Following the garlanding by the senior leaders of the Bengal CPI(M) of Comrade Kakababu’s phtograph placed on the dais, veteran Communist leader Samar Mukherjee announced that the Muzaffar Ahmad Award for English this year would go to Professor Irfan Habib for his Indian Economy 1858-1914 in the People’s History of India series.
Jitendranath Roy received the award for his Bengali book Banglar Kol-karkhana O’ Karigori Bidyar Itihas (a history of factories and production units, and of technology in Bengal). Bengal chief minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee introduced both the books in brief.
In his address to the packed gathering (even the area surrounding was filled with people eager to listen to the Bengal CPI(M) leadership in this day), Polit Bureau member of the CPI(M) Jyoti Basu, once again in a mood of deep reminiscences of his younger days as a student activist in England, recalled his association with Comrade Muzaffar.
‘The Communist pioneer,’ recalled Jyoti Basu, ‘was not then known personally to me and yet, the instructions he would send me and other Indian students of the Communist persuasion studying in England proved of great use.’ What were the instructions? Comrade Muzaffar would ask the Indian Communists not to come to the fore while mingling with the British Communists but to set up various democratic fora and act as backroom boys to the Communist activities there.
Jyoti Basu then narrated the period of time in India when as members of the then united CPI, he would work with Comrade Kakababu and said how the leader would emphasise Party education, a deep contact with the masses, and introduce the Communist party to the people. ‘I learnt very many a thing from him,’ was Jyoti Basu’s simple declaratory statement.
Analysing briefly, what he called the ‘immensity of the complex national situation now where we have to support the Congress-led UPA government to keep the communal BJP away from office,’ Jyoti Basu declared that the crucial document here was the Common Minimum Programme.
The CPI(M) and the Left must struggle against the UPA governance whenever and wherever the union government would choose to either ignore the CMP or go against its spirit, or do both. The anti-people stand must be vigorously protested, and all attempts at slackening of the political will of the government of India to maintain an independent foreign policy, leaning more and more towards the US must be strenuously opposed through struggles and movements all over the country.
Dwelling briefly on the successes of the pro-people Left Front government in Bengal, Jyoti Basu said that the best tribute the Party could pay to the memory of the departed Communist pioneer was through widening the mass base of the Party further across India, and strengthening the mass organisations, striving for the ultimate tasks ahead.
Comrade Muzaffar Ahmad, said the state secretary of the Bengal unit of the CPI(M) Biman Basu, studied Marxism-Leninism and made the tenets a guideline and a lodestar. Comrade Muzaffar was deeply involved in the class and mass struggle, and was an uncompromising soldier of anti-imperialism and anti-colonialism. He taught the succeeding generations of Communists that Marxism-Leninism was to be studied and learnt through practice with widening contact among the toiling masses in particular.
Attacking the ruthless killings indulged in by the US and Israel in such places as Palestine and Lebanon, and expressing anger at the Qana massacre, Biman Basu said that unless the UPA government was willing to decrease its dependence on the US and firm away from a foreign policy that played the country into the US worldview, this large and populous nation’s economic and political sovereignty would be put on the line.
Struggles must be launched and continued with to force the UPA government to change its anti-people ways. Lack of protest will weaken the anti-imperialist struggle and signing of such instruments as the nuclear agreement with the US would serve to weaken India’s independent position in terms of free will. A non-aligned movement may not be a full viability now but that would hardly detract from the need for the UPA government to go in for an independent foreign policy.
Biman Basu concluded with call for augmentation of the Party, further enhancement of mass contact, deepening of Party education, forging an ever strong mazdoor-kisan unity, and strengthening of the mass organisations for the task ahead. The CPI(M) leader also narrated briefly the ten point programme that comprised the nationwide August campaign-movement of the CPI(M).
In his address, senior CPI(M) leader Benoy Konar explained the task of Communists, sharply criticised the attack from the right and far Left that the CPI(M), the Left Front, and the Left Front government had had to face of late, and called for the relentless absorption of the precepts of Marxism-Leninism into the daily struggles of the Communists.
Benoy Konar also compared Comrade Muzaffar Ahmad’s image as a Communist to a mirror on which one’s own reflection as a Communist was to be seen and appropriate corrective measures initiated whenever found necessary.--- B. Prasant