By Syed Akbar
Hyderabad, March 21: For the first time in four decades there's no talk of naxalism in general elections in Andhra Pradesh. Naxalism had dominated every election in the State since the Naxalbari movement in late 1960s. With the near wipe out of the Maoist movement in the State, political parties have decided not to raise the issue in their political speeches.
Naxalism was at its peak in the last general elections in 2004 and every political party talked of the need to address it. They even went to the extent of levelling allegations against one another that the other side had a "tacit understanding" with the outlawed group. The Telugu Desam had then accused the Congress, which was in Opposition, of enjoying the support of Naxalites. The TRS was also accused of enjoying "inside" support from them.
Naxalites too on their part used to give "poll boycott" call forcing politicians to enter into secret pacts with them. There has been no such boycott call from the Maoists in the State. Only the Maoists wing in Chattisgarh, where the Naxalites are strong, has urged the electorate not to participate in voting.
Praja Rajyam and the TRS have resurrected the Maoist talk albeit in their manifesto. Except for the mention in the manifesto, the party leadership has not talked of other political parties having any understanding with the Naxalites.
"The Praja Rajyam recognises Naxalism as a socio-economic problem. We will enter into talks with them if the PRP is elected to power in the State," party vice-president C Anjaneya Reddy said.
According to Intelligence reports, Maoist cadre from the State have shifted their base to neighbouring Orissa and Chattisgarh following a strong anti-Naxal drive in Andhra Pradesh. This has given a breather to candidates contesting polls in interior areas, thus pushing Naxalism to the back burner this general elections.
The Maoists suffered heavy losses in thick Nallamala forests. The AP Naxal leaders have taken positions in Orissa and Maharashtra. But revolutionary writer Varavara Rao is of the view that the movement will bounce back as it did in the past, in 1972, 1975-77 and 1980. "People are with Maoists and they will remain with them," he said.
But politicians are now a relieved lot. At least they need not indulge in mudslinging on the Naxal issue, while they can campaign without fear in interior areas, once dominated by the Maoists.