Shafiq R Khan

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Historic Significance of Naxalbari Uprising

the Naxalbari Uprising, the Spring Thunder Over Indian Horizon was a revolutionary effort to continue the Telengana struggle’s experience in the new situation of 1967. Immediately after the 1947 transfer of power, the Congress government which took over had intensified the onslaught on the Telengana agrarian struggle, while the Tebhaga movement in Bengal had weakened due to the division of Bengal and major struggle areas becoming part of then East Pakistan. The Indian military which was send to crush Nizam’s resistance to the integration of the Hyderabad kingdom to Indian union, was unleashed for a reign of terror against the agrarian movement against feudal oppression led by the Communist Party with land to the tiller slogan. The movement had liberated more than three thousand villages of Telengana region, driving out the feudal lords and their goonda forces, capturing their land and distributing to the landless-poor peasant and agricultural workers. Peasant committees with people’s militia were running administration in these areas. In spite of brutal suppression leading to setbacks in some areas, the movement continued refusing to surrender.
In order to hoodwink the masses and to prevent outbreak of Telengana like movements Nehru government, along with police-military suppression launched the Bhoodan movement under Vinoba Bhave’s leadership. But even this could not stop the continuation of the movement. Only when the Nehru government succeeded to force the then Party leadership to withdraw the movement on the eve of 1952 parliament elections with promises which were later betrayed, the movement came to a halt. Then under Ford Foundation suggestions the “land reforms from above with ceiling laws” were imposed for transforming the land holding from old feudal lords to new landlords so that the green revolution could be launched. It was an attempt to put down the anti-feudal struggles on the one hand, and to prepare rural areas for the entry of imperialist capital, inputs and MNCs. Under reformist influence the Communist Party leadership also started abandoning the land to the tiller slogan. The demands of Kisan Sabha was reduced to reformist slogans like the distribution of above ceiling surplus land etc. Even no effort was made in most of these areas to carry it forward vigorously.
Though the Dangeist CPI leadership was thrown out and the party was reorganised as CPI(M) in 1964 adopting the Party Programme of People’s Democratic Revolution with agrarian revolution as its axis, by the time of the 1967 elections the CPI(M) leadership compromised with reactionary, communal parties and succeeded in forming coalition governments in West Bengal and Kerala. These governments abandoned agrarian programme with land to the tiller slogan. Besides the West Bengal government did not take any steps to take over the surplus lands from the landlords and plantation owners. It was in this situation tens of thousands of landless-poor peasants were mobilised under All India Kisan Sabha led by communist revolution-aries in the CPI(M) who launched a militant movement in May 1967 occupying the lands of landlords and plantation owners in Naxalbari region.
It was not just a struggle for land alone. If it was so it would have become just another economic struggle. After the split in CPI in 1964 and formation of CPI(M), in its Seventh Congress documents, in analysing the character of the big bourgeoisie, in developing the line of PDR according to Indian conditions, in continuing to implement the Telengana lessons and developing the agrarian struggles based on land to the tiller slogan, in politicising the working class and establishing their leadership in the PDR etc. it vacillated. On the question of Krushchovite line of three peacefuls and on upholding Great Debate positions of the CPC led by Mao Tsetung also CPI(M) leadership had no clarity. As a result, the Communist Revolutionaries inside the Party from various states, especially West Bengal, Andhra Pradesh, Kerala, etc. had started launching ideological struggle against the Party line. The eight documents published by CM for inner party discussion during 1965-67 period tried to deal with these issues and to give answers, waging uncompromising struggle against the revisionist line of CPI and the neo-revisionist line of CPI(M).
The importance of Naxalbari uprising lies in the fact that it was the product of this inner-party struggle, it brought forward the significance of continuing the agrarian revolutionary movement according to then concrete conditions and that it brought forward the question of capture of political power. Thus Naxalbari transcended the economic struggle and included the orientation of the political struggle. Against revisionism and neo-revisionism, it became a spring thunder inspiring the continuation of the People’s Democratic Revolution (PDR) with more vigour. It was a powerful onslaught against the reformist deviation of the CPI(M) leadership.
That is why the CPI(M) leadership became mortally afraid of it and launched brutal suppression against it. The W. Bengal government with Jyoti Basu as deputy chief minister sent a big police force and sought the help of central forces to drown the movement in blood, killing nine women comrades and two children in the police firing on 25th May. When this did not wipe out the movement, the CR forces were attacked and hounded out of the party. When the communist revolutionaries regrouped and formed AICCCR and later the CPI(ML), utilising the ‘left’ sectarian deviation influencing it, the political and organisational attack on it was intensified. When the fascistic Congress government of West Bengal unleashed a reign of state terror against it in early 1970s, the CPI(M) leaders colluded in the encirclement and large scale murder of the CPI(ML) cadres. They were overjoyed when the movement splintered.
New Situation
Today, four decades after Naxalbari, what was pointed out by the communist revolutionaries then has become an established fact. After 32 years of continuous rule in West Bengal and many terms in power in Kerala and Tripura the CPI(M) and the Left Front led by it have totally degenerated to social democracy and parliamentary cretinism, implementing the neo-liberal policies pursued by the ruling class faithfully. After propping up the reactionary UPA government for five year, along with other ruling class parties they are engaged in a frantic salvage operation to save the fragmented ruling class polity from the wrath of the people. The state governments led by CPI(M) are competing with other state governments to rob the workers of their rights, to suppress the agrarian revolutionary movements and to serve the neo-liberal raj of the comprador bureaucratic bourgeois-big landlord classes. They have become as corrupt and anti-people as the other ruling class parties creating Singur, Nandigram, Chengara, adding misery of the people. The neo-revisionists of Naxalbari days have become part of the arch-reactionary ruling system today. From apologists of neo-colonialism, they have become executioners of the neo-colonial policies imposed by the imperialists, especially US imperialists, while continuing to mouth anti-imperialist slogans like the social democrats in other countries also do.
But, in spite of claiming to uphold Naxalbari and even Charu Majumdar, many sections of the Marxist-Leninist forces are refusing to see this degeneration of the CPI(M) and its LF partners. Instead one of them, the CPI(ML) Liberation in continuation to its ‘Left Confederation’ policy has forged an electoral alliance with CPI(M) and CPI in Bihar and Jharkhand. Certain other fringe sections in Kerala, West Bengal have degenerated as apologists and propagandists of the social democratic CPI(M). They are continuously diluting their ideological-political positions to suit it.
Today upholding Naxalbari means continuing along the path of the uncompromising struggle against the revisionists and neo-revisionists of those days who have degenerated to social democratic positions now। It means continuing Naxalbari’s mass revolutionary character rejecting the ‘left’ sectarian deviation and the line of annihilation influencing it later causing immense damage to it। It means continuing uncompromising struggle against both right opportunism and ‘left’ sectarian, anarchist tendencies of all hues, and developing the ideological political positions to combat the ever-intensifying neo-colonial offensive of the imperialists, especially US imperialists। It means uniting all genuine Marxist-Leninists and winning over the new generation of the revolutionaries to build a powerful communist party with all India influence, in Bolshevik style, surrounded by class/mass organisations, and capable of intensifying class struggle utilising all forms of struggle without compromising basic Marxist-Leninist strategic orientation to complete the tasks of the PDR and advance towards socialist transformation। Once again let us pledge to march forward along the Telengana-Naxalbari path intensifying the agrarian revolution under working class leadership with land to the tiller slogan according to the concrete conditions of today।
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