On December 6th, 1988, Comrade Purushottam Pali left us. Without doubt he was one of the most defining and inspiring comrades in the work of the Indian Communist movement in the tribal regions. Few comrades in the forests India illuminated the spark of liberation or shimmered the spark of Marxism-Leninism Mao thought, at the scale of Comrade Pali. Throughout his life he confronted the most turbulent seas or tortuous paths, displaying hardly any semblances of a scratch. He was a living example of the creativity Mao thought. Few comrades were greater architects or more crusaders of the massline.His organisational style of work was truly classical in sowing the seeds for revolutionary striking political power. Very few were as good students of the conditions prevailing and exhibited as much mastery in devising programmes or formulating tactics in accordance to a given set of conditions.Pali blended the skill of a surgeon with the creativity of a poet.
With great mastery he demarcated the massline from that of left adventurism and right opportunism, as a communist leader in Koraput district. Few comrades were as supportive of the trend that distinguished from right opportunism in the Unity Centre of Communist revolutionaries of India. which crystallised into the forming of the Centre of Communist Revolutionaries of India in 1988.He sowed the seeds for the mass line trend of the CCRI to sparkle, Comrade Pali played an instrumental part in the 2 line struggle waged against the imposition of a member of the Malkangiri Adivasi Sangh to stand as a candidate in the 1985 parliamentary elections.
With exemplary skill Pali won over the support of the working class in Balimela, most effectively stitching, worker-advivasi unity.Inspite of receiving no formal education he imbibed the teachings of Marx, Lenin and Mao in great depth and most symmetrically applied them. Very few were as good students of the conditions prevailing and exhibited as much mastery in devising programmes or formulating tactics in accordance to a given set of conditions.Pali blended the skill of a surgeon with the creativity of a poet.
Today Malkangiri or Orissa is still vitiated with deviations of both the right and the left.Inspite of their great sincerity; the C.P.I.(Maoist) ranks have not been able to build an effective revolutionary democratic base. or replenish lost cadre in the mass movement. Their armed squad actions are frequently devoid of genuine mass line. On the other hand groups like C.P.I (M.L) Class Struggle, Red Star and New Democracy participate in the parliamentary process, which is leading to capitulationism. No doubt the Class Struggle group has the largest mass base in the Adivasi Sangh and New Democracy group most persistently applies the ‘Resistance’ path advocated by late Chandra Pulla Reddy. However still they are unable to give movements the cutting edge of revolutionary class struggle or agrarian revolutionary movement..It is in this light when the teachings or practice of Comrade Pali are relevant. It is comrades like Gundahar Murmu who virtually took of where Pali left, which is reflected in the practice of the Communist Party Re-Organisation Centre of India(Marxist-Leninist)If alive today I am almost certain Comrade Pali would unequivocally been critical of the actions of Maoist armed squads in Koraput and of Adivasi fronts being converted into parliamentary platforms.
Born in Nandapur of Koraput district Comrade Pali received no formal education, but Revolutionary practice, and his consistent habit of reading political literature and classics made him grasp Mao Tse Tung Thought. It is fascinating or heart touching how illiterate comrades, grasped Marxism-Leninism through practice, at greater depth than educated persons
Till his very last breadth he served the cause of revolution. He joined the Communist Movement in 1952 becoming a C.P.I. member in 1955. He never let ups and downs in the Communist Revolutionary movement affect his conviction. Revolutionary comrades need to ressurect the sprit of Comrade Pali,one of the greatest Communist revolutionaries of all time.
He was a classic example of how one could become a great revolutionary and grasp theory without even primary education, being a great exponent of mass line and agrarian revolution.
In 1964 Pali joined the C.P.M and became the Koraput district committee till he joined the C.P.I.(M.L.) in 1967,after being inspired by the Srikakulam Girijan Struggle.
He was detained in Vishakapatnam Central prison in 1969.Later he broke away from jail remaining underground, working on his own and combating varieties of both right and left opportunism. From the early 1970’s he demarcated from the individual terrorist line of the C.P.I. (M.L.). Later in 1975 he joined the U.C.C.R.I. (M.L.)
Comrade Pali undertook an underground life, striking the chord of revolutionary political consciousness in the villages of Sunki area. Working in tandem with Comrade Jhansi,he worked with great consistency amongst the Adivasis.In 1977 the earlier Jan Pal sangh was turned into the Malkangiri Adivasi Sangh, after mobilising the adivasis of Balimela and Chitrakonda.A historic conference was held at Korukonda.Significantly,the workers,youth and democrats joined the ranks of the Adivasis.A bulletin named ‘Aguban’ was published.
The most successful May Day programmes staged after 1992 owe a great deal to the grassroots work of Palli.He sowed the seeds in the Malkangiri Zilla Adivasi Sangh developing into a concrete structure and ultimately a coherent force.
Deteriorating health was an obstacle in his unavailability in participation in the 1st conference of the Centre of Communist Revolutionaries of India .held in 1988.However he was still one of it’s staunchest supporters.
Cadres should make an immaculate study of how Comrade Pali confronted the left adventurist trend within the C, P.I.(M.L)itself ,particularity in regard to mobilization of the working class ,and people themselves owning actions.Pali was a most illustrative example of how certain comrades working on their very own imbibed lessons of the mass line.
Comrade Pali undertook an underground life, striking the chord of revolutionary political consciousness in the villages of Sunki area.Working in tandem with Comrade Jhansi,he worked with great consistency amongst the Adivasis.In 1977 the earlier Jan Pal sangh was turned into the Malkangiri Adivasi Sangh, after mobilisng the adivasis of Balimela and Chitrakonda.A historic conference was held at Korukonda.Significantly,the workers,youth and democrats joined the ranks of the Adivasis.A bulletin named ‘Aguban’ was published.
The most successful May Day programmes staged after 1992 owe a great deal to the grassroots work of Palli.He sowed the seeds in the Malkangiri Adivasi Sangh developing into a concrete structure and ultimately a coherent force.
I dearly wish a biography is compiled of this revered comrade covering his entire. Contribution and writings in the Communist Movement.. His political notes from 1971-88 would be a part of a treasure house for Marxist-Leninist cadres. It would be most enlightening to read about his exchanges with Comrades T.Nagi Reddy , DV Rao Comrade Ramalingachari as well as comrades from Debra like Gundahar Murmu.Comrade Pali sowed the seeds for what scripted the essays of the Malkangiri Adivasi Sangh in Padmigeri-Pandrepeni land struggle, fighting HAMCO project, struggles against felling of bamboo trees, struggle against pipeline of Essar etc.His work also inspired the re-organization of the Srikulam Girijan movement in 1989.
Whatever gains the CPRCI (ML) made in Malkangiri, it owes a lot to the seeds planted by Comrade Pali.,even if he died before the forming of the unified organisation in 1994.. Late Comrade Gananath Patro held him in great awe and consistently asserted how he bitterly opposed the right adventurist course of the erstwhile UCCRI (ML) Muktigami line.,which is reflected in the C.P.I(M.L) Class Struggle group,today.Comrade Pali is like the soul of the Malkangiri Adivasi movement. I so much wish new lotuses could bloom resurrecting the spirit of this great crusader.
BUILDING THE ADIVASI SANGH IN KORAPUT
One of the most significant writings were in journal ‘The Comrade No 6, of April-June, 1990,Organ of the Centre of Communist Revolutionaries of India. This most illustratively and analytically described how a genuine tribal organisation was to be built. It summarized how grassroots work had to be initiated to establish unity between the tribals and workers. Most articulately it elaborated how a proletarian leadership had to be established. It also summarized the tribal’s place in the class structure of India. This perfectly illustrated the political thinking of Comrade Pali.
“Such a process helps the growth of a mature leadership. Struggle is not a new word for the forces of Koraput.The struggle of the Koraput girijan sis as old as the Srikakulam struggle. It has the glory of being led by leaders such as the poet-cum revolutionary ,Subbarao Panigrahi,Vempatapu Satyanarayana .P.Krishna Murthy and Purushottam Palli.But why is there no organizational growth? Why is there a vacuum in the line of the local leadership?
“The glories of the past do not build up an organization .It is built by a correct leadership capable of providing clear political vision of the people. Apart from concentrating upon the factors mentioned earlier, it is also necessarily to connect the tribal’s struggle with the struggles of other classes of people. the working class and other sections of the peasantry In the overall frame of the people’s democratic revolution,,tribals have to become conscious of their place in the overall social and political context, and their relation to other exploited revolutionary classes.”
The report also dwelled on the development of the Sangh .It highlighted the various issues related to land like a struggle against a land mortgage bank which practiced usury on the Adivasis,re-capturing 150 acres of land in five villages from the social forestry department, against arbitrary harassment ,when villagers were accused of murdering an old tiger,and keep them in cutody.Expressing wrath ,60 villagers surrounded the court where the Adivasis wre produced,,making it virtuallly imperative for the magistarte to release them. Many a gherao was launched on issue of land titles or patas.
The future course was redressed narrating how imperative it was to initiate a campaign for the long term programme-of right to land and forest produce, scrapping of the forest act of 1984,fair prices for their products, end of usury and exposure of true nature of government’s development projects.”Formation of the Sangh at the village level has to be connected with such active campaigns. For then, the people, with a clear political vision of themselves, and of every instance of repression, exploitation and bribery inflicted on them, can consistently challenge the same. Such a common political vision can unify the tribals and make the village units routinely struggle oriented. Through the protest and struggles, genuine unity can be established, and through this, the consciousness will be revised. The masses can apply their creativity collectively, giving birth thereby to various new ways and means of struggle. In the course of struggle with the correct political leadership, the adivasis must gain the wider political consciousness neccessary for establishing their own hegemony and governance.
TRADE UNION MOVEMENT
Another work of importance is published in a 2 decade old report in Comrade no 8 in 1991, of the CCRI,which sum sup the weaknesses of the weaknesses and strengths of the trade Union movement there ,and analyses the scope ,orientation and plan for the work for building up the revolutionary working class movement in Orissa. The writing reflected the political views of Comrade Pali.
The Comrade pointed out his experiences in the light of 12 previous years, when faced with police firings in Barbil,Ngar,Rajgangapur, and twice at Birmitpur.He highlighted how the workers lived in close proximity to the rural proletariat and small peasants ,and have not advanced much culturally or educationally as the latter. Living in inaccessible jungle area, protected them from the wrath of the class enemy. The economist trend advocated by the revisionist parties like CPI and CPM,,blunted the edges of their class struggles from developing. Being illiterate they forget to learn the lesson sof struggle. Finally, being under the influence of the priests ,fathers and babas,they lack perspective of revolutionary upheaval. “The fear of the superior force of the class enemy and far of loss of job still prevails within many sections of the workers. They lack faith in the INTUC,AITUC or HMS ,but they are unsure if they can succeed overpowering the white enemy. They have distantly and indistinctly understood the class position of the vanguard party, but they feel helpless and frustrated ,Absence of scientific, working class outlook leads to desperation and breeds adventurism.”
The report goes on to explain the manner the party should work within trade unions. It summed up how the party should not build separate unions but build up party units in different areas like Chitrakonda, Birmitrapur, Barbil,Belpahar ,Brajranagar,,Jjapur-rd, Talchar and Rourkela.It attributed this strategy because the managements no more granted concessions. The essay went on to elaborate the need to build work in rural areas in every area it operated. This would establish liaisons with Adivasi comrades and sharpen agrarian revolutionary practice. The unique conditions of Orissa, must be respected, taking into consideration, the feudal penetration within the society and the prevalence of trends of slave society .Access by the class enemy’s forces to even widely scattered mines areas and interspersed village hamlets is next to impossible. The revolutionary forces can very easily snipe at the enemy, if they closely follow the established instructions.
“It is not necessary to criticize the petty bourgeois leadership of the union, which the workers do themselves. Our duty is to inform them why the leadership behaves in a particular manner. Until, we are able to make the workers grasp the political order of the day, we should not capture the Unions. The workers still today place faith in the ruling class forces, to win their demands. failing to understand the semi-colonial, semi-feudal nature of India.
In the 2nd phase it was advocated to win over the non -tribal refugees.”The Sangh should try to mobilise the non-tribals into the fold and give them the self -respect that comes through struggle for the common cause.”
“As a class the non-tribal refugees are friendly, being poor peasants and labourers. They have ,of course a feeling of being isolated. However they work shoulder to shoulder with the triabls,bearing the brunt of the same repression and exploitation by the sahukars.While the rehabilitated adivasis got seven acres each, the non -tribal refugees ,who had earlier been displaced by war or communal riot from their own homeland, had been living among the tribals,inhabiting only 5 acres of land per family for 20 to 30 years.”
Harsh Thakor is a freelance journalist. Toured India, particularly Punjab .Written on Mass movements ,,Massline,Maoism on blogs like Democracy and Class Struggle and frontierweekly .An avid cricket lover too who has posted writings on blogs like Pakpassion Indian Cricket Fans and Sulekha.com