State, Maoists should revisit strategies

State, Maoists should revisit strategies

The gruesome and rather unprovoked encounter of a sizable number of Maoists in the jungles in Andhra-Odisha border (AOB) obviously invited sharp criticism from the civil and human rights activists. 

The gruesome and rather unprovoked encounter of a sizable number of Maoists in the jungles in Andhra-Odisha border (AOB) obviously invited sharp criticism from the civil and human rights activists.

The fear of possible Maoist backlash haunts even the police as is evident from the statements of top police bosses, too. It’s rather surprising that the police are talking about peace talks with Maoists after such a massive killing of scores of Maoists in almost a unilateral encounter. In fact, the police do not represent the peace process.

Peace talks should be the choice of the government. Assuming that the Maoists agree to such talks, can police decide and define the government response to socio economic agenda put forth by the Left extremists?

Successive governments still fail to realise that Maoist challenge is not a law and order problem. The violence thrown up by a political movement, however distorted it may be, cannot be equated with normal course of violence, leave alone the terrorist violence.

It’s true that Maoists’ obsession with armed activity would inevitably lead to acts of terror as they profess individual annihilation as an ideological instrument to further what they call revolutionary activity. Yet, the violence thus thrown up cannot be equated with normal course of extremism. Even the official reports acknowledge the socio-economic dimensions of the issue.

Such encounters would only erode the credibility of State machinery in upholding the rule of law. It even legitimises the Maoist violence as an unavoidable backlash. The people, especially tribals, will be the victims of this police-Maoist crossfire.

The obvious question in the minds of many who do not sympathise even with State repression or Maoist armed action is that if the Andhra-Odisha border incident is a mere encounter, how come the causalities would be so one-sided. Therefore, the police version of the events and incidents has to be suspected.

However, this is not to endorse Maoists or their acts of violence on any pretext. It’s high time that the Maoists should also rethink on their ideological positions. Maoists have lost the support base in the urban agglomerations which account for one-third of Indian population.

Armed activity confined to some of the interior tribal areas which they describe as guerilla zones cannot be equated with mass movement against class rule. The sporadic armed actions of Maoists cannot overwhelm the military might of Indian State.

The Maoists suffer from heavy casualties in the hands of special forces of state governments. It’s unimaginable how the Maoists through their armed revolution can overthrow the Indian State which enjoys such a military power.

Ever since the Left adventurist upsurge began in 1960s, the movement underwent myriad splits. The self-disruptive disintegration of those who abandoned the mainstream Left movement resulted in innumerable dissensions and divisions, making them vulnerable to State action.

However, the Maoists represent the early traditions of Naxalbari and still adhere to the path of its founders. None can say Maoist cadres and leaders who live in the difficult terrain to conduct their activity are doing so for personal aggrandizement.

Furthermore, no democrat denies some of the issues raised by Maoists like unabated tribal marginalisation, corporate plunder of natural habitat, prevalence of extreme impoverishment and deprivation. Yet, their ideological aberrations make their entire exercise and even their sacrifices futile.

Maoists firmly believe that the world situation is replete with revolutionary possibilities in an unprecedented manner, because imperialism is in deep crisis and revolution is the principal trend in the world.

Such an understanding of the world situation and the subsequent strategies adopted are oblivious to the global reality. The intermittent crisis in the advanced capitalist economies cannot be viewed as the nearing of the road to the end of capitalism.

In fact, capitalism has shown more sings of survival and vitality as compared to the socialist economies. The Maoists characterise the Indian State as comprador. Even the Communist international defined comprador as those who subserve imperialism by exporting raw materials and importing finished products from imperialist countries.

Even Mao Zedong himself defined the comprador as the class, which directly subserves imperialism and which is nurtured by imperialism. Therefore, such a characterization of Indian State ignores the massive accumulation of domestic wealth and is far from Indian economic reality which has strong domestic industrial base.

The Maoists think that India is yet to gain independence and that we have a semi-colonial state in a neo-colonial set-up. This is an extreme interpretation of Indian economic situation in the context of international economic order. Indian economy and government are not controlled by external interests, though the influence of pulls and pressures of global economic forces on it cannot be denied.

Maoists embrace Chinese path as the path of what they describe the Indian revolution. But, the conditions prevailing in China before 1949 have no similarity with those of the contemporary India. Even the international situation has also undergone significant changes.

Ignoring this reality, aping the Chinese model is nothing but an ideological dogma devoid of any scientific understanding. The hero of the Chinese revolution, Mao also said that he applied communist principles to the concrete Chinese reality.

In fact, the Marxist philosophy itself advocates concrete study of concrete conditions as its essence. The Maoists have to ponder over the relevance of strategy of armed revolution to the current Indian epoch.

Maoists shun the elections and call Indian parliamentary democracy as a mere illusion. Call for boycott of elections stems out of this understanding. But, despite serious aberrations in our democratic process, the fact remains that electoral democracy and the institutions like Parliament, legislature, local bodies have contributed significantly for advancement of people’s rights and their socio economic well being.

No one can deny the spectacular development the nation achieved despite humongous inequalities. Shunning the path of democracy as it exists due to its inadequacies is throwing the baby with bath water. It would only help in further reinforcing oppressive rule. The entry of Maoist into democratic mainstream would actually strengthen the freedom and liberty for average Indian.

Calling elections a complete illusion is an antithesis to the postulates of Marxism and Leninism too. Lenin held the view that the parliamentary forum affords the communists opportunities to expose the system before the masses.

It would be downright foolhardy not to take full advantage of opportunities afforded by the parliamentary structure and to further the struggle in and out of parliament. Maoists strategise that they would create bases in remote areas in the liberated zones and encircle cities ultimately leading to the capture of State power.

Such tactics might have been successful in pre-1949 China. But, the State has all the wherewithal to wage a modern warfare that can hit the remote targets. The developments in modern communication technology and transport networks etc. make such a strategy seemingly impossible to work.

Mao himself argued that he is opposed to die-hards whose thinking fails to advance with the changing circumstances. The time has come for both the State and the Maoists to revisit their strategies to counter each other.

The police solution to the Maoist insurgency has not worked in the past and shall not be so in future. Over four decades of dealing with the issue should at least serve as a lesson for State agencies.

The Maoists should also revisit their position in the wake of fast-changing domestic and international situation. The immediate task, however, is to protect the tribals and other vulnerable sections from the impact of police-Maoist cross fire. ‘Seeking to catch the sparrow with the eyes closed’ will never be fruitful, as Mao himself observed.

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