Plagued by lack of leadership, the banned CPI (Maoist) has started a whispering campaign against the Trinamool Congress government in West Bengal in a bid to regain its lost ground in the ‘Junglemahal’ region.
The Junglemahal districts of Purulia, Bankura and West Midnapore, which have nearly 40 seats, will go to polls on April 4 and April 11. Of these 40 seats, Maoists used to have a strong presence in near about 30 seats.
“The Maoists have been trying to regroup for past two years, especially near the areas along the Jharkhand and Odisha borders. But they have not been that successful. They don’t have the same clout they had during 2010-11. They have virtually turned into a non-entity,” a senior intelligence officer told PTI.
“But near the bordering areas of Jharkhand and Odisha, in certain pockets they are propagating against the TMC government and have engaged in a whispering campaign,” the official added.
The views were echoed by senior officials of CRPF who said at times they get reports of Maoists engaging in whispering campaign.
“They don’t have the same strength that they used to have earlier but at times we get reports from our informers that in Jharkand, Odisha border the Maoists are engaging in whispering campaigns against state government and central government,” a senior CRPF officer said.
Contrary to their tradition of boycotting polls and the democratic structure, Maoists had called for ousting the 34- year Left Front regime in the Junglemahal districts before the 2011 assembly election.
The PCAPA, the frontal organisation of the Maoists, had called for defeating the Left Front candidates, which in turn had helped the Trinamool Congress in most of the 40 seats spread across the Junglemahal districts. As a result TMC and Congress combine had emerged victorious in 25 seats out of 40.
But in the past five years a lot of developments took place. And the death of Kishenji in a police encounter during the TMC regime has broken the backbone of the Maoist movement in Junglemahal.
The banned CPI (Maoist) in its review report last year had said it committed “mistakes” during the Lalgarh movement by killing people and removing their bodies covertly and added that it had wrongly believed that Trinamool Congress would withdraw joint forces from Junglemahal and release all political prisoners after coming to power in the state.
Police and intelligence officials, who have been following Maoist movement closely, feel that the developmental work by the government has done wonders in alienating the Maoists.
“Lack of leadership, developmental work, alienation from the masses have adversely impacted the entire Maoist network in the area. They neither have that mass base nor cadre base to make their presence felt. They won’t be able to call the shots unlike 2010-11,” said a senior official of central police force who have been looking after the anti-Maoist operation for past several years.
The TMC government’s ability to reign in the Maoist movement in Junglemahal, which has witnessed zero violence since 2012, is mostly credited to its various developmental schemes for the people of the poverty-stricken region which includes availability of rice at Rs 2 per kg to every household.
Development in terms of infrastructure such as roads, schools, mid day meals has also helped in alienating the ultra Left organisation.
Senior TMC leader and MP Suvendu Adhikari, who has been at the forefront in fighting the Maoists since 2011, said the developmental work ushered by the Mamata Banerjee government has changed the political topography of the area.
“The Maoists thrive by exploiting the poverty and lack of development. But these two things have been taken care of by our government. So if the people have food to eat and clothes to wear then why would they associate themselves with Maoists? And people want peace, they don’t want violence and lawless situation,” Adhikari told