“Those who cover their faces and kill people are cowards…They (Maoists) do not believe in democracy. They do not want peace. They believe in the barrel of the gun. They indulge in kidnapping and killing people.” This is West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee railing against Maoists.
The hypocrisy in the statement is too stark to ignore. Her party, the Trinamool Congress, is believed to have roped in the Maoists’ support in her game changing Nandigram and Singur agitations to trounce the CPM in the state. The marriage of convenience was brief and bitter. Now that the Maoists are targeting her party workers, Mamata’s anger is understandable.
But we will let that pass. The CPM too indulged in a similar cynical game of using Maoists for political gains and burnt its fingers. It is now hell bent on recovering its base in the ultra-Red controlled Lalgarh and is learnt to have raised a private militia to wage a battle in the forested territory. When both the parties are convinced that the Maoists are a genuine threat to them, why cannot they build a political consensus to fight the common foe?
The situation has come to a pass where the Maoists have to be dealt ruthlessly and be eliminated, not only in West Bengal but wherever they are present in the country. There won’t be any end to kidnapping of government officials and killing of policemen, alleged police informers and innocent tribals till the Left wing ultras roam free and rule the forests with an iron hand.
There is a growing conviction in the country that their fight is not about ideology. It is not even about tribals whose cause they claim to champion. They are a bunch of power hungry anarchists prospering at the cost of tribals. They don’t want any development in the vast swathe of land — the Red Zone — they control. Their activities are downright anti-national and seditious.
There is nothing romantic about the so-called people’s movement anymore. Mamata was harsh on intellectuals in Bengal supporting Maoists. She might have her own political reason to that but the criticism applies well to all the bleeding-heart intellectuals supporting the Maoists’ activities. There’s no heroism in killing and abducting innocent people; popular movements need not be supported by AK 47s, anti-aircraft missiles and money from poppy cultivation and extortion; and there can be no popular movement without a meaningful goal and bereft of the idea of inclusion.
The argument that the growth of Maoism is a spin off of continued neglect of the tribals by the government and lack of development in forest areas no more holds good. It has been told so many times over the last few decades that there’s a need to either dump it fully or revise it drastically — Maoists have stalled development for far too long to take the sheen off the argument. If only the so-called intellectuals had the mental vigour to analyse the reality!
It is still not clear whether they stand for the rights and well-being of the tribals or some redundant socio-political ideology that has more or less died across the world. If they are serious about the tribals, they should be separating them from Maoists. Both are entirely different entities — one a predator and the other the prey; one the exploiter and the other the hapless victim. The whole confusion in understanding the Maoist narrative lies in treating tribals and Maoists as a singular entity.
While there’s a broad political realisation that the Maoists are a nuisance and they need to be crushed, the country seems to be apprehensive of the backlash from their vocal supporters everywhere in the country — yes, the bleeding hearts are an influential lot with good presence in international fora. The time has come to be tough on these people too. Abetment of crime is also a criminal offence.
If the experience of Mamata Banerjee and the CPM is any indicator, Maoists are nobody’s friends. They prosper through being used and the temporary political patronage they receive. It would be a positive development if both the warring political parties in Bengal called truce to raise a unified battle against the ultras.