In variance with Mao Tse Tung’s strategic dictum of ‘taking the countryside first and then circling the urban centres’, the Communist Party of India (Maoist) has started eyeing the urban areas of working class discontent-- among the working class (both organised and unorganised sector), students, unemployed youth and intellectuals--to spread their influence.
The ‘urban policy’ has also been given the thumbs-up during the party’s Central Committee meeting for 2013 held somewhere in the Odisha-Chhattisgarh border.
While security and intelligence agencies had indicated the ‘presence’ of Maoist elements across many major towns and cities of India including New Delhi, their ‘influence’ was always under doubt.
“The idea is to ramp up the ‘influence’ now, to replenish the urban network. This is a ‘tactical’ effort to get forces of urban discontent together on the basis of a common workable understanding,” said a top security official engaged in formulating policy against the Maoist movement and who spoke on condition of anonymity.
Latest intelligence reports already speak of systematic efforts being made to infiltrate labour organisations in the national capital region in order to spread the ‘influence’.
“Maoists have reached a certain saturation point or plateau in the rural and forest areas. Beyond this point there is no scope to expand or increase influence. That is why they have turned their attention to urban areas now,” said PV Ramana, research fellow and an expert on the Maoist movement at the Institute of Defence Studies and Analysis.
Traditionally, tribal communities in dense forested areas across central India have been the usual mainstay of the Maoists for support, shelter and cadres. Moreover, the inaccessibility and remoteness facilitated construction of bases for weapons training and ideological indoctrination.
On the other hand, the movement found fertile ground among the tribals whose angst, due to a long history of being exploited against as well as a strong sense of being wronged, got largely channelized into the Maoist movement.
The CPI (Maoist) urban areas plan first found focus in September 2007 when the Urban Sub Committee (USCO) prepared an “urban perspective plan” but which was not given urgent importance. The issue became a contentious one with consequent dissent from the state committees in West Bengal, Karnataka and Odisha.
Indian Maoists are not known to be great sticklers to Mao’s strategy. While Mao was never too keen on the efficacy of mounting spectacular strikes during the initial stages of the movement, it is something that their Indian counterparts have not followed.