Deficit Of Vision?

Maoists and Telengana


Just on the eve of recently held 16th Parliamentary Poll a noted Maoist poet and human rights activist Vara Vara Rao met the heads of different political parties including Telugu Desham Party’s Chief Chandrababu Naidu and urged them to lift ban on Maoists. If the Maoist movement during the last three decades, particularly during the last one decade in Telengana, is any indication, Mr Rao’s attempts raise serious concerns for the movement itself. Vara Vara Rao, being an active leader of AILRC, earlier was an emissary of Maoists during the talks with Chandrababu Naidu, when Telugu Desham was in power in United Andhra. Similarly he took part in the talks with YS Rajashekhar Reddy later in the state. Vara Vara Rao’s recent move may be seen as a casual visit but the situation that precipitated the goodwill mission, sends a crucial message.

Though there is no open support to Rao’s move by the Maoist leadership of the state but Rao definitely enjoys tacit approval of the top leadership. Frequently he gave statements in the print press and electronic media as well upholding the ‘avowed’ cause of Maoist revolution while issuing statements on various subjects ranging from Telengana statehood to Operation Green Hunt in Chattisgarh. He has the unique distinction of running a Telugu monthly Srijana which espouses the Maoist cause only.

For all practical purposes Maoist movement in Telengana these days exists only in the remote areas of Khammam district which is adjacent to Chattisgarh. In the rest of Telengana, only occasionally paper statements are issued by the state leadership of CPI (Maoist) under pseudonyms. True, after the announcement of formation of Telengana state, Maoists did make an effort to convene a state committee meeting and eventually upheld their agenda to be democratic Telengana.

For the last twelve years the Telengana agitation was basically led by Telengana Rashtra Samithi (TRS). Besides TRS, many small organisations, like Telengana People’s Front (TRF) supported it but never joined hands with TRS’s K Chandrasekhar Rao. Gadar who was the leader of TRF was not a part of Telengana Joint Action Committee (TJAC) comprising TRS, CPI, BJP and CPI(ML) New Democracy. Thus he ploughed his own furrow in Telengana statehood movement. Surprisingly Maoists seldom joined with other pro-Telengana forces directly.

But they left no stones unturned to expose ‘Doras’ leadership of K Chandrasekhar Rao. It would have been better had they taken pragmatic and far-sighted view of making an alliance with TRS and joined TJAC much earlier. The ‘New Democracy’ group was wise enough to join the TJAC. It was the need of the hour to sink differences with pro-Telengana forces and directly give leadership to Telengana statehood movement. The magic weapon united front as the Maoists frequently chant in their political discourse was never really tried. It was all their empty rhetoric and sectarian attitude that cost the Maoist movement dearly. If anything at least twelve hundred youths have committed suicides for Telengana—not a matter of joke! In truth the Maoists in Telengana never assessed the gravity of the problem and tried to bring all like-minded revolutionary outfits like Jana Shakti and Praja Pratighathana under a single banner to launch an effective agitation against the government’s policy of encounter killings and continuation of ban on Maoists.

Maoist’s much hyped election boycott campaign had invariably served opposition parties in Andhra Pradesh. In the last 30 years Maoists’ election boycott strategy had alternately helped Congress and Telugu Desham win power. And their boycott of 2004 General Election came handy for Y S Rajshekhar Reddy who was away from the seat of power for a considerable time. Prominent progressive intellectual and civil liberties activist Prof Haragopal echoed the same opinion that election boycott actually helped Congress to stage a come-back in 2004. Had there been no ‘tacit’ support to opposition Congress by the Maoists, it could not be that easy to oust Chandrababu Naidu.

But Naidu who was notorious in implementing anti-people World Bank policies was equally ruthless in carrying out horrific fake encounters in the state of Andhra. Nalla Adi Reddy, Santosh Reddy and Sheelam Naresh were the top maoist leaders who were brutally eliminated by the Telugu Desham government in 1999 near Koyyuru of Karimnagar district. Not only that in many places, particularly in Koukarden in Warangal district and Shri Rampur in Adilabad district maoist cadres were burnt alive by Telugu Desham police. And none but Naidu himself personally in public meetings in Adilabad instigated the police to indulge in such heinous crimes.

Telengana protagonists were not wrong when they took on Naidu’s Telugu Desham which was a die-hard opponent of Telengana.

No doubt things are changing very fast in Telengana. TRS president K Chandrasekhar Rao declared in no uncertain terms that a dalit would be the first Chief Minister of Telengana. But he made a U-turn in no time and finally decided that no dalit would be made the Chief Minister. Dismayed by KCR’s sommersault many organisations representing backward and oppressed castes like Mahajana Socialist Party (MSP), headed by Manda Krishna Madiga, a former naxalite, came down heavily on Rao while making it clear that their agenda was Naxalite and Ambedkar as well. Manda Krishna Reddy thinks it is not appropriate and fair for Vara Vara Rao to woo Naidu.

Whether they admit it or not Maoists are in a severe political crisis, failing to handle the prevailing contradictions correctly. Many think and not with reasons that Maoists do hardly represent the basic masses. Urendi who was a spokeperson of the Dandakaranya unit of maoist party, at one stage but later surrounded and joined the mainstream of political life, thinks so. The maoist movement is struggling from one crisis to another—they suffer from deficit of vision.

Vol. 46, No. 48, Jun 8 - 14, 2014