India: It’s people’s right to boycott elections: Maoist leader

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It's people's right to boycott elections: Maoist leader
CPI (Maoist) Dandakaranya special zonal committee secretary Ramanna speaks on the party’s stand on the Chhattisgarh assembly elections.
CPI (Maoist) Dandakaranya special zonal committee secretary Ramanna speaks on the party’s stand on the Chhattisgarh assembly elections and justifies the May 25 attack on Congress leaders that killed Mahendra Karma and V C Shukla among others.

Q: Why have you appealed for election boycott? A: As usual, we have appealed to people to boycott the elections because they are a farce. Elections only renew five-year tenures of loot and torture by the elected representative in the present system. Our target is to change this system from the root and establish a people-centric society and that is not possible through elections.

Q: Will the poll boycott be violent this time too? A: This does not depend on our saying anything. Like always, this time too, the government has deployed a huge a number of security forces in the name of conducting free and fair elections, which are already exploiting and torturing people. Attacks on villages in the name of search operations, arrests, beating up people, fake encounters are consistently on. It is important to resist such acts. Therefore, I can only say that when the government tries to defuse our poll-boycott movement through crackdown on the people, then there will certainly be a counter to it.

Q: How do you justify threatening people that their fingers will be cut if they vote? A: This is utter rubbish. Never in the history of our 33 years of struggle in Dandakaranya have we threatened people with such consequences. You will not find a single example. This has been the tactic of the government, to use the media and spread misinformation to defame us and hurt our cause. Our poll boycott move is a political act. Our focus is on making people aware. We believe political purpose cannot be achieved through force.

Q: It is a democratic right to vote. Why ask people to boycott polls? A: Just as voting is a democratic right, so is boycotting elections. Recently, even the Supreme Court said that if voters are unhappy with the choices on the ballot paper, they can opt for the ‘none of the above’ choice. It means the courts had to acknowledge that people are losing faith in the election process. So, it is people’s right to boycott polls.

Q: The Raman Singh government says Maoists are anti-development. What do you say? A: Yes, we do stand in the way of development of those handful of exploitative-looters for whom Raman Singh (chief minister) is totally committed. We will never allow his dream of giving away Chhattisgarh’s land to be controlled by corporates like Tata, Essar, Jindal, Vedanta etc to be fulfilled. If this stand is called anti-development, we are proud to bear the tag.

Q: Why did you attack Congress leaders on May 25? Was that a change in tactic as usually political leaders are not targeted? A: Like we have already stated in our press release earlier that this was our protest against Operation Green Hunt and the Salwa Judum movement unleashed against us. This was a retaliatory attack and also self-defence. Salwa Judum and then Operation Green Hunt was used to kill a large number of tribals, villages were burnt down… this was our retort. As for change in tactic, we have targeted political leaders earlier. The biggest achievement in this operation was the killing of Mahendra Karma.

Q: What about reports of differences within your party and women facing exploitation? A: Our revolutionary struggle is all about ending differences of all kinds and exploitation of people. In this struggle, over years, people have come across various experiences. Cases of exploitation of women have significantly gone down. These are issues nobody can deny, but it is also known to all that surrendered party members speak the untruth in accordance with the way the police tutors them. Since the government is unable to finish off our movement, they try the divide-and-rule policy taught by British rulers. They create these tales and nobody believes them.

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