Naxalism: A Critique-I – Adwait Rai

Socialist India is publishing a series of articles critiquing what is called popularly the Naxalism . This critique is based on a Marxist- Leninist framework. 


Left adventurism, sectarianism, are manifestations of petty bourgeois thought within the working class movement. History has borne witness to the fact that these tendencies inevitably serve the ruling classes. The questions raised by Naxalbari in the realm of communist politics in India remain unanswered, however the present manifestations of it, have moved much further away from the aspiration of being a genuine emancipatory movement, rather it has degenerated into a mockery of itself.

Today when one begins to count the number of splinter groups or “parties” that trace their origins to the Naxalbari movement, the number goes into the hundreds. It is a task to point out the errors which lead to the sorry state they got themselves in.

The disintegration into myriad groups and factions began within five years of the “spring thunder”. Along with this organizational disintegration, there was ideological disarray and confusion.

Prakash Karat writes “ After continuously grappling with the ideologically bankrupt positions taken at the outset, the naxalite groups are nowhere near resolving the problems, which began when they abandoned their Marxist-Leninist moorings”.

The naxalites never understood how to deal with ideological differences of even the slightest stature. Every theoretical and political issue, which confronted them, lead to further ideological confusion and splintering.

Karat adds “Despite their decade-long struggle to “reorient and rectify” their positions none of these groups have come anywhere near correcting their dogmatic errors. On the other hand, these groups have further degenerated into anti-left anarchic groups subject to the worst forms of petty-bourgeois deviations.” in the wake of the activities of naxalite groups in the 80s

Even before the official formation of the CPI(ML) in 1969, fissures began In 1968 when various groups which split away from the CPI(M) formed the All India Coordination Committee of communist Revolutionaries (AICCR), two groups broke away that year itself in West Bengal-the Parimal Dasgupta and Asit Sen groups. The latter formed the Maoist Coordination Centre. This was followed by the AICCR led by charu Mazumdar disaffiliating the Andhra group led by Nagi Reddy, DV Rao and Pulla Reddy. In 1969, the following groups also disassociated from the Charu Maxumadar-led naxalites-the BB Chakraborty group which is known currently as the Liberation Front, the Moni Guha group, and the Kunnikal Narayanan group in Kerala which maintained a distinct identity.In September, 1970 a few months after the ‘First Congress’ of the CPI(ML) which elected Charu Mazumdar as its General Secretary, the faction led by Satyanarian Singh revolted and in 1971 formed their own CPI(ML) Central Committee. In 1971, Ashim Chaterjee, Santosh Rana and other split away from the Charuite group. While the SNS group opposed the line of individual annihilation pursued by the Charu-led party the Ashim Chatterjee group also opposed the CPI (ML) of opposing the liberation struggle in Bangladesh.

These are the major splits that took place within the first few years of the movement. This exposes a state of disarray among the organisers and a perpetual ideological conclusion. The error lies in their evaluation of the Indian condition as that being similar to China when she had her first revolution. This lead them to contest the programme of the CPI(M) which sought to look for an Indian path of the revolution, while the naxalites in their impetuosity, uncritically accepted the “chinese path”.

As communists our aim is to seize power of the working class and we realise our practice to achieve that based on the concrete conditions. The Naxalites did not acknowledge this. Marxism Leninism teaches us to make concrete analysis of concrete conditions, and hence for the purpose of seizing state power, all objects at hand must be utilised. The logic of participation in the bourgeois parliament is the furthering of class struggle and the consolidation of allies of the proletariat, in a situation where revolution is not immediate, bourgois institutions are in fact used to make preparations for insurrection. It was not as if the CPI(M) was opposed to the use of force, what it said was, that the situation of India and consequently the stage of revolution could not be determined by the events of one village in one state of this very diverse land.

The history of the Naxalbari area is a history of glorious class struggle waged by workers and peasants under the leadership of the class struggle. The beginning of this class struggle dates back to 1946. The experiences of the class struggle of the communist party in Naxalbari span from 1951 to 1967.

The Darjeeling district was never under British regulation in colonial times, everything happened at the mercy of landlords, even after independence it was impossible to enter the Naxalbari village without the permission of feudal gentry. Even in the organisational stage, the class struggle was fought to a bloody end, the communist party was built amidst bloody clashes with jotedars in the period of 1951-55

In the period 1955-57 genuine worker peasant unity was established, as adjacent to the tea gardens where large masses of workers worked, the fields were present, the working class immediately realised that in order for their demands to be met, unity with the peasantry was indispensable.

An instance in 1955 illustrates the mighty strength of worker peasant unity, where during a bonus strike, thousands of workers and peasants, armed with conventional weapons, drove away the tea planters and also the police from the village.

In 1958-62 in the third stage: the west Bengal Kisan Sabha gave a call to regain possession of ‘benami’ land. The sub- divisional Kisan Samiti in Naxalbari declared from its conference that the partial struggle for the recovery of the ‘benami’ land within the four walls of land would not serve the purpose of real land reforms and would not help build peasant unity. So the conference gave a call to confiscate the entire produce of ‘jotedars’ land. The call of the conference was; (1) Reap and store the harvest at your own place and raise the Red Flag.(2) Jotedars must furnish proof of their ownership before the peasant committee without which no share to them.(3) arm your self to protect the crop.(4) save your crop from the police.

In this struggle the peasantry could save 80% of its land, in the face of relentless struggle against the police, the jotedars and congress goons, the communist workers and peasants resisted the wave of repression in an armed fashion to protect their victory, the intensity of this struggle was no less than that of 1967.

In the fourth stage of the movement, the workers and peasants, steeled with communist conciousness, in the years 1962-64, stood by china and recogonised the revisionism of the CPI, they formed the CPI(M) in Naxalbari in 1964.

What can be understood is that the decade long experience of class struggles of the communist workers and peasants in Naxalbari, left no space for reformist illusions, also because of the naked repression of the jotedars that revealed to them their true class nature. So the events of 1967, were neither spontaneous,nor were they the outcome of the genius of few men, history was made by the action of peasants and workers.

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