Kolkata: Disturbed by the prospect of communal harmony being disrupted in West Bengal ahead of the Assembly elections due in a few months, Left-leaning intellectuals are coming together and are on the verge of reviving the Anti-Fascist Writers’ and Artists’ Association, which holds a famed legacy in combatting fascism and communalism in the 1940s in the then Bengal province.
The formation of the forum, which will take place through a convention on January 10 at Shramik Bhawan in Kolkata, is aimed at resisting the spread of hate politics before the Assembly elections in the state.
Playwright Kaushik Sen, Pabitra Sarkar, author Monoranjan Byapari, theatre practitioner Joyraj Bhattacharya, Miratun Nahar, Poet Mandakranta Sen are set to address the inauguration programme. Noted historian and social scientist Shobhanlal Duttagupta will deliver the inaugural address.
Speaking about the forum’s legacy, noted linguist (winner of Japans’ state order of merit ‘Rising Order of the Sun’) and former Vice Chancellor of Rabindra Bharati University, Pabitra Sarkar, told NewsClick that writers like Mulk Raj Anand started the Pragati Lekhak Sangha and before the 2nd World War, when Hitler was at his pinnacle, the Anti-Fascist Writers and Artistes Association was formed in India. Incidentally, it was to take the blessings on behalf of the anti-fascist forum in 1941 that Jyoti Basu (communist leader who later became the chief minister of West Bengal), accompanied by Somendranath Tagore, had met renowned poet Rabindranath Tagore. It may be recalled that during the Dhaka riots in 1946, Somen Chanda had became the first martyr from the literary world after being killed while organising a conference of anti-fascist writers and artists forum in Dhaka.
Now, in the present circumstances, when revival of the forum is happening, an attempt is being made to foster broader unity among cultural workers, intellectuals, artistes, and writers. The basis of this unity will be their “anti-fascist conviction and steadfast belief in democracy and democratic principles”, Sarkar said. “The ruling fascist dispensation (read BJP) and its inroads into West Bengal will be discussed that day (of inauguration),” he said.
In another programme recently held in Barrackpore and presided over by playwright Chandan Sen, various cultural persons expressed their support to farmers protesting at the borders of New Delhi. The event was addressed by cultural personalities, such as Kaushik Sen, as well as by a few CPI(M) leaders.
Meanwhile, a campaign – ‘No Vote To BJP’ -- launched by some Far Left activists at an event at Bharat Sabha hall on Monday, who have united under a forum named ‘Bengal against Fascist RSS-BJP’, urging people of the state not to vote for the Bharatiya Janata Party in the upcoming Assembly polls.
“Most of the activists, both of Naxalite and non-Naxalite origins, who joined the citizen's convention recalled the pre-lockdown growing agitation against the Narendra Modi-Amit Shah regime’s communalised citizenship matrix– CAA-NRC-NPR. They wanted to regain the momentum in the context of the assembly poll before it is too late” the forum said in a press release.