[A reply to Maoist/Stalinist leader Chemkuri Azad on his statement “Your Constitution is a piece of paper that does not even have the value of toilet paper for vast majority of India” in a letter to B.G. Verghese ]
INTRODUCTION:– Fourty Six years ago, on 22nd April 1969, a political party called CPI(ML) under the leadership of Charu Majumdar was founded after a spontaneous peasant rebellion in village – Naxalbari in West Bengal (1967) with sole aim of overthrowing Indian Democracy and Constitution through means of arms. Today it becomes essential to look back into history and to find how democracy survived and developed after the India’s Independence in 1947. It is also very important to observe where and how Indian political class committed serious mistakes in understanding and not including tribal people into the mainstream economic and social development and hence risked the degradation of constitutional values. The CPI (ML) party was based on an organized armed approach relying upon Charu’s Eight Documents as sacred mission. After a short time, this party got scattered into various groups primarily because of ‘internal contradictions’ and strategic failure of Charu’s “Class Annihilation” (to murder so called landlords/ rich farmers, businessmen, public officials etc.).
In all these years no doubt strict attitude of the Indian State to maintain law and order in the Naxal affected areas compelled many left wing armed groups to review the line of class annihilation. Although this inherent inhuman, anti-democratic and un-Marxist approach of Charu Majumdar (i.e. line of class annihilation) is now diluted to some extent but few dogmatic groups like MCCI, PW etc. carried the same line of violence. In late 1980’s many groups left the violent path to fulfill political agenda of ‘land to tillers’ finding the democratic space in modern democracy. The self-critical attitude of these armed groups made them realize that land reforms can be accomplished through legislative means facilitating the abolishment of the ‘semi-feudal’ relations. However, these groups may give excuse for adopting parliamentarism/electoral politics as part of their ‘revolutionary tactics’ but in fact their so called revolutionary path does nothing but toes the line of CPI/CPM. Two or three banned groups like Party Unity, MCCI and PW merged to make CPI (Maoist) party in 2005. However, much research and facts have shown that this merger is not ideological but is a union of remaining violent armed groups only to survive in different territories of Andhra Pradesh and Bihar.
Today the time has changed, Naxalism/Maosim (or any such 15th century styled violent effort) is dying its own death under the pressure of democracy and people’s need of living in prosperity and waging peace not violence. Rightfully, every citizen must question the social responsibility of State Governments towards affected areas and tribal community. What has Indian state done to our people? What was inhuman Operation Green Hunt or Salwa Judum? Why did state try to acquire lands/minerals for Vedanta, POSCOs, Tatas and Mittals in unconstitutional and illegal manner? Is this a way of inclusive and rational growth? It is only Supreme Court of India which openly addressed the above questions while condemning the State with harsh manner in Nandini Sunder Vs State of Chhattisgarh judgment that “Predatory forms of capitalism, supported and promoted by the State in direct contravention of constitutional norms and values, often take deep roots around the extractive industries”
Now, Let us examine the problems in tribal areas. What is Maoism? Why does it exist in India? Why, Adivasis got indulged with Maoism? We will also take ideological and political failures of Maoism into account.
NO POLITICAL REPRESENTATION OF TRIBALS IN DEMOCRATIC GROWTH OF COUNTRY:-
It is estimated that 85 million Indians are officially classified as scheduled tribes. Roughly 70 million tribal people who live in the heart of India reside in remote hilly areas and forest belts across the states of Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand, Andhra Pradesh, Orissa, Bihar and West Bengal. The state machinery has been unable to prevent the loss of forest lands traditionally belonging to tribal people in the favour of outsiders without properly rehabilitating the so displaced adivasis/tribals or to check the exploitative activities of moneylenders and contractors. Meanwhile, the major power projects and steel plants set in motion by the Five-Year Plans have resulted in a substantial displacement of the tribal people. Already, by the 1960s, reports commissioned by the government of India have demonstrated the utter failure of the state in providing a life of dignity and honour to its tribal citizens. The major problems faced by tribals are still land alienation, restrictions on their use of forest lands in traditional ways and displacement by dams and other large projects.
It is commonly acknowledged that dalits and tribals are the two most disadvantaged sections of Indian society. But why have only dalits created an adequate space in the formal political system and not tribals? This contrast can be explained by aspects of history, geography. The tribals of central India usually live in tribal villages, in hills and valleys and no where they constitute a majority. The dalits have been represented and inspired historically at national level by Dr. B R Ambedkar – a man of towering intellect who successfully breached the caste mentality. On the contrary and quiet unfortunately, the tribals have never had a leader who could inspire admiration across the boundaries of state and language. Birsa Munda, for example, is revered in parts of Jharkhand; but he is scarcely known or remembered in the adivasi areas of Andhra Pradesh or Maharashtra. The Mahatma’s claim that the Congress represented all of India was strongly challenged by M.A. Jinnah, presuming to speak on behalf of the Muslims, and by B.R. Ambedkar representing the so called lower castes. BUT the Congress has never really understood the distinctive nature of the tribal predicament. Hence, unfortunately tribals faced ignorance and exploitation in independent India.
The colonial period incorporates many tribal revolts like Kol and Bhumj revolts of the early 19th century, the Santhal ‘hool’ of 1855, the Birsa Munda-led ‘ulugulan’ in the 1890s, the uprising in Bastar in 1911, the protests in Gudem-Rampa in the 1920s, and the Warli revolt of 1945-46. Most often, these protests had to do with the alienation of land or the expropriation of forests. They were crushed by British Raj only with the use of force and violence. Indian political class knowingly or unknowingly followed the same violent attitude and often unconstitutional means towards tribals because of ignorance, lack of political will, experience, and sadly many times greed petty leaders and local bureaucracy as well.
MAOISM – A GEO-PARASITE ON POVERTY IN THE DARKNESS OF LAWLESSNESS:-
Maoism in India is more or less a geo-political phenomenon. Since firstly, Indian State failed to provide adequate and proper political representation to tribals furthermore in the central parts of India where tribal population resides there was real absence of state machinery, administration, infrastructure of education, medical facilties etc. In the remote upland areas, public officials (doctors, teachers, magistrates etc) were unwilling to work and often willing to come back in plains. Hence, there was extreme resentment in the local people because of this blatant ignorance of state and central government who infact were already struggling against land grabs, displacement and no rehabilitation, lack of basic facilities, poverty etc. It was this power vacuum, which was supposed to be filled by the Indian State but unfortunately later on this vacuum was filled ultimately by Maoists who claimed the local people’s support as their ideological victory but infact their movement was only result of mistakes of Indian state and ignorance of local people to understand the real nature of Maoist Politics.
In earlier days Maoists glorified the ‘land to tiller’ as central slogan of their armed movement. After applying this misconception about nature and character of Indian agricultural classes (blended with casteism), they failed to address the very aim of ‘mass line and class line’, ‘masses to masses’ or otherwise NDR (so called ‘New Democratic Revolution’). Indian government delivered land reforms to some extent, though these reforms were not implemented in constitutional spirit but still these land reforms were able to destroy any logical and ideological grounds of left wing extremism. State’s reply, unfavourable people’s attitude, total ideological bankruptcy compelled this armed romanticism to retreat and hide in forests of Andhra Pradesh and other inaccessible parts of central India.. Consequently, Maoists occupied this vacuum in the absence of Law and Order and started to rehearse the tribal slogan of “Jal, Jungle aur Zamin hmara hai” for which Adivasis were already fighting against forest mafia and private contractors. Latter on the MoUs signed with Business Houses/Companies by State Government enhanced the rift between local tribes and state. Arundhati Roy settled this matter with unique critical remarks that the tribal forestlands should be called a “MoUist Corridor” instead of the “Maoist Corridor” as the people of these tribal forest lands have been wrestling with “Memorandum of Understanding (MoUs) of the mining companies.
It becomes quite clear from here that ever since the formation of first Maoist armed groups these people have been facing extreme hatred from common masses, ideological bankruptcy while retreating geographically. Now very cunningly in order to hide their ideological and political failures they have changed their political slogan from ‘land to tiller’ to “Jal, Jungle aur Zamin” with their retreat from plains to forests. Hence, Maoism in Indian context is not an ideology but a geo- parasite which survives over poverty in the deep dark forests. It is historical fact that the Adivasis have gained least and lost most from 69 years of political independence. No one can deny the problems of poor or landless people, dalits, tribals and women especially in rural India. But, such mindless extremism is not solution rather a severe problem.
IDEOLOGICAL FAILURES OF MAOISM:-
Maoism as continuation of Stalinism–
Russian revolution is an event that can be supposed in continuity of French revolution (Liberty, Fraternity and Equality) whereas Chinese revolution was synthesis of contradiction of ‘Semi-colony’ and ‘Semi-feudal’ overcoming the drawbacks in Stalinist Socialism (which led to extreme power concentration). Mao criticized Stalin’s mechanical attitude of analyzing classes and class struggles in Russia. He rejected Stalin’s notion that classes were abolished (economic equality has reached!) and private property has been snatched. Stalin’s declaration that “Socialism in one country is possible” (where classes were abolished but State got consolidated!) was contrary to Marxist theory of Stateless and classless society. In the name of Dictatorship of Proletariat, Stalinism became totalitarian state which resulted into one of the most horrible and murderous regimes in the whole history of Humanity.
Like, Leninism is defined as era of Imperialism; Stalinism is era of totalitarianism and authoritarianism in practice as outcome of ‘socialism in one country’ and static conception of Institution of State in theory, not followed by withering away of State but destruction of democratic principles of Liberty and Fraternity. Many dissents within Bolshevik party, among party workers and millions residing in USSR were brutally suppressed. The episode of Kronsdatt (1921) is one of major incident which led to killing of thousands of workers by Stalinist State. Mao’s critique was only about mechanical aspect of Stalin’s approach of Dialectics of base and Superstructure but he could not understand Stalinism (in theory and practice). Mao gave his own solution against problems of Stalinism as so called – Proletariat Cultural Revolution (1966-76). Which aimed to eliminate ‘bourgeoisie class consciousnesses’. But infact this so called cultural revolution aimed at destroying the most basic human instincts of Liberty and Fraternity irrespective of class or creed !
Look at Maoism what happened to it in China! Why same repressive bureaucracy emerged in Communist Party of China (CPC) as in USSR under Stalin? Why forced collectivization of land and Cultural Revolution failed to impress peasant masses and working class? Who would assure that a Proletarian Dictatorship or a Single party regime will transform itself into a proper democracy? Material conditions? Nature of State or Power? Their concept of abstract philosophical Proletariat? OR Self-proclaimed very conscious Maoist/Stalinist groups? All the above historic ideological discourse is highlighted to people with extremely violent narrative of revolution. We the students and youth of India question Maoist/Stalinist Azad’s followers, what would you say about above issues?
The Maoists in India are even against basic principles of Marxist theory- the Industrial development as precondition and road to Socialism. Why don’t Maoists fight for minimum wages of workers? Why don’t they argue for pro-adavasis and inclusive development of Industry? Why don’t they cooperate with government to bridge cultural gap and represent tribal in mainstream? Why don’t they even stand for construction of Hospitals and Schools for adivasis and poor people? Why are they trying to deprive tribal community to meet their basic rights and needs which Indian State is trying hard to provide? Undoubtedly, the principal aim of the Maoists is not the social or economic advancement of the adivasis, but the capture of power in Delhi through a process of mindless bloodshed. Isn’t it?
Can Maoism/armed bloodshed survive in Indian democracy?-
History has witnessed many examples of armed rebellions lead by common masses against tyranny, against backward and dictatorial regimes. But, No one can find any single account of the armed revolt which has smashed a multiparty parliamentary democracy with universal suffrage (by the people for the people) to establish “single party dictatorship” ! Don’t confuse it with “End of History.” All the tyrannical, monarchal, autocratic, authoritarian and military states may be the center of armed movement where peoples’ voice is suppressed and no rule of law exists. But in Democratic, Republic, State Welfare like India it can’t.
Mao Zedong himself analyzed China as Semi-feudal (pre-democracy) where no proper democratic state was found. Chinese society was composed of provinces (warlords) and even smaller districts under independent military control having large peasant masses bounded over the land. Simultaneously, the whole country was suffering the direct interference of Britain, Japan and Westerner missionaries resulting into huge poverty, vagabondage and backwardness. The destruction of semi-feudalism and warlords required an armed violence in the absence of democracy.
Now again, We the students and youth of India question Maoist/Stalinist Azad’s followers – Is Union of India a group of warlords/provinces? Is Indian democracy is mere a ‘Game of Votes’? Did India show no growth in 69 years? Does India have any need of ‘Mao’s unification of India’ that already has taken place with more peaceful ways? Why are you Maoists trying to reverse the wheel of history back?
The shrinkage of Maoists in forest terrain shows their ‘political agenda’ got reduced to guerilla agenda or geo-politics. The power of Representative System over Armed Mobilization has already established its might. The drama of making equalitarian society with lot of bloodshed and failure of Maoism to build up socialism in China ended up while losing the promise of proper democracy .Since there cannot be liberty in any meaningful sense without equality so there also cannot be equality without liberty. Only a constitutional democracy is first premise to have radical democracy through democratic opposition without use of any armed force. And any force like Maoism/Naxalism/Terrorism is bound to die with strengthening of democracy in deep roots of society.
NEED OF POLITICAL WILL TO DESTROY POVERTY & MAOISM :-
Corruption at the delivery level has severely curtailed the impact of all government welfare programmes in affected areas. This needs to be addressed urgently because a nexus has been formed between the corrupt officials and the Maoist/Naxals and the public money meant for development is ultimately going in to the hands of Maoist/Naxals who in the name of underdevelopment are waging a war against the state and common people of India. Transparency is one of more viable weapon than ‘AK 47’ to check corruption and suppress structural violence. All the MoUs with private/public companies must be displayed in public domain. Every citizen must have right to know all business deals/corporate accounts and details, funds of Public as well Private projects. It is not the issue of only tribal people but whole country is demanding the accountability of government towards Corporates. Swaraj as a decentralization of political power and wealth is one such instrument to involve the Adivasis in democracy and to mould their opinions towards rational and inclusive Industrial growth. As per guidance of Nandini Sunder Vs State of Chhattisgarh judgment, State must reduce the dependence on SPO’s (Special Police Officers) and appoint SPO’s who meet specific qualification and training standards. All the security force must act primarily to protect the Social Infrastructure (Hospitals, School and post office etc) and maintain law and order in affected region. It is well known reality that Maoists carry some serious rifles, INSAS, SLR and AK 47s. From where this advanced ammunitions come? A retired CRPF DG Dilip Trivedi questioned the seriousness of State governments “Why is that the explosives have not been stopped from reaching the Naxals? There is free availability of explosives (to Naxals). Why is the state government not doing its job? To reduce the violence and to destroy Maoists with relatively peaceful ways a vigilant check over the supply of weaponry to left Wing extremists is must. The 5th Schedule under Article 244 of the Indian Constitution is an enabling provision which unfortunately remains unfulfilled. Ensuring the implementation of Article 244 will do much to remove tribal grievances and reduce the support base of the Maoists. The Panchayats Act (PESA) is another practical provision which puts the powers of managing the forests in the hands of the Panchayats run by the tribes who reside there. The tribal people have become like sandwich between State police and Maoists. Maoists murder many innocent people by branding them “police informers” whereas police arrest or kill the people in anticipation of being Maoists. Again underlying the recommendation of Supreme Court, state police should not even arrest any person without showing strong evidence or report.
Although, Maoism as an ideology is obsolete but it’s violent tactical remnants surviving in remote forest belt need a more political will to eliminate. If the Industry/Market can sell something to middle-class which is of no big use for them, then why can’t government or companies realize that hungry and poor people are actually in hunger and poverty? Why doesn’t State provide education to Adivasis on priority basis? It is quite obvious India is lacking political will towards common people and marginalized section which infact now is been properly and ever increasingly addressed by all the agencies of state as well as civil society of the country.
A REPLY TO MAOIST/STALINIST LEADER AZAD’s STATEMENT:-
Chemkuri Azad was a leader and spokesperson of Maoist Party who wrote a reply to Verghese’s article which was published in a national magazine – Outlook. In this reply letter, Maoist/Stalinist Mr. Azad disgraced Indian Constitution by saying that Indian constitution is even less worthy than a piece of toilet paper for vast majority of people. While making this rubbish statement, he seems to be very insane and prejudice. We condemn his hollow claims and firmly challenge his statement. Mr. Maoist, how dare you disrespect constitutional sanctity and legitimacy in India? Are your 20,000 armed guerrillas a vast majority of India? How many leaders of minorities you have in your Central Committee (C.C) for whom you advocate? The leadership of the Maoist movement is largely from the upper castes and classes and to a large extent is Andhra Pradesh centric. ( Katoch, CLAWS Journal, 2012). If you were really pro-oppressed why couldn’t your 40 years movement impress and gain popularity among dalits and other oppressed sections and create dalit leaders in your top leadership? Why don’t you have any Women leadership in your top most committee? Why couldn’t you break the so called patriarchal structure in small local area irrespective of high degree of female guerillas? You are cursing the Indian Constitution and do not look over into your own sins around the globe? Our Constitution has produced many leaders in dalits and women and all oppressed sections of the country who constantly become Member Parliaments, some of them rising upto becoming Chief Ministers and much more.
Why do you seek judicial favours of same Indian Constitution when your Maoists fellows are arrested or charged? Why don’t you condemn this Constitution at that time? Are you not a hypocrite? If Indian Constitution has failed to reach vast majority, why couldn’t your ideology mobilize peasantry and dalits to destroy Dr. Ambedkar’s Constitution? Why have you been hiding in forests and hills for last 40 years? Is Dr. Ambedkar’s democracy too weak to represent downtrodden and destitute of India? Is really parliament a pigsty house? Obviously, it is not.
Even though in the Nazi regime of Adolf Hitler the holocaust he unleashed and the wars he provoked cost some 30 million lives. But you feel proud on mass murderers like Stalin and Mao whose ‘revolutionary’ wars and extremism/totalitarianism have claimed even more human lives than fascism and the extremist ideologies of the right? How shameful! Why don’t you feel proud on this world’s largest plural democracy which makes India unique especially in South Asian region? See, what is happening in Middle East where no proper democracy exists? This multiparty democracy may not be the best, certainly is the least harmful political system devised by humans. Humanity will make this democracy more humane and more decentralized over the globe expressing its ever evolutionary essence to combat violence, wars and poverty.
-By Aman Singh, Chairman ESYA
Amandeep Singh, Chairmain ESYA
22 April, 2015