Maoist supreme commander Ganapathi on the Naxal push into urban spaces, Rahul Gandhi's role in Vedanta’s Niyamgiri project and much more
At 60, the Maoist supreme commander Mupalla Laxman Rao alias Ganapathi has held the reins of the CPI (Maoist) since the early 90s after taking over from legendary Maoist leader Kondapalli Seetharamaiah. Under his leadership, the party has grown many fold, prompting New Delhi to call it India’s biggest internal security threat. No one even knew how Ganapathi looked like till a video of his addressing the party cadre surfaced a few years ago. The science graduate who holds a degree in education as well was a teacher in Andhra Pradesh’s Karimnagar district when he joined the Maoist movement. Probably the most wanted man in India today, he is known to shift bases regularly, and very few even the Maoists have access to him. Last year, he gave a rare interview to Open’s Rahul Pandita. Recently, Rahul spent a few days at a Maoist base in Dandakaranya, where he left a detailed questionnaire for Ganapathi. This time the Maoist leader responded in writing. Here, we offer the entire unabridged interview where Ganapathi talks about senior Maoist leader Azad’s death, Operation Green Hunt, Rahul Gandhi’s role in Vedanta, Ayodhya judgement, CPI (Maoist)’s structure, killings of paramilitary personnel, allegations of sexual exploitation of women cadre and prospects of talks with the Indian government.
Open: Senior Maoist leader Azad’s death is a big blow to the Maoist movement. Do you think the CPI (Maoist) can overcome this loss?
Ganapathi: True, our party has suffered a severe backlash with the death of Comrade Azad. Azad was one of the topmost leaders in our party. He has been leading the Indian revolution since a long time. In our country, People’s War is intensifying with each passing day. With the aid and support of imperialists, particularly the American imperialists, the Indian exploiting ruling classes are trying to suppress the revolutionary movement and are carrying on ruthless atrocities in an unprecedented severe manner. In this war between the people and the ruling classes, the enemy had particularly concentrated on comrades like Azad who are leading the revolution and schemed to murder them. It is as part of that conspiracy that comrade Azad was caught and killed in the most brutal and cowardly manner. The Home minister Chidambaram, who is leading from the forefront the ‘War on People’ launched by Sonia-Manmohan-Chidambaram gang, central intelligence agencies and Andhra Pradesh SIB (Special Intelligence Branch) are directly responsible for this gruesome murder.
Comrade Azad was leading the entire urban movement on behalf of our Central Committee and was also looking after political propaganda, party periodicals, party education and other such crucial responsibilities. He was a very reliable mass leader. He maintained close relations with many comrades at various levels and with the revolutionary masses. In the midst of severe repression, he worked selflessly and unflinchingly in spite of the many risks involved. It is under such circumstances that the enemy came to know about his whereabouts somewhere and could catch him by laying in wait.
In July, Azad was to go to Dandakaranya. He was to participate in the political education training program planned for the party leadership cadres there. He had a contact with the Dandakaranya comrades in Nagpur city on July 1. But he and a journalist named Hemchand (Hemchandra Pandey) who was traveling with him were caught even before they reached the contact place. Both of them were taken to Adilabad forests and were killed the same night. Those who have seen his dead body said that they seemed to have given him some sedative injection as soon as they caught him. This means that the enemy had caught him in a planned manner with the clear aim of killing him. They killed Hemchand Pandey too so that the truth about his murder doesn’t come out. Both their bodies were thrown in the Jogapur forests in the Wankidi mandal of Adilabad district and a fake encounter story was concocted as always.
Entire people along with our Party condemned in one voice this fake encounter and comrade Azad’s murder. Many revolutionary parties, democratic and civil rights organizations had demanded judicial enquiry on this fake encounter. Intellectuals, journalists, writers and students from many states along with those in Andhra Pradesh had accused that the Central and state governments were responsible for Azad’s murder. Many wrote articles and gave statements. Thousands attended the funeral procession of comrade Azad which was held in Hyderabad on July 4th. Many Maoist parties from all over the world had condemned the murder of comrade Azad and written letters to our CC (Central committee) hailing his services to the Indian revolution. On this occasion, I send my revolutionary greetings and gratitude to all these organizations and individuals on behalf of our CC. It is such democratic and revolutionary consciousness which would help sustain people’s movements.
Azad was attracted to the revolutionary movement while he was studying in the Warangal Regional Engineering College in 1972. Azad who was exceptionally brilliant in his studies had played a dynamic role in the revolutionary movement too. He played a role in the formation of the Radical Students Union (RSU) in 1974. He was elected as the state president of RSU in 1978. He was one of the founders of the All India revolutionary student’s movement and guided it from its inception in 1985. He played a key role in conducting a seminar on Nationality Question in the then Madras city in 1981. Later he took up the responsibility of building the revolutionary movement in Karnataka and build up the Maoist party in Karnataka for the first time. He attracted many comrades like Saketh Rajan into the party. When opportunistic elements tried to split the party in 1985 and in 1991, comrade Azad had played a crucial role in keeping the party united and strong and in defeating their opportunist politics with a proletarian outlook. He worked tirelessly for twenty years as a CC member and Politburo member from 1990 till now. We cannot separate Azad’s life from the revolutionary movement’s history of the past forty years. He fulfilled the responsibility of the party spokesperson since three years as ‘Azad’ in the most excellent and exemplary manner. He used his intellect and sharp pen outstandingly in fighting back the ‘War on People’ led by the Chidambaram gang. He stood as the voice of the people against the rulers and exploiters. In the development of the party’s political line, in the development of the party, people’s army and mass organizations, in extending the movement, in the emergence of new democratic power organs and in all the victories won, Azad’s ideological, political work and practice played a key role. Unflinching commitment in face of any odds and during the ebb and flow of the movement, great sacrificing nature, selflessness, simple living, indefatigable work for the revolution and for the interests of the people, astounding study, study of changing phenomena in the society from time to time, being with the people always are some of the great proletariat ideals established by Comrade Azad. Though he is no more, it is undeniable that he would serve as a revolutionary role model to every revolutionary and particularly to the youth, students and intellectuals.
It is true that it would be very difficult to fulfill the loss because comrade Azad’s life has been completely intertwined with the advancement of the revolutionary movement. He was a great revolutionary who was steeled in the ups and downs of the movement. Revolutionary movements give birth to leaders in this manner. In turn, these leaders lead the revolutionary movements down the path of victory. The sacrifice of many leaders is also inevitable in the revolutionary movement. The very conditions which give birth to the revolutionary movements and help its advancement would give birth to its leadership too. This has been proven repeatedly in the world revolutionary history. So the material conditions which are favorable for the rapid advancement of the revolutionary movement in our country today would give birth to thousands of leaders like comrade Azad. The ideological-political and practical work done by comrade Azad and the communist ideals he established have created the base for such an eventuality. The martyrdom of a Surapaneni Janardhan had placed an ideal in front of many comrades like Azad. Likewise many more revolutionaries would be born by taking the sacrifice of Azad as an ideal. They would lead the Indian revolution. The enemy could eliminate the physical presence of Azad but it would be impossible to stop the ideas he had spread in the party and among the people from turning into a material force.
In our history though we had lost important leaders many times and had faced many ups and downs, we had always stood up again and could advance the movement. We are still attracting educated cadres into our party from various parts of our country. We are confident that we would be able to fill the void created by Azad’s death by training them up well in practice. The ruling classes are ecstatic that they had broken the jar of knowledge by killing Azad. But those fools do not understand that thousands of Azads would be born from the land where that knowledge had been spilled. Azad had haunted the ruling classes with his political attacks when he was alive. Now even after his death he is haunting them. The ruling classes startle at the very mention of his name.
Before the death of Azad too, we had lost important leadership comrades in fake encounters and many more had been arrested. These losses are heavy too. But we would definitely overcome these losses and would definitely advance the revolutionary movement firmly.
Open: After Azad’s death, is the CPI (Maoist) still willing to engage in a dialogue with the government?
Ganapathi: In fact, you should put this question to Chidambaram and Manmohan Singh. For the past one and half year, comrades Azad, Kishenji and I have been stating our party’s stand regarding talks a number of times. The government has been hiding the endless brutal violence it had been perpetuating on the people and has been announcing each time that talks would be held only if Maoists abjure violence. Chidambaram has been repeatedly shouting these words from the roof top. Keeping in view the war declared on the people and the difficulties they are facing due to it, Azad had continued declaring till the end that our party would be ready for simultaneous cease fire if the government is ready for it. His intention was to lessen the travails of the people to any possible extent. He mentioned the same demand in the letter written to Swami Agnivesh. Chidambaram and Manmohan Singh had not only killed him in a conspiratorial manner but are shamelessly performing the same charade once again. The fact is that the government doesn’t feel any actual need for holding talks. If the peace wished by intellectuals, democrats and the people is to be established, then the most meaningless thing would be to demand that the counter-violence by people should be stopped while the government continues with its killing spree. When Chidambaram announced that Maoists should stop violence for 72 hours and Kishenji responded by giving a time of 72 days, Chidambaram’s answer was to target Kishenji and to intensify the attacks in order to kill him. Azad who had written the letter to Agnivesh was targeted and killed. As part of Operation Green Hunt nearly one lakh paramilitary forces and three lakh state forces have been deployed. Of these the major forces are Special Forces. Every day, every hour and every minute these forces are perpetuating countless atrocities on the people. They are targeting the people and democrats who are opposing this and putting them in jails under UAPA and other draconian laws of the states. Except for the reactionaries and their stooges in the media, nobody else is supporting this war on people in our country. Even if there are a few individuals who support it, it is not because they know the facts but because they innocently believe the false propaganda of the government. We feel that there is absolutely no conducive situation for holding talks now.
People like Agnivesh are asking us not to retreat from the dialogue process and to come forward for talks even after the cold-blooded murder of comrade Azad. We want to ask them if they would be able to stop such conspiracies and plots the government is hatching to kill our party leaders. Doubtless, comrade Azad was killed by the government in a conspiracy. The post-mortem and forensic reports too prove this beyond doubt. So we request all democrats, peace-loving intellectuals and human rights’ organizations to come forward with the firm demand that judicial enquiry should be conducted on Azad’s murder.
It is crystal clear that the atmosphere is not conducive for talks. In spite of this we request the people and democrats to demand the government to prove its commitment towards the process of talks by coming forward to implement the following steps.
1) Stop Operation Green Hunt. Withdraw the paramilitary forces. If the government stops its offensive on the people, then the counter-offensive of the people would also stop. As many intellectuals are saying, if the offensive of the government doesn’t take place then there would be no need for the people to resist.
2) Ours is a political party like many other parties in this country and the world. Our party has an ideological and military line and aim and correct, clear-cut policies on matters relating to culture, caste, gender, nationality, ecology etc. Even according to the laws formulated by these ruling classes, democratic rights would apply to our party. So the ban on our party should be lifted. Ban on our mass organizations should be lifted. Absolute democratic opportunities should be created for mass mobilization. Only in conditions where we could work democratically, we can come forward for talks.
3) In Andhra Pradesh, comrade Riyaz who had participated in talks with the government in 2004 was caught and murdered after torturing him brutally. Others who participated in talks were targeted and attempts were made to assassinate them. Now comrade Azad who was working to facilitate the process of talks was murdered. So, it is not possible to believe the government and send underground comrades for talks. Therefore if the government releases our leadership comrades from jails, then they would directly represent our party in the talks.
So, you people should think about these three demands and place them before the government. We want to make it clear once again that any questions regarding talks should be put to the government first and not to us.
GK Pillai, Prakash Singh, Chidambaram and such likes are saying that we would come into line only if pressure is built up on us through intensification of fascist military offensive on our party and massacring the people. They are living in a fools’ paradise. Building pressure, creating illusions in the name of talks, deceiving and destroying the party—this is the strategy of the government. In fact, our party is fighting for peace too. They believe only in suppression and they are incompetent in facing us politically and ideologically. People are fighting under the leadership of our party with the lofty aim of establishing permanent peace by ending the exploitation, oppression, brutal suppression and violence in our country and in the whole human society. We see the issue of ‘talks’ and ‘peace’ as part of class struggle too. When class struggle intensifies, it would be in an armed form. In other circumstances it would be conducted in peaceful methods too. So it is completely false that our party would come for talks if pressure is built up.
And then, a false propaganda is being conducted through the media that there are differences in our party regarding talks and that they are mainly on the lines of erstwhile MCCI and erstwhile People’s War. This is hundred percent false. This is nothing but false propaganda by the enemy to create doubts in peoples’ minds about our party to carry on their aims. Our Unity Congress has taken a clear stand on the matter of talks. The struggle between correct ideas and wrong ideas is a continuous process in the party. We would solve our differences of opinion by abiding the principle of democratic centralism and in the light of Marxism-Leninism-Maoism. This would only lead to the development of the party. We achieved great unity with the merger of the two parties. Now any discussions or conflict of ideas which takes place in the party would be in the form of ideological and political discussions in a united party and not in the form of differences between erstwhile MCCI and erstwhile CPI (ML) (People’s War). We categorically state that the differences would never ever take the form of conflicts before the merger.
Open: But the government outrightly denies the existence of Operation Green Hunt!
Ganapathi: It is not just us who are saying that the government had declared a war on the people. All the people are saying so in one voice. All the people of the areas where this war is going on are saying so. All the democratic organizations, progressive forces and democrats of our country are saying very clearly that government is carrying a war on the people and are condemning it. The government is carrying on war on people and is blatantly lying that it is not the case. While Longkumer, Kalluri and Viswaranjan (senior police officers of Chhattisgarh) announce that the Operation Green Hunt is going on, on the other hand Chidambaram shamelessly declares that there is no such thing. It is increasingly getting exposed how terrible, how cruel fascist act this Green Hunt is and how dreadfully it is being carried on. In fact, in the various states where Maoist movement is present, nearly 100,000 paramilitary forces are deployed. If we look at the number of police forces deployed in nine or ten states against our movement it would be nearly three to four lakhs. What is the reason for deploying such a huge contingent of forces? What are these forces doing on a daily basis? Why are they increasing carpet security and construction of base camps, special training schools and jungle warfare schools? Why is the police budget of each state increased to such huge amounts and so rapidly? Why did the government release a package of thirteen and a half thousands of crores of rupees at once? Why huge sum of over one trillion rupees was allotted for internal security? Why are the central and state governments spending thousands of crores of rupees annually with the evil design of eliminating our movement? Why is the government carrying on mopping up campaigns in our strong areas like Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand, Bihar, Odisha, Maharashtra, North Andhra and North Telangana? Mopping up means destroying everything. Anybody can be killed, arrested, missed, raped and property, houses, harvest and everything can be destroyed. All this is nothing but fascist rule.
It is as part of this war that the enemy is concentrating on our leadership and killing them in the most brutal manner and putting them in jails by arresting them in an undemocratic and illegal manner. The government has chosen armed repression as the main form and carrying on this war. However, in support of this it is carrying on the offensive in all other spheres, i.e., political, ideological, psychological, cultural spheres in a multi-pronged attack.
That is why the people are consolidating themselves under our party leadership with a clear strategy, intensifying the people’s war and establishing a new political power, new economy and new culture as an alternative to the present rule of the exploiting classes. Under our party’s leadership our PLGA (the guerilla army), our new power organs and people are fighting a life and death struggle against MoUs worth billions of rupees which the central and state governments had signed with MNCs and big comprador corporate houses in many states such as Orrisa, Bengal, Jharkhand, Chhattisgarh, Maharashtra, Andhra Pradesh etc. That is why, people are saying that this callous government is lying when it says that this is not a war. People, democrats and revolutionary forces are strongly and unitedly opposing and equally strongly fighting back the war on people which the government is intensifying day by day. Democratic forces, anti-imperialist forces and revolutionary proletariat all over the world are also strongly opposing and protesting this war on the people waged by the ruling classes of our country.
I want to clearly state one thing here. This war on the people is a brutal war launched by the government to suppress our just movement. This is an unjust war politically. This war by the ruling classes is carried on with a clear political aim. This would permanently continue the exploitation and oppression of the people. The self-defence war waged by the people also has a clear political aim. We are fighting with the aim of establishing a new society by destroying the exploitive and oppressive system. These two aims are completely at the opposite poles. At present revolutionary war is being waged in our country. The rulers are waging counter-revolutionary war against this revolutionary war. Both of these are seriously confronting each other. They represent the interests of two completely opposite classes.
Firstly, we want to fight back this war politically. The political aim of our resistance war is very clear. Depending on how deeply the vast masses understand this, how much they consolidate themselves, how much they arm themselves, we will be able to end this war as soon as possible. We are striving hard for the same. That is why we are fighting the enemy in a multi-pronged manner in all spheres.
Open: The government is repeatedly asking you to abjure violence. But your party hasn’t stopped attacking police personnel or damaging government property. In the background of your recent attacks at Tadimetla (Dantewada), Kongera (Narayanpur), Silda (West Bengal) and Lakhisarai (Jharkhand), your critics say that you only know how to respond militarily.
Ganapathi: Our central leadership has clearly stated our stand many times on this issue. I will do so one more time. It is nothing but a big deception and charade by the government to ask the people to abjure violence while the state continues its violence. It is violating its own laws and is massacring the people. So it is very necessary that every democrat and any politically conscious person questions the government on this and demands that it stop the violence and war on the people. They should demand that it is the government which should abjure violence. When the government says that we are practicing violence, it is just like a thief shouting ‘thief, thief’. It is trying to divert attention from the real issue by doing so.
People whose consciousness has risen would not sit quiet and suffer these attacks carried on with the aim of looting their resources and to turn them into permanent slaves using the government mercenary armed forces. They would resist them by arming themselves. All the members of our people’s guerilla army are none other than masses who have armed themselves voluntarily. These masses who had been exploited and oppressed like slaves since generations have understood the laws of historical development of society and are fighting by arming themselves. Our party is repeatedly making this clear—there is only one way for the people to achieve their liberation and that is the armed way. It means arming themselves, forming themselves into an army and waging an armed struggle. When crores of people of our country increase their political consciousness and build up a vast, strong army and when this army fights effectively, it would be possible to put an end to this exploitative rule. The soon this happens, the better for the people. That is why our party gives a call to the youngsters of this country every year on the occasion of the anniversary of the formation of our PLGA to arm themselves. This call is increasingly spreading widely among the people. The attacks carried on recently by our people’s army under the leadership of the party and with the active support of the people at Tadimetla (Mukaram), Silda, Lakhisarai, Kongera etc., are all military attacks. Who is anxious about these attacks? Is it the ruling classes and its mercenaries or the people? People are celebrating each occasion of a successful raid like a festival. Each such attack is giving a political message in a practical manner and showing them the path of liberation. The people understand this exactly in this manner. On the contrary seeing all these, the ruling classes are trembling with fear.
However, people who do not understand our movement and those who are not clear about it are anguished about the losses on both sides. We can understand their anguish. But the people cannot stop their war and resistance just because they are anguished. What they should understand is why is such an intense war going on? Why are hundreds of people participating in each attack? Where are we getting the active support of the people? Why are we getting it? If they try to understand this it would become clear. Then they would realize the need for such big attacks, more such big attacks and the need for more such attacks to take place more frequently. Then even they would celebrate whenever such attacks take place. They would also wish whole heartedly that such attacks should take place. But enemies of the people would always oppose them and they would resort to bigger attacks on the people in a more reactionary manner. They would foolishly choose suppression as the only way and would be hated by the people. As a result, they would again become victims of bigger attacks by the people.
As to the question if our attacks are facilitating the deployment of army—if people do not fight back, if they silently bow their heads and suffer exploitation and oppression which are going on since centuries, then there is no need even for police and paramilitary, leave alone the army. Then there would be no need for the ruling classes to carry on attacks too. As people have gained consciousness and have understood the real story behind exploitation and oppression, the fraud of parliamentary system and fake democracy, as they are fighting for land to the genuine peasants and for genuine democracy for the people, the rulers are resorting to serious suppression fearing that their foundations are being shaken. These fools who do not realize that their policies would only lead to an intensification of the people’s resistance, are making all preparations to deploy the army. In fact, the army had planned for counter-revolutionary Salwa Judum military campaign during Vajpayee’s rule when Advani was the home minister. The home ministry approved it. The Congress which came to power after Vajpayee’s government was toppled at the centre and the BJP which came to power in place of Congress in Chhattisgarh implemented this decision. From then onwards, the army has been very actively using all its commands (Northern, Central, Southern, Western and Eastern), has formed special structures in all of them and has been giving all kinds of advices to the state police departments through them. It formulated the strategy for the war on people and is providing all kinds of training, intelligence, technology and deployment plans to the central home ministry. It applied LIC policy formulated by the imperialists to suppress the Maoist movement in the concrete conditions of India and is implementing it with its own characteristic features and with increasing intensity. At present the army is not directly participating in attacks carrying guns. But army officers, some specialists and intelligence officers are directly giving guidance to the counter-guerilla operations in our strong areas. This has been happening since three, four years. So it is not true that they would be deploying the army because of us doing some attacks. They would deploy the army as part of their evil design to suppress the peoples’ struggles. Counter-insurgency forces are built inside the army for this purpose. They are building new cantonments, air-bases and helipads, as if on the borders, on a war footing. They are restructuring the whole state system in accordance with their counter-insurgency policies. This means that the rulers had made all kinds of preparations to perpetuate unprecedented level of atrocities, massacres and destruction on the people of our country. Our party feels that all revolutionary parties, democratic organizations and intellectuals, nationality liberation organizations, anti-imperialist patriotic organizations and the entire Indian people should realize this and resist this actively and intensely without any delay. The people of our movement areas are also thinking in similar terms and are hoping for it.
It is true that the deployment of the army would lead to more violence on the poor and the adivasis and would lead to greater loss of lives. When people are fighting in self-defence it is the exploiters and their stooges who constitute just five percent of the population that are suffering casualties. But in the violence perpetuated by the state, it is vast masses of oppressed people who are facing losses. People who are in the form of PLGA, the Maoist party, mass organizations and Janathana Sarkars are losing their lives. So one should understand this. When ordinary citizens and adivasis are suffering losses on such a large scale, one should firstly question as to why this is happening? It doesn’t serve any purpose to make confused arguments, either innocently or deceivingly, that innocent people are dying. In this background of loss of lives, the oppressed people and the vast masses are putting a straight question to everybody—are you on our side or on the side of the rulers? It means there is no neutral ground left in between. So we request all those who express anguish about loss of lives to rethink in the background of this question.
On this occasion I want to bring some things to your notice. On June 12th, 2,000 state police and central paramilitary forces had attacked a political camp being held by our party’s Eastern Regional Bureau in Korhat forest of Jharkhand. Cobra forces, BSF and Jharkhand STF were involved in this attack. Three Air Force helicopters were used. Though the government said that 2,000 forces were involved, in fact more forces were involved. There were only two guerilla companies of our PLGA in that area. Our weapons were inferior. What was the reason for thousands of government forces to carry on this massive attack on our party and PLGA which are in that position? Is this war or not? Why are they hiding the glaring fact that this is a war? Why did they have to wage this war? Since the attack was done by mercenary forces, since it was done for the interests of a few exploiters, whether it was the commandos or Special Forces that had attacked, could not withstand the heroic resistance of our guerillas. Our comrades who have high political consciousness and sacrificing nature have fought back this attack bravely. In our counter-attack some Cobras have died and more were injured too. But the officers who led this attack do not even have the guts to announce how many of them were injured and how many had died. They are afraid that if the facts are announced, the morale of their forces would come down.
Between 25th and 27th of September, again in Jharkhand, the government forces attacked on a huge scale, a political camp being conducted by our Eastern Regional Bureau in Saranda forest with information. The police and paramilitary higher officials had themselves announced that five thousand (equivalent to a regiment) troops were deployed and helicopters were pressed into service. In fact, the number of troops which attacked would be much more. So one can understand how big a war the government is waging. What would you call this if not war? Once again, why are they hiding the fact that it is a war even after attacking at a regiment level? Would they perhaps agree when they attack with a division level force? On whom are they waging this war? Here too, like in Korhat, our comrades bravely retaliated this enemy attack. In Korhat comrade David lay down his life. In Saranda too a comrade was martyred. The enemy forces faced more losses. But to hide this fact, they resorted to false propaganda that three of their men were killed and ten to twelve Maoists were killed, huge quantities of weapons and other material were seized and training camps were destroyed by them.
Under the guidance of US imperialists, the number one enemy of the world people and taking the help of Israel, one of the cruelest governments of the world and a stooge of US, the Indian government is waging this war. Whatever the government may say, how much ever Sonia, Manmohan and Chidambaram gang and their boot-licking intellectuals may lie, the massive attacks in Korhat and Saranda were nothing but war. We are also candidly and clearly announcing that all our attacks have been carried out as part of our war of self-defence. Ordinary people are facing huge losses in the unjust war waged by the government. So we are once again appealing to all people to oppose and resist this unjust war.
Open: Your critics also say that the Maoists are not sincere about people’s issues and they are not bothered about people’s welfare and that their only aim is to overthrow the democratically elected government using armed force and establish communist rule. How do you justify that?
Ganapathi: The ruling classes are not at all morally qualified to hurl accusations against Maoists, who are sacrificing their lives for the people or to comment on their concern and commitment regarding people’s interests, people’s welfare and people’s development. Our aim is to overthrow this ‘democracy’ and ‘parliamentary rule’ which are nothing but means for the dictatorship of the feudals and comprador bureaucratic bourgeoisie and which stand in complete opposition to 95% of the population’s interests, using armed force and to establish new people’s power. We feel it is wonder of the wonders to say that these elections and parliament are sacred and that the present rule is the highest form of democratic rule!
We are telling the people to overthrow this dictatorial government and build a government of their own which is genuine democracy of the four classes, i.e., workers, peasants, urban middle class and national bourgeoisie. People are consolidating themselves and fighting for it. Anybody who knows the ABC of politics would know this. But the rulers are saying that the constitution and parliament are sacred and above class interests. This dictatorial and bourgeois parliament and state machinery which they had established by colluding with the imperialists would serve none else than those classes. They may be sacred for those classes but they are a big menace for the people. So it is their birth right to pull them down. It is their democratic right. They should establish a genuine democratic political system which constitutes new legislative bodies and a new constitution.
And, we are not the ones who are obstructing development. It is the ruling classes who are doing so. People are performing agricultural tasks while fighting back the horrible violence and destruction perpetuated by fascist gangs like the Salwa Judum, police and paramilitary in Dandakaranya. The militia is doing sentry in defence near the fields and reaping the harvests. The People’s Liberation Guerilla Army is safeguarding the harvest of the people. The mercenary forces of the government are attacking such units and killing them. The government forces are wreaking havoc in the adivasi areas by destroying their property, burning homes and whole villages, seizing hens, pigs, cattle and what not from the hapless poor people, destroying the fields and burning the harvest. This enormous destruction is the development policy of the rulers. Here, it is crystal clear that who are the bitter enemies of the people's welfare.
Of course, we are calling upon the people to overthrow this unholy state. We are calling upon the people to destroy this menace of the people and to liberate themselves. Only through this liberation struggle the people would be able to establish new power and be able to achieve all-round development with an alternative line in all spheres. The development we are talking of is definitely not the one dictated by the IMF and the World Bank and also not the development policy proposed by Ahluwalias, Rangarajans, Manmohan Singhs, Chidambarams and Pillais. The development policy we are proposing would change the relations of production qualitatively and thus would lead to the qualitative development of the productive forces. It is a real development policy which says that one should oppose placing the sovereignty of our country at the feet of foreign firms, that it should also be an independent and a self-reliant one, that the resources in our country should be used not for the imperialists but for the people. Many intellectuals and researchers who have visited our areas had already written that an alternative political power is being established in our areas. Many are realizing that we are having an alternative line in all spheres like in ideological, political, organizational, military, economical, cultural, and ecological spheres. Observers have written clearly about the increasing development in all these spheres, though at a primary level.
Q: Many of your sympathizers or activists have been raising their voice against Operation Green Hunt. But it becomes difficult for them to support your movement after incidents such as the beheading of Francis Induvar, Jamui massacre, blasting of bus in Dantewada and Gnaneshwari Express accident. What is your explanation about these incidents?
Ganapathi: Firstly, I am sending my revolutionary greetings to all the democratic forces which are opposing and protesting this cruel and unjust war on the people waged by the government. Now coming to bad propaganda and the accusations on us, we do not have any hand in the incident which led to the accident of Gnaneshwari Express. Already our West Bengal party has clearly issued statements in this matter. This incident occurred due to the conspiracy hatched by CPI (M) and the central intelligence agencies. Though judicial enquiry in this matter has been handed over to the CBI, Umakant Mahato who was portrayed as the main accused was caught and killed in a fake encounter. This is also a part of that whole conspiracy. Our party which is fighting with the aim of liberation of the people had never conducted any raids or attacks targeting the people or with the aim of killing them and would never do so in future too.
Our party had already clearly given a statement stating the facts which led to the bus blasting near Chingavaram in Dantewada district. Our party had issued an apology too for the mistake. In the case of Induvar’s beheading Com. Azad had already answered clearly. Our party’s stand on such issues is very clear. When exceptions occurred our party had given explanations. But the ruling classes are intentionally doing bad propaganda to defame the revolutionary movement and the people’s resistance. The Gnaneshwari Express case is an evident example of this.
There is a lot of difference between the Induvar issue, Dantewada bus blast and the Gnaneshwari incident. Near Chingavaram, our targets were clearly the Koya Commandos and SPOs. These blood thirsty forces had raided a village named Kutrem, killed three adivasis, raped women and were returning. But we did not know that there were people inside the bus. The information we had was that SPOs had got into the bus after forcing the people to get down. On the roof top of the bus too it was these armed killer gangs who were traveling. So we considered it a military target and attacked it. We do not have any hand in the Gnaneshwari accident. In Induvar’s case, our party had given a clear explanation. While resisting the killer gangs and the endless cruel violence perpetuated on them, people may in some places, very rarely as an exception, resort to such acts as part of taking revenge. Unless we understand the uneven social conditions in our country, we will not understand this problem. The conditions in urban areas are different in one sense. In the remote rural areas, where there is the cruelest feudal and upper caste oppression, where people are suffering from the inhuman violence perpetrated by Salwa Judum, Sendra, Harmad Bahini and such killer gangs, where they are victims of the huge destructive campaigns of the state, the resistance of the people may sometimes take such forms too. Even in the urban areas, in the bastis where people are victims of the notorious usurers, slum lords, politicians, mafia gangs and police officers hand in glove with the gangsters and politicians, the resistance of the people may take such forms too. The killing of the notorious rapist and goon in Nagpur by the basti women is just one instance out of many such incidents. This is just an explanation as to why such things happen and it is very clear that our party doesn’t carry on such incidents as a policy. Our attitude is that we should educate our people and ranks in this matter. Some intellectuals who lick the boots of the corporations are doing such bad propaganda on us by making a mountain out of a molehill.
In the Jamui incident, a reactionary gang sponsored by the government had caught eight of our comrades in Phulwaria-Kodasi village and killed them in the most heinous, brutal manner by chopping off their limbs. When such incidents happen, we will never be able to safeguard our movement or our people if we keep quiet and do not act. That was why we were compelled to counter attack. In this attack, nine people died including three main goonda leaders. It is extremely sad that a woman and a child were caught in flames and had died accidentally. All the other seven were hard-core criminals, killers and lumpen elements. Our Bihar-Jharkhand Special Area Committee had issued a clear statement on this. It was published in the Bihar papers and in the Maoist Information Bulletin-17.
On the whole, the governments and some paid intellectuals in their service who blow their trumpet are falsely implicating us and trying to defame us. In some incidents where we committed mistakes, they are not even bothering to listen to our explanation and are continuing the bad propaganda on us. So our request to the people and pro-people intellectuals is not to get deceived by the government’s psy-war. Our people’s army which had been formed to defend the interests of the people would lay down lives for the people but would never try to harm the people. So try to know the facts behind each incident. We are always prepared to accept any proper criticism and are always ready to correct our mistakes, if any.
Q. The Maoists have also been criticized for killing police and paramilitary personnel who clearly belong to poor and middle class families. You say that you fight for the poor and yet you end up killing the poor police personnel.
Ganapathi: Any politically thinking person should understand that the state and state machinery are the means of the ruling classes for carrying on exploitation and oppression. The crucial components in these are the police, paramilitary and military. The number of the exploiters is always very limited. They would not even constitute five percent of our population. But they hold the means of production under their control and have built up the police and military to exploit and suppress the vast masses who constitute the majority. The rulers are recruiting them from among the people. That is why, the majority of these forces belong to the poor and middle classes. These forces are waging war on the people on behalf of the exploiting classes. As these are the forces that stand in the forefront in the war, it is inevitable that they would die in the self-defensive war of the people. But if exploitation and oppression are to be ended, if oppressed people are to be liberated and this agonizing situation is to end, then this war of self-defence is inevitable.
In our areas some individuals from the police and paramilitary forces meet us. They help us and we help them too in various forms. Only when the government forces come to attack us carrying guns, we are attacking them in self-defence. Our repeated appeal to the lower level personnel in the police and paramilitary forces is – please do not betray your own class, don’t serve the exploiting classes, don’t attack the people and revolutionaries on your own consciously in a revengeful manner, join hands with the masses and turn your guns against the real enemies and not on your class brothers and sisters. What you are doing is not service to the people but service to the exploiting classes. So stop serving the exploiting classes like slaves. Don’t just think of your livelihood, please think about the people, think about the country.
Our appeal to their families is that they should see to it that their family members do not serve this exploiting system for temporary interests; encourage them to be on the people’s side. When these families reside in our areas, our people’s governments will ensure that they get proper livelihood and necessary help as part of whatever the oppressed people get. We want to make this clear on this occasion to those families one more time.
Q. Your party had established guerilla zones in areas like Lalgarh and Narayanapatna. At least in Lalgarh, the Maoists are on a back foot now. How do you look at these developments?
Ganapathi: In Lalgarh and Narayanapatna, our party gained the vast support of the masses. When mass struggles erupted and spread like a prairie fire in these areas, they not only got the support of the people of those states but also attracted the democrats and people of our country. It is no exaggeration to say that our country had not seen struggles with such huge and vast support of the masses in the past 20 to 25 years. Our party is working in Lalgarh area since three and half decades. As the revisionists who were in power since three decades had been carrying on social fascist repression on the people, severe discontent and hatred simmered and finally erupted like a volcano. Most of the land lords, bad gentry, goons, contractors, traders and police officers who were exploiting the people at local level are the revisionist CPI (M) hoodlums. They had oppressed the people in all spheres. In the background of such a situation, the anti-people CPI (M) government had allowed the steel plant of Jindal in Salboni and this led to the Lalgarh movement. Later the atrocities of the police on the people of that area added fuel to the fire. The distinctive feature there is that people had been under the social fascist oppression of CPI (M) since decades.
The ruling class parties of Congress, Trinamool and CPI (M) have been clashing with each other in West Bengal. In some places clashes took place between CPI (M) and Trinamool and in some places between CPI (M) and Congress. During the Nandigram struggle, this contradiction between the ruling classes intensified more seriously. Its impact could be seen in Lalgadh too. The Lalgarh struggle started mainly as an anti-state movement and spread to all spheres of life. As it consolidated and spread vastly, it brought to a standstill the state machinery and by arming itself had established new political power though at a primary level. It established itself as a political power system in all spheres such as education, health, sanitation, irrigation facilities, transport, trade, economy, culture etc. This is one of the characteristic features of that struggle.
And in the Narayanapatna struggle -- from a class point of view, landlords, usurers and bad gentry drank the blood of the people there. The Narayanapatna peasantry consolidated and armed itself against their exploitation and oppression. They occupied thousands of acres of patta land. They fought most militantly on a vast scale and politically broke down the feudal-bad gentry, usurer system and started new democratic political power organs. As the right opportunism of fake revolutionaries like Kanu Sanyal and Ramachandran became a hindrance in this anti-feudal struggle and in getting the peasantry organized, it became inevitable for them to fight against it. So, when seen from an ideological point of view, this became possible as the peasantry raised its political consciousness and revolted against revisionism by rejecting their leadership.
These two struggles were waged with a clear political stand and with the aim of establishing new political power. They were very just struggles. They had mobilized huge majority of the people in those areas. They had established new leadership. They were struggles with immediate aims which were waged in coordination with the higher aim. The people rose like a hurricane and these struggles had challenged the state, exploiting classes and the imperialists. So the state launched a massive attack on them. In these two areas, many changes occurred in struggle forms and organizational forms. In Narayanapatna right opportunist forces had also joined hands in the most reactionary fashion with the feudal forces and bad gentry and jointly carried on attacks on the people.
Seeing these growing struggles, the central and state governments schemed against them and deployed paramilitary forces on a large scale. In Bengal, Harmad Bahini, the neo-fascist force under the leadership of CPI (M) is conducting attacks along with the central paramilitary forces and the state police. As the central and state governments had jointly undertaken a massive attack on the Lalgadh movement, we had to make changes in the struggle forms and organizational forms which were in vogue till then. When continuous attacks are taking place without any respite, changes should necessarily be made in the mass struggle forms and organizational forms. Then sustaining the movement in the face of attacks becomes primary and the changes made would also be in accordance with this. It is not correct to assess that mass support for these struggle organizations has become less, by looking at this phenomena. If these movements sustain themselves, become more consolidated, more armed, gain more active support of the masses and extend to more new areas and strengthen the party and army, then they would be able to develop further. This process is underway under our leadership.
We would definitely strive to advance these movements and to build such movements in other areas. These struggles have given us great lessons. Taking them as a model we are trying to build movements in other parts of our country. The conditions which led to the eruption of these movements are exactly prevailing all over the country. Wherever the big corporate companies and MNCs are rushing forward to loot our resources, wherever feudal exploitation is severe there is every chance for struggles on the lines of Kalinganagar, Nandigram, Lalgadh and Narayanapatna to break out. We will lead these struggles.
Open: At present, your movement is confined to the remote forest areas, among the adivasis. You are also not attracting youth from urban areas as you used to, in the past. Your critics say you cannot extend to urban areas and that you will never be successful in Gurgaon as you have been in Giridih (Jharkhand)? Does this worry you?
Ganapathi: After merger, we have emerged stronger in some areas and become weaker is some areas. Among the areas where we have become weaker, there are some plain areas and some urban areas. Among the areas where we strengthened ourselves, there are some remote areas and some plain areas. Such ups and downs may be inevitable in a protracted war. It is not true that we have been completely eliminated from the urban areas and plains as some people are propagating or as some others believe. As I had mentioned before, India is one of the countries where Maoist movements are on going in the world. Imperialists and the ruling classes of our country are together intensifying the offensive to suppress our movement. When they so concentrate and carry on attacks, we may suffer losses. And we have suffered losses. This is just one aspect of the problem.
We have gained many experiences in the urban areas. We have enriched our policy on urban work. We have studied the changes in the economic and political conditions of our country and the world and had formulated a program accordingly. Communists never work according to their wills and wishes. They work by studying objective conditions in the society. Basing on the positive and negative lessons we have learnt, we are trying to overcome the losses.
The second aspect of this problem is that we may suffer losses due to enemy attacks, but on the other hand due to their suppression campaigns, their pro-imperialist policies and anti-people acts they are getting more and more isolated from the people. This means that they themselves are creating the conditions for the people to turn against them. It is true that at present we are not able to mobilize workers, students and intellectuals as we had done in the 70s and 80s. There have been some considerable changes and phenomena in those conditions. It has become very complex to work in areas where the enemy is strong and in the trade union movement where the revisionists have entrenched themselves. This is not just the case in India. This condition is prevailing in the whole world. But revolutionaries would definitely overcome this. In order to liberate this country we have to concentrate on organizing the peasantry. At present we would strengthen our movement among the peasantry and definitely extend to the urban areas. On the other hand, this peasant movement is inspiring the urban and people and is having a great impact on them. So, the days when we would vastly organize peasantry of plain areas, the suburban people and urban people are not that far off.
Today, the workers in our country are once again facing the conditions which the workers had faced in 19th century Europe. Most of the workers are turning into contract and casual labourers. They are forced to work for 12 to 16 hours in horrible conditions. Government is changing all labor laws to facilitate the imperialist exploitation. Workers’ families are forced to live like slaves in the barracks built for them. Everything is being restructured. The enemy may be happy about the losses he has inflicted on us. But since people are suffering, they are fighting against them in various forms. Our party would definitely lead these struggles bravely and firmly. All the conditions required for the proletariat and the urban masses to rise like a storm and destroy the exploiting system are gradually ripening.
The Indian government has finished implementing the LPG policy of second generation reforms and is going to take up third generation reforms. Under these circumstances, it is bringing many kinds of changes in the education policy according to the needs of the imperialist capital. In the background of the imperialist-dictated changes taken up by the ruling classes in the education policy, education opportunities are diminishing for the poor children and for women belonging to working class, peasantry, adivasi, dalit and religious minority families. Privatization of education is decreasing the opportunities with each passing day. At present, education mainly means corporate-dominated education. This education system mainly caters to the interests of the domestic and foreign corporations. This is creating a big chasm with the students, teachers, parents on one side and the ruling classes on the other. Within a short period this would erupt. Our party is recognizing the need to study and lead this. We will do everything possible in this matter.
Allowing imperialist capital into retail market and the increasing grip of the imperialist and corporate companies over our country’s economy in order to overcome the economic crises have led to the bankruptcy of the small traders and small and medium bourgeoisie in the urban areas. In the name of beautification of cities slums are evacuated and middle class people are chased away to the suburban areas. The life of the working class and slum population is in turmoil. Among these people, there are many people who had migrated to the cities from our movement areas. All this is speeding up the process of these cities and towns turning into gun powder centres. We are studying all these phenomena and trying to work among them with proper tactics.
All the riches between Giridih and Gurgaon have been produced by people from poor areas like Giridih. It is the poor, dalit and adivasi labourers who are spilling their sweat and blood for the construction of huge mansions and infrastructure by Indian and foreign corporate lords. The majority of the workers and employees who work in the shopping malls and companies are from these areas. Either in terms of social, economic and cultural ties or in terms of movement relations Gurgaons and Giridihs are not two unconnected islands as such. They both are influencing each other. This is creating a strong base for our extension. If Giridih is liberated first, then basing on its strength and on the struggles of the working class in Gurgaon, Gurgaon would be liberated later. This means one is first and the other is later. Though after Giridih, Gurgaon would also have to be liberated. Along with the liberation of Gurgaon the comprador rule and imperialist control would also be forced to end in our country.
Open: In the urban areas, the middle class has many doubts and apprehensions about the Maoist movement. They fear that if the Maoists come to power, they would be annihilated and that their properties would be confiscated. Would you like to say anything to allay these fears?
Ganapathi: Our very revolution is concerned with the proletariat, peasantry, middle class and the national bourgeoisie. Among these classes we consider the middle class to be a reliable ally of the proletariat. They are completely affected by the pro-imperialist policies of the government. They are in fact facing great insecurity. The lives and livelihood of middle classes are seriously threatened by the pro-imperialist policies of the ruling class and by the economic crises shaking the world and not at all due to us. The properties which we would confiscate as part of the new democratic revolution belong to the land lords, comprador bureaucratic bourgeoisie and the imperialist corporations and none other.
Only a very small percent of the upper crust in the middle classes join the upper classes and turn anti-people. But the entire middle class, the majority of the intellectuals and democrats who belong to the middle class would either join the movement or would stand in support of the movement. Not only during the revolution but in a post-revolutionary society too, the role of the intellectuals in building a new society would be excellent. When they join their hands with the working people, we will be able to complete the revolution sooner and also build the new society at a rapid pace. Due to the prejudices propagated by the ruling classes and some of their stooges who lick their boots, a negligible number of them may have some fears but we want to clearly say that it is not at all the truth.
Open: After Rahul Gandhi intervened in Vedanta, it is being said that there is no need for violent movements like the Maoist movement and that problems can be solved by bringing pressure through peaceful and legal movements.
Ganapathi: This is a result of the determined, united struggle of the adivasis of Niyamgiri hills and a result of the impact of the struggles at Kalinganagar, Singur, Nandigram etc. People’s movements are carried on in various forms. The determined struggle of the people is the main factor. In fact, the very permission given to Vedanta is against their so called laws and regulations, you know. The central government had to cancel the permission in an inevitable situation and now they are falling heads over heels to portray Jairam Ramesh, Rahul Gandhi and the likes as the saviors of the people. In fact, they should have arrested and punished the Vedanta management for gross violation of rules and regulations and the political leaders and government officials for their patronage. On the other hand, this same government had given permission to the massive Polavaram project at the same time when this