People's Democracy

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


No. 24

June 12, 2011


Lakhs Pay Last Tributes To Comrade Majumdar


Subrata Chakraborty


DRAWING to a close a generation of communist fighters who were seasoned in a string of struggles in Tripura, Comrade Baidyanath Majumdar, one of the founders and forerunners of the communist movement in the state, breathed his last on June 7, 2011. He was 88 and a bachelor. A public leader and champion of the workers’ interest, Comrade Majumdar had been a member of the CPI(M) Central Committee, a state secretary of the party and the deputy chief minister of Tripura. He had been suffering from several age-related ailments and was admitted to Agartala Medical College Hospital on May 30 morning. His condition began to deteriorate on June 5 night and shortly after Monday midnight he frustrated all the frantic endeavours of physicians to delay his departure.


With the spread of the news of his demise, a deep pall of gloom descended all over the state. On June 7 in Agartala, a mourners’ procession began with the mortal remains of Comrade Baidyanath Majumdar from Agartala Medical College. It went to the Circuit House via the new Civil Secretariat Complex and Assembly House, then went to the CITU state office and from there it moved to the CPI(M) headquarters in Melarmath. En route, the procession snowballed into a massive march, with the continually swelling mass of people joining it on the way. At Civil Secretariat, chief minister Manik Sarkar, his cabinet colleagues, high officials and secretariat workers paid the departed leader floral tributes. In the Assembly House complex, the speaker, deputy speaker, members of the legislative assembly including the leader of the opposition, assembly officials and some opposition leaders paid him floral tributes.


Left Front parties and numerous class and mass organisations paid homage to the departed leader at the CPI(M)’s state committee office. His mortal remains were kept with full honour at the Sadar divisional committee office for the night. After a short mourning procession on June 8 morning, he was given a good bye for ever and his body was carried to Kailashahar, North Tripura --- a place where he spent a major part of his political life. His mortal remains were consigned to flames with full state honour in the cremation ground of Kailashahar later, after all sections of the people of the town had paid him their tear-socked tributes.


Paying tributes to the memory of Comrade Baidyanath Majumdar, the CPI(M) state secretariat in its statement recalled with a deep sense of respect and gratitude his huge pro-active political life and his unique contribution to building up the working class and peasant movements as well as the party organisation in Tripura. He was the last among the leading comrades of the first generation in the state and thus his demise brought an era of struggles to a close. The party exhorted everyone from the top party leaders to the activists below to emulate his unwavering faith in the party ideology and discipline alongside his close contact with the people, his simple living and his principled stand on various issues. The statement said the party has suffered an irreparable loss with his demise. The party --- all its activists and leaders --- have to work harder to complete his unfinished task, the statement said.


Through separate statements, chief minister Manik Sarkar and the Tripura Left Front Committee deeply condoled the demise of Comrade Baidyanath Majumdar. The CPI(M) called for a hall meeting in his memory at Agartala Town Hall on June 9 afternoon. Several organisations of workers and employees, including the CITU state committee, also condoled the loss of this dedicated friend, philosopher and guide of theirs. At the CPI(M) offices all over the state, the party flag flew half mast for three days as a mark of respect.




Born at Kailashahar in 1923, as the fourth of the seven children of his parents, Comrade Baidyanath Majumdar spent his childhood and boyhood in dire poverty, losing his father during boyhood. He appeared in matriculation examination in 1942, shortly after which he joined the undivided communist party in 1943, as he had meanwhile been attracted to the communist ideology following his exposure to the war-time newspaper reports about Nazi barbarism against the socialist Soviet Union and the resistance struggle of the Red Army, alongside his study of party literature. Towards the beginning of his career as a communist, Comrade Baidyanath Majumdar had to walk from Kailashahar and then take train to Comilla to attend the party’s branch meetings as the party had had no unit in Tripura at that time. He was sent to prison for the first time in 1943 by the administration of the king of Tripura when the peasant organisation formed by Comrade Majumdar protested the king’s decision to send food grains from the then princely state to help the British government, engaged in the second world war, at a time when a devastating famine was raging throughout Bengal. So much so that the king’s government did not ensure the storage of sufficient grains for the state’s own food requirements. He was released in 1945 at the end of the world war.


After the inception of a unit of the Communist Party in Tripura in 1948 and the growth of the movement of Ganamukti Parishad (built up in 1945 and led by leaders like Dasarath Deb of Janashiksha Samity), Comrade Baidyanath Majumdar was inducted in the state committee of the Communist Party. While the movement for an end to the feudal exploitation and for the formation of an elected, responsible government was growing in Tripura, he played a seminal role in building up the party organisation among the peasants and minority Muslim and Manipuri communities of the then undivided Kailashahar subdivision and among the tribals of the Longthorai Hills of Tripura.


Based chiefly in Kailashahar, Comrade Baidyanath Majumdar started conducting the party organisation and movements after the detention of almost all top state level leaders of the party in Hazaribagh Jail following the Sino-Indian border conflict in 1962. He too was detained without trial for ten months until several leaders were released by the Supreme Court in 1964 following a habeas corpus petition filed in 1963. With the outbreak of the Indo-Pak war in 1965, he was again thrown into prison with others who were falsely labelled as Pak agents. After the party was reorganised in 1964, the revolutionary section of the party leadership in Tripura, including Baidyanath Majumdar, joined the CPI(M) that was formed in a determined struggle against revisionism.


Besides giving leadership to the mass movements after his release from jail, he started organising the tea garden workers of Kailashahar subdivision. Following a month-long strike of workers at Hirachhara Tea Garden in 1969, against the garden authorities illegally retrenched 20 workers, Comrade Majumdar played a vital role in the formation of the Tripura Tea Workers Union. He was first elected its vice president and later became its president. In the same year, he led from underground a 17-day long strike in all tea gardens in Tripura to press for a wage hike to the rate then in effect in Cachar district of adjacent Assam. This was when an arrest warrant had already been issued against him. The same story was repeated during the student movement at Ram Krishna Mahavidyalaya of Kailashahar in 1970. In the same year, he became a member of the first CITU state secretariat, and was elected its state president in 1989.


Following the promulgation of Emergency in June 1975, he and several other top party leaders went underground. He spent the entire duration of Emergency underground. In all, he spent a total of more than 25 months behind the bars and 22 months underground. After the lifting of Emergency, Majumdar was elected from Chandipur constituency of North Tripura in the December 1977 assembly polls and then he was represented the same constituency five terms in a row till 1998. In the first and second Left Front cabinets, he was the PWD and transport minister. In 1988, during the Congress-TUJS coalition regime, he was elected a member of the CPI(M)’s state secretariat at the 12th state conference of the party. During 1993-97, he was the deputy chief minister in the third Left Front cabinet. He was elected a CPI(M) Central Committee member at its Chandigarh congress in 1995. He served as the Tripura Left Front Committee’s convenor during 1998-2008. Prior to the party congress at Coimbatore in 2008, in view of his age and ailments, he voluntarily sought retirement from the Central Committee and sought to be relieved from the responsibility of the party’s state secretary at the 19th state conference. But he remained a state secretariat member of the CPI(M) until he breathed his last.


A life-long bachelor