘misled’ by the ‘absurd dream’ of intensifying and advancing the peasant movement to the point of capturing state power, but what about the peasants, sharecroppers and agricultural labourers at Singur? The latter have merely been trying to defend their land and livelihood while the CPI(M)-led state government has invoked the land acquisition act and unleashed police repression and organisational intimidation to dispossess them with a view to enabling the Tatas to set up an automobile plant on their highly fertile, multi-cropped land. It is the CPI(M)’s theoretical understanding of the Indian big bourgeoisie and its ‘solid social base’ which is illuminating the CPI(M) on its current journey to power-sharing with the Congress and fulfilling the wish lists of the Tatas and Ambanis, and ADB and DFID.

Redefining the Democratic Mainstream in Nepal
Yechury tells us that the “debates and divisions in the Indian communist movement … have had and continue to have a profound impact on the communist movement in Nepal.” Now, there are two major communist currents in Nepal today, the CPN(Maoist) and the CPN(Unified Marxist-Leninist). The 1990 movement for restoration of democracy catapulted the CPN(UML) as the main contender of the Nepali Congress and sixteen years later, the anti-monarchy upsurge has brought the CPN(M) to the political foreground of Nepal. If Yechury wants to understand them in terms of the debates and trends in India, here are the facts. The CPN(UML) and the CPN(M) were both inspired by the Naxalbari uprising and the CPI(ML) movement in India. Over the years, the communist currents in Nepal that were historically associated with or corresponded to the CPI and CPI(M) in India have virtually faded away into political oblivion or coalesced around these two dominant trends.

It is also an incontestable historical fact that neither the pre-1990 CPN(UML) nor the pre-2005 CPN(M) had much connection with the CPI(M); it is only after becoming major players in Nepal politics that their proximity with the CPI(M) has developed, and the obvious diplomatic reasons underlying this newfound proximity are not difficult to understand. The CPN(M)’s current strength or stature is derived primarily from the gains made in the course of what it calls the ten years of people’s war. It is sheer eclecticism in philosophy and opportunism in politics to laud the present of the CPN(M) while dismissing the past that has led to the present juncture.

What Yechury finds particularly laudable in the CPN(M) now is its “decision to enter the democratic mainstream and participate in competitive politics.” This is where he starts drawing a parallel between the CPN(M) and his own party in India. And this is precisely where he goes wrong. There is no given democratic mainstream that is fixed for all time to come. There was a so-called democratic mainstream coupled with competitive politics all these years in Nepal with the King at its head and a Constitution giving him a whole range of arbitrary powers including that to dismiss the parliament. The recent popular upsurge in Nepal has effected a partial but significant breach in this order and opened up the possibility of a democratic republic. The CPN(M) has played a key role in bringing about this transition, which has a definite revolutionary significance and potential in the specific context of Nepal. By insisting on a new constitution and on a republican state, the CPN(M) is actually calling for a new democratic mainstream and a new plane for competitive politics in Nepal.

How far this would actually materialise in Nepal is still quite an open question. It is also clear that even if monarchy is completely abolished, the new republican order may in all likelihood still fall far short of what could be described as a people’s democracy or new democracy. But at least in the context of Nepal, the present juncture can perhaps be viewed as a possible transitional step in that direction. Yechury abstracts the multiparty competitive form from the essential political content and context of the present transition in Nepal. Prachanda’s quotation with which Yechury begins his article, saying that readers might well think that this was a resolution of the CPI(M), talks about “multiparty competition within an anti-feudal and anti-imperialist constitutional frame” (emphasis added). For Yechury this just becomes “a multiparty democratic system within the stipulated constitutional framework.” The entire debate in Nepal is now revolving precisely around the question of election of a constituent assembly, adoption of a new constitution and reorganisation of the army, but Yechury already talks about “the stipulated constitutional framework”!

One is not so sure about what the Nepali Maoists have in mind when they talk about learning “from the experiences of the revolutions and counter-revolutions of the 20th century.” For Marxists the world over, there is of course one basic lesson of all revolutions that has been grasped since the revolutionary days of the Paris Commune. Revolution means conquest of political power, it means the overthrowing, by the revolutionary classes, of the erstwhile ruling classes and the smashing of the state that has been the organ of the latter’s class rule. And without such a revolutionary overthrow, the state even in the best and most developed of bourgeois parliamentary republics remains in content nothing but the dictatorship of the bourgeoisie. For all the rhetorical contrast between ‘one-party communist rule’ and ‘multiparty competition’, most bourgeois states are increasingly perfecting an almost institutionalised two-party system.

The Indian ruling classes have also stepped up their efforts in this direction. Abolition of a US-backed monarchy and establishment of a democratic republic surely has a revolutionary significance for Nepal and if such a republic is achieved and consolidated under revolutionary communist leadership and led along new democratic lines it would indeed be an exciting development in our neighbourhood, but in no way can the form of multiparty competition be abstracted to gloss over the very question of the essential nature and class character of such a state.

The Peril of Ignoring Internal Conditions
Ironically enough, while the CPI(M) now waxes eloquent about the maturity of the Nepali Maoists, the Indian Maoists now find themselves in increasing disagreement with their Nepali comrades. The disagreements have been aired quite openly in an interview by Azad, the official spokesperson for the Indian Maoists, published in the June-July 2006 issue of People’s March, following which the two parties have issued a joint press statement to the effect that debates on ideological, political and strategic issues would be conducted “bilaterally and also, occasionally, publicly.” The Indian Maoists would have perhaps loved to see a linear culmination of the people’s war in Nepal, and they are uncomfortable with the growing departure of the Nepali Maoists from the classical Chinese course.

Admittedly, the developments in Nepal merit a closer Marxist scrutiny and the theoretical and practical responses made by various schools of Nepali communists would surely be closely watched as the direction of the present transition in Nepal becomes clearer. But the Indian Maoists’ discomfort with the latest developments in Nepal seems to go beyond their anxiety over the future of the communist movement in Nepal, for they are aware that it could well spell some kind of theoretical crisis for the very revolutionary model they claim to be following.

Internationally, the Maoist trend has currently got its most visible presence in Nepal and India. In countries like Peru and the Philippines, where the trend was quite strong in the late 1980s and early 1990s, the Maoists have suffered major reverses. The Indian Maoists seem to have a strange explanation for this state of affairs. In the words of Azad, “Due to the weakness in the international communist movement we see many a people’s war bogged down in a struggle for survival for decades” (page 26, People’s March, June-July 2006). The success of the classical version of the strategy of protracted people’s war depends primarily on the existence of favourable internal conditions.

If the Maoists could make such headway in Nepal and by contrast if they are ‘bogged down in a struggle for survival’ in neighbouring India, the answer cannot be sought in the weakness or strength of the international communist movement. The answer clearly lies in the vastly different internal conditions obtaining in Nepal and India and in the strategy and tactics adopted by the Maoists in the two countries. The continued neglect of concrete internal conditions and dogmatic attempts to transplant the Chinese model to the Indian reality has led Azad to lay such lopsided emphasis on the external environment.

Azad is upset that the discussion on Maoism in EPW (July 22, 2006) has been preoccupied with the question of violence. Now, perhaps none of the contributors whose articles were published in the said issue of EPW can be described as advocates of non-violence as a philosophy. In spite of that if the discussion has got bogged down in violence – and Azad in his rejoinder (EPW, October 14, 2006) has followed the same pattern – should not the answer be sought in the specific practice of the Maoists themselves? With their exclusive emphasis on armed action and thorough neglect of any kind of mass movement and political initiative, have not the Maoists made violence the most distinguishing feature of their identity?

Azad asks the EPW contributors to suggest ways as to how the people should “organise to improve their lives” and “fight back” in the face of increasing state violence and growing mass impoverishment. And then he tells us that “to negate the Maoist method … without providing an alternative, in effect, is to push people into deeper despair (and poverty), even as the moneybags strut around flaunting their wealth.” Now to tell the truth, millions of peasants and workers in this country are daily waging an organised battle to improve their lives and fight back. But Azad and his comrades, the self-styled followers of what they call the ‘Maoist method’, remain almost totally isolated from these everyday struggles. Instead of arrogantly asking others to suggest alternatives, Azad should have taken the trouble of showing how exactly the armed activities of the Maoist squads are helping the people to organise and improve their lives and fight back.

The question arises on the basis of Azad’s own account. With respect to both Andhra and Chhattisgarh, it is clear from his account that their land struggles and so-called ‘people-oriented projects’ all belonged to a previous period when “the military operations were not as intense.” As far as Bihar and Jharkhand are concerned, the land redistribution movement and the rural poor’s wider campaign for livelihood, social dignity and political assertion continue to be led primarily by the organisation that Azad refers to as the ‘revisionist Liberation group’. The same is true for the Orissa districts bordering Andhra and even the coastal Andhra district of East Godavari. The erstwhile PWG in Andhra and the Party Unity group in undivided Bihar did wage some anti-feudal struggles in the 1980s, but this was abandoned in the subsequent years as our Maoist friends got completely immersed (trapped?) in what can perhaps only be described as anarcho-militarism.

“Absurd Negation of Politics in Bourgeois Society”
Azad will surely take offence at the anarchist epithet. But this is again justified by the very arguments he has advanced in his rejoinder. We are not using the term anarchism as shorthand for armed activities. As Marxists we are perfectly aware that anarchism can assume all kinds of forms, from armed actions to Gandhian non-violence. We are going by Lenin’s elaboration of anarchism: “Anarchism is a product of despair. … Failure to understand the class struggle of the proletariat. Absurd negation of politics in bourgeois society. …Failure to understand the role of the organisation and the education of the workers. …Panaceas consisting of one-sided, disconnected means. … Subordination of the working class to bourgeois politics in the guise of negation of politics.” (Lenin, Collected Works, Volume 5, pp 327-8)

How accurately does Lenin’s description correspond to Azad’s thought-process and logic! He argues that to negate what he calls the ‘Maoist method’ is to “push people into deeper and deeper despair”. So the ‘Maoist’ method, as he understands it, is linked organically to despair (only the depth of that despair may be debated). This is characteristic of anarchism and has nothing to do with revolutionary violence and Mao’s doctrine of protracted people’s war. He wants EPW commentators to tell him how the people should “organise to improve their lives” and “fight back”. This is precisely what Lenin has mentioned as “failure to understand the class struggle of the proletariat.” The real life class struggle of the workers and peasants has no meaning or relevance for him, what matters is only the execution of the so-called ‘Maoist method’. This is just an anarchist caricature of Mao’s teachings, pure and simple.

Lenin describes “absurd negation of politics in bourgeois society” as another characteristic feature of anarchism. This again follows from the failure to understand the dynamics of class struggle. For students of Marxism, it is elementary knowledge that the society is divided into classes and that in the modern political system classes are represented by political parties. The contention among political parties, among different ideas and policies advocated by different parties, is a key expression and arena of class struggle. Now for our Maoist friends all political parties, with the sole exception of perhaps their own organisation, are either reactionary or revisionist. So they will have nothing to do with parties. They will also have nothing to do with parliament because it is an institution to dupe the masses, because it has been imposed from above and not the product of an authentic bourgeois revolution. One wonders if such an ‘authentically bourgeois’ Indian Parliament would have been any less ‘deceptive’!

Ignoring all real life political parties and political institutions, Azad and his comrades would like to deal with classes in pure abstraction. He pooh-poohs the idea of Left unity or a Left and democratic confederation and advocates in place of such an “amorphous conglomeration, … a genuine United Front of the four classes of the workers, peasants, middle classes and the national bourgeoisie.” Now the majority of the active elements of these classes are organised around and influenced by various parties – this is the concrete political physiognomy of the existing social reality. Now for Azad, the concrete is ‘amorphous’, and only the abstract is ‘genuine’. If he wants to form a four-class united front, he can have no other way but to win over the masses of these classes through vigorous political struggle. And as dialecticians we know that struggle also involves unity – of course, struggle between opposites is permanent and unconditional while unity is temporary and conditional.

Without an active political process of struggle and unity – the concept of a Left and democratic confederation is nothing but a theoretical framework for facilitating and accelerating such a process – the masses cannot be won over and united by merely parroting abstract revolutionary phrases. And for sure, military superiority too cannot be established or sustained in a political vacuum.

Our Maoist friends do not recognise the necessity of active and conscious communist intervention in the political process. Now dialectics defines freedom as the cognition of necessity. Refusal to recognise the necessity of intervention in the political process can only make one so much more unfree. Indeed the Maoists are not able to wish away the concrete political reality; they have had to adjust with it on terms dictated by the system. For all their long history, military might and mass influence, the Maoists in Andhra Pradesh have allowed themselves to be treated as a political football between the Congress and the Telugu Desam Party. In the last Assembly elections in the state, they had to ‘waive’ their traditional boycott call to facilitate a Congress comeback. In Bihar their ties with the RJD have been widely known.

For all the ten years when Chandrababu Naidu reduced Andhra Pradesh to a laboratory for World Bank policies and a veritable graveyard for cotton and groundnut farmers, the PWG could do little more than make a failed attempt on Naidu’s life. After the Congress came back to power, they embarked on ‘negotiations’ with the state government, but when the government reneged on its promises, the Maoists could again do nothing to hold the government accountable.

Need for Independent Political Assertion of the People
Azad believes that the EPW special issue with several articles on the Maoists reflected “recognition of the growing importance that the Maoist-led movement plays in the polity and economy of the country.” Indeed there is a great deal of discussion on the ‘Maoist insurgency’ in the media as well as in official and academic circles. But what are the terms and nature of this discussion? A good deal of it is pure media sensationalism while the rest oscillates between ‘law and order problem’ and ‘security threat’ on the one hand, and democratic rights and ‘alternative paradigm of development’ on the other.

Even in the pages of EPW, Azad feels that the whole discussion has been obsessed with violence with very little attention paid to the “horrifying conditions of the masses” and what the Maoists are doing or intend to do about them. There is nothing accidental about this, it is just a reflection of the fact that the Maoists have failed to advance a political agenda and have failed to bring the oppressed masses to the political foreground. Indeed, it is significant that Azad wants the discussion to focus on the horrifying conditions of the masses and not on how they are heroically fighting against these conditions.

It is on this political plane that the Maoists in Nepal have stolen a march over their Indian counterparts. The anti-monarchy slogan of the Nepali Maoists coincided with a real political crisis of the monarchy and when that happened the Maoists were in a position to intervene effectively in the developing situation. Even though the situation in Nepal is still quite fluid and many of the theoretical propositions being advanced by the Nepali Maoists are indeed quite debatable, it cannot be denied that Prachanda and his comrades have displayed considerable political imagination and initiative. By contrast, Azad and his comrades continue to epitomise political inertia and bankruptcy, and at times even downright political degeneration (like in the infamous Paliganj incident on 18 August 2004 when, at the behest of the RJD MLA of Paliganj in Bihar, a Maoist squad attacked the local CPI(ML) office in the dead of the night and gunned down five leading activists of the CPI(ML) even as they were fast asleep).

When even some sympathetic observers raise some points of debate they are accused of being either revisionist or post-modernist and NGO-ish. Well, from AIPRF to Mumbai Resistance 2004 to the latest PDFI, all the united front platforms floated by our Maoists have been peopled primarily by post-modernists and NGOs of different hues. Just indiscriminately branding people and organisations cannot eradicate the poverty of mass struggles and political initiatives.

For all their acrimonious exchanges – Yechury even goes to the extent of describing the Indian Maoists as mercenaries donning the radical cloak of Marxist politics – both Yechury and Azad appear united in equating Maoism and Naxalism. The fact is that the trail blazed by the Naxalbari uprising, i.e., the CPI(ML) movement, has evolved in two clearly different directions. Following the early setback of the first revolutionary attempt and the systematic state-sponsored slaughter of thousands of revolutionaries, the movement received a new lease of life in the plains of Bihar and the CPI(ML) was reorganised in the midst of all-round confusion and splits.

The reorganised CPI(ML) – registered as the CPI(ML)(Liberation), after the central organ of the Party – has resurrected the revolutionary movement of the rural poor in different parts of the country and emerged as a rallying centre for not only Marxist-Leninists from different streams but also for many communists from the CPI and CPI(M) and activists of socialist and general democratic movements. While the CPI(ML) has made necessary tactical changes in keeping with the changing situation without in any way diluting its revolutionary strategic perspective, the Maoists have over the years immersed themselves increasingly in what can perhaps only be called anarcho-militarism. The departure made by the Maoists from the historical trajectory of the CPI(ML) is now also reflected in the new name they have got for themselves, viz., CPI(Maoist).

To come back to Yechury’s three trends, he is certainly not wrong in talking about the three historical currents in the Indian communist movement; only he has to slightly update his categorisation. Both the CPI and CPI(M) now twin-share the same slot – call it opportunism, reformism or revisionism. The main identity of this stream is now as India’s ‘Left’ face of governance, combining shades of Blair’s New Labour and Lula’s Workers’ Party. At the other end of the spectrum, the Maoists are busy carving a full-blown anarchist identity for themselves. Despite their apparently diametrically opposite forms and slogans, the two trends often end up in the same destination – both ensure subordination of the working people to bourgeois politics. And fighting consistently against both these deviations, it is the CPI(ML) which is defending and developing the revolutionary wing of the Indian communist movement in the face of all odds.


Related Posts

Comrade Azad the official spokesperson of the CPI(maoist) responds to the Economic and Political Weekly articles on Maoism

CPM just can’t accept the rural poor challenging it’ – Dipankar Bhattacharya

April 3, 2007

‘The CPM just can’t accept the rural poor challenging it’

Dipanker Bhattacharya, general secretary, CPI-ML (Liberation), speaks to TEHELKA about the Nandigram police firing and the role of the Left

Dipanker Bhattacharya, General Secretary, CPI-ML (Liberation),

What do you think about the Nandigram violence?
Nandigram didn’t happen overnight. Mini-Nandigrams have been happening in West Bengal since years. In May 1993, at Karanad village in Barddhaman district, on the day of panchayat elections, five agricultural labourers were lynched and burnt alive by CPM goons. Reason? They questioned the CPM’s anti-poor policies and joined the CPI-ML.

Singur has inaugurated a new phase in politics. Sharecroppers and small peasants were the mainstay of the CPM in Bengal. Now, they are challenging the government’s policies. After 30 years in power, CPM just cannot accept the fact that the rural poor in the state have the guts to challenge it. This intolerance is at the heart of the whole episode.

At Nandigram, in January, the farmers had their apprehensions because they had seen how land was snatched from the people at Singur without their consent. At the first warning that their land could also be taken away, they rose in protest. On January 6, the administration convened a peace meeting. It was decided that the police won’t be sent into the village and the people would repair the damage caused to roads and bridges. But that decision was just a smokescreen. While the peace talks were on, the CPM organised its armed goons and they ran amok at Nandigarm, killing seven people. Even after that, they (CPM) did say that if the people don’t want SEZ, we were not in hurry to acquire their land. At the same time, several CPM leaders including Health Minister Suryakant Mishra and the Kisan Sabha leader Binoy Kumar were issuing not so veiled threats to the people. Just before the March 11 incident, CPM organised a big rally in Kolkata to show that the peasantry of Bengal was in favour of the SEZs. In that meeting, Chief Minister Budhhadeb Bhattacharya had said no single area or a couple of panchayats could stop “our onward march”. Binoy Kumar openly declared that they “will make life hell for the people of Nandigram”.

After 30 years in power, the Left Front government of West Bengal will be known for the police excesses at Nandigram and Singur, not for land reforms or panchayati raj experiments

Then came the genocide. Nandigram is a clear case of a cold-blooded police operation. Initially, Budhhadeb said, “I was under tremendous pressure to send police in”. Then on the floor of the Assembly, he said the police had opened fire in self-defence. Finally, he said, “I take moral responsibility. We didn’t anticipate this. I am sorry for the police excesses”. It was pre-planned. Even CPM leaders at the national level had approved the blueprint of the operation. The whole idea was to teach the peasants a lesson.

Against the backdrop of Nandigram firing, what does Left politics in India mean?
There is a very clear divide within the Left. The opportunist group, which has been numerically and electorally dominant, now stands unmasked. The unmasking began 40 years back when the Naxalbari incident happened. On the one hand, you have examples of degeneration of the Left in power. On the other, you have growing peasants’ resistance. When you speak to the victims of Nandigram, they only talk about the injustice meted out to them, and ask if there is any political solution for that.

There is a very clear divide within the Left. The opportunist group, which has been numerically and electorally dominant, now stands unmasked

There will be fresh growth of the Left movement in this country. Polarisation has happened between the derailed Left and the revolutionary Left. The derailed Left is busy killing peasants and the rural poor to appease Big Capital. When the Left came to power in Bengal 30 years ago, they promised that they would provide immediate relief to the people and restore democracy, which was murdered by the Congress regime during the Emergency. Over the years, they have even curbed the freedom to protest and suppressed peasants’ movements. The CPM neither listens to the Left intellectuals nor to the peasants. But the real Left, like our party, is still fighting for the rural poor. In the days to come, you will witness the Left polarisation clearly.

Do you mean that the years in power have eroded the Left’s mass base in Bengal and corrupted it?
You can’t say that power will invariably result in this. They could have used the power for different purposes. But they feel so “responsible” to the system and the ruling classes that they have completely redrawn their priorities. It is this reversal of priorities that has resulted in Nandigram. After 30 years in power, now the Left Front government of West Bengal will be known for the police excesses at Nandigram and Singur, not for land reforms or panchayati raj experiments.

Where do you see CPI, Forward Bloc and RSP standing?
They have been a part and parcel of the state government. It’s true that, after

In 1993, on the day of panchayat elections, five agricultural labourers were lynched and burnt alive in Barddhaman district by CPM goons. Reason? They questioned the CPM’s anti-poor policies and joined the CPI-ML

Singur and Nandigram, they have raised voices of protest. The two meetings they held in Kolkota gave the impression that they were out to debate the issues threadbare. But at the Front meeting, the CPM said, “Henceforth, we would listen to you more” and there would be more meetings. Their protests ended there.

It’s time for people to speak out. Sumit Sarkar and Tanika Sarkar did. Prakash Karat expressed regret, only after four days of silence. If Budhhadeb really feels morally responsible, he should quit.

Do you see these incidents as the beginning of the end of Left rule in Bengal?
Definitely. The CPM has never been so isolated as it is today. Nobody believes them today and I find this isolation a major blow to the party. Certainly, the Budhhadeb government has lost its popular support and public trust.

Do you expect any realignment of the Left bloc?
I do not see it at this moment. But definitely there will be a realignment of forces and ranks. If the CPI, FB and RSP leaders cannot address the grievances of their ranks, there will be a disconnect between the power-obsessed leadership and the cadres.


Inquilab Rally in New Delhi

April 3, 2007

Inquilab Rally in New Delhi

On March 23, hundreds of thousands of people from all over India converged in Delhi to express their anger at the killing of peasant protesters on March 14 by police and thugs aligned with the West Bengal Left Front (LF) government. Those killed were resisting eviction from their land in Nandigram. Similar killings also happened on January 7. The mass rally was preceded by two days of cultural protests.

dipanker bhattacharya rally cpi(m-l)

Dipankar Bhattacharya addresses the ‘Inquilab rally’.

Organised by the Communist Party of India (Marxist-Leninist) Liberation, the rally fell on the 76th anniversary of the martyring of independence heroes Bhagat Singh, Sukhdev Thapar and Shivaram Rajguru. With the executioner’s rope over his neck, Singh shouted “Inquilab Zindabad” (“Long live the revolution”). The CPI(ML) rally was called “Inquilab rally” in memory of these heroes. Bhagat Singh’s nephew Jagmohan was a speaker at the rally.

The Communist Party of India (Marxist) dominates the LF government, which has held power for 30 years in West Bengal. The CPI(ML) was the result of a 1968 split from the CPI(M), after the newly elected LF government crushed a 1967 uprising of the rural poor in Naxalbari, in the state’s north.

More details of the March 14 massacre have come to light. According to a fact-finding report conducted by the Association for Protection of Democratic Rights and Paschim Banga Khet Majdoor Samity (an agricultural labourer organisation), authorised by the Kolkata High Court, at Bhangabera on the outskirt of Nandigram a group of mostly women and children were praying on March 14 when, without warning, police started indiscriminately firing on them. Those who tried to escape were hunted down by CPI(M) thugs disguised as police.

According to the report, “Children were murdered indiscriminately; bodies have been thrown to nearby Chuniburi river. The children of primary schools at least eight in numbers have been killed by the murderers and then all those children were buried in a particular place near Bhangabera area.”

The report revealed that the cops and hooligans then went on to ransack and indiscriminately fire upon the villagers’ huts, killing and injuring more. No less than 100 people were injured. Some victims were too scared to go to the hospital.

“A good number of women have complained that they have been raped, sexually abused and molested by police personnel and the murderers of the political party [the CPI(M)]”, says the report.

The report accused local CPI(M) MP Lakhman Seth of having engaged “professional murderers” to finish up the atrocities initiated by the police.

In an interview published by the Hindustan Times on March 20, CPI(ML) general secretary Dipankar Bhattacharya, who has led a fact-finding team to Nandigram, claimed while a precise death toll isn’t yet established, bodies are being discovered every day. He added: “Many bodies were dumped, many were buried overnight and roads built on them. Our team has come back with horrifying tales and reports.”

Bhattacharya said that many victims had “chopper” wounds. “From when did policemen started carrying choppers? It means that CPI (M) goons must have accompanied the police. They were wearing police uniforms but their slippers gave them away. There were cases of women being gang raped as well. There were many cases where the women were mutilated. It was a cold-blooded, pre-planned carnage.”


CPI(ML)Liberation hopes to attract cadres let down by CPM

April 3, 2007

CPI(ML)Liberation hopes to attract cadres let down by CPM

NEW DELHI: The CPI(ML) hopes that the continuing disenchantment with CPM in West Bengal will result in a realignment of Left forces in the state and that it will emerge as the new rallying point, for peasants and intelligentsia alike.

CPI(ML) general secretary Dipankar Bhattacharya told TOI that Nandigram was not just another violent incident but a turning point in the contemporary history of West Bengal. “CPM cannot accept that some area can hold out and defy the party and government. That too, an area where their domination is complete. The party cannot tolerate political dissent. In that sense, it is a turning point, just like Naxalbari where it killed its own people and mocked at intelligentsia,” he said.

Maintaining that in terms of brutality in Nandigram, West Bengal CM Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee was no different from Narendra Modi — a comparison which he himself changes to Mikhail Gorbachev — Bhattacharya says, “This is not the government which came to power in 1976. They are speaking a different language. In terms of its content, orientation and positioning, it’s already gone. Just the old signboard is left. Now content and form is striking new harmony.”

Politically, Bhattacharya sees an opportunity for his party to emerge as a rallying point. He said simmering discontent against CPM in West Bengal and elsewhere had come out in the open. “I hope it happens,” he said about CPI (ML) becoming the rallying point for Left-inclined people. He said that in West Bengal, rift with the CPM has happened at two levels. One, the social base of sharecroppers and middle peasantry, which brought CPM to power more than three decades ago, was in complete unrest. Two, the pre-1980 CPI/CPM veterans, who participated in Teebhaga and other such movements, were also getting disenchanted with CPM, which had become the “agent of capitalists.”

However, the new breed of party cadre in CPM is too obsessed with power. “We are trying to keep them in the Left fold,” he said, adding that outside three states (West Bengal, Kerala and Tamil Nadu), CPM was finding it difficult to defend Nandigram. Not happy with the role Left Front allies — CPI, RSP and Forward Bloc — have played in Nandigram, Bhattacharya said he would open talks with them later this month. “We are in touch. It is not that CPM is not scared of these parties leaving the front. It could have long-term repercussions for the party,” he said.

Hitting out at the ideological dilution of CPM, Bhattacharya debunked the bogey of industrialisation. “West Bengal is not new to industry. There is blatant appeasement of big business. There is no real opposition to land acquisition but why in Singur or Nandigram? Farmers are not committing suicide here. Is West Bengal government in a position to transform peasants into industrial workers? Peasants would become paupers,” he averred.

Toilet Paper of India