Dismissing a misconceived suggestion that Manmohan Mishra was a panegyrist who eulogized Marx and Lenin, well known leftist intellectual and author Asish Mohapatra observed that the great revolutionary was a poet of the masses, who had immensely inspired the freedom fighters and the working class by writing and singing his songs for them in their own language and rhythm, while leading them in their struggles.
It was very becoming of the poet to have eulogized Marx in some of his poems. Marx is the only one in the entire world and its history who has given the way for emancipation and, therefore, if Manmohan has praised him in his poems, there is nothing unusual in that, he roared.
The poet’s 13th death anniversary was observed on November 19 with launching of a compilation of rare poems that he had written and sung, often instantly, while leading the masses in freedom struggle against the British and in post-independence mass struggles against maladministration, against official adoption of capitalist methods in nullification of the spirit of freedom struggle, against exploitation of the workers by industries, against misuse of State Exchequer for benefit of a few when the majority was being jostled into wretchedness, against treachery of politicians in power after independence. Dreams of freedom fighters for a People’s Republic having been lost in the labyrinth of capitalistic control over administration, Manmohan’s poems are of utmost relevance to guide the Republic into its track again, said the compiler.
The compilation captioned ‘Kotikanthara Spandan: Manmohan’(Manmohan, the vibrating rhythm of millions of voices) is done by Mohapatra, a renowned Communist, who, himself being the nephew of Mishra, has prefixed his poems with a realistic critique on the poet and his works.
Mohapatra, a top leftist intellectual of the State, is well known for his books such as Itihasara Lohita Chakrabala (The Red Horizon of History), Sahityara Atma (The Soul of Literature), Mukti O Samatara Mahayoddha (The Great Warrior of Emancipation and Equality), Lal Tarakara Desh (The Land of Red Star), Viplav-Mukti Sangram O Ehara Mahanayak (Revolution – War of Emancipation and its Great Leader), Karl Marxnka Jibani (Biography of Karl Marx), to mention a few. He has interpreted Manmohan’s collected poems not only on the basis of close understanding he had with him as his nephew, but also as a Marxist scholar with expertise in interpreting the dialectics of revolution in poetic expression. Hence the book promises immense scope for study of the poetic stream of struggle for emancipation in this part of the globe.
The book was released by Orissa’s famous progressive figure, former President of Bar Council of India, Advocate Jagannath Pattanaik.
Citing samples of songs that Manmohan had written and sung often on various spots of mass action, Pattanaik recapitulated how his piercing oratory was injecting strength into the oppressed and the wretched with the electrifying effect of his songs, his poetic expressions.
In the critical juncture where India has landed now, to whomsoever the people are important, Manmohan and his sufferings, and his sacrifices, and his poems would stay ever relevant sources of inspiration, he said.
Utkal Prasanga editor Hussain Ravi Gandhi described Manmohan as the matchless leader of letters who had never deviated from writing for the people. Regretting that none of the national award winning poets of the State are with the people, Gandhi said, writing poems of the highest quality in the language of people perishing in the lowest layer of the society was Mnmohan’s specialty. Let the writers write against auctioning away the country to foreigners and that would be the befitting homage to Manmohan, he said.
Another top leftist intellectual Prof. Laxminarayan Raysingh recalled many moments of mass action like the creation of Patia Bandha by the people that Manmohan had inspired by his lucid yet electrifying poems and incendiary oratory.
CPI(M) leader and former MP Shivaji Pattanaik informed how the poet’s revolutionary anthology ‘Kotikanthe’(In the voice of millions) was banned by the government of Orissa after independence. He described Manmohan as a poet of the masses. He was a part of the revolution of the people and was the voice of the people and therefore, was giving voice to his own poems, said Pattanaik. Giving many anecdotes from the life of Manmohan, he told the audience that the revolutionary poet was the leader of many battles against exploitation, starting from the days of the British imperialism to the post independence exploitation by traders and landlords. He was the leader of trade union movements. His writings were shaped by the struggle of the people. His first poem was on Madhubabu, the most revered and immortal leader of Orissa and his last poem was on Marx, he revealed.
In his Presidential address, famous novelist Bibhuti Patnaik recalled how the Chief Minister’s wife Malati Choudhury had challenged the government of her husband Nabakrushna Choudhury, when Manmohan, the leader of mass uprise against curtailment of Orissa’s limbs – Sareikala and Kharasuan, constituting Singhbhum – in 1956 was thrown into the jail by the State Government. Patnaik, who himself was also arrested along with Manmohan, while leading the Students Union in the same movement, described the event as unique; because, despite being inseparably one with her husband in every mass movement before and after independence, Smt. Choudhury had taken over the reign of the movement in expression of solidarity with and protest against incarceration of Manmohan and his team by the government of her husband. This was how Manmohan was relevant to legendary revolutionaries of his time.
Santosh Das, the editor of Samyavadi, which has published the book, in his introductory address gave an account of how it was programmed by Manmohan Smruti Sansad and how meticulously Asish babu has compiled it. Suresh Panigrahi proposed the vote of thanks.
Amongst others, Prof. Bishwamohan Mishra, Rabi Dash, Dwarika Mohan Mishra, Janardan Pati, Prados Patnaik, Subhas Chandra Pattanayak, Sudhir Patnaik, Shanti Mishra, Dr. Seba Mohapatra, Pramod Mohanty, Asit Mohanty, Dr. Pramod Acharya, Ms. Puspa Das, Ms. Tapasi Praharaj, Baghambar Pattanayak were in the audience.