Kolkata, May 29 (IANS) Terming Ashok Mitra as one of the most outstanding figures in post-independence India, Left economist Prabhat Patnaik on Tuesday said his contribution to the cause of communism was likely to remain underestimated.
“I feel Ashokda is one of the most outstanding figures in post-independence India because of the remarkable qualities that he had.. Of course, he was brilliant,… he had a sense of humour, which could be directed against himself.
“He was ideologically very firm, never budged an inch in his ideological commitments. But at the same time he was very charming, very gracious, very courteous to others,” Patnaik said at the condolence meeting for Mitra organised by the Left Front.
Recalling his association with Mitra for close to 50 years, he said he was an ideal communist intellectual “because he had a remarkable combination of qualities of head and heart”.
According to Patnaik, Mitra’s contribution to the Left movement was in terms of ideas.
“Ashokda’s contribution to the cause of the Left, to the cause of communist is likely to remain underestimated. Ashokda’s contribution to the left was in terms of ideas.”
As the Finance Minister of the first Left Front government, Mitra played a big role in ensuring the regime broke the “agrarian impasse in the state, which was a colonial legacy”, he said.
While there was a substantial investment in agriculture, it was for the first time that the tillers of the land got rights over the harvest, Patnaik said, also referring to Mitra’s contribution in the first Left Front government raising the issue of centre-state relations.
“As the LF called for a relook a the distribution of powers, it caught the imagination of the people all over the country. Mitra became a known figure across the country as the Finance Minister of Bengal.”
Patnaik regretted that Mitra’s resignation from the LF ministry in 1986 over some questions of principle related to education saw the issue of centre-state relations receding to the background.
“It is to Ashoke da’s credit that he saw the fight for an authentic democratic structure as really a fight for democracy.”
Left Front chairman Biman Bose, state CPI-M Secretary Surjya Kanta Mishra and other Left leaders also spoke on the occasion.