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Communism is on the wane in India

By Pramod Kumar Buravalli
April 29, 2010 14:10 IST
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Communism and its unruly offshoots Naxalism and Maoism will continue to lose public support in India but a solution to the Naxal problem is still a few years away, writes Pramod Kumar Buravalli.

When you consider the Left wing politics of India, the first thing that comes to mind for many old timers and history buffs in India, is the non-participation of elements within the Communist Party of India in the Indian Independence movement, the 1962 Indo-China War and the 1971 Indo-Pakistan war over Bangladesh.

The Communist movement in India is known for its vertical-horizontal and ideological-nationalist splits that have occurred over the years. Special mention needs to be made about the serious rift that developed within the CPI in 1962. One reason was the Sino-Indian War, where a faction of the Indian Communists backed the position of the Indian government, while other sections of the party (including B T Ranadive, P Sundarayya, P C Joshi, Makineni Basavapunnaiah, Jyoti Basu and Harkishan Singh Surjeet) claimed that it was a conflict between a socialist and a capitalist state, and thus took a pro-Chinese position. Ideological differences and the stance taken by various splinter groups in 1962 thus lead to the split in 1964 into CPI and CPI-Marxist.

Later on and ever since 1964, a large number of parties have been formed as a result of regular splits from the CPI-M, such as the CPI-Marxist-Leninist, Marxist Communist Party of India, Marxist Coordination Committee in Jharkhand, Janathipathiya Samrakshana Samity, Communist Marxist Party and BTR-EMS-AKG Janakeeya Vedi in Kerala, Party of Democratic Socialism in West Bengal, Janganotantrik Morcha in Tripura, the Ram Pasla group in Punjab, Orissa Communist Party in Orissa, etc.

Most of these revolutionary parties are either banned by the government of India or have been disbanded on the outside for lack of public support.

Today, the worldwide Communist movement is confused and is either getting localised depending on the reality of the country of operations or is totally being decimated in electoral politics.

Though anti-democratic in doctrine, Communist parties around the world are adopting and practicing centrist and democratic ways of politics in order to compete and survive in the interconnected market driven world of today. The last bastion of Communism, China started taking the Deng Xiaoping route of market economy way back in the late 1970's forming large international corporations that today compete with the best of the best multinational corporations of the world. Do you call that Communism or controlled capitalism?

Coming back to India, over the past decade Communism and Naxalbari inspired far left revolutionary movements have been on the decline in semi-urban and urban areas. It is only in under developed and heavily forested tribal corridors of India that the far left movement has gained substantial stranglehold. Aided and financed by dimwitted intellectuals and outside powers, this movement has spread to over 200 districts of India.

The recent Dantewada massacre where 76 jawans of the central paramilitary were surrounded and butchered in cold blood by well armed Naxalites is a reminder of the challenges the Indian government faces in eliminating these terrorists.

With every such violent incident, Communism and its offshoots Naxalism and Maoism are beginning to lose the support of many Indian intellectuals who earlier used to romanticise the Lal Salaam (red salute). The Communists lost heavily across the board in the 2009 Lok Sabha elections and are most likely to lose their bastions in Kerala and West Bengal in the next few years.


India is the largest spiritual nation on this planet and any ideology that does not believe in a higher authority will never win the hearts and minds of large swathes of the population.

It is very unfortunate that most of the Naxalite stories which originally began as mass movements against oppressive land owners and industrialists have now become organised mafias of land grabbers, kidnappers, smugglers and terrorists.

Concerted action by the central paramilitary troops, intelligence agencies and state police departments have already begun to turn up the heat against these gun-totting hordes of extremists. But, it is understandable that a final or comprehensive solution is still years away.

Development and infrastructure overhaul in Naxalite-affected areas have to be a simultaneous part of the long-term solution. Most importantly, weaning away the local support base, stopping funding from outside countries and pulling up the pro-left liberals must also be part of the Track II initiatives that need to be taken by the government of India. 

Naxalism is a national security issue and multiple voices from the public, governing class, the democratic opposition and the media will only act as a drag to the comprehensive action that needs to be taken without any delay.

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Pramod Kumar Buravalli