Obituaries

Nagbhushan Patnaik 1934-1998

 
Vinod Mishra 1947-1998

It is rarely possible to pen a single obituary for two communist revolutionaries. In the instances of Vinod Mishra and Nagbhushan Patnaik their political activism had a commonalty so that this is both possible and natural. These two revolutionaries belonged to that generation which distinguished themselves in the history of the Indian revolution by storming the heavens and raising the banner of revolt against passivism and opportunism. Above all their contribution to the Indian Revolution will be recalled not just in their fight against right opportunism but also in their rejection of and struggle against left dogmatism. It goes to the credit of these revolutionaries that they comprehended the substance and importance of overcoming the line of individual terrorism which characterised the early years of the CPI (ML). They understood the limitations of what has become known as the 'Chinese path' which in India advocated the boycott of constitutional organs in practice as a matter of strategy in the name of Mao Zedong Thought. This left dogmatism is another variety of opportunism which exists side by side with the right revisionist line and it was targeted by the two communists. They advocated the utilisation of the parliamentary rostrum in a Leninist fashion in direct contrast to the boycottist deviation which was correctly characterised as a variety of opportunism. The groups and individuals who failed to evaluate the importance of this political and ideological struggle dubbed Vinod Mishra and Nagbhushan Patnaik as 'revisionists'. Nevertheless they pursued the line which they believed to be correct and which represented a leap forward in Indian communist revolutionary politics. These communists participated in the Naxalbari storm, remained in its front ranks but refused to be deafened by its thunder. They were amongst the very few who attempted to evaluate and analyse the path of Naxalbari and on this basis to determine the future course of the communist revolutionaries. They arrived at the conclusion that the armed struggle is one of the forms of struggle, the highest form of struggle but not the only form. These two communists were beacons in the fight against the deviations on the left and right. It was due to this fight for a correct line that the small group led by them developed into the largest trend amongst those which emerged from the Naxalbari struggle. The ideological struggle launched by Vinod Mishra and Nagbhushan Patnaik, nevertheless had its own limitations. Though they reassessed what was called the 'Chinese path' in India they did not break completely with this perspective. For this reason they did not have a Marxist - Leninist appreciation of the true role of the industrial working class, the big cities and industrial areas in the context of the Indian revolution : they continued to concentrate their work in the rural areas. This limitation in the field of ideology prevented their party, the CPI ML (Liberation), from taking the revolutionary storm forward. They did not accept that without according primacy to the organisation of the Indian proletariat which alone could lead the agrarian revolution there were limitations to the organisation of the peasantry. Once the big industrial centres had emerged the only path forward for a successful revolution, even for the democratic stage, was to concentrate upon organisation in the key industrial centres of strategic importance. Parallel to this were the ideological shortcomings in the understanding of the international issues: the failure to support the consistent communist revolutionary stands of the Party of Labour of Albania and the incorrect positive appraisals which were held for some time of the USSR under Gorbachev and the PRC under Deng Xiaoping. Vinod Mishra and Nagbhushan Patnaik travelled a considerable way to elucidate the path of the Indian revolution. Those who desire to follow the path of communist revolution have to develop on the basis of Marxism-Leninism and their own experiences avoiding the pitfalls of dogmatism and revisionism. These revolutionaries deserve an honest, objective and critical evaluation in a manner similar to that which they performed of others. They must not be made the subject of glorification : their strengths and weaknesses have to be evaluated this is the proper way of paying the homage they deserve as communist revolutionaries.

Rajesh Tyagi

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