Daya Varma


The Adivasis.are neither the poorest of the poor of India nor a significant fraction of the country’s rural poor. By focusing on the Adivasis, the Maoists have garnered widespread support among the liberal left, the social activists and the ex-Naxalites. The sum total of all this does not threaten the Indian state but rather the Indian communist movement.


Let us assume, despite evidence to the contrary, that the current generation of the Maoist movement in India (Communist Party of India-Maoist or CPI-Maoist) is a continuation of the 1967 Naxalbari peasant uprising. Perhaps there is some similarity in the methods of individual annihilation; the nature of the “class enemy” might have slightly changed from traffic police to armed police but otherwise there appear to be many significant departures since 1967. Going by their writings, Maoists seem to favor a people-oriented, market economy, whatever it means. They are for development of tribal areas as long as they remain in sole control of the operation, contrary to the wishes of social activists. But the main difference between the original Naxalites and the current Maoists is something else. The original Naxalites, who constituted themselves into the Communist Party of India (Marxist-Leninist), claimed to inherit the best traditions of the Indian Communist movement and erect a genuine revolutionary communist party devoid of revisionism. The essence of the Maoists, on the other hand, is to destroy the legacy of the Indian communist movement altogether and replace it with a party of undisclosed ideology – certainly not Marxism.


Where do they stand in this battle? INSAF Bulletin has repeatedly said that Maoists do not pose the single gravest threat to Indian security as the Indian Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh mistakenly presumes. Maoists cannot defeat the Indian state; they claim they can but that is because they are incapable of serious thinking or analysis. But Maoists do pose the most serious threat to the survival of the remainder of the Indian communist movement. In this they are steadily succeeding.


By their anarchist violence, to either the amusement or the occasional chagrin of liberal social activists and retired Naxalites, the Maoists have already pushed the remnants of the original Communist Party of India (Marxist-Leninist) into the background. Sandwiched between the ‘revisionist’ Communist Party of India (CPI) and CPI (Marxist) and the ‘anarchist’ CPI (Maoist), the Marxist-Leninists are left with little ideological or political space to themselves. They could try to develop such a space, but just being between the two extremes, revisionist and anarchist, is not a sufficient basis for being on the correct path. There must be a correct path but some one has to discover it. What this middle of the road force is doing amounts to following the methods of the ‘revisionists’ and the politics of the ‘anarchists’, which is incomprehensible to the Indian masses but somewhat comprehensible to the disgruntled members of the two extremes.


However, a steady marginalization of the former CPI (Marxist-Leninist) is not the objective of the Indian Maoists. That they have already accomplished. But the communist movement in India is alive because of the CPI (Marxist) and CPI. It is these two that the Maoists wish to destroy before they are eventually forced to retire by the Indian state. There are some similarities here between what the Indian Maoists are doing and what the former LTTE in Sri Lanka did in terms of its relentless campaign, including physical annihilation, against the cadre and leadership of all other Tamil left and democratic parties and groups.  In this battle against the so-called revisionists, the Indian Maoists are coming close to victory thanks to the help provided by social activists. West Bengal is the battle ground, the main base of the communist movement in India. After thirty years of continuous rule, the Left Front led by the CPI (Marxist) in West Bengal is on the verge of collapse. The recent November 7, 2009 by-elections for the state legislature in which it did not win a single one of the ten seats, is a clear indicator of its decline and the ushering of the victory not so much for Mamata Banerjee’s Trinamool Congress or Sonia Gandhi’s Congress as it is for the Indian Maoists.


Yet it is still not a final victory for the Maoists; it is still not the time for them to retire. CPI (Marxist) can reverse this trend but it needs a new vision of India and a new leadership. In the recent November 6 Forum in Delhi, CPI (Marxist) General Secretary Prakash Karat located a quote from Lenin to prove that Indian Maoists reflect the left sectarian anger of the petty bourgeois against horrors of capitalism.  At other times too, Karat’s  actions reveal his bookish grasp of politics. When it comes to the real politics of India, Karat appears to be as much a novice as any one else; indeed his bookish grasp of Marxism comes in the way of his understanding of real political development of India. This lack of understanding, coupled with his lack of experience in leading any mass movement, compels him to carry out rash actions such as preventing the veteran communist leader Jyoti Basu from becoming India’s Prime Minister in the 1990s, precipitating an unnecessary and un-called for parliamentary crisis on the issue of the Indo-US nuclear deal and then arbitrarily expelling the previous Speaker of the Indian Parliament, CPI(Marxist) member Somnath Chatterjee from the party for taking a principled stand on the same issue. Essentially Karat is an unarmed Maoist where it matters and a Marxist where it does not.


Given this scenario, my conjecture is that Maoists are on the verge of victory – in defeating the Indian Communist Movement – but they are certainly not close to even scratching the surface of the bourgeois-landlord government of India. 

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