Variously described as Naxalites, Maoists or left extremists, the Communist Party Of India (Maoist) is avowedly a party theoretically based on Marxist political doctrine that in praxis has consciously adopted the political and military strategies of Mao. It envisages a ‘new democracy’ for India to be achieved through an agrarian-proletariat revolution and by means of a ‘protracted people’s war.’ Its root is traced to the sixties of the last century to the launching of organized attacks in Naxalbari and some surrounding villages in West Bengal on rich landlords by poor and landless peasants under the guidance of some extremist CPM leaders. Their ideologue was Charu Mazumdar who interpreted Mao’s version of Marxism in his own way and took up the annihilation of class enemies as the main agenda, in this case, killing of rich landlords and looting of their agricultural produce that was the product of the alienated labour of landless and poor agricultural labourers, who were mostly tribals. Charu Mazumdar’s followers had split from the Communist Party of India (Marxist) and had formed their own party advocating an extremist line of armed agrarian revolution. Thus Naxalism was born but the revolution was suppressed by means of purposive police action mounted by then Congress (I) government of West Bengal. The CPM, which came to power thereafter, undertook massive agricultural land reforms providing favourable tenancy rights to the peasant tenants and redistributing surplus land to the landless and marginal farmers. According to many analysts this more than the police action was responsible for defeating left-wing extremism in rural Bengal. But the movement was never fully annihilated and various splinter groups spread throughout the central and eastern states of the country working amongst the poorest peasant class and garnering support. The People’s War Group (PWG) and Maoist Communist Centre (MCC) registered strong presence, the former particularly in Andhra Pradesh (but it had to shift bases later to Chattisgarh and Orissa border due to successful operations mounted by a specialist police force called Grey Hound) and the latter in Bihar & Jharkhand. Though their ideological goal was similar, they were not only not comfortable with each other, they even fought turf war. Between 1996 and 2002, more than 400 members were killed in their fratricidal conflict. But in 2004, both the groups came together and merged themselves into a single party named the Communist Party of India (Maoist.)
Today, these Maoists have become a serious headache to the states where they are operating as well as to the Centre. After 2004, the Maoists have been spreading fast. In 2001, the PWG was spread out in Andhra Pradesh, eastern Maharashtra, Southern Shhattisgarh, a small part of Madhya Pradesh and remote border areas in the south of Orissa. The MCC had its operational bases in northern Shhattisgarh, Jharkhand, southern Bihar and parts of Orissa near West Bengal border. By 2005, that is after the merger, while all the above areas became highly affected, Maoist activities spread to newer areas affecting 130 districts ( 51 districts in highly affected category, 18 moderately affected and 61 districts coming under marginally affected category.) Besides the states already mentioned above, the Maoists further spread to parts of Karnataka, Uttar Pradesh, West Bengal, Kerala and Tamilnadu. As of now, the Maoists are active in 195 districts in 16 states. Their presence is now being reported even from Rajasthan, Haryana and Uttaranchal. Another potential area is Assam in the North-east (the Maoist’s eastern regional bureau covers Assam, West Bengal and Jharkhand.) where ethnic armed struggles seem to be losing vigour but an agrarian movement is building up. The Government is not handling this movement sensitively and therefore it has the potential to slip into the hands of the Maoists out of desperation.
The document called the “Strategy and Tactics of the Indian Revolution’ central Committee (P)” drafted by the CPI (Maoist) in 2004 is a revealing document. It is here that the party calls its ‘revolution’ a new democratic revolution and identifies four “contradictions” in Indian Society 1) contradictions between Imperialism and Indian people 2) between feudalism and broad masses 3) between capital and labour 4) internal contradictions between the ruling classes. In this context, the document makes a significant observation, “The new democratic revolution in India has to pass through more than one phase and in any of these phases, one of these fundamental contradictions becomes the principal contradiction.” In India, the fundamental contradictions, according to the above document, at the moment are the first two and the principal contradiction between these two is the no 2 contradiction i.e. between feudalism and broad masses. If we remember this Maoist reading of Indian social condition, it will be easier for us to understand why Maoist activities are concentrated in the highly poverty-stricken rural areas, particularly those areas where the socially deprived sections of the tribal peoples live. Contradiction between ‘feudalism’ (represented by exploiter landlord class and now allegedly by big industrial houses, part of the ‘comprador bureaucratic bourgeoisie’) and ‘broad masses’ (represented by landless & poor peasants who constitute 60 to 70 p.c of the rural population together with rural proletariat that is farm workers working in various plantations & large farms) is stark in these areas. The Maoists identify two classes of people of the Indian society to be the main enemies of the revolution, they are being the landlords and the ‘comprador bureaucratic bourgeoisie’, a Mao term here used for those who have amassed enormous amount of wealth, whose capital monopolizes the economic lifeline by using state power and who have emerged from the comprador merchants, feudal lords, brokers and big users who have always been ‘tied up with imperialism & feudalism.’ The motive forces of their revolution in the Indian society are the industrial proletariat, rural proletariat, landless & poor peasants, semi-proletariat (skilled workers, either self-employed or working for others, rural wage earners etc.), middle peasants, petty-bourgeoise (handicraftmen, even lower levels of intellectuals who include students, school & college teachers, office clerks, non-gazetted officers, engineers, lawyers, doctors and those employed in other professions with middle class income mainly derived from manual and mental labour), lumpen-proletariat, and even rich peasants (not landlords), which is considered a vacillating class but a potential ally when the revolution gains ground. It has identified the national bourgeoisie, that is the middle & small bourgeoisie in the Indian context, who though politically weak and possess a dual and vacillating character can be a potential ally if the revolution progresses. In the present phase, its primary tactics is to ‘spread agrarian revolutionary programme and area-wise seizure of power.’
What is being witnessed today in the tribal heartland of India’s several states, where tribal peasant alienation is very high, where the incidence of poverty is the highest among all states according to the Tendulkar committee report, is not just a problem of law and order kind, but an early stage of tribal peasant agrarian revolution spearheaded by the CPI (Maoist) according to an elaborate strategy to be carried out in stages from rural to urban bases. It is designed to be ‘protracted’ till the defeat of the class enemies and the establishment of a ‘new democracy’ (to be run by the revolutionary party and opposed to the parliamentary democracy) on way to a ‘socialist’ society. The areas of operations have been chosen deliberately in the 5th schedule areas since these are the regions where the state’s presence is all but nominal, the administrations of successive governments have hardly set foot in those areas to make any imprint, the areas are rich in minerals yet the masses are the poorest of the poor, the incidence of land alienation is very high, land acquisition is taking place for the benefit of the rich industrial houses for their massive mining projects but without concomitant benefit to the rural people who are displaced due to requisitioning of their land on unfavourable terms, where the principle of the eminent domain has caused a sense of psychological deprivation of traditional rights over land, a nature’s gift, amongst tribal communities.
Harekrishna Deka, (b. 1943) Eminent Assamese poet, fiction writer, critic, editor, and the recipient of Sahitya Akademi Award (1987), Katha Award (1996), Assam Valley Literary Award (2010) and Padmanath Bidyabinod Award (2015); has nine collections of poems, six volumes of short stories, five books of literary criticism, two novels, two edited books, two books of social criticism and one collection of translated poems to his credit; has served as the editor of the English daily ‘The Sentinel’ and the Assamese literary magazine ‘Goriyoshi’. Starting his professional career as a college teacher, he has served as the Director General of Police and a member of the National Security Advisory Board.