| Khagendra Thakur at his residence in Ranchi. Picture by Hardeep Singh
A section of Hindi readers treat him as a poet, the new generation impressed by his articles consider him a prolific essay writer and for newspersons in Ranchi he is the state unit CPI 'spokesman'.
Literary critic Khagendra Thakur, struggling to re-establish the postulates of Marxism, is not averse to liberation of economy, but he just wants adequate safety measures for the farmers and peasants in his beloved Jharkhand.
For this, he campaigns day and night in far flung areas of the state to mobilise the masses for the 'new struggle' and still he finds time to pen down his thoughts and observations, which are published in the leading newspapers and magazines.
Politics became his profession and his work by default, but literature is his real passion and pride.
He stepped into the field of Hindi literature over four decades ago as a poet and gradually switched over to prose and writing. He is also among the few living literary critics, who have a considerable command over all the fields of Hindi literature.
Be it prose, poetry or the novels Thakur's critical remarks usually stir a hornet's nest.
His thought provoking ideas on literary contributions of Bhartendu Harishchandra, Suryakant Tripathi Nirala, Kabir and Vidyapati, in particular, have often remained at the centre stage of academic criticism.
His first book Dhar ek Vyakul was published in 1967. It is a compilation of his poems some written during his student days.
Rakt Kamal Dharti Par published in 2003 is another book on poetry. Alochana ke Bahane is a criticism of prominent works in Hindi prose, Kavita ka Vartaman, Chhayavadi Kavya Bhasha ka Vivechan, Samay Samaj Aur Manushya and Divya ka Saundarya are among his other prominent books available on the racks now. 'About half a dozen other books are likely to be released soon,' said Thakur.
A voracious reader, Thakur is also known as a learned editor and cultural activist.
He was the Bihar unit general secretary of All India Progressive Writers Association from 1973 - 94 and national general secretary of this association from 1994-99.
He regrets that the younger generation has little interest towards literary criticism.
'After Ram Vilas Sharma's death there has been a big void. Namvar Singh, is now too old to go ahead with his campaigns. Take me for instance, I am approaching the age of 70. It is difficult for me to name a single youngster at the moment who is capable of steering the literary and cultural movements, which incidentally are the need of the hour,' he commented.
But undeterred by the constraints and shortcomings Thakur goes ahead with his new campaigns.
His crusade against fascism, of any kind and in any field, is yet to yield concrete results. He does not hesitate airing his views through his articles and lectures at seminars.
'I am trying to explain Indian thoughts and struggles with Marxism, theory of permanence, difference between Brahmanism and Brahmin casteism and Dalit casteism in the ever changing of the global scenario. Unless the mass have a clear concept about these basic issues, no significant change can take place in Indian society,' he argued.
Incidentally Thakur gave up his college teacher's job way back in 1991,to devote full time to the CPI.
Even while working in the colleges he repeatedly proceeded on long leaves to work for party programmes.
He has been to erstwhile USSR and GDR. He was also actively associated with the publication of CPI 'mouthpiece' Janshakti and lead the movements launched by the university and college teachers on several occasions.
'Literature is my passion and Marxism is my commitment. I have paid a heavy price for it over the years, but I have no regrets. If I am able to correctly explain to even one person, the real values of the Indian society, I think my mission will be accomplished. 'Though I did not hold a high rank in the party organisation when I visited USSR, I objected to Gorbachev's perestroika and glasnost.
'My book under publication vikalpki prakriya will be giving a reply to most of the questions haunting the present Indian society. Of course, Aaj ka vaicharik Sangharsh aur Marxvad has already brought me in the eye of storm,' he added.
Sudhir Kumar Mishra