December 20, 2013
by Asad Ismi
On May 25, 2013, Maoist insurgents in the Indian state of Chattisgarh wiped out almost the entire leadership of the Congress Party in that state by killing 28 of its members in an ambush. The Congress Party forms the central government in India, but is in opposition in Chattisgarh, which is ruled by the Hindu supremacist and fascist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).
This attack followed an even more devastating one by the Maoists in April 2010 in the same state, which killed 76 paramilitary troops. Sonia Gandhi, the Congress Party leader, was “aghast” at the Maoist assault on her party members, and Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has called the insurgents “the single biggest internal security challenge ever faced by our country.”
The Maoist rebellion in India is 40 years old. It started in 1967 in the town of Naxalbari in West Bengal, because of which the guerrilla group is also known as Naxalites. The state suppressed the early Naxalites, but did not completely eliminate them. New Delhi seems unable to deal with the Maoists’ latest incarnation, which was created in 2004 with the birth of the Communist Party of India (Maoist) that united two major Maoist factions.
Since then, the insurgency has spread like wildfire over 40% of India’s land area, encompassing 20 of the country’s 28 states, including 223 districts (up from 55 in 2003) out of a total of 640. The seven most affected Indian states in terms of fatalities are Chattisgarh, Jharkhand, West Bengal, Maharashtra, Orissa, Bihar, and Andhra Pradesh, in that order. These regions comprise the “Red Corridor.” About 10,000 people have been killed in the expanding civil war since 1980. The Maoists wield about 20,000 armed fighters and another 50,000 supporters. The Indian government complains that the insurgency has crippled economic activity in Central and Eastern India.
The long-term objective of the Maoists is the armed overthrow of the Indian state and the creation of a socialist-communist government. The Maoists term this a “democratic revolution, which would remain directed against imperialism, feudalism, and comprador bureaucratic capitalism.” The insurgents do not consider the Indian electoral system and governments to be democratic, but rather tools that benefit the landlord and capitalist classes.
The insurgency stems from the Indian government’s turn to neoliberal capitalism that began in 1991 and which has massively increased poverty and inequality in the country, especially to the detriment of farmers and Adivasis (Indigenous tribal Indians). At the same time, this economic strategy has enriched a small élite such as the Tata, Ambani, and Jindal families, which is why India is depicted by the Western mainstream press as an economic superpower, the poster child of globalization and successful capitalism.
Seven hundred and fifty million Indians, about 75% of the country’s population, live in poverty while the top 5% of Indian families hold 38% of total assets…