Hyderabad: The Maoist movement in India appears to be facing the biggest challenge from the most unexpected quarter – that of ageing leadership. With most of the central leadership turning over 60 years and various health issues plaguing them, the ultra secret party has now decided to utilise the services of these ‘veterans’ in different ways rather than making them lead the revolutionary movement from the jungles.
A meeting of the all-powerful Central Committee (CC) members held in February last was stated to have decided to relieve the ‘veteran comrades’ of crucial responsibilities, if they were unable to discharge their duties due to physical or health reasons. The party would, however, use their services in different ways, while ensuring that these veterans get due respect and support from the rank and file. In fact, a resolution on this issue adopted in the 2017 CC meeting is the culmination of the discussion on this serious problem of ageing leadership taken up during the earlier CC meeting in 2013.
The CC meetings are the most crucial ones as they decide the course of revolutionary movement. The CC consisting of 19 members (as estimated by intelligence agencies) takes stock of the social, political and the economical conditions prevailing in the country as well as the world and decide on the future course of the revolutionary movement. The party Congress, held every five years or so, is another important meeting which succeeds the CC meetings. This Congress, sources believe, could be held by this year end.
One of the most interesting resolutions was on the issue of ageing leadersip, though the CPI (Maoist) leaders euphemistically termed it as a resolution on “Veteran Comrades in the Party”. The party has now decided to utilise the services of those veterans, who are unable to do justice to the roles they had been assigned due to physical and health reasons. Most interestingly, the resolution spoke about the need for such leaders at the State and the Central levels to come forward on their own “in the revolutionary spirit” and “step down” from their positions to set example for others.
The CC meeting felt that providing security to these ageing leaders was also becoming extremely difficult in view of the intensifying counter-insurgency operations launched by the governments all over the country. “In areas where government offensive is serious and we are unable to protect our leadership, we should send them to villages or urban centres which are unaffected by revolutionary movement,” the resolution maintains. This plainly means that those leaders who are unable to live any longer in the forests will now be divested of their responsibilities and moved to areas which the government feels are unaffected by Maoist activity. That the discussion was meticulous on this issue is evident from another mention on how the party should maintain contacts with veterans relocated to new areas. The party, which is known for utmost secrecy, would maintain contacts with such relocated or transferred leaders once in six months. Such relocation could also help the party in providing medical facilities to ailing leaders, the resolution justified.
The CPI (Maoist) Central Committee was of the view that such veterans could help the revolutionary movement by documenting their experiences and viewpoints on the Indian Maoist revolution. The party committees at different levels like State, special zonal committees, regional bureaux or politburo should take decisions on this ‘relocation’ exercise considering the age, health condition, psychological strength and capabilities of all the leaders and take a decision to shift the ‘veterans’.
Interestingly, seven of the 19-member CC are above 60 years and many of them are known to suffering from various health issues. Party general secretary Muppala Laxmana Rao, most popularly known as Ganapathy, is 66 years old now and the seniormost in the CC is Prashant Bose, is 69 years old. It remains to be seen whether ‘veterans’ among the CC members would be replaced. If that happens, there could be a significant change in the strategies and tactics of the Indian revolutionary movement, in the backdrop of a steep fall in the recruitment of cadre all over the country and the penchant of the young leaders to opt for more intensified military actions against the security forces.