It was a couple of years ago when Prime Minister Manmohan Singh put his finger on the spot and identified the Maoists as the number one threat to India. Today, they don’t need the PM’s certificate!
However, I have a completely different take on the Maoists, particularly since the April 6 Dantewada massacre of 76 security personnel. My assessment is that April 6, 2010 will be for Maoists what May 21, 1991 (the day when former Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi was assassinated by the LTTE) and 9/11 proved to be for al-Qaeda. In each case, the perpetrator has bitten off much more than it could chew. While al-Qaeda’s strike power has been substantially degraded since 9/11 (there has, after all, been no attack by it on the US for almost eight and a half years), the LTTE was vanquished last May by Sri Lankan armed forces.
Over here, the Maoists are fast losing sympathy among the masses–so far, largely urban, literate people. Evidence of this is that they have, for the first time, apologized to the survivors of the Dantewada massacre and even offered monetary assistance. However, the time is fast approaching when their main pool of support–illiterate, unemployed, landless tribes and the poorest of the poor–will start to see their true, self-serving face.
The Maoists have become an industry these days, and they’re running parallel governments in their pocket boroughs. But just like the LTTE, they’re making money by extortion and illegal taxes–to the tune, by some estimates, of almost half a billion dollars per annum.