People's Democracy

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


No. 32

August 09, 200



A Flying Bird Who Sailed through Storms

Biman Basu


MY political relationship with Comrade Subhas Chakrabarti spanned over 50 years. He possessed all the qualities that a student or a youth should possess to endear him to the students community at a young age. Through his able leadership of the students� movement, Comrade Subhas participated in the mass movements. He possessed the human and organisational capabilities to attract widest sections of the masses. In the 60s during the period of turbulent student movement, Comrade Subhas was like a flying bird sailing through a storm. He was full of life, and could inspire his fellow comrades in movements and struggles and in any work. It was really a rare quality of his character.


I have many memories of him. I still remember the padayatra from Yubabharati Krirangan to Haldia, demanding Haldia Petrochemicals. Comrade Subhas along with many of us had taken part in that historic march and Comrade Subhas walked the whole stretch.  I still remember the way Comrade Subhas used to enthuse the marchers through his lively words, songs and slogans.


The movement protesting the visit of World Bank president Robert McNamara in Kolkata is still fresh in mind. It was in 1969 that we learnt the news about the president of World Bank, Mcnamara, visiting Kolkata. The students of the state decided not to allow McNamara to land in Kolkata.  With �Go Back McNamara� slogan in their voice, waves of student protests hit Kolkata. That day I went to Dumdum but as there was an arrest warrant against me, I was unable to go to the Dumdum airport where the student protest was being held. That day, Comrade Subhas gave the leadership to that historic protest. Under his leadership, the students forced McNamara to avoid land route to enter into the city and instead he had to be flown in a helicopter. I was sitting in a place at some distance collecting information of the programme.  Comrade Subhas played a remarkable role and the way he led the programme to success - in one word, was splendid.  Comrade Subhas�s role in spearheading anti-imperialist movement of this kind was particularly memorable.  He played an equally able role in the peace movement.


Some may say that Comrade Subhas used to work mainly in an urban periphery. But I still remember that long back in 1978, I told him to address the rural poor in a village in Purulia. I was also present in that meeting. But he was the main speaker at that programme. That day I was delighted in the way he ignited the rural masses. He possessed a rare quality of inspiring both rural as well as urban masses. His oratorical skills inspired people from all walks of life.


The bond that  Comrade Subhas  Chakrabarti shared with the common people  or with the Party workers in districts is not too commonly found. Even outside the Party periphery, he possessed an easy relationship with the man on the streets. He felt satisfaction by aligning with works of peoples� interests or even attending to individual needs of the people.


To me Comrade Subhas Chakrabarti was Subhas, the humane; a political activist, an organisational leader. He was a leader of the masses, full of confidence. It was through five decades of movement and struggles that made him a real leader of the people and earned him the respect he carried. A critical disease forced his untimely departure. I offer my humble respects to him.