“The party took up the ‘Rectification Campaign’* this year to review its program of action and to advance the movement. The campaign has to be conducted initially in the various committees of the Party and the Party cells and then taken to the people. We should carry it out actively. We should discuss and review in detail the incorrect methods we adopted in practice, the way we behaved with the people and the harsh punishments we meted out to people”, said DCM* Devanna. He went on to explain in detail different alien trends identified by the party. Bharathi, Murali and Venkanna listened seriously to him. They had previously attended classes on Rectification Campaign for two days.  

“In that case, we also made a lot of mistakes. We should also publicly acknowledge them as mistakes Devanna”, Deputy Murali said.

“Of course you should! You should review your actions in all the struggles you lead, in the peoples courtsyou conducted and the punishments you meted out to those who made mistakes,” said Devanna.

They reviewed different programs and actions in their meeting. Devanna encouraged them to identify any action or program conducted by them in which they might have committed any mistakes.

“We did not talk to all the people in Repalle. There are Congress and Telugu Desam sympathisers in that village and there are quarrels between them. Without understanding that reality, we went by the words of those who came to us first. We didn’t listen to the other side. We didn’t even ask the people if what we heard are facts or not. Based on the one sided information we heard, we beat up our supporters in the village” said Bharathi in a pained voice.

“Yes, we didn’t understand it that day but now we regret what we did Devanna” said Venkanna.

“Ok, this sort of mistake happened because we thought we are above the people. We must talk about this in the organisation and it is the right thing for us to accept our mistake publicly in front of the people” said Devanna. Bharathi, Murali and Venkanna agreed with him. It was decided that commander Bharathi should talk in the public meeting. They concluded the AC meeting as they completed discussing all the items on the agenda.

Bharathi talked to the organization in Repalle, finalized the agenda and concluded the meeting. “Akka! You note down the resolutions and give us, I don’t know how to write well” said the organization president Jayavanth to Bharathi.

“If I write each time, when will you learn to write? It is ok to make mistakes. It is only by repeatedly trying that you will learn” Bharathi said in response.

Jayawanth laughed in response scratching his head. While Bharathi was writing down the resolutions, Deputy Murali came with the tea glass.

Akka! When shall we leave? It is getting dark and we have quite a distance to walk. Shall I ask everyone to pack up before you complete writing?” he asked. Bharathi nodded her head.

Bharathi completed writing the resolutions and read them out to the organization members. Then she gave a copy to Jayavanth and kept a copy for herself. Jayavanth, Mallesh and Sone Rao wished them ‘Lal salaam’ and left. Bharathi sat down thinking, with her thoughts buzzing around her mind like bees in a hive. Meanwhile Sarita came and said “Bharatakka, everybody is ready to move. We are waiting for you”. Bharathi snapped out of her thoughts, packed up her polythene sheet in her bag and both of them went to the squad.

Bharathi cautioned the squad to fall-in. Everybody formed a line horizontally in front of her. She cautioned them to stand at ease and told them that they are going to Repalle as part of the rectification campaign, where they will accept the mistakes they made publicly in front of the people. After she told them the program, she cautioned them to disperse. Then the squad started walking to Repalle. Bharathi kept thinking about what DCM Devanna said. She also recalled the events that took place about a year ago. ‘Why did we beat up our supporters in the people’s court without knowing all the facts? We didn’t even ask the people what they thought about the situation and what should be done about it. We made such mistakes due to our haste. What attitude was at work in us? When it comes to issues between husband and wife or within families or land related issues, I resolve them with patience. And yet, I tend to take unilateral decisions without involving the people. We still haven’t internalized Mao’s thought which is why we are making such mistakes. I am rather upset with myself after the review in the Party area committee meeting’. Such were Bharathi’s thoughts as they continued walking.

In the meanwhile, they reached the fields that are on the outskirts of the village. Bharathi told the squad to wait in a field of red gram crop and sent two of the squad members into the village to find out the situation there. The squad sat down in the field waiting for the two to come back. Jaitu, the farmer who owns the field, his wife Subhadra and his young children came and shook hands with the squad wishing them ‘Lal salaam’. The little kids brought water and gave it to the squad.

Doctor Prasad belonging to the squad asked “Bharatakka! Are we going into the village?” Bharathi nodded her head. Prasad opened the medical kit and filled his pockets with tablets in order to treat patients. The two children tried to pull the AK 47 stand. Bharathi who was talking to Subhadra picked up the boy and kissed him. She put her AK 47 strap around the neck of the girl and clapped happily. Their mother also laughed looking at the kids. She then went and brought a bamboo basket containing cooked redgrams and said “Akka! I am not sure when you people ate. You also walked a long distance and you must be hungry. Eat these”.

Sekhar was busy looking at his diary to decide on which songs to sing once they go into the village. Jaya was jumping around in the field singing the song ‘In the hills of Indravelli’. The red gram plants were moving gracefully in the gentle breeze. The squad sat down together and ate the cooked red gram while talking among themselves. The kids gave them jugs with water to drink. Whenever somebody from the squad kissed them, they laughed merrily. When some of the lambs in the field tried to eat the cooked red gram, Subhadra shooed them away.

 “You make tea, I will go and bring some milk” Jaitu told Subhadra and went to the next field. Bharathi was very moved by the affection being shown by them to the squad. “However much we do for them, it will still fall short of their affection for us” she said thinking aloud and the squad nodded in agreement. The team that went into the village for information returned.

“Everything seems to be ok Akka! We can go into the village and conduct a meeting. I sent Dada to meet the youth organization” ACM Venkanna reported. Three of the AC went aside, discussed among themselves and came back. Everybody drank tea, wished the family ‘Lal salaam’ and moved from the field with their kit bags. The squad stowed away their kit bags in their return path to the forest and then went into the village. They reached the cross roads singing songs. The children in the village accompanied the squad and people started gathering. The sun had already set and it was becoming dark. The village was noisy with the sounds of the cattle returning home, the bleating of the goats and the cries of the children.

Bharathi sent some youngsters to get food for the squad. Murali took a couple of people and went to arrange two sentries. Some of the squad members sat on the cots and talked to the villagers. Prasad talked to the patients who came and gave them tablets. Bharathi’s mind was very agitated. We agreed in the AC meeting that ours was a mistake but how should we say it in front of the public? What will they think about us? How will they treat us from tomorrow? Bharathi’s face reddened and her body felt hot as if she had fever. She felt very uneasy in her mind about admitting her mistake.

Due to her petty bourgeois arrogance, she was reluctant to admit her mistake. It felt very difficult to speak out courageously in front of so many people. Then she pulled herself together and thought that people are the true teachers and it is the right thing to admit her mistakes in front of them. People started gathering for the meeting. While some of them sat on the decks in front of the houses, some sat on the basement of the water tank. About two hundred men and women gathered for the meeting. Women sat on one side and men on the other, children sat in the front.

While Bharathi was talking to a member from the organization, Lacchi Reddy came up to her and said “Bharatakka! How are you? Lal salaam”. He asked her if they sent someone for food and she nodded vaguely. In the meanwhile, Rajakka also came, put a hand on Bharathi’s shoulder and shook hands with her with the usual greeting of Lal salaam. Even though they beat them and spoke harshly to them without reason, they were still being so friendly with them – Bharathi felt overwhelmed and had tears in her eyes. She tried to smile in response to both of them while burning with repentance. In the meanwhile, food came and all of them ate.

Bharathi got up and looked around. She couldn’t see the faces properly due to the haze caused by the smoke coming from beedis and cigars. She cleared her throat and started talking.

“Our party works among the people. While working, when we don’t know the theory, we just go by experience and as a consequence we make mistakes. These mistakes are causing lot of damage to our struggles and our party. That is why the party took up ‘rectification campaign’ to publicly correct the mistakes being committed in practice. Our squad also made mistakes due to lack of experience while leading the people of this area in struggles. In this Repalle village, there is rivalry between Telugu Desam and Congress parties. When landlords such as Kanta Rao floated rumours to deliberately alienate people from the party, we fell for that. We did not ask people if the allegations against Lacchi Reddy (a middle class peasant) and Rajakka (poor peasant, sarpanch) are true or not. When we were told that they are corrupt and used up public money and that they cheated people, we didn’t check with people to find out if there is truth in the allegations. Nor did we ask the people how we should deal with the issue. We beat up Lacchi Reddy without even listening to him. We didn’t even give an opportunity to Rajakka to defend herself. Without even considering that she is a woman, we made her rub her nose to the ground. Both these persons are part of our struggle and are our supporters. But we acted in haste and took action on them without consulting the people. On the one hand, it shows our arrogance in thinking that we are always correct in whatever we do. On the other hand, it is an example of our headstrong manner in not respecting people’s inputs. We are publicly accepting both of our mistakes. To beat up our supporters in haste without knowing all the facts is our mistake. We request Lacchi Reddy, Rajakka and the people to forgive us. As the secretary of this Area Committee, I take full responsibility for the mistake and promise that we will not make such mistakes again.” Bharathi stopped, took a breath and continued again. “We fell behind in learning how to resolve issues among the people. People are our real teachers. Please let us know if we made any mistakes other than these, we will change our style of functioning” she said in a voice filled with pain.

The people heard her in silence. They looked strangely at Bharathi and the squad. None of the parties, nobody in their experience ever admitted their mistakes publicly. They found it unusual that the squad publicly admitted their mistakes clearly, directly and with honesty. The squad went up a few notches in the eyes of the people.

“Lacchi Reddy! Please speak your mind”, said Bharathi.

An old woman got up, came to Bharathi and said “Nobody in our experience admitted their mistakes publicly and honestly as you have done Child! You are large hearted, so you are accepting your mistakes. You fight for the poor and give up even your lives to establish a government of the poor”. So saying, she hugged Bharathi warmly.

Lacchi Reddy got up, folded his hands and said “I am glad that the Party people found out the truth at least now. I was very hurt by the unfounded allegations against me. I was not hurt that they beat me but that I was accused of a wrong that I did not do. I am relieved that people in the village also know now that I did not do any wrong. Everybody now knows who is responsible for creating rumours and causing troubles in the village. When the Party decides to do something, it should not rush into action in haste. It should consult the people properly and then take decisions. I am not angry with the Party, I will continue to be a part of it.”

“Rajakka! You also talk about what is on your mind”, Bharathi said.

Rajakka got up and said “Conduct panchayati after knowing the facts from the people. Don’t make mistakes in haste. You shouldn’t slip in front of people and become a laughing stock.”

The squad accepted their words as valid criticism. They felt that the people had a great role in the party’s rectification campaign. Bharathi raised her fist and said “rectification campaign”. The squad and the people chorused in unison “Long live, long live”. The meeting came to a conclusion on that enthusiastic note.

The squad said ‘Lal salaam’ to the people and started walking towards the forest. The people accompanied them for a short distance. The expression in their eyes seemed to be asking the squad silently as to when they will come again. The sky that was clouded till then cleared up and the moon light came out and stars were shining. A gentle breeze was blowing. Bharathi’s heart felt lighter. In that peaceful atmosphere, the squad walked towards the forest with the enthusiasm of having learnt an important lesson from the people.


*Rectification Campaign – The People’s War party formed in 1980 was caught up in a crisis in 1985. In the process of resolving that crisis, the Party identified the alien trends continuing in its practice and wrote five documents to rectify them. It took up ‘Rectification Campaign’ in order to provide an understanding of these alien trends to its cadre. In subsequent years too, it identified bureaucracy, subjectivism, patriarchy etc. as alien trends and conducted classes regarding those. The Party conducted meetings in all its Committees starting from the Central Committee all the way down to local committees and reviewed its programs to identify the mistakes committed in their practice due to the alien trends acting in the cadre. It ensured that its cadre and organizations understood their mistakes, admitted those mistakes publicly in front of people and asked for their forgiveness. The Party conducted such rectification campaigns in the 1990s and after 2000.

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