Naxalbari And Choter Hat

The Voice of Indian Revolution


The book–The Voice of Indian Revolution is a CPI(ML) tribute to Kanu Sanyal (KS) containing detailed information on historic events and stages leading to the formation of the ML Party in 1969 as well as reports on some memorial meetings plus some special articles on his political activities highlighting his differences within the Party since, nay, before its inception. But sadly, in the Party, he kept his differences with its main political line at that time a close secret and had been watching the political events and guerrilla actions in cities, towns and villages as if from a distance and waiting for the appropriate opportunity to speak aloud openly. Now that an opportunity has arrived he candidly lays bare in the open what transpired in the past. In addition it contains some of his speeches and articles which are not synchronous with the ruling strategies of the Party that he declared founded on 1 May, 1969 and is known to have headed in the late '60s and early 70s (of the last century) when the armed struggle for liberation was taking shape from a single spark in a remote North Bengal village, named Naxalbari. For example, in his evaluation of the history of the CPI(ML) from 1969 to 1972, he rejects "in its entirety the politics and ideology" of the party which, according to his afterthought, was "a party that was communist in name but anarchist and terrorist in practice". In addition while diagnosing the root cause of the revolution that failed in his assessment, he emphasises it as the complete negation of mass organisation and blindly following the path of armed guerrilla actions. In this context he reports that Charu Mazumdar (CM) used to say that mass organisation and mass movements were revisionism and armed struggle in words is also revisionism. He points out that CM's political line was area-wise seizure of power by forming secret, conspiratorial and action oriented squads and adoption of this political line should be the immediate political task. KS calls it a wrong line and confesses that he could neither oppose this line nor dissociate from the Party because of his respect for CM. It is clear that there were two lines in the Party from the very beginning and there was struggle between the two lines, initially friendly but later became bitter.

Naxalbari represents one line of which KS was the leader and Choter Hat the other which followed CM's line. Choter Hat line failed and Naxalbari line won. But subsequently the situation became so violent around Naxalbari that the successful leaders had to flee while the failed one took position in the void and carried on the adventurist line and this conclusion is summed up succinctly by KS thus,"...due to the extraordinary situation CM got the opportunity to have a free play". The background in which such oddity could take place has also been revealed. Despite their differences there were agreements on some important points, notably that 1) CPI(M) is a revisionist party and should be unmasked; 2) the Chinese path is the path of liberation of India; 3) agrarian revolution can be completed through armed struggle and 4)propagation of politics of agrarian revolution among the workers and peasants with the aim of building up a secret Party organisation should be carried on. However the apple of discord was the indispensability of workers' and peasants' mass organisation and mass movement. CM stressed from the very beginning that in a situation of following the Chinese path of liberation through armed revolutionary struggle the existing Indian State machinery will not remain idle and certainly will bring down huge repression of diabolic proportion on the masses of people and in that impending deluge all mass organisations and mass movements will be crushed and wiped out and the leaders of the mass organisations will be decimated. In short, from the very start there were two distinct opinions ...At this stage a compromise was reached. It was decided that the cadres of the KS line would practise in the Naxalbari area and the cadres of the CM line would do the same in Choter Hat area. Choter Hat failed and Naxalbari triumphed. But KS concedes that the successful KS cadres could not hold on to the area of struggle and had to flee while the failed CM cadres filled in the gap and carried on the struggle to a stage higher and laid the foundation of what Naxalbari had become subsequently, a synonym for armed revolutionary struggle in India.

The book under review in short reveals many incidents at various crossroads in the history of the armed struggle for liberation of India initiated at remote villages at the foothills of the Himalayas that inspired revolution-minded students to leave colleges in order to spread the spark of Naxalbari to rural India. The book sorted out many pitfalls of romantic actions and identified the causes thereof which cannot be ignored since these are brought forward by none other than a great soldier-leader of Indian revolution. After all it must be remembered with deep respect that KS did not abjure the Chinese path of armed revolution and revert to politics of hegemony of finance capital over toiling masses in the form of parliamentary democracy under the duress of Imperialism. KS seems eager to create some space for caution, introspection and circumspection while remaining stuck in the practice of armed revolution. He is against intolerance of voicing a second thought in opposition to hasty actions and surely such intolerance has plagued the leadership in the communist movement from the very beginning and has thereby baffled the toiling masses. After all the Indian revolution is sure to be a protracted one requiring a lot of patient and rigorous observation of the rules of democratic centralism while remaining in the thick of battles to come. The book is dotted with reminiscences by fellow travellers and activists with the help of which a short biography of KS can be sketched. An interview with Khokan Majumdar at the appendix unearths some episodes that are not to be overlooked. For those activists and martyrs in the struggle for keeping the Naxalbari flame burning through the seventies of the last century the reference to Choter Haat as opposed to Naxalbari seems strange and flabbergasting. Yet detailed description of some incidents including the series of actual events at the Naxalbari area requires careful study for drawing lessons and illumining future course of action in Indian revolution.
[The sole distributor of the 188 page book is : Mythry Book House, End of Mosque Street, Karl Marx Road, Vijayawada 520002. E-Mail: The paper bound book is priced Rs 150.00 and the hard bound one Rs 200.00 only]

Vol. 46, No. 25, Dec 29 2013 -Jan 4, 2014

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