Sunday 31 January 2021

Commemorating Bishnu Prasad Rava, a Marxist Guerrilla


Bishnu Prasad Rava
(January 31, 1909—June 20, 1969)

When India, on 15th August 1947, was celebrating the day, Comrade Bishnu Prasad Rava, along with his comrades with black flags in their hands, chanted, “Ye Azadi Jhoothi Hai!” (“This freedom is a fake one.”), as the freedom achieved was only an agreement between the British bourgeoisie and the Indian bourgeoisie, only a transfer of power from the former to the latter. The Revolutionary Communist Party of India (RCPI) was aware of the agreement between the two, the treachery of the Indian bourgeoisie that used the Indian masses to serve their purpose. Bishnu Prasad Rava, along with the other comrades of the party, did not permit themselves to be fooled by the Indian bourgeoisie and declared the independence to be a fake one. Comrade Rava said, “I am fighting for a revolution from the realm of necessity to the realm of freedom.” The party did not consider that the freedom achieved in 1947 was for the working class but the Indian bourgeoisie.

On the 15th day of August 1947, rallies we taken out with the slogans of “Jai Hind” and “Vande Mataram”. The RCPI, at the same time, in different parts of Assam, took out rallies with the slogan of “Ye Azadi Jhoothi Hai!” Many of our comrades were beaten by the people who were celebrating the day, mistaking the transfer of power for independence. But the RCPI did not consider it to be a real independence in the Marxist sense.

In the same year, the RCPI and Krishak Banua Panchayat (KBP—the peasants and workers’ wing of the party), headed by Comrade BP Rava, tried to organise the workers of factories and tea garden labourers. The tea garden labourers, under the leadership of Comrades Mohanlal Mukherjee and Upen Das, held strikes in places like Ledo and Margherita (Assam).

In December 1948, the Central Conference of the party was held at Birbhum (West Bengal). Comrade Pannalal Dasgupta’s thesis was accepted in that conference. A decision was taken in that conference to begin an armed struggle against the Indian bourgeoisie and their representative—the Indian Government, and their state. The conference concluded that the independence that India had got was merely an agreement between the British bourgeoisie and the Indian bourgeoisie. India was still a “democratic-colony” of the British Empire. India was independent, but only politically, not economically. The means of production were more or less still in the hands of the British Empire. The working class of India was exploited jointly by the British bourgeoisie and the Indian bourgeoisie. Although the bourgeois-democratic revolution in India had not been completed, it could not be left to be completed by the Indian bourgeoisie. There was, and still is, a need for a socialist revolution in India, that can complete the unfinished tasks of the bourgeois revolution. In short, the conference called for a socialist revolution in India, with the proletariat as the leader and the peasantry as the led. As a result, the Revolutionary Communist Party of India was banned.

However, Comrade Saumyendranath Tagore was against this decision. Since India had just achieved freedom from British Imperialism, it was not the right time to wage an armed struggle against the Indian government as the people were unable to distinguish this freedom from the freedom from capitalism.

The RCPI then waged an armed struggle against the Indian bourgeoisie and the bourgeois state. It struggled for local seizure of power in different regions of the country. The struggle was at its strongest peak in Assam. In Assam, it raised slogans like “Land to the Tiller”.

Comrade Rava had joined the KBP in 1945. In 1949, he joined the RCPI. It can be metaphorically said that Bishnu Prasad Rava had a STEN gun in his one hand, and a pen in the other. He did not only fight against the ruling capitalists and feudal lords, but also inspired the masses with his revolutionary poems, songs and stories. He could explain the problems prevailing in the society to the general public in a simple and comprehensive language from a Marxist perspective. He roamed like a vagabond from village to village. Anyone who caught him would be awarded with an amount of ten thousand rupees.

In 1949, the Assam Police printed out and distributed photos of several comrades throughout the province.

In July 1949, Gopinath Bordoloi, the then Chief Minister of Assam, wrote to Jawaharlal Nehru, the then Prime Minister of India:

“The communist activities … have taken a shape of exciting the more ignorant section of the people of this province (and they are many) into acts of violence against the constituted authority, under some plea or other and in a few places they have been successful. But all of them have been put down. The evil however does not seem to vanish so long as the agents are there to work from underground. But what makes the task of Government difficult is that although the intelligence reports reveal that these underground lawbreakers are doing this thing in this place and that thing in another, few if ever any action is found to be taken either for preventing their mischief as is being committed or in apprehending these underground culprits.”

However, this revolutionary is addressed by only a few as Sainik Silpi (sainik “soldier”, silpi “artist”). Most of the people honour him as Kalaguru (the master of the arts). This might be a result of the attempt of the ruling classes to portray him merely as an artist rather than a Marxist revolutionary artist. The society, under the influence of the ruling classes, that considers communism as a taboo, does not want to glorify the revolutionary part of Comrade Rava. This is why Comrade Gyan Singh sarcastically comments, “Bishnu Rava is good, but communist Bishnu Rava is bad.” An analysis of Comrade Rava is the need of the hour. He, along with his revolutionary legacy, must be popularised amongst the masses. An analysis of how the idealist Rava became Comrade Rava will fascinate the people. In the words of Hemanga Biswas, Marxism “has brought completeness and depth like an ocean to his restless and unstable artistic life.” Bishnu Prasad Rava was an artist who could use his artistic talents for the cause of the working people. The way he simplified the ideas of socialism through his songs and poems is worth appreciating.

Let the people decide whether his struggle was for or against them. The legend of Rava must inspire the youth to build a society without exploitation. The ruling classes must not be allowed to use Rava for their interests. As Dr Hiren Gohain says, “Now it is time to examine the life cycle of Bishnu Rava. Keeping analysis aside, getting carried away by emotions will benefit those who want to create a Rava cult to achieve their narrow horizons.”

No comments:

Post a Comment