The organizations and movements connected with the National Alliance of People’s Movements (NAPM) condole the sad demise of our ideologue-activist comrade Kishen Pattanayak, on September 27. With his demise, peoples’ movements all over the country have lost one of their foremost ideologue and guide.
Kishen ji has been a constant source of insight, inspiration and action for scores of the activists involved throughout India. In him we all saw a model of organic intellectual, with a constant interface between the theory and practice.
The fact that he came to Bhubaneshwar, and was admitted to a hospital in Bhuvaneshwar – after attending one seminar-workshop faraway from Orissa, speaks for itself. He was diagnosed with pneumonia and bacterial meningitis. Despite his frail health, he would travel, discuss, and participate in various endeavours. Interaction with the organizations, movements and activists of all the age groups has been a life-long passion with Kishen ji. These interactions along with his own uncanny analysis of present situation, his experiences, history and theory would form the basis for his formulations, which he would present before the people in his lucid and precise language. Without any frills or rhetoric he could convince the audience with his propositions on the basis of its impeccable logic and its clear interpretation. He was a model political activist – right from the ideology, presentation, spick and span appearance and approach to the people. He was accessible, affable without becoming verbose. Right from his language, his ideas, his dress – he personified dignified and affable elegance.
Kishenji’s life-long passion about the equality, democracy and sustainable development used to reflect in his speeches, his prolific writing in Hindi, English and Oriya. Like all true activists, he believed in and practiced the triad of action-theorization-propagation as prerequisite for effective social-political change. His classic work like ”Bharat Shudron ka Hoga’ (Shudras Shall Inherit India) and ‘Vikalheen Nahin Hai Duniya’ (The World is not without Alternatives), best reflect his ideology. He was exploring the future shape of the Socialism Socialist politics in India. He was a political activist-thinker, who recognized the worth of politics by the non-party movements, even while insisting on the need to participate in the parliamentary or party politics. He was in forefront in the formation of the NAPM and latter the People’s Political Front. In fact, he was a part of every genuine effort to bring out the radical transformation in the polity.
Kishen Pattnayak was born in 1930 into a lower middle class family in Kalahandi, Orissa. After graduating from Nagpur, he joined the Socialist Party and became its ‘full-timer’ at the age of 22. He was asked to work in the youth wing of the Party, Samajwadi Yuvjan Sabha, and soon rose to become its National President. At the age of 32 he was elected to Lok Sabha from Sambalpur in Orissa. He was one of handful members who turned the Lok Sabha into a real forum to discuss matters of national importance. After his defeat in the next Lok Sabha elections, the death of Rammanohar Lohia and his own disillusionment with the state of the socialist party led him to quit the party and spend the rest of his life in attempts to create a genuine political alternative outside mainstream politics.
Kishenji kept on exploring for the evolution of political instruments to bring in the real Socialist transformation. He was one of the founders of Lohia Vichar Manch, a forum of socialists who challenged from within the degeneration of socialist movement, the Samata Sangathan, a non-party political formation that sought to create alternative politics, in 1980. In 1990, he was instrumental in the formation of to the formation of Janandolan Samanvay Samiti, one of the precursors of the various attempts in recent times to create all-India networks of people’s movements. By 1993, he along with other comrades, brought a large number of movement groups together to establish Samajwadi Janparishad, a political party that contests elections with a view to changing the mainstream discourse on questions of our time. However, he remained an ideologue and guide of the various peoples’ movements, including the National Alliance for Peoples Movements and was active in attempts to create Peoples Political Forum, an emerging political formation.
He wrote hundreds of essays dealing with contemporary India and the world. He served on the editorial board of ‘Mankind’ when Dr. Rammanohar Lohia was its editor. He founded and continued to edit Samayik Varta, a monthly Hindi political magazine, that has continued to come out regularly since 1977. He lectured all over the country and traveled extensively despite his frail health.
Kishen ji was a model of honesty and integrity in public life. His wife, Bani ji, and he decided not to have kids, so that they could devote their lives to public service. Although he did not have any independent source of livelihood, Kishen Pattnayak did not accept the pension and other perks of an ex-MP till very recently when his falling health made it unavoidable. Both of them lived on the salary of Bani ji, a school teacher in Orissa. Kishen ji displayed no signs of envy or anger when his ex-comrades and disciples joined mainstream politics and rose to positions of power in national politics. At the same time he never sought to take advantage of their positions. Unusual for an Indian politician who entered the parliament in his ‘thirties, Kishen Pattnaik did not acquire any property.
We in the NAPM, fondly remember our respected comrade, guide and resolve to continue to strengthen clean, honest people’s politics, with an equal emphasis on thought and action. We offer or condolences and solidarity to respected Baniji, his wife and lifelong associate.
We all will cherish his memory- in our action and ideology.
NATIONAL ALLIANCE OF PEOPLE’S MOVEMENTS (NAPM)
C/o chemical Mazdoor Sabha, 1 st floor, A Wing, Haji Habib Bldg,
Naigaon Cross Rd, Dadar (E), Mumbai -400014)
Ph. 022-24150529/2536 9724. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org