Streets remain the main area of politics for CPI (ML) Liberation: Dipankar Bhattacharya

Bhattacharya said the MPs -- both farmer leaders and two-time MLAs in the Bihar assembly -- will raise the people's issues in Parliament.
Last Updated : 23 June 2024, 11:02 IST

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New Delhi: The Communist Party of India (Marxist-Leninist) Liberation, the successor of the CPI (ML), born out of the Naxalbari uprising, is sending two MPs to the Lok Sabha after a gap of 20 years, but the primary area of its politics remain the streets, General Secretary Dipankar Bhattacharya said.

The CPI (ML) Liberation, which came into existence following a split in the CPI(ML) in 1973, fought the Lok Sabha polls as a part of the I.N.D.I.A. bloc, and won two seats in Bihar -- Karakat, won by Raja Ram Singh, and Arrah, won by Sudama Prasad.

In an interview with PTI editors at the agency's headquarters here, Bhattacharya said the MPs -- both farmer leaders and two-time MLAs in the Bihar assembly -- will raise the people's issues in Parliament.

"For us Parliament is not really the primary area of politics, our primary area of politics is out there on the street," Bhattacharya said.

"It is basically the struggles that we do outside. Part of it can be articulated and reflected there," he said.

The first CPI (ML) Liberation MP came from Arrah in 1989 as a candidate of the Indian People's Front (IPF), the mass front of the party at a time when it was still underground.

Subsequently, Jayant Rongai became a Lok Sabha MP from the Autonomous District constituency of Assam in 1991 and stayed on till 2004.

In 1991, 1996, and 1998, Rongai was elected as a candidate of the Autonomous State Demand Committee. In 1999, he fought as a Communist Party of India (Marxist-Leninist) Liberation candidate.

"We had one MP from Bihar way back in 1989, and for us, that was quite a historic moment. We started participating in elections only in the middle of the 80s, till then we used to stay away from elections."

"By the middle of the 1980s, we started realising that people that we fight for in terms of land struggle, wages, social dignity, these are people who also don't really have their voting right. They're a disenfranchised lot, especially landless Dalits and all," Bhattacharya said.

The party waged a fight for the voting rights of this lot and found success when, according to Bhattacharya, thousands of people in Bhojpur cast their votes for the first time in life.

"And at a heavy price. After polling was over, there was a massacre and 32 people were gunned down," he said.

Talking about his own association with the party, Bhattacharya said he was still in school in Alipurduar when the Naxalbari uprising took place. Discussions around it, and the wall writings he saw on his way to school, had an impact on the young leader.

"My father was working in the railways... In 1967, I used to study in class 1 in a primary school. When Naxalbari happened, it impacted us so much. There were all those wall writings, there were all those slogans. It generated a lot of queries in my mind. I was a very impressionable mind," he said.

Bhattacharya recalls the 1970s as the decade of liberation.

"By 72, when India was having the silver jubilee of Independence, this was happening. I used to ask my father why there is this question of again liberating India since it's a free country. My father somehow never discouraged me in this discussion," he said.

According to him, 1977 was the most defining year, with Emergency lifted and a fresh sense of democracy restored.

"There was this whole feeling that we have got our democracy back," he said.

By the time he got enrolled at the Indian Statistical Institute, Kolkata, he was already with the CPI(ML).

"By 1979, I had almost kind of decided that this is what I'm going to do. I was still a student, I got my degree in 1984, but by that time, I was almost working like a full time worker of the party," Bhattacharya said.

The Naxalbari uprising, an armed peasant revolt in 1967 in the Naxalbari block of Siliguri subdivision of Darjeeling district, came at a time when realignments were happening within the Left in India and the Sino-Soviet split was most intense.

The uprising took place on March 3, 1967, when around 150 peasants armed with bows and spears, seized 11,000 kg of paddy and started seizing land.

Some leaders from the Communist Party of India (Marxist), which had taken birth in 1964 after a split in the Communist Party of India (CPI), who supported the Naxalbari uprising, were expelled.

The ousted lot formed the CPI (ML) and Charu Majumdar and Saroj Dutta took its reins.

In 1973, the original Communist Party of India (Marxist-Leninist) split, and the faction led by Vinod Mishra came to form the CPI (ML) Liberation.

Bhattacharya took over as the general secretary of the organisation in 1998.

Published 23 June 2024, 11:02 IST

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