3 June 1891|
Jabalpur, Central Provinces, British India
|Died||28 October 1937
Moscow, Russian SFSR, Soviet Union
|Part of a series on|
|Communism in India|
Abaninath Mukherji (Bengali: অবনীনাথ মুখার্জি, Russian: Абанинатх Трайлович Мукерджи, 3 June 1891 – 28 October 1937) was an Indian revolutionary and co-founder of the Communist Party of India. His name was often spelt Abani Mukherjee.
Abani Mukherji was born in Jabalpur (in the present-day Madhya Pradesh state). Abani Mukherji's father was Trailokyanath Mukherji. After leaving school, he moved to Ahmedabad, where he trained as a weaver, and in 1910 he was employed as an assistant weaving master at the Bangla Laxmi Cotton Mills. In 1912, he was sent to Japan and Germany to study weaving. In Germany, he encountered socialism. After returning to Calcutta in December of the same year, he was employed at another cotton mill, Andrew Yule Mill.
In 1914, Mukherji met Rash Behari Bose and joined the revolutionary movement. In 1915, he was sent to Japan to acquire weapons for the revolutionaries. According to British intelligence reports, he was active in the Hindu-German conspiracy. In September 1915, while on his return journey to India, he was arrested in Singapore and incarcerated at the Fort Canning prison there, where he remained until he escaped in the autumn of 1917. The exact details of his escape are unclear. Mukherji managed to reach Java in the Dutch East Indies, where he stayed until the end of 1919, living under the name of Dar Shaheer. In Java, he was in contact with Indonesian and Dutch revolutionaries and became a communist. He also travelled to Amsterdam and back. In Amsterdam, he met S.J. Rutgers, who recommended him as a delegate to the Second Congress of the Communist International.
In the Communist International
In 1920, Mukherji travelled to Russia to take part in the Second Congress of the Communist International. There he met M.N. Roy, and with Roy and Roy's wife Evelyn he drafted a document which was published in Glasgow Socialist on 24 June 1920, under the title The Indian Communist Manifesto. Like Mukherji, Roy had been an Anushilan member during his early political life.
Mukherji took part as a delegate in the Second Congress of the Communist International, held in Petrograd between 19 July – 7 August 1920. In the Russian language notes of the Congress, he is listed as a 'left-socialist', without a party affiliation being stated. At the Congress, Mukherji met Vladimir Lenin for the first time. Directly after the Congress, Mukherji travelled to Baku in Soviet Azerbaijan to represent India at the Congress of the Peoples of the East.
The Communist Party of India was founded in Tashkent on 17 October 1920, two months after the end of the Second Congress of the Communist International. The principal movers in the founding of the party were Roy and Mukherji. After the founding of CPI, Roy returned to Moscow whilst Mukherji was put in charge of the Indian Military School, with the task of training armed forces to fight British colonialism. The same year, Mukherji became a member of the Russian Communist Party (Bolsheviks).
The following year, 1921, Mukherji went to Moscow to attend the Third Congress of the Communist International as a delegate with a consultative vote. There he also took part in a meeting of Indian revolutionaries.
Also in 1921 Mukherji drafted a document on the Malabar uprising, which he sent to Lenin. In 1922, Roy and Mukherji together wrote the book India in Transition, a Marxist analysis of the Indian Rebellion of 1857 which the Communist International published in four languages in 1922. The book argued that the 1857 rebellion had failed to rid India of feudalism. Roy had assigned to Mukherji the task of gathering statistical data for the book.
Return to India
In December 1922 Mukherji returned from Moscow to India clandestinely, via Berlin. He privately met local communist leaders on his way. Once in India, he was sheltered by the Anushilan Samiti in Dacca. After meeting S.A. Dange at the Gaya session of the Indian National Congress in December 1922, and after meeting Bengal communist groups, Mukherji moved to Madras, where he met Singaravelu Chettiar. Mukherji helped Chettiar with his efforts to form the Labour Kisan Party of Hindustan and to draw up its manifesto. Mukherji later returned to the Soviet Union.
Split with Roy
Roy and Mukherji did however part ways and became bitter enemies. Mukherji learnt that during his travel to India, Roy had sent a circular to the Indian communist groups denouncing him and claiming that he did not represent the Communist International. By the mid-1920s the break between them was complete.
Mukherji took an uncompromising attitude towards cooperation with nationalist sectors. In 1928, he described the Workers and Peasants Party as 'the party that is accumulating by itself the elements of future Indian Fascism.'
During the 1930s, most of Mukherji's work was academic. He was an indologist at the Oriental Institute of the Academy of Sciences of the USSR and became president of the All Union Association of Orientalists. He also worked at the Communist Academy.
Mukherji fell victim to the Great Purge in the late 1930s, but his death was only acknowledged by the Soviet Union after 1955. Mukherji was arrested on 2 June 1937. He was assigned for the first category of repression (execution by firearms) in the list "Moscow-Center" and executed on 28 October 1937.
In 1920, while in Russia, Mukherji met Rosa Fitingov, who was then an assistant to Lenin's private secretary, Lydia Fotieva. Of Russian-Jewish origins, Rosa Fitingov had joined the Communist Party in 1918. They married and had a son called Goga. Rosa was later one of the founding members of the CPI and acted as M.N. Roy's interpreter.
- Chattopadhyaya, Gautam. Abani Mukherji, a dauntless revolutionary and pioneering Communist. New Delhi: People's Publishing House, 1976
- Roy, Anita. Biblavi Abaninath Mukherji. Calcutta: 1969
Articles by Abani Mukherji
- His Russian name was spelt variously Абани/Абони/Абанинатх Троилокович/Трайлович Мукерджи/Мухарджи/Мухараджи (Abani/Aboni/Abaninath Trailokovich/Troilokovich/Traylovich Mukerdzhi/Muhardzhi/Muharadzi). The second part of the Russian version of the name (Trailokovich) is a patronymic, traditional in Russian appellations. Abani Mukherji's biography (Russian)
- Banerjee, Santanu, Stalin's Indian victims in The Indian Express, 28 September 2003 (accessed 16 January 2008)
- Ralhan, O.P. (ed.). Encyclopaedia of Political Parties - India - Pakistan - Bangladesh - National - Regional - Local. Vol. 13. Revolutionary Movements (1930-1946). New Dehli: Anmol Publications, 1997. p. 113
- Ralhan, O.P. (ed.). Encyclopaedia of Political Parties - India - Pakistan - Bangladesh - National - Regional - Local. Vol. 13. Revolutionary Movements (1930-1946). New Dehli: Anmol Publications, 1997. p. 114-115
- Did Moscow play fraud on Marx?–I: Pre-1957 Left perspective on 1857 by Professor Devendra Swarup at organiser.org (accessed 13 January 2008)
- Buddhadeva Bhattacharya, Origins of the Revolutionary Socialist Party (accessed 16 January 2008)
- Ralhan, O.P. (ed.). Encyclopaedia of Political Parties - India - Pakistan - Bangladesh - National - Regional - Local. Vol. 13. Revolutionary Movements (1930-1946). New Dehli: Anmol Publications, 1997. p. 116
- M.V.S. Koteswara Rao. Communist Parties and United Front - Experience in Kerala and West Bengal. Hyderabad: Prajasakti Book House, 2003. p. 88-89
- Abani Mukherji's biography (Russian)
- V. I. Lenin to N. I. Bukharin, note dated 14 November 1921 at cddc.vt.edu (accessed 13 January 2008): Lenin's note was written on a letter from Mukherji, by which he sent Lenin his article on the Malabar uprising of 1921.
- India: The 1857 Revolt And Its Historiography: An Overview by Biswamoy Pati at politicalaffairs.net (accessed 13 January 2008)
- Ralhan, O.P. (ed.). Encyclopaedia of Political Parties - India - Pakistan - Bangladesh - National - Regional - Local. Vol. 13. Revolutionary Movements (1930-1946). New Dehli: Anmol Publications, 1997. p. 117
- Origins of the RSP
- CHNN, No 13, Autumn 2002: Features
- Ralhan, O.P. (ed.). Encyclopaedia of Political Parties - India - Pakistan - Bangladesh - National - Regional - Local. Vol. 13. Revolutionary Movements (1930-1946). New Dehli: Anmol Publications, 1997. p. 118
- Ralhan, O.P. (ed.). Encyclopaedia of Political Parties - India - Pakistan - Bangladesh - National - Regional - Local. Vol. 13. Revolutionary Movements (1930-1946). New Dehli: Anmol Publications, 1997. p. 119
- Organiser - Content
- Jayawardena, Kumari, The White Woman's Other Burden (1995) p. 226
- Organiser - Content