Visiting Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Mumbai for a talk on “Raging war against India: Deconstructing the notion of India”, revolutionary poet, Maoist ideologue and journalist from Telangana, Varavara Rao spoke to TISS student Aishik Chanda on the Maoist movement and the path ahead.
Aishik Chanda: Recently permission was not granted to your Pratyamnaya Rajakeeya Vedika (Forum for Political Alternative) seminar and rally and you, along with several others were taken into preventive custody.
Do you think the present KCR government in Telangana is acting more like its United AP predecessors in terms of highhandedness on revolutionary forces?
Varavara Rao: The seminar, rally and public meet was to commemorate the 10 years of formation of CPI (Maoist) party. Subjects of the seminar were formation of Bolshevik party, United front and the Red Army. We had not requested for any permission as such.
We were organizing a seminar, a rally and a public meet.
As per the rules, if you are taking out a rally, you should inform the police to regulate the rally and for public meet, where you use a loudspeaker, you should inform the police that loudspeaker would be used so that it doesn’t become a nuisance for the public. And for the seminar, you need not inform police also, It’s a question of informing the cops and not seeking permission from them.
Even during harsh times, like that during the rule of Vengal Rao, YS Rajasekhar Reddy and N. Chandrababu Naidu, permission was not needed for a hall meeting. Even our seminar was not allowed when we informed about the public meet and the rally.
Along with me, 700 people were also taken into custody on the pretext that after the seminar, people inspired by the revolutionary speeches will insist to take out a rally which will lead to a ruckus. This is a baseless justification and the cancellation is most undemocratic.
I would compare KCR with N.T. Rama Rao who banned aata, maata, paata, imposed TADA, there were numerous missing cases, encounter cases. During his time, after a meeting after killing of Dr. Ramanatham at Saraswatham Hall, where audience was not allowed, only speakers were allowed. Telangana poet Kaloji at that time said, we have called a meeting to condemn the killing of Dr. Ramanatham but it seems we are only dead as we are not permitted to speak to the audience.
Same thing has been repeated in KCR rule. KCR is worse than any of his predecessors.
AC: Balladeer Gadar was not seen anywhere in the scene. Has there been fallout between you and him?
VR: Absolutely not. He is working more on the Telangana issue through his Telangana Praja Front, which is a forum for alternate politics. In the front, there are democrats and people who completely support the Maoist movement. On Oct 11 and 12, there is going to be a state conference of Telangana Praja Front in Warangal, in which I will not be present. It is basically division of work.
AC: Where do you see the Dalit movement in Telangana state? KCR has already back-tracked from his promise of a Dalit CM.
VR: Making a Dalit CM is a token thing. He has installed a Dalit as the deputy CM but openly humiliated him in Warangal. Dr Thatikonda Rajaiah, who is from the Madiga community and along with deputy CM also the health minister, had promised of a health university in Warangal. KCR openly contested him saying how could you make such baseless promises and outrightly rejected his promise. KCR can make many promises and the deputy CM, who is a Dalit, can’t make. This negation shows KCR’s feudal attitude towards Dalits. Those who know him never expected he will make a Dalit as CM.
AC: How do you see the progress of the Maoist movement in the new state?
VR: The only future is the Maoist movement as it is the only alternative politics. People are vexed with parliamentary democracy, particularly after coming of Modi sarkaar. Media made Modi the PM and despite his rhetoric of “acche din”, he has hiked the petrol prices and rail charges. People are getting disillusioned with the Centre and all state governments, including Telangana government. A hall meeting against Operation Greenhunt was cancelled in Tirupati, AP. Leaders of mass organizations have been arrested in several places. In this situation I feel Maoist movement will gather strength in Telangana and newer states.
AC: Will Telangana see an influx of Maoist cadres who had fled to Bastar, Chhattisgarh following police operations in Telangana?
VR: Definitely they will return and in Telangana itself many people will be recruited. In fact that is the fear of the government because in the Godavari river bank in Adilabad, Karimnagar, Warangal and Khammam districts, there is Maoist activities. Three encounters between security forces and the Maoists have taken place in Adilabad district alone after formation of Telangana state. Due to knowledge of the topography, the Adilabad district party leadership escaped.
AC: Why is there regionalism in the top Maoist ranks. It is said that one needs to be a Telangana Telugu to reach the top Maoist ranks. There is only one non-Telanganiite, Kishen da (who led Maoist Communist Centre in north India), in the CPI (Maoist) politburo…
VR: This is a media creation. There is no regionalism in Maoist ranks. Right from Telangana armed struggle days (1948-51), which was led by the united CPI, there has been a revolutionary communist tradition in Telangana. Many youth went to join the People’s War Group, who later dominated the top Maoist ranks. So, presence of Telangana leaders in Maoist politburo is a natural thing. You can’t get leaders from say, Haryana or Gujarat to reach the top Maoist ranks. It all depends on the background and revolutionary tradition.
AC: It has been alleged by many women underage cadres that they were sexually abused by the adult male Maoists…
VR: This is a falsehood created by the media. Many of the cadres who left the armed struggle and surrendered due to health or other reasons were forced to tell these lies to malign the movement.
AC: So you deny there have been no cases of sexual abuse?
VR: No, there is always an exception. People who have indulged in sexual abuse have been punished severely and many of them have left the movement.
AC: What is your view on Aam Aadmi Party and Arvind Kejriwal and their politics?
VR: Since people have lost faith in parliamentary politics, AAP is the only experiment to keep it alive. Media has manufactured the consensus. It first raised Anna Hazare, then put him down, then raised Kejriwal and put him down and has now created the hype of Modi.
AC: If ban on CPI (Maoist) is lifted, will it join parliamentary politics?
VR: No! certainly not. There will be a big upsurge in the country if the ban is lifted. There will be mass activities.
AC: What are your views on other Marxist parties like CPM and CPI (ML)?
VR: They are not Marxist parties at all. They have joined the parliamentary line. One can see the example of Left Front government in West Bengal, where it brought globalization policies in Nandigram, Singur. Only thing is when it comes to secular, democratic issues, particularly fighting against Moditva, we may work in mass organizations along with them. But, as long as they adhere to the imperialistic globalization, one can’t call them communist parties.
AC: As we see a sharp decrease in strength of communist parties, even in parliamentary politics, is there a chance that all communist parties will be united?
VR: If they make a review of it, and do self-criticism, there may be a chance that cadres of the so-called communist parties may join the Maoists when there is complete disillusionment. There is preparedness among us also for that. There has been splits and unification in the history of Naxal parties since 1967 Naxalbari movement. Now, there is a chance that all Naxal revolutionary parties that are engaged in an armed struggle will unite as a front and a Bolshevik party will be formed and the revolution will be carried forward.
AC: Maoist movement has sharply declined in West Bengal since coming of Trinamool government…
VR: It is slowly regaining strength again. There was a major setback after the so-called encounter of Kishenji, but the Maoist forces are becoming strong again.
AC: What are your views on Muslim fundamentalism?
VR: As put by friend Gudiva Thiango, International monetary fundamentalism is more dangerous than religious fundamentalism.
AC: Do you believe in democracy?
VR: Yes, I believe in democracy but in the name of democracy bourgeois dictatorship is being practiced in India. So, we are for “New democracy”.
AC: It has been alleged that G.N. Saibaba, despite being a disabled, was given an Indian toilet deliberately. That is a violation of human rights. But, what about the rights of the government staffers and officials who are being kidnapped and killed just because they are government staffers?
VR: In any war, it’s not the fault of the soldiers, but what is important is which side they are taking. We can’t help it. We are sorry for the foot soldiers but that is the price one has to pay in a war. They are on the wrong side and we are on the side of the people. Right from the days of Kurukshetra to Second World War, this happened.
AC: Is VIRASAM working for establishment of similar literary movements in other languages also?
VR: In fact, we had an all-India league for revolutionary culture, formed in 1983 and it could not work after 2002 imposition of ban. Now, there is a need, particularly after coming of Modi to power, for the secular, democratic forces to form a literary and cultural front.
AC: How come that the Hungryalist movement in Bengal died but you somehow managed to keep the VIRASAM alive all these years?
VR: After the Bhooki peedi (Hungryalist) movement in Bengal, Frontier magazine was established, CPI (ML) was formed and I went up to 1975. There was a major setback after that and only in 2010, did Maoist movement resurge in Jangalmahal, which also saw a setback. However, in Andhra, following Srikakulam movement, inspired from which VIRASAM was formed. There was review of the whole thing, implementation of Mass line was thought and then PWG was formed, which continued to be the major portion of the CPI (Maoist). Due to continuance of the revolutionary movement in Andhra, we managed to keep the revolutionary literary movement alive.
AC: What were your expectations from the new state and how has it changed?
VR: We did not expect from the new state. We fought for Telangana statehood since 1969. The Hyderabad state had a middle-age feudal system whereas the British India (Andhra and Rayalaseema was in Madras Presidency) was developed. So, the merger in 1956 resulted in uneven development. And uneven development is a characteristic of imperialism. So, we fought for a “democratic Telangana”. Only, the Maoists consistently supported the Telangana movement. The present Telangana is just another state. It makes no difference to the lives of the people, hence the struggle for “democratic Telangana” will continue.
AC: What are your views on the Jadavpur University #Hokkolorob movement?
VR: We are in full support of the movement. Mamata Banerjee is trying to crush all kinds of “democratic traditions” so, naturally it will boomerang.
Bio: The writer is pursuing M.A. in Dalit and Tribal Studies and Action in Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Mumbai. He was a working journalist at Deccan Chronicle and The New Indian Express at Hyderabad. He is now an independent journalist.
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