Wednesday, December 08, 2010

The Maoists are losing legitimacy

Uddipan Mukherjee

Of late, it seems that the police in the Bankura and West Midnapore districts of West Bengal have bagged considerable evidence so as to jeopardise the legitimacy of the Maoists in Jangalmahal, the area spreading across the three Maoist-affected districts of West Bengal (Purulia being the third).

On November 16, Rumpa Mahato alias Sujata surrendered at the Bankura SP's (Superintendent of Police) office. She belongs to the Majurkata village in West Midnapore’s Salboni area. Rumpa told SP, Pranab Kumar that she joined the Maoist ranks about two years ago, with a hope to get work as she was the daughter of a daily wage labourer.

There was another surrender a couple of months back. In August, Maoist woman leader Shobha Mandi alias Uma, surrendered to West Midnapore SP, Manoj Verma. The CPI-Maoist Jhargram area commander had been on the run for four months.

These two events, though spatially unconnected, however have profound linkage because both the female comrades of the CPI-Maoist party allege sexual exploitation by their male counterparts and leaders.

What does this indicate?

Prima-facie, if one accepts the veracity of the revelations of these surrendered women comrades, then one is led to understand that there has crept in a serious flaw in the internal organisational structure of the Maoists. And, this can and should be exploited by the authorities to win the ongoing Low Intensity Conflict.

Any sort of physical or mental abuse of women cadres is totally unsupported by Maoist-Marxist ideology. Hence such a development, if not arrested soon by the Maoist leadership, can be effectively used by the government as a propaganda tool to thwart their designs in Jangalmahal and other areas.

In the foreword of Ernesto ‘Che’ Guevara’s acclaimed book ‘Guerrilla Warfare’, Harry Villegas states that “according to Che, the people are to the guerrilla fighters what water is to a fish, that is, their means to existence”.

In fact, this is the very reason why Mao Zedong had used the nomenclature of ‘Protracted People’s War’ to describe the long drawn out ordeal of the Chinese peasants against both the Kuomintang forces and the imperial Japanese in the 1930s and 40s.

And incidentally, this has been the very pillar of ‘legitimacy’ erected by the Indian Maoists. They are supposedly fighting a ‘war’ against the comprador-bourgeoisie Indian state which is overtly exploiting the masses through the bureaucracy-politician-corporate nexus.

Now, in light of the above gruesome tales, what shall be the defence of the Maoist leadership spearheaded by Muppala Lakshmana Rao alias Ganapathy? Will he term these as mere aberrations?

Now, if these are ‘exceptions’, then how does the leadership evade accusations of involvement of Maoist cadre in the derailment of the Jnaneswari Express? The Maoist leadership may distance itself from such ‘wanton’ acts of terror by using the epithet, ‘lumpen elements’. Simply put, it shall be easy for them to say that such acts of terror were carried out by ‘misled’ cadres. However, more such happenings are bound to jeopardise the internal hierarchy of the ultras and along with it, shall also alienate the very ‘downtrodden masses’ for which they claim to be fighting.

Apart from the afore-mentioned facts, a very recent report of November 11 flashed an ominous link between the CPI-Maoist and the Lashkar-e-Toiba (LeT).

According to Vishwa Ranjan, the Director General of Police of Chhattisgarh; somewhere in April or May this year, two LeT operatives had reportedly attended a Naxalite meeting as ‘observers’ at a forested location inside Orissa, close to Chhattisgarh's Bastar region. He however cautioned that the inputs received by the intelligence wings were based on a single source and not corroborated by the required multiple sources.

In fact, even before, there have been allegations that Islamabad-based terrorist organisations have, if not overt, at least peripheral connections with Indian Maoists.

The Maoist core leadership has constantly denied such allegations. Nevertheless, there is a context in which the Naxalites may work with Islamist fundamentalists backed by the theocracy-military complex of Pakistan. As per principle, the Maoists support any movement for self-determination by any section of the Indian populace. Accordingly, they espouse the cause of Kashmiri separatists and the groups belonging to the North-East. Nonetheless, such an ‘emotional’ and ‘philosophical’ attachment with the groups who in turn have direct linkages with Islamist fundamentalists, will certainly brand the Maoists as purely terror outfits, shorn of any legitimacy.

In his article dated June 3 2006, in the Economic and Political Weekly, Gautam Navlakha strongly opined: “To advocate seizure of power and to work to change the world is a legitimate project. Whether this should be through an armed struggle, peaceful means or a fusion of all is an open question. But to advocate as an absolute must the disarming of people concedes to the government the right to a monopoly over violence.”

Now, if the kind of ‘acts’ under discussion, proliferates with space and time; and the Maoist core leadership is unable to control such ‘growing aberrations’, then the basic ‘ideology’ for which the Maoists are purportedly fighting, shall fall into shambles.

Though any liaison, direct or peripheral, between the Maoists and Islamist fundamentalists are serious security concerns for the Indian state, such an alliance and recurrence of misdemeanours toward female cadres have the potential to ‘internally wreck’ the organisation of the Left Wing Ultras.

Ganapathy and his party must appreciate the fact that ‘they’ too possess no ‘monopoly’ over the will of the Adivasis.

Dr Uddipan Mukherjee has a doctoral degree from TIFR (Dept. of Atomic Energy, India). He writes on strategic issues concerning international security.

(The views expressed in the article are that of the author and do not represent the views of the editorial committee or the centre for land warfare studies).