Hyderabad: On July 14 and 15 this year the movement of armed squads from the outlawed CPI (Maoist) in the thick forests of Komaram Bheem Asifabad and Bhadhradri Kothagudem districts sent the Telangnana’s security forces into overdrive. Exchange of fire between the state police and the militants in the forest areas in the Godavari valley region triggered a debate on whether Telangana under the six-year rule of Telangana Rashtra Samithi after its emergence as the country’s youngest state is providing a fertile ground for the Left Wing extremists to rebuild their ruined Red bastions.
For the People’s War Group, the previous avatar of the CPI (Maoists), Telangana is like a paradise that slipped out of hand. The aborted peace talks with the Y.S. Rajasekhar Reddy government in the undivided Andhra Pradesh in 2004 and Telangana’s bifurcation upended the Maoists’ apple-cart. The so-called peace talks only exposed the underground network of the extremists and also the top leaders who managed to have their identities undisclosed for several years, also be exposed. Though it is the erstwhile PWG, which through its Warangal and Bhongir declarations pitched for a separate state for Telangana much before the Telangana Rashtra Samithi’s K. Chandrasekhar Rao did, realization of the state only proved counter-productive for the Maoists, feel the analysts familiar with the Left Wing politics.
Combination of these two tactical blunders forced the Maoists to abandon their bastions and move away into the Andhra-Odisha Borders unable to face a sustained heat built up by the police.
Backed by the Maoist Party the activists of its over-ground organizations and troupes of cultural wings went hand in hand with KCR or K. Chandrasekhar Rao during the statehood movement with the belief that the state bifurcation would give them scope to grow.
“All such calculations of the party went wrong. It is evident with what was considered as the first encounter reported in Telangana state in 2015 at Warangal in which Sruti, a Maoist leader who was actively involved in the statehood movement, was killed”, a Maoist sympathizer, wishing to stay anonymous, told this writer.
Subsequently, the TRS government sent the police from the state to Bastar in Chattisgarh to hunt the Maoists down, he recalled.
Will it be their homeland again?
Though the recent movements of militants in the Godavari Valley caught public attention widely, contacts familiar with the party said several attempts were made by the ultras in the past also to regain foothold in the state, particularly in north Telangana region. The party is apparently passing through a worst-ever leadership crisis in the wake of killing of party’s top guns like Cherukuri Rajkumar @ Azad, Mallojula Koteswara Rao @ Kishenji and surrender of senior leaders to the government.
A Maoist sympathizer said the party after Namballa Keshava Rao alias Basavaraj, an alumnus of the Regional Engineering College at Warangal, became its helmsman is keen on turning Telangana into a fertile ground for infusion of intelligentsia into its ranks by strengthening base in universities and colleges. Telangana with a background of armed struggle led by the undivided Communist Party of India (CPI) in the late 1940s against the Nizam’s rule is credited with supplying leaders to the erstwhile PWG and the present Maoist party. The top leaders who came from Telangana included Muppalla Laxman Rao @ Ganapathi who was replaced by Basavaraj as the CPI (Maoist) General Secretary in November, 2018.
But the prospects of the Maoists regaining their lost ground appear to be thin in the near future. “Staying relevant to the present time has become a challenge to the Maoists. When the Left parties organized protests against fee hike in universities and colleges two-three decades ago, the response used to be overwhelming from students and parents. Now such protests have become redundant as the students are keen to pursue corporate education by spending hefty amounts of fee. Thus, the scope of recruitment of cadres from students has become highly narrowed,” the party’s sympathizer explained.