KOLKATA: Eighty-seven-year-old Khokan Majumdar suffered a cerebral stroke years ago. He is here for treatment when I meet him. The frail man, with a hearing aid, was one of the founding members of the Naxalbari movement and part of a delegation that went to meet Mao Tse Tung in 1967.
“There were four delegations that went from India,” says Amit Bhattacharya, a history professor at Jadavpur University who has written a book on the peasant uprising. “Khokan Majumdar (born Abdul Hameed) went with the second delegation along with Kanu Sanyal and two others in November 1967, ” Bhattacharya says, adding the first delegation went before the uprising itself.
Majumdar now works for the CPI (ML) Janashakti, a nearly defunct splinter group, in the Matigara-Naxalbari constituency. There the sitting MLA is the Congress’ Sankar Malakar, who has been winning since 2011.
Majumdar believes this time Malakar will have the tacit support of the banned CPI (Maoist), one of the more infamous offshoots of the Naxalbari movement. “It is not ideological,” he clarifies. According to him, the support is simply for the party that is not in power.
In the last elections, the late Kishenji had supported the Trinamool Congress. “They will call for a boycott of the elections but behind the scenes they will ally with the Opposition (the CPM-Congress alliance). Their armed cadre can make it difficult for Trinamool Congress supporters to vote,” Majumdar says.
However, Bhattacharrya says that it might have been possible in the last elections, “when the CPM had armed goons”. But this time? “It is his (Majumdar’s) opinion,” is all the professor says.
To meet Chairman Mao, Majumdar and comrades had made a tedious journey. “We walked for more nearly 26 nights,” he says. It was just months after what was called the “spring thunder of India” – the Naxalbari movement – happened, and all four of them were wanted by police. “So, we slept on trees at night and entered China through Nepal,” the octogenarian says.
“We went there to give a report to the leader,” But Mao said “your revolution is yours” and “you don’t have to report to us”. The team stayed for three months and underwent military training for a month.
Though not aligned with the Maoists, The CPI-ML Janashakti believes in having an armed unit. “When a landlord seizes tillers’ crops or when wages are not paid, talks alone may not work,” Mays majumdar. Is an armed revolution possible, I ask, and he breaks into a peal of laughter. “There are so many factions,” he says. “Until there is no unity, there is no chance for a revolution.”
Your Maoism Versus Our Maoism
Born Abdul Hameed, Khokan Majumdar went to China with Kanu Sanyal and two others to give a report to Mao. But he told them, “Your revolution is yours. You don’t have to report to us.”
‘Sometimes Talks Alone Won’t Work’
Though not aligned with the Maoists, Majumdar’s CPI-ML Janashakti believes in having an armed unit. “When a landlord seizes crops or wages are not paid, talks may not work,” he says.