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Maoists' Tactical United Front (TUF) and Urban Movement

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  • July 10, 2009
    Fellows' Seminar
    Only by Invitation
    1030 to 1300 hrs

    Chair: A K Doval
    Discussants: J N Roy and G D Bakshi

    A Communist party, according to classical understanding, requires ‘three magic weapons’ to achieve its goal of capturing political power. These are: Party, i.e. a strong organisation; Army, i.e. a body of fighters; and United Front, i.e. alliances or linkages with groups that would facilitate its ultimate goal. United Front is of two types –– ‘tactical’ and ‘strategic’. The Strategic United Front (SUF) is formed with various underground organisations of the CPI (Maoist), which are engaged in waging New Democratic Revolution (NDR). In the Tactical United Front (TUF), through forming coalitions with persons and groups that are opposed to the state and its policies, on one issue or the other, the Maoists seek to fight the state through ‘peaceful’, political means, as well as broaden their support base.

    This paper seeks to understand the United Front tactics of the CPI (Maoist). According to the CPI (Maoist), “it is essential that we unite with such struggling organisations and build up broad struggles against the ruling classes”. In this light, this paper also seeks to examine the ‘urban activities’ of the CPI (Maoist).

    The TUF is a secret committee. It functions directly under the guidance of the Sub Committee on Mass Organisations (SUCOMO), which itself is a sub-set of the all-powerful and apex Central Committee of the CPI (Maoist). In 2002, the TUF activity took a firm shape with the formation of an outfit known as Forum against Imperialism and Globalisation (FAIG), which is a conglomerate of various revolutionary and mass organisations.

    The TUF serves the agenda of the Maoists in the following ways:

    • To consolidate various ‘anti-imperialist’ struggles and bring them on to one platform on the basis of a common working understanding;
    • To expand the reach of the Maoists to various sections of the society by building contacts with them;
    • To expand over-ground cadre strength, thoroughly indoctrinate them, and then completely incorporate them into organisational work, especially in urban areas;
    • Poach partners for potential leaders and ideologues;
    • Serves as a good cover from the long arm of the state;
    • Essentially being a political activity, it reinforces the military activities, i.e. armed struggle.

    The activities of the CPI (Maoist) in urban areas –– cities and towns –– need to be understood because of the implications they hold. These activities should be understood together with TUF activities, because urban presence would give a fillip to TUF activities. The Maoists have also prepared an Urban Perspective Plan, which is a road map to the type of activities they would undertake in towns in order to enhance their support base. The Urban Movement has a defined role in the political strategy and military strategy of the CPI (Maoist).

    The Maoists contend that the urban movement should be conducted through various types of mass organisations; the wider the organisations, the better. These organisations are of different types –– secret revolutionary mass organisations, open and semi-open revolutionary mass organisations, open legal mass organisations which are not directly linked to the CPI (Maoist). The last of these would include Maoist-inspired cover organisations and legal, democratic organisations.

    Thus, the Tactical United Front and Urban Movement are extremely important elements of the CPI (Maoist). These are just about taking shape over the past three to four years. Being political and peaceful in nature, it is not surprising that TUF activities have not received adequate attention in the media. At the same time, because they are legitimate, over-ground, democratic activities, the state’s hands are tied-down. At best, it can keep a close watch on these organisations but cannot halt their activities. However, if it was possible on the part of the state to prove that outfits that are part of the Maoist-led TUF are, indeed, Maoist fronts or have direct linkages with them, it is then feasible to proscribe such organisations. Because these organisations mobilise, organise, propagate and indoctrinate the people to attract them towards over-ground activities (i.e. create a sympathiser base), and, perhaps, subsequently as part of the underground, the state should make every effort to expose these organisations and ban them. Moreover, if and when the Urban Movement catches on among the industrial workers, the state will have to deal with possible sabotage activities and industrial unrest. Besides, when the Urban Movement becomes strong, the state will then have to deal with urban terrorism.

    Points raised during the discussion

    • Tactical United Front and Urban Movement require immediate attention at the policy making level.
    • The Maoists’ ideology appealed a lot during Charu Majumdar’s days, but at the organisational level the group was weak.
    • Front organisations are a platform to express dissent in a democracy.
    • Thickly forested areas are the ideal guerrilla zone.
    • Maoists are targeting the unorganised sector.
    • There is need for strengthening intelligence.
    • Moving towards urban centres is an indication of the failure of the Maoist movement.
    • There is lack of political will in dealing with the Maoist insurgency.
    • State police do not have the capacity to deal with Maoist violence; time might come for the Army to intervene.
    • Naxalism is a rural phenomenon.
    • Urban areas will become major sources of finance for the Maoists.

    Prepared by M. Amarjeet Singh, Research Assistant at Institute for Defence Studies and Analyses, New Delhi.