Left-wing Extremist group
Communist Party of India-Maoist (CPI-Maoist)
The Maoist Communist Centre of India (MCC) and the Communist Party of India (Marxist-Leninist) People's War (also known as the People's War Group or PWG) merged to form a new entity, the Communist Party of India-Maoist (CPI-Maoist) on September 21, 2004, somewhere in the projected 'liberated zone'. Officially, the merger was announced on October 14, 2004, by the PWG Andhra Pradesh ‘state secretary’, Ramakrishna, at a news conference in Hyderabad, on the eve of peace talks between the PWG and the State Government.
The merger is the consequences of initiatives that date back five years, when the PWG approached the MCC with a proposal of merger. In fact, since its inception on April 22, 1980, the PWG had been trying to bring all the Left Wing extremist groups (also called Naxalite) in India (numbering around 40) under its umbrella with the objective of overthrowing 'the bureaucrat comprador bourgeois and big landlords classes who control state power in collusion with imperialism' and 'to establish in its place the New Democratic State under the leadership of the proletariat' with the ultimate aim of establishing socialism and communism. The MCC had been its first target and talks had been on since the early 1980's. However, the discussions failed to progress initially as a result of turf wars and differences at the leadership level. Despite ideological commonalities and shared objectives, the pathways to the merger have been full of obstacles, with territorial and leadership clashes giving rise to an internecine conflict that lasted through much of the 1990s, as the two groups struggled for supremacy in different parts of then undivided Bihar, resulting in the death of hundreds of cadres and sympathisers. However, continuous interaction resulted in declining hostility between the two groups over time, and gradually increased operational cooperation and consolidation. The creation of Jharkhand State in November 2000 and anti-Maoist operations launched by the administration pushed the MCC and PWG into closer cooperation, and a truce was announced between them three years ago. Significantly, the PWG had earlier merged with the CPI-ML (Party Unity) of Bihar in August 11, 1998.
The first ever meeting between the PWG and MCC was held in 1981, when Kanai Chatterjee of the MCC and Kondapally Seetaramaiah of PWG met for over 12 days. Both leaders, though belonging to different streams of the Naxalite movement, stated that the grounds to merge are strong as both were pursuing a similar end. The PWG and MCC subsequently set out the procedure for a possible merger. However, such possibilities were premature, as in 1982 Chatterjee died of illness and Seetharamaiah was arrested in the Secunderabad conspiracy case.
Though the initial desire of PWG and MCC for unity was strong, not much progress was possible. Differences over tactical and strategic issues, personality clashes and a ‘turf war’ to control territory were predominant. Attempts to further the unity process, however, continued with talks commencing in 1992. Later, in September 1993, the PWG, MCC and the CPI-ML (Party Unity) decided to jointly intensify the Naxalite movement in Andhra Pradesh, Bihar, Maharashtra and other States and constituted the All India Peoples Resistance Forum to build a strong anti-feudal and anti-imperialist movement. The process of unification continued for three years, after which it finally broke down due to some differences on international issues pertaining to the Revolutionary International Movement. Both outfits issued a joint statement for the failure of the talks, outlining the differences and its momentary suspension, but decided to deliberate the unity at a later date.
Relations between the two outfits also soured, particularly after the merger of PWG and another left-wing extremist group, the Communist Party of India (Marxist-Leninist) [Party Unity], in August 1998. After 1998, armed clashes between the PWG and MCC intensified and this period is referred to by Naxalite outfits as the ‘black chapter’. These clashes occurred despite the PWG’s claim that "serious efforts were made by all the three (groups) to unite and build a united revolutionary proletarian party in India." The clashes were reportedly a result of the ‘wrong handling of contradictions among the people.’ "Instead of solving the contradictions with a class approach … (and) in a non-antagonistic manner, we adopted a parochial and non-proletarian approach", admits a PWG statement. In one of its self-critical note, the PWG ‘central committee’ has pledged to "learn from this negative experience and never again (to) take up arms against our class friends, no matter how sharp may be the differences. Political differences must be settled by polemical debates and by proving correctness of our politics through revolutionary practice, but not through the gun."
MCC took the initiative in declaring a unilateral cease-fire in January 2000, a gesture reciprocated by the PWG. This was primarily due to a rethinking in the MCC and appeals from ‘revolutionary forces’ within India and abroad. Subsequently, the dialogue process between the two outfits commenced in August 2001. At the first meeting, the two sides engaged in an introspection exercise, and decisions were taken to initiate joint activities at the Bihar/Jharkhand level. The introspection, much of it reportedly in written form, was circulated to the rank-and-file of the Bihar/Jharkhand party. Throughout the latter part of 2001 and entire 2002, joint activities were undertaken in Bihar-Jharkhand. Further, during November 2002, a joint statement issued by the two groups at Patna, capital of Bihar, claimed that the indiscriminate use of the Prevention of Terrorism Act (POTA) against the Naxalite cadres and sympathizers by the Jharkhand Government had "compelled them to iron out differences" and fight jointly against the state.
It was at the February 2003-meeting that a decision was taken to initiate concrete steps towards discussions on ideological issues with the clear direction and purpose of a merger. In this meeting, an extensive introspection exercise was put forward by both outfits for the ‘Black Chapter’ period and this was later made public. Both the outfits decided not to resort to clashes with ‘class friends’ irrespective of how severe the differences were. The meeting also laid ground for the advancement and finalisation of the process of merger. Towards this end, the two groups decided to draft five documents: Marxism-Leninism-Maoism, Party Programme, Strategy and Tactics, Political Resolution on the International and Domestic Situation, and the Party Constitution.
Subsequently, during four rounds of negotiations between high-level delegations of the two outfits and the respective Central Committees (CC), a final agreement was reached in September 2004. The documents were adopted and also decided to be translated in about 10 regional languages for wider deliberations throughout the outfits’ bases across India. Some minor differences that remained were to be decided at a later date after further discussion and study. Finally, the joint CC meeting of both outfits took the merger decision and a Central Committee (Provisional) was established.
Both organizations shared their belief in the 'annihilation of class enemies' and in extreme violence as a means to secure organizational goals. However, significant ideological divisions did exist in the past, with the PWG adhering to a Marxist-Leninist 'line', while the MCC embraced Maoism. These differences have now been ironed over, with Maoism prevailing, in the words of PWG Andhra Pradesh State 'Secretary', as "the higher stage of the M-L (Marxist-Leninist) philosophy. Marxism-Leninism-Maoism will be the ideological basis guiding its (CPI-Maoist's) thinking in all spheres of its activities." The new entity has reaffirmed its commitment to the classical Maoist strategy of 'protracted armed struggle' which defines its objectives not in terms of the seizure of lands, crops, or other immediate goals, but the seizure of power. Within this perspective, participation in elections and engagement with the prevailing 'bourgeois democracy' are rejected, and all efforts and attention is firmly focused on 'revolutionary activities' to undermine the state and seize power.
According to a CPI-Maoist press release issued by Muppala Lakshman Rao alias Ganapathi, the 'General Secretary' of the Party, the unity was aimed at furthering the cause of "revolution" in India. The new party also pledged to work in close collaboration with the Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist). As part of its strategy, the CPI-Maoist would fiercely oppose the Central Government run by the Congress and its mainstream communist allies, the Communist Party of India (CPI) and the CPI-Marxist. Ganapathi also announced the formation of a 'People's Liberation Guerrilla Army' and extended support to "revolutionary struggles" in Nepal, Peru, the Philippines, Turkey and "other places".
The CPI-Maoist intends to carry on the new "democratic revolution, which would remain directed against imperialism, feudalism and comprador bureaucratic capitalism." The new party believes that the merger would cause "fear among the ruling classes" and would fulfil "the aspirations of the masses" for a strong revolutionary party that would usher in a "new democratic society" by advancing towards socialism and communism.
In a press statement dated October 14, 2004, General Secretaries of the Central Committee of the two outfits, Kishan of the MCC and Ganapathi of the PWG, declared that
The five documents drafted by the Central Committee, Hold High the Bright Red Banner of Marxism-Leninism-Maoism, the Party Programme, Strategy and Tactics of the Indian Revolution, the Political Resolution on the International and Domestic Situation and the Party Constitution, lay down the objectives and strategy to be adopted by the CPI-Maoist.
Hold high the bright Red Banner of Marxism-Leninism-Maoism shows how Mao Tse Tung developed Marxism-Leninism to a qualitatively new and third higher stage in the fields of philosophy, political economy, military science and scientific socialism.
In Programme, the CPI-Maoist points out that in India the ruling classes, subservient to imperialism, have transformed the country into a prison-house of nationalities under the so-called slogan of "unity and integrity" of the country. While claiming that "It is in such a context that the ongoing nationality struggles in various parts of the country today are advancing by assuming various forms including armed struggle," the Programme unequivocally supports these ‘nationalities struggles’.
The Strategy and Tactics of Indian Revolution states that a concrete class analysis of Indian society reveals that the character of Indian society is semi-colonial and semi-feudal. This determines that the Indian revolution would have to pass through two stages. The task of first stage is to change the semi-colonial and semi-feudal society into an independent new democratic society. To carry on and advance the people’s war, an immediate task of the present stage of the revolution would be to arouse and organize the people, in a planned way, for agrarian revolutionary guerrilla war in the countryside - specially in the remote countryside (which is most favourable for the building up of the guerrilla war, the people’s army and the base areas), and to build up the people’s army and the rural red base areas through guerrilla warfare.
The Political Resolution deals with both the international and the domestic situation. At the international level, it states that the present day world is under great disorder, turbulence and instability, rarely witnessed after World War II. On the internal scenario, it states that the ‘imperialist offensive’ around the world is also clearly reflected in India.
The CPI-Maoist put forward a new Constitution based on the "Bolshevik principles of democratic centralism, with the core comprising of professional revolutionaries." According to the document: A wide network of part timers will facilitate the Party to exist deep within the masses. It will be underground for the entire period of the New Democratic Revolution and its members will comprise the cream of society — principled, selfless, courageous, dedicated, modest, hard-working and fully committed to the cause of the Indian revolution and to socialism and communism. All members will put the interests of the Party and the people before their own personal interests. It will continuously view itself and its members self-critically in order to correct non-proletarian tendencies that inevitably enter the Party and seek to corrupt it from within. The ideological basis of the Party is Marxism-Leninism-Maoism.
Leadership, Cadre and Command Structure
While declaring the formation of the CPI-Maoist on October 14, 2004, the Andhra Pradesh ‘state secretary’ had also informed that the ‘general secretary’ of the PWG ‘central committee’, Muppala Laxman Rao alias Ganapathi, has been elected ‘general secretary’ of the new outfit. Although no further information with regard to the organisational structure has been declared or ascertained, reports indicate that the structure within the new outfit retains all the hierarchies that were present in the erstwhile outfits, including a Central Committee, Regional Bureaus, Zonal or State Committees, District or Division Committees and Squad Area Committees.
The two guerrilla armies of the PWG and the MCC - the People's Guerrilla Army (PGA) and the People's Liberation Guerrilla Army (PLGA) respectively - have also merged under the agreement. The new armed force reportedly operates under the name of PLGA since December 2, 2004. Available reports indicate that the CPI-Maoist is currently strengthening the formations of all three forces of the PLGA – the Basic, Secondary and Main forces.
According to official sources, the merger will have serious implications in all States facing the Maoist threat, and will increase the 'firepower', 'battle ability' and levels of modernization of the two groups. The PWG is estimated to have 3500 armed cadres and around 3000 firearms, including a large number of rifles of AK variety, light machine guns, self-loading rifles, carbines, .303s, grenades, revolvers, pistols, and landmines technologies. The PWG also has a technical squad, which manufactures 12-bore guns and its ammunitions, repairs all kinds of weapons and assembles grenades. The MCC is estimated to have cadre strength of between 3000-3500, and around 2500 firearms of similar varieties.
Areas of Operation
Following the merger, the outfit, according to current estimates is active in 156 districts of 13 States that include Andhra Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand, Bihar, Orissa, Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, West Bengal, Karnataka, Tamil Nadu, Uttaranchal and Kerala. The outfit has also been making attempts to establish and expand its presence in several other States such as Gujarat, Haryana, Punjab, Rajasthan and Himachal Pradesh.
The MCC's current areas of influence extend over Bihar and Jharkhand, with some sway in Uttar Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Orissa, West Bengal, Uttaranchal and a few pockets of Madhya Pradesh. The PWG's areas of dominance include Andhra Pradesh, Orissa, Chhattisgarh, Karnataka, Maharashtra and Tamil Nadu.
The merger now makes the CPI-Maoist a pan-Indian revolutionary group, and brings the Maoists closer to their objective of 'liberating' their proposed Compact Revolutionary Zone (CRZ), which extends from Nepal through Bihar in the North to Dandakaranya region (forest areas of Central India) and Andhra Pradesh in the South. The intention is to have a continuous stretch of territory under their influence and control, with the ultimate goal of eventually "liberating" the entire zone. Large parts of this territory have already been brought under the extremist influence with only some link-ups now necessary in the remaining pockets to make the CRZ a reality. Once achieved, the CRZ will virtually drive a wedge through the vital areas of the country, and would help crystallize linkages with other Maoist groups operating in South Asia, including the Communist Party of Nepal-Maoist (CPN-M) and the Communist Party of Bhutan-Maoist (CPB-M).