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Maoists as Political Prisoners

M C Raj

That is a bolt from the blue! I am referring to the recent judgement by a Kolkotta judge declaring the CPI (Maoist) as a political outfit. The judgement says that the State that arrested some of them allegedly for manufacturing arms should treat them as political prisoners. The Maoists walked into a new arena of political battle even in going to jail. Who else can achieve this feat? The judge needs to be appreciated, without going into the right or wrong of the judgement, for upholding the independence of judiciary in a nation-state that is growingly intolerant of dissenting political ideologies. Understandably there has been a hue and cry against the judgement. The main allegation against the judgement is that the Maoist outfit is violent and believes in overthrowing the nation state.

The world has conducted itself towards progress and regress through multifarious myth creation. Through the development of capitalism it is not only consumer goods that have flooded the global market. A world that is avaricious to consume anything that is sold with attractive packages and advertisements has been unscrupulously also consuming a lot of myths that have been produced intermittently in the nation state market. This is the problem with postmodern global governance. Democracy, nation-state and capitalist market have been promoting each other with particular brand names. Nation-state evolved as the political instrument of governance under the democracy that developed from 16 century. It is an evolution that is coherent with the development of capitalism. The march of an economic ideology inseparably accompanied by a political ideology resulting in the formation and consolidation of agent states attractively packed and branded as nation-state!

Myth creation is necessitated not only to sell the above-mentioned products based on particular brand of ideology but also to eliminate other products that might tilt the balance against it. Starting from Marxism, socialism, communism, Leninism and now Maoism many products have been challenging the capitalist market posing consistent danger to its sales market. It is true that the market has been flooded with products from capitalism. Whenever the risks were perceived to be reaching above the danger level the upholders of nation states have unleashed not only myths but also have used all the power in their hands to arrest the onward march of an opposing and alternative political ideology, paradigm and strategy.

One of the ‘ready-to-eat’ myths that nation states created is that the different products under the brand name ‘Communist Ideology’ are undemocratic and violent. Creating ascriptions and spreading them without the slightest prick of conscience has been an age-old practice. When the Aryans wanted to enslave the Dalits the twin strategy that they used was to incarnate their gods as warriors to kill the kings and queens of Dalits and simultaneously produce many ascriptions on the Dalits such as Chandalas, Mlechas, Rakshasas, Asuras, Shudras, Ati-shudras, impure, polluting, untouchable, Harijan etc. Reverberations of such ancient Indian praxis fill the political market mechanisms of capitalism in the post-feudal forms of governance. Kautilya handed over faithfully to the likes of Machiavelli!

It was Karunanidhi, I think, who said to Jayalalitha that when you point one finger at me three other fingers are pointing towards you. A master politician who assumed enormous power through myth creation splattered the country with occasional political wisdom and wit. While accusing Communist ideology of irreconcilable contradictions, Capitalism developed the very same contradictions in its trajectory of governance. The two world wars bear indisputable evidence to the type of violence and mass killing that nation-states have indulged in. The use of smuggling, drug mafia, arms production and supply to dissenting groups, mindless use of women and sex in intelligence gathering, production of mass poverty etc. bear ample enough evidence for the craftsmanship of ‘democrats’ and ‘republicans’ alike all over the world. The unhindered march of ‘democratic nation states’ into the territories of oil producing countries to destroy the sovereignties of legitimate governments is there for all to see with their naked eyes. Remember all these were always accompanied by myth creation.

In recent times, the Maoists destroyed ruthlessly such myths of Capitalist democracy. Nepal transpired from monarchy to democracy only in our own times and the transition was largely brought about by Maoists. The transition was not towards anarchy but towards the establishment of the foundations of a nation state that would give true and inclusive democratic values to the people of Nepal. Thus Maoists proved conclusively that they have a different democratic ideology that is good for a different type of inclusive governance. In this path they are facing enormous roadblocks from the upholders of the capitalist brand of exclusive democratic governance, namely the National Congress of Nepal.

India’s emergence of nation state mechanisms is a direct offshoot of colonial democracy and governance. No wonder then that a nation state that was born on the ideology of non-violence has gone in the opposite trajectory of producing nuclear weapons, the ideology swadeshi has been dumped with the nuclear waste that is produced from technology borrowed from the colonizing nations. There is little wonder that the people of Kashmir and North East are ruled by the Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA) about which the rest of India cares a hoot. No wonder then that the strong-arm tactics of the nation state keeps killing innocents in the name of containing the Maoists. Even if it delegitimizes the nation state, Maoism is a political ideology with a difference, without any doubt.

Many scientists are of the opinion that the nation state is in transition and that another form of state will emerge with the collapse of capitalism. Such intellectual predictions are never branded as working against the nation. The Maoists are only engineering a process that is based on this belief and they positively want that to happen in the best interests of the poor who are definitely excluded from the mechanisms of governance in the present agent states. Such agent states all over the world have provided clandestine support to militant groups believing in violence to overthrow legitimately elected (or not) regimes. The same nations that try to overthrow terrorism within their borders have shamelessly supported terrorism outside their borders.

There is no way of saying that Charu Majumdar is a terrorist. He represents a political ideology that wants the power of the people to be at the centre stage of governance. The integration of violence is highly disputable in this ideological formulation. It will much depend on the ideological moorings on which any given society and its national governments stand. As they say, violence broods violence. For the normal citizen there should be no compromise on violence. We should have a society and governance that will be as much free from violence as possible. When this becomes non-negotiable for a nation the first force that will have to set a precedent on this will be the nation state itself. If the governing mechanisms of a nation state are smeared with the scent of blood and the stench of dead bodies as it happens often in India, those who seek alternatives may be left with no other choice.

In a nation that easily not only tolerates but also tacitly supports anti-constitutional communalism and casteism, Maoism will gain the legitimacy to be a much better political ideology in political dialectics. Demolition of Babri Masji represents a clear subversive ideology of a nation state that is founded on a secular constitution. Unmitigated violence on Dalits and Dalit women, Tribals and Tribal women, the shameless practice of untouchability in a post modern era are clear indications of the collusion of the Indian state towards subversive political ideologies. Was it not difficult for many in India to draw a clear line between Advani and Narasimha Rao in 1991? This nation with a secular constitution should have put the mastermind(s) of the demolition of Babri Masjid behind bars long ago. The perpetrators of caste discrimination and caste violence are still occupying the adorned seats of the Parliament, judiciary, bureaucracy etc. If cultural nationalism and its consequences are tolerable in a multicultural country like India, Charu Majumdar and his followers are bound to stand out as champions of the excluded and oppressed poor.

India cannot afford to govern her multicultural people through the strong arm of violence and weapon. The many archaic and colonial laws that are kept still in the law books of India are clear reflections of a colonial and violent mindset in those who matter in governing the nation. They in turn will become the feeding bottle of different political ideologies. There is no legitimacy to say that FDI and nuclear installations represent the political/economic ideology of the people of India. It can at best be said to represent the political ideology of only a miniscule minority of rich in India. If people’s aspirations and future are taken as the foundations of a nation, then the Maoists have a clear advantage in their claim to be a political outfit different from the powerful minority of rich in India. It is time that the Indian government and the Indian society at large entered into a process of political dialectics with them irrespective of the differences in their positioning. Such political dialectics will definitely lead to the emergence of Maoism sans violence as it has happened in Nepal. They may still keep violence as their adorning ideology but not as their praxis in governance.

It is in this context that the judge in Kolkotta deserves great applause for this historic judgement of treating Maoists as political prisoners. It is a very positive step in the right direction for the future of the people of India. The poor of India may at last have some true emancipators.