Online edition of India's National Newspaper
Sunday, Oct 17, 2004

About Us
Contact Us
Opinion
News: Front Page | National | Tamil Nadu | Andhra Pradesh | Karnataka | Kerala | New Delhi | Other States | International | Opinion | Business | Sport | Miscellaneous |
Advts:
Classifieds | Employment | Obituary |

Opinion - News Analysis Printer Friendly Page   Send this Article to a Friend

The questions remain

Will the Government be able to convince the Maoists to give up armed struggle? Or is it just a charade being enacted by both the parties? K. Srinivas Reddy on motivations of the two sides.

The KALASHNIKOVS have taken a backseat for now. With players on both sides deciding to sit across the negotiating table, a new chapter in revolutionary and counter-revolutionary strategies has begun.

The peace negotiations between the Andhra Pradesh Government and the naxalites, initiated four months ago with a ceasefire coming into effect, did indeed bring peace. But there have been several nagging, unanswered questions. Has the Government unwittingly painted itself into a corner?

Have not the Maoists repeatedly said that armed struggle is non-negotiable? What is the negotiating space that remains? Will the Government be able to convince the Maoists to give up armed struggle?

Who is to benefit in this game of negotiations? Who is trying to outsmart whom? Is it just a charade being enacted by both the parties?

For the naxalites, the process of talks could not have begun at a more opportune time. The cadres had faced nine years of unrelenting onslaught from the Government of the Telugu Desam Party.

They were on the brink of extinction in the north Telangana districts, though the naxalite sphere of activity had spread in other districts. It was indeed a respite and a perfect platform to regain lost ground and strengthen the beleaguered ranks once again.

Expediency

The initiative made political sense for the Congress Government too. It had committed itself to holding talks and could ill afford to put the lives of its policemen and leaders at stake by taking a confrontationist stand. Evidently, expediency was the guiding factor for both sides.

But on a tactical plane, it is the Maoists who have got maximum mileage out of the peace process. Besides ensuring that there would be no crackdown on their cadres, they used their public meetings to drive home the message that the state apparatus had become dysfunctional. Whether it was with respect to distribution of land or solving the problems of the debt-ridden farming community; whether it was in dealing with bureaucratic inaction against traders selling spurious seeds or with the woes of private cooperative bank depositors left high and dry.

Resounding message

At the Guttikonda public meeting, where Ramakrishna, People's War nominee for the talks, spoke soon after emerging from the forests, the Maoists drove home a resounding message: that people could approach the dalams (squads) seeking solutions to any problem.

He even exhorted farmers not to end their lives because of debts. "Come to us, we will solve your problems," he said.

This was a calculated move to send across the message that the naxalites offered an effective and dynamic alternative to the state mechanism. And people approached Mr. Ramakrishna for submitting petitions in the Hyderabad State guesthouse!

The Government strategy hinged on a single point — three decades of efforts to tackle the Maoists on a military plane had failed. It had now taken a bold initiative to bring back peace.

But even while it was ready to walk the extra mile, it was unrelenting on the issue of letting the naxalites carry arms during the period of negotiations.

Contentious issue

The Maoist representatives, who had signed the document on conditionalities (clause 7 dealt with weapons) for holding talks, were clearly caught on the wrong foot. If they were to accept the clause, it was tantamount to temporary withdrawal of armed struggle.

After much wrangling over the clause, both sides decided that the issue would be discussed when the naxalite leaders met the Government representatives.

The issue remained unresolved with the Government standing firm on the condition and Mr. Ramakrishna insisting that weapons were an extension of the naxalites' person.

Why did the Maoists not agree to the clause? Would it have made any difference if they had packed up their guns and gone to the people?

Did they not do the same thing by temporarily suspending armed struggle after the Emergency?

Though Mr. Ramakrishna claims it was a tactical error committed in 1977, there is also an argument that the party won the support of vast sections of people because it temporarily suspended armed struggle.

But now the strategy appears to be to reach out to people with the political message along with the assurance that the gun will be used only to retaliate against security forces, if ever there is an armed conflict.

Printer friendly page  
Send this article to Friends by E-Mail

Opinion

News: Front Page | National | Tamil Nadu | Andhra Pradesh | Karnataka | Kerala | New Delhi | Other States | International | Opinion | Business | Sport | Miscellaneous |
Advts:
Classifieds | Employment | Obituary | Updates: Breaking News |


News Update


The Hindu Group: Home | About Us | Copyright | Archives | Contacts | Subscription
Group Sites: The Hindu | Business Line | The Sportstar | Frontline | The Hindu eBooks | Home |

Copyright 2004, The Hindu. Republication or redissemination of the contents of this screen are expressly prohibited without the written consent of The Hindu