Kishenji says yes but Maoist leadership remains divided on talks

Even as Kishenji responded to the call of the Prime Minister and the President for laying down arms,urging the Maoists to...

Written by Madhuparna Das | Kolkata | Published:August 20, 2010 1:52 am

Even as Kishenji responded to the call of the Prime Minister and the President for laying down arms,urging the Maoists to come to the negotiating table for peace talks,a report prepared by the West Bengal police reveals a widening gap and sharp differences between the Maoist Communist Centre of India (MCC) and People’s War Group (PWG) leadership in the Central Committee over how to respond to the offer.

According to highly placed police sources,the Central Committee of the CPI-Maoist comprises 32 members with six members promoted to the Central Committee recently. Of these 32 members,18 members belong to the PWG and the rest are from the MCC. After the peace talks fiasco for the CPI-Maoist leadership in Andhra Pradesh in 2004,the MCC leadership was highly critical in the 9th Congress of the CPI-Maoist in Jharkhand in 2009.

“Every time the CPI-Maoist responds to the peace talks proposal by theCentre,they put several conditions,which they know cannot be fulfilled. We have received specific inputs from our channels that Azad was the only person in the Central Committee who was serious about the talks and was trying to convince his party about their significance. But he was killed in an encounter when he was carrying a letter for Swami Agnivesh. There were more than 10 members in the CC who opposed Azad. So this is a big question about how Azad’s information reached the AP Police since the movement of the CC members cannot be tracked so easily,” said a highly-placed police official dealing with the Maoists.

“Kishenji has put conditions that would never be met and the peace talks will not ever go ahead. Moreover,the CC members are yet to reach a consensus on the issue. But,Kishenji had to respond to the statement of the PM and President,” said the source.

Significantly,in Bengal,Jharkhand and Orissa there is a clear rift between the PWG and the MCC factions that had merged to form the CPI-Maoist. While Kishenji welcomes Mamata Banerjee’s initiative of holding a meeting in Lalgarh and gives a nod for the proposed dialogue,a senior area commander of the CPI-Maoist in Purulia issued a press statement claiming that Banerjee’s meeting is insignificant as she is yet to clear her stand as a Union minister on the Maoist issue.

A senior Maoist leader said,“Even after the two factions merged,differences remain. As far as the peace talks are concerned,they have not been able to arrive at a consensus. And the Central government also does not appear to be very serious. So to us,this is nothing but a media gimmick.”

Moreover,in the press statement Kishenji has taken names of some personalities as possible mediators,including Swami Agnivesh,Gautam Navlakha,Arundhati Roy and Kabir Suman. He has maintained that he does not have any problem should Banerjee mediate. But the candidates for the role of mediator are known to speak differently on the issue.

“Kishenji speaks more polemic and less politics. The CPI-Maoist’s stand about the peace talks has always been that they want their senior leaders like Kobad Ghandy and Narayan Sanyal who are in custody to start the dialogue with the government because they are the best persons to negotiate with the government. I do not understand why they need a mediator. And if they need a mediator now,then Mamata Banerjee is the best person to initiate the process since she is a cabinet minister and she can convince her colleagues” says Gautam Navlakha,a rights activist based in Delhi.

Swami Agnivesh says “This is a welcome step by the CPI-Maoist. Their response was prompt on the issue. I do not have any problem in becoming a mediator,but Kishenji has to send a letter to me mentioning 2-3 dates for the mutual ceasefire for 72 days. I would request Kishenji to go through the two letters which Chidambaram sent to me and which I wrote to Azad and then he can understand that initially,they need to declare a short-term ceasefire and then a long-term ceasefire to prepare the atmosphere of talks.”

“Moreover,I have a humble advice to Kishenji not to put any conditions to the Centre except the demand for a judicial inquiry into Azad’s death by a judge of eminence. So that the peace process can start,” adds Agnivesh.

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