People's Democracy

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


No. 34

August 31 , 2008


Remembering A  Communist Revolutionary

B Prasant

A PACKED Nazrul Manch in south Kolkata on August 27 witnessed a rousing tribute being paid to the departed former general secretary of the CPI(M), and a true communist revolutionary, Comrade Harkishan Singh Surjeet. The drum beats of rain that fell on the stucco roof of the covered auditorium provided a suitable backdrop for a communist leader who had always remained active in the interest of the people, especially the exploited and the downtrodden.

Biman Basu narrated the young Surjeet’s exploits in taking part in the freedom struggle in Punjab and said that Comrade Surjeet’s career was that of a revolutionary. Comrade Surjeet dedicated every moment of his life to the cause of the people. He never regarded any task as either too small or impossible to achieve.

He concentrated, said Biman Basu, his efforts to spreading the politics and ideology of Marxism-Leninism in the reality of the situation. Comrade Surjeet also fought for solidarity, amity, national integration and was a staunch fighter against imperialism and communalism.

Comrade Surjeet was a firm believer and practitioner in the principles of democratic centralism and inner Party democracy. Biman Basu narrated how Comrade Surjeet would encourage him when on a foreign trip to speak to Indian communists of various cities and townships of Great Britain, despite the political differences they just had had at a central committee meeting in the 1990s.

Comrade Surjeet took an intensive part in the kisan struggles, in the workers’ movements and in the communist movement at large all over the country. He always stood for an independent foreign policy. He would have stood firmly opposed to the ‘strategic partnership’ that the present Congress-led UPA government appeared so eager to go through. Basu also spoke on the importance of workers struggles all over the world at the present point in time and said that if the need so arose, the workers possessed every right to resort to the final weapon of strike action.

Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee, Bengal chief minister described Comrade Surjeet as a ‘great communist, a revolutionary of note, and a leading fighter for the people’s rights,’ and described in some detail the manner in which comrade Surjeet had been brave enough to raise the National Flag at a court of law at Hoshiarpur in Punjab when it was proscribed to do so: he had to undergo a jail sentence for his brave and patriotic act.

Joining the Left through the Communist Party, Comrade Surjeet joined in the freedom struggle and concentrated his effort on building up the agrarian movement. Party documents on the agrarian question always had the indelible imprint of Comrade Surjeet’s dedicated hand. Buddhadeb also described Comrade Surjeet as a leading light in the age of coalition politics when he would rally the non-BJP and the non-Congress parties to launch themselves into nationwide struggles against imperialism, communalism, and authoritarianism. Comrade Surjeet was rigorous in implementing the Party line as adopted at the Party Congress and was instrumental in drafting of the updated Party programme adopted at the special conference of the Party. He also had a big role to play in the conference held in Kolkata in the wake of the débâcle of the USSR, a conference attended by nearly 40 Communist and Workers’ parties.

Buddhadeb spoke of Comrade Surjeet the internationalist and stressed especially on the way he rallied the Party to stand by the side of Cuba when that socialist country was undergoing a deep crisis, especially shortage of food. Comrade Surjeet always kept a sharp look out for the progress of the Left Front and the Left Front government in Bengal, and as Comrade Surjeet had hoped fondly, Bengal would certainly surge ahead in terms of pro-people development in the days to come, the irrational opposition’s irksome presence notwithstanding, concluded Buddhadeb.

Nirupam Sen, Polit Bureau member of the Party raised the condolence resolution. Samar Mukherjee the veteran communist leader presided over the meeting.