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October 5, 1998


PWG hopes merger with Party Unity will boost cadre morale

Chindu Sreedharan in Hyderabad

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The Communist Party of India-Marxist-Leninist Party Unity has merged with the Communist Party of India-Marxist-Leninist People's War, infamous as the People's War Group.

PWG secretary Ganapathy and the now-defunct PU's secretary Prasad jointly announced the merger, which took place on August 11 after a week-long conference between the central committees of the two organisations, in a clandestine conference with the media at the weekend.

This follows nearly five years of unity talks between the two banned revolutionary outfits.

"The unified party retains the name CPI-ML People's War," Ganapathy said, "It was a vertical joining. All lower committees, right down to the grassroot, have been merged and will work under a provisional central committee."

The CC (provisional) accommodates four members of the PU's governing body, including Prasad.

Ganapathy continues to be the secretary.

Unlike the PWG's central committee of old, the new one does not have any stand-by or 'alternate' members.

"This is the most significant incident in the CPI-ML history after the martyrdom of Charu Mazumdar," Prasad said, "It was the desire of the rank and file that there should be a unified leadership so that the revolution can be quickened."

With this, the PWG, till now contained to a few pockets in central and south India, has found a foothold in north India.

The move, according to the two leaders, may lead to more of the 40-odd Marxist-Leninist groups in the country accepting the organisationally stronger PWG's leadership.

The third largest ML group, the PU was in line behind the PWG followed by the Maoist Communist Centre. Though present in Bengal, Punjab and Delhi, it mainly functioned in Bihar, where it operated guerrilla squads. However, its effectiveness was limited as it was fighting the MCC and the landlords in the same breath. Indeed, the situation in recent times had become so bad that the PU had taken the brunt of MCC's fire, losing many squad members to inter-party battles.

The PU was approximately one-fifth the size of PWG, and had the capacity to mobilise masses up to 200,000.

The MCC, for its part, is a bigger organisation, nearly one-third of the PWG's size before the merger.

"The party started merger discussions with the PU in 1994, after its talks with MCC failed," Ganapathy said, "All differences on ML thought and how to apply them to the world and the Indian situation were discussed threadbare. Everything, except a few nuances of differences, have been ironed out."

These minor contradictions, he added, would be settled shortly.

Asked how he thought the MCC would take the news, Prasad claimed it would look at the merger 'positively.'

"We do not expect any negative impact," Ganapathy added, "MCC comrades had been informed when we started talks with the PU. The PWG will continue friendly relations with the MCC. We want unification with the MCC too."

Ever since its birth on April 22, 1980, the PWG had been trying to bring all ML groups under its umbrella. Its strategy is to overthrow the 'imperialist rulers' of today and establish the rule of the masses.

The MCC was its first target and talks had been on since the early 1980s. However, the discussion progressed very slowly mainly due to the strong police action that the PWG faced in the mid-1980s. By the late 1980s, the PWG found itself in turmoil, with its first-rung leaders having major differences. Sathiyamoorthy, one of the pioneers of the movement, left the organisation for good.

In 1990, the MCC-PWG talks were revived under Kondapalli Seetharamaiah who soon developed differences with other leaders and was finally ousted from the party. Discussions were stalled again, and were taken up again only in 1994, after Muppalla Lakshmana Rao, known as Ganapathy, took over.

Subsequent discussions, however, failed to resolve the differences. The MCC was too 'sectarian' for the PWG. In 1993, the two decided to break off but 'continue friendly relations'.

"Even while the PWG was talking with the MCC, it had been co-operating with the PU," Ganapathy said. Thus, the two had started the All India Students Federation and the All India League of Revolutionary Culture, which had other ML groups, including the MCC, involved.

The Bharatiya Janata Party-led government had announced an all-out war against the PWG, with Union Home Minister Lal Kishinchand Advani labelling Left extremism as a 'law and order problem' that needed to be tackled strictly.

In tune with this, he had, after a meeting on June 15 with the chief ministers of Andhra Pradesh, Maharashtra, Orissa and Madhya Pradesh, the states of major PWG operations, had formed a co-ordination centre under Home Secretary B P Singh to tackle the issue.

Following this, police action in Telangana, Karimnagar and other PWG strongholds had been stepped up, resulting in many encounters and deaths, including that of police personnel.

The August merger would, the PWG hopes, besides political strengthening it, prove a morale booster for its cadres.

"The emergence of the unified party does not mark the completion of the process of unification of genuine Communist revolutionaries in India. The party will continue its efforts in right earnest to achieve this unification," the leaders said.

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