2002:114th birth anniversary

The 114th birth anniversary of comrade Muzaffar Ahmad, one of the pioneers of the Communist movement in India was observed with due solemnity at the Mahajati Sadan hall in central Kolkata on August 5. The occasion saw a massive turn out with a packed hall forcing people to occupy a large stretch of the Chittaranjan Avenue that runs by the hall. The bandh call given by the Trinamul Congress would not deter the thousands of people who converged on the venue quite some time before the programme would commence.

Addressing the assemblage, secretary of the state unit of the CPI (M), Anil Biswas travelled along the path of history in situating the role emoted by comrade “Kakababu” (as comrade Muzaffar Ahmad is usually referred to in Bengal) in the development and growth of the Communist movement in the country.

Anil Biswas began right from the point in time when on October 17 1920, the Communist Party of India was set up in faraway in Tashkent in the former Soviet Union. Biswas dwelt in some detail on the “de-colonisation” debate where comrade Muzaffar had supported V I Lenin’s thesis on the political-ideological situation prevailing in India, and had chosen to stand firmly opposed to M N Roy’s thesis about the “erosion, complete and total,” of the bourgeoisie in the sub-continent.

Comrade Muzaffar Ahmad, Biswas recalled, had also been in the van of the struggle of the “splittists” who had sought to bifurcate the working class movement in India in the subsequent years. “Kakababu” had also fought valiantly later on against both right and Left deviationism. The point to remember, said Anil Biswas, was that the past was important as a beacon of lighting up the present situation and helping the Communist Party to set up the correct political strategy towards the tasks that lay ahead.

Sharply critical of the BJP-led NDA government in Delhi, Biswas also said that comrade Muzaffar’s birth anniversary was a suitable occasion to cast one’s eye on the national scenario. A stifling economic growth, a pro-US foreign policy, and a move to foment both communalism and provincialism have put on the line the political unity, integrity, and indeed, the sovereignty of the nation. Casteist politics are being indulged in with impunity. The hidden agenda of the RSS is continually superseding the political programme of the NDA which itself is thoroughly anti-people.

Biswas also accused the NDA government of seeking all the time to try to centralise administrative powers, especially financial and economic powers, in order to render the states weaker and poorer. This strategy, said the CPI (M) Polit Bureau member, was well suited to the RSS agendum of a super strong union government lording it over state governments that were put to a state of crippling weakness.

In moving towards the goal of building up a classless society, Biswas concluded, the challenge of the political tasks would have to be faced boldly and the CPI (M) must establish ever deeper and wider contact amongst the mass of the people of the country. A pledge in this direction must be renewed on the birth anniversary of a Communist pioneer, concluded Anil Biswas.

CPI (M) Polit Bureau member and former Bengal chief minister, Jyoti Basu paid fulsome tributes to the memory of comrade Muzaffar Ahmad. “I had known him from 1940,” said Basu, “and it had been my privilege to work with him and to share his rich experiences for all of three decades.”

Dwelling briefly on the travails of a Communist pioneer like comrade Muzaffar, Basu explained how “Kakababu” had made bold to defy the British rule in India to propagate the revolutionary content of the November Revolution and of socialism as a philosophy of action.

Communist leaders like comrade Muzaffar Ahmad, Basu recalled, “would always speak of a socialist future for India.” “And yet,” lamented Basu, “the drawbacks that plagued the Communist movement in India has seen the advent of an uncivilised regime like that of the BJP and its communal cohorts even after more than half-a-century has passed since the nation gained its political independence.”

There was, however, Basu stressed, no occasion for despair of any kind. “We must guard against our weaknesses, further strengthen the Party organisation, and we must further enhance the Party’s mass contact.” “We must also,” said the CPI (M) leader, “guard the Red bastion in Bengal which serves as a beacon hope to the teeming multitude of the working people all over the country.”

There was need, said Basu, for a vigorous drive towards providing political-ideological education to the Party members in a systematic manner through party classes, and this would then enable them to work much more effectively amongst the masses and to continuously strive towards raising the level of their political consciousness. They must also, concluded Jyoti Basu, learn well the glorious annals of history of the Communist movement and of the Communist Party in India, a history in which the role of comrade Muzaffar Ahmad would continue to provide an important source of inspiration.

Presided over by Polit Bureau member of the CPI (M) Biman Basu, the occasion also saw the annual Muzaffar Ahmad book award going to Dr Shirin Ratnagar for her research work, Understanding the Harappa Civilisation in the Greater Indus Valley, and to Paritosh Dutta for his Uttarbanger Sanskritik Uttaridhikar (the cultural heritage of north Bengal).

The evening also witnessed the release of the second volume of Jyoti Basu’s selected writings, and of Sahitya, Sankrtiti, and Rajniti (literature, culture, and politics) written by the veteran AIDWA leader, Kanak Mukherjee. -----B Prasant

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