Lost on Class Agenda, Maoists Working on Caste Division

Published in Organiser, May 2, 2018
Maharashtra Police carried out raids at some Maoist urban centres having links with Bhima-Koregaon riots. It is time to unmask the real intent of Maoists and how their strategy has changed from Class to Caste
Author: Capt Smita Gaikwad 
Maharashtra Police carried out raids on April 18, 2018 to Maoist urban hideouts. Searches continued in the premises of leftist organisations Kabir Kala Manch and Republican Panther, who played a key role in organising the infamous Elgaar Parishad on December 31, 2017 in which the notorious Jawaharlal Nehru University student Umar Khalid also participated. This created furore among the ideologues of Maoism that is deceptively called as Naxalism sitting in urban centres. Many media persons also criticised the move by Maharashtra Police. Maoism is the ideology of ‘class war’, what it has to do with the ‘caste’ question, is the obvious question raised. Therefore, it is necessary to understand and expose very strategy of Maoists and the way they change their goalposts.
Maoism has been active as an ideology right from the independence period with the only objective of uprooting democratic system through the power of the gun. In their initial years, they exploited to fuel class struggle and used it as a deception to further their anti-India war. However, in last ten years, there is a significant shift in their tactics as ‘caste’ takes the centre-stage.
Forged Frontal Organisation
Maoists’ ultimate aim is Political power through bloody methods of revolution. They want to encircle cities with ‘liberated areas’, simultaneously mobilise masses through mass organisations in cities where their enemy(i.e. Indian state) is strong and take over cities with the help of Armed cadre and Maoist mass organisations when the situation is conducive. They operate through different types of Front organisations in cities. Two of the alleged Maoist Front Organisations in Maharashtra are ‘Kabir Kala Manch’ and ‘Deshbhakti Yuva Manch’. In Pune, there were two youngsters, Prashant Kamble and Santosh Shelar who joined Maoist armed cadre in Gadchiroli in 2010. In an interview to various Newspapers, the parents of these youngsters mention of Kabir Kala Manch playing a key role in the journey of their wards to Maoist armed Cadre. Interestingly, Kabir Kala Manch claims itself to be an organisation fighting for Dalit cause and equality. However, they never uttered a single word though 23 Dalits have been killed in Maharashtra by Maoists. Thus, it is activism of convenience. There are reports of Late Anuradha Ghandy, Former Central Committee Member of CPI (Maoist) giving Rs 4000 monthly, collected through ‘Naxal tax’, to the founder of Kabir Kala Manch. Arun Bhelke, President of ‘Deshbhakti Yuva Manch’ allegedly took the two youngsters from Pune to jungles of Gadchiroli.
The Exposed Nexus!
Former BJP MP and chairman of Shipping Board, Pradeep Rawat, has alleged that the Koregaon Bhima riots were conspired by Maoist groups and the members of the Kabir Kala Manch (KKM). He has also claimed that it is the failure of cops and has demanded that the government should conduct an inquiry into the police action. The ruling party member has made these comments on the basis of a fact-finding committee report prepared by the Vivek Vichar Manch that he heads. Members of Vivek Vichar Manch have recently published a report purportedly on the revelations of a fact finding committee. According to the report, the riots at Koregaon Bhima were the result of a conspiracy by Maoists and organisations with similar ideology, in an attempt to create a rift between religions and groups.
Koregaon Bhima Riots
In recent Koregaon Bhima riots, various Fact Finding Committees accused Elgar Parishad scheduled on Dec 31, 2017, of spreading caste hatred and stated that it was one of the attempts to provoke riots. FIR is filed against the members of Organising Committee of Elgar Parishad. Elgar Parishad was one of the platforms where left or ultra left who have been talking the language of ‘class’ came together in the name of ‘caste’. Interestingly, the Organisers of Elgar Parishad comprise members of Kabir Kala Manch, who were in jail under UAPA Act for Moist links and are out on bail currently. Sudhir Dhawale and Harshali Potdar were the leading members of this Committee. Sudhir Dhawale from Republican Panther was in jail for 40 months for Maoist links and later acquitted. Harshali Potdar is a former TISS student and member of Republican Panther. She was being questioned for her Maoist links in the year 2013 as part of an investigation into the murder of three tribals by Maoists in Gadchiroli. Her investigation was asked to be stopped as Rural Development Minister Jairam Ramesh wrote to the then Maharashtra Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan because Harshali Potdar was a Prime Ministerial Rural Development (PMRD) fellow.
Prakash Ambedkar, Grandson of Dr Babasaheb Ambedkar, was part of this Elgar Parishad as well. He did not go to Koregaon Bhima on Jan 1, 2018, despite mobilising Dalits for six months with slogans ‘ Chalo Bhima Koregaon’. In the year 2013, he received criticism for calling Maoists ‘ Friends of the Country ‘. Milind Teltumbade, the Maoist Leader operating from jungles of Bastar and wanted in many cases, is relative of Prakash Ambedkar and Prakash Ambedkar consistently defended Kabir Kala Manch members when Police arrested them. This is an interesting development when a leader working on ‘caste ‘ issues was seen defending those allegedly working for the banned terrorist organisation, i.e. CPI (Maoist) whose strategies revolved around ‘class’ till 2004.
In the year 2015, a program was organised in Mumbai on the first death anniversary of convicted Maoist Central Committee Member Sridhar Srinivasan. Republican Panther, who claim to be fighting for justice and equality for Dalits, performed songs on this occasion. Sudhir Dhawale and Harshali Potdar were present on stage for this program. What connects an Organisation fighting for Dalits and supposedly following Dr Ambedkar’s path has with the death anniversary of a convicted Maoist leader especially when Maoism talks of overthrowing democracy and constitution in which Dr Ambedkar played the key role?
Tactics and Strategy
In the year 2004, Communist Party of India (Maoist) drafted five crucial strategy documents for their anti-India war. In the Document, Strategy and Tactics of Indian Revolution, they mention of exploiting special social sections and their issues to enhance the people’s war.
People’s War
“While taking up specific tactics on the special problems related to these sections, we should keep in mind that the tactics should always be subordinate to our strategic line. We should place the specific programme for the solution of their specific problems in relation to and in the overall context of, the ongoing people’s war in the country.”
Women, Tribal, Dalit, Minorities
“We must demonstrate in practice how the people’s war (anti India war) and the ongoing class struggle is bringing these sections increasingly into the centerstage; how the latent potential and creative energies, the revolutionary initiative and capacities of these oppressed sections are being released in the course of the people’s war and the deepening class struggle. Hence, in all our guerilla zones and areas of class struggle, firstly we have to follow the class line and mass line seriously, i.e. to work mainly among the landless and poor peasantry and agricultural labourers generally who belong to Dalit section.”
Doing Away With Dalit Organisations
“The petty bourgeoisie Dalit sections in certain states have formed some exclusive organisations of Dalits and are organising movements on some issues related to their problems. Depending on the concrete situation, if it is helpful for the ongoing revolutionary movement, we may sometimes work jointly with these petty bourgeoisies Dalit organisations on these issues while exposing the reformism and opportunism of the leadership. It is only due to lack of a revolutionary alternative that exclusive Dalit organisations are proliferating in various parts of the country. Such organisations will become irrelevant if the revolutionary Party and mass organisations take up the issues of Dalits and build a broad-based movement.”
Maoists vs Ambedkarites
In today’s situation, while understanding Maoist strategies, it is more relevant than ever to recall what Dr Babasaheb Ambedkar said in his last address to Constituent Assembly on Nov 25, 1949.
He stated:‘The condemnation of the Constitution largely comes from two quarters, the Communist Party and the Socialist Party. Why do they condemn the Constitution? Is it because it is really a bad Constitution? I venture to say no’. The Communist Party want a Constitution based upon the principle of the Dictatorship of the Proletariat. They condemn the Constitution because it is based upon parliamentary democracy. The Socialists want two things. The first thing they want is that if they come in power, the Constitution must give them the freedom to nationalise or socialise all private property without payment of compensation. The second thing that the Socialists want is that the Fundamental Rights mentioned in the Constitution must be absolute and without any limitations so that if their Party fails to come into power, they would have the unfettered freedom not merely to criticise, but also to overthrow
the State. ‘
In the context of above speech, any person having faith in Constitution of India and faith in Dr Ambedkar’s thoughts can never support Maoism as Maoists believe in bloody methods of revolution. Dalits have special emotional connect with Dr Ambedkar and constitution due to their past sufferings based on caste. The faith of Dalits or any Ambedkarite in the constitution is strong enough not to get carried away by Maoism. However, to promote Maoism, the deceptive strategy of Maoists uses names of Shahu-Phule-Ambedkar, the trio known for their progressive thoughts and their work for equality. It is difficult for a common man to identify ‘Maoists pretending to be Ambedkarite’ and by the time they realise it, it would be either too late or they would be already brainwashed not to return to democratic thoughts. That is the biggest challenge in urban areas where Maoists are more active than ever by using ‘caste’ as ‘weapon’ and ‘names of our Nationalist Leaders’ as ‘camouflage’ to bleed India with thousand cuts. Awareness about Urban Maoism, their working methods and promoting Dr Ambedkar’s writings can be a preventive measure in this regard. Dalit leaders and intellectuals can play an important role in fighting this National Security threat and changing the dimension of Maoist war against India.