At a seminar in Nagpur on “urban Maoist network”, former chief justice of Uttarakhand, Justice VS Sirpurkar made a very important point. He said, “any type of violence is wrong and worth discarding.” He then went on to mention the violence unleashed by self-styled gau-rakshaks. The Sukma attack on CRPF should serve as a grim reminder to all of us that the Maoist may be down but not out. And if the current goings-on in the country are to be seen from the Maoist perspective, then we should be prepared to witness a surge of Maoist push not only in the green but also in the concrete jungles. The reasons are not far to seek. The current socio-political ambience in the country provides a perfect alibi for the Maoists to not only exist but also spread their wings.
The basic Naxal worldview is one of our lives being controlled by a deceptive democracy propped by elections and one which serves the interests of the bourgeoisie. They term it as an “exploitative, imperialistic, fascist, feudal, Brahminical” et al. They have their own reasoning for why they hold this view. While the view has its own strengths and weaknesses, the question in current context is: are some forces in the country behaving in a way that only lends strength to the Maoist view? What Justice Sirpurkar said has straight relevance to this question.
The growing vigilantism in the name of cow and religion, questions of bread and butter getting overshadowed by issues packaged in the wrappers of nationalism and patriotism are proving the Maoists right. When asked about their violent methodology, the Maoists and their apologists have always asked back why state violence is not questioned. The question is legitimate but the answer is that while the state is accountable for any violence unleashed on its citizens, the Maoists aren’t.
While ordinary citizen can demand justice and move the highest authority for justice, including the courts, there is no appeal against the Maoist violence and hegemony in the areas they operate and virtually rule. While the government’s model of development can be challenged, opposed and even stalled and scrapped, the Maoists have either no model of their own for the economic development of the people they claim to represent or if they have one, it has no challenge. Their writ runs in the areas they dominate and has to be necessarily accepted. If you don’t, you will be thrown out or eliminated, depending on the severity of your protest against them.
But what’s happening on the streets of India in the name of cow vigilantism is even worse. There is state and there is the government and yet the vigilantes are running riot at will. Dalits are flogged in street in full public view and the manner in which the Centre handled suicide by Dalit student Rohit Vemula has rubbed many Dalits the wrong way. The disappearance of a Muslim student from JNU after an alleged tiff with an ABVP student activist raises serious questions about apparent selectivity in the implementation of law and order by the government of the day. Or at least it all appears as if because the government is unable to implement the law, it has outsourced the job to these vigilantes.
Vigilantism tasted legitimate power for the first time anywhere in the country when the head of a vigilante group called Hindu Yuva Vahini became the Chief Minister of Uttar Pradesh, Yogi Adityanath. And the Hindu Yuva Vahini continues to have a free run. The victory of vigilantism in such a naked manner only buttresses the Maoist argument that electoral democracy is no guarantee for real people’s democracy, notwithstanding their own version of democracy being no guarantee either.
That right-wing vigilantism supported by government helps the Maoists is borne out by the fact that in Bastar, Salva Judum had resulted in Maoists getting 500 new cadres, all drawn from those forced to live a life in exile Judum vigilantes.
Similarly, the manner in which the ruling party is turning a blind eye to its patriarch RSS’ agenda of Hindutva and incessant incendiary remarks by the party’s many leaders from all the rungs, the Maoists would appear vindicated in their view of how the minorities and the socially and economically underprivileged are suppressed in what they term as fascist regime.
The manner in which Kashmir problem is being handled, the bullet-phillic approach of some in the establishment as also the attacks on Kashmiri students could also be seen by many as conforming to the Maoist view on Kashmir’s “Struggle for Independence”.
Three years ago, these forces were not in power. Now, they are, not only at Centre but in more than 13 states of the country. The Naxal cadre base in urban areas was sourced from among youths feeling estranged by the system or having empathy for the socially and economically backward masses. With the far right fringe tending to become the mainstream in open as well as many subtle ways, Maoists never perhaps had it so good to spread their wings. In their publications, they clearly mention that any social unrest and divisions within the society are an opportunity to spread wings. Gravitation of Dalits towards Naxal movement in states like Maharashtra have been pointers in the direction of how Naxals have tapped the young, restless minds from among the disadvantaged sections.
Now, apart from the passionate and the romantic, they would be looking to lure even those on the border line of passion and reason since the currently unfolding socio-political situation is sure to lessen faith of many in the kind of democracy we have preferred for decades now. Needless to say, we could actually witness surge in Maoism than a dip in the years to come.