“As a writer and rights activist, I am against capital punishment, with abundant faith in the reform of human beings, particularly the oppressed youth.” This has been written by Varavara Rao very recently after he was arrested. Rao claims to be a human rights activist but relishes the events where murderous Naxalites killed police forces ruthlessly, in an ‘act of war’. Varavara Rao not only has “abundant faith in the reform of human beings” but has unique ideas on how to accomplish this reform.
In an interview, he was asked – “What is your ultimate aim?”.
His answer: “Our main aim is: We shall counter the developmental model with our vision of an alternate politics, alternate culture, plus an alternate value system”.
Even Rahul Gandhi will sound more coherent in his ramblings than what Varavara Rao described as his aim. Do you want to know what alternate politics, culture and system he has in mind? You must listen to how he proudly tells us a story about the dreaded Peoples War Group (PWG) from the year 1981. From 11:40 in this video (where he is seen drinking water from a Kinley water bottle!), he flashes a book – some 9th volume of Mao Tse Tung thoughts. He tells the audience that this volume was not published by China, but by some Indians.
According to him, China stopped publishing these books after volume 4 or volume 5, because they had moved from Mao’s model to an “Investment model” (whatever that means). The dreaded PWG leadership in Andhra Pradesh was very upset with China to have moved from Mao’s model to “Investment Model”. They were so upset that they visited China in 1981 and told the Communist leadership in China that though China has given up on Mao, they will not give up on him.
The dreaded PWG group told China that they will continue to take inspiration from Mao because of whom the Naxalbari movement was born in India and continue on that path (which basically means that they will continue that same violent path of waging a war with the state and continue to put people in misery.)
Can you find a more deranged and dreaded ideology present anywhere else in the world? When China itself has decided to move away from Mao’s thoughts, it is the ilk of Varavara Rao that wanted to keep that flag flying high, with great impunity.
You must also listen to his English speech from a 1996 “International Seminar on Nationality Question”. The choice of his language is simply baffling – “The Kashmiris and North East nationalities are struggling for a longer time against this Indian state. On the other hand, since the Naxalbari uprising in 1968, people under communist evolutionaries are waging an armed struggle against the ruling classes and the Indian state.”
If you are baffled at the usage of terms like “Kashmiri and North East nationalities” and “Communist Evolunataries”, then you must wait for the punchline that comes at around 2:25. “The aim is to create a truly democratic and federal India”!! In 1996, Varavara Rao didn’t believe in Indian democracy. He didn’t believe it in 1970 when he co-founded “Virasam” (Viplava Rachayatala Sangham – Revolutionary Poets Association). He doesn’t believe it in 2020. He will never believe in it till his last breath. And he will never propose an “alternate model” to this democracy, expect to continuously rant about “feudal oppression” and justify the “armed struggle” that put so many people into untold misery.
In another interview, Varavara Rao tells us that “The only future is the Maoist movement as it is the only alternative politics. People are vexed with parliamentary democracy”. So, we have the same person telling us that he wants democracy and he wants to follow Mao to achieve this path of democracy! How this irony gets missed in all the eulogies he is getting recently, simply baffles me.
Varavara Rao’s rise in the literary world happened at a time when poverty ruled the roost in our country. I wasn’t there in the 1960s and 1970s but can very well imagine the impoverishment and the misery of those times. I can even understand the angst amongst the villagers of Naxalbari against the oppression they faced and their anger when many of them were killed in a police firing for organizing protests. But for “poets” like Varavara Rao to continue to seek to urge people to take the path of the violent Naxalite movement that followed the Naxalbari massacre should be seen as nothing short of resorting to provoking violence.
Many portals have mentioned that VVR has been arrested many times and all the 25 odd cases foisted against him were struck down by the courts. True – because VVR never explicitly wrote in his works to create bloodshed (In fact, I find his works dull. You can read a sample here). He was careful enough to espouse the Maoist cause without making a mention of their violent methods; diligent enough to talk only about fight against “oppression” without ever mentioning about the guns being used to fight them; intellectual enough to write about why the armed struggle is happening without ever mentioning about the misery of those with the arms.
Ever since he was the founding member of “Virasam” in 1970, he has provided space, material and voice to the violent Naxalite movement. I totally understand why he was such a success during those dark years of 1970s and 1980s. Those were the years when the ecosystem was being built and his writings fit extremely well into their planning. But he started becoming irrelevant in the 1990s once people also started seeing through the evil machinations of this ilk. Coupled with India undertaking rapid reforms, VVR and his ilk started fading into oblivion.
Varavara Rao’s delusion lies in the fact that in a 2016 interview, he tells us that it is the World Bank that hoisted Chandrababu Naidu as the CM of Andhra Pradesh; and that CBN banned PWG at the behest of the World Bank so that more investments can come into Andhra Pradesh. What he didn’t tell us was that more investments meant more development which meant the “alternate vision” of VVR to let people continue to live in misery and pick up arms for an imaginary “struggle”.
Activists like Varavara Rao have normalized violence (and the misery it causes) by writing fancy words, phrases, sentences and paragraphs. His delusional arguments include questions such as why leaders walk around with security with guns if they don’t believe in guns. He continues to be the ideologue of a “Maoists movement inspired by Naxalbari”. That can only mean one thing – violence against the Indian state.
Varavara Rao must realise that today’s India is much more evolved than when he flourished as an activist. Today’s India will not fall into this violent trap that he seeks to lay. Today’s India has bought into democracy. We don’t need any more lessons from Mao.