Sunday, October 17, 2004

India: An Exclusive Interview of Maoist Leader Ramakrishna

AKKIRAJU HARAGOPAL, better known as Ramakrishna, is secretary of the state committee of the CPI-ML People's War and part of the team holding talks with the Andhra Pradesh Government. In an exclusive interview to K. Srinivas Reddy in Hyderabad, he talks of his group's focus and agenda for the future.
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"Students have been coming to us"

Question: Your party temporarily suspended armed struggle immediately after the Emergency and moved with the people without weapons to carry out political propaganda. Why can you not do it now since there is no repression. Perhaps people would welcome such a move? Why are you adamant on clause no 7?

Ramakrishna: Our party was proceeding in a `sectarian' line where elimination of the class enemy was the prime object. The party believed that temporary suspension of armed struggle was the best course as the cadre could go to people. It was purely a tactical move. But later we reviewed the move and felt that we committed a tactical error.

The present situation is that it's not a problem for the party to go to people. Hence such a tactic is unnecessary now. But the problem is that police is not allowing us to meet people. But since a democratic atmosphere is prevailing we are meeting people now.

If we come to clause no. 7, conducting political propaganda without carrying weapons is ruled out. It would be difficult for people and also for the party. Since we agreed for a ceasefire, we also assured that there won't be any armed actions also. Our weapon is only to protect the people from anti-social elements. But the Government says it is because of the anti-social elements we should not carry arms. The reality is that because we have weapons, these anti-social elements are under the check.

Question: Is your argument based on a possibility that your party cannot segregate the military wing from the political setup due to total militarisation of the cadres?

Ramakrishna: No! It's not like that. The People's (guerrilla) Army is also conducting the political activity. It's also part of the military activity. But the Government is trying to prevent this and is trying to ensure that we don't take up any political activity.

Question: The revolutionary movement could not attract students and workers during the last one decade or so. It had lost ground in towns and urban centres. Why? Are the students reluctant to join the movement because of your chosen path of armed revolution?

Ramakrishna: It's true that we had failed to sustain and spread the movement in urban and town centres. We believe that towns and cities are traditionally strongholds of the enemy (the state). We had failed to devise a clear strategy on sustaining the movement during repression. Yes! This is a problem and now we have prepared a document on "working in towns and cities." We will certainly implement the new strategy now.

I do not think our path [of armed struggle] is a hindrance for students to join. With unemployment increasing, students have been approaching us for starting the Radical Students Union units.

Question: During the last three decades, the movement had certainly helped dismantle the feudal setup. But later it had confined itself to highlighting the problems of a section of the people. It had become a pressure group but not a party, which brought about any societal change. Even in your strongholds you were unable to bring a social change. How do you answer this criticism?

Ramakrishna: The party has been successful only in destroying the structures [of feudalism], but we could not construct [alternative] structures. Even if some structures were built, they were destroyed again. There was no reconstruction of alternative structures. But it does not mean that there was a vacuum also.

Despite feudalism being destroyed, forces have resurfaced in many forms to continue the system. They could be from the middle class or in the name of Telugu Desam Party.

Though we have not identified them as class enemies, we clearly stated our stand during the last elections that though they are not class enemies, they are implementing Chandrababu Naidu's policies politically. They are pillars for Chandrababu's policies, which are nothing but mortgaging State's interests. We warned them not to become party to this practice and forced them to resign.

Hindu 17/10/2004