Homeland Security

Naxalism - the Internal Bane of India
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Issue Courtesy: Aakrosh | Date : 08 Jul , 2011

The United Front Government of West Bengal, headed by the CPI (M), was able to contain the rebellion within 72 days using all repressive measures possible. These units had a formal meeting in November 1967, as a result of which in May 1968, the All India Coordination Committee of Communist Revolutionaries (AICCCR) was formed. The AICCCR adopted for its operations the two cardinal principles of “Allegiance to the armed struggle and non-participation in the elections.” However, differences cropped up over how an armed struggle should be advanced, and this led to the exclusion of a section of the activists from Andhra Pradesh and West Bengal, led respectively by T. Nagi Reddy and Kanhai Chatterjee.

On the question of the “annihilation of the class enemy,” the Kanhai Chatterjee group had serious objections, as they were of the view that the annihilation of the class enemy should only be undertaken after building up of mass agitation. However, a majority in the AICCCR rejected this and the AICCCR went ahead with the formation of the Communist Party of India (Marxist-Leninist) in May 1969. This led Chatterjee to join the Maoist Communist Centre (MCC). The CPI (M-L) held its first congress in 1970 in Kolkata and Charu Mazumdar was formally elected its general secretary.

Naxals see the government, industrialists, traders and landlords as their enemies. They blame the rich classes for the deprivation and hunger suffered by the lower classes, adivasis and poor farmers. Their aim is to overthrow the present system”¦

Since then, both the CPI (M-L) and the MCC continued with their respective forms of armed struggle for the next couple of years. During this period, Charu Majumdar became the undisputed Naxalite guru and with the organisational skills of Kanu Sanyal and Jaghal Santhal, the movement spread to different corners of the country. The country witnessed the euphoria of a Maoist revolution. However, it was far more short lived than expected. What was generally perceived by Indian as well as Chinese communist revolutionaries as the final enactment of the revolution, in reality proved to be no more than a dress rehearsal. As hundreds of CPI (M-L) cadres lost their lives and thousands were put behind bars, the movement witnessed confusion, splits and disintegration. Charu Majumdar’s larger-than-life image also had its negative impact, for after his death in 1972, the central leadership of CPI (M-L) virtually collapsed.

The history of the Naxal movement post Charu Majumdar is characterised by a number of splits, brought about by personalised and narrow perceptions about the Maoist revolutionary line and attempts at course-correction by some of the major groups. Even Kanu Sanyal, one of the founders of the movement, could not escape this. He gave up the path of “dedicated armed struggle” by 1977 and accepted parliamentary practice as a form of revolutionary activity.

It was during 1974 when an influential group of the CPI (M-L), led by Jauhar (Subrata Dutt), Nagbhushan Pattnaik and Vinod Mishra, launched a major initiative, which they termed “course-correction.” This group renamed itself the CPI (M-L) Liberation in 1974, and in 1976, during the emergency, adopted a new line that called for the continuation of armed guerrilla struggles along with efforts to form a broad anti-Congress democratic front, consisting of even noncommunist parties. The group, in an attempt to provide an Indianised version of Marxism-Leninism-Maoism also suggested that pure military armed struggle should be limited and there should be greater emphasis on mass peasant struggles. However, during the next three years, the movement suffered further splits, with leaders such as Kondapalli Seetharamaiah (Andhra Pradesh) and N. Prasad (Bihar) dissociating themselves from the activities of the party. This led to Prasad forming the CPI (M-L) (Unity Organisation) and Seetharamaiah started the People’s War Group (PWG) in 1980. While Seetharamaiah’s line sought to restrict the “annihilation of class enemies,” the PWG’s emphasis was on building mass organisations, not developing a broad democratic front.

The Naxals claim that they are fighting for land- and livelihood-related issues. But their attitude is volatile. They believe that administrative and political institutions are inadequate, leading to dissatisfaction. They take advantage of this dissatisfaction.

Since then, the principal division within the Naxalite movement has been between the two lines of thought and action as advanced by the CPI (M-L) Liberation and the PWG. While Liberation branded the PWG a group of “left adventurists,” the PWG castigated the Liberation group as one of the “revisionists” imitating the CPI (M). On the other hand, the growth of the MCC as a major armed group in the same areas created the scope for multifarious organisational conflicts among the Naxal groups. Liberation took a theoretical stand correcting the past mistake of “completely rejecting parliamentary politics.” On the other hand, the PWG and the MCC completely rejected the parliamentary democratic system of governance and vowed to wage “people’s war for people’s government.” In the process, while the Liberation group registered its first electoral victory in Bihar in 1989, Naxalite factions such as the CPI (M-L) New Democracy, the CPI (M-L) S. R. Bhajjee Group and the CPI (M-L) Unity Initiative emerged in the state. The following years witnessed certain distinct phenomena in the history of the Naxal movement.

First, the intraorganisational conflict and rivalry among different groups touched several high points, resulting in the loss of a considerable number of cadres of rival groups. Second, despite the large-scale inner conflicts, there were always ongoing efforts at various levels to strive for unity. Thirdly, 1990 onwards, the affected state registered a considerable increase in the number of violent incidents and at the same time, a considerable change in the policy approach of the government was also witnessed. While the Naxal movement has mostly been characterised by fragmented groups and innumerable splits, successive governments at the national and state levels were never able to follow a uniform approach to deal with the problem, thus leading to a marked impact in the growth of the Naxal movement. At present, there are three broad currents of the Naxal movement and four major parties: the CPI (M-L) Liberation, the PWG, the MCC and the CPI (M).

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About the Author

Savita Singh

Savita Singh, writes on numerous topics mainly of human interest since 1979. Her latest book is on international terrorism, with special emphasis on terrorism in India.

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