— Janardan Prasad
Of the first generation leaders from the reconstructed Party CPI(ML), Comrade Pranav Da was the one with whom I got the greatest opportunity to interact and work together. In September 1995, when Comrade Jayant Ganguly died Pranav Da was made the Jharkhand in-charge of the Party. Earlier also I had met and talked with him at the Working Class Department and the 4th Party Congress, but the opportunity to work together with him came only in the later days of 1995.
While I was working in Dhanbad District I received great help and cooperation from Pranav Da in Party work. He always stressed the need for basic Party education as well as the need to arm political activists with current and topical political knowledge. Whether it was the matter of taking class for activists in the District or at the State level, Pranav Da used to educate comrades in the most animated manner. During class or training, sometimes when some comrades started feeling sleepy he would engage their attention by saying, “It seems that water is flowing over the heads of our comrades”; hearing this sentence the comrades used to regain their concentration and listen more seriously. While working in Jharkhand Pranav Da was ever concerned with the plans to expand and strengthen the Party. He firmly believed that we can become a strong Party in Jharkhand only if we increase our activities and reach in the Adivasi community and also strengthen our organization in workers’ areas. He always stressed the need for the leadership to focus on committees at the lower level in order to develop grass root level activities. He was especially keen to form local level committees comprising of villagers and colliery workers in industrial areas, and his vision has yielded positive results in the form of increased Party strength.
He always strove to expand the Party’s reach among adivasis and workers, in addition to strengthening the ground level framework. He learned from even the smallest struggles and movements. Even from failures in a struggle he learnt to generate optimism and always inspired us to use the failures as stepping stones for further positive initiatives. Pranav Da was also a wonderful teacher for us in the matter of conducting big campaigns. We shall always try to emulate the way he always kept a sharp eye on every small aspect of these big campaigns and absorbed the smallest detail. Most importantly, he inspired us to relate with our comrades; he shared close friendships with comrades at the lowest ground level, never once feeling it detrimental to his position or prestige and never displaying ego or prejudice. He never allowed a situation of insensitivity towards any comrade to arise. It was one thing to have discussions, arguments and even ideological differences in committees, but he never allowed these to become a matter of personal tussle.
I had the opportunity to spend many days with him at shelters. Pranav Da never made any requests in the matter of food. He ate whatever he got with great satisfaction and content. Yes, he had one predilection and that was for black tea (‘lal chai’) and he did request this to be prepared for him. Preparing tea himself was the toughest task for him, but he took a keen interest in all other kitchen work. He liked to cook various fish dishes. In the shelter he actually taught me the art of cooking fish. Comrades still speak of the hilsa fish dish that he cooked for us at the Ranchi office!
Though he had physical pain and many ailments Pranav Da never allowed them to interfere with Party work. He bore every pain and happily and energetically participated in all Party programmes.
There were several occasions in my section when he suffered from malarial fever and we used to get worried when the fever rose very high, but Pranav Da even in his delirium used to remember all his Party comrades. True to his character, when I met him for the last time in the Kolkata hospital cabin he discussed Party affairs, national and international affairs, and family matters with me for hours despite his pain. Family background and the complexities of full-time Party work often set limits on the circle of family relationships of Party workers; as such, it is with some Party comrades that intimate family relationships are formed. Even on that day at our final meeting Pranav Da expressed the wish that my family and I should stay with him for some time. But I am left with the regret that I could never go with my family to his place. Life and death are not in our hands and when a dear one will be called away by death cannot be foretold, but there are so many precious moments I spent with Pranav Da which I shall cherish life-long.