Friday, August 28, 2009

A Founding Factor

“Samaj ab Mar chuki hai. Ab bas iska satkar karna baki hai.”

A.K. Roy looks at me and smiles. One of the founding fathers of Jharkhand (the other two being Binod Bihari Mahto and Shibu Soren) and an active participant in the freedom struggle, Roy Saheb has remarkable leftist inclinations. His party the Marxist Co-ordination has regularly contested election ssince the 80s and has sent him to the parliament thrice. A man in his late seventies now, A.K. Roy is nonetheless still as firmly rooted to his ideologies as he was then.

We’ve been talking about Jharkhand’s formation, the struggle before and the struggle after. Roy Saheb is a major spokesperson for the theory of two Indias. One that consists of the exploiters and one of the exploited. Jharkhand , not surprisingly lies in the latter. Roy Saheb elaborates.

“In our society, we’ve completey destoryed the concept of nationalism. In our society, according to differences in geographical location, region and culture there are different stages of development. In every stage of such a situation, there are people who are exploited for ‘greater needs’. Adivasis, Harijans, Dalits they are not just exploited economically. Socially... as nationals they are cast aside, exploited, from within the system.”

I point out to him that most of our leaders have come from such communities. They’ve all used their communities as mere vote banks, never turning back later. I tell him about Sahibganj.

“Those challenges exist. That’s true. Most often they are corrupted quicker. Their resistance is lower. They’ve never experienced such a life, so when they are afforded a chance they grab it with all four limbs. ”

In the long silence that follows i pay a lot of attention the sounds of the old fan. I see him looking at me intently, still smiling. A.K.Roy’s hindi is still heavily laced with a bengali accent. I change the line of enquiry a little, i venture to ask him about the existent Naxal threat. I stutter halfway through asking him about whether today’s Naxals still follow and have an ideology they believe in. I’ve been warned. He’s an obstinate man, fiercely conscious and aware of his actions.

In 1977, during the Lok Sabha elections (the çhange of guard’elections), Jay Prakash Narayan the leader of the Janata Party heard of A.K.Roy’s nomination for the LS seat from Dhanbad as a member of the Marxist Co-ordination. My grandfather went to try and convince him of out ofit. He was asked to go and ask Roy Saheb to join the Janata Party, and contest the seat for them. A.K.Roy refused, influencing the JP to withdraw their candidate from the area. Jay Prakash Narayan reportedly told the leaders to concentrate on the other constituencies. A.K.Roy was elected to parliament for the first of his 3 terms that year.

“This Naxal movement has undergone changes yes. As it is with every movement they have changed with time, but obviously they are still fighting with intent. Nobody sponsors them, they don’t go around gathering money so then how do they sustain themselves?

By looting, and dacoitery i answer under my breath. He talks about how a corrupt system is the reason for the fear of Naxals.

“Bhrasht sanstha, naxal ka sabse bada hatiyaar hai.”

Two days back, a train from Ranchi to BasukiNath stopped all of a sudden in the evening. The immediate reaction of the passengers was, that it was a naxal agitation. The Naxals had declared a bandh for the next day. Roy saheb found this hilarious.

“There was no reason for them to believe something of that sort. It could have been anything. But, the fear prompted them to immediately think it was a naxal attack.”

We take his leave and go for lunch. The conversation is essentially about A.K.Roy and what the party is today. Gradually, the talk shifts to the failure of Jharkhand as a state, A.K.Roy’s disappointment and the way forward.