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CPI (Maoist): Ten Years Of Rise And Decline

Updated: September 13, 2014 2:37 pm

Communist Party Of India (Maoist), a much-dreaded organization of left-wing terrorists, is celebrating its tenth anniversary in September this year, but not in atmosphere of jubilation but in gloom and despair. Their dream of a Red Corridor from Tirupati to Pashupati has already shattered. Maoist leadership which calls for peoples’s revolution is now confined in forests of Central India, as they are unable to expand new areas and, at the same time, are, losing out grip over their workers and supporters. Though Red terrorists still commuting violent incidents, unprecedented polling percentage in Maoist strongholds in the recent elections despite diktat not to vote, was a clear signal that tribals are disillusioned with their ideology and mindless killing. Hence, the base of Maoist is shrinking and causing steady collapse of the Maoist movement.

Recent statistics show there is a sharp decrease in their strength and activities. A total of 76 districts across the 10 states are affected by Maoist extremism. Once this number was 25 per cent districts of country that means nearly 150 districts. According to government, CPI (Maoist) is responsible for most of violent incidents in the countries; data shows the number or incidents and causalities going down. A comparison of death toll between Jan-June 2013 and 2014 of the same period will be useful (see Table). Few months ago, surrender by one of the top leaders and spokesperson of Maoist Party GVK Prasad alias ‘Gudsa Usendi’ with his wife, was an ominous sign for the Maoist movement. He was one of the main accused in killing of 200 people in Chhattisgarh, Odisha and Andhra Pradesh. His surrender was followed by few other surrenders of low and middle-ranking cadres of Chhattisgarh. Another setback occurred, when recently Abujhmad battalion chief ChamBalla Ravindra surrendered with his wife to Andhra Police. The surrenders are not isolated events but symbols of new emerging trend in Maoist movement. According to security forces, more than hundred Maoists surrendered in four states—Chhattisgarh, Andhra Pradesh, Maharashtra and Odisha. According to Maoist sources, while many of them have surrendered or joined mainstream politics, several have become police informers, joined vigilante groups or formed bands of extortionists in several places. The trend shows an utter sense with despondency in higher ranks of Maoists.

Recently, beginning their annual “martyrs’ week” in Dandakaranya CPI (Maoist) admitted in a press release: “ In last one year we have lost over 200 of our leaders, members, people’s liberation guerrilla army commanders and guerrilla and members of organization.” Numerically, this is among the biggest losses the Maoists have suffered in recent years, probably the biggest since Salwa Judum years.of 2005-06.

Ten years ago People’s War Group (PWG) and Maoist Communist Centre—two factions of scattered Naxal movement—merged to form CPI (Maoist) which emerged a as powerful guerilla organisation with strong bases in tribal of forests of many states like Bihar, Jharkhand, Odisha, West Bengal, Chhattisgarh, Andhra Pradesh and some districts of Maharashtra. Inspired by Mao, they waged an armed struggle against Indian State to fulfill their dream of Red corridor. With widespread incidents of violence and terror the Maoist party emerged as, according to the former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, No-1 threat to nation’s internal security. Despite this, central and state governments first hesitated to act but later started joint armed action—Operation Green Hunt—against them.

Over the past four years, a decline in the number of Maoist-affected districts has been noted. Former Union Home Minister Sushil Kumar Shinde in October 2013 claimed that the past year has seen a 28.48 per cent reduction in violent incidents of Maoists. The loss of important leaders has also caused a setback to the movement and created a crisis of leadership. Of the 16 members of the party’s politburo of 2007, two have been killed, and seven others have been arrested. Of the 25 central committee members, eight are in custody, two killed, one dead and one surrendered.

Recent history of Maoists in India bears testimony to the damaging impact of neutralisation of key leaders on the outfit’s overall activity. Kishenji’s killing led to the decimation of the Maoist terror in West Bengal. Sabyasachi Panda’s rebellion against supremacy of Telugu leaders in Odisha was a serious hindrance for the party’s plan of expansion in that state. Arrest of Kobad Ghandy and killing of Cherikuri Rajkumar alias Azad, delivered blows to the outfit’s striking powar. Usendi’s departure a also affected the outfit. Gudsa Usandi said that for the past few years, recruitment in the party has gone down drastically due to policies being adopted by the party leadership. He has claimed that he had differences with policies and tactics being pursued by the party. “I have been strongly opposing destruction of school buildings and high-tension electricity towers, right from 2008.” He also opposed indiscriminate and excessive killing of Adivasis in the name of destroying informer network.

Ganapathi, General Secretary, Communist Party of India (Maoist) confessed a crisis within the party. An 11-page document prepared by the Maoists after their central committee meeting earlier last year stated, “Under the present conditions our country-wide movement is weakened and facing a critical situation.”. The crisis, Ganapathi admits, is not just due to the lack of leaders at the top, but also due to that factor within the cadres. The number of members—earlier thought to be between 10,000 to 12,000—has decreased.

The Maoists have also suffered dramatic reverses in Andhra Pradesh, owing to comprehensive reinvention of the police and intelligence system in the state, and creation of Greyhound commando force. While West Bengal’s former CPM government aggressively went after the Maoists, it was Mamata who really broke their back. It is Mamata’s Bengal which is leading the way successfully in decimating Maoists. The arrest and before that expulsion of Sabyasachi Panda, ‘secretary’ of the CPI-Maoist, Odisha State Organising Committee, from the party, and Panda’s decision to form the Odisha Maobadi Party, has, no doubt, been a setback in Odisha. Bihar’s reluctance to take effective steps against the Maoist threat at one   time has made Bihar the favorite hunting ground for the Maoists. Still, Maoist violence is waning in state. But the Maoists have successfully defended their base in Abujhmaad in Chhattis-garh against ‘Operation Green Hunt’.

The main crisis of Maoists is that due to their wrong strategy, they have confined themselves in forests in central and some eastern states and are unable to expand their base outside of them. This might make them protest the movement of tribal, but not people’s movement in communist sense. But now this base is also shrinking fastly. Also it has no base in urban and semi-urban areas.

Naxal movement was revolutionary mass movement and armed struggle is one part of it. But CPI (Maoist’s) whole emphasis is only on armed struggle. Maoists say power comes out from gun but the State has more powerful and sophisticated gun which can overpower Maoists.

By Satish Pednekar

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