Interview with Prakash Karat, general secretary, CPI(M)
PRAKASH KARAT SAYS the Maoists will end up helping the state.
AS a party based on the Marxist-Leninist ideology, the Communist Party of India (Marxist) has serious differences in theory and practice with the Maoist groups in the country. In an interview to Frontline, party general secretary Prakash Karat explained why the tactics of the Maoist groups will never help solve the problem of poverty. Excerpts:
Q: How does the CPI(M) assess the spurt of Maoist activity? Politically, how do you view the approach of the Maoist groups?
KARAT: The Maoists claim to be a revolutionary force. But they are far from being an organisation based on a Marxist outlook. Though they call themselves a communist party, their ideology and practice go against the basic principles of Marxism and what a communist party should be. Their programme and practice are flawed; they do not even recognise the realities. They harp on India being still a semi-colonial country; their politics is based on the gun and the use of violence, which essentially disrupts the working class movement and mass mobilisation. By indulging in senseless violence mainly directed at its political opponents, the Maoists end up helping the state to come down heavily on the people they claim to champion.
Q: The Left Front government in West Bengal has been at the receiving end of such violence for some time now. How has the character of such activities changed over the years?
KARAT: The Maoists have been trying to organise and be active in West Bengal for quite some time now. They have failed to acquire a mass base. Where they are active is mainly in the border districts of Paschim Medinipur, Purulia and Bankura, all bordering Jharkhand. Here we have seen how, in the past few months, they have systematically targeted the cadre and supporters of the CPI(M). Though they claim to have popular support, the Maoists are not willing to put it to the test. The CPI(M), which has a large mass base among the tribal people, is opposed to the disruptive politics and violence of the Maoists. That is why they are indulging in targeted assassinations and killings. Some of the people they have killed have been executed in a brutal fashion, in front of their family members. How can the killing of CPI(M) workers, most of them poor tribal people, be considered a revolutionary activity by any standard? It is now well known that the Maoists collaborated with the Trinamool Congress to fight the CPI(M) and the Left Front. This is a feature of the Maoists elsewhere too. Their squads have no hesitation in backing one bourgeois party or the other. It can be seen in Bihar and in other States too. Most of the people killed by the Maoists, apart from policemen, are poor peasants, agricultural workers or the rural poor.
Q: There has been a palpable change in the Central government’s approach to these Maoist groups. It now views them as a serious threat. At the Chief Ministers’ conference on internal security in Kolkata recently, Home Minister P. Chidambaram described naxalites as the biggest threat to internal security. Do you think that just stepping up police and other paramilitary support is enough to quell the activities of these groups?
KARAT: As far as the CPI(M) is concerned, we think that the Maoists have to be fought and countered politically and ideologically. Wherever they are active and try to mobilise the tribal people and poorer sections, they must be combated politically. When they indulge in violence and terrorising of political opponents, administrative steps have to be taken to curb them. It is not possible to deal with them only politically when they are resorting to large-scale killing. In Lalgarh alone, in the past few months, more than 60 CPI(M) supporters were killed by the Maoists.
The Central government has announced it will deploy more paramilitary forces in some of the Maoist-affected States. This alone is not sufficient. In those areas, the government must embark upon socio-economic development; there have to be immediate measures to execute land reforms and provide basic services to the people. Without a comprehensive approach that deals with people’s problems in backward and tribal areas, the Maoist threat cannot be contained. The government should identify such areas and plan concrete measures, which is not being done sufficiently at present.
The Maoists have to understand that they won’t be able to accomplish anything by their sectarian and adventurous approach of resorting to arms and violence. They should learn from the experience of the Maoist party in Nepal. Building a mass movement on a political platform and relying on the people for political change can be the only correct perspective.
Q: There have been expressions of support for the Maoist cause, sporadically of course, from a section of the intelligentsia. It confers a certain degree of legitimacy to the Maoist approach and acceptance of their tactics.
KARAT: Some intellectuals and civil liberties organisations refuse to see the enormous damage being done by the Maoists by their senseless and indiscriminate violence. For some of these intellectuals, it seems as if they do not want to get into the hard work and grind of building a genuine mass movement but take vicarious satisfaction in supporting such pseudo-revolutionary activities.
Poverty can never be eliminated by such violent tactics as it only disrupts the possibility of developing a powerful and united mass struggle against exploitation and the iniquitous order. By just targeting a few so-called enemies of the people, one cannot bring about any change in the system of injustice existing today.
FRONTLINE, Volume 26 - Issue 22 :: Oct. 24-Nov. 06, 2009