July 16, 2010



By Anirban Roy in Kolkata

West Bengal CID claims he provided over 1,000 rounds.

THE PRIVATE alliance between the Trinamool Congress and the CPI ( Maoist) has been exposed.

Subhendu Adhikari, the Trinamool Congress MP from Tamluk, close to Nandigram, had supplied over 1,000 rounds of ammunition to the Maoist party cadre in Nandigram, claims the Criminal Investigation Department ( CID) of West Bengal police.

Adhikari, the son of union minister of state in the ministry of rural development Sisir Kumar Adhikari, was active during the Trinamool Congressled fight against the Left Front government’s plans to acquire land in Nandigram. This had first led to police firing in March 2007 and later to a pitched battle between Maoist cadres and the police in August 2008.

According to the CID’s interrogation of Madhusudan Mondal, the Maoist zonal committee secretary for Nandigram, the Maoists set up a base in Nandigram only after March 2007 and began arming the local cadres with the help of Trinamool Congress.

The CID had arrested Mondal on June 29 from Amtala in South 24- Parganas district. A copy of the interrogation report of the Maoist leader is available with M AIL T ODAY . Mondal told the police that Adhikari supplied ammunition for the CPI ( Maoist) members to fight the CPI ( M) and the police in Nandigram. Meanwhile, the over ground activists of the Maoist party along with the Trinamool and others had set up the Bhumi Ucched Pratirodh Committee ( BUPC) to mobilise people against land acquisition.

Adhikari termed the report as totally false, and said it was being circulated with the intention to malign him.

“ Our movement was a non- violent movement,” he claimed, adding that Trinamool members were rather victims of the CPI( M)’ s armed attacks in Nandigram.

“ If we used arms, why was no one from the other side injured or killed?” Adhikari questioned. He said it was an attempt by West Bengal chief minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee to target the Trinamool Congress.

About 35 Marxist cadres, including two local committee secretaries — from the Kendamari local committee and Sonachura local committee — were killed over one and half years of the Maoist- led fight against the CPI( M).

Adhikari is a commerce graduate. He was a member of the West Bengal Pradesh Congress Committee and later president of the Trinamool youth wing in Midnapore. He has declared assets worth Rs 5 crore, including buildings, apartments and non- agricultural land.

Mondal’s confession has confirmed that the anti- land acquisition movement was far from being non- violent.

During the interrogation, he said the Maoists wanted to kill Laxman Seth, the then CPI ( M) MP from Haldia.

Mondal claimed that the Maoists, BUPC cadres and the Trinamool worked in tandem to thwart the government’s attempt to acquire land in Nandigram.

Mondal has been charged with offences under the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act, 1967.

Interestingly, a member of Mondal’s Maoist committee is a Trinamool activist, Chandan Pramanik.

The members of the zonal committee are Siddhartha Mondal, Pramanik and Radheshyam Giri. Pramanik is also the anchal ( area) secretary of the Trinamool at Khejuri and is underground. All the other members of the Nandigram unit have been arrested.

The first Maoist zonal committee of Nandigram was formed in September 2007 in the presence of Maoist leaders Telegu Deepak and Sudip Congder in the house of Khokon Sheet. Madhusudan Mondal was made secretary. Local Trinamool leaders began aiding the Maoist operations as soon as the committee was formed.

According to the police interrogation report, armed Maoist cadres — Bantul, Kartik, Badal, Mukti, Jhantu and Juna — were sent to Trinamool’s local Nandigram leader Nishikanta Mondal to counter the CPI( M) and the police, Mondal said. Deepak and Congder liaised with Nishikanta and other Trinamool and BUPC leaders for the armed operations.

Two training camps were organised at the Sonachura Primary School and Sonachura Shitala Mandir. More than 50 BUPC and Trinamool members undertook training. Maoist commanders Ranjit Pal, Congder and Deepak had imparted the training.

Mondal told his interrogators that as the movement in Nandigram was gaining momentum, Congder had brought four .303 rifles and one 9 mm carbine from the Jangalmahal area. He handed the weapons over to Sheet. Subsequently, Congder brought 18 rifles of .315 caliber.

One make- shift arms- manufacturing unit had been set up in an abandoned house in Goalpara village near Sonachura, the interrogation report revealed. A man identified as Barun was in charge of the gun factory, and had manufactured 50 firearms of .315 caliber to fight the CPI( M) cadres and the police.

Mondal told the police that the Maoist Nandigram zonal unit was in possession of 20 claymore mines, of which, only three were used. The other mines were deactivated as per the advice of the Trinamool members.

After the state committee of the CPI( Moaists) decided to withdraw cadres from Nandigram, some of the arms and ammunition were deposited with four Trinamool leaders, the report said.

Five .315 rifles and one .303 rifles were kept with Sheikh Sahabuddin of Hossainpur, four .315 rifles, two .303 rifles and one 9 mm carbine were kept with Nishikanta.

Three .315 rifles and one .303 rifle were kept with Indra Karan and Panchanan Das in Khejuri village.

Later, the BUPC and Trinamool leaders refused to return the weapons and ammunition to the Maoists. However, Mondal claimed that the Maoists were not responsible for Nishikanta Mondal’s killing in September last year.

Mondal is from Durgachowk village in East Midnapore district.

His parental landed property near Haldia Port was acquired by the Kolkata Port Trust ( KoPT), with promises of a permanent job and monetary compensation. But, the family did not get anything.

Soon he joined the Sangrami Shramik Mancha, an organisation fighting for the families that lost their land to the KoPT. He was arrested in 2004 for clashing with a CPI( M) member.

In 2006, he returned to his village, and was arrested again in connection with the old case. In jail, he met many people from Nandigram, and became close to them. On January 2, 2007, he went to Nandigram, and started taking part in the movement against land acquisition spearheaded by the BUPC. During his stay in Nandigram, he was motivated and indoctrinated in Maoist ideologies by Ajit Das alias Nirmal Das, a state committee member of the CPI ( Maoist). On April 27, 2007, he met Maoist leaders Deepak, Congder and few others, and decided to join the organisation.

The Choice before the Maoists

By Prabhat Patnaik


The Maoist leadership claims that it had nothing to do with the Jnaneshwari Express accident that killed 150 persons. I am willing to take their word for it. But this also means that those who caused the sabotage, while nominally belonging to the ranks of the Maoists, were acting on their own. Nobody commits such a heinous crime against innocent people, unless the person is psychologically distanced from the victims, i.e. unless the victims are perceived as belonging to ''the other'', an amorphous mass against whom one is supposedly antagonistically arrayed. And it was not one or two individuals who were involved in the crime, but a whole organized group. We are, in short, in the presence of ''identity politics'' of the most violent kind. Underneath the veneer of ''Maoism'' we are witnessing a particularly vicious form of ''identity politics.''

This is not to say that the Maoist leadership, in a conscious fashion, is merely promoting ''identity politics''. As a Marxist, I am totally opposed to the perspective of the Maoists, who, if ever successful, will in a conscious fashion foist upon this country a one-Party dictatorship that is the very anti-thesis of socialism (no matter how unavoidable it might have been in history) and that (in the Indian society in particular, which apotheosizes inequality) negates the only revolutionary gain the people have ever achieved, namely one-person-one-vote. But I would not accuse the Maoist leadership of conceptually privileging identity over class politics. Nor is identity politics of all hues anathema for me. For super-oppressed groups like the tribal population, not taking cognizance of ''identity'' makes a mockery of all politics. All class politics must reckon with their ''identity''.

But while class politics can have room for reckoning with ''identity'', there is no route from identity politics to class politics. The idea ''let us start organizing the tribal people and then we shall move on to organizing workers and peasants'' can never work. At that point of transition, if not much earlier, there will be an inevitable rupture between the militant advocates of identity politics and those who wish to merge it into class politics. In the case of the Maoists, the sabotage of Jnaneshwari Express is a portent of this rupture.

The reason for the inevitability of this rupture is simple: identity politics is essentially exclusionary, while class politics is essentially inclusive. The objective of class politics, which aims to be system-transcending, is to polarize society at each moment of time into two camps: ''the camp of the people'' and the ''camp of the enemies of the people'' (to use Mao's words), with the latter kept as small as possible through political praxis. Class politics therefore is necessarily about forming united fronts, about uniting as many people as possible at any given moment in the ''camp of the people''. But identity politics is by nature not system-transcending: it is either reformist (to get more benefits for the identified group), or secessionist (often the case with oppressed groups), or in extreme cases downright fascist (demanding ethnic cleansing). For it to merge into class politics it must negate itself as identity politics, and while some may be willing to do so, others in the movement will not be. This inevitably leads to ruptures and attempts to garner mass support (within the identified group) through acts of even greater mindless militancy. The recent happenings within the Gorkha movement are instructive in this respect.

This exclusionary nature of identity politics makes most such movements unthreatening from the point of view of imperialism (except of course those directly aimed against imperialism itself, and even in their case it is more a nuisance, even a serious nuisance, than a real threat). Indeed, in India recently the central government has made extremely skilful use of political formations based on identity politics to push its neoliberal agenda.

But the precise course of development of movements based on identity politics does not concern me here. The basic point is that while class politics can and must reckon with certain forms of identity, class politics cannot be approached via identity. (A possible exception is where the two more or less coincide, i.e. the classes that must constitute the ''camp of the people'' have the same identity; but this is not germane here). The fact that, let alone moving from one to the other, even the mixing of the two can be problematical is underscored by the experience of the Marxist Co-ordination Committee of A.K. Roy which had combined for a while with the Jharkhand Mukti Morcha; the combination came apart and the subsequent history of the JMM is all too well-known.

Hence, even leaving aside questions of whether the Maoist vision of the future society is a desirable one or not (in my view not), and whether, even if it were desirable, it could be achieved through the mode of struggle adopted by them, which glorifies armed struggle and abjures all forms of political activity possible within the Indian polity, there remains a basic problem: the impossibility of moving to class politics from identity politics.

It may of course be argued that the Maoists never had a choice in the matter. Driven out of Andhra Pradesh they had to regroup wherever they could. The tribal belt of Central India is where they could seek refuge; they had therefore to adjust to its ethos.

But this argument is both irrelevant and erroneous. It is irrelevant because what is under discussion is their present predicament and not how they got to it; and if their predicament is seen as the outcome of the logic of their praxis, then that praxis has to be critiqued from the perspective of this predicament. Above all, however, this argument is erroneous, because there is always a choice, and a rectification in praxis can always be made.

When the Indian forces had marched into the erstwhile Hyderabad state to put an end to the Nizam's rule, against which the Telengana peasant uprising was being conducted by the Communists, the undivided Communist Party of India could have continued its armed struggle on the basis of the support of the Koya tribesmen. The choice before it was either to call off the struggle and bargain with the government for a defence of its gains, or to continue the struggle on the basis of reduced support, confined only to the tribesmen. It chose the former course. One can only be grateful for that choice, for otherwise the most significant national force that exists in India today in defence of democracy, secularism, and modernity and the only consistent bulwark against neoliberalism and ''strategic alliance'' with imperialism, would have been absent from the scene, busy chasing a will-o'-the-wisp in the jungles of Andhra Pradesh.

This choice is open to the Maoists. If they persist in the present praxis their predicament will only worsen. Confronting the Indian State on the basis of the meagre social support of the tribal population is bad enough (no matter how much of an advantage the terrain provides); but the fact that this meagre social support cannot be widened (for that involves the impossible task of moving from identity to class politics), and can only dwindle over time (because of the logic of identity politics), makes it a tragic denouement. Will the Maoists show the wisdom that the united Communist Party had shown at the beginning of the fifties?________________________________________