Jharkhand Movement and the Left
(Below is the paper presented by Manoj Bhakt at the seminar on Marxism and Jharkhand Question held by Indian Institute of Marxist Studies at Ranchi on April 25. A report on the seminar was carried in our June issue.)
I. Attempts at carving out a separate Jharkhand state on the Indian map had started during the British regime itself. These still continue fifty years after independence. Jharkhand movement is no exceptional case for a separate state. In many other parts of the country, movements for separate states (within Indian Union) by various nationalities and regional forces have been going on for a long time. Even after the dissolution of the first State Reorganisation Commission not only did the formation of separate states continue, the proposals rejected by the Commission acquired depth and became more broadbased in the form of mass movements. Along with these movements the question of development of states has also come up. Jharkhand movement is one of them and the question of the attitude of the Left towards this movement is integrally linked with the outlook of the Left on the question of development of the Indian state.
The debate concerning the nationality is quite old among the Left but in the Indian context this has not taken a concrete form. Here the nationality question has been limited to some rhetorics and formalisms by the Left and this has pushed the Left out of the arena of struggle. One cannot deny the complexity involved in this question. It would be foolish to adopt only one criteria for looking at all nationalities in India because various nationalities are at different stages of their socio-economic development. But within the Indian political system the movements striving for autonomy are not only oppressed but they are also isolated from the rest of the country by creating suspicion and declaring them anti-national. The ruling class uses this instrument against all autonomy movements. A big section of the Left, instead of opposing it, gets entangled in this. The Left needs to take a look at its policies on the interrelation between national unity and autonomy for nationalities.
In its form and content the movement for a separate Jharkhand state is a struggle for autonomy of a backward nationality and it is trying to find a solution within the totality of the Indian state. The colonialism of the British period and the rulers of independent India in the age of neo-colonialism have given rise to old and new social tensions in Jharkhand. These tensions had dealt a blow to the stagnation of colonialism of the earlier period. Subsequently, the activism of the new class and sub-class social groupings is taking an effective role in the public arena. These are the new facets to the Jharkhand movement. The Left cannot confine them merely to the cultural context because these are coming up in the form of day-to-day political questions. The gravity of this question is increasing more due to the growing influence of reactionary forces. The truth is that the creative utilisation of these social tensions has not found a proper place in the agenda of the Left. Lamenting over opportunism of the parties calling themselves Jharkhandi or shedding tears over this will not solve the problem. The Left is facing lots of problems in powerfully mobilising Jharkhandi forces against this opportunism and then taking this mobilisation to the leading role. There is a need to make a threadbare analysis of this situation and remove the weaknesses.
After independence the period of industrialisation in Jharkhand began. To tackle the growing discontent in Jharkhand many developmental projects were started. Industrialisation and these development projects only added to the distorted and lopsided development of this region - these brought in new problems in a flood-like manner. In all, the result was that Jharkhand region was being pushed towards incurable backwardness. Jobs and resettlement were not made available but almost all of ancestral land slipped out of the fold of Jharkhandis. Forests were uprooted, traditional forms of production were destroyed, and in return, Jharkhandis were pushed into the army of unorganised labourers. The change in composition of the population due to urbanisation soon alienated Jharkhandis from their own land. The worst victim of these changes was the Jharkhandi tribal life. The tribal identity of the adivasis - which is an important feature of Jharkhand - was attempted to be smothered under the facade of development and industrialisation. Surely, the ruling class was able to bring a small section of adivasis into its fold in this whole process. But the rest were left to suffer under this situation over which they had no control and which was forcibly thrust upon them from outside. The fallout of developmental projects and industrialisation also took the shape of sharp tendencies for regionalism. This provided strength to the unity of the tribal community and rationale to the cries of seperation from Bihar. The question of unlimited plunder of resources from Jharkhand and spending virtually nothing in return gave birth to movemental forms like economic blockade. Independent mass movements on issues like resettlement, forest protection and environment came up. The issue of tribal self-rule is also giving rise to mass mobilisation. All these types of struggling tendencies have an integral connection with Jharkhand movement. The Left's attitude towards them is not yet clear even though they are very much the products of independent India.
There can be many facets to the topic 'Jharkhand Movement and the Left'. But I will restrict my views to the above-mentioned context only. It could be that some aspects will be influenced by the limits of the topic. Secondly, there are many streams of left in India and I will mainly present my views on the basic assumptions and practices of CPI, CPI(M) and CPI(ML). Surely, the specific practice of Comrade AK Roy will also be discussed which is an important experience of the Left here.
II. The awakening against British imperialism provided the foundation for Indian nationalism. Now after independence when the British guns are not aimed at us, it is obvious that the nation had to be reorganised on the basis of democracy. Specially, the aspirations of the backward nationalities, minority nationalities and backward regional forces were to be respected in the formation of states. But with the transfer of power into the hands of comprador bourgeoisie and big landlords they gave protection to the fundamental neo-colonial feudal relations inside the country. That is, there was a change from colonialism to semi-colonialism. To some extent the feudal special privileges still form the basis for the relations between the forward and backward nationalities and the redistribution of power between various nationalities. These special privileges are also operative in the relations between states and centre, in the relations between developed and backward regions within states etc. The communist principle is to abolish all these old kind of special privileges whether they are direct or indirect, even if the benefit of these special privileges is availed by the elites of backward nationalities along with the ruling class of the forward nationalities.
Regarding the emergence of Indian state contradictory ideas are present among a large section of communists even today. In the first place, the undivided communist party denied in toto the importance of independence and later making amends to this gave it a status of victory of national democratic movement. CPI(M) presents things in a slightly different way. According to CPI(M), democratic revolution is yet to take place but feudal-colonial relation is not the central target of this revolution. As a result democratic revolution is unable to break the limits of the rhetorics of the economic and cultural questions. This means there is only a quantitaive difference between CPI and CPI(M) over the point that national unification is complete. In their eyes the problem of nationalities has almost been solved. And if at all it is strong anywhere it is because of the subversive forces acting from behind. Refusing to look for the roots of this problem in the Indian political arena, CPI and CPI(M) adopt the ruling classes' position of 'the external intervention'. In this way their nationalism is not much different from that of the ruling classes. These parties were never firm on the question of the right of nationalities to self-determination. And now they have deleted the word 'self-determination' from some of their recent documents.
Even though CPI(ML) is divided into many parts, we can consider two representative streams within it. The PWG overlooks the quantitative change in capitalism over the periods before and after independence. At the same time it belittles the importance of the Indian identity that was obtained with the struggle for independence. As a result, instead of viewing the nationality movement as part of the democratic movement it sees it as an important instrument to destroy state machinery and views the project of national unification as the union of independent and autonomous nationalities. This treats the movement of the Indian people against British imperialism as having gone waste. In this way, where CPI(M) raises the slogan of national chauvinism, PWG gets trapped in the advocacy of narrow nationalism.
The other view is that of CPI(ML) Liberation. It takes into account the development of Indian identity against British imperialism and also observes that the birth of multinational, multilingual state took place not only with semi-colonial distortions, but also the Indian unity and nationalism obtained during independence is under the burden of heavy bureaucratism and an overcentralised power. Because the imperialism stood as a real enemy before the people even after independence, the ruling class exploits the distorted nationalism. For Maley the movement of nationalities is an essential part of political agenda for the development of a true and composite nationalism. Autonomy for backward nationalities and national minorities are the preconditions for a federal and democratic India.
The violation of the right of backward nationalities in semi-colonial and semi-feudal Indian society means protecting the special privileges of the advanced nationalities. This rather provides labour for a pittance for imperialist economy and creates unlimited profits for it. Hence, communists are the staunch defenders of the autonomy for the backward nationalities so that the old type of special privileges can be done away with. At the same time real national unity can be strengthened from below. It is important to struggle against the discrimination of the nationalities to remove the distortions imposed by British imperialism or neo-imperialism. In this way we can say that the question of nationalism is not the residual question of 1947. On the one hand, the enthusiasm associated with the abolition of the jagirs, and on the other hand, partition on the basis of religious nationalism had for some time frozen this question and then later the formation of linguistic states had rendered it dormant. But fifty years later this question has acquired a new place and attained new importance.
III. On the nationalities question in Indian context the debates within the Left have not developed much. The main reason is that CPI and CPI(M), while mentioning the multinational character hesitate to pose this question as a fundamental problem of Indian politics. At the same time they were content with the initiatives taken by the Congress party and considered the Sixth Schedule as the maximum limit for autonomy. This looks more surprising in a situation when CPI(M) has been taking up seriously the demand for reorganisation of centre-state relations which is a justified demand. Let us look at CPI(M)'s outlook on the question of nationalities with the help of one of its documents: "During this period the movement for separate state/identity continued. Chiefly among them were the demands for Bodo adivasis in Assam and Jharkhand area in Bihar. The Fourteenth Congress had said that in these two regions the regional autonomous councils be established with adequate powers and if necessary the constitution could be amended for this." Similar recommendations have been given on other similar issues in this document.
Let us take an excerpt from CPI's document: "For our multilingual and multinational country the ethnic problem is a decisive problem. In spite of linguistic reorganisation even now many problems exist. Small tribes and adivasis are coming to new awareness. And they are struggling for the establishment of their languages, culture, political rights and identity.... The struggle of the adivasis for their identity and homeland has taken up a new dimension. Jharkhand, Bodoland and North Cachar Hills are involved in this. The movements have become mass movements. The centre has to begin talks to find a solution. There are going to be many such movements in many other states having a good percentage of tribal population." (Draft of the CPI's statement relating to its programme; 1-6 Jan. 1997). CPI mentions no reason for its sudden change in attitude because before this CPI had opposed movements for a separate state.
CPI(ML) Liberation views the question of nationality like this: "India is a land of various nationalities, ethnic and linguistic groups. Increasing economic and cultural homogeneity, anti-colonial freedom struggle and the decades old unity forged from anti-imperialist and democratic struggles have provided a unified Indian identity to our multi-national character. But the process of gradual development of this Indian identity has been a victim of big comprador and national chauvinistic distortions, economic and cultural discriminations and regional disparities on a large scale. Due to this various separatist tendencies have got a boost....We are for the construction of national unity from below where various nationality groups, national minorities will have a guarantee to the broadest possible autonomy. The unification of India on a democratic basis is an important part of democratic revolution".
Nationalities in India can be divided into three main categories. In the first category are developed nationalities like Tamils and Punjabis, in the second category are backward nationalities like Jharkhandis and in the third category are extremely backward nationalities like Nagas and Mizos. The attitude of the communists to different movements of the nationalities will be different. Where the ruling classes of developed nationalities want to strengthen their position in the Indian political structure through the movements of concerned nationalities, the people of the extremely backward nationalities express their resistance against the political constructions imposed on them through their nationality movements. There are two simultaneous trends in the movement of backward nationality like Jharkhand. One is that of the emerging neo-rich sections of the concerned nationality who try to remove the outside rulers and take over their place and the other is that of the exploited people who along with their struggle against the outside rulers conduct struggle against the local neo-rich sections. In the movements of developed nationalities the communists can go to the maximum extent of extending negative support. The task of the communists in the movement of the backward nationality is to prepare the leadership of peasants and workers against the rich classes of the concerned nationality and to compete for the position of leadership in this movement and bring about a polarisation on the basis of classes. Communists are not only the staunch supporters of the movements of extremely backward nationalities but they also develop an appropriate structure for a progressive leadership. Let us look at the practice of these three streams of the Left in this light.
The CPI(M) wants to solve the problem of nationality through tribal autonomous councils even though in this very document it discusses the failure of Bodoland Council and says that adequate powers have not been given to it. The difficulty is that most of these movements have passed through the stage of autonomous councils. Even the movement of Gorkhaland, after having a taste of autonomous council, is coming up again while the government which is to devolve the powers to them is led by CPI(M). So what can we conclude from this: it is most likely that the CPI(M) would include this in "disruptionist activities". There is one more possibility that CPI(M) opposes the movements of nationalities or regional forces so long as they are associated with real mass aspirations. But when the different strata of the movement get degenerated at the hands of the ruling class of the concerned nationality and lose their mass character, CPI(M) promptly establishes friendship with these degenerated leaderships. Perhaps, the change in CPI(M)'s relations with AGP and DMK suggests the same story.
In the past, CPI's attitude towards the nationality movement has not been different from this. The above-mentioned quotation from a CPI document doesn't present a self-criticism of its practice in the past. Even then the change that has taken place is positive and welcome. But if there is no holistic view about this then usually the change proves to be an opportunist exercise. Second thing is that the emphasis of CPI has been more for talks with the central government rather than on mass movements. It is doubtful whether this approach will inspire CPI to prepare for a real mass movement.
Maley (CPI(ML) Liberation) has adopted a critical view of the movements of advanced nationalities. For example, it adopted a negative position on the issue of Khalistan. At the same time not only did Maley support the movements in Uttarakhand and Jharkhand but it also actively intervened in them. Along with emerging as the strong supporter of the movements of extremely backward national minorities like Karbis and Misings, it has also built up organisations like ASDC, TPF etc., to provide these movements a leftward orientation. Practices like these enrich the experiences of the Left in the Indian context.
Lenin says that the overthrowing of the entire feudal crimes, entire oppression of nationalities and the special privileges of any one nationality or one language is the essential duty of the proletariat as a democratic force and this is certainly in the interest of the proletarian class struggle which is made hazy and hindered by the conflicts among the nationalities. (From Critical Comments on the Nationality Question). According to Lenin, the question of right to self-determination of the nationalities more than being a question of nationalism is a question of democracy and in this the communist principle is minimum nationalism and maximum democracy. This is the reason why the communists even while struggling against narrow nationalism on the question of nationality, in the relative sense are the staunchest supporters of maximum autonomy and their only aim is to direct the class struggle within the concerned nationality in favour of the people.
IV. The modern composition of Jharkhand was developed in reaction against British colonialism despite the fact that conducive integrated economic structure based on geographic features, backward agriculture and forests, and integral cultural heritage, unique inter-tribal relations etc., were present for this. Tensions were sparked off in the society due to new polarisations caused by the growing pressures on land by the state at the time of colonial subjugation and the consequent transfer of the land constantly into the hands of usurers and ????, as well as due to other external pressures. As a result, revolts in this region took the form of tradition and culture developed under resistance. In the initial period these revolts were of religious and retrograde form which is a special feature of peasant revolts. But progressively the development of these struggles took place in the form of looking for a new system against the raj, zamindari and usury. The Munda resistance from 1789 to 1820, the Kol revolt of 1830-31, the Bhumij revolt of 1834, the Santhal revolt of 1855-56, the Sepoy Mutiny of 1856-57, the upsurge under the leadership of Birsa Munda during 1895-1901 etc., kept the entire region agitated with a series of revolts spanning over more than a century. If the people faced the repression together, they also enjoyed the fruits of victory together. The laws that were made under compulsion were the achievements of these struggles. The Chotanagpur-Santhal Parganas Tenants Act (1872, 1886, 1903, 1908) that put a check on land sales in Chotanagpur and Santhal Parganas etc., were enacted under the pressure of these struggles. The spontaneous struggles in Jharkhand have laid the foundation for a tradition of resistance. At the same time it also did the initial work of giving an identity to Jharkhand. There is no doubt that the hero of the above-mentioned struggles was the adivasi and he had the complete support of non-adivasi small peasant too. During this time, the growing activity of the missionaries and the efforts of the British government to coopt small groups of adivasis gave birth to a section of educated, Westward-looking adivasis. And in this process Chotanagpur Unnati Samaj, then Adivasi Mahasabha, and finally Jharkhand Party came into existence. Even before independence the demand for a separate state was proposed to the Simon Commission and the Cripps Commission. The new leadership had no movemental programme and it lacked the energy for waging struggles. Its only asset was its allegiance to the ruling class and its party. At the centre of this leadership was the famous and brilliant Jaipal Singh Munda. In spite of a spectacular electoral victory of the Jharkhand Party, its entire leadership went over to Congress later. One reason could be that the State Reorganisation Commission (1955) had rejected the demand for a separate Jharkhand state. In spite of all weaknesses these happenings had two important contributions - first, this struggle for a separate Jharkhand state took a long-term character, and secondly, it pointed to the lack of unity between adivasis and non-adivasis as the weakness of the movement.
Four years after the demise of Jharkhand Party a momentary upsurge came in Jharkhand with Birsa Seva Dal. This was also a movement of educated adivasi youth but its character was just the opposite of Jharkhand Party. Organising peasants near towns and in farflung villages and bringing them in direct action against the oppressors was the main activity of Birsa Seva Dal. In spite of some remarkable initiatives this collapsed in the face of repression. This was the first movement in the history of Jharkhand which was influenced by the Left and its source of inspiration was Naxalbari. It is said that some leaders of the Birsa Seva Dal had relations with CPI(ML).
Then began the second phase of Jharkhand movement. This was the struggle for land seizure and against usury in North Chotanagpur and Santhal Parganas which in the beginning was an explosion of the adivasi peasant movement and later spread to wider areas in the countryside. Adivasi groups armed with bows and arrows along with non-adivasi small peasants would come and capture the land of usurers, harvest the fields and walk away with the crops. This struggle of ???? was actually a struggle between land grabbers and peasants. During this time with the efforts of Comrade AK Roy, this struggle was extended to the unorganised labourers in the coalbelt who were fed up with the Bihari mafias. The late Vinod Bihari Mahato was a militant leader of the Kurmis and he used to work through the Shivaji Samaj. Shibu Soren was leading the struggle against the usurers. With the merger of these three streams Jharkhand Mukti Morcha was constituted in 1973. The speciality of this movement was the struggle of the poor peasants in the countryside, the anti-mafia struggle of unorganised labourers in the urban localities and the living unity of adivasis and the non-adivasis. With the opposition to the mafia, the anti-Bihar tendency became prominent in the urban areas. The police and the administration used to look down upon the life style of the locals and this was also responsible for the anti-Bihari tendency. This phase of Jharkhand movement created a force of enlightened activists of the Jharkhand movement in all villages and localities.
It was in this phase of Jharkhand movement that Comrade AK Roy's formulation of 'Jharkhand and Lalkhand' came to the fore. Compared to all other phases in the past this phase was extremely broad-based, deep and all-pervasive. But with the waning of the first upsurge all the three streams again divided and Shibu Soren's opportunism came to the fore in the form of his agreement with Indira Gandhi. In spite of this, this struggling phase in the period of establishment of Jharkhand Mukti Morcha (JMM) took the Jharkhand movement to new heights and gave it a qualitative leap. The agreement with Congress not only made the leadership dubious but there was a degeneration in its pro-people direction. And the intrusion of anti-Jharkhand forces into JMM also took place.
The next upsurge in Jharkhand began in the eighties. This time the leadership was in the hands of the educated Jharkhandi youth and identity was the main issue. In this period the influence of the emerging petty-bourgeois elements on the movement was clear. Militant bandhs for two-three days and militant participation of the urban youth were a speciality of this movement. But All Jharkhand Students Union (AJSU) which was the convener of this movement soon got degenerated with a greed for power. During this time some well-known Jharkhandi intellectuals, some ML groups, Jharkhand Party and AJSU made efforts and formed the Jharkhand Coordination Committee (JCC). This also took up programmes like demonstrations and bandhs. But none of the constituents could emerge as a consensus centre. Even though it had some theoretical formulations it could not give birth to a movement that could generate theorisation.
From time to time there were talks with the centre and the state governments but these talks could not express the strength of the movement. The report of the expert committee on Jharkhand also ended up with a recommendation of a vaguely defined council. These talks were reduced down to a form of bargaining between the parties in power and the degenerated leadership. After each round of talks this leadership would return from Patna and Delhi, more inactive to take movemental initiatives and be more suspect in the eyes of the public. What a contradictory thing this is that such a broad-based movement could not exert appropriate influence over these talks. Once again, in the '90s, began the phase of joint activities with economic blockades and general strikes. These were militant and effective. This time JMM was with JD which was in power. As a result of this movement and various rounds of talks with state and central governments the present undemocratic and powerless JAAC was established which appears less as a product of a movement and more as a product of unholy bargains.
The criminalisaton of politics based on the development of mafiadom in Jharkhand area is a reflection of the lumpenisation of economy. Generally with the ongoing process of economic liberalisation and specifically with the intrusion of MNCs this lumpenisation of economy has gone from bad to worse. The result has been the consolidation of lumpen capital. On the one hand, this capital has developed such a network that it can absorb a section of Jharkhandi population, especially a section of the unemployed. On the other hand, this has been successful in establishing a unity of the neo-rich in rural Jharkhand and the kulaks.
While this special phenomenon has on the one hand weakened the economic concept of 'locals vs. outsiders', on the other hand, it has strengthened the economic base of Jharkhandi type of regional parties (From the report of Jharkhand Regional Committee, CPI(ML)).
In this brief history of the Jharkhand movement the traditional Left could not take sides. The CPI and CPI(M) leaders say that "Jharkhand is no solution, class struggle is the solution". It is correct but the problem is that without solving the Jharkhand problem class struggle cannot be freed in this region. The second argument of CPI-CPI(M) leaders is that the leadership of the Jharkhand movement is in the hands of powerful sections of Jharkhand. There is truth in this too but this section also raises the slogan of freeing itself from the oppression of Bihari ruling class. Does your silence not become a support to the Bihari ruling class in which bureaucrats, corrupt politicians and small and big mafia are present? Does this not mean that the fate of the people would be left in the hands of Jharkhandi exploiters? Does this not mean giving a consent to the special privileges of the Bihari nationality? Whatever be its meaning, the result was that the Left got removed from the social-political centre of Jharkhand and got reduced to some practices in the area of trade union and this provided arguments to the anti-Left forces within Jharkhand. Not only this, the Left could have established a bridge between the Jharkhandi peasants-workers and Bihari peasants-workers. The Left could have enlightened the toiling masses of Bihar with this consciousness that without Jharkhand the process of democratisation of Bihar and the defeat of feudalism is not possible. But the Left could not take up this role. CPI, by taking the decision to participate in the Jharkhand movement has taken a welcome step but without its self-criticism this decision of their's could degenerate into opportunism.
From the very beginning Maley has supported the Jharkhand movement. This support gradually developed from active support to the policy of direct intervention. Maley's mass political organisation IPF started actively participating in the eighties. Its MLA vigorously raised the issue of Jharkhand in the assembly from time to time. As a constituent of the JCC, IPF took active part in its joint programmes. Later through the Jharkhand Mazdoor Kisan Samiti, Maley actively intervened in the Jharkhand movement. We shall discuss about this later. Finally, under the banner of Maley, programmes like Jharkhand bandh were successfully undertaken. At the same time, Maley also popularised the slogan "No Jharkhand, no democratic Bihar" among the toiling sections in Bihar. Even though Maley went into joint activities with the supporters of Jharkhand as well as with Jharkhandi parties both inside and outside the assembly, it also spoke against the vacillating attitude of these parties towards Congress and BJP and highlighted this as the main source of opportunism. Maley has always given a call for strengthening the leadership of workers-peasants in the Jharkhand movement on a class basis and stressed on the polarisation of anti-Congress forces in the Jharkhand movement. Due to Maley's tactics not only has it been accepted by the Jharkhandis but it has a special place in the movement for a separate Jharkhand state.
V. The different experiences of the Jharkhand movement has also given birth to many debates. Let us take a look.
1. 26 Districts Vs. 18 Districts: With the formation of JAAC the debate related to the political, geographical boundaries of Jharkhand has come to a halt for the time being. At present 18 districts of south Bihar are popularly known as Jharkhand districts. It is claimed that Jharkhand comprises of 26 districts including the adjoining areas in West Bengal, Orissa and Madhya Pradesh. Socially and culturally these districts are similar to Jharkhand and in these regions Jharkhandi sentiments are also present to some extent. Hence the proposal for a Jharkhand of 26 districts is not baseless. But the intensity of the movement is not the same in all the states and coordinating it outside Bihar is impractical and difficult. It is clear that the movement for greater Jharkhand can get its strength from the alienation of Jharkhand from Bihar and the process of state reorganisation once again. For the time being the actual force of the movement lies in the Bihar part of Jharkhand.
2. Internal Colonialism: This formulation in the context of Jharkhand was by Comrade AK Roy. According to this, backward nationalities are colonies of developed nationalities. This formulation of Comrade AK Roy was readily accepted by petty bourgeois intellectuals. The theory of internal colonialism changes the entire context of the Jharkhand movement. Instead of the Indian ruling classes or the oppressors of the developed nationalities, Bihari nationality becomes the target. Due to this, open or secret channels of bargaining are opened up with the ruling classes. At the same time this formulation is also favourable to the growing ruling class within Jharkhand. This formulation dilutes the class consciousness of Jharkhandi people and harms the unity of the toiling people of various nationalities.
3. Adivasi Autonomy: Industrialisation, urbanisation and the various legal webs have ended the control of adivasis over the material resources of adivasi life. At the same time the changes that came about after independence have dealt a blow to their social status. And as a result the traditions of adivasi community, their social institutions and culture have become insecure and their natural development has also been impeded. Today RSS on the one hand and the Christian missionaries on the other have started communalising the adivasi tradition. In reaction to this within the adivasi community itself retrograde conservatism is taking birth. At the same time the stagnant traditional institutions are being badly exploited by the oppressors and due to this stagnation the adivasi community has become the cheapest source of labour for imperialistic capitalism. Private capital like Tatas and state capital like HEC have converted the adivasis into insecure, contract labourers.
To break through this stagnation, it is needed today that the adivasis be provided with political autonomy so that they themselves can develop the administrative, social and cultural institutions. The need for adivasi autonomy will still be there in a separate Jharkhand state. Almost all the Left streams subscribe to this.
VI.There have been some special experiments by the Left in the Jharkhand movement and this has enriched the experiences of the Left. These have been the experiment of Comrade AK Roy, the formation of Jharkhand Kranti Dal by CPI(ML) PCC and the experiment of JHAMKIS by CPI(ML) Liberation.
Comrade AK Roy has taken the Jharkhand movement as a part of the communist movement. He brought the theory of internal colonialism to the fore. He presented Jharkhand as the biggest internal colony within India. He called the adivasis communists by birth and the communitarianism of the adivasis as favourable to socialism. This is how his practice began. According to Comrade Roy, the liberation of Jharkhand would not only convert it into Lalkhand but will also inspire the communist movement all over India. In his scheme of things the next in line after Lenin and Birsa was Sibhu Soren. In this theorisation, communists had only to let themselves be simply swept away in the flow of JMM. Comrade Roy in his practice neglected some of the important historical experiences of the communist movement. First is that the communists can consciously provide direction to a spontaneous movement and convert them into a communist movement. Or else these movements will in absolute terms become the victims of petty-bourgeois deviations. Second thing is that claiming adivasis to be communists by birth and comparing the consciousness of their communitarianism with socialist consciousness is not only based on a wrong understanding of communism or socialism but it also produces misunderstanding about their important role in the Jharkhand movement. Regarding the participation of communists in the flow of JMM, Comrade Roy himself had to take to the shores. From time to time Vinod Bihari Mahato also separated from JMM and Shibu Soren - on whom the responsibility of being the next link after Lenin and Birsa was bestowed - and went into the lap of Congress. In spite of the failures of Comrade AK Roy's practice, there appears the spark of a meeting point between the communist movement and the Jharkhand movement and it cannot be denied that this practice brought the movement as a broadbased front of workers and peasants, specially adivasis to the fore. Due to its weak ideological basis and the weak understanding of the class composition in Jharkhand, Comrade Roy's practice degenerated from a communist leadership to the development of the opportunist and petty bourgeois leadership of Jharkhand.
CPI(ML) PCC intervened in the Jharkhand movement under the banner of Jharkhand Kranti Dal. It developed a few pockets in Singhbhum and Gumla but this organisation had a non-political approach and was involved in grassrootist practice. As a result it got alienated from the politics of Jharkhand. It also participated in the JCC. Slowly this organisation declined and PCC withdrew from furthering this practice.
CPI(ML) Liberation intervened in the movement for a separate Jharkhand state under the banner of Jharkhand Mazdoor Kisan Samiti (JHAMKIS) in the beginning of 1990s. Its main slogan was Separate Jharkhand state, Fight for forest, land and employment! It displayed a militancy in its demonstrations and programmes, it tired to combine the economic struggles at the grassroots with the movement for a separate state. At the same time it also started developing relations with the movements based on the issues like displacement. But the tendency that differentiated it from other Jharkhandi organisations was its aggressive stance against Congress and BJP. After a long debate in the process of joint activities, it decided to come out of the JCC on the question of Congress. JMM was bringing in the Congress through all the doors into JCC and the stance of AJSU and JPP was also vacillatory. JHAMKIS was an organisation with a semi-political character and with the entry of Maley into the Jharkhand movement directly its role became that of mass organisation of workers and peasants.
From time to time the Left experiments provided strength to the Jharkhand movement on the one hand and on the other hand it also gave a direction to the class polarisation within Jharkhand. It is true that till now the work of understanding and formulating the experiences of these experiments in the correct context is still incomplete. But these experiments have proved that there lie hidden many favourable possibilities for the Left in the Jharkhand movement.
JAAC has made a mockery of the aspirations of Jharkhandis. Today Jharkhand movement is again facing a stagnation. The leadership of the traditional Jharkhandi parties are seen with suspicion by their own cadres and masses. They are declaring new programmes but these programmes are hardly producing any enthusiasm among the Jharkhandi people. The question now is probably not that of programmes. The question is of direction.
Only the Left, by polarising the Jharkhandi forces, can present the solution to this problem of direction at present. Jharkhand movement, in which along with the aspirations of nationalities class struggle is also present, awaits the arrival of new forces at this new juncture. BJP's Vananchal is a ploy to sabotage the possibility of class struggle here. It has been proved that the issue of Vananchal has gained ground due to the Jharkhandi opportunism. The unique peasant movement of which the struggle of the tribals is a part, and the anti-mafia struggle of the unorganised labourers within Jharkhand can be resolutely taken to their logical culmination only by the Left. The two real heroes of Jharkhand are these two forces and without bringing them to the centrestage, the struggle for a separate Jharkhand state cannot either be pro-people or be provided with a committed leadership. History is a witness to the fact that the coming together of Jharkhandi and Left forces has produced a stormy struggle for a separate state. But Left could not maintain its continuity. This has been its weakness. There could be many issues on which there are differences between Jharkhandi and Left forces. But we have to search for ways in which a principled cooperation could be developed between the two streams and all the efforts could be channelised towards breaking through this stagnation.
(Translated from Hindi by Siddartha)