Committed to the line of armed revolution

Print edition : August 13, 2004

One striking trait of Cherukuri Rajkumar, or Prakash as he is known in People's War (P.W.) circles, is his ability to present logically, simply and effectively his party's ideology and its stand on various issues. An M.Tech. from Andhra University, the lean-built Prakash, in his mid-forties, has been underground for more than two decades. Currently he is one of the seven members of the polit bureau in the central committee of the P.W., which guides the "revolutionary movement" in Andhra Pradesh. K. Srinivas Reddy recently met Prakash, after a gruelling five-hour trek through the jungles of the Nallamala region, to discuss the import of the peace talks between the P.W. and the government. Excerpts from the interview:

There is a feeling that the P.W. will use to strengthen itself the period of the dialogue with the government, when there will be a let-up in the anti-extremist operations.

It is not true. There is no question of the P.W. strengthening itself during this period. The P.W. works for the people and, irrespective of any situation, the party has grown in strength. There was severe repression during the nine-year-long rule of the Telugu Desam [Party], but the party's influence grew by leaps and bounds. By using repression the state only tries to prevent us from meeting the people. But we live among the people. We are certainly not underground.

Do you think the Congress government is sincere about holding talks with the naxalites?

Yes. It appears to be sincere, but there is stiff opposition from a section of police officers who have become a law unto themselves. They would like the status quo [of repression] to continue. On this account, there are some contradictions in the government's stand. That is why there was this Warangal incident where a covert agent shot dead two naxalites and escaped with weapons.

I guess Rajasekhara Reddy is in a position neither to ignore the police nor to fulfil his obligation of holding talks. The Congress government has an obligation to hold talks as it had announced that before the elections. People threw out the Telugu Desam [Party] regime and now [Rajasekhara] Reddy has to fulfil his promise. But the government is in a quandary. Running with the hare and hunting with the hound - that aptly sums up the predicament of the government.

The government has a serious objection to naxalites moving around in villages with weapons.

Please understand that what is important is whether we are using the weapons. Only when the state resorts to violence we use weapons. In Andhra Pradesh, they killed our comrades and sympathisers and we were forced to retaliate. Take the example of the Dandakaranya region, where our party is very strong. There is no violence at all. Why? It is because people solve their own problems. Or, for that matter, even in Andhra Pradesh, if the state allows our mass organisations to meet people, there is no need of an armed naxalite visiting a village. They banned all our mass organisations. There is no freedom even to disagree and call for a meeting. Let this repression go and there won't be any violence.

You say that giving up armed struggle is ruled out. If that is the case, where is the negotiating space? Why should the government hold talks with the P.W.?

What one should understand is that Naxalism is not a problem but a solution. Leaving the line of armed revolution is out of the question. Talks are a necessity for the government now. They [the Congress] had made their stand clear on talks even before the elections. Now that the people threw out the Telugu Desam [Party] regime, it is an obligation on their part. For us it is necessary because we can solve some problems. We are going to demand strict implementation of land reforms and solution for a host of people's problems.

Did your party not issue a circular, during talks with the TDP-led government, that talks are only part of a strategy?

We were sure that the TDP had no sincerity in going ahead with the talks in 2002. Hence we wanted to utilise whatever respite people got from the severe repression at that time. But now the Congress appears to be sincere and we are reciprocating.

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