ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Maoist Movement: Context and Concerns

The failure of the Indian state to wipe out the Maoist movement is due to its ambiguous understanding of the laws of motion of the movement and the support the movement enjoys among the poor peasants and tribals in its strongholds. Successful democratic transition will however depend upon whether the Maoist party will retain the primacy of its New Democratic politics over its military strategy, and whether it can force the Indian state to give due regard to the constitutional mandate.

The Maoist struggle, called left-wing extremism in official parlance, is one of the longest surviving peasant and tribal struggles in post-independence India. The ruling classes hesitate to equate it with terrorism, although former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh—one of the architects of the country’s imperialist development model that is guided and governed by international capital—characterised it as the “greatest internal security threat to India.” The Indian state has deployed every possible means—fair and foul—to put an end to the struggle without any semblance of success. The failure is partly due to the ruling class’s ambiguous understanding of the movement. For the most part though, the failure can be attributed to the widespread support that the movement enjoys among the peasantry, particularly the tribals of Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand, central Bihar, Gadchiroli (Maharashtra), Odisha, Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, West Bengal, and certain small pockets in the cow belt. The ambiguity of the rulers is demonstrated by the fact that every political party other than the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has at one point or another—most often at the time of elections—described the movement as a socio-economic question rather than a law and order problem. There are political parties that have gone to the extent of announcing that “Maoist agenda is our agenda.”1

Recognising the potential of the movement and magnitude of the challenge that it poses, there have been a few halfhearted attempts on the part of the state to circumvent the problem and seek peaceful policy options as an alternative to repression. The Government of Andhra Pradesh appointed a cabinet subcommittee to look into various dimensions of the problem.2 The committee did submit a report, but it has never been released to the public, the reasons for which are best known to the government. The Planning Commission had also appointed a committee which categorically stated that the movement is an offshoot of a deep socio-economic crisis and suggested certain policy measures.3 The fate of this committee’s report was no different from other such reports. The Government of Andhra Pradesh, in 2004, held a peace dialogue inviting the leaders of the struggle and peace talks did take place.4

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Updated On : 25th May, 2017
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