A statement purportedly issued by the banned Communist Party of India (Maoist) has announced the cancellation of Kobad Ghandy’s party membership, accusing him of distancing himself from the outfit, “espousing the path of spiritualism” and “suggesting that Marxism doesn’t have good values”.
The statement, issued on November 27 and signed by CPI(Maoist) spokesperson Abhay, reads, “Ghandy has worked for over 50 years by following the principles of politics of Naxalbari, first as CPI(ML) central committee member, later as Maharashtra state committee leader and subsequently as member of the CPI(Maoist) politburo. He was jailed in 2009. Since then, he has been maintaining that he has no connection to the party. He has been doing this at the behest of ruling political forces, showing that he has lost his honesty. What message can such dishonest people give to the society,” the press note reads.
Speaking to The Indian Express on the Maoist ‘statement’, Ghandy said, “Is this (statement) even genuine? I have no way of finding out. I have always been accused by the media and police of being some top Maoist, so I don’t know if this is another ploy… This question of being expelled doesn’t arise since I have always denied what the police have accused me of and I have been cleared of all charges by the courts.”
Ghandy was arrested in September 2009 on charges of being a Politburo member of the banned CPI(Maoist). Accused of plotting to carry out terror attacks, he spent a decade in jails across the country. In June 2016, a Delhi court acquitted Ghandy of all UAPA charges and in October 2019, he was released on bail from Surat jail.
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It’s his memoir, Fractured Freedom, published over a year after his release from jail, that seems to have riled the Maoists.
Apart from tracking his journey from privilege in Mumbai to his life and work in some of the poorest slums of Maharashtra with wife Anuradha, the memoir offers a critique of the Left and Maoist movements in India, questioning their “dogmatic approach” and calling for the Indian-nisation of Marxism for Left politics to stay relevant.
The Maoist statement reads, “Ghandy has raised doubts about the efficacy of Marxism-Leninism-Maoism, asking why the struggle led by Mao failed, why did the Cultural Revolution in China fail after Mao’s death… He further says revolutions have succeeded only during wars and cannot succeed in times of peace.”
Responding to the statement, Ghandy said, “I strongly stand by what I wrote (in the book). And I will continue to raise these questions. If I am wrong, they should tell me why the Communist movement around the world is collapsing, why they are sticking to the same dogmatic approach.”
The statement also accused Ghandy of “not contacting the party” since his release from jail.
“Where would I find them? In the bushes? No one met me while I was in jail,” said Ghandy, adding that he would soon issue a statement.
The Maoist statement also accuses Ghandy of embarking on the “bourgeois path of spiritualism”.
“In 2013, when in jail, Ghandy had written an article entitled ‘Question of Freedom, People’s Emancipation’ in mainstream newspapers where he had presented his bourgeois theory by putting humanism and spiritualism on a high pedestal. These thoughts have come out in a fully crystalised state in his book published in 2021. After 40 years of his life in revolutionary activities, he says that it is essential for society to espouse good values and be happy and conduct itself in a way to secure this happiness. He is also talking of internalising the message of moral stories (niti katha). By saying this, Ghandy is clearly espousing the path of spiritualism and is suggesting that Marxism doesn’t have good values and as such will not be able to achieve its goal,” the statement reads.
Speaking to The Indian Express in March, soon after his book was released, Ghandy had said, “Even now, the Left doesn’t fully accept caste as part of the class struggle. Can we have any form of democratisation in India with the hierarchy, divisions, and oppression of caste?”
“The Left needs to see what’s wrong with the movement that produces these trends, so that in the future they can do a better job. But I don’t see that happening immediately,” he added.
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