Time For Another Spring Thunder?

Somewhere, something doesn’t seem to be adding up.

The zeal and alacrity with which the Centre has invoked the ban against the Maoists seems a little strange, leaving many questions unanswered. The Centre, on its part, seems to be maintaining a deathly silence on many of the prickly questions raised by civil society.

The questions being asked are:
• Was the centre left with no choice but the extreme step of banning CPI(Maoists)? Sure, violence cannot necessarily be the answer to all problems (unless the violent business model perpetrated by the lumpen elements of the fascist right-wing parties also appeals to the Maoists), but the Centre’s misguided development story seems to have provided a legitimate raison d’être for the Maoists.
• Wouldn’t dialogue be a better path to rapprochement? The Centre doesn’t seem to be listening to the high-decibel hints in this struggle.
• Why is it that the government has not shown the same promptness in banning certain political formations which destroy public property and kill people in the name of linguistic identity or religion?

But, this column has been intrigued by something quite isolated and seemingly unconnected. If you read the interview given by CPI (Maoist) politburo member Koteshwar Rao’s to Mint newspaper (http://www.livemint.com/2009/05/29001232/Mainstream-politics-not-for-us.html), there is a portion which makes an amazing allegation: Rao claims that the cache of arms with the Trinamool Congress party is in multiples of the Maoists’ arsenal. Here is what he says in the interview: “Majority of our weapons have been seized from the administration. In (West) Bengal, for instance, 60% of our weapons have been snatched from the police. We have bought only 10% on our own; the rest has come from other states. Yet, I would say we don’t even have a small fraction of the cache of arms and ammunition that parties such as the Trinamool Congress (it won a significant victory in the recent Lok Sabha polls and is a rival to the Communist Party of India-Marxist, or CPM, one of the ruling parties in the state) and the CPM have.”

The question is this: if the Trinamool and the Maoists cooperated against the Marxists in Nandigram (leading to Koteshwar Rao’s discovery of Trinamool’s munitions store), then the political equations are getting a bit blurred now with Trinamool partner in Delhi, Congress, rushing to ban the Maoists. Or, was Nandigram a one-night stand, so to speak? Strangely, nobody in Trinamool seems to be denying Rao’s claims, unless there is great pride in owning such a arms hoard or people in Trinamool don’t read newspapers.

There are other small niggling issues that also beg answers. For instance, the government has already individually banned the three extreme Left outfits – Communist Party of India (Marxist-Leninist), Peoples’ War Group and Maoist Coordination Centre — which merged to form Communist Party of India (Maoist). There’s a lesson here: the ban seems useless since the executive action is only against a name, not against a political movement or aimed at addressing a socio-economic malaise. The ban might not achieve anything: the party will change its name and carry on with life.

There’s another side-story developing: A political drift seems to be developing between the CPI(Marxist) members of the Left Front who can win elections (which might need some pragmatism from time to time) and the ideologues trying to run the party from distant Delhi. This will be interesting to watch. Time for another spring thunder?

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