This year, Naxalbari Day (May 25) has come at a time when Indian people are facing unprecedented hardships due to Govt. utilizing the Corona pandemic to heap untold sufferings on the people. Life of the common people has been forced to a grinding halt while assault on democratic rights is continued with renewed vigour; assault on the hard won rights of workers is being launched with ferocity; assault on peasantry and agriculture and stronger dose of corporate control is being given a push while neglect of hundreds of millions of migrant workers has shown the ruling classes in their true colour. Lockdown had been imposed to save the upper and upper middle classes at the expense of overwhelming majority of toiling people of the country.
This year Naxalbari Day has come at a time when millions of workers have walked back and still walking back to their villages. These were drawn from the landless poor peasants, agricultural labourers and even middle peasant families. Rural India, which has been the cauldron where contradictions were boiling over, had since long been the arena of fierce struggle and revolutionary movements. Rural India had been the main battleground against the rule of big bourgeoisie and big landlords who are subservient to imperialism and had come to power in 1947. Rural India, where overwhelming majority of the people lived, and even now nearly 70% of Indian live, has seen continuous stream of revolutionary peasant struggles. While India had a long history of peasant revolts, Telengana Armed Struggle (1946-1951) was the first armed struggle of Indian peasants under working class leadership which sustained for five years and covered a large area. This struggle was betrayed by the then CPI leadership and the path of Armed Agrarian Revolution was sought to be drowned in the quagmire of parliamentarianism. Naxalbari peasant armed struggle was re-establishment of the path shown by Telengana Armed Struggle and became a spark which ignited a praire fire in several regions of the country. More, it became a turning point in the history of the Communist Movement in India drawing a sharp line of demarcation between revolutionaries and revisionists & neo-revisionists.
Naxalbari has been and is a symbol of the path of armed struggle for the liberation of India; for carrying out democratic revolution in India. It also stands for the fact that in India armed struggle of the people takes the form of Armed Agrarian Revolution and path of protracted people’s war. Naxalbari stands for New Democratic Revolution with working class as its leader and peasantry as the main force.
Indian ruling classes launched unprecedented repression on the revolutionary peasant movement and created new records in the suppression of democratic rights and unleashing of state violence against the struggling people. While this was the main response of the ruling classes, they also tried to sow illusions among the people and thus emerged the second round of land reforms by ruling classes. Besides, a number of village youth particularly from among the poor peasants and agricultural labourers, went to metropolitan centres to work. Though it was not large enough to make any qualitative change to the distress of the exploited and oppressed peasant masses, it did provide a safety valve to the pressure of crisis and in many regions the educated youth left for cities. The return of these workers, mostly young, to the villages is bound to increase pressure in rural economic and social life. This will have an important bearing on the struggles in rural areas in large parts of the country, mainly in rural areas, though it will leave its imprint on the workers’ struggle in cities as well. This will create fertile ground for struggle for employment, land and against rural backwardness and lack of development, aggravating crisis there.
Rural India is still ruled by landlords and rural elite. There have been changes in the rural life, yet these have been quantitative in nature. These changes have deepened the old pressure points while creating some new ones. The struggle against the ruling classes in the countryside has become more multifarious but is still directed against landlords, money lenders and other business interests. While several issues of struggle have gained in importance, land remains the most important issue of struggle in so far as changing the village life is concerned. There has been no transfer of power in rural India it has only been accretion of avenues of exploitation of landlords and joining of business interests along with traditional allies of landlords, the money lenders. These sections have taken a large share of Govt. schemes and also control the businesses that have risen in the rural areas in alliance with traders. Land continues to be the symbol of power in rural India with nearly three fourth of the wealth of the richest 14% people being land. Land ownership, the basis of semi-feudal exploitation to which have been added other forms of ownership and exploitation, continues to be concentrated in a very small section with only top 2% owning 25% of agricultural land and top 7% owning 47% of land. In fact proportion of landlords, money lenders and traders has shown some increase in the recent past. On the other hand, land holdings of the bottom half of rural people have further decreased to a mere 0.4% increasing the number of rural landless people, most of them agricultural labourers. In fact according to Socio-Economic Census 2011, 56% of rural people own only homestead land.
Exploitation and oppression of peasants continues in a myriad of ways. While old forms continue, the new are added. Tenancy in agriculture continues to be high though it is not brought on record as there is no proper record of bataidari in most of the rural areas. Its extent is not captured even by NSS as most of these are only verbal deals. To give some examples: K. Ranga Rao Committee had put its extent at 50% in 2006 in Andhra Pradesh (then United AP); D. Bandopadhyay who headed a Commission in Bihar put the figure of tenancy at one third (35%) though lamenting lack of records. The vast extent of tenancy in coastal Odisha is well known. And so, in major parts of the country, tenancy is much more widespread though exploitation of poor peasants and agricultural labourers continues in myriad of other ways. The present scenario in the countryside shows that path shown by Naxalbari remains valid for the liberation of the country.
This skewed ownership of means of production, land being the principal one in rural India, is also at the root of continuing caste oppression in the country. In recent years there has been a rise in the struggles against Caste oppression yet majority of them are not focusing on the issue of ownership of means of production. However, some struggles have focused on this issue which is an integral part of the struggle against caste oppression. Here Naxalbari struggle and its emphasis on elimination of semi-feudal oppression and land distribution remain relevant to the struggle against caste oppression. Similarly struggle of tribals against alienation of their land, which is at the root of the assault on them, have drawn inspiration from and have been part of the struggle led by the communist revolutionaries on the path shown by Naxalbari. They continue to be so.
Naxalbari Day is being observed at a time when ruling dispensation at the Centre and in most of the states is imposing fascist dictatorship over the country. It is being observed at a time when attacks on peasantry and working class, all the toiling sections are intensified to extreme and ruling regime has become shameless and brazen about its service to imperialism and domestic reactionary ruling classes – big capitalists and big landlords. It is being observed at a time when minorities, especially Muslims are being targeted in an unprecedented way as regime advances to impose RSS vision of Hindu Rashtra, in essence upper caste chauvinism in service of imperialism and reaction. It is opposed to all the aspirations of Indian people that had crystallized in the course of anti-colonial struggle of Indian people.
It is incumbent on those upholding the path of Naxalbari to dexterously combine the struggle against Sangh fascism with building the struggles of the people for revolutionary change. The overwhelming majority of the people- peasants and workers- constitute the main fighting force for the revolutionary change and also against fascist onslaught of RSS-BJP. Struggle of peasant masses will play a significant role in emerging scenario. CRs must devote all energy and initiative to increase their role in this struggle; for it to be realized, full attention and energy should be devoted to build areas of sustained resistance of the peasantry- this resistance will be a strong bulwark against RSS-BJP designs and will be crucial in overcoming defeatism and compromise. This struggle will mainly be fought outside parliamentary arena. This challenge is an opportunity to Communist Revolutionaries, the followers of Naxalbari Path.
Combine class struggle with struggle against social oppression and offensive of fascist forces!
Revolution is the Future; Naxalbari shows the way!
Long Live Marxism-Leninism-Mao Zedong Thought!