‘Kishenji is dead, but movement is alive’

By bappaditya paul

Despite the body blow of Kishenji’s death, Naxalite leaders associated with Communist revolutionary politics in West Bengal and across the country believe the peoples’ movement in Junglemahal is far from over.

The government’s counteractive approach and the absence of a sincere attempt to address the lack of economic development and exploitation of Junglemahal’s residents will keep the agitation alive, a number of far Left political leaders have said.
“It is true the agitation in Junglemahal has suffered a setback because of the Maoists’ sole focus on armed struggle. But the movement is far from over. It started as an indigenous agitation; with the ground situation remaining the same and the state resorting to more oppression, the movement will not die anytime soon,” said Mr Dipankar Bhattacharya, the All India general secretary of the Communist Party India (Marxist-Leninist), Liberation (CPI-ML, Liberation). “The void created by the Maoists will be filled by other organisations and leaders.”

Mr Bhattacharya believes that the Maoists in Junglemahal stepped into a Trinamul Congress trap and are now paying the price for the error. “Just like  YS Rajasekhara Reddy used the Maoists for his political cause in Andhra, the Trinamul Congress too exploited the Maoists in the run-up to the Assembly poll in Bengal,” he said. “Unfortunately, the Maoists didn’t learn from the Andhra experience and therefore committed the same mistake again.”

Mr Subrata Basu, West Bengal state secretary of another Naxalite faction, the CPI-ML (Kanu), said “The Peoples’ Committee against Police Atrocities (PCPA) was formed with the participation of people from 99 blocks in Junglemahal. The movement erupted spontaneously in response to years of exploitation and oppression. Now, with the paramilitary offensive more intense than ever before, Maoists’ influence might decline but the agitation will stay alive.”
Mr Abhijit Mazumdar, a CPI-ML (Liberation) central committee member and the son of now deceased Naxalite ideologue Charu Mazumdar, expanded on this line of analysis of the Junglemahal agitation. “The agitation in Junglemahal erupted as local people were searching for dignity. Initially, the Maoists were able to strike a chord with people by paying attention to the fight for better wages and living conditions. But gradually they became fixated on armed tactics and weakened the movement,” said Mr Mazumdar. “Having said this, I believe the movement in Junglemahal is far from over. The state’s counteractive strategy will boost the movement.”

One of the frontline leaders of the 1967 Naxalbari uprising, who now aspires to form a democratic revolutionary party, Mr Ashim Chatterjee alias Kaka, said that the Junglemahal agitation can bounce back provided that the Maoists focus on strengthening their mass base.

“The Junglemahal agitation in a sense is a continuation of the Naxalite Movement and also its vulgarisation. If the Maoists minimise the use of armed tactics and instead focus on mass organisations, Junglemahal will surely bounce back. The death of an individual may create a vacuum,” Mr Chatterjee said. “But that does not mean the end of a just movement.”

(The author is on the staff of The Statesman, India. This report originally appeared in The Statesman http://www.thestatesman.net on 02 December 2011.)


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