In a letter, expelled leader says protracted people’s war is not suitable for Indian conditions

An ideological conflict over the fundamentals of the revolutionary movement has led to a minor split in the Odisha unit of the CPI (Maoist), after the party think-tank expelled senor leader Sabyasachi Panda.

Panda, who has now formed the Odisha Maowadi Party (OMP), has questioned the very path of protracted people’s war by the Maoists to achieve the new democratic revolution.

In letters addressed to Maoist chief Ganapathy and other top leaders, Panda also questioned the use of violence in the name of the revolutionary movement and other practices like the killing of workers suspected to have turned renegades.

Most importantly, Panda’s letters speak about an element of mistrust among the cadre of different parties, which united to form the CPI (Maoist). Panda himself was working in the CPI (ML) Party Unity (PU), which merged with the CPI (ML) People’s War (PW). The PW had later merged with the MCCI to form the CPI (Maoist).

The naxal leader has operated underground for more than 14 years, spearheading the movement in major parts of Odisha. He has also headed the Odisha State Organising Committee (SOC). The SOC has jurisdiction over all Odisha districts, except Malkangiri, Koraput, Rayagada, Gajapathi and Ganjam, which form part of the Andhra-Odisha Border Special Zonal Committee (AOB SZC), headed by Modem Balakrishna. The AOB SZC area extends to Visakhapatnam, East Godavari, Vizianagaram and Srikakulam districts of Andhra Pradesh.

Panda now complains that the erstwhile PW leaders are dominating PU leaders and MCCI workers get preference in responsibilities and promotions to PU workers. He also points to the “cultural domination” of leaders of Andhra Pradesh and others over the tribal Maoists of Odisha.

Tipping point

The tipping point for the expulsion, according to a Maoist statement, was Panda’s release of his 16-page letter to Ganapathy. However, sources disclose that Panda had sent a 61-page document addressed to the GS (general secretary Ganapathy), Vijay dada (Narayan Sanyal) and Sumit dada (Sumanand Singh), and another four-page letter to some of his comrades who are in jail and have gone underground. (The copies are in possession of The Hindu).

Supporting his argument that a protracted war is not suitable for Indian conditions, Panda argues: “Cap is needed for head and not vice versa. Party is needed for revolution, and it must be developed as per the need of revolution. Path of revolution must also suit the conditions of the country. PPW is not useful for [our] country just like it was for China.”

Another major flaw, he argues, is the ‘hasty decision’ to intensify war when people are not ready. Terming such decisions “left adventurist in nature,” Panda says the Maoists have not learnt lessons from their decision to scale up the party activity into a guerrilla warfare when the people were not ready.

Another interesting observation is about how “people may help and join us” without participating in the protracted war. “We need much time to prepare them, and for this, our war must not be intensified in one or two pockets of such a big country.”

On earlier occasions too, the Maoist leadership faced similar ideological questions from senior leaders. Malik, a former member of the West Bengal State Committee of the PW, doubted the efficacy of the means to advance the revolution.

He likened the acts of revolutionaries to cutting off of the feet to fit them into shoes. Malik was also expelled.