Santosh Rana

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Not to be confused with Santosh Rana (CPI).
Santosh Rana
MLA
In office
1977–1982
Constituency Gopiballavpur
Personal details
Born 1944
Political party PCC, CPI(ML)

Santosh Rana is an Indian politician. In the 1960s, he was a firebrand figure in the armed struggle of the Naxalites led by Charu Majumdar.

Agrarian revolutionary

In the sixties, Santosh Rana was a research scholar at Presidency University, Kolkata. He was preparing for his PhD in physics. Politically he was a supporter of the CPI(M). The first United Front government came to power in West Bengal in 1967 and in 1969 CPI(ML) heralded the launch of a new revolutionary party. The call of revolution inspired Santosh Rana. He left his PhD unfinished, returned to his village in Gopiballavpur and joined the agrarian revolution.[1][2][3]

Under his leadership, Debra, Gopiballavpur, Nayaygram and Lodhasuli blocks of Midnapore district and adjoining areas in Bihar (now Jharkhand) and Orissa were 'virtually liberated'. In an interview Santosh Rana said, “In the seventies, we began our work not in forest areas like Nayagram, Binpur or Lalgarh. But mainly in densely populated Debra-Gopiballavpur along the bank of Subarnarekha river where class contradictions were sharp over land and wage questions. We endeared ourselves to poor peasants and landless by focusing on land issues as well as exploitation by the money-lenders.” He recollects, “During my time, a mass of about 15,000 to 20,000 people, armed with lathis, stormed into the houses of the landlords who possessed firearms, and seized the arms. That was a big blow for the landlords or jotdars and they failed to resist our move to grab ceiling-excess land and distribute it among the landless bargadars. This was not violence, it was people’s revolt. Such pressure is always required in remote villages where landlords maintain personal armies.” [1][4]

CPI(ML) reorganisation

The CPI(ML) movement began to splinter by the early seventies and by 1971-72, it was in shambles. Santosh Rana broke with Charu Majumdar in 1971 and later joined the group led by Satyanarayan Singh, a prominent leader, who also rebelled against Charu Majumdar in 1971, leading to a split in the CPI(ML). In April 1973 Satyanarayan Singh’s party was reorganized. The PCC, CPI(ML) evolved out of the group loyal to Satyanarain Singh. Subsequently, Santosh Rana became general secretary of this party. This faction was amongst the earliest Naxalites to take part in elections.[2][5]

Electoral efforts

Santosh Rana, contesting as an independent, won the Gopiballavpur seat in 1977, but lost it in 1982.[6]

Maoists

Santosh Rana disagrees with the actions of the Maoists in the Jangalmahals. He says, “Differences between the original CPI(ML) and today’s CPI(Maoist) are too many. Despite our criticism of Charu Majumdar’s line of annihilation campaign, I must point out that he never asked us for indiscriminate killings like today’s Maoists. In 1969-71, I was active in Debra-Gopiballavpur region, close to Lalgarh, now a major base of the Maoists. We killed around 120 people, most of them landlords or their henchmen … Today, I feel most of these killings were unnecessary. But unlike the CPI(Maoist), we killed not a single tribal, Dalit and poor people in the seventies in Debra-Gopiballavpur.” [4]

He further says, “The CPI(ML) is alarmed at the situation in Jangalmahal where in some areas armed CPI(M) supporters are capturing villages with the help of Joint Forces while in others, the Trinamool Congress is capturing villages with the help of Maoist squads. None of them has any respect for the democratic rights of the people. The CPI(ML) has been active in the area for over forty years and led innumerable struggles of the workers, peasants, Dalits and Adivasis on the issues of wages, land, irrigation, forest rights and Dalit-Adivasi rights. In recent times, it has organized the people against atrocities by Joint Forces and against pollution of sponge iron factories.” [7]

References

  1. ^ a b Chaudhuri, Arindam. "Santosh Rana". Retrieved 2011-05-19. 
  2. ^ a b Karat, Prakash. "Naxalism Today; At an Ideological Deadend". The Marxist, Vol. 3, no. 1, January–March 1985. Retrieved 2011-05-19. 
  3. ^ "Democracy spells security". the little magazine. Retrieved 2011-05-19. 
  4. ^ a b "interview with Santosh Rana". Seminar, March 2010 (issue on Red Resurgence). Retrieved 2011-05-19. 
  5. ^ "List of Major Naxalist Parties in India". Provisional Central Committee, Communist Party of India (Marxist-Leninist). Retrieved 2011-05-19. 
  6. ^ "230 - Gopiballavpur Assembly Constituency". Partywise Comparison Since 1977. Election Commission of India. Retrieved 2010-12-20. 
  7. ^ "Statement of Santosh Rana, General Secretary of PCC CPI(ML) on Jangalmahal". Radical Socialist 29 August 2010. Retrieved 2011-05-19. 
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