Hindu Fascism

An Open Letter to Ganapathi, GS, CPI (Maoist)

Sumanta Banerjee

Let me begin by reminding you of a resolution which your party—CPI(Maoist)—adopted at your 9th Congress in March, 2007. Entitled 'Resolution Against Hindu Fascism,' it said: "The CPI(Maoist) pledges to fight resolutely against each and every instance of the trampling on the democratic rights of the oppressed minorities and others by the Hindu fascists. It pledges to do its best to defend the sections of the population targeted by the Hindu fascists. Our party is willing to unite in a broad front with all the genuine democratic forces which would be willing to fight back the Hindu fascist offensive."

Seven years later today, we find that the Hindu fascist forces have succeeded to a large extent in distorting the Indian popular psyche in their favour (with the myth of the Gujarat model of development to woo the urban middle classes, and the bogey of 'Bangladeshi infiltration' to create panic among the Hindu majority about the Muslim minority), and are about to capture power at the centre through elections. How has this situation been brought about? While the ruling Congress (despite its secular pretensions) had followed a policy of soft Hindutva (like the Congress-NCP coalition government in Maharashtra which had allowed the Shiv Sena and other Hindu fascist outfits to terrorize Muslims), the ruling Lohiaite socialists in Uttar Pradesh have displayed a similar lack of political will to suppress the spread of the Hindu fascist outfits—which finally led to the Muzaffarnagar killings. It is the appeasement of the Hindutva forces by the Indian state and the major political parties—rather than the appeasement of Muslim minorities, a myth propagated by the Sangh Parivar—that is paving the path for the occupation of power at the centre by the BJP. This is a party which dons a respectable-looking parliamentary mask to hide a well-knit fascist organization.

But, how far has your party been able to carry out your pledge to 'fight resolutely' against these Hindu fascist forces during the last seven years? Let us look at the record. The only instance of your party's direct assault on the Hindu fascist forces is the killing of the Vishwa Hindu Parishad leader Swami Lakshmanananda Saraswati (notorious for persecuting Christian dalits) in Kandhamal in western Orissa on August 23, 2008. It may be considered as a well-deserved punishment for a Hindu fascist. But your party failed to follow it up, and fight the consequences. Although your party publicly acknowledged its responsibility for the killing, the Sangh Parivar goons communalized the issue by blaming the local church, and they carried out a well-planned massacre of dalit Christians in Kandhamal from August 25-28, 2008. During those days, your guerilla squads were nowhere in the scene to defend those dalit Christians. Since then, the BJP through its armed outfits (Bajrang Dal, Sri Ram Sene, Hindu Jagran Vedike, etc.) have not only terrorized Muslim and Christian minorities all over India, but also launched attacks on secular groups, artists and intellectuals who challenged them anywhere. Art exhibitions were vandalized, publishers were forced to withdraw books (the latest example being the pulping of Wendy Doniger's book on Hinduism), meetings were disrupted by the Sangh Parivar gangsters. On none of these occasions, your party's armed squads came to the defence of the victims of Hindu fascism.

Yet, your PLGA (People's Liberation Guerilla Army) is adept in planting landmines—which while killing security forces, also take a heavy toll of lives of innocent citizens who travel by public transport. Curiously enough, your landmines have not targeted any top brass of the Sangh Parivar and its gangsters. Why? Is there any tacit understanding between your armed squads and the local BJP politicians, and corporate houses in your areas of control? There are enough grounds for such suspicion. In fact, immediately after the formation of your party in 2004, your Bihar-Jharkhand Special Area Committee came up with a report warning against such practices: "...a huge battery of contractors and middle-men in the rural area maintain links with organizers (comrades at zone and even higher levels), appease them...That relation with such type of contractors have been maintained by party organizers is a matter of concern..." (Quoted in Gautam Navlakha's War And Politics : Understanding Revolutionary Warfare. Setu Prakashani. Kolkata. 2014. Pp. 165-66). Despite the warning against the prevalence of this trend among Maoist cadres, you have failed to stem it during the last decade. In fact, this tendency towards making deals with agents of industrial houses has been reinforced by your cadres in your base areas in Chhattisgarh, as revealed by a contractor, Dharmendra Chopra (Ref: Indian Express, January 24, 2014). After his arrest, he confessed to his role as a middleman who, in the Kanker district of Bastar, helped top mining firms, and BJP MPs and MLAs to forge deals with the local Maoist party leaders and squads who, in exchange for money, allowed them to engage in mining and extracting mineral resources from the tribal heartland—a corporate project which your party's programme opposes. Will you investigate into the role of your party leaders and cadres in this area?

But let me come to the more immediate issue of the electoral threat from the Modi-led Hindutva brigade. How is your party confronting it- to keep your pledge to fight Hindu fascism that you took at your 9th party congress? Your party believes in boycotting elections. During the recent Lok Sabha polls, your party not only threatened voters in its areas of control to force them to abstain from voting, but also attacked a number of polling officials—innocent citizens who through no fault of theirs were appointed by the authorities to conduct the polls. But curiously enough again, during elections, your party has never targeted the BJP candidates in Chhattisgarh, who have continued to get elected all these years—even from constituencies which are your base areas. Can you please explain this intriguing phenomenon?

Let me remind you again of a debate which the present writer had with your then spokesperson Azad, after the 2009 Lok Sabha polls. Questioning the methods adopted by the CPI(Maoist) in implementing its call for boycotting elections, I wrote: "...the Indian Maoists seem to be lopsided in their choice of priorities. They dissipate their armed resources in onslaughts against obscure riff-raff among candidates in the parliamentary poll, but are scared of confronting the better-organized goons of the Sangh parivar—who pose a more dangerous threat to the democratic rights of our people." ('The Maoists, Elections, Boycotts and Violence' in Economic and Political Weekly,May 2, 2009).

Among many other factors, the failure of your party to confront and resist the goons of the Sangh Parivar in your own constituencies has also contributed to the smooth sailing of the BJP in the current Lok Sabha polls. I agree that during the last five years, your party had to concentrate its armed resources on fighting state terrorism of the UPA government. But I am sure you will agree that there is an equally important need to fight the Hindu fascist forces which, if they come to power, will be more ruthless than the UPA in crushing your bases. Why have you not used your armed forces against them? Do not for ever suffer from the illusion that the deal that your local PLGA leaders may be striking now with the BJP leaders will help you to preserve your bases if Modi comes to power at the centre. In a different political situation in West Bengal, your comrade Koteshwar Rao—Kishenji—became a victim of a similar deal which he struck with another fascist political party, the Mamata Banerjee-led Trinamul Congress. He asked his followers to vote for Mamata, with the promise that if she came to power, she would release his party's cadres and followes. At the end, Kishenji had to pay the price for his naivete. After having used him and your party's cadres in Junglemahal to decimate the CPI(M) cadres to enable her to win the Assembly elections, Mamata Banerjeee got rid of Kishenji by allowing the security forces to kill him in a false encounter. Your party's cadres and followers are still languishing in jails in Mamata-ruled West Bengal.

Please try to take lessons from your mistakes of the past, and reformulate your strategy and tactics in the concrete situation of today's India. In your party's programme, you stick to the old Maoist formulation of four major contradictions—(i) between imperialism and the Indian people; (ii) between feudalism and the broad masses of the people; (iii) between capital and labour; and (iv) among the ruling classes. But you have been ignoring all these years the other major contradiction—between religious fundamentalism (represented primarily by militant outfits of the Sangh Parivar among the Hindus, and the Islamic terrorist groups among the Muslims) on the one hand, and the secular and democratic values that had been cherished by our people on the other. The CPI(Maoist) has to recognize this fifth contradiction and reformulate its tactics to fight it.

In the present political scenario, where this contradiction between the Hindu fascist forces and their secular and democratic opponents is taking centre stage, it is important for the CPI(Maoist) to "unite in a broad front with all the genuine democratic forces which would be willing to fight back the Hindu fascist offensive"—in accordance with your 9th party congress resolution. Instead of adopting tactics that lead to the killing of innocent civilians—and then issuing statements "deeply regretting the loss of civilian lives,"—can you please ask your cadres to preserve their fire power, and keep dry whatever little gunpowder is still left in your armoury, to be able to fight the agents of Hindu fascism?
[written before the results of  16th Lok Sabha Polls were out]

Vol. 46, No. 47, Jun 1 - 7, 2014