Regret from Dandakarnya chief Ramanna comes ahead of Chhattisgarh polls
With less than a month to go for the Chhattisgarh Assembly elections, the outlawed CPI-Maoist issued a rare apology for killing the State Congress president Nand Kumar Patel and his son Dinesh. The apology, which referred to the murder as “a big mistake,” has been issued by none other than the secretary of the most powerful State committee — Dandakarnya Special Zonal Committee — Ramanna alias Ravulu Sriniwas.
“It was a big mistake,” he said in a customised interview, where the scribe’s identity has not been disclosed. He also regretted the killing of journalist Nemichand Jain by some junior cadres.
ore than 30 people, including several top politicians and policemen, were killed in the Jeeram Ghati ambush in south Chhattisgarh in May, when Maoist fighters cordoned off the area and opened fire on a Congress convoy.
The unsigned, seven-page interview, first of its kind after Mr. Ramanna took over as party chief in Dandkaranya and mailed to The Hindu late Tuesday night, while highlighting the demerits of various government policies, has denounced some of the actions by fellow comrades.
“While 10 years back, as the Home Minister, he tried to suppress our movement, Mr. Patel was not opposing us in any personal capacity. Moreover, Congress is out of power for a decade,” said Mr. Ramanna. Recognising Patel’s role, he said when the senior Congress leader was routinely “raising his voice against [tribal] killing [by security forces] in Sarkeguda or Edesmetta, the decision to exterminate him was not right.”
Mr. Ramanna was more candid about Dinesh, whose killing was “a big mistake … he had not done anything against our party or movement.” Moreover, Dinesh had “no record of any anti-people activity.”
The chief of the State Committee, who reports directly to highest decision-making body, has also fixed responsibility for the killing of Dinesh.
“The People’s Liberation Guerrilla Army (PLGA) command that led the offensive was in haste and took a wrong decision.”
Mr. Ramanna regretted that several “innocent” people including some Congress leaders were killed in the “exchange of fire.” “…some leaders were not our enemies.”
He said, “We need to educate ourselves.”
Several conspiracy theories were doing the rounds in Chhattisgarh soon after the Jeeram Ghati incident. Both the media and political parties publicly speculated on partial involvement of mainstream parties or individuals. However, Mr. Ramanna has put such speculation to rest.
“There is no political conspiracy. People informed PLGA about Congress’ Parivartan Yatra [Rally for Change] and the offensive was planned accordingly. The BJP and the Congress are bringing allegations to score against each other during elections. It shows political bankruptcy.”
Commenting on the killing of Nemichand Jain, Mr. Ramanna said, “… [the incident] illustrates a need to educate cadres about class structure.” He has also acknowledged that a section of the party cadres has “surrendered before the enemies” as a result of a continuous “influx of imperialist culture,” uninterrupted “psychological warfare” and “malicious propaganda using…corporate media.”
“We need to enhance the standard of education among cadres to counter,” said Mr. Ramanna.
We’ll resist forcible conduct of polls
While criticising the government’s welfare policies like distribution of subsidised food and the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act, Mr. Ramanna lauded the role of the Supreme Court for empowering voters to reject candidates. “Even the court — being part of the system — had to accept that people are losing interest in elections. Hence, we feel, boycotting elections ought to be part of people’s right.”
The party would boycott the election and “resist” the government’s plan to conduct it “by force” in south Chhattisgarh, Mr. Ramanna reiterated.
He dismissed as fake allegations of molestation in Maoist camps made by “surrendered cadres.” “The cadres are tutored by the police once they surrender and the allegations are clearly baseless…in fact, exploitation of women reduced substantially [once the CPI-Maoist entered south Chhattisgarh].”