Millennium Post

What Charu Majumdar did wrong

Forty-five years ago on this day, 25 May, nine subalterns, Dhaneswari Devi, Simaswari Mullick, Nayaneswari Mullick, Surubala Burman,  Sonamati Singh, Fulmati Devi, Samsari Saibani, Gaudrau Saibani, Kharsingh Mullick and 'two children' embraced martyrdom at Prasadjote in Naxalbari. At Naxalbari, a plaque mentioning them remains uncared for. But every year Naxalites and Maoists pay tribute to Charu Majumdar who, to be very frank, sacrificed Marxist temper for the sake of deifying 'Chairman Mao'. True, CM – the acronym he used to be addressed by – was instrumental in raising the land question in favour of tillers more boldly than the Telengana and Tebhaga days. But he introduced among thousands of youths who plunged into the historic Naxalbari struggle a mendicant culture of canine subservience to Mao Tsetung.

Innocent youths were to chant a slogan, 'Victory awaits us as the path of China is our path and the Chairman of China is our chairman', CM and his comrades who comprised the top brass of CPI(Marxist-Leninist), founded on May Day of 1969 did not care to remember Marx's famous letter to Wilhelm Bloss expressing his profound dislike of personality cult. 'From my antipathy to any cult of the individual, I never made public during the existence of the [1st] International the numerous addresses from various countries which recognised my merits and which annoyed me. I did not even reply to them, except sometimes to rebuke their authors. Engels and I first joined the secret society of Communists on the condition that everything making for superstitious worship of authority would be deleted from its statute.'

Small wonder, the Eight Documents penned by CM  – issued from 1965 – comprising 15000-plus words – and still considered a bible by various groups of CPI(ML) have not a single sentence of Marx or Engels. On the contrary, Chairman Mao appeared 16 times with quotations while Lenin is mentioned not more than 12 times. However, the slogan – 'the Chairman of China is our chairman' – was criticised after the fall of Lin Piao in 1970. In a marathon conversation with the central committee member Sourin Bose, Chou Enlai, categorically condemned the attitude of converting a communist party as an appendage of another CP of a different country. But fact remains that during the high-voltage days of Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution, every bulletin of Radio Peking used to begin with the monotonous sermon – 'We begin with a quotation from Chairman Mao Tsetung… We repeat it.' So CM was not alone responsible for inculcating the anti-Marx personality cult. Mao's blessings were underneath.

Needless to say, today no Naxalite group, not even CPI (Maoist) would write a poster stating 'Victory awaits us as the path of China is our path and the Chairman of China is our chairman'; but the mindset remained unchanged. In the early 1990s, CPI(ML) Liberation general secretary, the late Vinod Mishra wrote a piece extolling Mao as 'forever our chairman'.
It's time to script a candid revaluation of CM although parties like CPI(ML) lack the moral courage to undertake this which may begin with a critical look at the Eight Documents and their penumbral points. Let me just jot down a few of them.
In the first document, our tasks in the present situation (28 January 1965), CM perceived the principal conflict of Indian bourgeoisie is not one 'between monopoly capitalists and the national bourgeoisie' but 'between the trading community and the monopoly industrialists'. His argument was ludicrous. In a country of backward economy, trade in foodstuff and essential commodities is inevitable for the creation of capital, and control creates obstacles in the creation of this capital, and as a result of that, internal conflict takes the form of internal crisis'.
CM was implicitly afraid of inner-party debate, obviously because of deification of Mao. In the second document, he wrote, 'The Marxist truth of democratic centralism is that the Party directive coming from higher leadership must be carried out. Because the Party's highest leader is he (read CM-SR) who has firmly established himself as a Marxist through a long period of movements and theoretical debates.'
CM's utter submission to Mao – in direct contrast to warming against cult by Marx – has it reflex in the Sixth Document - The Main Task Today is the Struggle to Build up the True Revolutionary Party through Uncompromising Struggle against Revisionism (12 August 1966). 'After Lenin, Comrade Mao Tsetung has today filled Lenin's position. So the struggle against revisionism cannot be carried out by opposing the Chinese Party and Com. Mao Tsetung. The purity of Marxism-Leninism cannot be maintained. By opposing the Chinese Party, the Indian Party leadership has forsaken the revolutionary path of Marxism-Leninism. They are trying to pass off revisionism by putting it into a new bottle'.

The Eighth one - Carry forward the peasant struggle by fighting revisionism – states, that organically the very first imperative 'is establishing the leadership of poor and landless peasants in the peasant movements'. Elsewhere, it was reiterated that 'Marxists must always try to establish the leadership of the poor and landless peasants over the entire peasant movement.' But this remained on paper as CM stuck to the top slot until breathed his last, never expressed his desire to step down in favour of any poor peasant comrade. It was a reflection of sheer hypocrisy.
It will be unfair to hold CM alone responsible thousands of youths who were killed during five years of 'prairie fire'. The instigation came from Mao in his power struggle in the name of GPCR. But the photograph culture is a crude form of personality cult. Naxalites can never rid themselves of anti-Marx habit and revolutionary goal will remain will-o-the-wisp. 

Sankar Ray is a Kolkata based veteran journalist.
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