Naxalism at a glance, P C Joshi, Kalpaz Publications, Pp 304, Rs 900.00
FOUNDED in 1967 by a clutch of disgruntled youth in a West Bengal village called Naxalbari, who believed that India’s problems could not be solved by conventional means, naxalism grew to be a bourgeois movement that considered the Chinese leader Mao to be their inspiration, and who fought to claim their just share of the land through violent means. Though their aims were laudable, the movement had few sympathisers, and never really achieved what their creators had dreamt; in later years its popularity waned, and today the movement is almost moribund. Its offshoots, if the term maybe used, can today be found in Anna Hazare’s movement against corruption, which has an all-India following, unlike naxalism, whose popularity was limited to a few rural pockets of Bengal, Bihar and Andhra Pradesh.
In July 1967, there was a violent uprising in Darjeeling, in response to which Kanu Sanyal, one of the movement’s founders, spelt out the movement’s achievements, which included the dismantling of the old feudal structure which had existed for centuries, declaring illegal the unequal agreements between the peasants and Jotedars, bringing to trial the tyrannical Jotedars, setting up of revolutionary committees to establish peasant political power, and repealing the existing bourgeois laws and courts.
A seasoned journalist, in Naxalism at a glance, P C Joshi has outlined the aims and aspirations, and the ultimate failure of perhaps the most popular revolutionary movement in India’s post-independence history. In the early eighties, the movement had five major branches- the anti-Lin Piao, People’s War Group, led by K Seetharamaiah, the Tamil Nadu Organising Committee (Marxist-Leninist), Tamil Nadu Organising Committee, and the Tamil Nadu Communist party(ML). The book traces the naxalite movement in various states, such as Kerala, Bihar, Punjab and Andhra Pradesh, it successes and failures, and why it lit a fuse among the poor and oppressed who saw in the movement a chance to better their lives, and surmount all kinds of class, caste and religious barriers.
Well researched and simply written, the book is both a paean and an epitaph to a movement that began as a peasant uprising, towered high for a while, and then petered out, but whose influence can be felt to this day in various anti-corruption movements across the country.
(Kalpaz Publications, C-30, Satyawati Nagar, Delhi-110 052)