People's Democracy

(Weekly Organ of the Communist Party of India (Marxist)


No. 10

March 11, 2007

Comrade Banamali Das


THE frontline leader of the people’s movement of erstwhile princely state of Nilgiri, freedom fighter and CPI(M) former secretary of Orissa state committee Comrade Banamali Das passed away in the early hours of February 26, 2007, at Nilgiri Hospital in Balasore district. He was suffering from cancer and was 89 at the time of his death.


Inspired by the sacrifice of Bhagat Singh, Rajguru and Sukdev, Comrade Banamali Das took active interest in the freedom movement while he was a student of Middle English school. During his secondary education at Balasore Zilla school, he was attracted to Marxism-Leninism after coming in contact with his teacher Gopal Kanungo. This conviction was further strengthened after he heard the speeches of the founder secretary of the Communist Party in Orissa Comrade Bhagabati Panigrahi and later came in contact with him.


Completing school education young Banamali Das joined the state people’s movement at Nilgiri. He rose to the leadership of the movement when he took on the British political agent Bazzlegate in argument. It may be mentioned her that Nilgiri was the first princely state to sign the instrument of accession with government of India on November 14, 1947. This was the victory of a heroic struggle led by Banamali Das and his comrades.


Comrade Banamali Das joined the Communist Party of India in 1939-40 and he was one of the accused in the Communist Conspiracy Case, 1940 at Cuttack. The other prominent leaders who were also the accused were Comrades Bhagabati Panigrahi, Guru Charan Patnaik, Sarat Patnaik, Baidyanath Raht, Bijay Chandra Das and Ananta Patnaik.


At the time of the split, Comrade Banamali was the state secretariat member of the united party. After the split he became the founder secretary of the CPI(M), Orissa state committee and was elected to the central committee at the 7th Congress of the Party in 1964.


Comrade Banamali Das was elected as an MLA from Nilgiri constituency in 1967 and continued to represent it till 1974. His debates in the House were of extraordinary nature and high standards. Assessing the assembly debates of 50 years (1952-2002) he was awarded with the Best Legislator Award in 2003. Comrade Banamali Das’ inspiring, agitating and humorous oratory, lucid teaching in Party schools, powerful pen etc. have influenced many in Orissa. He spent six years and six months in jail on six occasions, both before and after independence. He also spent 18 months in underground.


The CPI(M) Orissa state committee mourned his death and paid homage to Comrade Banamali Das. It conveyed heartfelt sympathy to the members of his bereaved family. (Santosh Das)