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Circular of the Central Committee Meeting

(16-17 December, Lucknow; 23-24 December, Patna)

The meeting of the Central Committee which began in Lucknow on December 16, 1998 will be remembered in our Party history as a great tragedy. In the middle of this meeting, the cruel hands of death snatched away our beloved leader Comrade Vinod Mishra from our midst.

On December 16, the meeting had begun in the afternoon by paying homage to Comrade Nagbhushan Patnaik. The CC reviewed the steps taken so far to treasure the memory of the departed leader and resolved to make all out efforts to complete the construction of the proposed Nagbhushan Memorial Hall in Bhubaneshwar before 22 April 1999.

The meeting then went for two days and on December 17, the session in fact continued till late in the night. But in the early hours of December 18, Comrade VM complained of a feeling of heaviness and congestion in his chest. Though he never suffered from hypertension or diabetis, he had a history of lung ailments and occasional anginal pain. He was rushed to the King George Medical College and Hospital where he was placed in the intensive care unit and given defibrillating treatment. On his way to the ICU of KGMC, Comrade VM however had already suffered from two cardiac arrests. The doctors attending on him diagnosed his problem as an acute case of myocordial infarction with ventricular fibrillation and declared the next 48 to 72 hours as critical. But in spite of all possible attempts by the KGMC doctors, Comrade VM had two more cardiac arrests in the ICU. The last one which happened around 4.30 p.m. proved to be fatal and after waging a bitter battle for life for nearly half an hour, Comrade VM finally succumbed to death at 5.05 p.m.

Comrade VM's body was kept in state in front of the Lucknow party office for two hours from 10 a.m. to noon on 19 December whereafter the cortege was taken to the Varanasi party office. From Varanasi the last journey was resumed the next morning and after the second night's stopover at the party office at Arrah, the cortege finally reached Patna around noon of December 21. Tens of thousands of people lined up at the Miller School ground to pay their last respect to their dearest leader. The funeral procession on December 22, described by the Patna press as the biggest since JP's funeral, saw an unprecedented and spontaneous participation of people from all walks of life. After a condolence-cum-pledge meeting for two hours, the cremation finally took place at the Bansghat Electric Crematorium at 4.30 p.m. Apart from the entire Central Committee of our party and almost all our leaders and activists from nearly 20 states, the funeral was also attended by senior leaders of the CPN(UML) and CPN(ML), Comrade Ashok Manohar of Lal Nishan Party and Comrade Chaturanan Mishra of CPI.

Resuming its session at Patna on December 23, the Central Committee stood in silence as a mark of deep respect to its departed General Secretary and resolved to turn grief into strength and carry forward the unfinished mission of Comrade VM at all costs. It then unanimously elected Comrade Dipankar Bhattacharya as the new General Secretary and also co-opted Comrades Malleshwar Rao, B.B. Pandey and Subhendu Sen to fill the vacancies created by the passing away of Comrades Anil Barooah, Nagbhushan Patnaik and Vinod Mishra.

The CC read out the last article of Comrade VM and resolved to publish it in different languages as the Party's immediate guideline for the coming days. All party committees will take up this article for an organised and intensive study. This article and the accompanying CC resolution paying homage to Comrade VM will also form the basis of holding "Pledge-taking meetings" throughout the party with a view to galvanising the entire party on the basis of a firm resolve to hold high Comrade VM's legacy and carry forward his unfinished agenda.

Condolence meetings will also be held in state capitals and major centres so that representatives of other parties and organisations and progressive and democratic individuals from various sections of the society may also pay their tribute to Comrade VM.

The pledge-taking and condolence meetings will be organised as a month-long campaign all over the country throughout January.

Apart from bringing special issues of all our Party organs focussing exclusively on Comrade VM and his legacy, the CC has also decided to bring out a biography of Comrade VM and a selection of his political writings as early as possible. This will be followed by a publication of his collected works. Attempts will also be made to produce a collection of his speeches in the form of audio and video cassettes. It has been resolved to build a memorial centre in Comrade VM's name at Patna.

Earlier in Lucknow, the CC had expressed satisfaction over the experience of "Oust Saffron, Save the Nation" campaign, particularly in Bihar. In spite of the drubbing of the BJP in the November assembly elections, the CC cautioned the party against any possible complacency and slackening of anti-saffron resistance. It also criticised the wisdom of certain state committees in tagging state-based slogans to the national campaign call, thereby weakening the thrust of the latter and its character as a countrywide campaign of political education and mobilisation.

On the question of a "third front", the CC reiterated that our party could not join any so-called third front which would essentially be a reincarnation of the already discredited United Front and whose very credibility as a really third front was questionable. Rejecting the CPI-CPI(M)'s line of strategic cooperation with the Congress and any association with the discredited constituents of the erstwhile UF in a single front, the CC called for intensifying our independent attempts in this direction taking the Left confederation as the core and striving for the incorporation of the forces of the socialist stream and new social movements with a leaning towards the left. Issue based joint action with different non-Congress non-BJP parties can however go on in specific states and situations.

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