Maoists, they ain’t no God’s gift

Rupa Gulab

Sometime last year, I got weary of reading what intellectuals and look-at-me-I'm-so-goshdarned-brilliant Booker prize winners had to say about Maoists. After all, fawning articles by ardent fans can get rather tedious.  I decided to get the truth straight from the horses' mouth, and had a long cosy chat with my driver. His family is poor. He's from Jharkhand. He should have a valid point of view, right? By the way, I daren't name him in case Maoists do that charming thing they picked up from Henry VIII: Cut off his head.

I began by asking him a simple question:  Are Maoists good people?The driver laughed and laughed and laughed.  And then he laughed some more. When he eventually stopped, I noticed that his lips were twisted in a pronounced sneer.

"Arrey, they're just the same as politicians. Of course, there are one or two people with good intentions," he reluctantly conceded after noticing that my eyes were pleading with him to say something positive, " but the rest of them are evil, power hungry and ride roughshod over us instead of helping us.  They don't care two hoots about our well-being." I gasped as he went on to say that Maoists made Raj Thackeray's violent MNS-lot look like cuddly wimps.

Though that conversation threw up some interesting insights, it didn't swing the balance for me. I continued to be ambivalent. Till the recent Dantewada massacre in which many CRPF men were killed. I no longer care to know what other people think of Maoists. I have a very strong opinion myself: When you murder for a cause, you murder the cause itself. When I'm really, really angry with anyone these days, the most insulting phrase that springs to my lips is, "You, you, you Maoist!"

The Maoists must have cheered and drunk pitchers of mahua immediately after the massacre. Even if Union Home Minister P Chidambaram had tried to call Maoist honcho Kishenji, he'd never have got through, with all those effusive congratulatory calls coming in from Nepal, China and God knows where else they get their arms and ammo from. However, a few days later, when they realised that some of their more intelligent sympathisers in India were disgusted, they hastily attempted to whitewash their image. Murmurs were made about giving compensation to the families of those who were brutally murdered. Oddly enough, that doesn't inspire me to hug them. It makes me want to throw up on them instead.

So, the next time some half wit masquerading as an intellectual tells me that Maoists are God's gift to poor neglected people, I'm ready to take him or her on.
Pro-Maoist Argument No 1: Maoists are like Robin Hood, stealing from the rich to help the poor.
Counter Argument No. 1: Rot! They're more like Red Robbing Hoodlum, stealing from both the rich and the poor. By blowing up railway tracks and other development infrastructure, they're stealing a better future from the tribals to strengthen their own cause. As we've seen in several Maoist-free states, NGOs serve the tribals way better.

Pro-Maoist Argument No. 2: Maoists feed the hungry.       
Counter Argument No. 2: How? By making them literally bite the bullet?  

Pro-Maoist Argument No. 3: Maoists give tribals jobs.
Counter Argument No. 3: Yeah right. As murderers, sometimes. And cannon fodder at other times. You think they're going to physically front their battles and die for their own cause? Do the likes of Osama bin Laden become suicide bombers themselves?  

Pro-Maoist Argument No. 4: All revolutions have to be violent.
Counter Argument No. 4: You dare say this in the country that Mr M.K. Gandhi helped create through non-violent means! What did you learn in history class? Only dates? Your beloved Kishenji's face will never make it on T-shirts, darling. Dream on.

Pro-Maoist Argument No. 5: Government after government has failed the tribals.  Who will fight for their rights?
Counter Argument No. 5: You, I and the media will, by constantly heckling and reminding the government of India to do its duty towards the other India. Remember, if we forget, we can't blame the government for slacking off! It may be much easier now because income tax chaps have just popped in to the IPL HQ. Perhaps we'll get loads of money for schools, hospitals and other development infrastructure soon, yippie!

This story is from the print issue of Hardnews: MAY 2010