Not the Only Way Up
The jangalmahal debate in
the main centred around why
‘peace initiative’ failed. Almost everybody blamed it, and not quite unexpectedly, on the government of the day for its double speak while making a weak case out of the Maoist intransigence and their past deeds—or misdeeds. Not that the setback in jangalmahal started with the killing of Kishenji. Technically speaking it started when the security establishment resorted to a calculated policy of strategic retreat, showing helplessness and limited firepower in the face of guerilla offensive by some Maoist squads. And the Maoists began to think they could establish parallel authority ignoring the administration and run their writ without being challenged in the near future. In the process they exposed themselves to the vast intelligence network without realising the hard fact that the state authorities were taking time to launch their jangalmahal push at an opportune moment. Not for nothing the Maoists were pampered by TV channels. In truth the administration allowed the situation to drift according to a plan scripted somewhere else. It seems the adversaries of the Maoists have a better understanding of Mao’s guerilla warfare. When the onslaught came their counter-intelligence proved futile and landmines looked too inadequate to face the sophisticated weapons and superior strength, even in terms of number, of the combined security forces. The same thing happened in the seventies. Crude bombs, pipe guns and traditional weapons in the hands of a few youngmen with poor political and military training were no answer to the might of the state.
Maoists thought people could be brought to their fold through indiscriminate terror and liquidation of political opponents labelled as police informers and revisionists. But the sub-alterns for whom they were supposed to speak and fight were really puzzled about their new democratic revolution. It was neither democratic nor new. It was the continuation of old naxalite legacy that failed to motivate masses in their millions against the tyranny of the ruling establishment. So long as people remained passive to their action programme the law enforcing agencies had nothing to worry about though they pretended to be on the defensive. At no point of time their violent campaign appeared to be one commanded by politics. The reverse was true. Guns commanded politics all the time. The Maoists turned out to be the worst executors of Maoist dictum—politics should command gun. Any support generated through coercion and muscle power is short-lived. What is true of Maoists is equally true of any political outfit and the government as well. The CPM built their gulag through terror tactics, both officially and unofficially and today they are biting the dust.
Naxalites are the only political forces on the left, talking of class still but their practice does hardly reflect what they preach in their literature. During the jangalmahal agitation the Maoists issued innumerable press statements and leaflets only to repeat few lifeless phrases, having no impact on the broad masses. The four-class alliance strategy as they visualised for the democratic phase of Indian revolution cannot develop out of nothing. Slogans as they raise from time to time are sterile. Unless people understand their language and transform it into their living reality no material force can emerge. Jangalmahal was projected as a guerilla zone, rather a semi-liberated zone, albeit people were more concerned about some immediate issues, not liberation of the Maoist kind. Their message as it was revealed in posters, group meetings and agit-propaganda type gatherings seemed unrealistic to ordinary people. They never thought it could be realised with the help of a few guerilla bands. The concept of united front never took roots in Maoist campaign and jangalmahal was no exception. Small property owners, employees in government or semi-government establishments, teachers—all these middle class people in jangalmahal were apprehensive of losing their limited social and economic security without gaining anything substantial for extending support to the Maoist cause. In many cases liberators were demanding their pound of flesh even before liberation.
Copying China model has done immense harm to the cause of Indian revolution. Maoists are unlikely to change pre-liberated China-centric strategy even if they are completely routed from the theatre. It all started with the ‘spring thunder’ over Darjeeling in the late sixties. Kanu Sanyal’s ‘Terai Report’ was almost a carbon copy of ‘Human Report’. A range of catch phrases has been dominating the naxalite lexicon for the last four decades and it seems, they are there to stay, despite repeated setbacks. The same tradition continues unabated. Their tactical manoeuvring to come overground without being identified with underground has failed. One reason this puzzle cannot be resolved is they invariably blur the difference between party and mass organisations. All their mass fronts behave like party. The latest case in point is banning of RDF—Revolutionary Democratic Front.
In his interview with Indian Solidaritet in Sweden, in April 2012 G N Jaibaba, Joint Secretary of RDF, elaborated how his organisation, rather a federation of several mass organisation, was working among basic masses. But it never appeared to the people as an independent entity without being firmly controlled by the CPI (Maoist). As a result it never made any headway in real sense. Nor could it offer any viable alternative to the masses who want to dissociate themselves from the status quo-ists. The ‘ban notification’ by the Andhra Police Department as published reportedly in an Extra-Ordinary issue of Andhra Pradesh Gazette dated 14th August 2012, is self-revealing :
‘‘Whereas, the Organization known as Communist Party of India (Maoist) whose avowed object is to overthrow the lawfully established Government by means of force and violence and through terrorist activities, involving the use of fire arms and explosives, land mines, claymore mines and rocket launchers and whereas its front organization, namely Revolutionary Democratic Front (RDF) formed with the merger of All India People’s Resistance Forum (AIPRF) and Struggling Forum for People’s Resistance (SFPR) in May 2005, is a part of Tactical United Front, has been indulging in the following unlawful activities, namely.....’’
Even before the merger the resistance associations would be identified with People’s War and MCC respectively. In other words these entities had all along been semi-legal platforms. That they were Maoist projects was an open secret. Also, in the true sense of mass mobilisation they never succeeded in doing anything concrete. Participants in rallies and meetings organised by these forums, particularly against ‘Operation Green Hunt’ and other repressive measures, were actually die-hard sympathisers and wholetime activists of CPI (Maoist). The very nomenclature of these platforms were suggestive enough that they were under the sway of the radical left. Even civil liberties organisations functioned in such a way that the media had no problem to dub them as frontal outfits of the Maoists. The only organisation that acquired somewhat non-partisan mass character was Indian People’s Front (IPF) which was floated by the CPI (ML)-Liberation. Then the Liberation Group disbanded it for reasons best known to them. Perhaps they were not sure whether they would be able to keep exclusive control over the organisation in the long run.
Communists of all shades, Maoists included, think they cannot run mass organisation without tight party control over them. Control is the first word, Control is the last word. All of them, revolutionary and revisionist alike, are in a hurry to capture any mass initiative rather independent initiative, without any party colour, with the sole objective of subjugating it to their respective, party-dictates. Essentially there is no fundamental difference between running of a mass organisation by the Maoists (or for that matter by any communist party) and the way the monopoly houses run their subsidiaries where they have majority stakes. India-China Friendship Association in Bengal is a classic example of how they failed to build a genuine friendship movement because of controlling mentality of some groups. This factional approach has virtually made it a non-sorter and its contribution to strengthen people to people relations between India and China is too insignificant to be noticed even in the fanatically pro-Chinese media. The Maoists literally hijacked the Lalgarh movement while imposing their party authority without reading the subjective conditions and it proved counter-productive in no time.
Communists, not excluding Maoists, cannot work without a set of mass organisations of their own. These outfits—peasant associations, trade unions, students and youth bodies—are their exclusive fiefdoms. Those who are so vocal about anti-feudal remnants, are themselves out and out feudal in their outlook when it is the question of managing mass organisations. Why they are so fearful of losing control if they subscribe to a superior ideology as they claim, is open to question.
It is meaningless to dissect a post-mortem report but there is a missing link in the entire process of looking back. Dogmatism coupled with arrogance and false pride has its own limits and pitfalls as well. There were reversals in Russia and China. But both Russians and Chinese didn’t take so much time to complete revolution because the split within split syndrome didn’t hamper their cause the way it did in the Indian Communist Movement. Minor political and ideological differences could lead to a split. And split means one more ‘genuine communist party’, claiming the sole right to represent the toilers.
Even before the formation of CPI(ML) different groups of communist revolutionaries failed to evolve a common understanding about broad aspects of Indian revolution, not to speak of tactical details suitable for the emerging situation. And soon relations among them became antagonistic much to the delight of their common political and institutional adversaries. The Chinese never faced such a situation and so they succeeded though Mao didn’t command majority in the party all the time. It appears from their behaviour that they have many things to lose if they cannot exert exclusive sway over the oppressed they are supposed to liberate.
One should be judged not only by what he says but also by what he does. For all the talk of revolutionary crisis and the contingency plans, political flexibility at the moment is still to do everything possible to keep radical ideas alive.
Vol. 45, No. 14 - 17, Oct 14 - Nov 10 2012
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