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We’ll Remember Him Forever

Swadesh Bhattacharya

The journey had started from the Regional Engineering College, Durgapur, then turbulent in response to the call of Naxalbari. Those days his fellow travellers were the students of RE College, mostly sons of elite families. Students like Vinod, son of a lower-middle class employee, were rather exception there. That was 1968. That journey came to an end abruptly and untimely at the end of ’98. When his last journey took off in Patna, uncountable men and women flooded the high road. That day his fellow travellers were peasants from the fields, toiling people from the cities, government and non-government employees, poet and literary personalities, leaders and cadres of socio-political institutions, professionals, party leaders and thousands of party activists from far away places. Silently, with tears in their eyes they paid homage to the Party General Secretary, the hero of Indian communist movement for three decades, pioneer of the struggle for democracy against communal fascist forces, people’s leader of democratic India. With clenched fist they renewed their pledge to carry forward his unfinished task. With tear-soaked and emotion-choked throat they silently uttered, "We wouldn’t let you have gone, but we are helpless."

"It is the history of proletarian revolution that gives birth to Marxist leaders tempered in struggle and established in the course of ideological struggle. And these great leaders carry the history of proletarian revolution forward." VM was one such leader. From ’68 to ’98, the history of these thirty years is the history of CPI(ML) coming up as the representative of the revolutionary stream of Indian communist movement, as well as the history of transformation of VM into a great Marxist thinker, the symbol of aspirations of revolutionaries, progressive people and the weaker sections of the society, the undisputed leader of the party.

Changes in the situation, barbarous repression by the state machinery, genocide of revolutionaries, incarceration, "rehabilitation", and lastly the killing of Charu Majumdar inside the lock-up at Lalbazar Police Station, the enemies’ jubilant clamor of "Naxalism has died", confusion among the leadership, the scattered party, severe setback in the movement – all these factors had been perturbing the brilliant revolutionary youth Vinod, troubling him a lot, but all the same this strengthened his resolve, multiplied his sense of responsibility a hundred times. Charu Majumdar’s dream has to be carried through to an end. Charu Majumdar’s party must be reorganised. And thus started the strenuous effort to fulfil this task. At the one end there were the opponents of Charu Majumdar, at the other there were those who pretended to advocate Charu Majumdar’s line from an anarchist angle, presenting a mechanical and distorted interpretation of it. Any advance was possible only by countering deviations at both these ends. It was in this setting that we came into contact with Comrade Raju, and thenceforth we started marching together. On 28 July of 1974 our Central Committee was reorganised under the leadership of Comrade Johar. Proving the countrywide setback as a temporary one, Bhojpur, Patna, a part of Chhota Nagpur, Naxalbari and Eastern UP woke up in a new tide. Preparations were going on to consolidate the party and spread the struggle, to establish contacts with revolutionaries in other states and to hold the second congress of the party. All of a sudden the bolt struck. Comrade Johar was martyred on 29 November 1975. Raju, a 28-year old youth, had not yet had sufficient opportunity to muster the required experience, but his sharpness of thinking, his faith on comrades and his resoluteness and skill in marching ahead in the midst of complexities was incomparable. He didn’t have any lust for the leader’s post. Without any flinching he accepted the responsibility entrusted to him by the party. Then onwards I saw a new Raju. Just within three months the second congress took place under the leadership of Comrade VM (26-27 February, 1974). Ouite contrary to interpreting the Charu Majumadar’s line from a mechanical angle, he tried to grasp its essence. He realised that CM had wished to adopt a new tactics and a new form with the change in the situation. He also realised that unless the party line was readjusted to the changes taking place in the national political arena, the party’s advancement and development would not be possible, and even the armed activities might get bogged down in the quagmire, and degenerated too. But transforming the whole thing was not an easy task, at least in the context of the then prevailing atmosphere within the party. With resoluteness as well as great patience and by means of ardous endeavour, through wide exchange of opinion with leading cadres, discussions within the whole party, ideological and political campaigns, committee meetings, special cadre conferences etc., VM provided the skillful leadership to the whole party in marching ahead in an integrated and unified way. In this process, side by side the armed activities a new tide was ushered in the realm of mass activity; the leading role of party committees was established at all levels. Fighters coming from the landless poor peasant families not only launched resolute attacks over the enemies; besides leading people’s armed resistance they started assuming the role of outstanding party organisers. Party organisation spread to other states as well. Thus, the dream of Charu Majumdar – a politically unified party – was materialised.

In the course of ideological struggle against so many concepts like ‘Naxalism is an offshoot’ (of Chinese Cultural Revolution--Ed.), ‘Naxalism amounts to ultra-revolutionism’, ‘Naxalism means just revolutionary phrase-mongering’, VM reestablished Naxalism as the Marxism against revisionism or liquidationism, as the ideology of revolutionary stream against social-democracy in the context of historical as well as the current struggle between the two trends. He relentlessly developed this struggle in theory and practice. He never hesitated to adopt different forms of struggle and organisation in accordance with the demand of the situation. IPF was a unique experiment to bring revolutionary and democratic forces in a political platform for the sake of openly intervening in national politics even in the underground conditions of the party. However, it was he who led the party in bringing it directly to the forefront to meet the demand of the situation, to issue a call for forging left confederation and effectively intervening in parliamentary struggle. Under his leadership the whole party was trained to put politics in command, always and everywhere representing the revolutionary stream while acquiring the flexibility to move ahead and retreat as the situation demanded. When the social democrats were busy suppressing the tribal and autonomy movements (particularly in Darjeeling and Tripura), our party led by VM earnestly stood by the autonomy movement. Not only that, side by side it developed and expanded the communist party network among the tribal people in the Karbi Anglong and North Catchar areas and in the Jharkhand region of Bihar. At a time when in the name of fighting for secularism against communal fascism, the social democrats were either trailing behind political parties of regional bourgeois-kulak lobbies or relying on Congress to provide leadership, VM repeatedly emphasised on movement of democratic forces under the unified leadership of the left. Above all, he promoted the peasant movement, particularly the Bihar peasant movement as the basic force of democratic political movement while at the same time countering the reactionary feudal forces and their Senas. In contrast to parliamentary manoeuvring, VM dreamed of ‘renaissance’ basing on poor people’s awakening, on their unity. And it was in their interest that he kept on unceasingly interacting with persons of varied opinions and shades.

Since its reorganisation in ’74, the party has passed through and overcome the most arduous and most complicated situations till today in ’98. During this span of time there is no political party in India that has not split into splinters. It is only our party that has remained united, never split; on the contrary, revolutionary forces regularly came into the party from among different sections of the society, from various parties and they also underwent transformation. Of course, a few persons who lost faith in Marxism, in revolution, in the party, did desert the party. But the party has only emerged strengthened due to such desertions, the party’s unity has got further consolidated. VM used to say: it is natural to have differences of opinion in the party. These differences, however, must be differentiated. A difference of opinion on the validity of Marxism, on the relevance of the party, is not a difference of opinion within the party. VM used to listen to each difference of opinion quite patiently. He allowed them to flourish in the course of debate. Until each and every member of the committee has reached the stage of taking sides, the discussion would be carried on. Ultimately all would work on the basis of the majority decision. Basing on the importance of the issue, for the sake of deeper realisation some debates would be continued, to be resolved at a later stage. Often I have witnessed that on the basis of discussion, VM changed his own idea or adjusted it suitably. I have also seen him accepting the majority decision when he himself was in the minority. But never did he compromise on the question of principle. Similarly, he was strongly against any manifestation of disrespect to or uncomradely behaviour with a comrade who had a differing or a wrong opinion. He consistently waged struggle for maintaining a democratic and lively atmosphere in the party. VM used to keep a keen eye on each and every change in the situation, hear in detail from cadres deployed on different fronts, share their thoughts and concerns; he was an exceptionally patient listener even to the people outside the party. I have seen a very broad-minded person in him, up above the sectarian mentality. On the whole, Comrade VM had become the concrete expression of the wisdom of the total party, of its collective.

In this very steeled revolutionary leader I have also encountered an emotional being. I have seen him getting emotional like an innocent child, crying bitterly. Sometimes he would become agitated too. Again I have seen him getting back to the normal by himself. However, he had neither the opportunity nor the leisure to search for happiness for himself or his family life. Though he never failed to pay attention to the resolution of big or small, personal or family problems of other comrades. But he could not regard anything as his own, his exclusively personal. Party was everything to him. Perhaps that is why he had his last breath at ease, keeping his central committee comrades-in-arms around himself. And he undertook his last voyage having comrades from the whole party and uncountable masses along with him.

Comrade VM is no more with us. But we do have the party forged by him. This party is highly tempered to face all the ardous situations. Overcome we shall and thus will we remember VM forever.

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