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Communist Party of India (Marxist-Leninist) People's War
Secretary-General Kondapalli Seetharamaiah (until 1991), Muppala Lakshman Rao (1991-2004)
Founded 1980
Ideology Marxism-Leninism-Maoism
Politics of India
Political parties

Communist Party of India (Marxist-Leninist) People's War, often called People's War Group (PWG), was an underground communist party in India. Its followers were generally termed as 'Naxalites'. In 2004, the party merged with the Maoist Communist Centre of India to form the Communist Party of India (Maoist).



The party was founded in Andhra Pradesh in 1980 by Kondapalli Seetharamaiah, a development out of Central Organizing Committee, CPI(ML) (which had been dissolved in 1977) in Andhra Pradesh. CPI(ML)PW was a member of Coordination Committee of Maoist Parties and Organizations of South Asia (CCOMPOSA).

The history of communism in India has been rather fractious. The presence of a multitude of communist parties in India shows the rivalry and splinting of the organizations. The spurt in Naxal violence in Andhra Pradesh was echoed in Bihar, where the PWG's went on a rampage by blowing up railway stations and tracks, as well as eliminating activities and supporters of the rival Maoist Communist Centre (MCC). However, in 1998 the PWG merged with the Communist Party of India (Marxist-Leninist) Unity to form the CPI (Marxist-Leninist) People's War, active in the state of Bihar. The recruitment possibilities for the naxalites was furthered through state repression and brutality. The "Disturbed Areas Act," in force in a number of districts in Andhra Pradesh for more than a year, gives police extraordinary powers of arrest and detention. Human rights groups have also allege that security forces have been able to operate with virtual impunity in parts of Andhra Pradesh under the act.[1]


The ideology of the party was founded on Marxism-Leninism-Maoism. PWG's goal at the time was to have an armed peasant Naxalite movement advocating revolution in the Indian countryside. [2] The PWG always advocated armed struggle and refused to participate in elections. Importantly, the PWG rejects parliamentary democracy and believes in capturing political power through protracted armed struggle based on guerrilla warfare. This strategy entails building up of bases in rural and remote areas and transforming them first into guerrilla zones and then as liberated zones, besides the area-wise seizure and encircling cities. The eventual objective is to install a "people’s government" via a New Democracy Revolution.


Seetharamaiah had been the leader of the Andhra Pradesh branch of COC, CPI(ML). He was expelled from the CPI(ML)PW in 1991. He died quietly on April 12, 2002. Muppala Lakshman Rao, alias Ganapathi, became the General Secretary of the party.

Organization Capacity

The main fighting force is a platoon comprising of 25 to 30 trained guerrillas organised into sections and sub-sections. Here there are two types of platoons––the military platoon and the protection platoon. Its platoons are then fielded into the guerrilla zones. The dalam, or armed squad, comprising 5-7 cadres is a secondary-fighting unit. The strength of a squad often varies. Most of the time it is in the form of a local guerrilla squad (LGS) and in some areas it functions as a central guerrilla squad (CGS). The fighting force of the PWG is organised as the People’s Guerrilla Army (PGA), formed in December 2000.

Estimates on the fire-power of the PWG suggest that the group has about 60 highly mobile and motivated squads of 40 persons each. In about 125 villages they run parallel administration. According to police estimate, the PWG has around 1000 to 1050 underground cadres. Besides this the party has about 5,000 overground activists. The PWG also has a string of front organisations of students, youth, industrial workers, miners, farm hands, women, poets, writers and cultural artists.

PWG maintains a string of bases in remote and inaccessible areas and currently runs virtual parallel government in some ‘liberated zones’, particularly in the tribal areas of the Dandakaranya belt. At present PWG's is active in parts of: Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Chhattisgarh, Andhra Pradesh, Orissa, Jharkhand, West Bengal and Bihar. Furthermore, there have been attampts to start or/and expand its presence in several other states such as Tamil Nadu, Kerala and Karnataka in Southern India; and Uttar Pradesh, Haryana, Punjab and Rajasthan in Northern India. [3]

Recent history

In 1998 CPI(ML) Party Unity, based in Jehenabad, Bihar, merged with PW.

In 2000 PW launched the People's Guerilla Army, which integrated previously-autonomous units. The party had thousands of activists organized in 'dalams', small guerrilla units. PW and PGA were mainly active in Andhra Pradesh, Orissa, Jharkhand, Bihar and the Midnapore district in West Bengal.

In 2001 the party held its first congress, although it counted this as the second, because the PWG was in continuity with the original CPI(ML), which had had its first congress in 1970.

On September 23, 2004 the Andhra Pradesh state government declared they would be holding peace talks with PW and CPI(ML) Janashakti.

On September 21, 2004 PW merged with Maoist Communist Centre (India) to form Communist Party of India (Maoist) (the merger was made public later).


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