(Paper presented in the All India Seminar held in Vijayawada on May 24th, 1997 in Commemoration of Martyrs of Naxalbari Peasant Revolutionary Movement)
"A peal of spring thunder has crashed over the land of India. Revolutionary peasants in the Darjeeling area has risen in rebellion. Under the leadership of a revolutionary group of the Indian Communist Party, a red area of rural revolutionary armed struggle has been established in India. This is a development of tremendous significance for the Indian peoples revolutionary struggle".
Naxalbari-What it Means to Us?
1. Naxalbari is a struggle of historic significance.
It brought a revolutionary turn in politics and people's movement in India. It most effectively unmasked the neo-revisionist and class collaborationist politics of CPI (M) Leadership which surrendered to parliamentary politics. It forcibly brought the revolutionary path, the path of struggle on the agenda. It sharpened the contradiction and intensified the struggle between the revisionists and neo-revisionists on one side and the revolutionary forces on the other. It initiated the decisive break of Communist Revolutionaries from the neo-revisionists at the all India level.
2. Naxalbari is not just a name of an area in Darjeeling where the historic struggle has come up. It characterises a definite path-the path of struggle, the path of Agrarian Revolution. It provided rich experiences for the revolutionary movement in India. It symbolised the rising consciousness and readiness of our people for a basic change in the system. Naxlbari is Revolution.
Background of Naxalbari
1. International situation: It was a time when China was advancing in its socialist construction defying the imperialist blockade and revisionist sabotage. The CPC led by Mao held high the banner of revolutionary Marxism inside China and the world. The Great Debate it initiated and led, the firm support and solidarity it provided to the working class, oppressed nations and people of the world gave a great confidence, strength and impetus to withstand the onslaught of the exploiting ruling classes and imperialism. It exposed the betrayal and sabotage of the revisionists led by the Soviet Modern Revisionist Clique. It was a time when the fundamental contradictions of the world, more particularly, the contradiction between the oppressed nations and imperialism and the inter-imperialist contradictions were getting sharpened. It brought to the fore the contradiction between the oppressed nations and imperialism as the principal contradiction in the world. It was a time when the National Liberation Struggles, National Independence Movements and Peoples Revolutions in Asia, Africa and Latin America were on the upswing. The working class, the toiling masses, the students, youth, women, democratic and anti-war forces were on the path of struggle all through the world.
2. Situation in India: There was an all round economic crisis in the country. The plunder by the exploiting ruling classes and their imperialist masters had pushed the people into an abyss of misery, poverty and famine. This sharpened the contradiction between feudalism and broad masses of people, giving rise to a wave of revolt and struggles in various parts of the country. The growing anti-feudal struggles led to clashes and fights between the landlords and the landless, poor peasants. Rural India was awakening and presenting itself as a volcano ready to burst. The landless and poor peasants organised themselves in their class organisations took to militant forms of I struggle to achicve their immediate demands. The land 10 the tiller, seizure and distribution of land and the challenging of the power and authority of landlords came on the agenda giving the entire work among the masses and the struggle for the nights a revolutionary character. The conditions for an Agrarian Revolution were ripe in our country and the landless, poor peasants were ready to go into revolutionary action.
The ruling classes in India were in a deep crisis. The gamble and dog fight for power got intensified: 'The omnipotent' Congress was decimated in many states and the ruling classes had to run for new combinations to perpetuate their rule. The discontentment among the masses was wide-spread and it led to a number of organised 11 and militant struggles.
3. Betrayal of Neo Revisionists: Toeing to the line of Soviet Modern Revisionists, the CPI(M) leadership too shun and ran away from the path of struggle. This leadership which broke away from the revisionists in 1963-64, was, in the main, neo-revisionist in its ideological and political orientation. In spite this turn about by the leadership, vast sections of revolutionary ranks and even leaders continued to wage relentless ideological struggle so as to carry forward the task of completing New Democratic Revolution.
The objective revolutionary conditions prevailing at the time provided the favourable political background for the revolution-oriented ranks and the sections of leadership to develop the class struggles and agrarian movements in several areas. The experiences of class struggle and revolutionary movements coupled with the struggle against revisionism and Modem Revisionism sharpened their commitment to the struggle.
Naxalbari, therefore, is the product of the objective revolutionary situation, of the struggle against revisionism and neo revisionism and the practice of class struggle and revolutionary orientation. Tebhaga - Telangana Precursor of Naxalbari
1. Naxalbari took inspiration from the path of protracted peoples war pursued by the victorious Chinese Revolution, the people of Vietnam and the revolutionary movements in other colonial, semi colonial and semi-feudal countries. Also, it took inspiration from the great and heroic revolutionary peasant movements and armed struggles that had come up in Tebhaga (1946) and Telangana (1946-51). Naxalabari, thus, is a part and continuation of this revoltuionary heritage.
2. Naxalbari developed as a result of consistent political, organisational and mass work for several years. The people agitated not only for minimum and immediate demands but also for maximum and basic ones. From issues like wage rise to the seizure and distribution of the landlord's lands, overthrow of their power and establishing the people's power were taken up in their struggle. They built up various mass organisations, the peasant organisations, in the main, and the one for self defence, apart from building the much needed party. In the whole course of struggle, open-secret, legal-illegal, non-violent-violent methods and forms of struggle-strike, protest rallies, armed mass demonstrations and armed defence (with conventional weapons, like bows and arrows, etc.) - were combined. The landless, poor peasants and other rural poor enmasse-women, children and people of all ages-have participated in thousands in these struggles. They had shown an exceptional revolutionary consciousness, preparedness, courage, resolve and unity in their fight against feudalism and the state. They refused to succumb to both sugar coated bullets as well as the real bullets used by the state and the revisionist, neo revisionist leaderships to contain and suppress the movement.
3. Naxalbari exemplifies the revolutionary massline and is a result of concrete application of Marxism-Leninism-Mao Tse Tung Thought. It followed the path of protracted people's war in accordance with the Indian conditions.
4. The leadership of Naxalbari peasant revolutionary movement had to work in the face of many odds. It had to confront the stiff opposition from the state and central leadership of the party as they still worked within the party. Not only it had to fight revisionism and neo revisionism, but also guard the movement from the left sectarian forces who sought to divert the movement from the orientation of mass line. Though the struggle was in the upswing, it lacked in the initial stages much needed solidarity and support from the revolutionary struggles in the rest of the country.
Significance of Naxalbari
1. It most effectively brought to the fore the task of agrarian revolution- the main content of New Democratic Revolution. It taught us that the struggle for land, i.e.., the essence of agrarian revolution and the struggle for political power are inseparably linked. It asserted that Marxism Leninism Mao Tse Tung Thought the guiding ideology of the oppressed in the world. It pointed out that the revolutionary situation was ripe and the people were ready for revolutionary action and to bring revolutionary changes when provided with a revolutionary leadership. It confirmed that revolution is not an act of heroism of a few individuals nor an adventurous act of a band of militants. Revolution is a movement of the conscious, organised and revolutionary masses led by the working class vanguard with the aim of overthrowing the present exploitative system and establishing a new society. It affirmed the need and importance of three weapons-party, Army and UF-for the success of revolution. The three weapons are inter-related and they must be developed all along the course of struggle of the revolutionary movement.
2. The Communists must be ready to use all forms of struggle and organisation necessary to raise the consciousness and organisational level of the people to higher stage, i.e., from the present level of ordinary resistance to the level for waging a protracted armed struggle.
3. Naxalbari has proved that the working class and the peasantry are natural allies and the New Democratic Revolution can be completed only with a firm worker-peasant alliance.
Naxalbari-A New Ray of Hope
1. Naxalbari has given an impetus and a political direction to the peasant, girijan revolutionary movements like Srikakulam that were already developing at that time. It inspired many peasant revolutionary movements in Debra-Gopiballabhpur, Mushahari, Lakhimpur-Kheri, Bhojpur, Khammam, Warangal, East Godavari and other areas. It became a source of inspiring various sections of our people in their struggles. It aroused a powerful solidarity and democratic movement drawing thousands of dedicated youth, women, students, middle class sections and intelligentsia fighting hand in hand with workers and peasants for the fulfillment of revolution in India.
2. We still look for a comprehensive review of the Naxalbari Peasant Revolutionary Movement from the comrades who led this movement. As for us, we firmly are of the opinion that Naxalbari has an important significance for the path of Indian revolution, i.e. the path of Agrarian Revolution. It confirms the need and role of mass organisations and also for the adoption of necessary forms of struggle keeping in mind the level of the movement.
3. A correct understanding of Naxalbari can be arrived at only when we go into its weaknesses, i.e., when it drifted from the correct mass line to the line of individual annihilation of class enemies. This line denies the decisive role and participation of masses in making the revolution. This adventurist line ultimately isolated the movements from the people and the rest is known.
4. It is an undeniable fact that Naxalbari spread like a prairie fire. It is also a fact that it faced a setback. Our failure to probe into the ideological and political roots has caused tremendous harm to the revival and advancement of the movement. Also, we succumbed to the phenomenon of splits, instead of rising ourselves to admit and accept where Naxalbari went wrong.
Relevance Today of Naxalbari
Our people continue to reel under the semi-colonial and semi-feudal system and the rule of comprodar bourgeoisie-landlord classes. The imperialist powers are busy in their attempts to re-colonise the world in new form in the name of globalisation, liberalisation, and its IMF WB, WTO, MNCs. With the growing and naked aggression of imperialism, the task today to fight imperialism has become more imperative. So to break the shackles of imperialism, comprodar bourgeoisie and landlord classes, the people of India have no alternative but to follow the path of Naxalbari, the path of Agrarian Revolution, the path of protracted peoples war. With all its ups and downs and setbacks, Naxalbari still remains the torch bearer of revolution for the masses of our country. The introduction of the capitalist mode of production, known as Green Revolution in some areas of Punjab, Haryana, Western UP, Maharastra, A.P. has not fundamentally affected the production relations. The vast parts of our rural India continue to reel under feudalism.
The legislations such as Land Ceiling Act have remain sealed on paper. Only a few states have carried of semblance of land reforms. On the contrary, land grabbings by the landlords, big business and MNCs have increased in an alarming manner pushing thousands of landless and poor peasants into the already existing immense army of unemployed.
Private armies and goondas of landlords backed by the State roam around freely in the villages imposing their rule at gun-point in Bihar, UP and A.P., etc.
In A.P. the existence of article 1/70 which assures the land owning rights to girijans is only an eye wash. The girijans are today victims of the growing attacks from the plain area landlords. The state turning a nelson's eye to these attacks.
Thus, from the above facts, we can assert that the relevance of Naxalbari today remains as essential in its content and orientation as in 1967 with the Agrarian Revolution as the main axis of our revolution.
The experience of Tebhaga, Telangana, Punnapra-Vailar, Mogha, Naxalbari, Srikakulam, Debra- Gopiballabhpur, Mushahari, Lakhimpuri-Kheri, Bhojpur, East Godavari, Godavari Valley and many other peasant revolutionary movements confirm that the revolutionary mass line is the only correct path of struggle-however difficult it might be-to lead our people to victory.
We have come a long way inspite of all the onslaught by the enemy. Comrades, let us not forget that Naxalbari belongs to all of us. Thousands have laid down their lives and we owe to them to carry the struggle forward. This demands from all of us an objective and dispassionate approach. We may have been a victim of some wrong trends, mistakes and setbacks. Today, the peasant revolutionary movements and girijan movements are developing in many parts of our country. We have to lead, protect and develop them along the path of Agrarian Revolution and for a protracted peoples war. We must pursue this task keeping in mind the concrete conditions in the area and must be flexible in adopting the tactics to the level of movement. We need to be mature to go deep into the causes of present state of the movement by reviewing our 30 years of struggle experiences in various parts of the country. Let us resolve to close our ranks and live upto the expectations of our people at this moment, in this struggle. ELSE, History will not absolve us. Thirty years have been a long way. We need to act. Let Naxalbari continue to illuminate our path.
Advance in Revolutionary Mass Line!!
Victory to Revolution!!!
With Revolutionary Greetings