50 years of Naxalbari movement: From rich landlords, the new enemy is the RSS-BJP combine, says CPI(ML) Liberation

Amid the scorching heat and oppressive humidity on 25 May — the 50th anniversary of the Naxalbari movement, the successors of Charu Majumdar, Kanu Sanyal and Jangal Santhal gathered in the village of Naxalbari in West Bengal and pledged to initiate a new beginning for the movement and connect with the younger generation. Only this time, the enemy has changed.

From the rich landlords of the 1960s, the enemy now is the RSS-BJP combine.

"More than 5,000 people who came from across West Bengal and other places took a pledge to start a new beginning in the Naxalbari movement. From yesteryear's class struggle of the poor and landless peasants against rich landlords, now the focus is the RSS-BJP combine, which is the new enemy. The need is to connect with the young generation and popularise the ideals of Naxalbari and comrade Majumdar," Professor Abhijit Majumdar, central committee member, Communist Party of India (Marxist–Leninist) Liberation, and son of Charu Majumdar told Firstpost.

CPI (ML) Liberation cadres pay homage at Naxalbari on Thursday. Image credit: Shashi Yadav of AIPWA's Facebook page

CPI (ML) Liberation cadres pay homage at Naxalbari on Thursday. Image credit: Shashi Yadav of AIPWA's Facebook page

The peasants’ uprising called 'Naxal Andolan' (Naxal Movement) began in the village of Naxalbari in north Bengal’s Darjeeling district in 1967, with slogans like 'Langor jaar, Jamin taar (Land belongs to him, who tills it)'. The killing of 11 villagers, including eight women and two children by the police sparked the movement into a widespread mass revolution on 25 May, 1967 led by Majumdar Sr, Sanyal and Santhal. It was in retaliation to an incident that had occurred a day earlier, when thousands of villagers had gheraoed a police station protesting against the state’s oppression leading to the killing of a police inspector.

Half a century later, thousands, including members of the CPI(ML) Liberation — the largest faction of the 1970s CPI(ML) — under the banner of which the Naxalbari movement had begun, gathered on Thursday morning at Naxalbari — 23 kilometres from Siliguri in north Bengal to pay homage to the "martyrs of the red revolution". It was followed by a procession from Siliguri station that culminated in a mass rally at Bagha Jatin Park in Siliguri, where the members pledged for a new beginning — to rekindle the spirit that the architects of the revolution had initiated.

"The only alternative to combat the extreme Right politics is the Left. The need of the hour is to have a wider and bigger combined Left force for a class and mass struggle," added Majumdar, who is also secretary of the party’s Darjeeling unit.

Agreed Swadesh Bhattacharya, polit bureau member, CPI(ML) Liberation, "The nationalism of RSS-BJP is not that of our country. BJP’s aggressive nationalism is based on divisive and non-secular policy, which is rather anti-national and dangerous. It’s not just the Communists, others are saying that too."

In one of his recent articles, CPI(ML) Liberation general secretary Dipankar Bhattacharya wrote, "Most crucially, Naxalbari was a great moment of radicalisation of the Indian communist movement. It gave rise to a new paradigm of class struggle that is not confined to the economic realm or the parameters of parliamentary politics, but committed to fight out oppression and injustice in every sphere of social existence. Issues of caste and gender, race and nationality, language and culture found their rightful place in this new praxis of class struggle. Today when the Sangh brigade in power with their Hindi-Hindu-Hindustan agenda is desperate to bulldoze India under the twin wheels of corporate plunder and communal polarisation, the radical energy and resilience of Naxalbari could perhaps never be more needed."

CPI (ML) Liberation general secretary Dipankar Bhattacharya addressing a mass rally at Siliguri on Thursday. Image credit: Shashi Yadav from AIPWA's Facebook page

CPI (ML) Liberation general secretary Dipankar Bhattacharya addressing a mass rally at Siliguri on Thursday. Image credit: Shashi Yadav from AIPWA's Facebook page

However, CPI (ML) Liberation strongly disagrees with the 'concept of revolution' as espoused by the CPI (Maoist). In popular imagination, the term ‘Naxal’ and the dread that it inspires in the heart of the establishment has been hijacked by the members of the CPI (Maoist). They are better known for regular bloodshed in the infamous Red Corridor that runs through the states of Chhattisgarh, Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, Odisha and Jharkhand.

CPI(ML) Liberation has nothing to do with the CPI (Maoist) and asserts that the architect of the revolution — Charu Majumdar — would have never approved of what the latter do. For him, the armed struggle meant the agricultural tools and not guns.

For the layman, there's a very thin line separating the two but both for the CPI(ML) Liberation and the Maoists, it’s a world of difference that they are very sensitive about.

"There is a fundamental difference between present day Maoists and us. The Naxalbari revolution was built on the politics of class struggle — of the landless and poor peasants. Whereas, the present day Maoists despite having ideals, failed to create a revolutionary class, unlike Naxalbari that received large support from educated middle-class, farmers and labourers in West Bengal and elsewhere. Maoists have given priority to arms (AK 47, Insas rifles, landmines) rather than the people for whom the original revolution had begun. The need is to challenge the State through political means and not guns or mass killing," added Majumdar.

"Although both CPI(ML) Liberation and CPI (Maoist) were born out of Communist ideology, the latter harbours a different view from ours. We don’t approve of their ways," added Bhattacharya.

Fifty years on, the revolution is hoping to find its feet again

Published Date: May 26, 2017 10:24 AM | Updated Date: May 26, 2017 10:24 AM

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