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Interview with Ganapathy, General Secretary, …

Posted by Indian Vanguard on May 13, 2007


Interview with Ganapathy, General Secretary, CPI(Maoist)

Source: we received the following interview by an email.


[The questions that follow have been sent by various newspapers to Ganapathy, General Secretary, CPI(Maoist). More than half of these were sent by BBC. The answers by Ganapathy are being sent to the media in the background of the successful completion of the Congress of the CPI(Maoist) and other recent developments—Azad, Spokesperson, CPI(Maoist), 24th April, 2007]


On the Unity Congress of CPI(Maoist):


Q: We heard that you had successfully held your Congress recently after a gap of almost 37 years. Why has there been such a long delay?

A: It is true that we held our last Congress—8th Congress—way back in 1970. The reason for not holding it for almost 37 years is the condition of the revolutionary forces in the country. Two years after the last Congress the movement suffered a serious setback; the highest committee, the CC, became disintegrated following the martyrdom, arrests, and even betrayals by some members like SN Singh who had, in fact, split the Party in September 1971 itself. After the martyrdom of comrade Charu Majumdar, the entire CC ceased to exist as it got splintered into several factions. I say factions because they were all part of the original CPI(ML). Prolonged existence as separate groups gave them distinct identities in course of time as independent groups and parties with their own respective programmes and tactics. Moreover, they made their own self-critical reviews of the past. Such a state of affairs had rendered the prospects of unity all the more difficult.


Some groups began to traverse the same old path of the Danges and Joshis, although they claimed to oppose their line, such as the “Liberation” group led by Vinod Mishra whose degeneration began in the early 1980s after a history of glorious struggle during the 1970s. There were some that went on postponing the initiation of armed struggle against the state indefinitely to some auspicious day in the future with the plea that the state is too powerful and armed confrontation with it required more time and preparation. Hence they confined themselves to so-called phase of armed peasant resistance or the anti-feudal phase of struggle. Till today these groups have not completed their preparations to begin their armed confrontation with the state! These were the Right opportunist groups such as TN-DV, ND, various factions of CP Reddy etc. Then there were some others that stuck to the original programme of the CPI(ML) but refused to adopt a critical outlook towards the past mistakes. They continued dogmatically with the Left sectarian mistakes such as over-assessment of the international situation and the subjective strength, and an underestimation of the enemy forces and hence could not build any movement of significance. It was only a few Parties such as the CPI(ML)[PW] and CPI(ML)[PU] which had upheld the basic line of the 8th Congress, made a self-critical review of the past tactical mistakes and shortcomings in the movement thereby enriching the line further, carried on the people’s war based on the enriched line, and hence could develop relatively strong movements in different parts of the country.


While this was the condition of the CPI(ML), on the other hand, the MCC led by comrades KC, Amulya Sen and Chandra Shekhar Das, grew up as a separate party with almost the same programme as that of the CPI(ML). Both parties would have been part of a single party but due to some historical reasons this did not materialise during the time of comrade CM. Later, as the CPI(ML) itself got split by 1972, unity became a thing of the future. From then on unity of the Communist Revolutionaries remained one of the principal tasks in the agenda of every revolutionary organisation. But unity cannot materialise due to the desire of the revolutionaries itself. The will, i.e., the sincere desire for unity, is no doubt, an important factor but what is decisive is the political line and practice of the parties. Hence it was only during the 1980s and 90s when movements were built by Parties such as the MCC, CPI(ML)[PW] and CPI(ML)[PU] that a strong basis for unity was laid. However, the unity between these Parties could not materialise for a long time due to political differences and also due to shortcomings on the part of the leaderships to make conscious efforts for unity. I can elaborate this if needed. The main reason for the long delay in holding the 9th Congress has been the failure to achieve unity among the major revolutionary forces in the country.


Q: How is democracy ensured in the Party when you could not hold the Congress for so many years? How are the cadres involved in formulating the line, tactics and policies of the Party?

A: The specific feature that I had described above, i.e., not holding the Congress for a long period due to our failure to achieve unity of all the genuine communist revolutionaries in the country, does not negate inner-Party democracy. Each revolutionary Party had its own internal democratic process of involving cadres in policy-making. The erstwhile MCCI, CPI(ML)[PW] and CPI(ML)[PU] had their respective central conferences, plenums, special meetings etc at regular intervals where they summed up their past work and the positive and negative aspects in advancing the people’s war, made the necessary changes in the policies and tactics, and enriched the line. A central conference is, in essence, similar to the Congress. The only reason for not naming it as the Congress is the recognition of the existence of various revolutionary parties and groups in the country. It was generally felt that a Congress could be held after achieving the unity of all the revolutionary forces in the country. The erstwhile parties that are now part of the CPI(Maoist)—the MCCI, CPI(ML)[PW] and CPI(ML)[PU]—had held their central conferences and plenums at regular intervals. The PW had organised its first regional conference of Telangana way back in 1976. It had its state conference in 1980, its central plenum in 1990, its All India Special Conference (AISC) in 1995, and its Congress in 2001. Likewise, the MCCI had its central conference in 1996 and the PU in 1983, 87 and 1996.


Thus through these conferences and plenums the entire Party was involved in the democratic process of discussions, internal struggle, and resolution of all disputed issues democratically. In fact, the CPI(ML)[PW] began preparations for holding the Congress in 1995 after the break-down of the merger talks with MCC. The AISC of erstwhile PW in 1995 was actually planned as a Congress but at the eleventh hour we decided to change its name to that of a special conference but having the significance of a Congress. This was done keeping in mind the prospect of unity with the CPI(ML)[PU]. In 2001, the unified CPI(ML)[PW] held the 9th Congress but it was the Congress of revolutionaries belonging basically to only one stream of the Indian revolution, the CPI(ML). The Congress was held due to an assessment by the PW leadership that unity with MCC may not materialise for a relatively longer period of time especially in the background of strained relations between the two parties at that time. Later, this assessment proved to be wrong. Within 3 ½ years after that Congress the new Party, CPI(Maoist), was formed with the merger of CPI(ML)[PW] and MCCI. To sum up, healthy democratic processes were in place throughout the histories of the major Parties constituting the present CPI(Maoist) even though we could not hold the Congress for a long period.


Q: We heard from some media reports that serious differences had emerged in the recently-held Unity Congress, that there was strong opposition to your re-election as General Secretary, that the Congress could not even elect the central bodies, and so on. Are these true?

A: Such concocted reports are based on speculation by some media personnel but are mainly part of the disinformation campaign unleashed by the Intelligence agencies. The APSIB, in particular, has a special department for such disinformation with the sole purpose of spreading confusion among the people and Party cadre. They have been circulating such stories ever since the merger of the two Maoist Parties, particularly over the past one year. They have been desperately trying to spread the rumour that the merger was not a principled one, that there are serious differences between the two erstwhile parties, and that both have different lines of thinking which are reflected in their respective practices, and such trash.


And we know from where the so-called media reports that you are referring to had originated. These police stories had been faxed from Hanamkonda by the SIB and were published in some Telugu dailies on March 26. Through these reports these liars had desperately tried to project a totally false picture about the situation in our Party. They tried to prove that while the erstwhile MCCI wants to intensify the people’s war by resorting to more and more military actions, the erstwhile PW comrades think it is better to put off the actions for a while and concentrate on building militant mass movements. It is indeed amusing to see such reports just 10 days after the PLGA had carried out the biggest ever action in the history of the Maoist movement by eliminating 68 police personnel including SPOs in Rani Bodili in Chattisgarh and after we had declared that more such actions would follow if the reactionary ruling classes do not give up the brutal campaign of mass murder and destruction in the name of salwa judum. There isn’t an iota of truth in these fabricated lies.


These police stories also spread the lie that “the setbacks and differences were so serious that the Congress could not even reconstitute the Politburo, Central Committee, Central Military Commission, and various sate committees and that some of the key leaders are likely to face disciplinary actions.” In fact, at no point in the history of the revolutionary movement in India we had such strong and closely-knit central and state Party structures. The Congress had unanimously elected the Central Committee which then set up the Politburo, CMC, various Regional Bureaus, and central departments and sub-committees. I would proudly say, the establishment of a strong, centralized leadership for leading the Indian revolution has been one of the significant achievements of the Congress. The state committees are elected by the concerned state conferences and not by the Congress. The press release shows the poor homework of the SIB.


It was even more amusing to hear from the report that disciplinary action, including demotion, is likely to be taken against some key leaders. There is not an iota of truth in these wild assertions. The above shows not merely the disinformation campaign but also the psychology of the SIB and the police in AP who desperately wish that the “key” leaders of our Party be demoted.


Q: Then you say there are no differences at all?

A: Why not? Ideological-political debates are the life-blood of any communist party. It is through such internal struggle that a Party’s line gets further enriched and the Party becomes stronger and more unified. We never keep our differences secret. We had published the differences in the last issue of our theoretical magazine, the People’s War. In the current issue of the magazine the debates which took place in the Congress are reported in detail. These debates indicate the strength of the party, not its weakness. It shows the democratic credentials of the Party which allows freedom of expression for all kinds of opinions and viewpoints, and its ability to digest various opinions if they are expressed in a constructive way to enrich the Party line and not with a malafide intention to wreck the Party. Whatever opinions had come up at the Congress were placed by the comrades in all sincerity, with a view to enrich the line and find solutions to the problems confronting the Indian revolution.


One very important point to be noted here is that differences which had come up at the Congress were not differences between erstwhile MCCI and CPI(ML)[PW] but were those within a single Party. If you are aware of the history of our Party you would find that even more serious differences had come up in our earlier conferences and Congress. In the AISC of PW in 1995 or the central conferences of PU in 1987 and 1996, or in the 2001 Congress of the unified PW, the differences were of quite a serious nature. There were differences on the principal contradiction in the world, on the contradiction between the CBB and the Indian people, mode of production in India, and so on. There was also a sharp debate on the question of Right deviation in the Party line during the 2001 Congress of erstwhile PW. All these serious differences were resolved through a healthy debate and by placing for vote where needed. This time the differences were not as much serious as in the past. The media reports, obviously, were wide off the mark. Thus the differences within the old PW, or the unified PW after the merger of PW and PU in August 1998, or in the CPI(Maoist) after the merger of the PW and MCCI, are very much normal in a Communist party. Any difference, even the most serious ones, can be resolved in a Communist party by adhering to the principle of democratic centralism. That is the greatness of the principle of democratic centralism which is the basis for the existence and functioning of a communist party.


It was only in Karnataka that a small group calling itself the Minority had split away from the Party after they had lost the majority for their Right opportunist line in the state conference. If they had the communist spirit and discipline and were not carried away by petty-bourgeois individualism and anarchic methods, they would have remained in the Party and fought for their line in the Congress. Of course, while carrying out the line and policy decided by the majority in the Congress, one has the right to bring up one’s line or standpoint on any question once again as part of the next Congress.


Q: So you say there is no truth in the reports about the strong opposition to your re-election as the General Secretary and that you had to accede to many of the demands of your detractors as part of the compromise formula?

A: No truth absolutely. Reports of opposition to my election as GS are a planned fabrication by the Intelligence agencies like the central IB, APSIB etc., which had taken the task of spreading disinformation about the leadership as one of their principal tasks. My re-election was a unanimous decision of the CC. They saw no reason to make any change. And I do not understand what they mean by my detractors or their demands for neither of these is true. As regards the so-called compromise formula I can only laugh at the desperation of the enemy camp to establish fictitious differences and compromises.


The losses in AP are not seen as the losses of erstwhile PW but as those of the entire Party. The entire Party concentrated keenly on analysing the reasons for the losses and took lessons from the positive and negative experiences of the movement in AP. Synthesising the experiences of the movement in AP was very useful for the entire Party, which had imbibed its positive experiences and drew lessons from its negative aspects.


Q: Where was the Congress held? How did you manage to hold it when the government has been seriously trying to foil it?

A: (Laughs ) Let the Intelligence agencies keep guessing where it was held. As for the media, we can take you people to the place sometime later. As history is being built, these places will assume great historical importance for future generations. Then everyone will come to know. But one thing I can say for the present—it is held in the midst of people, protected by people and nature all around. And, of course, at the venue it is our heroic PLGA fighters who worked day and night, doing 24-hour duty, alert to every move of the enemy forces, sitting in ambushes for the police forces if ever they dared to venture into the area. Even if the enemy forces had entered the area our guerrillas would have ensured that there were no losses of leadership. Placing full confidence on the PLGA and the masses, we conducted the Congress without any tension or problem. In fact, we had even extended the Congress by a few days.


Holding the Congress was only the final act of the entire democratic process. As part of this process, we held conferences in about 15 states; 12 of these were state-level conferences, and these were preceded by regional, zonal/divisional/district conferences and in some places sub-zonal and area conferences too. There was a big education campaign with study camps, classes etc. All these had consumed a large part of our time last year. But for the extensive mass support and the protection provided by our guerrilla forces, these programmes would have been simply impossible given the continuous suppression campaigns unleashed by the enemy. We had to shift the conference venue in AOB and one or two other places when we were informed by the people that the enemy was surrounding the place. It is the people who are our eyes and ears and as long as we enjoy the support of the people, and maintain methods of strict secrecy, no enemy force can do anything.


There were serious attempts by the central and state governments to disrupt the conferences and the Congress. There was open declaration to that effect in the papers in the months of November and December last. A special wing was set up for a period of three months in the Home Ministry to foil the Congress. They knew it would be held in the months of January or February since it would be relatively difficult to hold after that due to the onset of summer. Thus holding the Congress was one of the biggest challenges the newly-unified Party had faced after the merger. More than a hundred delegates—the core of the Maoist Party—had to come from different states unnoticed by the enemy. A huge force of tested PLGA fighters had to be mobilised for protection purpose. And the arrangements for such a huge camp, that too in the coldest days of winter, were not easy. Any small leak anywhere would have disturbed the programme. Under these difficult conditions successful completion of the Congress is definitely a big achievement for the Party. It has shown that anything is possible with meticulous planning, secret methods of functioning, a committed guerrilla force and the strong support of the people.


One tragic incident that took place on the eve of the Congress was the martyrdom of our beloved comrades Chandramouli (BK) and his life-partner Vijayalaxmi (Karuna). Chandramouli was a member of the CC and the CMC and Karuna was a DC member. They were caught by the APSIB goons on 26th night and murdered in cold blood the next day after cruel torture. There was some tension when we heard the news of their martyrdom. However, the enemy did not find anything indicative of the Congress on their person and both of them stood like rock when unspeakable inhuman tortures were being inflicted upon them. The cruel enemy could not extract a single bit of information from these great communists, the proud son and daughter of the Indian people. Even in their martyrdom they made great contribution in blood for the success of the Congress. Their sacrifices will be remembered forever by all our Party cadres and the revolutionary masses.


Q: What are the major decisions of the Unity Congress? Will there be any change in your overall plans and tactics now?

A: The general direction of the Congress is to intensify the people’s war and to take the war to all fronts. Concretely it decided to take the guerrilla war to a higher level of mobile war in the areas where guerrilla war is in an advanced stage and to expand the areas of armed struggle to as many states as possible. The destruction of the enemy forces has come into the immediate agenda in these areas without which it is very difficult to consolidate our gains or to advance further. Likewise, there is an immediate need to transform a vast area into the war zone so that there is enough room for manoeuvrability for our guerrilla forces. And in expansion the element of secrecy is very important. Keeping in view the massive deployment of the central forces and special police forces of the states the Congress had drawn up plans to adopt various creative forms to cause serious damage to the enemy forces. The police and central forces will be taught how dangerous it is to enter our areas. We decided to strengthen the Party and the PLGA, mobilise the masses actively to resist the enemy forces, and to transform these areas into our strong bases by destroying the enemy’s power in all forms. And all this will be achieved by wide mobilisation of the masses into the war. As it is, hundreds of people, and at times even more than a thousand, are involved in the attacks against the enemy as you can see from the recent counteroffensive operations as in Rani Bodili, Riga, CISF camp in Khasmahal in Bokaro district, and so on in the past one month itself.


With the experiences we gained in AP in the midst of ever-increasing and continuous state repression and state-sponsored repression, it is all the more important that our forces are not exposed wherever they are working. But at the same time we shall be in the forefront of every people’s movement. The Congress has decided to take up struggles against the SEZs which are nothing but neo-colonial enclaves on Indian territory. They are not just snatching fertile farmlands of the peasants but are transforming the entire country into special zones for the unhindered ruthless exploitation and control by imperialists and the comprador big business houses. The Congress gave the call to go deep into these struggles. We have no illusions on the cruel, fascist nature of the Indian state, and hence there is utmost need for maintaining secret methods of work as well as to be prepared for every kind of sacrifice.


Q: Finally, how do you sum up the achievements of your Unity Congress and its significance?

A: Our Unity Congress is an event of great historic significance in the history of the revolutionary movement of India. It not only marks the near-completion of the process of unification of the Maoist forces in the country but also the consolidation of the Party and the political line for the Indian revolution. The reaffirmation and enrichment of the revolutionary political line established by our founder leaders-comrades CM and KC-is the biggest achievement of the Congress. Several ideological-political questions were debated and settled by the Congress thereby bringing about a higher level of unity. Another achievement of significance is the establishment of a unified centralised leadership for the Indian revolution.


After a long time in the history of the revolutionary communist movement in India since the 1970s, a single directing centre has come into existence, with the merger of the MCCI and CPI(ML)[PW] in September 2004 and this centre has become further consolidated and firmly established in the unity congress with the approval of the entire Party.


On the losses in Andhra Pradesh:


Q: There have been serious losses in Andhra Pradesh in recent times. What are the reasons? Has your movement become weakened overall? How do you plan to overcome these losses and regain the initiative?

A: I agree that the losses in the state of Andhra Pradesh are quite serious. They certainly have a considerable impact on the revolutionary movement in the country as a whole. AP, particularly the region of North Telangana, has been an important centre of revolutionary movement for a long period and a great inspiration to the revolutionary masses of our country. But we have to keep in mind that so far as the question of establishing base areas goes, it has been the more backward areas falling in central and eastern India that were selected by the Party with the immediate task of liberating these vast areas. Hence the focus of our movement had gradually shifted to Dandakaranya and Bihar-Jharkhand.


You must have known that AP was made into a model state, an experimental state where the imperialists, particularly the World Bank, and the Indian ruling classes had concentrated to implement their multi-pronged LIC strategy against the revolutionary movement, with its focus on brutal suppression and reform. No other state affected by the Naxalite movement has such a massive police commando force as in AP, nowhere do you find such extensive intelligence network, infrastructure, funds, training in counter-insurgency warfare, and unlimited powers to the police. No other state had witnessed such a bloodbath as AP had for the past four decades and particularly from the mid-1980s. There are hardly any political prisoners in AP jails since the policy had always been to bump off the revolutionaries—whether they are members of the central committee or sympathisers—after they are arrested. Fake encounter killings had been the tradition right from the time of Vengal Rao during the struggle of Srikakulam almost 40 years ago. Thousands of crores have been spent on so-called reforms with the aim of weaning away a section of the people from the revolutionary movement. It is a fact that a small but articulate and influential section in the countryside has been won over through these reforms. In a word, we can say that the Party and the revolutionary movement in AP bore the brunt of all the counter-insurgency measures initiated by the reactionary ruling classes in the initial stages. Today these are being implemented in several other states. We are making an in-depth study of enemy’s counter-revolutionary tactics, plans and methods and taking lessons from these. The movement in AP, at the cost of huge sacrifices of thousands of comrades, has given us invaluable experiences on how to counter and defeat enemy’s tactics and plans. With these, the Party is now more equipped to defeat the enemy’s tactics in other states.


Setbacks and losses are not unnatural in protracted people’s war. Revolution proceeds along a zig zag course and not along a straight line. The movement in AP has seen many ups and downs. But always it rose up like the proverbial Phoenix. No doubt, at the present juncture, we are facing a tough situation in AP and the enemy has the upper-hand from the tactical point of view. We had lost a good part of the state leadership and cadre but the most promising aspect is that the people are still with our Party. The support base of the Party has not eroded much although the They meet us secretly, ask us to solve their problems, and they work without getting exposed to the brutal State. For them our Party is the only hope. People are pained at every loss suffered by the revolutionaries. You can gauge the mass support from the turn out at the funeral meetings of our martyrs. In spite of the threats and restrictions imposed by the police goons, more than 20,000 people had turned up at the funeral of comrade Chandramouli (BK) and Karuna in the former’s native village of Vadkapur in Karimnagar district. The pent-up anger and hatred of the people for the reactionary rulers and their police-Grey Hounds-SIB goons will grow into a movement of such great proportions that it will wash away the exploiters and oppressors and all the muck accumulated in society for long. No force on earth can stop this high tide of revolution whatever losses and setbacks we might be facing today in AP. The ruling classes are aware of the great potential for the revolutionary movement in AP. That is why while boasting that Maoists in the state had become completely weakened and that AP will serve as a model on how to deal with the Maoist movement, the fascist YSR government has initiated several measures with a long-term plan such as a hundred per cent increase in the strength of the Grey Hounds commando force, acquiring helicopters for anti-Naxal operations, sanctioning of Rs. 2000 crores of central aid to deal with the Naxal movement, and so on.


The present historical epoch is an epoch of great turmoil with tumultuous changes taking place worldwide. Even the most powerful militarised imperialist power like the US is finding it impossible to suppress the national liberation struggle in a small country such as Iraq or Afghanistan. In India, the ruthless exploitation and oppression of the people by the ruling classes in collaboration with imperialism has created an explosive situation. Utilising the excellent international and domestic situation prevailing today we are confident we will be able to come out of the temporary setback in AP.


And what is more important, we made advances in many other states in spite of the losses we had suffered in AP. The situation is now qualitatively different from that of the earlier periods in that we are now able to advance the movement in a number of states even if we suffer losses and setbacks in one or two states. Way back they could suppress a Naxalbari, a Srikakulam, a Birbhum, a Mushahari, a Kanksa or Sonarpur but today the revolutionary movement has become further strengthened, has spread to large tracts of the backward countryside, has well-knit Party structures, Army and vast mass base. It is advancing through centralised planning and direction. Hence it is not an easy thing for the state to suppress the movement as in the past although it might achieve an upper hand in one place. The Congress had chalked out a concrete plan to overcome the setback in AP by transforming the unfavourable factors into favourable ones. Overall there is great future for the Party and revolution.


On SEZs, Nandigram and role of CPI(M):


Q: How do you see issues like Singur and Nandigram? Are your people involved in inciting violence in Nandigram as claimed by the CPI(M)? Do you intend to get actively involved in such issues?

A: One should only be surprised if we are not involved in such life-and-death issues of the masses. We intend to mobilise the masses against the conspiracies and treacherous policies of the rulers to snatch the land of the people and hand over the same to the MNCs and the comprador big business in the name of development through creation of hundreds of SEZs. The policy of SEZ is aimed at creating neo-colonial enclaves within our country where no laws of the land can be applied. The SEZ policy is being aggressively pushed by the Indian ruling classes goaded on by the imperialist MNCs as part of their globalisation offensive. Struggles against the SEZs acquiring fertile farmland of the peasants and also huge projects are turning more and more militant as witnessed in Kalinga Nagar, Singur, Nandigram, Lohandiguda, Polavaram, etc. Kalinga Nagar, Singur and Nandigram, in particular, have become important symbols in this struggle against exploitation by the big comprador houses and the imperialists.


As regards Maoists inciting violence in Nandigram, the entire world would laugh at the temerity of these “Left” Front rulers. Even Goebbels would turn in his grave seeing how much his art of lying has been improved by “Marxists” like Buddhas, Karats, Yechuris etc. These political brokers have been desperately trying to divert the issue by repeating ad nausea that Maoists from outside had incited the local people and hence the police had no other alternative than to open fire in self-defence. Like every reactionary ruling class the “Marxist” rulers of Bengal too are harping on themes such as “foreign hand” for the mess which they themselves had created. Brinda Karat had commented that Maoists had used the sea-route to enter Nandigram. It is sickening to see the utter political bankruptcy of these so-called ideologues and the poverty of their logic. In the eyes of these hypocrites and double-dealers, a Salim or a Tata, are not outsiders while Maoists, who live and die for the people, become outsiders. Worse still, like ostriches, they think that the world does not know how thousands of armed goons had been brought by their Party from different parts of the state to Nandigram along with a huge police force to enact the massacre. Karats and Yechuris are placing this on outsiders in their sheer desperation to justify their savage massacre in Nandigram.


Nandigram reveals the ugly cruel face of the social-fascist CPI(M) whose goons along with the police shad committed indescribable atrocities on the people, raped women, killed over a hundred people including even children, and, what is most abominable, had buried the corpses or thrown them into the river. Buddhadeb had emerged as Bengal’s Dyer and has proved himself to be a loyal servant of the big comprador houses and the MNCs. Like a true dalal, his government had taken up the task of acquiring lands from the people to hand over to the big business. One thing has become established beyond a shadow of doubt with the state terror and state-sponsored terror in Nandigram: the CPI(M) is the best bet for the MNCs and comprador big business for securing their class interests in the country. It will not be a surprise if they choose to bring these most loyal servants in Marxist guise to power even at the Centre in the future.


As for our role in such movements we shall definitely make all efforts to be in the forefront and lead the movement in the correct direction. We call upon the people to turn every SEZ into a battle-field and assure them that we will render all support to the people’s movements against SEZs.


On the annihilation of Sunil Mahto:


Q: Last month JMM leader and MP from Jamshedpur, Sunil Mahto, was gunned down by your guerrillas along with five others. There have been reports that Dy Chief Minister Sudhir Mahto was also warned. How far are these acts justified? Is your Party planning more such political assassinations in the near future?

A: We do not kill everyone just because he/she is an MP or a minister. Although all legislators are directly or indirectly responsible for all the policies made by the government, it is mainly a small coterie of political leaders that play a crucial role in finalising the policies under the dictates of the imperialist-CBB-feudal combine. It is such political leaders that we single out for attack.


In the case of Sunil Mahto, we had to eliminate him only because he has been actively involved in unleashing brutal repression on the revolutionary movement in Jharkhand. He is not just a leader of JMM but is associated actively in the vigilante gang called the Nagrik Suraksha Samiti (NSS) which had taken part in the cold-blooded murder of 11 of our Party cadres in Lango village in Dumaria bloc in East Singhbhum district in 2001. Although he was not the main architect of this massacre, he had encouraged the activities of this private mercenary gang sponsored by the state. Of late, he had come to the forefront organizing the armed campaign against the Maoists movement according to the game plan of the reactionary ruling classes to divide and pit a section of the adivasis against the revolutionary movement in the name of Sendra. We already have bitter experiences in Chattisgarh where the so-called peace campaign in the name of salwa judum is playing havoc with the lives of thousands of adivasi people. Over 700 villages had been razed to the ground, almost 60,000 people were uprooted from their homes, over 400 were murdered, several women were raped and property of the people was destroyed by these salwa judum vigilante gangs accompanied by the police and central forces. We also have the experiences of AP where vigilante gangs such as Cobras, Tigers, etc had created a campaign of terror in some areas. A similar plan is being sought to be unleashed in Jharkhand in the name of sendra and Sunil Mahto was one of the main leaders spearheading this campaign against the Maoists. The so-called Tritiya Prastuti Committee (TPC) too has been playing a similar role in Bihar with the support of the state. Hence we had to eliminate the main leader, Murari Ganju, in a daring attack by our PLGA on the 9th of April. Such punishments will be carried out where necessary on cast-to-case basis in a selective manner and this must not be treated as our general policy.


We wish to make one thing clear: we are not for indiscriminate killing of leaders or ordinary members of political parties. We basically rely on mobilization of the masses to isolate, expose and fight the anti-people policies of various political parties and the attacks by the vigilante gangs while engaging our PLGA squads and action teams where needed. Annihilation of Sunil Mahto should not be interpreted as our antagonism towards JMM as a whole. We are not against JMM as long as it desists from indulging in anti-people activities and attacks against the revolutionary movement. We appeal to the activists and ordinary members of JMM to understand the conspiracy of the ruling classes to divide the adivasi people in the name of sendra and call upon them to fight the state-sponsored private vigilante gangs like NSS as well as all those leading the notorious campaign of sendra against the revolutionary movement in Jharkhand.


On the biggest ever attack by the Maoists in Chattisgarh:


Q: Recently your PLGA had inflicted one of the biggest blows to the police force and the salwa judum by killing a huge number of police and SPOs in Rani Bodili in Chattisgarh. Do you foresee more such attacks in near future? And do you believe the salwa judum can be stopped through such actions?

A: The daring tactical counteroffensive operation carried out by the PLGA led by our Party, the CPI(Maoist), on March 16 on a police base camp in Ranibodli in Bijapur police district in Chattisgarh in which 68 policemen including Special Police Officers (SPOs) were wiped out is an inevitable consequence of the brutal reign of terror unleashed by the state and central governments in the name of salwa judum. You must know the actual ground situation in Dandakaranya to understand why such a massive operation had to be planned.


For almost two years since June 2005, the BJP government in Chattisgarh and the Congress-led UPA government in the Centre had sponsored a counterrevolutionary terrorist campaign of mass murder, torture, and arrests of thousands of the adivasi peasantry, gangrapes and murder of hundreds of women, destruction of thousands of houses, foodgrains, and all property of the adivasis, killing or taking away thousands of cattle, forceful evacuation of tens of thousands of people from almost eight hundred villages and issuing threats and intimidation to anyone suspected of being a member of revolutionary mass organization or sympathetic to the Maoists in Dandakaranya, particularly in Dantewara, Bastar, Kanker, Bijapur and Narayanpur districts. Over 5000 youth were inducted into a state mercenary armed force, paid monthly salaries, and pitted against the native adivasis who are fighting for land, livelihood and liberation under the leadership of the CPI(Maoist). The Naga and Mizo Battalions were specially brought in along with a huge CRPF and other special police forces to Chattisgarh who had been committing the most barbaric and inhuman acts against the adivasi population.


All these cruel attacks against an entire population are meant to establish peace of the graveyard and clear the way for the unhindered loot by rapacious hawks like Tatas, Ruias, Essars, Mittals, Jindals and imperialist MNCs. Over one lakh rupees worth of MOUs were signed by the Chattisgarh government with these corporate comprador big business houses to drain the rich mineral and forest wealth of the state. At the behest of these day-light robberers, adivasi dalals like opposition leader of the Congress, Mahendra Karma, Home Minister Ramvichar Netham of the BJP and others have been leading this counter-revolutionary war against the adivasi population.


A huge central force is deployed which is now more than 13 battalions, recruited 10 additional battalions of state forces, and inducted even minors of 14 years of age into their mercenary police force. KPS Gill, notorious for the mass murders of youth in Punjab, was specially appointed as advisor to the Chief Minister. A carpet security system is initiated with police camps in close proximity in order to strike terror among the people.


We, on behalf of the CC, CPI(Maoist), once again warn the state and central governments that our Bhumkal Sena and PLGA and people will carry out attacks on a much bigger scale if the murder campaign in the name of salwa judum is not disbanded immediately. We declare that the sole responsibility for such needless loss of lives of hundreds of policemen and SPOs lies squarely on the shoulders of the state and central governments. Large-scale armed retaliation by the adivasis led by our Party is inevitable if the atrocities on the adivasi people continue in the name of salwa judum. Like George Bush who can only think in terms of using more brute force to control the fire of national liberation in Iraq, the Indian ruling classes too can only think of sucking in more and more repressive forces in order to suppress the people’s war and grab the mineral wealth of Dandakaranya. However, they will only end up in further escalating the civil war in Dandakaranya.


We do share the grief of the families of the dead policemen and SPOs but we are being compelled to wipe out the police and mercenary gangs who are obeying the orders of the ruling classes and their imperialist mentors to suppress the revolutionary movement for looting the wealth in the state. We appeal to the jawans of the central forces, particularly the Naga and Mizo battalions, to disobey the orders of the rulers and to withdraw from Chattisgarh. We appeal to the SPOs who are being pitted against the adivasi people to quit the mercenary force as they are fighting an unjust war against their own brothers and sisters in the interests of the reactionary rulers. We call upon the democratic organizations and individuals and the vast masses of the country to condemn state terrorism and state-sponsored terrorism on the adivasi people of Dandakaranya, to demand immediate disbandment of salwa judum and the mercenary SPO force, to fight for the withdrawal of the notorious central forces from the region, set up a judicial enquiry into the killing of over 500 adivasis by the police-salwa judum mercenary combine.


On the Party’s plans to win over the middle class:


Q: History shows, the middle class wants status quo. Indian middle class is growing more powerful. How do you plan to co-opt them?

A: It is true that the Indian middle class has grown in number. At the same time, a sizable chunk of the middle class is facing cute crisis due to soaring prices, unemployment, growing insecurity of life, steep increases in family expenditure due to high cost of education, health, transport etc., which have become privatized to a great extent and had gone beyond the reach of a significant section of the middle class. In short, despite the numerical growth of the middle class it is at a receiving end. Hence we see that the growing frustration in large sections of the middle class is forcing them into streets for their demands as witnessed in strikes and other forms of struggles by teachers, government employees, students, and even shopkeepers who are affected by the shopping malls and FDI in retail sector. Another important factor has to be noted—most of yesterday’s luxury consumer goods have become today’s daily necessities. And the list of necessities is growing by the day with the large-scale proliferation of consumer goods and the promotion of consumerism by the market-place. Hence frustration is growing among members of this class as they are unable to procure these goods since much of their incomes have to be spent on the basic necessities such as food, clothing and shelter.


Middle class is terribly affected by such issues as price-rise, insecurity, corruption, unemployment for their children, high cost of education and health-care, threats from real estate mafia etc. Keeping these in mind, our party has drawn up plans to mobilize the middle class into struggles on such issues.


In Defence of armed struggle:


Q: Why armed struggle is a must? (Isn’t it a fact that violence pushes a large chunk of people away from the Party?)

A: The question of armed struggle or non-violent struggle is not based on the subjective whims and wishes of any individual or Party. It is independent of one’s will. It is a law borne out by all historical experience. It is a fact of history that nowhere in the world, nowhere in the historical development of the class society, had the reactionary ruling classes given up power without resorting to violent suppression of the mass protests, without violent resistance aimed at clinging on to power until they are thrown out by force. Of course, one can cite instances of regime changes occurring through peaceful movements, through massive protests, but all of these were mere regime changes—not systemic changes. A section of the ruling classes might give up power to another section of the same class without the need for a violent upheaval but the same is not the case when one ruling class is replaced by another with diametrically opposing class interests. However, we find that even these regime changes are not infrequently marked by violent clashes as witnessed in several parts of Africa, Asia and Latin America. We will indeed be the happiest people to bring about systematic change without the need for armed struggle.


When we began the struggle it was basically a peaceful movement on the various issues of the people such as land, livelihood and liberation from feudal and imperialist exploitation and oppression. It needs hardly any genius to grasp the fact that no feudal lord would give up his land or power just because the masses demand it as their democratic right. The landlord would use all means at his disposal to suppress the mass resistance by brute force. He would get the local police and special forces, the central para-military forces and, if needed, the army. We had seen this whenever we had initiated the anti-feudal struggle. —-in Jagtyal during the late 1970s, social boycott of the landlords imposed by the peasantry had forced them to flee the villages our revolutionary movement had spread to over a hundred villages which shook the powers that be. What happened next to this non-violent struggle should be an eye-opener to all those who harbour illusions or biased against armed struggle. After few weeks the landlords came back with the mercenary forces and unleashed large-scale violence and cruel repressive measures such as arrests, torture of peasants, destruction of their property, declaration of the area as disturbed, clamping down on the civil rights of the people, and so on. It was at that juncture that the Party was compelled to take up arms and not out of any romantic notion. —the same is the case with anti-imperialist struggles and nationality movements. Who would want to give up their precious lives and undergo harsh, rigorous lives tortures and hardships when the demands of the masses such as land, national self-determination and liberation from imperialist exploitation and oppression are achieved through peaceful means? All movements began as peaceful movements but had to take the form of armed struggle due to the moves of the reactionary ruling classes. The case of Iraq is a classic illustration of how an entire population has been compelled to take up arms due to the unbridled violence unleashed by the imperialists for satisfying their unsatiated greed for oil. The same is the case with Palestine, Kashmir or elsewhere.


The second part of your question is a big myth. Nowhere had the masses been repelled from the Party on account of armed struggle. Rather, it is the lack of effective resistance that is acting as a discouragement wherever the state had bared its fangs. Without destroying and defeating the armed forces of repression it is impossible to rally the people or give them confidence. In fact, it is not our guerrilla squads alone that are putting up resistance. The people are playing a great role in heroically resisting and actively supporting the PLGA in its armed resistance to the police forces. Well, that’s the ground reality notwithstanding what the intellectuals analyzing events from their ivory towers might think and theorise.


Q: Why there cannot be protest in a non-violent way?

A: You must rather put the question the other way round. You must ask the reactionary ruling classes—the big landlords, the big business houses, the imperialist MNCs, the powerful Indian state and its armed forces, the state police and the bureaucracy—if at all they would listen, as to why they do not allow protest in a peaceful way. Why do they beat up, arrest, torture, and kill people who dare to go on strike? Why do they terminate the services of workers and employees for going on strike? Why do they send their mercenary police forces, the CRPF and the army to open fire upon people staging peaceful marches, dharnas and meetings without any provocation, why do they allow the khaki gangs to rape women, destroy property, enact fake encounters in violation of all provisions of the Indian Constitution, and for all these crimes against humanity, are let scot-free? Why do they create a Kalinganagar, a Nandigram, an Arwal, an Indravelli, and scores of such barbaric acts? Why peaceful protests of people in Kashmir against disappearances are not just ignored but even attacked with such ferocity? Why do they continue to enforce the savage Armed Forces Special Powers Act in Manipur when it is actually the Indian army and the police forces that are committing atrocities upon the people as the case of the rape of Manorama classically illustrates? Can you ever forget the savage beatings of the protestors by these khaki-clad or olivegreen goons breaking their skulls, and not sparing them even after they fall down seriously injured?


No ruling classes anywhere in the world had allowed the people to achieve their basic demands of land and liberation from oppression in a peaceful way; even the so-called democratic states allow it only to the extent they do not pose a threat to the status quo, to their exploitation and amassing of super profits. Ahimsa (non-violence) and Karma (fate) are the ideological bases and the dubious catch-words of the exploiting classes to perpetuate their violence and hegemony over the vast masses.


To begin with, none would or could go directly to violent ways to solve their problems. It is only after their peaceful marches, rallies, dharnas, hunger-strikes, general strikes etc., go unheeded or sought to be crushed that they are forced to resort to violent methods. This is an incontrovertible fact whether it is the anti-feudal armed agrarian struggle led by the revolutionaries, nationality movements of the North East, Kashmir or the anti-imperialist struggles. You only have to take a glance at the origin of the armed movements anywhere in the world, not just India, to appreciate this universal truth. To put it shortly, forms of struggle adopted by the people always depend upon the moves of the ruling classes and not vice versa. And you should also bear in mind that even today we use both violent and non-violent forms of struggle and not just violent forms.


Q: Is your violence for self-defence or to grab state power?

A: Strictly speaking, you cannot separate the two. In the long-term perspective, or ultimately our goal is to seize state power without which it is impossible to liberate the people of our country from the clutches of imperialism, feudalism and the big comprador bourgeoisie i.e, change the existing unjust socio-economic system. But in the process of preparing the people for the ultimate goal of establishing their own power, the ruling classes are resorting to savage repression on the party, the masses and the revolutionary movement as a whole. Hence in the course of mobilizing the masses into movements we are compelled to take up arms for self-defence even at an early stage. And for a relatively long time our war will have this nature and all our tactical counter offensive operations and campaigns should be seen as part of the war of self-defence at this stage.


On the fight against the “mighty” Indian state:


Q: Indian state is getting increasingly powerful. How do you plan to fight the Indian state?

A: Tactically speaking, yes. There has been a massive growth in the repressive forces and a strengthening of the Indian state. It is spending huge amounts on defence and “internal security”, liberally disbursing funds to the states to suppress the revolutionary forces, nationality movements and other democratic movements.


However, this growth of repressive forces brings one important point to the fore i.e., the Indian state is finding it impossible to control the growing people’s movements without continuously increasing its forces. Seen this way, the massive growth in the security forces does not signify the strength but rather the weakness of the Indian state and that it has lost its legitimacy to rule in the old way. It shows the desperation of the Indian ruling classes and the imperialists to rely more and more on the coercive methods in order to cling on to power and ensure their exploitation. If it were not for the ever-growing democratic and revolutionary movements in the country there would not have been the need to desperately strengthen the state apparatus and resort to such massive increases of repressive forces.


But let me tell you one oft-forgotten fact. No state, however powerful it might seem to be, can surpass the power of the people. As comrade Mao had correctly pointed out, even the mightiest state is, after all, a paper tiger. Yesterday we saw how the mightiest army of the most powerful state in all human history had to tuck its tail after the humiliating defeat in Vietnam. Today the entire world is watching with disbelief in their eyes as the mightiest imperialist armies led by US imperialism are being trounced in Iraq by ordinary ill-trained, ill-equipped but resolute national liberation fighters. In the ultimate analysis, it is the freedom-loving people who are mightier than any state. And one must not forget the universal truth that wherever there is oppression there will be resistance. However strong and powerful the state might appear to be it can and will be defeated through the resistance of the masses.


Our recently held Unity Congress—9th Congress had addressed this issue in much detail and worked out plans to counter the state by relying on the vast masses of our country who are oppressed by imperialism, feudalism and the comprador big business. And, of course, by enhancing our military capabilities as well. A specialised study of the strength and weaknesses of the Indian state is taken up. As you might be aware, even the mightiest enemy will have the weakest points. We have to correctly identify these weak points and deal effective blows so as to achieve victories.


On the question of Parliament and Party’s stand:


Q: Why can’t you fight election and go to Parliament and raise issues in a democratic way?

A: It is indeed a logical question which anyone who sees only the outer shell of so-called parliamentary democracy would ask. What is important is the kernel, the essence, the content and not just the form. When you strip off the outer garment of democracy you find the rotten, stinking corpse inside. That is why Lenin described Parliament as a pig-sty and a mere talking shop. Why are we calling it a talking shop?


Firstly, the real problems of the people can never be addressed by the Parliament and Assemblies, not to speak of solving them. The Parliamentary institutions are not meant for that. They have no real power. They may pass some resolutions that seem to do good for the people but these have to be implemented through the Executive which has the real power. We know the fate of the Land Ceiling Acts, legislation on untouchability, dowry, etc which are only showpieces. It is the executive which carries out everything. In periods such as Emergency during Indira Gandhi’s regime, when the Parliament itself was subverted, the real power of the Executive had come openly to the fore. But the man on the street knows how it is the revenue official, policeman, and the local magistrate who decide his life. However good a legislative act might seem to be, it is money power, muscle power and nepotism that decide every aspect of his life.


Secondly, Parliamentary institutions are meant to defend the status quo, not to change the system. They do, of course, make some cosmetic changes now and then to maintain their credibility among the masses. Most important of all, it is the imperialists, comprador big business houses, big landlords, contractors and the mafia which control the Parliament. Those who enter the Parliament are the representatives or mere puppets in the hands of these powerful lobbies. Even a good-intentioned parliamentarian cannot go beyond the rules drawn up by these bigwigs. If you see the business transacted in the parliament, you would find that more than 90 % of it is just trash, with no bearing on the real problems of the country.


That the system of elections is a big farce needs no elaboration as it is known even to a schoolchild. Do you call it democracy to purchase votes with liquor and money, whip up caste, religious, and ethnic sentiments? And even after the election, purchasing the legislators as you purchase any other item in the market-place? If a Narendra Modi, the butcher of thousands of Muslims in Gujarat, can win elections and get reelected as the chief minister; if criminals, dacoits, and most notoriously corrupt politicians can get elected; and if votes can be obtained at gun-point and through booth capturing and rigging, then do you really think that there is any meaning in this so-called democracy?


That is why our Party has complete clarity on the nature of legislative system unlike some other parties that swear to be revolutionary but indulge in parliamentary politics in practice. We are firm in our belief that it is only through struggle that people can solve their problems and the parliamentary institutions can do nothing good except creating illusions. Parliament is a safety-valve to let out the pent-up anger of the masses lest the system blow to pieces. You think raising issues in the parliament is the democratic way whereas we believe that people are raising their issues in a democratic way through organised protests. We shall always be at the head of such struggles and not step into the mire of the undemocratically elected powerless talking shop called Parliament that serves as the instrument of the big business and the feudal forces, and is subordinate to imperialist dictates.


Q: Do you fear that if you go to Parliament, the party can become corrupt?

A: The answer to this question is already covered in my earlier elaboration. To say in one word, more than being corrupted after entering Parliament, which is also true in the case of the ML parties, it is the corrupt parties and individuals that can really become part of the parliamentary system. Our Party firmly believes that as against the money power of the Parliament the real alternative before the people is the establishment of genuine people’s democratic power. We had built such organs of people’s power in some parts of the country such as janthana sarkar in Dandakaranya. These revolutionary organs of power show how real power is exercised as compared to the impotent, corrupt and criminal parliamentary institutions.


On the mass base of the Maoists:


Q: What is your mass base?

A: Our mass base is the vast oppressed masses, the wretched of the earth, the impoverished, deprived, destitute, alienated masses. The workers, peasants, middle class, dalits, women, advasis and all the toiling millions upon millions of masses are our base. These vast masses constitute the real India, not the fatty upper layer of five or ten per cent of the society. It is these vast masses who need revolution and they see us the alternative even if most of them have not seen us. As our subjective forces grow we shall enter these vast sections throughout the country. Today we have a strong mass base among these sections in all the areas where we are leading the anti-feudal armed agrarian struggles. There is still the need to go deeply into other sections in the urban areas—the working class, students, youth, middle class, small traders, hawkers, and so on.


Q: Can you give statistics how much of your cadre base has increased in last one year?

A: I cannot give the exact statistics as we do not want the enemy to know about the actual growth of our Party. Let them keep guessing and produce statistics through so-called research foundations, intelligence agencies, and so on. Anyway we are a bit flattered to see the statistics given by these agencies about the rate of growth of our Party and areas of our struggle and influence. But one thing I will make clear—we have certainly increased our overall cadre strength, our mass base and its quality in the past one year despite severe losses in some states.


Q: How much of Indian territory is under Maoist control? Indian PM once said 160 out of 604 districts –was it an exaggeration?

A: As I said earlier, we are indeed flattered by such statistics regarding our movement. But one thing we can understand from the Prime Minister’s statement i.e., how much of a nightmare we have become to the reactionary ruling classes of India. In fact, several agencies and foundations churn out figures to show how much of a threat the Maoists have become. One author says we are increasing at the rate of two districts per week! Another says we had expanded from a mere 64 districts in 2005 to 169 districts by the beginning of 2007, yet another researcher assertively says that the Maoists had expanded to most of AP, Bihar, Jharkhand, Chattisgarh and Orissa, and so on. Most of these figures are only their imagination and are deliberately presented in an exaggerated manner in order to deploy more police forces and allot greater amount of funds to suppress the revolutionary movement.


It is an exaggeration to say Maoists control that many districts. But as far as our influence goes I should say it is even more than that.


On People’s Power:


Q: What do you mean by ‘people’s power—we have seen in a communist state in West Bengal what communists do when they come to power. How would you ensure you will be able to give power to people?

A: It is not surprising that like most people, you too are confused by the names. Just because a Party calls itself Communist does not make it communist just as a party calling itself bharatiya janatha party does not make it an Indian people’s party or a samajwadi party into a socialist party. The stark fact is that the CPI(M) had long back abandoned the communist project and Marist ideology though it calls itself a Marxist Party. It had become a social fascist party from the time of the outbreak of Naxalbari armed peasant uprising in 1967 when thousands of revolutionaries were massacred upon the orders of the then Home minister Jyoti Basu in West Bengal during the late 1960s and early 1970s. The recent massacre of scores of people in Nandigram on March 14, the brutal suppression of the people’s struggle in Singur, and its open declaration to allow the MNCs and big comprador houses to set up SEZs and transform the state into a haven for these sharks had shown how the Bddhadeb’s Marxist party is acting at the behest of the Tatas, Salems and imperialist MNCs. The pre-hatched systematic execution of the massacre in Nandigram by the police-CPI(M) goons combine, in particular, has revealed their social fascist character to the new generation of the Indian people. So what you are referring to in West Bengal is nothing but social fascist rule.


Now coming to your question about people’s power—we call it people’s power only when real power is exercised by the people themselves. You can see it in parts of Dandakaranya, Bihar and Jharkhand. We had developed it in some villages in AP but these were destroyed due to the weakness of our armed strength which could not counter the massive offensive by the central and state’s special forces. Wherever we had established organs of people’s power in embryonic form, there you can see the initiative and energy of the masses being released and coming into full play, active participation of masses in administering their own lives, collectively developing their villages through construction of schools, tanks, hospitals, etc and increasing production, resolving the local disputes by themselves without ever the need to go to the bourgeois-feudal courts, in short shaping their own destiny. Where our people’s army and people’s militia are relatively strong and succeeded in destroying the state’s armed forces, there the people are no more oppressed and exploited by the tribal elders, landlords, forest officials, bureaucrats, big contractors, policemen. The people’s assertion has also kept the big industrial sharks and the imperialist MNCs at bay. Women enjoy relatively greater freedom than their counterparts in the rest of the country.


We have to develop this people’s power from the local to higher levels by strengthening the people’s army and transforming it into a mighty force, destroying the enemy power by intensifying the people’s war, and establishing the base areas. It is in the base areas that this power becomes relatively more consolidated. However, until the final capture of state power on a countrywide scale there will be severe constraints to the exercise of the people’s power at the village and area levels. You have to look at the power the people are exercising in these areas of struggle keeping these limitations in mind.


On the Islamic Upsurge:


Q: But globally the fight is now becoming pro-globalisation versus Islamic upsurge—in this scheme of things how do you see a classless society?

A: Globalisation is a war on the people and on every value cherished by the people for centuries. Globalisation is the ideology of the market fundamentalists. The market fundamentalists are destroying everything a nation had possessed and preserved for centuries. They promote nothing but sheer greed and self-interest with the sole aim of global hegemony and the means to achieve it is a war on all fronts—military, economic, political, cultural, psychological. And to achieve this “lofty” goal, they think even the destruction of the world is collateral damage.


There is a people’s upsurge against globalization all over the world and Islamic upsurge is an integral part of the worldwide people’s upsurge against imperialism, imperialist globalization and war.


A classless society-Communism—is a conscious human project and has to be built through the transformation of human consciousness. And to achieve this, the first step is to destroy imperialism on a world scale and domestic reaction in every country. Islamic upsurge is a reaction to imperialist globalization and imperialist oppression and exploitation of the world people, and Muslim masses in particular. As long as imperialism exists, and as long as it bolsters up decadent reactionary comprador Islamic regimes in countries of Asia and Africa, it is impossible for the Muslim masses to come out of their fundamentalism. It is only after the destruction of imperialism on a world scale can the Islamic masses come out completely from their obscurantist ideology and values. This will pave the way for the establishment of a classless society.


Q: What is your opinion about Islamic upsurge?

A: The answer to this question is already contained in the above explanation. In essence, we see the Islamic upsurge as a progressive anti-imperialist force in the contemporary world. It is wrong to describe the struggle that is going on in Iraq, Afghanistan, Palestinian territory, Kashmir, Chechnya, and several other countries as a struggle by Islamic fundamentalists or as a “clash of civilizations” long back theorized by Samuel Huntington and which is being resurrected by all and sundry today. In essence all these are national liberation wars notwithstanding the role of Islamic fundamentalists too in these struggles. We oppose religious fundamentalism of every kind ideologically and politically as it obfuscates class distinctions and class struggle and keeps the masses under the yoke of class oppression. However, “Islamic fundamentalism”, in my opinion, is an ally of the people in their fight against market fundamentalism promoted by the US, EU, Japan and other imperialists.


The upsurge is bound to raise the anti-imperialist democratic consciousness among the Muslim masses and bring them closer with all other secular, progressive and revolutionary forces. I see the Islamic upsurge as the beginning of the democratic awakening of the Muslim masses despite the domination of fundamentalist ideology and outlook in the Islamic movement at present. Our Party supports the Islamic upsurge and seeks a unity with all anti-imperialist forces.


Q: Nasarullah of Hizbollah has recently said that Left should come close to Islamists. In Indian context—what do you feel?

A: I basically agree with what Nasarullah of Hizbollah has said. One must understand that Nasarullah is referring to the struggles for national liberation from imperialism in Islamic countries.


The need of the hour is to achieve the unity of all forces opposed to imperialism, particularly US imperialism, which is aggressively destroying every human value handed over to us by thousands of years of history and is oppressing every nation of Asia, Africa and Latin America. The Left cannot even claim itself to be democratic if it does not initiate steps to unite with the forces in the Islamic movement which are fighting for national liberation from imperialism, particularly US imperialism. All the ongoing movements which are supposed to be led by Islamic forces in various countries as I had mentioned above, are national democratic movements in content. The strong religious language used by the leadership of these movements does not alter their national democratic essence and their anti-imperialist character.


On the developments in Nepal:


Q: What do you think of Nepal?

A: Our Party’s official stand has already been given in the form of statements, interviews and articles in the last issue of our theoretical magazine, People’s War. There was also an Interview by our Party spokesperson last year. We are having a debate with various Maoist Parties on the developments in Nepal.


The people of Nepal had shown great mettle in fighting the monarchy but the fight is only half-way through. The real fight is not against Gyanendra and the monarchy which is but a symbol of the feudal-imperialist oppression and exploitation of the vast masses of Nepal. Without throwing out the feudal forces, the imperialists, the Indian big business and the local compradors, mere ouster of Gyanendra would not solve any of the problems of the Nepali masses. And this can be done only by firmly carrying on the people’s war to final victory. No Parliament can touch the seat of these reactionary forces who de facto rule the country.


We believe there is a serious danger of diversion to the people’s war in Nepal after the CPN(Maoist) had taken the stand of multi-party democracy in the name of 21st century democracy. While saying that such a step is necessary to prevent the restoration of capitalism after the revolution, what they are actually doing is to participate in elections even before the seizure of political power!! And this will harm the interests of revolution. We are having debates with the Maoists in Nepal on these questions. We are telling them not to have illusions in parliamentary democracy. The history of parliamentary democracy the world over as well as in India for almost six decades shows what a farce it is.


The most dangerous part of the deal is the disarming of the PLA by depositing the arms and placing the fighters in cantonments. This will do no good except disarming the masses and throwing them to the mercy of the oppressors. Neither the imperialists nor big neighbours like India and China would allow any fundamental change in the socio-economic system in Nepal. They cannot remain passive spectators if their interests are undermined by the Maoists whether through a people’s war or through the parliament. Hence the Maoists can never achieve their aim of putting an end to feudal and imperialist exploitation by entering the parliament in the name of multi-party democracy. They will have to either get co-opted into the system or abandon the present policy of power-sharing with the ruing classes and continue the armed revolution to seize power. There is no Buddhist middle way. They cannot set the rules for a game the bourgeoisie had invented.


On the role of the Party in the contemporary world:


Q: Developments are taking place at a rapid pace in both international and national arena. How do you see a role for your Party in this turmoil?

A: Our Party has a great role to play in the contemporary international and domestic situation. Our Congress has analysed the present political situation and issued calls to the Party and the people. It drew up the necessary immediate tactics and tasks to utilise the situation and achieve advances and leaps in the ongoing people’s war in India. The new Central Committee had further concretised these in the form of time-bound programmes and plans. Several resolutions were adopted by the Congress on the issues confronting the people in our country as well as the world. We hope to actively intervene in these issues and build a broad-based militant political mass movement.


The next ten to twenty years will witness massive political and social upheavals all over the world and our country is going to witness mass upheavals in several states against the onslaught of imperialism, anti-people policies of the Indian ruling classes such as carving out neo-colonial enclaves called SEZs, massive displacement of the poor in both urban and rural areas, against draconian laws, state repression, unemployment, corruption, inflation, neglect of social welfare, and so on. Militant confrontation between the people and the state will become a general feature throughout the country and I am sure our Party will be at the head of these movements. It will grow to the status of providing leadership to the vast majority of the oppressed masses of our country. Imposing ban on our Party and the mass organisations, murdering our comrades, unleashing cruel repression on the people, intimidating and harassing all those associated with the revolutionary movement and all their repressive measures cannot prevent this inevitable establishment of our Party’s leadership over the vast masses. The reactionary and revisionist parties, the Parliamentary system are very much discredited in the eyes of the people and they cannot but see our Party as the only alternative before them to achieve their real liberation.


Q: And finally do you feel it is a very crucial moment in history of India’s Maoist struggle? If so, why?

A: I do not know what exactly is in your mind when you placed the question. But I would say yes, for several reasons. When for the first time you see the emergence of a single directing centre for the Indian revolution after the merger of the two major Maoist streams in the Indian communist movement, when you hold a Congress—the highest authority in the Party—after over 3 ½ decades, 37 years to be precise, it indeed becomes a crucial moment in the history of India’s Maoist struggle. And it is more than that. Holding the Unity Congress itself has been the greatest challenge to or Party in recent times. The reactionary ruling classes, of course with the advice of the imperialists, had tried by all means at their disposal to disrupt the Congress. However, with meticulous planning by our Central Committee and various leading committees of our Party, with the protection provided by the heroic fighters of our PLGA, and the ever-vigilant people’s militia and revolutionary masses, we could complete this gigantic democratic exercise that was initiated two years ago. It is a matter of pride that we could give a fitting rebuff to the enemy by successfully holding the Congress for over a fortnight.


It is a crucial moment for another reason too. Today the Maoist movement is facing the great challenge of building a strong PLA and establishing the base areas in the remote countryside as an immediate task. The reactionary ruling classes are sparing no stone unturned to prevent the emergence of such Red bases (democratic government of the people) in India’s heartland as that would mean the emergence of a real alternative to the rotten, Parliamentary system and the criminal, communal, fascist, comprador parliamentary parties. Hence we see the massive deployment not only of the central forces, state’s special forces but also setting up huge armed force from the local population, arming and training them, and pitting them against the revolutionary movement organizing massacres that remind us of the pogroms of the Black Hundred in pre-revolutionary Russia, and the Nazi gangs of fascist Hitler. Such is the scenario enacted in Dandakaranya in the name of salwa judum and to a lesser extent in Bihar-Jharkhand in the name of Sendra. They would not hesitate to send the Indian army to create more bloodbaths and, the Maoist movement can advance only by smashing these attacks by the enemy forces. That is how we see the present moment as a crucial moment in the history of the Maoist struggle in India.


And the last reason why we should call the present moment a crucial moment is that we, the Maoists, are confronted with the great task of providing revolutionary leadership to over a billion people at a time when the entire country is being transformed into a neo-colony, when the country is being sold away to the imperialists and the big business in the name of SEZs, when millions upon millions of people are being displaced by so-called development projects, when workers, peasants, employees, students, sections of the intelligentsia, dalits, women adivasis, nationalities, religious minorities and others are seething with revolt.

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Interview with Ganapathy, General Secretary, CPI(Maoist)

Posted by Indian Vanguard on May 13, 2007

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Source: we received the following interview by an email.

[The questions that follow have been sent by various newspapers to Ganapathy, General Secretary, CPI(Maoist). More than half of these were sent by BBC. The answers by Ganapathy are being sent to the media in the background of the successful completion of the Congress of the CPI(Maoist) and other recent developments—Azad, Spokesperson, CPI(Maoist), 24th April, 2007]


On the Unity Congress of CPI(Maoist):

Q: We heard that you had successfully held your Congress recently after a gap of almost 37 years. Why has there been such a long delay?

A: It is true that we held our last Congress—8th Congress—way back in 1970. The reason for not holding it for almost 37 years is the condition of the revolutionary forces in the country. Two years after the last Congress the movement suffered a serious setback; the highest committee, the CC, became disintegrated following the martyrdom, arrests, and even betrayals by some members like SN Singh who had, in fact, split the Party in September 1971 itself. After the martyrdom of comrade Charu Majumdar, the entire CC ceased to exist as it got splintered into several factions. I say factions because they were all part of the original CPI(ML). Prolonged existence as separate groups gave them distinct identities in course of time as independent groups and parties with their own respective programmes and tactics. Moreover, they made their own self-critical reviews of the past. Such a state of affairs had rendered the prospects of unity all the more difficult.


Some groups began to traverse the same old path of the Danges and Joshis, although they claimed to oppose their line, such as the “Liberation” group led by Vinod Mishra whose degeneration began in the early 1980s after a history of glorious struggle during the 1970s. There were some that went on postponing the initiation of armed struggle against the state indefinitely to some auspicious day in the future with the plea that the state is too powerful and armed confrontation with it required more time and preparation. Hence they confined themselves to so-called phase of armed peasant resistance or the anti-feudal phase of struggle. Till today these groups have not completed their preparations to begin their armed confrontation with the state! These were the Right opportunist groups such as TN-DV, ND, various factions of CP Reddy etc. Then there were some others that stuck to the original programme of the CPI(ML) but refused to adopt a critical outlook towards the past mistakes. They continued dogmatically with the Left sectarian mistakes such as over-assessment of the international situation and the subjective strength, and an underestimation of the enemy forces and hence could not build any movement of significance. It was only a few Parties such as the CPI(ML)[PW] and CPI(ML)[PU] which had upheld the basic line of the 8th Congress, made a self-critical review of the past tactical mistakes and shortcomings in the movement thereby enriching the line further, carried on the people’s war based on the enriched line, and hence could develop relatively strong movements in different parts of the country.


While this was the condition of the CPI(ML), on the other hand, the MCC led by comrades KC, Amulya Sen and Chandra Shekhar Das, grew up as a separate party with almost the same programme as that of the CPI(ML). Both parties would have been part of a single party but due to some historical reasons this did not materialise during the time of comrade CM. Later, as the CPI(ML) itself got split by 1972, unity became a thing of the future. From then on unity of the Communist Revolutionaries remained one of the principal tasks in the agenda of every revolutionary organisation. But unity cannot materialise due to the desire of the revolutionaries itself. The will, i.e., the sincere desire for unity, is no doubt, an important factor but what is decisive is the political line and practice of the parties. Hence it was only during the 1980s and 90s when movements were built by Parties such as the MCC, CPI(ML)[PW] and CPI(ML)[PU] that a strong basis for unity was laid. However, the unity between these Parties could not materialise for a long time due to political differences and also due to shortcomings on the part of the leaderships to make conscious efforts for unity. I can elaborate this if needed. The main reason for the long delay in holding the 9th Congress has been the failure to achieve unity among the major revolutionary forces in the country.


Q: How is democracy ensured in the Party when you could not hold the Congress for so many years? How are the cadres involved in formulating the line, tactics and policies of the Party?

A: The specific feature that I had described above, i.e., not holding the Congress for a long period due to our failure to achieve unity of all the genuine communist revolutionaries in the country, does not negate inner-Party democracy. Each revolutionary Party had its own internal democratic process of involving cadres in policy-making. The erstwhile MCCI, CPI(ML)[PW] and CPI(ML)[PU] had their respective central conferences, plenums, special meetings etc at regular intervals where they summed up their past work and the positive and negative aspects in advancing the people’s war, made the necessary changes in the policies and tactics, and enriched the line. A central conference is, in essence, similar to the Congress. The only reason for not naming it as the Congress is the recognition of the existence of various revolutionary parties and groups in the country. It was generally felt that a Congress could be held after achieving the unity of all the revolutionary forces in the country. The erstwhile parties that are now part of the CPI(Maoist)—the MCCI, CPI(ML)[PW] and CPI(ML)[PU]—had held their central conferences and plenums at regular intervals. The PW had organised its first regional conference of Telangana way back in 1976. It had its state conference in 1980, its central plenum in 1990, its All India Special Conference (AISC) in 1995, and its Congress in 2001. Likewise, the MCCI had its central conference in 1996 and the PU in 1983, 87 and 1996.


Thus through these conferences and plenums the entire Party was involved in the democratic process of discussions, internal struggle, and resolution of all disputed issues democratically. In fact, the CPI(ML)[PW] began preparations for holding the Congress in 1995 after the break-down of the merger talks with MCC. The AISC of erstwhile PW in 1995 was actually planned as a Congress but at the eleventh hour we decided to change its name to that of a special conference but having the significance of a Congress. This was done keeping in mind the prospect of unity with the CPI(ML)[PU]. In 2001, the unified CPI(ML)[PW] held the 9th Congress but it was the Congress of revolutionaries belonging basically to only one stream of the Indian revolution, the CPI(ML). The Congress was held due to an assessment by the PW leadership that unity with MCC may not materialise for a relatively longer period of time especially in the background of strained relations between the two parties at that time. Later, this assessment proved to be wrong. Within 3 ½ years after that Congress the new Party, CPI(Maoist), was formed with the merger of CPI(ML)[PW] and MCCI. To sum up, healthy democratic processes were in place throughout the histories of the major Parties constituting the present CPI(Maoist) even though we could not hold the Congress for a long period.


Q: We heard from some media reports that serious differences had emerged in the recently-held Unity Congress, that there was strong opposition to your re-election as General Secretary, that the Congress could not even elect the central bodies, and so on. Are these true?

A: Such concocted reports are based on speculation by some media personnel but are mainly part of the disinformation campaign unleashed by the Intelligence agencies. The APSIB, in particular, has a special department for such disinformation with the sole purpose of spreading confusion among the people and Party cadre. They have been circulating such stories ever since the merger of the two Maoist Parties, particularly over the past one year. They have been desperately trying to spread the rumour that the merger was not a principled one, that there are serious differences between the two erstwhile parties, and that both have different lines of thinking which are reflected in their respective practices, and such trash.


And we know from where the so-called media reports that you are referring to had originated. These police stories had been faxed from Hanamkonda by the SIB and were published in some Telugu dailies on March 26. Through these reports these liars had desperately tried to project a totally false picture about the situation in our Party. They tried to prove that while the erstwhile MCCI wants to intensify the people’s war by resorting to more and more military actions, the erstwhile PW comrades think it is better to put off the actions for a while and concentrate on building militant mass movements. It is indeed amusing to see such reports just 10 days after the PLGA had carried out the biggest ever action in the history of the Maoist movement by eliminating 68 police personnel including SPOs in Rani Bodili in Chattisgarh and after we had declared that more such actions would follow if the reactionary ruling classes do not give up the brutal campaign of mass murder and destruction in the name of salwa judum. There isn’t an iota of truth in these fabricated lies.


These police stories also spread the lie that “the setbacks and differences were so serious that the Congress could not even reconstitute the Politburo, Central Committee, Central Military Commission, and various sate committees and that some of the key leaders are likely to face disciplinary actions.” In fact, at no point in the history of the revolutionary movement in India we had such strong and closely-knit central and state Party structures. The Congress had unanimously elected the Central Committee which then set up the Politburo, CMC, various Regional Bureaus, and central departments and sub-committees. I would proudly say, the establishment of a strong, centralized leadership for leading the Indian revolution has been one of the significant achievements of the Congress. The state committees are elected by the concerned state conferences and not by the Congress. The press release shows the poor homework of the SIB.


It was even more amusing to hear from the report that disciplinary action, including demotion, is likely to be taken against some key leaders. There is not an iota of truth in these wild assertions. The above shows not merely the disinformation campaign but also the psychology of the SIB and the police in AP who desperately wish that the “key” leaders of our Party be demoted.


Q: Then you say there are no differences at all?

A: Why not? Ideological-political debates are the life-blood of any communist party. It is through such internal struggle that a Party’s line gets further enriched and the Party becomes stronger and more unified. We never keep our differences secret. We had published the differences in the last issue of our theoretical magazine, the People’s War. In the current issue of the magazine the debates which took place in the Congress are reported in detail. These debates indicate the strength of the party, not its weakness. It shows the democratic credentials of the Party which allows freedom of expression for all kinds of opinions and viewpoints, and its ability to digest various opinions if they are expressed in a constructive way to enrich the Party line and not with a malafide intention to wreck the Party. Whatever opinions had come up at the Congress were placed by the comrades in all sincerity, with a view to enrich the line and find solutions to the problems confronting the Indian revolution.


One very important point to be noted here is that differences which had come up at the Congress were not differences between erstwhile MCCI and CPI(ML)[PW] but were those within a single Party. If you are aware of the history of our Party you would find that even more serious differences had come up in our earlier conferences and Congress. In the AISC of PW in 1995 or the central conferences of PU in 1987 and 1996, or in the 2001 Congress of the unified PW, the differences were of quite a serious nature. There were differences on the principal contradiction in the world, on the contradiction between the CBB and the Indian people, mode of production in India, and so on. There was also a sharp debate on the question of Right deviation in the Party line during the 2001 Congress of erstwhile PW. All these serious differences were resolved through a healthy debate and by placing for vote where needed. This time the differences were not as much serious as in the past. The media reports, obviously, were wide off the mark. Thus the differences within the old PW, or the unified PW after the merger of PW and PU in August 1998, or in the CPI(Maoist) after the merger of the PW and MCCI, are very much normal in a Communist party. Any difference, even the most serious ones, can be resolved in a Communist party by adhering to the principle of democratic centralism. That is the greatness of the principle of democratic centralism which is the basis for the existence and functioning of a communist party.


It was only in Karnataka that a small group calling itself the Minority had split away from the Party after they had lost the majority for their Right opportunist line in the state conference. If they had the communist spirit and discipline and were not carried away by petty-bourgeois individualism and anarchic methods, they would have remained in the Party and fought for their line in the Congress. Of course, while carrying out the line and policy decided by the majority in the Congress, one has the right to bring up one’s line or standpoint on any question once again as part of the next Congress.


Q: So you say there is no truth in the reports about the strong opposition to your re-election as the General Secretary and that you had to accede to many of the demands of your detractors as part of the compromise formula?

A: No truth absolutely. Reports of opposition to my election as GS are a planned fabrication by the Intelligence agencies like the central IB, APSIB etc., which had taken the task of spreading disinformation about the leadership as one of their principal tasks. My re-election was a unanimous decision of the CC. They saw no reason to make any change. And I do not understand what they mean by my detractors or their demands for neither of these is true. As regards the so-called compromise formula I can only laugh at the desperation of the enemy camp to establish fictitious differences and compromises.


The losses in AP are not seen as the losses of erstwhile PW but as those of the entire Party. The entire Party concentrated keenly on analysing the reasons for the losses and took lessons from the positive and negative experiences of the movement in AP. Synthesising the experiences of the movement in AP was very useful for the entire Party, which had imbibed its positive experiences and drew lessons from its negative aspects.


Q: Where was the Congress held? How did you manage to hold it when the government has been seriously trying to foil it?

A: (Laughs ) Let the Intelligence agencies keep guessing where it was held. As for the media, we can take you people to the place sometime later. As history is being built, these places will assume great historical importance for future generations. Then everyone will come to know. But one thing I can say for the present—it is held in the midst of people, protected by people and nature all around. And, of course, at the venue it is our heroic PLGA fighters who worked day and night, doing 24-hour duty, alert to every move of the enemy forces, sitting in ambushes for the police forces if ever they dared to venture into the area. Even if the enemy forces had entered the area our guerrillas would have ensured that there were no losses of leadership. Placing full confidence on the PLGA and the masses, we conducted the Congress without any tension or problem. In fact, we had even extended the Congress by a few days.


Holding the Congress was only the final act of the entire democratic process. As part of this process, we held conferences in about 15 states; 12 of these were state-level conferences, and these were preceded by regional, zonal/divisional/district conferences and in some places sub-zonal and area conferences too. There was a big education campaign with study camps, classes etc. All these had consumed a large part of our time last year. But for the extensive mass support and the protection provided by our guerrilla forces, these programmes would have been simply impossible given the continuous suppression campaigns unleashed by the enemy. We had to shift the conference venue in AOB and one or two other places when we were informed by the people that the enemy was surrounding the place. It is the people who are our eyes and ears and as long as we enjoy the support of the people, and maintain methods of strict secrecy, no enemy force can do anything.


There were serious attempts by the central and state governments to disrupt the conferences and the Congress. There was open declaration to that effect in the papers in the months of November and December last. A special wing was set up for a period of three months in the Home Ministry to foil the Congress. They knew it would be held in the months of January or February since it would be relatively difficult to hold after that due to the onset of summer. Thus holding the Congress was one of the biggest challenges the newly-unified Party had faced after the merger. More than a hundred delegates—the core of the Maoist Party—had to come from different states unnoticed by the enemy. A huge force of tested PLGA fighters had to be mobilised for protection purpose. And the arrangements for such a huge camp, that too in the coldest days of winter, were not easy. Any small leak anywhere would have disturbed the programme. Under these difficult conditions successful completion of the Congress is definitely a big achievement for the Party. It has shown that anything is possible with meticulous planning, secret methods of functioning, a committed guerrilla force and the strong support of the people.


One tragic incident that took place on the eve of the Congress was the martyrdom of our beloved comrades Chandramouli (BK) and his life-partner Vijayalaxmi (Karuna). Chandramouli was a member of the CC and the CMC and Karuna was a DC member. They were caught by the APSIB goons on 26th night and murdered in cold blood the next day after cruel torture. There was some tension when we heard the news of their martyrdom. However, the enemy did not find anything indicative of the Congress on their person and both of them stood like rock when unspeakable inhuman tortures were being inflicted upon them. The cruel enemy could not extract a single bit of information from these great communists, the proud son and daughter of the Indian people. Even in their martyrdom they made great contribution in blood for the success of the Congress. Their sacrifices will be remembered forever by all our Party cadres and the revolutionary masses.


Q: What are the major decisions of the Unity Congress? Will there be any change in your overall plans and tactics now?

A: The general direction of the Congress is to intensify the people’s war and to take the war to all fronts. Concretely it decided to take the guerrilla war to a higher level of mobile war in the areas where guerrilla war is in an advanced stage and to expand the areas of armed struggle to as many states as possible. The destruction of the enemy forces has come into the immediate agenda in these areas without which it is very difficult to consolidate our gains or to advance further. Likewise, there is an immediate need to transform a vast area into the war zone so that there is enough room for manoeuvrability for our guerrilla forces. And in expansion the element of secrecy is very important. Keeping in view the massive deployment of the central forces and special police forces of the states the Congress had drawn up plans to adopt various creative forms to cause serious damage to the enemy forces. The police and central forces will be taught how dangerous it is to enter our areas. We decided to strengthen the Party and the PLGA, mobilise the masses actively to resist the enemy forces, and to transform these areas into our strong bases by destroying the enemy’s power in all forms. And all this will be achieved by wide mobilisation of the masses into the war. As it is, hundreds of people, and at times even more than a thousand, are involved in the attacks against the enemy as you can see from the recent counteroffensive operations as in Rani Bodili, Riga, CISF camp in Khasmahal in Bokaro district, and so on in the past one month itself.


With the experiences we gained in AP in the midst of ever-increasing and continuous state repression and state-sponsored repression, it is all the more important that our forces are not exposed wherever they are working. But at the same time we shall be in the forefront of every people’s movement. The Congress has decided to take up struggles against the SEZs which are nothing but neo-colonial enclaves on Indian territory. They are not just snatching fertile farmlands of the peasants but are transforming the entire country into special zones for the unhindered ruthless exploitation and control by imperialists and the comprador big business houses. The Congress gave the call to go deep into these struggles. We have no illusions on the cruel, fascist nature of the Indian state, and hence there is utmost need for maintaining secret methods of work as well as to be prepared for every kind of sacrifice.


Q: Finally, how do you sum up the achievements of your Unity Congress and its significance?

A: Our Unity Congress is an event of great historic significance in the history of the revolutionary movement of India. It not only marks the near-completion of the process of unification of the Maoist forces in the country but also the consolidation of the Party and the political line for the Indian revolution. The reaffirmation and enrichment of the revolutionary political line established by our founder leaders-comrades CM and KC-is the biggest achievement of the Congress. Several ideological-political questions were debated and settled by the Congress thereby bringing about a higher level of unity. Another achievement of significance is the establishment of a unified centralised leadership for the Indian revolution.


After a long time in the history of the revolutionary communist movement in India since the 1970s, a single directing centre has come into existence, with the merger of the MCCI and CPI(ML)[PW] in September 2004 and this centre has become further consolidated and firmly established in the unity congress with the approval of the entire Party.


On the losses in Andhra Pradesh:


Q: There have been serious losses in Andhra Pradesh in recent times. What are the reasons? Has your movement become weakened overall? How do you plan to overcome these losses and regain the initiative?

A: I agree that the losses in the state of Andhra Pradesh are quite serious. They certainly have a considerable impact on the revolutionary movement in the country as a whole. AP, particularly the region of North Telangana, has been an important centre of revolutionary movement for a long period and a great inspiration to the revolutionary masses of our country. But we have to keep in mind that so far as the question of establishing base areas goes, it has been the more backward areas falling in central and eastern India that were selected by the Party with the immediate task of liberating these vast areas. Hence the focus of our movement had gradually shifted to Dandakaranya and Bihar-Jharkhand.


You must have known that AP was made into a model state, an experimental state where the imperialists, particularly the World Bank, and the Indian ruling classes had concentrated to implement their multi-pronged LIC strategy against the revolutionary movement, with its focus on brutal suppression and reform. No other state affected by the Naxalite movement has such a massive police commando force as in AP, nowhere do you find such extensive intelligence network, infrastructure, funds, training in counter-insurgency warfare, and unlimited powers to the police. No other state had witnessed such a bloodbath as AP had for the past four decades and particularly from the mid-1980s. There are hardly any political prisoners in AP jails since the policy had always been to bump off the revolutionaries—whether they are members of the central committee or sympathisers—after they are arrested. Fake encounter killings had been the tradition right from the time of Vengal Rao during the struggle of Srikakulam almost 40 years ago. Thousands of crores have been spent on so-called reforms with the aim of weaning away a section of the people from the revolutionary movement. It is a fact that a small but articulate and influential section in the countryside has been won over through these reforms. In a word, we can say that the Party and the revolutionary movement in AP bore the brunt of all the counter-insurgency measures initiated by the reactionary ruling classes in the initial stages. Today these are being implemented in several other states. We are making an in-depth study of enemy’s counter-revolutionary tactics, plans and methods and taking lessons from these. The movement in AP, at the cost of huge sacrifices of thousands of comrades, has given us invaluable experiences on how to counter and defeat enemy’s tactics and plans. With these, the Party is now more equipped to defeat the enemy’s tactics in other states.


Setbacks and losses are not unnatural in protracted people’s war. Revolution proceeds along a zig zag course and not along a straight line. The movement in AP has seen many ups and downs. But always it rose up like the proverbial Phoenix. No doubt, at the present juncture, we are facing a tough situation in AP and the enemy has the upper-hand from the tactical point of view. We had lost a good part of the state leadership and cadre but the most promising aspect is that the people are still with our Party. The support base of the Party has not eroded much although the They meet us secretly, ask us to solve their problems, and they work without getting exposed to the brutal State. For them our Party is the only hope. People are pained at every loss suffered by the revolutionaries. You can gauge the mass support from the turn out at the funeral meetings of our martyrs. In spite of the threats and restrictions imposed by the police goons, more than 20,000 people had turned up at the funeral of comrade Chandramouli (BK) and Karuna in the former’s native village of Vadkapur in Karimnagar district. The pent-up anger and hatred of the people for the reactionary rulers and their police-Grey Hounds-SIB goons will grow into a movement of such great proportions that it will wash away the exploiters and oppressors and all the muck accumulated in society for long. No force on earth can stop this high tide of revolution whatever losses and setbacks we might be facing today in AP. The ruling classes are aware of the great potential for the revolutionary movement in AP. That is why while boasting that Maoists in the state had become completely weakened and that AP will serve as a model on how to deal with the Maoist movement, the fascist YSR government has initiated several measures with a long-term plan such as a hundred per cent increase in the strength of the Grey Hounds commando force, acquiring helicopters for anti-Naxal operations, sanctioning of Rs. 2000 crores of central aid to deal with the Naxal movement, and so on.


The present historical epoch is an epoch of great turmoil with tumultuous changes taking place worldwide. Even the most powerful militarised imperialist power like the US is finding it impossible to suppress the national liberation struggle in a small country such as Iraq or Afghanistan. In India, the ruthless exploitation and oppression of the people by the ruling classes in collaboration with imperialism has created an explosive situation. Utilising the excellent international and domestic situation prevailing today we are confident we will be able to come out of the temporary setback in AP.


And what is more important, we made advances in many other states in spite of the losses we had suffered in AP. The situation is now qualitatively different from that of the earlier periods in that we are now able to advance the movement in a number of states even if we suffer losses and setbacks in one or two states. Way back they could suppress a Naxalbari, a Srikakulam, a Birbhum, a Mushahari, a Kanksa or Sonarpur but today the revolutionary movement has become further strengthened, has spread to large tracts of the backward countryside, has well-knit Party structures, Army and vast mass base. It is advancing through centralised planning and direction. Hence it is not an easy thing for the state to suppress the movement as in the past although it might achieve an upper hand in one place. The Congress had chalked out a concrete plan to overcome the setback in AP by transforming the unfavourable factors into favourable ones. Overall there is great future for the Party and revolution.


On SEZs, Nandigram and role of CPI(M):


Q: How do you see issues like Singur and Nandigram? Are your people involved in inciting violence in Nandigram as claimed by the CPI(M)? Do you intend to get actively involved in such issues?

A: One should only be surprised if we are not involved in such life-and-death issues of the masses. We intend to mobilise the masses against the conspiracies and treacherous policies of the rulers to snatch the land of the people and hand over the same to the MNCs and the comprador big business in the name of development through creation of hundreds of SEZs. The policy of SEZ is aimed at creating neo-colonial enclaves within our country where no laws of the land can be applied. The SEZ policy is being aggressively pushed by the Indian ruling classes goaded on by the imperialist MNCs as part of their globalisation offensive. Struggles against the SEZs acquiring fertile farmland of the peasants and also huge projects are turning more and more militant as witnessed in Kalinga Nagar, Singur, Nandigram, Lohandiguda, Polavaram, etc. Kalinga Nagar, Singur and Nandigram, in particular, have become important symbols in this struggle against exploitation by the big comprador houses and the imperialists.


As regards Maoists inciting violence in Nandigram, the entire world would laugh at the temerity of these “Left” Front rulers. Even Goebbels would turn in his grave seeing how much his art of lying has been improved by “Marxists” like Buddhas, Karats, Yechuris etc. These political brokers have been desperately trying to divert the issue by repeating ad nausea that Maoists from outside had incited the local people and hence the police had no other alternative than to open fire in self-defence. Like every reactionary ruling class the “Marxist” rulers of Bengal too are harping on themes such as “foreign hand” for the mess which they themselves had created. Brinda Karat had commented that Maoists had used the sea-route to enter Nandigram. It is sickening to see the utter political bankruptcy of these so-called ideologues and the poverty of their logic. In the eyes of these hypocrites and double-dealers, a Salim or a Tata, are not outsiders while Maoists, who live and die for the people, become outsiders. Worse still, like ostriches, they think that the world does not know how thousands of armed goons had been brought by their Party from different parts of the state to Nandigram along with a huge police force to enact the massacre. Karats and Yechuris are placing this on outsiders in their sheer desperation to justify their savage massacre in Nandigram.


Nandigram reveals the ugly cruel face of the social-fascist CPI(M) whose goons along with the police shad committed indescribable atrocities on the people, raped women, killed over a hundred people including even children, and, what is most abominable, had buried the corpses or thrown them into the river. Buddhadeb had emerged as Bengal’s Dyer and has proved himself to be a loyal servant of the big comprador houses and the MNCs. Like a true dalal, his government had taken up the task of acquiring lands from the people to hand over to the big business. One thing has become established beyond a shadow of doubt with the state terror and state-sponsored terror in Nandigram: the CPI(M) is the best bet for the MNCs and comprador big business for securing their class interests in the country. It will not be a surprise if they choose to bring these most loyal servants in Marxist guise to power even at the Centre in the future.


As for our role in such movements we shall definitely make all efforts to be in the forefront and lead the movement in the correct direction. We call upon the people to turn every SEZ into a battle-field and assure them that we will render all support to the people’s movements against SEZs.


On the annihilation of Sunil Mahto:


Q: Last month JMM leader and MP from Jamshedpur, Sunil Mahto, was gunned down by your guerrillas along with five others. There have been reports that Dy Chief Minister Sudhir Mahto was also warned. How far are these acts justified? Is your Party planning more such political assassinations in the near future?

A: We do not kill everyone just because he/she is an MP or a minister. Although all legislators are directly or indirectly responsible for all the policies made by the government, it is mainly a small coterie of political leaders that play a crucial role in finalising the policies under the dictates of the imperialist-CBB-feudal combine. It is such political leaders that we single out for attack.


In the case of Sunil Mahto, we had to eliminate him only because he has been actively involved in unleashing brutal repression on the revolutionary movement in Jharkhand. He is not just a leader of JMM but is associated actively in the vigilante gang called the Nagrik Suraksha Samiti (NSS) which had taken part in the cold-blooded murder of 11 of our Party cadres in Lango village in Dumaria bloc in East Singhbhum district in 2001. Although he was not the main architect of this massacre, he had encouraged the activities of this private mercenary gang sponsored by the state. Of late, he had come to the forefront organizing the armed campaign against the Maoists movement according to the game plan of the reactionary ruling classes to divide and pit a section of the adivasis against the revolutionary movement in the name of Sendra. We already have bitter experiences in Chattisgarh where the so-called peace campaign in the name of salwa judum is playing havoc with the lives of thousands of adivasi people. Over 700 villages had been razed to the ground, almost 60,000 people were uprooted from their homes, over 400 were murdered, several women were raped and property of the people was destroyed by these salwa judum vigilante gangs accompanied by the police and central forces. We also have the experiences of AP where vigilante gangs such as Cobras, Tigers, etc had created a campaign of terror in some areas. A similar plan is being sought to be unleashed in Jharkhand in the name of sendra and Sunil Mahto was one of the main leaders spearheading this campaign against the Maoists. The so-called Tritiya Prastuti Committee (TPC) too has been playing a similar role in Bihar with the support of the state. Hence we had to eliminate the main leader, Murari Ganju, in a daring attack by our PLGA on the 9th of April. Such punishments will be carried out where necessary on cast-to-case basis in a selective manner and this must not be treated as our general policy.


We wish to make one thing clear: we are not for indiscriminate killing of leaders or ordinary members of political parties. We basically rely on mobilization of the masses to isolate, expose and fight the anti-people policies of various political parties and the attacks by the vigilante gangs while engaging our PLGA squads and action teams where needed. Annihilation of Sunil Mahto should not be interpreted as our antagonism towards JMM as a whole. We are not against JMM as long as it desists from indulging in anti-people activities and attacks against the revolutionary movement. We appeal to the activists and ordinary members of JMM to understand the conspiracy of the ruling classes to divide the adivasi people in the name of sendra and call upon them to fight the state-sponsored private vigilante gangs like NSS as well as all those leading the notorious campaign of sendra against the revolutionary movement in Jharkhand.


On the biggest ever attack by the Maoists in Chattisgarh:


Q: Recently your PLGA had inflicted one of the biggest blows to the police force and the salwa judum by killing a huge number of police and SPOs in Rani Bodili in Chattisgarh. Do you foresee more such attacks in near future? And do you believe the salwa judum can be stopped through such actions?

A: The daring tactical counteroffensive operation carried out by the PLGA led by our Party, the CPI(Maoist), on March 16 on a police base camp in Ranibodli in Bijapur police district in Chattisgarh in which 68 policemen including Special Police Officers (SPOs) were wiped out is an inevitable consequence of the brutal reign of terror unleashed by the state and central governments in the name of salwa judum. You must know the actual ground situation in Dandakaranya to understand why such a massive operation had to be planned.


For almost two years since June 2005, the BJP government in Chattisgarh and the Congress-led UPA government in the Centre had sponsored a counterrevolutionary terrorist campaign of mass murder, torture, and arrests of thousands of the adivasi peasantry, gangrapes and murder of hundreds of women, destruction of thousands of houses, foodgrains, and all property of the adivasis, killing or taking away thousands of cattle, forceful evacuation of tens of thousands of people from almost eight hundred villages and issuing threats and intimidation to anyone suspected of being a member of revolutionary mass organization or sympathetic to the Maoists in Dandakaranya, particularly in Dantewara, Bastar, Kanker, Bijapur and Narayanpur districts. Over 5000 youth were inducted into a state mercenary armed force, paid monthly salaries, and pitted against the native adivasis who are fighting for land, livelihood and liberation under the leadership of the CPI(Maoist). The Naga and Mizo Battalions were specially brought in along with a huge CRPF and other special police forces to Chattisgarh who had been committing the most barbaric and inhuman acts against the adivasi population.


All these cruel attacks against an entire population are meant to establish peace of the graveyard and clear the way for the unhindered loot by rapacious hawks like Tatas, Ruias, Essars, Mittals, Jindals and imperialist MNCs. Over one lakh rupees worth of MOUs were signed by the Chattisgarh government with these corporate comprador big business houses to drain the rich mineral and forest wealth of the state. At the behest of these day-light robberers, adivasi dalals like opposition leader of the Congress, Mahendra Karma, Home Minister Ramvichar Netham of the BJP and others have been leading this counter-revolutionary war against the adivasi population.


A huge central force is deployed which is now more than 13 battalions, recruited 10 additional battalions of state forces, and inducted even minors of 14 years of age into their mercenary police force. KPS Gill, notorious for the mass murders of youth in Punjab, was specially appointed as advisor to the Chief Minister. A carpet security system is initiated with police camps in close proximity in order to strike terror among the people.


We, on behalf of the CC, CPI(Maoist), once again warn the state and central governments that our Bhumkal Sena and PLGA and people will carry out attacks on a much bigger scale if the murder campaign in the name of salwa judum is not disbanded immediately. We declare that the sole responsibility for such needless loss of lives of hundreds of policemen and SPOs lies squarely on the shoulders of the state and central governments. Large-scale armed retaliation by the adivasis led by our Party is inevitable if the atrocities on the adivasi people continue in the name of salwa judum. Like George Bush who can only think in terms of using more brute force to control the fire of national liberation in Iraq, the Indian ruling classes too can only think of sucking in more and more repressive forces in order to suppress the people’s war and grab the mineral wealth of Dandakaranya. However, they will only end up in further escalating the civil war in Dandakaranya.


We do share the grief of the families of the dead policemen and SPOs but we are being compelled to wipe out the police and mercenary gangs who are obeying the orders of the ruling classes and their imperialist mentors to suppress the revolutionary movement for looting the wealth in the state. We appeal to the jawans of the central forces, particularly the Naga and Mizo battalions, to disobey the orders of the rulers and to withdraw from Chattisgarh. We appeal to the SPOs who are being pitted against the adivasi people to quit the mercenary force as they are fighting an unjust war against their own brothers and sisters in the interests of the reactionary rulers. We call upon the democratic organizations and individuals and the vast masses of the country to condemn state terrorism and state-sponsored terrorism on the adivasi people of Dandakaranya, to demand immediate disbandment of salwa judum and the mercenary SPO force, to fight for the withdrawal of the notorious central forces from the region, set up a judicial enquiry into the killing of over 500 adivasis by the police-salwa judum mercenary combine.


On the Party’s plans to win over the middle class:


Q: History shows, the middle class wants status quo. Indian middle class is growing more powerful. How do you plan to co-opt them?

A: It is true that the Indian middle class has grown in number. At the same time, a sizable chunk of the middle class is facing cute crisis due to soaring prices, unemployment, growing insecurity of life, steep increases in family expenditure due to high cost of education, health, transport etc., which have become privatized to a great extent and had gone beyond the reach of a significant section of the middle class. In short, despite the numerical growth of the middle class it is at a receiving end. Hence we see that the growing frustration in large sections of the middle class is forcing them into streets for their demands as witnessed in strikes and other forms of struggles by teachers, government employees, students, and even shopkeepers who are affected by the shopping malls and FDI in retail sector. Another important factor has to be noted—most of yesterday’s luxury consumer goods have become today’s daily necessities. And the list of necessities is growing by the day with the large-scale proliferation of consumer goods and the promotion of consumerism by the market-place. Hence frustration is growing among members of this class as they are unable to procure these goods since much of their incomes have to be spent on the basic necessities such as food, clothing and shelter.


Middle class is terribly affected by such issues as price-rise, insecurity, corruption, unemployment for their children, high cost of education and health-care, threats from real estate mafia etc. Keeping these in mind, our party has drawn up plans to mobilize the middle class into struggles on such issues.


In Defence of armed struggle:


Q: Why armed struggle is a must? (Isn’t it a fact that violence pushes a large chunk of people away from the Party?)

A: The question of armed struggle or non-violent struggle is not based on the subjective whims and wishes of any individual or Party. It is independent of one’s will. It is a law borne out by all historical experience. It is a fact of history that nowhere in the world, nowhere in the historical development of the class society, had the reactionary ruling classes given up power without resorting to violent suppression of the mass protests, without violent resistance aimed at clinging on to power until they are thrown out by force. Of course, one can cite instances of regime changes occurring through peaceful movements, through massive protests, but all of these were mere regime changes—not systemic changes. A section of the ruling classes might give up power to another section of the same class without the need for a violent upheaval but the same is not the case when one ruling class is replaced by another with diametrically opposing class interests. However, we find that even these regime changes are not infrequently marked by violent clashes as witnessed in several parts of Africa, Asia and Latin America. We will indeed be the happiest people to bring about systematic change without the need for armed struggle.


When we began the struggle it was basically a peaceful movement on the various issues of the people such as land, livelihood and liberation from feudal and imperialist exploitation and oppression. It needs hardly any genius to grasp the fact that no feudal lord would give up his land or power just because the masses demand it as their democratic right. The landlord would use all means at his disposal to suppress the mass resistance by brute force. He would get the local police and special forces, the central para-military forces and, if needed, the army. We had seen this whenever we had initiated the anti-feudal struggle. —-in Jagtyal during the late 1970s, social boycott of the landlords imposed by the peasantry had forced them to flee the villages our revolutionary movement had spread to over a hundred villages which shook the powers that be. What happened next to this non-violent struggle should be an eye-opener to all those who harbour illusions or biased against armed struggle. After few weeks the landlords came back with the mercenary forces and unleashed large-scale violence and cruel repressive measures such as arrests, torture of peasants, destruction of their property, declaration of the area as disturbed, clamping down on the civil rights of the people, and so on. It was at that juncture that the Party was compelled to take up arms and not out of any romantic notion. —the same is the case with anti-imperialist struggles and nationality movements. Who would want to give up their precious lives and undergo harsh, rigorous lives tortures and hardships when the demands of the masses such as land, national self-determination and liberation from imperialist exploitation and oppression are achieved through peaceful means? All movements began as peaceful movements but had to take the form of armed struggle due to the moves of the reactionary ruling classes. The case of Iraq is a classic illustration of how an entire population has been compelled to take up arms due to the unbridled violence unleashed by the imperialists for satisfying their unsatiated greed for oil. The same is the case with Palestine, Kashmir or elsewhere.


The second part of your question is a big myth. Nowhere had the masses been repelled from the Party on account of armed struggle. Rather, it is the lack of effective resistance that is acting as a discouragement wherever the state had bared its fangs. Without destroying and defeating the armed forces of repression it is impossible to rally the people or give them confidence. In fact, it is not our guerrilla squads alone that are putting up resistance. The people are playing a great role in heroically resisting and actively supporting the PLGA in its armed resistance to the police forces. Well, that’s the ground reality notwithstanding what the intellectuals analyzing events from their ivory towers might think and theorise.


Q: Why there cannot be protest in a non-violent way?

A: You must rather put the question the other way round. You must ask the reactionary ruling classes—the big landlords, the big business houses, the imperialist MNCs, the powerful Indian state and its armed forces, the state police and the bureaucracy—if at all they would listen, as to why they do not allow protest in a peaceful way. Why do they beat up, arrest, torture, and kill people who dare to go on strike? Why do they terminate the services of workers and employees for going on strike? Why do they send their mercenary police forces, the CRPF and the army to open fire upon people staging peaceful marches, dharnas and meetings without any provocation, why do they allow the khaki gangs to rape women, destroy property, enact fake encounters in violation of all provisions of the Indian Constitution, and for all these crimes against humanity, are let scot-free? Why do they create a Kalinganagar, a Nandigram, an Arwal, an Indravelli, and scores of such barbaric acts? Why peaceful protests of people in Kashmir against disappearances are not just ignored but even attacked with such ferocity? Why do they continue to enforce the savage Armed Forces Special Powers Act in Manipur when it is actually the Indian army and the police forces that are committing atrocities upon the people as the case of the rape of Manorama classically illustrates? Can you ever forget the savage beatings of the protestors by these khaki-clad or olivegreen goons breaking their skulls, and not sparing them even after they fall down seriously injured?


No ruling classes anywhere in the world had allowed the people to achieve their basic demands of land and liberation from oppression in a peaceful way; even the so-called democratic states allow it only to the extent they do not pose a threat to the status quo, to their exploitation and amassing of super profits. Ahimsa (non-violence) and Karma (fate) are the ideological bases and the dubious catch-words of the exploiting classes to perpetuate their violence and hegemony over the vast masses.


To begin with, none would or could go directly to violent ways to solve their problems. It is only after their peaceful marches, rallies, dharnas, hunger-strikes, general strikes etc., go unheeded or sought to be crushed that they are forced to resort to violent methods. This is an incontrovertible fact whether it is the anti-feudal armed agrarian struggle led by the revolutionaries, nationality movements of the North East, Kashmir or the anti-imperialist struggles. You only have to take a glance at the origin of the armed movements anywhere in the world, not just India, to appreciate this universal truth. To put it shortly, forms of struggle adopted by the people always depend upon the moves of the ruling classes and not vice versa. And you should also bear in mind that even today we use both violent and non-violent forms of struggle and not just violent forms.


Q: Is your violence for self-defence or to grab state power?

A: Strictly speaking, you cannot separate the two. In the long-term perspective, or ultimately our goal is to seize state power without which it is impossible to liberate the people of our country from the clutches of imperialism, feudalism and the big comprador bourgeoisie i.e, change the existing unjust socio-economic system. But in the process of preparing the people for the ultimate goal of establishing their own power, the ruling classes are resorting to savage repression on the party, the masses and the revolutionary movement as a whole. Hence in the course of mobilizing the masses into movements we are compelled to take up arms for self-defence even at an early stage. And for a relatively long time our war will have this nature and all our tactical counter offensive operations and campaigns should be seen as part of the war of self-defence at this stage.


On the fight against the “mighty” Indian state:


Q: Indian state is getting increasingly powerful. How do you plan to fight the Indian state?

A: Tactically speaking, yes. There has been a massive growth in the repressive forces and a strengthening of the Indian state. It is spending huge amounts on defence and “internal security”, liberally disbursing funds to the states to suppress the revolutionary forces, nationality movements and other democratic movements.


However, this growth of repressive forces brings one important point to the fore i.e., the Indian state is finding it impossible to control the growing people’s movements without continuously increasing its forces. Seen this way, the massive growth in the security forces does not signify the strength but rather the weakness of the Indian state and that it has lost its legitimacy to rule in the old way. It shows the desperation of the Indian ruling classes and the imperialists to rely more and more on the coercive methods in order to cling on to power and ensure their exploitation. If it were not for the ever-growing democratic and revolutionary movements in the country there would not have been the need to desperately strengthen the state apparatus and resort to such massive increases of repressive forces.


But let me tell you one oft-forgotten fact. No state, however powerful it might seem to be, can surpass the power of the people. As comrade Mao had correctly pointed out, even the mightiest state is, after all, a paper tiger. Yesterday we saw how the mightiest army of the most powerful state in all human history had to tuck its tail after the humiliating defeat in Vietnam. Today the entire world is watching with disbelief in their eyes as the mightiest imperialist armies led by US imperialism are being trounced in Iraq by ordinary ill-trained, ill-equipped but resolute national liberation fighters. In the ultimate analysis, it is the freedom-loving people who are mightier than any state. And one must not forget the universal truth that wherever there is oppression there will be resistance. However strong and powerful the state might appear to be it can and will be defeated through the resistance of the masses.


Our recently held Unity Congress—9th Congress had addressed this issue in much detail and worked out plans to counter the state by relying on the vast masses of our country who are oppressed by imperialism, feudalism and the comprador big business. And, of course, by enhancing our military capabilities as well. A specialised study of the strength and weaknesses of the Indian state is taken up. As you might be aware, even the mightiest enemy will have the weakest points. We have to correctly identify these weak points and deal effective blows so as to achieve victories.


On the question of Parliament and Party’s stand:


Q: Why can’t you fight election and go to Parliament and raise issues in a democratic way?

A: It is indeed a logical question which anyone who sees only the outer shell of so-called parliamentary democracy would ask. What is important is the kernel, the essence, the content and not just the form. When you strip off the outer garment of democracy you find the rotten, stinking corpse inside. That is why Lenin described Parliament as a pig-sty and a mere talking shop. Why are we calling it a talking shop?


Firstly, the real problems of the people can never be addressed by the Parliament and Assemblies, not to speak of solving them. The Parliamentary institutions are not meant for that. They have no real power. They may pass some resolutions that seem to do good for the people but these have to be implemented through the Executive which has the real power. We know the fate of the Land Ceiling Acts, legislation on untouchability, dowry, etc which are only showpieces. It is the executive which carries out everything. In periods such as Emergency during Indira Gandhi’s regime, when the Parliament itself was subverted, the real power of the Executive had come openly to the fore. But the man on the street knows how it is the revenue official, policeman, and the local magistrate who decide his life. However good a legislative act might seem to be, it is money power, muscle power and nepotism that decide every aspect of his life.


Secondly, Parliamentary institutions are meant to defend the status quo, not to change the system. They do, of course, make some cosmetic changes now and then to maintain their credibility among the masses. Most important of all, it is the imperialists, comprador big business houses, big landlords, contractors and the mafia which control the Parliament. Those who enter the Parliament are the representatives or mere puppets in the hands of these powerful lobbies. Even a good-intentioned parliamentarian cannot go beyond the rules drawn up by these bigwigs. If you see the business transacted in the parliament, you would find that more than 90 % of it is just trash, with no bearing on the real problems of the country.


That the system of elections is a big farce needs no elaboration as it is known even to a schoolchild. Do you call it democracy to purchase votes with liquor and money, whip up caste, religious, and ethnic sentiments? And even after the election, purchasing the legislators as you purchase any other item in the market-place? If a Narendra Modi, the butcher of thousands of Muslims in Gujarat, can win elections and get reelected as the chief minister; if criminals, dacoits, and most notoriously corrupt politicians can get elected; and if votes can be obtained at gun-point and through booth capturing and rigging, then do you really think that there is any meaning in this so-called democracy?


That is why our Party has complete clarity on the nature of legislative system unlike some other parties that swear to be revolutionary but indulge in parliamentary politics in practice. We are firm in our belief that it is only through struggle that people can solve their problems and the parliamentary institutions can do nothing good except creating illusions. Parliament is a safety-valve to let out the pent-up anger of the masses lest the system blow to pieces. You think raising issues in the parliament is the democratic way whereas we believe that people are raising their issues in a democratic way through organised protests. We shall always be at the head of such struggles and not step into the mire of the undemocratically elected powerless talking shop called Parliament that serves as the instrument of the big business and the feudal forces, and is subordinate to imperialist dictates.


Q: Do you fear that if you go to Parliament, the party can become corrupt?

A: The answer to this question is already covered in my earlier elaboration. To say in one word, more than being corrupted after entering Parliament, which is also true in the case of the ML parties, it is the corrupt parties and individuals that can really become part of the parliamentary system. Our Party firmly believes that as against the money power of the Parliament the real alternative before the people is the establishment of genuine people’s democratic power. We had built such organs of people’s power in some parts of the country such as janthana sarkar in Dandakaranya. These revolutionary organs of power show how real power is exercised as compared to the impotent, corrupt and criminal parliamentary institutions.


On the mass base of the Maoists:


Q: What is your mass base?

A: Our mass base is the vast oppressed masses, the wretched of the earth, the impoverished, deprived, destitute, alienated masses. The workers, peasants, middle class, dalits, women, advasis and all the toiling millions upon millions of masses are our base. These vast masses constitute the real India, not the fatty upper layer of five or ten per cent of the society. It is these vast masses who need revolution and they see us the alternative even if most of them have not seen us. As our subjective forces grow we shall enter these vast sections throughout the country. Today we have a strong mass base among these sections in all the areas where we are leading the anti-feudal armed agrarian struggles. There is still the need to go deeply into other sections in the urban areas—the working class, students, youth, middle class, small traders, hawkers, and so on.


Q: Can you give statistics how much of your cadre base has increased in last one year?

A: I cannot give the exact statistics as we do not want the enemy to know about the actual growth of our Party. Let them keep guessing and produce statistics through so-called research foundations, intelligence agencies, and so on. Anyway we are a bit flattered to see the statistics given by these agencies about the rate of growth of our Party and areas of our struggle and influence. But one thing I will make clear—we have certainly increased our overall cadre strength, our mass base and its quality in the past one year despite severe losses in some states.


Q: How much of Indian territory is under Maoist control? Indian PM once said 160 out of 604 districts –was it an exaggeration?

A: As I said earlier, we are indeed flattered by such statistics regarding our movement. But one thing we can understand from the Prime Minister’s statement i.e., how much of a nightmare we have become to the reactionary ruling classes of India. In fact, several agencies and foundations churn out figures to show how much of a threat the Maoists have become. One author says we are increasing at the rate of two districts per week! Another says we had expanded from a mere 64 districts in 2005 to 169 districts by the beginning of 2007, yet another researcher assertively says that the Maoists had expanded to most of AP, Bihar, Jharkhand, Chattisgarh and Orissa, and so on. Most of these figures are only their imagination and are deliberately presented in an exaggerated manner in order to deploy more police forces and allot greater amount of funds to suppress the revolutionary movement.


It is an exaggeration to say Maoists control that many districts. But as far as our influence goes I should say it is even more than that.


On People’s Power:


Q: What do you mean by ‘people’s power—we have seen in a communist state in West Bengal what communists do when they come to power. How would you ensure you will be able to give power to people?

A: It is not surprising that like most people, you too are confused by the names. Just because a Party calls itself Communist does not make it communist just as a party calling itself bharatiya janatha party does not make it an Indian people’s party or a samajwadi party into a socialist party. The stark fact is that the CPI(M) had long back abandoned the communist project and Marist ideology though it calls itself a Marxist Party. It had become a social fascist party from the time of the outbreak of Naxalbari armed peasant uprising in 1967 when thousands of revolutionaries were massacred upon the orders of the then Home minister Jyoti Basu in West Bengal during the late 1960s and early 1970s. The recent massacre of scores of people in Nandigram on March 14, the brutal suppression of the people’s struggle in Singur, and its open declaration to allow the MNCs and big comprador houses to set up SEZs and transform the state into a haven for these sharks had shown how the Bddhadeb’s Marxist party is acting at the behest of the Tatas, Salems and imperialist MNCs. The pre-hatched systematic execution of the massacre in Nandigram by the police-CPI(M) goons combine, in particular, has revealed their social fascist character to the new generation of the Indian people. So what you are referring to in West Bengal is nothing but social fascist rule.


Now coming to your question about people’s power—we call it people’s power only when real power is exercised by the people themselves. You can see it in parts of Dandakaranya, Bihar and Jharkhand. We had developed it in some villages in AP but these were destroyed due to the weakness of our armed strength which could not counter the massive offensive by the central and state’s special forces. Wherever we had established organs of people’s power in embryonic form, there you can see the initiative and energy of the masses being released and coming into full play, active participation of masses in administering their own lives, collectively developing their villages through construction of schools, tanks, hospitals, etc and increasing production, resolving the local disputes by themselves without ever the need to go to the bourgeois-feudal courts, in short shaping their own destiny. Where our people’s army and people’s militia are relatively strong and succeeded in destroying the state’s armed forces, there the people are no more oppressed and exploited by the tribal elders, landlords, forest officials, bureaucrats, big contractors, policemen. The people’s assertion has also kept the big industrial sharks and the imperialist MNCs at bay. Women enjoy relatively greater freedom than their counterparts in the rest of the country.


We have to develop this people’s power from the local to higher levels by strengthening the people’s army and transforming it into a mighty force, destroying the enemy power by intensifying the people’s war, and establishing the base areas. It is in the base areas that this power becomes relatively more consolidated. However, until the final capture of state power on a countrywide scale there will be severe constraints to the exercise of the people’s power at the village and area levels. You have to look at the power the people are exercising in these areas of struggle keeping these limitations in mind.


On the Islamic Upsurge:


Q: But globally the fight is now becoming pro-globalisation versus Islamic upsurge—in this scheme of things how do you see a classless society?

A: Globalisation is a war on the people and on every value cherished by the people for centuries. Globalisation is the ideology of the market fundamentalists. The market fundamentalists are destroying everything a nation had possessed and preserved for centuries. They promote nothing but sheer greed and self-interest with the sole aim of global hegemony and the means to achieve it is a war on all fronts—military, economic, political, cultural, psychological. And to achieve this “lofty” goal, they think even the destruction of the world is collateral damage.


There is a people’s upsurge against globalization all over the world and Islamic upsurge is an integral part of the worldwide people’s upsurge against imperialism, imperialist globalization and war.


A classless society-Communism—is a conscious human project and has to be built through the transformation of human consciousness. And to achieve this, the first step is to destroy imperialism on a world scale and domestic reaction in every country. Islamic upsurge is a reaction to imperialist globalization and imperialist oppression and exploitation of the world people, and Muslim masses in particular. As long as imperialism exists, and as long as it bolsters up decadent reactionary comprador Islamic regimes in countries of Asia and Africa, it is impossible for the Muslim masses to come out of their fundamentalism. It is only after the destruction of imperialism on a world scale can the Islamic masses come out completely from their obscurantist ideology and values. This will pave the way for the establishment of a classless society.


Q: What is your opinion about Islamic upsurge?

A: The answer to this question is already contained in the above explanation. In essence, we see the Islamic upsurge as a progressive anti-imperialist force in the contemporary world. It is wrong to describe the struggle that is going on in Iraq, Afghanistan, Palestinian territory, Kashmir, Chechnya, and several other countries as a struggle by Islamic fundamentalists or as a “clash of civilizations” long back theorized by Samuel Huntington and which is being resurrected by all and sundry today. In essence all these are national liberation wars notwithstanding the role of Islamic fundamentalists too in these struggles. We oppose religious fundamentalism of every kind ideologically and politically as it obfuscates class distinctions and class struggle and keeps the masses under the yoke of class oppression. However, “Islamic fundamentalism”, in my opinion, is an ally of the people in their fight against market fundamentalism promoted by the US, EU, Japan and other imperialists.


The upsurge is bound to raise the anti-imperialist democratic consciousness among the Muslim masses and bring them closer with all other secular, progressive and revolutionary forces. I see the Islamic upsurge as the beginning of the democratic awakening of the Muslim masses despite the domination of fundamentalist ideology and outlook in the Islamic movement at present. Our Party supports the Islamic upsurge and seeks a unity with all anti-imperialist forces.


Q: Nasarullah of Hizbollah has recently said that Left should come close to Islamists. In Indian context—what do you feel?

A: I basically agree with what Nasarullah of Hizbollah has said. One must understand that Nasarullah is referring to the struggles for national liberation from imperialism in Islamic countries.


The need of the hour is to achieve the unity of all forces opposed to imperialism, particularly US imperialism, which is aggressively destroying every human value handed over to us by thousands of years of history and is oppressing every nation of Asia, Africa and Latin America. The Left cannot even claim itself to be democratic if it does not initiate steps to unite with the forces in the Islamic movement which are fighting for national liberation from imperialism, particularly US imperialism. All the ongoing movements which are supposed to be led by Islamic forces in various countries as I had mentioned above, are national democratic movements in content. The strong religious language used by the leadership of these movements does not alter their national democratic essence and their anti-imperialist character.


On the developments in Nepal:


Q: What do you think of Nepal?

A: Our Party’s official stand has already been given in the form of statements, interviews and articles in the last issue of our theoretical magazine, People’s War. There was also an Interview by our Party spokesperson last year. We are having a debate with various Maoist Parties on the developments in Nepal.


The people of Nepal had shown great mettle in fighting the monarchy but the fight is only half-way through. The real fight is not against Gyanendra and the monarchy which is but a symbol of the feudal-imperialist oppression and exploitation of the vast masses of Nepal. Without throwing out the feudal forces, the imperialists, the Indian big business and the local compradors, mere ouster of Gyanendra would not solve any of the problems of the Nepali masses. And this can be done only by firmly carrying on the people’s war to final victory. No Parliament can touch the seat of these reactionary forces who de facto rule the country.


We believe there is a serious danger of diversion to the people’s war in Nepal after the CPN(Maoist) had taken the stand of multi-party democracy in the name of 21st century democracy. While saying that such a step is necessary to prevent the restoration of capitalism after the revolution, what they are actually doing is to participate in elections even before the seizure of political power!! And this will harm the interests of revolution. We are having debates with the Maoists in Nepal on these questions. We are telling them not to have illusions in parliamentary democracy. The history of parliamentary democracy the world over as well as in India for almost six decades shows what a farce it is.


The most dangerous part of the deal is the disarming of the PLA by depositing the arms and placing the fighters in cantonments. This will do no good except disarming the masses and throwing them to the mercy of the oppressors. Neither the imperialists nor big neighbours like India and China would allow any fundamental change in the socio-economic system in Nepal. They cannot remain passive spectators if their interests are undermined by the Maoists whether through a people’s war or through the parliament. Hence the Maoists can never achieve their aim of putting an end to feudal and imperialist exploitation by entering the parliament in the name of multi-party democracy. They will have to either get co-opted into the system or abandon the present policy of power-sharing with the ruing classes and continue the armed revolution to seize power. There is no Buddhist middle way. They cannot set the rules for a game the bourgeoisie had invented.


On the role of the Party in the contemporary world:


Q: Developments are taking place at a rapid pace in both international and national arena. How do you see a role for your Party in this turmoil?

A: Our Party has a great role to play in the contemporary international and domestic situation. Our Congress has analysed the present political situation and issued calls to the Party and the people. It drew up the necessary immediate tactics and tasks to utilise the situation and achieve advances and leaps in the ongoing people’s war in India. The new Central Committee had further concretised these in the form of time-bound programmes and plans. Several resolutions were adopted by the Congress on the issues confronting the people in our country as well as the world. We hope to actively intervene in these issues and build a broad-based militant political mass movement.


The next ten to twenty years will witness massive political and social upheavals all over the world and our country is going to witness mass upheavals in several states against the onslaught of imperialism, anti-people policies of the Indian ruling classes such as carving out neo-colonial enclaves called SEZs, massive displacement of the poor in both urban and rural areas, against draconian laws, state repression, unemployment, corruption, inflation, neglect of social welfare, and so on. Militant confrontation between the people and the state will become a general feature throughout the country and I am sure our Party will be at the head of these movements. It will grow to the status of providing leadership to the vast majority of the oppressed masses of our country. Imposing ban on our Party and the mass organisations, murdering our comrades, unleashing cruel repression on the people, intimidating and harassing all those associated with the revolutionary movement and all their repressive measures cannot prevent this inevitable establishment of our Party’s leadership over the vast masses. The reactionary and revisionist parties, the Parliamentary system are very much discredited in the eyes of the people and they cannot but see our Party as the only alternative before them to achieve their real liberation.


Q: And finally do you feel it is a very crucial moment in history of India’s Maoist struggle? If so, why?

A: I do not know what exactly is in your mind when you placed the question. But I would say yes, for several reasons. When for the first time you see the emergence of a single directing centre for the Indian revolution after the merger of the two major Maoist streams in the Indian communist movement, when you hold a Congress—the highest authority in the Party—after over 3 ½ decades, 37 years to be precise, it indeed becomes a crucial moment in the history of India’s Maoist struggle. And it is more than that. Holding the Unity Congress itself has been the greatest challenge to or Party in recent times. The reactionary ruling classes, of course with the advice of the imperialists, had tried by all means at their disposal to disrupt the Congress. However, with meticulous planning by our Central Committee and various leading committees of our Party, with the protection provided by the heroic fighters of our PLGA, and the ever-vigilant people’s militia and revolutionary masses, we could complete this gigantic democratic exercise that was initiated two years ago. It is a matter of pride that we could give a fitting rebuff to the enemy by successfully holding the Congress for over a fortnight.


It is a crucial moment for another reason too. Today the Maoist movement is facing the great challenge of building a strong PLA and establishing the base areas in the remote countryside as an immediate task. The reactionary ruling classes are sparing no stone unturned to prevent the emergence of such Red bases (democratic government of the people) in India’s heartland as that would mean the emergence of a real alternative to the rotten, Parliamentary system and the criminal, communal, fascist, comprador parliamentary parties. Hence we see the massive deployment not only of the central forces, state’s special forces but also setting up huge armed force from the local population, arming and training them, and pitting them against the revolutionary movement organizing massacres that remind us of the pogroms of the Black Hundred in pre-revolutionary Russia, and the Nazi gangs of fascist Hitler. Such is the scenario enacted in Dandakaranya in the name of salwa judum and to a lesser extent in Bihar-Jharkhand in the name of Sendra. They would not hesitate to send the Indian army to create more bloodbaths and, the Maoist movement can advance only by smashing these attacks by the enemy forces. That is how we see the present moment as a crucial moment in the history of the Maoist struggle in India.


And the last reason why we should call the present moment a crucial moment is that we, the Maoists, are confronted with the great task of providing revolutionary leadership to over a billion people at a time when the entire country is being transformed into a neo-colony, when the country is being sold away to the imperialists and the big business in the name of SEZs, when millions upon millions of people are being displaced by so-called development projects, when workers, peasants, employees, students, sections of the intelligentsia, dalits, women adivasis, nationalities, religious minorities and others are seething with revolt.

*************************************

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Interview with Dipanker Bhattacharya

Posted by Indian Vanguard on April 1, 2007


‘The CPM just can’t accept the rural poor challenging it’

Dipanker Bhattacharya, general secretary, CPI-ML (Liberation), speaks to TEHELKA about the Nandigram police firing and the role of the Left


Dipanker Bhattacharya, General Secretary, CPI-ML (Liberation),

What do you think about the Nandigram violence?
Nandigram didn’t happen overnight. Mini-Nandigrams have been happening in West Bengal since years. In May 1993, at Karanad village in Barddhaman district, on the day of panchayat elections, five agricultural labourers were lynched and burnt alive by CPM goons. Reason? They questioned the CPM’s anti-poor policies and joined the CPI-ML.


Singur has inaugurated a new phase in politics. Sharecroppers and small peasants were the mainstay of the CPM in Bengal. Now, they are challenging the government’s policies. After 30 years in power, CPM just cannot accept the fact that the rural poor in the state have the guts to challenge it. This intolerance is at the heart of the whole episode.


At Nandigram, in January, the farmers had their apprehensions because they had seen how land was snatched from the people at Singur without their consent. At the first warning that their land could also be taken away, they rose in protest. On January 6, the administration convened a peace meeting. It was decided that the police won’t be sent into the village and the people would repair the damage caused to roads and bridges. But that decision was just a smokescreen. While the peace talks were on, the CPM organised its armed goons and they ran amok at Nandigarm, killing seven people. Even after that, they (CPM) did say that if the people don’t want SEZ, we were not in hurry to acquire their land. At the same time, several CPM leaders including Health Minister Suryakant Mishra and the Kisan Sabha leader Binoy Kumar were issuing not so veiled threats to the people. Just before the March 11 incident, CPM organised a big rally in Kolkata to show that the peasantry of Bengal was in favour of the SEZs. In that meeting, Chief Minister Budhhadeb Bhattacharya had said no single area or a couple of panchayats could stop “our onward march”. Binoy Kumar openly declared that they “will make life hell for the people of Nandigram”.


After 30 years in power, the Left Front government of West Bengal will be known for the police excesses at Nandigram and Singur, not for land reforms or panchayati raj experiments

Then came the genocide. Nandigram is a clear case of a cold-blooded police operation. Initially, Budhhadeb said, “I was under tremendous pressure to send police in”. Then on the floor of the Assembly, he said the police had opened fire in self-defence. Finally, he said, “I take moral responsibility. We didn’t anticipate this. I am sorry for the police excesses”. It was pre-planned. Even CPM leaders at the national level had approved the blueprint of the operation. The whole idea was to teach the peasants a lesson.


Against the backdrop of Nandigram firing, what does Left politics in India mean?


There is a very clear divide within the Left. The opportunist group, which has been numerically and electorally dominant, now stands unmasked. The unmasking began 40 years back when the Naxalbari incident happened. On the one hand, you have examples of degeneration of the Left in power. On the other, you have growing peasants’ resistance. When you speak to the victims of Nandigram, they only talk about the injustice meted out to them, and ask if there is any political solution for that.


There is a very clear divide within the Left. The opportunist group, which has been numerically and electorally dominant, now stands unmasked

There will be fresh growth of the Left movement in this country. Polarisation has happened between the derailed Left and the revolutionary Left. The derailed Left is busy killing peasants and the rural poor to appease Big Capital. When the Left came to power in Bengal 30 years ago, they promised that they would provide immediate relief to the people and restore democracy, which was murdered by the Congress regime during the Emergency. Over the years, they have even curbed the freedom to protest and suppressed peasants’ movements. The CPM neither listens to the Left intellectuals nor to the peasants. But the real Left, like our party, is still fighting for the rural poor. In the days to come, you will witness the Left polarisation clearly.


Do you mean that the years in power have eroded the Left’s mass base in Bengal and corrupted it?


You can’t say that power will invariably result in this. They could have used the power for different purposes. But they feel so “responsible” to the system and the ruling classes that they have completely redrawn their priorities. It is this reversal of priorities that has resulted in Nandigram. After 30 years in power, now the Left Front government of West Bengal will be known for the police excesses at Nandigram and Singur, not for land reforms or panchayati raj experiments.


Where do you see CPI, Forward Bloc and RSP standing?


They have been a part and parcel of the state government. It’s true that, after

In 1993, on the day of panchayat elections, five agricultural labourers were lynched and burnt alive in Barddhaman district by CPM goons. Reason? They questioned the CPM’s anti-poor policies and joined the CPI-ML

Singur and Nandigram, they have raised voices of protest. The two meetings they held in Kolkota gave the impression that they were out to debate the issues threadbare. But at the Front meeting, the CPM said, “Henceforth, we would listen to you more” and there would be more meetings. Their protests ended there.


It’s time for people to speak out. Sumit Sarkar and Tanika Sarkar did. Prakash Karat expressed regret, only after four days of silence. If Budhhadeb really feels morally responsible, he should quit.


Do you see these incidents as the beginning of the end of Left rule in Bengal?


Definitely. The CPM has never been so isolated as it is today. Nobody believes them today and I find this isolation a major blow to the party. Certainly, the Budhhadeb government has lost its popular support and public trust.


Do you expect any realignment of the Left bloc?


I do not see it at this moment. But definitely there will be a realignment of forces and ranks. If the CPI, FB and RSP leaders cannot address the grievances of their ranks, there will be a disconnect between the power-obsessed leadership and the cadres. Tehelka

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An Interview with Kanu Sanyal

Posted by Indian Vanguard on March 31, 2007

‘Nandigram can excel Naxalbari’

Founder of the landmark Naxalbari Movement, Kanu Sanyal was born in 1929, at Kurseong in Darjeeling. His father, the late Annada Govinda Sanyal, was a court clerk and posted at Kurseong at the time of his death. The youngest but one among five brothers and a sister, Mr Sanyal went to Kurseong ME School (renamed Pushparani Roy Memorial High School) and became a matriculate in 1946. He did not complete the intermediate course in science at the Jalpaiguri College.

In 1949, Mr Sanyal got recruited at the Kalimpong court as a revenue clerk, only to continue in the service for six months until his transfer to the Siliguri court. He was arrested on the charge of waving a black flag at the then chief minister of Bengal, the late Bidhan Chandra Roy, in Siliguri. The agitation was in protest against the Centre’s ban on the undivided Communist Party of India in 1948.

At the Jalpaiguri Jail, where he was lodged during the brief imprisonment in 1949, Mr Sanyal met his future comrade, the then CPI district secretariat member, the late Charu Majumdar. Immediately after his release, Mr Sanyal joined the CPI, and became a whole-time member the following year. In 1964, when the CPI split on the issue of the Sino-Indian conflict, he sided with the new faction, the CPI-M.

A revolutionary at heart, Mr Sanyal could not concur with the “revisionist” stance of the CPI-M and soon stood out as a prominent activist of the party’s “radical faction”. In 1967, it was Mr Sanyal, who practically led the famous peasants’ uprising at Naxalbari village in West Bengal, leading to the birth of “Naxalism” ~ which till date is the most prominent form of armed Communist struggle in India.

Mao Zedong had largely influenced Mr Sanyal’s political philosophy. In September 1967, he went to China via Kathmandu and met the Chinese Communist leader to brief him on the developments at Naxalbari. In the 59 years of his life as a revolutionary Communist, Mr Sanyal has spent 14 years behind bars. With an ever-deteriorating health, he now leads the CPI-ML as it general secretary. In an interview with BAPPADITYA PAUL, he speaks about the Naxalbari Movement’s relevance in the contest of farmers’ struggles. Excerpts:


Q: As per popular perception, the late Charu Majumdar was instrumental in initiating the Naxalbari Movement and you assisted him as a trusted comrade. How far is this true?

This is a wrong perception. Charu Majumdar was never directly attached to the Naxalbari Movement. When the Naxalbari uprising took place, Charuda was bedridden at his Siliguri home, with a severe heart ailment. I must refer to the difference of opinion we had over how to bring about a Communist revolution by “radical Communists”.
Charuda and his followers believed a revolution can be materialised by raising small groups of armed Communists and killing the individual “class” enemies. He also rubbished the idea of trade union practices. But a majority within the “radical Communists”, including myself, was opposed to such views.

While we, too, believed an armed struggle was inevitable for waging a revolution, we wanted to materialise it by involving the entire working class, especially the peasantry. We never subscribed to the idea of targeting individual “class” enemies and instead, were in favour of marching forward by forceful possession of farmlands owned by zamindars and big landlords.

When the differences with Charuda grew deeper, without any sign of either group budging on its stand, a way had to be worked out. It was agreed that Charuda would experiment with his ideas in the Chathat area (on the outskirts of Siliguri), while we would go ahead with ours, at Naxalbari. The ideas that proved successful would be adopted as an undisputed strategy of the “radical Communists”.

We began work in earnest at Naxalbari and the peasant uprising became a reality in 1967. But Charuda failed to ignite any such movement at Chathat and was summarily proved wrong.


Q: But outside Naxalbari, it was Majumdar’s “individual terrorism” line that was by and large adhered to. Those who spread the Naxalbari Movement elsewhere in the state, took the same to be the true spirit of Naxalbari?

That’s true. It happened primarily because of two reasons. First, as I was enmeshed in the struggle at Naxalbari and underground, I was detached from the outer world. Second, despite his ways being proved wrong, Charuda did not shun his strategy of “individual terrorism” and was always on the lookout to press it into action.

When the news of an armed peasant uprising at Naxalbari spread, “radical Communists” from across the state and from other parts of the country started showing their eagerness to join the fray. As Charuda was based in Siliguri then and was accessible, they looked to him for guidance. Charuda never missed the opportunity to preach his line of “individual terrorism”, labelling it as the spirit of the Naxalbari Movement.

The Press helped spread Charuda’s strategies, by referring to his comments in news coverage published on the Naxalbari uprising at the time. It was also because the Press could hardly access anyone else.

Q: Are you suggesting that in reality, Majumdar hardly played any role in the Naxalbari Movement?

Not exactly. Rather, what I am saying is, his role was limited to providing the philosophical base for the Naxalbari uprising, to a certain extent. But I would reiterate, Charuda was never directly involved in the Naxalbari Movement, nor was he aware of the day-to-day developments taking place in the field of struggle.


Q: Then why is it so that Naxalism, as perceived and practised in several parts of India now, seem to be adhering to the “individual terrorism” strategy, which Majumdar spoke of?

So far as perception is concerned, I think, I have already answered that question. With regard to the preference for “individual terrorism”, I would say, the “romanticism” of an armed revolution is luring “radical Communists” away. Particularly, with arms in hand, youths tend to believe they can bring about a revolution by using bullets alone. But the reality is, they simply can’t. Without a solid mass base, all efforts will be futile.


Q: What is the future of Maoist or Naxalite insurgency, active in many parts of India?

They will vanish with time, unless they strengthen their mass base immediately. I have been to an Andhra Pradesh village where Maoists claim dominance. I was astonished that even with arms in hand, the Maoists could hardly generate confidence among the peasantry to cultivate their own lands.

The peasantry there prefers approaching the police camp, to save themselves both from the Maoists and the forces of the landlords.


Q: Coming to West Bengal, what is your view on the latest industry-agriculture conflict? How do you take the ongoing anti-farmland acquisition movement at Singur and Nandigram? Do you find any similarity with the Naxalbari Movement?

See, there is hardly anyone who doesn’t want industrialisation in Bengal. But the question is for whose benefit it is. The industrialisation policy has been adopted and implemented by the Left Front government solely to benefit the imperialists and so, we oppose it. We say, set up need-based industries, keeping in mind the resources of a particular area and drive it for the general wellbeing of the common man. But the government is ruthlessly adamant on setting up industries by trampling farmlands.

The chief minister is harping on industrialisation and believes that everyone, barring himself, is wrong. But my question is, if Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee wants to rejuvenate the industrial scenario, why doesn’t he first reopen the nearly 56,000 closed industrial units in the state? Why is there no effort to save the tea gardens in the Dooars and the labourers from starvation?

Singur and Nandigram have unmasked the cruel facets of the CPI-M, which fancies itself to be a party of the underprivileged. The movement that has generated out of Singur and Nandigram, if explored properly, can bring about a sea change in West Bengal. So far as the form is concerned, I find a great deal of similarity between Nandigram and the Naxalbari Movement. The ongoing fight in Nandigram, in particular, has the potential to excel the Naxalbari Movement. The only thing needed is a strong, selfless, political leadership to sustain it.

Q: Why single out Nandigram, when the same fight is on at Singur?

Mamata Banerjee has ruined the movement in Singur. By embarking on a hunger-strike, she spoilt the ignition of the Singur farmers.

I am sure the farmers of Singur will never get back their lands and Miss Banerjee is solely responsible for this. Just take a look at the happenings in Singur, as long as the farmers were battling it out themselves, the state government could not erect a fence on the acquired land.
But soon after Miss Banerjee hijacked the movement and started her fast, the focus shifted to Esplanade and fencing work went on in Singur unabated. Whereas in Nandigram, farmers and locals relied on their own strength and even on the face of a persistent joint offensive by the police and CPI-M goons, they have so far managed to resist the imperialist invasion.


Q: But Miss Banerjee is the one considered capable of throwing out the Left Front? In fact, the Jamait-ul-Ulema-e-Hind leader, Mr Siddiqulla Choudhury, is talking of a grand alliance with the Trinamul and others, to fight the CPI-M?

See, capturing power is one thing and fighting the imperialists is another. For the moment, even if a grand alliance were to pull down the Left Front government, would it make any difference to the poor, the framers? Rather, the alliance would continue in the wake of what the CPI-M-led government is doing now, albeit with a different set of propaganda. I say this because like the CPI-M, the Trinamul, the Jamait and the rest lack the political will to work for the common people. If I am wrong, then let them first make a public declaration what radical changes they would initiate for the benefit of the farmers, if elected to power.


Q: In this context, how do you rate the role of the Left Front allies?

I don’t find their role satisfactory either. If parties like the CPI, RSP and the Forward Bloc are really opposed to the CPI-M’s ruthless industrialisation agenda, why don’t they step out of the Front? I advised some of their leaders to come out of the government, at least that would have created pressure on the CPI-M. But despite continuous humiliation at the hands of the CPI-M, they seem only too eager to continue sharing power.


Q: If we were to leave out the Trinamul, the Jamait and the Left allies, who then would lead the movement forward?

United Naxalites alone can guide the movement on the right path. I urge all Naxalite factions to form a common platform and take the anti-farmland acquisition movement to every corner of the state. Forget about the elections, just make a collective effort to intensify and sustain the struggle generated out of Singur and Nandigram. The Statesman

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Few Facts About Mahendra Karma’s Interview..

Posted by Indian Vanguard on March 28, 2007

By Prabath

In his interview given recently Mr.Karma claimed that two of his brothers

have been killed since the start of “Salwa Judum”,that his convoy has been attacked n numbers of time,that his family living in their native village are alwaysin danger of naxal attack etc.


The Facts:- After the naxalites attacked Errabore Camp a fact finding team was sent from Delhi which also included Urmila Sing(tribal congress leader from Madhya Pradesh).To her surprise their team was recieved by one of the brother of Mr.Karma who was supposed to have been killed by naxalites few days back.She later found out that the person who was killed had a similar name as that of Karma’s brother.But karma didn’t waste any time in garnering sympathy in the name of his brothers death.


About his convoy being always a target of the Maoist,it is a popular belief among the locals of Bastar that even if there is a cracker sound coming from few kms from his convoy Mr.Karma claims that he has been attacked in front of the press and media.


He and his family never live in the village as claimed by Karma.The nearest Government Rest House is their permanent resting place everytime he goes to his native place and not their house in the village as claimed by him in the interview.


The truth is that the Tribals of Bastar feel cheated by him after “Salwa Judum”.Even the SPOs are also turning their heat against him after “Rani Bodli” incident in which 39 SPOs were killed.


The tribals now realise that Karma has divided their community by making them fight against each other. In a desperate measure Karma formed “Chattisgarh Adivasi Mahapanchayat” recently for the welfare
of the Tribals but little does he realise that thousand of tribals have already been killed and displaced and their agriculture land lying unclaimed for the Tata’s and Essar’s to Acquire in Bastar just because he has been bought by the Multi National Companies and who in turn will sell this great Country to Imperialists like America???

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Interview with killer Mahendrakarma

Posted by Indian Vanguard on March 26, 2007

No qualms: Karma says the governments should act coherently against Naxals

‘If we can wipe out Naxalism from Bastar, the red corridor is finished’

You are an Adivasi MLA from Dantewada. Has Naxalism affected you personally?

I have lost two brothers to it and have escaped attacks several times. Whenever I go to Dantewada, especially on padyatras to spread the message of the Salva Judum, there is the risk. My family and sons still live in my native village. Recently, on March 2, I was going on a motorcycle yatra with 150 others to Jagargunda, a village on the border with Andhra Pradesh. One of the motorcycles ahead of me triggered a pressure bomb. It could have been me.


Aren’t you afraid?

This is not the sort of bogus fight that politicians are used to. In this fight, we will have to be prepared for anything. I am not new to this. I have been fighting the Naxals since 1989 when we started a jan jagran abhiyan among villagers and the Naxalites left, but soon they returned. I worked again on it when I was an independent member of the Eleventh Lok Sabha.


So what has this experience of working on the issue of Naxalism taught you?

The single greatest lesson I have learnt is never to compromise with the Naxals.


Does that mean you are against peace talks with them?

The Naxals aren’t even offering to talk.


But if they do?

They just can’t give up the gun. If they do, then perhaps we can talk.


Shouldn’t the government initiate peace talks with them?

These are the people who are against the Constitution and the democratic system as a whole. We, on the other hand, are part of this democratic system and it is our responsibility to save it from the Naxalites. You must understand that they are terrorists.


What do you think of the way Maoists have joined democracy in Nepal?

That’s what they will have to ultimately do in India.


But Naxalites say that Indian democracy has been a farce because developmental benefits haven’t reached the people.

Okay, so let us throw the ball in their court: what have the Naxals done for the people? Have they empowered common people in any way? Has the standard of living in villages controlled by them improved? Why don’t you understand that the Naxals want ‘revolution’, they want to change the system, and the tribals are the best fodder. But we who are fighting against the Naxals are also tribals. We have the same blood in us.


There are several kinds of terrorism. There is communal terrorism and local terrorism, but Naxalism is political terrorism of an international nature. Whatever be the form of terrorism, it isolates people geographically or communally. What the Naxals want amounts to secessionism. Democracy, on the other hand, is nobody’s property, certainly, not mine. I haven’t picked it up from Plato.


So what is the status of Naxalism in Chhattisgarh now according to you?

There is a big dent in it after a people’s movement against it in the most-affected district of Dantewada. But Dantewada is still the centre of Naxal activity, not just in Chhattisgarh but in the entire country. This is where the root is. This is where I suspect the central leadership of he Communist Party of India (Maoist) resides. If we can wipe out Naxalism from Dantewada, we will have wiped it out from the rest of the country. And there is only one thing that can defeat Naxalism. It is called Salva Judum. For the first time has such a people’s movement taking place. The Naxalites earlier called themselves ‘People’s War Group’. But what they are doing now is war against the people! Their very astitva (being) is being challenged.


Is it true that you are the initiator of Salva Judum?

I only gave it this name after I saw it come up on its own. Seeing a village rebel against Naxalites gave me the inspiration to lead them. They needed a political voice, which is what I gave them. I gave them leadership.


But some say that the Salva Judum was your creation with police help.

That is mere propaganda. After a month-and-a-half of the movement, the state government made the wise decision to support it.Given how alarming the problem of Naxalism is, why should the state not support it?


But if it is really a spontaneous movement against Naxalite oppression, why has it appeared only in Dantewada and not the rest of south Chhattisgarh and indeed the red corridor?

Just because others haven’t risen up doesn’t mean Dantewada’s tribals are fools. It is not Dantewada’s fault if others don’t have the courage to stand up against Naxalism.


So why don’t you take the Salva Judum movement to other areas?

Wherever we go, people stand up and join us. We have made a beginning with Dantewada. Until we don’t become a Naxalism-free state, we will not stop. If there are places where there is local leadership willing to stand up against the Naxals, we are ready to support it.


But isn’t it unfair for the state to arm tribals and pit them against Naxalites? It is widely alleged that many are forced to join the Salva Judum and relocate to camps.

The people of Dantewada want to fight. Hundreds have died at the hands of the Naxalites, but they still want to fight. They want to kill Naxalites. The state cannot fool lakhs of people. You go to Salva Judum camps and ask them. The people of Dantewada are not like the Kashmiri Pandits who left their homes when forced by the gun. We are fighters.


The Naxalites are known for violence against individuals and institutions that represent the state. Don’t you think that the creation of Salva Judum camps has turned thousands of villagers into ready targets for the Naxals?

On the contrary, wherever there are Salva Judum camps, Naxal violence and oppression of villagers has come to an end.


Many allege that the budget for these camps has provided officials an unprecedented opportunity to bungle the funds. There are even allegations against you for corruption.

As you know the Naxals can succeed in killing me any day. Do you think a man who has given his life would care for money? As for officials, we are talking of a machinery where corruption is widespread, so I would not be surprised if there has been corruption. There should indeed be an enquiry.


What do you think have been the three biggest successes of the Salva Judum?

Firstly, the Naxalite network has been undermined. They used to work with tribal villagers, and the same villagers are now on our side. Secondly, 5,000 Naxalites have surrendered and become special police officers (SPO) with the Salva Judum.


Who decides who will be given SPO status and arms?

The government decides the terms, it’s not my responsibility. But it is true that many who are associated with our peace movement have been made SPOs. Anyway, you didn’t let me tell you the third and the most interesting achievement of Salva Judum, which is that politicians have started speaking against Naxalism. Earlier they were so afraid of Naxals that they didn’t want to openly speak out against them. Only when the locals have dared that the political class has risen to the occasion.


In May 2006, you told Tehelka that Salva Judum would be able to finish the Naxals by June 2006. This is March 2007 and we have just witnessed the massacre of 68 Salva Judum and Chhattisgarh police officials in Dantewada.

We give such slogans to inspire our masses. But you will appreciate that the Salva Judum has spread to all of Dantewada by now.


Rights groups and fact-finding committees have found large-scale human rights violations and violence in the name of Salva Judum. You cannot write them off as Naxal sympathisers.

I don’t care for so-called intellectuals who can’t understand what a jan andolan is.


Has there been a single mistake committed by the Salva Judum? If you were to do it all again, is there anything you would you do it differently?

When such a jan andolan takes place there is always some upvad , some wrongs, but exceptions should not be presented as the rule.


KPS Gill said at the Tehelka summit last year that the Salva Judum was a Gandhian movement…

No doubt about that! It is a public movement for freedom just like the one Gandhi led.


But Gandhi’s was a non-violent movement, and Salva Judum is about an eye for an eye…

Do you know how many people Gandhi’s non-violence killed?


How many?

Twenty two thousand. They were killed by the British for following Gandhi’s path.


The massacre in Ranibodli on March 15, isn’t it proof that the Salva Judum campaign failed?

Not at all. This massacre was going to happen. It was decided in the ninth Congress of the CPI (Maoist). That’s when I think they also decided to killed Sunil Mahatoji of the Jharkhand Mukti Morcha. The state and Central governments should take the Naxalite decisions and plans more seriously than they do. The Naxals do what they say.


Home Minister Shivraj Patil said in Parliament the other day that Naxal-related incidents in the country had dipped by 6.5 percent in 2006, but in Chattisgarh they increased by 57 percent. And 676 have died in 22 months and most of these were in Dantewada. You still think Salva Judum has not backfired?

Do the other states have a public movement against Naxalism? Obviously, Naxals are killing more in Dantewada because they are frustrated at tribals being wooed away from them.


So the escalating deaths are merely collateral damage?

Well when there is a problem in front of you will you bravely face it or turn away? If we have to fight Naxalism, we will have to pay a price. Kisi samasya ka samadhan haath par haath dharey rehne se thodi na hota hain. Usko root se nikalna padega, sangharsh karna padega. We Indians typically accept things as destiny, leaving it bhagwan bharosay. That’s not how you fight a war. The Naxals want this war to prolong for another 20-25 years and that’s why they are killing more people.


Controversial as it is, is Salva Judum the only way of fighting Naxalism?

Well, I had Salva Judum to offer. If any learned person in the country has other solutions to offer, he is most welcome to try them.


Isn’t providing more security a simple solution?

Yes, as the Salva Judum spreads, there will be more need for security.


So at the moment the number of security forces is just fine?

It is less than adequate.


Can you please pose below the Gandhi portrait for the photographer?

(Stands up and poses.) You are making me stand in the line of Gandhi. (Chuckles.)


It is you who has Gandhi in his office.

You know there is a saying, maha-purushon ke pad-chinh dikhaeen nahi dete, kyon ki un par aaj tak koi chala hi nahin. (You can’t see the footsteps of great men because nobody has walked on them.)

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‘If the State is violent, there will be counter-violence’ : Varava Rao

Posted by Indian Vanguard on March 24, 2007

Revolutionary poet and ideologue Varavara Rao

How do you react when Maoists enact a brutal massacre such as this?


It is only the symptom of what is happening on the ground. The issue is simple. Multinationals are making huge inroads with the help of corrupt governments and contractors. The Maoists’ movement had stopped the mnc drain on the region’s resources, but of late they have begun to exploit the area again. In addition, the government is repressing people in the name of Salva Judum, which is nothing but a State-sponsored war upon the people. The media has reported more than 50 policemen killed in the incident, but do you know 39 of them were Salva Judum activists whom the government has armed and given uniforms?


‘The government is repressing people in the name of Salva Judum, which is a State-sponsored war’

Do you justify violence as a political tactic, though?

What is the option? You must ask this question to the State which is the main instrument of violence today. Those who stand up for the rights of the masses often have no recourse but to resist State violence; Maoists are indulging in counter-violence, that’s all, they have to defend themselves.


Is there a possibility they could give up arms and begin talks?

Again, ask the State. If it ends Salva Judum and the people of the area are allowed to return home safe, there will be a reduction in violence. But if the State continues to oppress people, there will be retaliation.


How do you respond to a ceasefire proposal?

Let the government declare it, the revolutionary movement will take a decision. More than 60 people were killed in Nandigram by the State and nobody calls that violence. These were people trying to protect their land and the police just butchered them. There is no outcry about that kind of violence. Why? When the State is so violent, there will be violence in society.


Where do you see the movement heading? Is there a goal in sight?

This is a time for all revolutionary, democratic and nationality movements, like the ones in Kashmir and the Northeast to unite, and something will come out of this unity. We have very little expectations of the State and the comprador class that it represents. Tehelka

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Posted by Indian Vanguard on March 24, 2007


EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW

‘It’s outright war and both sides are choosing their weapons’

Chhattisgarh. Jharkhand. Bihar. Andhra Pradesh. Signposts of fractures gone too far with too little remedy. Arundhati Roy in conversation with Shoma Chaudhury on the violence rending our heartland


Singur and Nandigram make you wonder — is the last stop of every revolution advanced capitalism?

There is an atmosphere of growing violence across the country. How do you read the signs? In what context should it be read?


You don’t have to be a genius to read the signs. We have a growing middle class, reared on a diet of radical consumerism and aggressive greed. Unlike industrialising Western countries, which had colonies from which to plunder resources and generate slave labour to feed this process, we have to colonise ourselves, our own nether parts. We’ve begun to eat our own limbs. The greed that is being generated (and marketed as a value interchangeable with nationalism) can only be sated by grabbing land, water and resources from the vulnerable. What we’re witnessing is the most successful secessionist struggle ever waged in independent India — the secession of the middle and upper classes from the rest of the country. It’s a vertical secession, not a lateral one. They’re fighting for the right to merge with the world’s elite somewhere up there in the stratosphere. They’ve managed to commandeer the resources, the coal, the minerals, the bauxite, the water and electricity. Now they want the land to make more cars, more bombs, more mines — supertoys for the new supercitizens of the new superpower. So it’s outright war, and people on both sides are choosing their weapons. The government and the corporations reach for structural adjustment, the World Bank, the ADB, FDI, friendly court orders, friendly policy makers, help from the ‘friendly’ corporate media and a police force that will ram all this down people’s throats. Those who want to resist this process have, until now, reached for dharnas, hunger strikes, satyagraha, the courts and what they thought was friendly media. But now more and more are reaching for guns. Will the violence grow? If the ‘growth rate’ and the Sensex are going to be the only barometers the government uses to measure progress and the well-being of people, then of course it will. How do I read the signs? It isn’t hard to read sky-writing. What it says up there, in big letters, is this: the shit has hit the fan, folks.


You once remarked that though you may not resort to violence yourself, you think it has become immoral to condemn it, given the circumstances in the country. Can you elaborate on this view?


I’d be a liability as a guerrilla! I doubt I used the word ‘immoral’ — morality is an elusive business, as changeable as the weather. What I feel is this: non-violent movements have knocked at the door of every democratic institution in this country for decades, and have been spurned and humiliated. Look at the Bhopal gas victims, the Narmada Bachao Andolan. The nba had a lot going for it — high-profile leadership, media coverage, more resources than any other mass movement. What went wrong? People are bound to want to rethink strategy. When Sonia Gandhi begins to promote satyagraha at the World Economic Forum in Davos, it’s time for us to sit up and think. For example, is mass civil disobedience possible within the structure of a democratic nation state? Is it possible in the age of disinformation and corporate-controlled mass media? Are hunger strikes umbilically linked to celebrity politics? Would anybody care if the people of Nangla Machhi or Bhatti mines went on a hunger strike? Irom Sharmila has been on a hunger strike for six years. That should be a lesson to many of us. I’ve always felt that it’s ironic that hunger strikes are used as a political weapon in a land where most people go hungry anyway. We are in a different time and place now. Up against a different, more complex adversary. We’ve entered the era of NGOs — or should I say the era of paltu shers — in which mass action can be a treacherous business. We have demonstrations which are funded, we have sponsored dharnas and social forums which make militant postures but never follow up on what they preach. We have all kinds of ‘virtual’ resistance. Meetings against SEZs sponsored by the biggest promoters of SEZs. Awards and grants for environmental activism and community action given by corporations responsible for devastating whole ecosystems. Vedanta, a company mining bauxite in the forests of Orissa, wants to start a university. The Tatas have two charitable trusts that directly and indirectly fund activists and mass movements across the country. Could that be why Singur has drawn so much less flak than Nandigram? Of course the Tatas and Birlas funded Gandhi too — maybe he was our first NGO. But now we have NGOs who make a lot of noise, write a lot of reports, but whom the sarkar is more than comfortable with. How do we make sense of all this? The place is crawling with professional diffusers of real political action. ‘Virtual’ resistance has become something of a liability.


Anyone listening? nobody
Abhinandita D. Mathur
We are in the era of sponsored dharnas and NGOs the sarkar is comfortable with. The place is crawling with professional diffusers of real political action

There was a time when mass movements looked to the courts for justice. The courts have rained down a series of judgements that are so unjust, so insulting to the poor in the language they use, they take your breath away. A recent Supreme Court judgement, allowing the Vasant Kunj Mall to resume construction though it didn’t have the requisite clearances, said in so many words that the questions of corporations indulging in malpractice does not arise! In the ERA of corporate globalisation, corporate land-grab, in the ERA of Enron and Monsanto, Halliburton and Bechtel, that’s a loaded thing to say. It exposes the ideological heart of the most powerful institution in this country. The judiciary, along with the corporate press, is now seen as the lynchpin of the neo-liberal project.


In a climate like this, when people feel that they are being worn down, exhausted by these interminable ‘democratic’ processes, only to be eventually humiliated, what are they supposed to do? Of course it isn’t as though the only options are binary — violence versus non-violence. There are political parties that believe in armed struggle but only as one part of their overall political strategy. Political workers in these struggles have been dealt with brutally, killed, beaten, imprisoned under false charges. People are fully aware that to take to arms is to call down upon yourself the myriad forms of the violence of the Indian State. The minute armed struggle becomes a strategy, your whole world shrinks and the colours fade to black and white. But when people decide to take that step because every other option has ended in despair, should we condemn them? Does anyone believe that if the people of Nandigram had held a dharna and sung songs, the West Bengal government would have backed down? We are living in times when to be ineffective is to support the status quo (which no doubt suits some of us). And being effective comes at a terrible price. I find it hard to condemn people who are prepared to pay that price.


You have been travelling a lot on the ground — can you give us a sense of the trouble spots you have been to? Can you outline a few of the combat lines in these places?


Huge question — what can I say? The military occupation of Kashmir, neo-fascism in Gujarat, civil war in Chhattisgarh, mncs raping Orissa, the submergence of hundreds of villages in the Narmada Valley, people living on the edge of absolute starvation, the devastation of forest land, the Bhopal victims living to see the West Bengal government re-wooing Union Carbide — now calling itself Dow Chemicals — in Nandigram. I haven’t been recently to Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, Maharashtra, but we know about the almost hundred thousand farmers who have killed themselves. We know about the fake encounters and the terrible repression in Andhra Pradesh. Each of these places has its own particular history, economy, ecology. None is amenable to easy analysis. And yet there is connecting tissue, there are huge international cultural and economic pressures being brought to bear on them. How can I not mention the Hindutva project, spreading its poison sub-cutaneously, waiting to erupt once again? I’d say the biggest indictment of all is that we are still a country, a culture, a society which continues to nurture and practice the notion of untouchability. While our economists number-crunch and boast about the growth rate, a million people — human scavengers — earn their living carrying several kilos of other people’s shit on their heads every day. And if they didn’t carry shit on their heads they would starve to death. Some f***ing superpower this.


How does one view the recent State and police violence in Bengal?


No different from police and State violence anywhere else — including the issue of hypocrisy and doublespeak so perfected by all political parties including the mainstream Left. Are Communist bullets different from capitalist ones? Odd things are happening. It snowed in Saudi Arabia. Owls are out in broad daylight. The Chinese government tabled a bill sanctioning the right to private property. I don’t know if all of this has to do with climate change. The Chinese Communists are turning out to be the biggest capitalists of the 21st century. Why should we expect our own parliamentary Left to be any different? Nandigram and Singur are clear signals. It makes you wonder — is the last stop of every revolution advanced capitalism? Think about it — the French Revolution, the Russian Revolution, the Chinese Revolution, the Vietnam War, the anti-apartheid struggle, the supposedly Gandhian freedom struggle in India… what’s the last station they all pull in at? Is this the end of imagination?


The might of the gun: The Maoists march during their Ninth Convention in Chhattisgarh
AP Photo
These are times when to be ineffective is to support the status quo. And being effective comes at a terrible price

The Maoist attack in Bijapur — the death of 55 policemen. Are the rebels only the flip side of the State?


How can the rebels be the flip side of the State? Would anybody say that those who fought against apartheid — however brutal their methods — were the flip side of the State? What about those who fought the French in Algeria? Or those who fought the Nazis? Or those who fought colonial regimes? Or those who are fighting the US occupation of Iraq? Are they the flip side of the State? This facile new report-driven ‘human rights’ discourse, this meaningless condemnation game that we are all forced to play, makes politicians of us all and leaches the real politics out of everything. However pristine we would like to be, however hard we polish our halos, the tragedy is that we have run out of pristine choices. There is a civil war in Chhattisgarh sponsored, created by the Chhattisgarh government, which is publicly pursing the Bush doctrine: if you’re not with us, you are with the terrorists. The lynchpin of this war, apart from the formal security forces, is the Salva Judum — a government-backed militia of ordinary people forced to take up arms, forced to become spos (special police officers). The Indian State has tried this in Kashmir, in Manipur, in Nagaland. Tens of thousands have been killed, hundreds of thousands tortured, thousands have disappeared. Any banana republic would be proud of this record. Now the government wants to import these failed strategies into the heartland. Thousands of adivasis have been forcibly moved off their mineral-rich lands into police camps. Hundreds of villages have been forcibly evacuated. Those lands, rich in iron-ore, are being eyed by corporations like the Tatas and Essar. mous have been signed, but no one knows what they say. Land acquisition has begun. This kind of thing happened in countries like Colombia — one of the most devastated countries in the world. While everybody’s eyes are fixed on the spiralling violence between government-backed militias and guerrilla squads, multinational corporations quietly make off with the mineral wealth. That’s the little piece of theatre being scripted for us in Chhattisgarh.


Of course it’s horrible that 55 policemen were killed. But they’re as much the victims of government policy as anybody else. For the government and the corporations they’re just cannon fodder — there’s plenty more where they came from. Crocodile tears will be shed, prim TV anchors will hector us for a while and then more supplies of fodder will be arranged. For the Maoist guerrillas, the police and spos they killed were the armed personnel of the Indian State, the main, hands-on perpetrators of repression, torture, custodial killings, false encounters. They’re not innocent civilians — if such a thing exists — by any stretch of imagination.


We were here: After the Jehanabad jailbreak
AP Photo

I have no doubt that the Maoists can be agents of terror and coercion too. I have no doubt they have committed unspeakable atrocities. I have no doubt they cannot lay claim to undisputed support from local people — but who can? Still, no guerrilla army can survive without local support. That’s a logistical impossibility. And the support for Maoists is growing, not diminshing. That says something. People have no choice but to align themselves on the side of whoever they think is less worse.


But to equate a resistance movement fighting against enormous injustice with the government which enforces that injustice is absurd. The government has slammed the door in the face of every attempt at non-violent resistance. When people take to arms, there is going to be all kinds of violence — revolutionary, lumpen and outright criminal. The government is responsible for the monstrous situations it creates.


‘Naxals’, ‘Maoists’, ‘outsiders’: these are terms being very loosely used these days.


‘Outsiders’ is a generic accusation used in the early stages of repression by governments who have begun to believe their own publicity and can’t imagine that their own people have risen up against them. That’s the stage the CPM is at now in Bengal, though some would say repression in Bengal is not new, it has only moved into higher gear. In any case, what’s an outsider? Who decides the borders? Are they village boundaries? Tehsil? Block? District? State? Is narrow regional and ethnic politics the new Communist mantra? About Naxals and Maoists — well… India is about to become a police state in which everybody who disagrees with what’s going on risks being called a terrorist. Islamic terrorists have to be Islamic — so that’s not good enough to cover most of us. They need a bigger catchment area. So leaving the definition loose, undefined, is effective strategy, because the time is not far off when we’ll all be called Maoists or Naxalites, terrorists or terrorist sympathisers, and shut down by people who don’t really know or care who Maoists or Naxalites are. In villages, of course, that has begun — thousands of people are being held in jails across the country, loosely charged with being terrorists trying to overthrow the state. Who are the real Naxalites and Maoists? I’m not an authority on the subject, but here’s a very rudimentary potted history.


We are coming: A demonstration against the acquisition of land in Singur
AP Photo
The government has slammed the door in the face of every attempt at non-violent resistance. The government is responsible for the situations it creates

The Communist Party of India, the CPI, was formed in 1925. The CPI (M), or what we now call the CPM — the Communist Party Marxist — split from the CPI in 1964 and formed a separate party. Both, of course, were parliamentary political parties. In 1967, the CPM, along with a splinter group of the Congress, came to power in West Bengal. At the time there was massive unrest among the peasantry starving in the countryside. Local CPM leaders — Kanu Sanyal and Charu Mazumdar — led a peasant uprising in the district of Naxalbari which is where the term Naxalites comes from. In 1969, the government fell and the Congress came back to power under Siddhartha Shankar Ray. The Naxalite uprising was mercilessly crushed — Mahasweta Devi has written powerfully about this time. In 1969, the CPI (ML) — Marxist Leninist — split from the CPM. A few years later, around 1971, the CPI (ML) devolved into several parties: the CPM-ML (Liberation), largely centred in Bihar; the CPM-ML (New Democracy), functioning for the most part out of Andhra Pradesh and Bihar; the CPM-ML (Class Struggle) mainly in Bengal. These parties have been generically baptised ‘Naxalites’. They see themselves as Marxist Leninist, not strictly speaking Maoist. They believe in elections, mass action and — when absolutely pushed to the wall or attacked — armed struggle. The MCC — the Maoist Communist Centre, at the time mostly operating in Bihar — was formed in 1968. The PW, People’s War, operational for the most part in Andhra Pradesh, was formed in 1980. Recently, in 2004, the MCC and the pw merged to form the CPI (Maoist) They believe in outright armed struggle and the overthrowing of the State. They don’t participate in elections. This is the party that is fighting the guerrilla war in Bihar, Andhra Pradesh, Chhattisgarh and Jharkhand.


The Indian State and media largely view the Maoists as an “internal security” threat. Is this the way to look at them?


I’m sure the Maoists would be flattered to be viewed in this way.


The Maoists want to bring down the State. Given the autocratic ideology they take their inspiration from, what alternative would they set up? Wouldn’t their regime be an exploitative, autocratic, violent one as well? Isn’t their action already exploitative of ordinary people? Do they really have the support of ordinary people?


I think it’s important for us to acknowledge that both Mao and Stalin are dubious heroes with murderous pasts. Tens of millions of people were killed under their regimes. Apart from what happened in China and the Soviet Union, Pol Pot, with the support of the Chinese Communist Party (while the West looked discreetly away), wiped out two million people in Cambodia and brought millions of people to the brink of extinction from disease and starvation. Can we pretend that China’s cultural revolution didn’t happen? Or that millions of people in the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe were not victims of labour camps, torture chambers, the network of spies and informers, the secret police. The history of these regimes is just as dark as the history of Western imperialism, except for the fact that they had a shorter life-span. We cannot condemn the occupation of Iraq, Palestine and Kashmir while we remain silent about Tibet and Chechnya. I would imagine that for the Maoists, the Naxalites, as well as the mainstream Left, being honest about the past is important to strengthen people’s faith in the future. One hopes the past will not be repeated, but denying that it ever happened doesn’t help inspire confidence… Nevertheless, the Maoists in Nepal have waged a brave and successful struggle against the monarchy. Right now, in India, the Maoists and the various Marxist-Leninist groups are leading the fight against immense injustice here. They are fighting not just the State, but feudal landlords and their armed militias. They are the only people who are making a dent. And I admire that. It may well be that when they come to power, they will, as you say, be brutal, unjust and autocratic, or even worse than the present government. Maybe, but I’m not prepared to assume that in advance. If they are, we’ll have to fight them too. And most likely someone like myself will be the first person they’ll string up from the nearest tree — but right now, it is important to acknowledge that they are bearing the brunt of being at the forefront of resistance. Many of us are in a position where we are beginning to align ourselves on the side of those who we know have no place for us in their religious or ideological imagination. It’s true that everybody changes radically when they come to power — look at Mandela’s anc. Corrupt, capitalist, bowing to the imf, driving the poor out of their homes — honouring Suharto, the killer of hundreds of thousands of Indonesian Communists, with South Africa’s highest civilian award. Who would have thought it could happen? But does this mean South Africans should have backed away from the struggle against apartheid? Or that they should regret it now? Does it mean Algeria should have remained a French colony, that Kashmiris, Iraqis and Palestinians should accept military occupation? That people whose dignity is being assaulted should give up the fight because they can’t find saints to lead them into battle?


Is there a communication breakdown in our society?

Yes.

Tehelka

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Interview With Arundhati Roy

Posted by Indian Vanguard on March 24, 2007


EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW

‘It’s outright war and both sides are choosing their weapons’

Chhattisgarh. Jharkhand. Bihar. Andhra Pradesh. Signposts of fractures gone too far with too little remedy. Arundhati Roy in conversation with Shoma Chaudhury on the violence rending our heartland


Singur and Nandigram make you wonder — is the last stop of every revolution advanced capitalism?

There is an atmosphere of growing violence across the country. How do you read the signs? In what context should it be read?


You don’t have to be a genius to read the signs. We have a growing middle class, reared on a diet of radical consumerism and aggressive greed. Unlike industrialising Western countries, which had colonies from which to plunder resources and generate slave labour to feed this process, we have to colonise ourselves, our own nether parts. We’ve begun to eat our own limbs. The greed that is being generated (and marketed as a value interchangeable with nationalism) can only be sated by grabbing land, water and resources from the vulnerable. What we’re witnessing is the most successful secessionist struggle ever waged in independent India — the secession of the middle and upper classes from the rest of the country. It’s a vertical secession, not a lateral one. They’re fighting for the right to merge with the world’s elite somewhere up there in the stratosphere. They’ve managed to commandeer the resources, the coal, the minerals, the bauxite, the water and electricity. Now they want the land to make more cars, more bombs, more mines — supertoys for the new supercitizens of the new superpower. So it’s outright war, and people on both sides are choosing their weapons. The government and the corporations reach for structural adjustment, the World Bank, the ADB, FDI, friendly court orders, friendly policy makers, help from the ‘friendly’ corporate media and a police force that will ram all this down people’s throats. Those who want to resist this process have, until now, reached for dharnas, hunger strikes, satyagraha, the courts and what they thought was friendly media. But now more and more are reaching for guns. Will the violence grow? If the ‘growth rate’ and the Sensex are going to be the only barometers the government uses to measure progress and the well-being of people, then of course it will. How do I read the signs? It isn’t hard to read sky-writing. What it says up there, in big letters, is this: the shit has hit the fan, folks.


You once remarked that though you may not resort to violence yourself, you think it has become immoral to condemn it, given the circumstances in the country. Can you elaborate on this view?


I’d be a liability as a guerrilla! I doubt I used the word ‘immoral’ — morality is an elusive business, as changeable as the weather. What I feel is this: non-violent movements have knocked at the door of every democratic institution in this country for decades, and have been spurned and humiliated. Look at the Bhopal gas victims, the Narmada Bachao Andolan. The nba had a lot going for it — high-profile leadership, media coverage, more resources than any other mass movement. What went wrong? People are bound to want to rethink strategy. When Sonia Gandhi begins to promote satyagraha at the World Economic Forum in Davos, it’s time for us to sit up and think. For example, is mass civil disobedience possible within the structure of a democratic nation state? Is it possible in the age of disinformation and corporate-controlled mass media? Are hunger strikes umbilically linked to celebrity politics? Would anybody care if the people of Nangla Machhi or Bhatti mines went on a hunger strike? Irom Sharmila has been on a hunger strike for six years. That should be a lesson to many of us. I’ve always felt that it’s ironic that hunger strikes are used as a political weapon in a land where most people go hungry anyway. We are in a different time and place now. Up against a different, more complex adversary. We’ve entered the era of NGOs — or should I say the era of paltu shers — in which mass action can be a treacherous business. We have demonstrations which are funded, we have sponsored dharnas and social forums which make militant postures but never follow up on what they preach. We have all kinds of ‘virtual’ resistance. Meetings against SEZs sponsored by the biggest promoters of SEZs. Awards and grants for environmental activism and community action given by corporations responsible for devastating whole ecosystems. Vedanta, a company mining bauxite in the forests of Orissa, wants to start a university. The Tatas have two charitable trusts that directly and indirectly fund activists and mass movements across the country. Could that be why Singur has drawn so much less flak than Nandigram? Of course the Tatas and Birlas funded Gandhi too — maybe he was our first NGO. But now we have NGOs who make a lot of noise, write a lot of reports, but whom the sarkar is more than comfortable with. How do we make sense of all this? The place is crawling with professional diffusers of real political action. ‘Virtual’ resistance has become something of a liability.


Anyone listening? nobody
Abhinandita D. Mathur
We are in the era of sponsored dharnas and NGOs the sarkar is comfortable with. The place is crawling with professional diffusers of real political action

There was a time when mass movements looked to the courts for justice. The courts have rained down a series of judgements that are so unjust, so insulting to the poor in the language they use, they take your breath away. A recent Supreme Court judgement, allowing the Vasant Kunj Mall to resume construction though it didn’t have the requisite clearances, said in so many words that the questions of corporations indulging in malpractice does not arise! In the ERA of corporate globalisation, corporate land-grab, in the ERA of Enron and Monsanto, Halliburton and Bechtel, that’s a loaded thing to say. It exposes the ideological heart of the most powerful institution in this country. The judiciary, along with the corporate press, is now seen as the lynchpin of the neo-liberal project.


In a climate like this, when people feel that they are being worn down, exhausted by these interminable ‘democratic’ processes, only to be eventually humiliated, what are they supposed to do? Of course it isn’t as though the only options are binary — violence versus non-violence. There are political parties that believe in armed struggle but only as one part of their overall political strategy. Political workers in these struggles have been dealt with brutally, killed, beaten, imprisoned under false charges. People are fully aware that to take to arms is to call down upon yourself the myriad forms of the violence of the Indian State. The minute armed struggle becomes a strategy, your whole world shrinks and the colours fade to black and white. But when people decide to take that step because every other option has ended in despair, should we condemn them? Does anyone believe that if the people of Nandigram had held a dharna and sung songs, the West Bengal government would have backed down? We are living in times when to be ineffective is to support the status quo (which no doubt suits some of us). And being effective comes at a terrible price. I find it hard to condemn people who are prepared to pay that price.


You have been travelling a lot on the ground — can you give us a sense of the trouble spots you have been to? Can you outline a few of the combat lines in these places?


Huge question — what can I say? The military occupation of Kashmir, neo-fascism in Gujarat, civil war in Chhattisgarh, mncs raping Orissa, the submergence of hundreds of villages in the Narmada Valley, people living on the edge of absolute starvation, the devastation of forest land, the Bhopal victims living to see the West Bengal government re-wooing Union Carbide — now calling itself Dow Chemicals — in Nandigram. I haven’t been recently to Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, Maharashtra, but we know about the almost hundred thousand farmers who have killed themselves. We know about the fake encounters and the terrible repression in Andhra Pradesh. Each of these places has its own particular history, economy, ecology. None is amenable to easy analysis. And yet there is connecting tissue, there are huge international cultural and economic pressures being brought to bear on them. How can I not mention the Hindutva project, spreading its poison sub-cutaneously, waiting to erupt once again? I’d say the biggest indictment of all is that we are still a country, a culture, a society which continues to nurture and practice the notion of untouchability. While our economists number-crunch and boast about the growth rate, a million people — human scavengers — earn their living carrying several kilos of other people’s shit on their heads every day. And if they didn’t carry shit on their heads they would starve to death. Some f***ing superpower this.


How does one view the recent State and police violence in Bengal?


No different from police and State violence anywhere else — including the issue of hypocrisy and doublespeak so perfected by all political parties including the mainstream Left. Are Communist bullets different from capitalist ones? Odd things are happening. It snowed in Saudi Arabia. Owls are out in broad daylight. The Chinese government tabled a bill sanctioning the right to private property. I don’t know if all of this has to do with climate change. The Chinese Communists are turning out to be the biggest capitalists of the 21st century. Why should we expect our own parliamentary Left to be any different? Nandigram and Singur are clear signals. It makes you wonder — is the last stop of every revolution advanced capitalism? Think about it — the French Revolution, the Russian Revolution, the Chinese Revolution, the Vietnam War, the anti-apartheid struggle, the supposedly Gandhian freedom struggle in India… what’s the last station they all pull in at? Is this the end of imagination?


The might of the gun: The Maoists march during their Ninth Convention in Chhattisgarh
AP Photo
These are times when to be ineffective is to support the status quo. And being effective comes at a terrible price

The Maoist attack in Bijapur — the death of 55 policemen. Are the rebels only the flip side of the State?


How can the rebels be the flip side of the State? Would anybody say that those who fought against apartheid — however brutal their methods — were the flip side of the State? What about those who fought the French in Algeria? Or those who fought the Nazis? Or those who fought colonial regimes? Or those who are fighting the US occupation of Iraq? Are they the flip side of the State? This facile new report-driven ‘human rights’ discourse, this meaningless condemnation game that we are all forced to play, makes politicians of us all and leaches the real politics out of everything. However pristine we would like to be, however hard we polish our halos, the tragedy is that we have run out of pristine choices. There is a civil war in Chhattisgarh sponsored, created by the Chhattisgarh government, which is publicly pursing the Bush doctrine: if you’re not with us, you are with the terrorists. The lynchpin of this war, apart from the formal security forces, is the Salva Judum — a government-backed militia of ordinary people forced to take up arms, forced to become spos (special police officers). The Indian State has tried this in Kashmir, in Manipur, in Nagaland. Tens of thousands have been killed, hundreds of thousands tortured, thousands have disappeared. Any banana republic would be proud of this record. Now the government wants to import these failed strategies into the heartland. Thousands of adivasis have been forcibly moved off their mineral-rich lands into police camps. Hundreds of villages have been forcibly evacuated. Those lands, rich in iron-ore, are being eyed by corporations like the Tatas and Essar. mous have been signed, but no one knows what they say. Land acquisition has begun. This kind of thing happened in countries like Colombia — one of the most devastated countries in the world. While everybody’s eyes are fixed on the spiralling violence between government-backed militias and guerrilla squads, multinational corporations quietly make off with the mineral wealth. That’s the little piece of theatre being scripted for us in Chhattisgarh.


Of course it’s horrible that 55 policemen were killed. But they’re as much the victims of government policy as anybody else. For the government and the corporations they’re just cannon fodder — there’s plenty more where they came from. Crocodile tears will be shed, prim TV anchors will hector us for a while and then more supplies of fodder will be arranged. For the Maoist guerrillas, the police and spos they killed were the armed personnel of the Indian State, the main, hands-on perpetrators of repression, torture, custodial killings, false encounters. They’re not innocent civilians — if such a thing exists — by any stretch of imagination.


We were here: After the Jehanabad jailbreak
AP Photo

I have no doubt that the Maoists can be agents of terror and coercion too. I have no doubt they have committed unspeakable atrocities. I have no doubt they cannot lay claim to undisputed support from local people — but who can? Still, no guerrilla army can survive without local support. That’s a logistical impossibility. And the support for Maoists is growing, not diminshing. That says something. People have no choice but to align themselves on the side of whoever they think is less worse.


But to equate a resistance movement fighting against enormous injustice with the government which enforces that injustice is absurd. The government has slammed the door in the face of every attempt at non-violent resistance. When people take to arms, there is going to be all kinds of violence — revolutionary, lumpen and outright criminal. The government is responsible for the monstrous situations it creates.


‘Naxals’, ‘Maoists’, ‘outsiders’: these are terms being very loosely used these days.


‘Outsiders’ is a generic accusation used in the early stages of repression by governments who have begun to believe their own publicity and can’t imagine that their own people have risen up against them. That’s the stage the CPM is at now in Bengal, though some would say repression in Bengal is not new, it has only moved into higher gear. In any case, what’s an outsider? Who decides the borders? Are they village boundaries? Tehsil? Block? District? State? Is narrow regional and ethnic politics the new Communist mantra? About Naxals and Maoists — well… India is about to become a police state in which everybody who disagrees with what’s going on risks being called a terrorist. Islamic terrorists have to be Islamic — so that’s not good enough to cover most of us. They need a bigger catchment area. So leaving the definition loose, undefined, is effective strategy, because the time is not far off when we’ll all be called Maoists or Naxalites, terrorists or terrorist sympathisers, and shut down by people who don’t really know or care who Maoists or Naxalites are. In villages, of course, that has begun — thousands of people are being held in jails across the country, loosely charged with being terrorists trying to overthrow the state. Who are the real Naxalites and Maoists? I’m not an authority on the subject, but here’s a very rudimentary potted history.


We are coming: A demonstration against the acquisition of land in Singur
AP Photo
The government has slammed the door in the face of every attempt at non-violent resistance. The government is responsible for the situations it creates

The Communist Party of India, the CPI, was formed in 1925. The CPI (M), or what we now call the CPM — the Communist Party Marxist — split from the CPI in 1964 and formed a separate party. Both, of course, were parliamentary political parties. In 1967, the CPM, along with a splinter group of the Congress, came to power in West Bengal. At the time there was massive unrest among the peasantry starving in the countryside. Local CPM leaders — Kanu Sanyal and Charu Mazumdar — led a peasant uprising in the district of Naxalbari which is where the term Naxalites comes from. In 1969, the government fell and the Congress came back to power under Siddhartha Shankar Ray. The Naxalite uprising was mercilessly crushed — Mahasweta Devi has written powerfully about this time. In 1969, the CPI (ML) — Marxist Leninist — split from the CPM. A few years later, around 1971, the CPI (ML) devolved into several parties: the CPM-ML (Liberation), largely centred in Bihar; the CPM-ML (New Democracy), functioning for the most part out of Andhra Pradesh and Bihar; the CPM-ML (Class Struggle) mainly in Bengal. These parties have been generically baptised ‘Naxalites’. They see themselves as Marxist Leninist, not strictly speaking Maoist. They believe in elections, mass action and — when absolutely pushed to the wall or attacked — armed struggle. The MCC — the Maoist Communist Centre, at the time mostly operating in Bihar — was formed in 1968. The PW, People’s War, operational for the most part in Andhra Pradesh, was formed in 1980. Recently, in 2004, the MCC and the pw merged to form the CPI (Maoist) They believe in outright armed struggle and the overthrowing of the State. They don’t participate in elections. This is the party that is fighting the guerrilla war in Bihar, Andhra Pradesh, Chhattisgarh and Jharkhand.


The Indian State and media largely view the Maoists as an “internal security” threat. Is this the way to look at them?


I’m sure the Maoists would be flattered to be viewed in this way.


The Maoists want to bring down the State. Given the autocratic ideology they take their inspiration from, what alternative would they set up? Wouldn’t their regime be an exploitative, autocratic, violent one as well? Isn’t their action already exploitative of ordinary people? Do they really have the support of ordinary people?


I think it’s important for us to acknowledge that both Mao and Stalin are dubious heroes with murderous pasts. Tens of millions of people were killed under their regimes. Apart from what happened in China and the Soviet Union, Pol Pot, with the support of the Chinese Communist Party (while the West looked discreetly away), wiped out two million people in Cambodia and brought millions of people to the brink of extinction from disease and starvation. Can we pretend that China’s cultural revolution didn’t happen? Or that millions of people in the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe were not victims of labour camps, torture chambers, the network of spies and informers, the secret police. The history of these regimes is just as dark as the history of Western imperialism, except for the fact that they had a shorter life-span. We cannot condemn the occupation of Iraq, Palestine and Kashmir while we remain silent about Tibet and Chechnya. I would imagine that for the Maoists, the Naxalites, as well as the mainstream Left, being honest about the past is important to strengthen people’s faith in the future. One hopes the past will not be repeated, but denying that it ever happened doesn’t help inspire confidence… Nevertheless, the Maoists in Nepal have waged a brave and successful struggle against the monarchy. Right now, in India, the Maoists and the various Marxist-Leninist groups are leading the fight against immense injustice here. They are fighting not just the State, but feudal landlords and their armed militias. They are the only people who are making a dent. And I admire that. It may well be that when they come to power, they will, as you say, be brutal, unjust and autocratic, or even worse than the present government. Maybe, but I’m not prepared to assume that in advance. If they are, we’ll have to fight them too. And most likely someone like myself will be the first person they’ll string up from the nearest tree — but right now, it is important to acknowledge that they are bearing the brunt of being at the forefront of resistance. Many of us are in a position where we are beginning to align ourselves on the side of those who we know have no place for us in their religious or ideological imagination. It’s true that everybody changes radically when they come to power — look at Mandela’s anc. Corrupt, capitalist, bowing to the imf, driving the poor out of their homes — honouring Suharto, the killer of hundreds of thousands of Indonesian Communists, with South Africa’s highest civilian award. Who would have thought it could happen? But does this mean South Africans should have backed away from the struggle against apartheid? Or that they should regret it now? Does it mean Algeria should have remained a French colony, that Kashmiris, Iraqis and Palestinians should accept military occupation? That people whose dignity is being assaulted should give up the fight because they can’t find saints to lead them into battle?


Is there a communication breakdown in our society?

Yes.

Tehelka

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Exclusive Interview with CPI(Maoist) Spokesperson on Nepal Devolopements

Posted by Indian Vanguard on February 28, 2007

“There is need for caution with the present tactics”

CPN(Maoists) may be giving over-emphasis to the possibility of advancing the movement through the Constituent Assembly!

(With the latest developments in Nepal and the tactics and Strategy now being put forward by the CPN(Maoist) and the continuous appeals by Indian Marxist and revisionists to the Indian Maoists to learn from the Nepalese Maoists, People’s March has been trying to get the response of the Indian Maoists. At last we have received by e-mail a response from the spokesperson of the CPI(Maoists) which, to a large extent, gives their response. We are giving below an interview taken by our correspondent with comrade Azad, the spokesperson of the CC, CPI(Maoist) in end June 2006.)

PM: How do you look at the current developments in Nepal?

Azad: We, in India, have been watching the ongoing developments in Nepal with great interest. The militant mass agitation by the people of Nepal against the reactionary, autocratic regime of King Gyanendra in April, in the backdrop of the powerful-armed struggle, was indeed historic. The people of Nepal had inscribed a glorious chapter in the annals of Nepal by forcing the fascist King to relinquish his adamant stand and to concede power to the parliament. Particularly the one million strong mobilization in Katmandu in June and the lakhs mobilized in the districts indicates the growing influence of the Maoists in the country. Their influence to be encompassing even the urban areas. Our Party hails the historic struggle of the people of Nepal for democracy and a better society. However, the revolutionaries in India hope that the struggle in Nepal will go on until the overthrow of the King along with the so-called parliament and capture of power by the revolutionary and democratic forces. We hope that the Maoists will be able to maintain their initiative to direct the ongoing political developments. They would need to remain alert in their alliance with the seven party alliance, which wants to strike a compromise with the King and betray the aspirations of the people.

PM: How do you view the tactics of the CPN(Maoist) in joining the interim government and promising to abide by the verdict of the constituent assembly?

Azad: The situation in Nepal and the World is complex. Due to the weakness in the international communist movement we see many a people’s war bogged down in a struggle for survival for decades. In this situation it is no doubt that the Nepalese party and people have made historic advances. But we feel there is need for caution with the present tactics. We think that Maoists forming a government jointly with the comprador bourgeois-feudal parties such as the reactionary Nepali Congress, revisionist CPN-UML and the other parties of the ruling classes will not really work out as they represent two diametrically opposed class interests. It is a wrong interpretation on the question of the state in Nepal to expect a possibility of a peaceful transition from the CA to the NDR. One may bring some reforms from above and satisfy certain deprived sections of the people but it will never solve the basic problems of the people as you cannot smash feudalism and throw out imperialism from the soil of Nepal by utilizing the old state whatever embellishments one might do to give it a refurbished image. Nothing short of a revolutionary upheaval of the masses can achieve the above objective. No doubt given the huge mass mobilizations throughout the country and the efforts to create an even wider upsurge are positive preparations to take the revolution forward, but some of the statements in the interviews tend to give the impression that the CPN(Maoists) are giving over-emphasis to the possibility of advancing the movement through the Constituent Assembly and in alliance with the 7-parties. This can have dangerous implications.

The present emphasis of the CPN(Maoist) needs to be seen with caution particularly after they had brilliantly built up their people’s army of 25,000, their Base Areas, the UF and their new Organs of Power, and had stated that they were in the phase of the strategic offensive to seize power. In the process they effectively defeated all efforts of the police and RNA to crush them, maintaining the military and political initiative. But now there is no reference even to the strategic offensive and how it is to advance. They ofcourse do refer to this being a February revolution and that preparations must go on for the October revolution, but we are not aware this later fits into their strategic offensive plan.

PM: And what about the dissolution of the revolutionary organs of power and merging of the two armies?

Azad: These organs are the product of protracted people’s war against the old state and they stand out as shining examples of people’s democratic dictatorship at the local level brilliantly built by the CPN(Maoist) party. The immediate task and the tactics should serve to strengthen these organs and mould them into organs of uprising like the Soviets in revolutionary Russia and China. While consolidating these organs of power we need to strive to mobilize the masses in a big way into uprisings and strive to capture the cities leading to the final seizure of power at the opportune moment. In fact in the concrete situation in Nepal today the Maoists have really only two revolutionary options. Either they must intensify the mass upsurge, evolve the organizational forms of political power suitable for seizing political power at the national/all Nepal level or if that is not possible owing to an unfavorable balance of class forces the existing base areas should be consolidated and strengthened and steps taken to complete the democratic tasks and advance towards in the direction of the socialist tasks. It is possible that in this process two Nepals will emerge – a reactionary one based in Kathmandu and few cities and a revolutionary Nepal based in the countryside.

As regards merging the army within a reconstituted state army, it is even more dangerous. Mao said that without a people’s army the people have nothing. The army is one of the main instruments of class rule. How can two diametrically opposed classes have a single army? By merging the people’s army with the reactionary army of the ruling classes (until now the faithful servant of the King) the people will become defenseless in case of a reactionary armed offensive by the enemy. We have experiences of several countries where the toiling masses suffered heavily due to the wrong line of the Communist party. In Indonesia we know of the cruel massacres of communists and their sympathizers carried out by the ruling classes due to the line of hobnobbing with the reactionary ruling classes whom they considered as nationalist and democratic forces. We also have before us the examples of Chile, Nicaragua and several other countries. One cannot rule out the possibility of the reactionary ruling classes carrying out a coup and reestablishing their monopoly over political power at an opportune moment when the revolutionary forces have been effectively disarmed or weakened. This has been the experience in several countries following the 2nd World War i.e France, Greece etc. But, of course, if the Maoists do not pose a threat to the interests of imperialism and the comprador bureaucratic bourgeois (CBB) and they get accommodated and incorporated into the system then they too would be received with warmth by the ruling classes. The invitation to the UN to supervise the cease-fire and monitor the demobilization of the people’s armed forces is also dangerous. The UN is essentially an instrument of imperialism and particularly American imperialism. It is bound to work in the interests of the reactionary ruling classes of Nepal and imperialism. Overall, the decision of the CPN(Maoist) to dissolve the revolutionary people’s governments in the countryside and to merge the PLA with the reactionary army will unfold an irreversible process of losing all the revolutionary gains achieved till now.

PM: The various parliamentary parties in India, not to speak of the Left parties like the CPI and CPI(M), have been hailing the line of participation in the interim government and parliamentary democracy taken by the Nepali Maoists and say that it will have a positive impact on the Maoist movement in India. How does your Party assess its impact?

Azad: It is the wishful subjective thinking of these parties in India that the develop-ments in Nepal will have a “positive” (what they mean by positive is the Maoists shun-ning armed struggle and joining the so-called mainstream of parliamentary politics) impact on the Maoist movement in our country. Anyone who is familiar with the history of the Maoist movement in India, with the numerous ups and downs it had gone through in the past four decades after Naxalbari, knows how resilient our movement is. Even when confronted with great difficulties and odds against the revolutionaries, the genuine Maoists in India never vacillated or drifted from their line of new democratic revolution and achieving it through the line of protracted people’s war. They had not only rejected the parliamentary path but also fought against the parties who wanted to participate in elections in the name of utilizing it as a tactic. Of course, there are some pseudo revolutionary parties, like the CPI(ML)-Liberation which had degenerated into parliamentary parties but these stand exposed before the people as revisionist parties in the guise of MLM.

No wonder, the various ruling class parties and the so-called left parties in India are elated at the change of stance by the CPN(Maoist) led by comrade Prachanda. They are naturally hailing the line taken by the CPN(Maoist) and are calling upon the Maoists in India to realize the futility of armed struggle and to follow the Maoists of Nepal by participating in the parliamentary pig-sty in India. As bitter enemies and opponents of revolution all these parties have been in the forefront in suppressing the ongoing people’s war in India. The decision of the CPN(Maoist) to participate in the government along with the reaction-ary parties, declaring their commitment to the so-called rule of law and the future constitution, and to become actors in the ensuing game of parliamentary elections following the elections to the constituent assembly has come as a breather for the ruling class parties in Nepal and the parliamentary system of India.

In fact, in his interview with The Hindu last February, comrade Prachanda himself hinted at the “positive” impact that his line of multiparty democracy will have on the Maoist movement in India. It must have come as a great relief for the Indian ruling classes to hear comrade Prachanda speak of his Party’s commitment to multiparty democracy and the message he wants to give to the Naxalite movement in India by successfully establishing multiparty democracy in Nepal.

When asked what he would say if he were to meet the Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, comrade Prachanda said:

“We are fighting for genuine multiparty democracy but they are imprisoned there, in Patna, Siliguri, Chennai. If you release them all, a message will go out. And if you feel the Naxalite movement in India is a problem for you, we feel we are trying to deal with the problems in Nepal in a new way, so if you release our comrades and we are successful in establishing multi-party democracy in Nepal, this will be a very big message for the Naxalite movement in India. In other words, the ground will be readied for them to think in a new political way. Words are not enough; we need to validate what we are saying by establishing that democracy.”

It is really a matter of grave concern that comrade Prachanda, instead of demanding the expansionist Indian ruling classes to stop all interference and meddling in Nepal’s internal affairs, only talked of how their tactics would bring about a change in the outlook of the Maoists in India. Needless to say, these remarks will not only be deeply resented by the revolutionary masses of our country who have seen the wretched system of parliamentary democracy in India but will also be proved totally wrong through their revolutionary practice.

PM: The CPM and one of its top leaders, Sitaram Yechuri, was focused as a messiah from India to play a role between the Maoists and SPA. After returning back to India he and his party advised the Indian Maoists to follow the line of the CPN(Maoist). How do you explain this when they seem hostile to the Maoists here? Apart from this Yechury told the press that the Indian Maoists have planned to kill him and the secret regarding this decision was informed to him by the Nepali Maoists. What is your comment please?

Azad: The CPM is a party of the Indian ruling classes, representing the interests of imperialism, feudalism and the CBB in India. Their primary task seemed to be to bring the Nepalese Maoists into the parliamentary ‘mainstream’, which they also keep preaching us in India. When we do not accede they have used the worst forms of state terror against us as in West Bengal. Their aim is the same in both countries — to pacify the Maoists in India with bullets and do the same with the Nepalese Maoists with sugarcoated bullets. Yechuri and the CPM in effect played a more affective role for the Indian ruling classes when the Congress was fumbling with the Karan Singh fiasco. But when he overdid his ‘diplomacy’ and was sidelined, he cooked up the conspiracy theory of the Maoists in India planning to kill him to regain some credibility and try and sow seeds of mistrust between the two Maoist parties. A true Chanakya!!

PM: Why are you opposed to the tactic of multiparty democracy as proposed by the CPN(Maoist)?

Azad: Firstly, we are greatly perturbed by the proposal put forth by comrade Prachanda in his various interviews that his party was committed to multiparty democracy, which will be practiced not after the revolutionary seizure of power by the proletariat but within the semi-colonial semi-feudal society. The 2003 Plenum document was quite vague regarding CPN(Maoist)’s concept of multiparty democracy or political competition, i.e., whether it is applicable after the seizure of power by the revolutionary party or prior to seizure itself. It only says it is possible to organize political competition within the constitutional limits of the anti-feudal and anti-imperialist democratic state. However, the statements, interviews and documents released after the 12-point Delhi Agreement between the CPN(Maoist) and the Seven Party Alliance in November 2005 all point to the need for competition within the existing system after the Constituent Assembly is elected.

There is also confusion regarding the class character of the Parties with whom such political competition has to be conducted. While the 2003 document clearly stated that these forces will be anti-feudal and anti-imperialist in character, the post November 2005 documents and interviews of CPN(MAOIST) provide scope for such competition with the constituents of SPA who are basically comprador bourgeois-feudal in their character in spite of their role against monarchy, or, more specifically, against King Gyanendra’s autocratic rule.

In fact, in the same document entitled “Present situation and our tasks”, presented by comrade Prachanda and adopted by the Central Committee Meeting of the CPN (Maoist) in May 2003, it correctly described the nature of the parliamentary parties in Nepal in the following words—

“In form it may appear as a triangular struggle involving monarchy, parliamentary forces and revolutionary forces, but in essence and if one looks from a class point of view, the struggle involving only two forces (reactionary and democratic forces) are seen. It has been practically proved that the differences between the autocratic monarchical and parliamentary groups are nothing other than that of share of power within the old state. It has been time and again proved in Nepal that monarchy in the name of nationalism (fake) and parliamentary forces in the name of democracy (fake) want to occupy the seat of power and betray the nation and the people on identical class basis.

“What we have been saying from a class and theoretical point of view and what has become all the more exposed in the present cease-fire and negotiation process is that it is the clash of interests between different international reactionary centers which is behind the mutual recriminations and contradictions between different reactionary groups in Nepal. As the royal army and the palace elements are being manipulated and protected by western imperialism, particularly American imperialism, and the main parliamentary forces by the Indian rulers who seek special hegemony in South Asia, they are having a continuous tug of war between them. Hence the whole Party should be clear that, in the background of political development particularly after the palace massacre, the idea of seeing either the monarchical or the parliamentary forces of Nepal as more democratic or more nationalistic than the other, will be specially harmful and wrong. It has become all the more clear in the present day Nepal that we can never have any ideological and political relationship with either monarchical or parliamentary groups except to manage contradictions in a particular situation.”

While the above analysis of the class character of the parliamentary parties, their fake democracy and loyalty to various imperialist powers, is basically correct, it is indeed very unfortunate that the CPN(Maoist) has not adhered firmly to that analysis from a strategic and class perspective. It is one thing to make necessary adjustments, understandings and tactical unity with these parliamentary forces and even with a section of the imperialists against the main enemy when conditions for such alliances become ripe. But to create illusions on the character of these parties or overlook their links with imperialists and Indian expansionists will do great harm to the revolution in the long run.

Moreover, we find that comrade Prachanda and the CPN(Maoist) had turned the tactics to the level of strategy and path of the world revolution in the 21st century. Thus, in his interview to The Hindu comrade Prachanda stressed that the Maoists’ commitment to multi-party democracy is not tactical but the result of a lengthy ideological debate within the party over three years. He said: “our decision on multi-party democracy is a strategically, theoretically developed position and we are telling the parliamentary parties that we are ready to have peaceful competition with you all.”

The CPN(Maoist) leader directly assured the comprador bourgeois-feudal parliamentary parties that his Party is ready to have peaceful competition with all of them. And by describing this decision on multiparty democracy as a strategically, theoretically developed position comrade Prachanda has brought a dangerous thesis to the fore—the thesis of peaceful coexistence with the ruling class parties instead of overthrowing them through revolution; peaceful competition with all other parliamentary parties, including the ruling class parties that are stooges of imperialism or foreign reaction, in a so-called parliamentary elections; abandoning the objective of building socialism for an indefinite period; and opening the doors wide for the feudal-comprador reactionaries to come to power by utilizing the backwardness of the masses and the massive backing from domestic and foreign reactionaries or the comprador bureaucratic bourgeois and feudal and petty bourgeois forces to hijack the entire course of development of the society from the socialist direction to maintaining the existing system (even if in a new form) in the name of democracy and nationalism. Whatever may be our good intentions for building a more democratic system, the laws governing class struggle will not permit of such a system. History has proved this time and again from the days of the Paris Commune right up till the earlier revolutions in Asia, Africa and Latin America.

PM: Then are you in favour of multiparty democracy at least after the seizure of power? If not what is the form of government you envisage after the revolution?

Azad: The Marxist-Leninist-Maoist understanding regarding the form of government that will be best suited for the proletariat is the Commune or the Soviet or the Revolutionary Council that can best serve the proletariat and the vast majority of the masses as they act not as talking shops and mere legislative bodies but as both legislative and executive bodies. The representatives to these bodies are elected and are subject to recall any time the people feel they do not serve their interests. If we look at the very process of the protracted people’s war it entails the setting up democratic power in the Base Areas of all anti-imperialist and anti-feudal forces UNDER THE LEADERSHIP OF PROLETARIAT elected democratically at gram sabhas with the right to remove them also by the gram sabha. Here there is a close interaction between the power structures and the will of the people and therefore truly democratic. Once power is seized at the all-India level, till the transformation to the socialist stage all genuinely anti-imperialist and anti-feudal parties will be part of the new power, and the transition to socialism can only take place through continuing the class struggle under the dictatorship of the proletariat. This does not deny democracy for the masses at large but, as Lenin said, petty production generates a bourgeoisie daily, hourly and these elements will find their representative at all realms of state power, including the Party. Can anyone think of a better form of government and better form of exercising democracy in the real sense of the term?

“To decide once every few years which members of the ruling class is to repress and crush the people through parliament—this is the real essence of bourgeois parliamentarism, not only in parliamentary- constitutional monarchies, but also in the most democratic republics”, said Lenin.

This was said by Lenin over a century back. Since then, particularly since World War II, the parliament and its related institutions have become even more corrupt and rotten to the core.

A good example of how the new power was built was the Paris Commune. The concepts practiced there were further worked out in the Soviets of the USSR, the communes in China and the experiments of the GPCR and is being sought to be practiced in the Base Areas being set up by the Maoists in different parts of the world.

Comrade Lenin also explained very lucidly how the Parliament functions even in the most democratic of the republics and, contrasting it to the Commune, showed how the Communes (or the Soviets in Russia and Revolutionary Councils in China) are the most suitable forms of government for the proletariat and the toiling masses.

“The parliamentary bourgeois republic hampers and stifles the independent political life of the masses, their direct participation in the democratic organization of the life of the state from the bottom up. The opposite is the case with the Soviets.

“The way out of parliamentarism is not, of course, the abolition of representative institutions and the elective principle, but the conversion of the representative institutions from talking shops into “working” bodies. “The Commune was to be a working, not a parliamentary body, executive and legislative at the same time.”

“The Commune substitutes for the venal and rotten parliamentarism of bourgeois society institutions in which freedom of opinion and discussion does not degenerate into deception, for the parliamentarians themselves have to work, have to execute their own laws, have themselves to test the results achieved in reality, and to account directly to their constituents. …. We cannot imagine democracy, even proletarian democracy, without representative institutions, but we can and must imagine democracy without parliamentarism, if criticism of bourgeois society is not mere words for us, if the desire to overthrow the rule of the bourgeoisie is our earnest and sincere desire, and not a mere “election” cry for catching workers’ votes, as it is with the Mensheviks and Socialist-Revolutionaries,”

PM: And how do you ensure political competition with other parties? The CPN(Maoist) claims that it is only by organizing political competition and institutionalizing the right of the masses to install an alternative revolutionary party in power that counter-revolution can be effectively checked.

Azad: It is, indeed, surprising that the CPN(Maoist) should arrive at such a conclusion even after the proletariat is equipped with rich and varied experiences on the period of transition from capitalism to socialism, after it is armed with such an appropriate form, method and weapon as the cultural revolution and is in possession of a wealth of writings by our teachers—Marx, Engels, Lenin, Stalin and Mao—and by several Marxist writers on the subject of checking the degeneration of the Party, Army and the State; preventing the restoration of capitalism; and building a new type of state and society. To think that continuous proletarianization and revolutionization of the Communist Party can be ensured and that counter-revolution can be effectively checked by organizing so-called political competition or by institutionalizing the right of the masses to install an alternative revolutionary party or leadership on the state means falling into the trap of bourgeois formalism and under-mining the real task of mobilizing the masses extensively to wage bitter class struggle against the old reactionary defeated classes and the new bourgeois class developing within the Party, Army and the Administration. It is difficult to grasp how alternative revolutionary parties can exist- especially since the communist parties have always understood that different political lines represented either a proletarian outlook or a bourgeois outlook.

The crucial point lies not in ensuring the right of the masses to replace one Party by another through elections, which is anyway the norm in any bourgeois republic or bureaucrat bourgeois-feudal republic, but ensuring their active and creative involvement in supervising the Party and the state, in checking the emergence of a new bureaucratic class, and themselves taking part in the administration of the state and society and in the entire process of revolutionary transformation. And it will be the foremost task of the Party to organize and lead the masses in checking counter-revolution and bringing about the revolutionary transformation in all spheres through continuing revolution under the dictatorship of the proletariat. And this is the most important lesson handed down to us by the entire historical experience of the world revolution, particularly by the GPCR.

Moreover, is it possible for the Party of the proletariat to prevent the comeback of the defeated classes to power and check counter-revolution peacefully or by a coup by providing such an opportunity to them to compete in a “democratic” manner? Would the Bolshevik Party have won the elections in Russia after the revolution had it organized such political competition given its near-total absence in the vast backward countryside where the most reactionary ideas ruled the roost? In fact, the Bolshevik Party had to even dissolve the constituent assembly immediately after it captured power despite the fact that it was only a minority in it as the constituent assembly acted as an instrument of the reactionaries and became an obstacle for carrying out revolutionary reforms and for exercising proletarian dictatorship as in the Soviets. It is not just the case of Russia, in many countries, particularly in semi-colonial semi-feudal countries, where petty commodity production and peasant economy predominate, the feudal ideology, culture, customs and the force of habit among the majority of the population will make it possible for other non-proletarian and even reactionary parties under the anti-feudal anti-imperialist cloak to come to power relatively easily. Hence it will not be surprising if we find that the idealist and subjective proposal of the CPN(Maoist), though made with good intentions, ultimately becomes a convenient tool in the hands of the capitalist-roaders to seize power.

As regards political competition with other parties, we have the experience of China where several democratic parties such as the Democratic League, Peasants and Workers’ Party and others competed with the CPC and contested in elections to the various organs of power. Although these existed for almost a decade after the revolution the people rejected them when they refused to support socialism and tried to take China along the capitalist road. Political competition was encouraged in China, not in the form of participation in Western-type bourgeois parliamentary elections but in the elections to various bodies. Democratic parties and organizations belonging to the four classes that comprised the motive forces of revolution were to take part in the elections to the various bodies.

The CPC had strived to unite all the anti-feudal anti-imperialist parties and forces during the new democratic revolution and also after the seizure of power and establishment of people’s democracy or the people’s democratic dictatorship.

In his article On the correct handling of contradictions among the people, in 1957, Mao explained the policy of the CPC towards other political parties after the capture of power thus:

“It is the desire as well as the policy of the Communist Party to exist side by side with the democratic parties for a long time to come. But whether the democratic parties can long remain in existence depends not merely on the desire of the Communist Party but on how well they acquit themselves and on whether they enjoy the trust of the people. Mutual supervision among the various parties is also a long-established fact, in the sense that they have long been advising and criticizing each other. Mutual supervision is obviously not a one-sided matter; it means that the Communist Party can exercise supervision over the democratic parties, and vice versa.”

In China many methods were evolved to prevent capitalist restoration and the rise of a new bourgeoisie in the Government and Party. Mao’s let a hundred flowers blossom and let a hundred schools of thought contend; his ‘Three-thirds’ system of democratic representation which restricts the seats of Communist party members in all elected bodies to a maximum of one-third of the whole and gives two-thirds of the seats to members of other parties and non-party elements; his putting six political criteria for political parties to stand for elections; etc; are only a few of the examples adopted. Democracy is not merely a formal putting a vote but must exist in the very living process of any organization, with the leadership under the close supervision of the masses and cadre; this too is possible with only a general raising of MLM consciousness of the Party and the masses and intensifying the class struggle. In China there were many parties after the revolution sharing power, but the unity was on a principled basis, and was part of the front to deepen the class struggle against the remnants of the feudal and CBB forces. In Nepal they in effect dilute the class struggle by forming a government with feudal and CBB elements.

The most important thing is that all the revolutionary bodies in the proletarian or people’s democratic state are elected and every person so elected is subject to recall, which is not seen, in the so-called parliamentary democracies.

PM: Do you find anything wrong when the CPN(Maoist) says it will go to the new democratic stage via the bourgeois democratic or multiparty republic?

Azad: No Maoist would say it is wrong to fight for the demand of a Republic and for the overthrow of the autocratic monarchy. And likewise, none would oppose the forging of a united front of all those who are opposed to the main enemy at any given moment. Needless to say, such a united front would be purely tactical in nature and cannot, and should not, under any circumstances, determine the path and direction of the revolution itself.

The problem with the theorization by the CPN(Maoist) lies in making the fight against autocracy into a sub-stage of NDR and, a tendency to make the sub-stage overwhelm (dominate and determine) the very direction and path of the revolution. The programme and strategy of NDR drawn up by the Party prior to its launching of the armed struggle, its targets to be overthrown, and even the concrete class analysis made earlier based on which the revolution had advanced so far, are now made subordinate to the needs of the so-called sub-stage of Nepalese revolution. The sub-stage of a bourgeois democratic republic appears, from their interviews and statements, to have become the all-determining factor.

As far as we know, , we can say that the numerous types of state system in the world can be reduced to three basic kinds according to the class character of their political power: (1) republics under bourgeois dictatorship {in addition to these there are the fake republics in the backward semi-feudal, semi-colonial countries under the joint dictatorship of the CBB and feudal elements, backed by imperialism ); (2) republics under the dictatorship of the proletariat; and (3) republics under the joint dictatorship of several revolutionary classes. In essence, the slogan of a bourgeois democratic republic given by the CPN(Maoist) cannot but come under the first type of republic in spite of the participation of the revolutionary party in the state power along with the comprador bourgeois-feudal parties.

In his interview with the BBC correspondent, comrade Prachanda gave his vision of future Nepal in the following words:

“We believe that the Nepali people will go for a republic and in a peaceful way the process of rebuilding Nepal will go forward.

“In five years’ time Nepal will move towards being a beautiful, peaceful and progressive nation.

“In five years’ time the millions of Nepalis will already be moving ahead with a mission to make a beautiful future, and Nepal will truly start becoming a heaven on earth.”

He further asserted that a democratic republic elected in such a way will solve the problems of Nepalis!!

“We believe that with the election of a constituent assembly, a democratic republic will be formed in Nepal. And this will solve the problems of Nepalis and lead the country into a more progressive path.”

Anyone reading the above lines would think that these views reflect more a nationalist sentiment than a proletarian class outlook.

How will Nepal start becoming a “heaven on earth” after becoming a bourgeois republic? How can the formation of a democratic republic “solve the problems of Nepalis”? Can it free itself from the clutches of imperialism after becoming a republic in the present imperialist era? Does the CPN(Moist), which claims to believe in MLM, really think that the “process of re-building Nepal will go forward in a peace-ful way”? And is there a single instance in world history where such peaceful process of rebuilding has taken place? Does not the history of world revolution show that bitter class struggle, bloody and violent at times, continues even after decades following the capture of power by the proletariat? Then how could comrade Prachanda think of such a peaceful process of rebuilding Nepal even at this sub-stage? Do the parties belonging to the SPA really fight imperialism, Indian expansionism and feudalism in Nepal? Is there a guarantee that the CPN(Maoist) will defeat the bourgeois-feudal parties, with which it wants to go for political competition, in the elections and ensure that Nepal does not drift into the clutches of imperialism and Indian expansionism? How could one believe that once the elections to the Constituent Assembly are over and Nepal becomes a Republic, not under the leader-ship of the working class party but may be under an alliance of a hotchpotch combination of Parties i.e., an alliance of ruling class and working class under CPN(Maoist), the country would free itself from feudalism and imperialism and become a “beautiful, peaceful and progressive nation” ?

According to comrade Prachanda’s opinion, “the reactionary class and their parties will try to transform this republic into bourgeois parliamentarian one, where as our party of the proletariat class will try to transform it into new democratic republic. How long will be the period of transition, is not a thing that can right now be ascertained. It is clear that it will depend upon the then national and international situation and state of power balance.”

This so-called transitional multiparty republic is sought to be transformed into a new democratic republic through peaceful struggle by means of political competition with reactionary class and their parties, which try to transform it into a bourgeois parliamentary republic!!

Whatever be the tactics adopted by the CPN(Maoist) the most objectionable part in the entire matter is its projection of these tactics as a theoretically developed position which it thinks should be the model for the revolutions in the 21st century. In the name of fighting against dogmatism our comrades of CPN(Maoist) are slipping into dangerous territory.

Moreover, as long as the Party wages a consistent struggle against imperialism and local reactionaries and pursues the line of redistribution of land and wealth, nationali-sation of all comprador, foreign industries, banks and foreign trade, it is certain to face opposition from the other parliamentary parties. And if it wants to be part of the parliamentary game it has to abide by its rules and cannot carry out its anti-feudal, anti-imperialist policies in a thoroughgoing way. Even the independence of the judiciary has to be recognized as part of the game of parliament and can cause obstruction to every reform which the Maoist party tries to initiate after coming to power through elections. This is already being seen with the 8-point agreement being said to be illegal. US imperialism is even strongly demanding that the Maoist should participate in the constituent assembly only after they lay down their arms. The CPN(Maoists) have rightly opposed this position of the US and also Indian expansionists. We expect that they will remain firm in this.

Then there will be several institutions like the judiciary, the election commission, the media, various artistic, cultural and even religious bodies, non-government organizations, and also human rights organizations some of which are floated by the ruling classes, and so on. If one slips into the quagmire of the so-called multiparty democratic republic, one cannot escape from upholding these so-called independent institutions. Many of these can become hideouts of the reactionary forces and work for counter-revolution in diverse subtle ways. One cannot forget the subtle manner in which the western agencies infiltrated and subverted the societies in East European countries and even in the former Soviet Union.

PM: Comrade Prachanda says that the tactics adopted by his party are based on the specificities of the political and military balance in the world as well as particular class, political and power balance in Nepal besides the experiences of the 20th century. What is your Party’s opinion on this?

Azad: It is true that comrade Prachanda in his interview to The Hindu last February cited the above three factors for his party coming to the decision on multiparty democracy. In fact, this understanding could be seen in the CPN(Maoist) even before the said interview. For instance, in the CC meeting in August 2004, it began to be skeptical about the prospects of victory in a small country like Nepal when it is confronted by imperialism and there is no advancement of any strong revolutionary movement.

“In the present context, when along with the restoration of capitalism in China there is no other socialist state existing, when despite objective condition turning favorable currently there is no advancement in any strong revolutionary movement under the leadership of the proletariat, and when world imperialism is pouncing on people everywhere like an injured tiger, is it possible for a small country with a specific geo-political compulsion like Nepal to gain victory to the point of capturing central state through revolution? This is the most significant question being put before the Party today. The answer to this question can only be found in Marxism-Leninism-Maoism and on this depends the future of the Nepalese revolution.”

The same Plenum had also pointed out why the series of tactical steps like cease-fire, negotiation, political way out etc., were taken up.

“There is no doubt that the imperialist forces are now in preparation for even more vicious assault as the Nepalese People’s War is in preparation for strategic offensive from its current position of strategic equilibrium. The entire complexities, opportunities and challenges of Nepalese revolution are the manifestations of this objective condition…but, in Nepal, the development of revolution has reached a very sensitive stage of preparation for strategic offensive. It is essential to understand that the series of tactical steps undertaken by the Party such as cease-fire, negotiation, political way out etc. are based on this strategically favorable and tactically unfavorable world situation and the condition of strategic equilibrium inside the country.”

It is true that the revolutions everywhere are confronting a tough situation especially after the setback of China. Tactically speaking, in the present-day world, the enemy forces are quite strong while our subjective forces are weak. World imperialism has unleashed a massive offensive on the revolutionary forces, national liberation movements and on the people’s movements everywhere. But this is only one side of the coin. At the same time, the objective conditions are quite favorable; imperialism, particularly US imperialism, is hated by the people everywhere and massive people’s movements are breaking out against imperialism, particularly US imperialism, throughout the world. Any revolution in today’s world has to inevitably face the attacks by the imperialists.

To face an enemy much bigger than the revolutionary forces there are no question that it may and will require a great flexibility in tactics. Particularly when we are a sizable force such flexibility can more effectively be wielded for the achievement of our goals. But while doing so there is always a danger to lose sight of our strategic tasks of the seizure of power by armed force. From the statements being made by the CPN(Maoist) leadership it appears that that danger is there. Many statements being made and the interviews being given tend to negate some of the basic Marxist understandings regarding state and revolution. It may be said to have been made in the context of diplomacy; but its end result is to mis-educate the revolutionary and progressive camp. It is not expected from a Marxist statesman.

In the interview com Prachanda had gone to the extent of saying:” We are ready to accept the people’s verdict, if they chose constitutional monarchy and multiparty democracy.” It is indeed a great tragedy to see the Maoist party finally ending up in these political positions in spite of having de facto power in most of the countryside.

PM: Comrade Prachanda says that the line of multiparty democracy applies to the Maoist movement in India too. How does your party see this?

Azad: We saw his comments on this point in his interview with The Hindu correspondent. It says:

“We believe it applies to them too. We want to debate this. They have to understand this and go down this route. Both on the question of leadership and on multiparty democracy, or rather multiparty competition I believe those who call themselves revolutionaries in India need to think about these issues. And there is a need to go in the direction of that practice. We wish to debate with them on this. If revolutionaries are not going to look at the need for ideological development, they will not go anywhere.”

Such advice has been coming forth from the various ruling class parliamentary parties in India since long. The revisionist CPI and CPI(M), who swear by Marx and Lenin, regularly sermonize through their magazines, documents and statements, regarding the futility of armed struggle for seizing state power and achieving revolutionary social transformation. They desperately try to show how parliamentary multiparty democracy is the best instrument for achieving this transformation as witnessed in West Bengal and Kerala. The CPI(ML)-Liberation, in the name of MLM, preaches the virtues of multi-party democracy and calls all those who do not wish to be tied to the parliamentary pig-sty as anarchists and adventurists.

It is good that the CPN(Maoist) wants to debate with the Maoists in India on the question of leadership and multiparty democracy. There have been interesting discussions and exchange of opinions and experiences between the leaderships of our two parties on the concept of leadership, on the question of personality cult and concentration of all power in the hands of one individual, etc. Our opinion has always been that it is necessary for a good section of the Party leadership to work among the masses and concentrate on building class struggle even after the seizure of power in order to prevent the degeneration in the Party functionaries, officials in the various state departments, particularly the armed forces, in the various units in the production sphere, and so on. We must encourage the masses to criticize the mistakes committed by the party and the party leaders even in the course of the revolutionary movement prior to the seizure of power. We must develop collective leadership rather than focusing on any one individual or delegating revolutionary authority. Dependency on one or few individuals instead of developing collective leadership and involving the entire Party membership and the masses in decision-making has been one of the causes that led to great reversals in Russia and China where, after the demise of outstanding proletarian leaders like Stalin and Mao, the CPSU and the CPC turned revisionist so easily.

We agree with comrade Prachanda when he says that “from the lessons of the 20th Century communist states – we want to move to a new plane in terms of leadership – where one person doesn’t remain the party leader or the head of state.”

In fact, this had also been one of the major points of debate during the inner-party struggle in the CPN(Maoist) during 2004-05 when comrade Bhattarai (Laldhoj), in his Basic Questions for Inner-Party Discussion, raised questions such as: Is proletarian leadership a centralized expression of collectivity, or is it a person centered? Does the principal law of dialectics, viz. one divides into two, apply to the main leadership or not? How does the system of a single person occupying the top Party, army and the state posts, and that too for life, solve the question of generating revolutionary successors and of continuous revolution? Our party, the CPI(Maoist) wish to conduct a serious debate on these questions and also on the question of Prachanda Path and on the concept of path, thought and ism.

PM: What would you say with regard to the concept of 21st century democracy as proposed by the CPN(Maoist) led by comrade Prachanda?

Azad: What is new in the concept of 21st century democracy raised by the CPN(Maoist) and how is it qualitatively different from the democracy of the 20th century? The CPN(Maoist) had also claimed that its “decision on multi-party democracy is a strategically, theoretically developed position” which is even applicable to conditions in India. One knows about bourgeois democracy and proletarian democracy, that democracy too has a class character, which in a class-divided society democracy will serve the ruling class while exercising dictatorship over the rest of the people. In bourgeois republics the nature of democracy is bourgeois. It is meant to serve the bourgeoisie while oppressing the vast majority of the people. Its essence is bourgeois dictatorship. Likewise, in people’s democratic republics, the democracy is meant for all the anti-feudal, anti-imperialist classes while dictatorship is exercised over the enemies of the people and their agents. The qualitative difference between different types of democracies lies in their class character. But when the CPN(Maoist) says that there is a qualitative difference between the democracy of the 20th and 21st centuries without any reference to the class character, it is not only unconvincing but also seems to be highly subjective.

One reason given is that in the 21st century there has “been unprecedented development in science and technology, particu-larly in electronic communication techno-logy, in the world.” How this unprecedented development has a bearing on the strategy of the revolutions in the 21st century or on the nature of democracy in the 21st century is not clear.

It says that “in the field of ideology, the central committee has attempted to draw a strategic outline of the world revolution based on the analysis of today’s world situation and mainly the new analysis of globalized imperialism and proletarian movement and has succeeded to present a totally new concept in relation to leadership and accomplishing revolution and preventing counter-revolution” and “in the field of politics” it says, it has made a “qualitative leap in the concept regarding political and military strategy and tactic established in the 20th century.”

We are still not clear what is this new concept and qualitative leap claimed by CPN(Maoist) except for their line of multiparty democracy and political competition which boils down to competing peacefully with the various reactionary and revisionist parties for power in a so-called transitional multiparty democratic republic.

PM: Finally, where do you see the Nepalese revolution heading?

Azad: We also do see reports that the PLA still maintains its firepower and alertness. Also there is reference to the recent upsurge being the February revolution and the preparations going on for the October revolution. There are also reports of huge mass mobilization to win over new forces to the side of the revolution, including in the urban areas. Also the US imperialists and Indian expansionists (including their stooge, Yechuri) are openly trying to sabotage the alliance demanding as a prerequisite the laying down of arms by the Maoists. Besides, the Maoists have stated that they will not give up their arms and will maintain their own camps. All these are positive trends indicating the readiness of the Maoists to advance towards the New Democratic Revolution. There is need to beware from two situations: falling into any traps laid by the ruling classes and their imperialist and expansionist masters; second to beware of a sudden coup and massacre of communists as witnessed in Greece, Indonesia, Chile and a number of other countries. Even a huge mass base in these countries did not stop such massacres. But we will expect that the CPN(Maoists) will steer the Party forward and advance the revolution for the seizure of power countrywide.

PM: One last question. What is the message you would like to give to the revolutionary ranks of Nepal, India and the rest of the world?

Azad: First we would seriously request the CPN(Maoist) and its leadership to reconsider some of its recent positions and learn from the history of past mistakes. The Nepalese party and people have a great history of struggle and sacrifice. Over 10,000 have lost their lives in the course of the present people’s war. We salute these heroic martyrs of the Nepalese and world revolution. We are confident that the great Nepalese people will advance the revolution forward facing the numerous twists and turns in the movement. There is no doubt that revolution today is no simple task; the path will be zig-zag.

We also call on the people of India to lend full support to the Nepalese revolution. But while doing so it is also the duty of the Indian and world proletariat to render friendly suggestions to their comrades in Nepal. After all, the interests of the Nepalese revolution are very much in the interests of world revolution, and more particularly of its neighbor, the Indian revolution. The revolutionary people of India are ready for any sacrifice in support of the Nepalese revolution. We are confident that we will march forward, together, against the obnoxious system of world imperialism and its local semi-feudal base.

PM: We, on behalf of the People’s March wish to thank you for the interview on this so crucial issue in a neighboring country.

Azad: Thank You

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