Growth of Ultra-Leftist forces (The Naxals)

Exact Match
  Nehru Era
  Princely States
  Kashmir Issue
  Linguistic union
  Tamil Nation
  China war
  Indo-Pak war

  Indira Era
  Elections '67
  Congress Split
  Elections '77
  Indira's revival
  Assam Problem
  Rajiv years
  Jan Morcha

  Vajpayee Era
  1991 - 1998
  Pokharan II
  Kargil & after


The CPM had originally split from the united CPI in 1964 on grounds of differences over revolutionary politics, (equated with armed struggle) reformist parliamentary politics. In practice, however, heading the existing political realities, the CPM participated actively in parliamentary politics, postponing armed struggle to the day when a revolutionary situation prevailed in the country. Consequently, it participated in the 1967 elections and formed a coalition government in West Bengal with the Bangla Congress, with Jyoti Basu, the CPM leader, becoming the home minister. This led to a schism in the party.

A section of the party, consisting largely of its younger cadres and inspired by the Cultural Revolution then going on in China, accused the party leadership of falling prey to reformism and parliamentary politics and, therefore, of betraying the revolution. They argued that the party must instead immediately initiate armed peasant insurrections in rural areas, leading to the formation of liberated areas and the gradual extension of the armed struggle to the entire country. To implement their political line, the rebel CPM leaders launched a peasant uprising in the small Naxalbari area of northern West Bengal. The CPM leadership immediately expelled the rebel leaders accusing them of left-wing adventurism, and used the party organization and government machinery to suppress the Naxalbari insurrection. The breakaway CPM leaders came to be known as Naxalites and were soon joined by other similar groups from CPM in the rest of the country. The Naxalite movement drew many young people, especially college and university students, who were dissatisfied with existing politics and angry at the prevailing social condition and were attracted by radical Naxalite slogans.

In 1969, the Communist Party Marxist-Leninist (ML) was formed under the leadership of Charu Majumdar. Similar parties and groups were formed in Andhra, Orissa, Bihar, U.P., Punjab and Kerala. The CPI(ML) and other Naxalite groups argued that democracy in India was a sham, the Indian state was fascist, agrarian relations in India were still basically feudal, the Indian big bourgeoisie was comprador, India was politically and economically dominated by U.S., British and Soviet imperialisms, Indian polity and economy were still colonial, the Indian revolution was still in its anti-imperialist, anti-feudal stage, and protracted guerrilla warfare on the Chinese model was the form revolution would take in India. The Naxalite groups got political and ideological support from the Chinese government which, however, frowned upon the CPI(ML) slogan of ‘China's Chairman (Mao Ze-Dong) is our Chairman.’

CPI(ML) and other Naxalite groups succeeded in organizing armed peasant bands in some rural areas and in attacking policemen and rival communists as agents of the ruling classes. The government, however, succeeded in suppressing them and limiting their influence to a few pockets in the country. Not able to face state repression, the Naxalites soon split into several splinter groups and factions. But the real reason for their failure lay in their inability to root their radicalism in Indian reality, to grasp the character of Indian society and polity as also the evolving agrarian structure and to widen their social base among the peasants and radical middle class youth. The disavowal of the Cultural Revolution and Maoism of the sixties and early seventies by the post-Mao Chinese leadership in the late seventies contributed further to the collapse of the Naxalite movement as a significant trend in Indian politics.

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