People's Democracy

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


No. 45

November 11, 2012



Samarda is Hundred: A Life of Dedication and Sacrifice


Prakash Karat


COMRADE Samar Mukherjee turned hundred on November 7 this year.  I participated in the function to felicitate Samarda on his 100th birthday.  A meeting was held in Kolkata outside his residence in Dilkusha Street which has long been a Party commune. 


Samarda is the oldest member of the Party living today. He was born on the day of the October Revolution in Russia four years before the revolution happened. His life traversed the entire course of the 20th century and mirrored some of the major events of that historic period.  He joined the freedom struggle as a young student at the age of 15 and participated in the “Boycott Simon Commission” agitation in 1928.  He joined the Civil Disobedience Movement in 1930 and was jailed in the same year. He became the president of the All India Students Federation of Howrah district in 1938.


Samarda became a member of the Communist Party in 1940. Thus began an arduous and significant role in the Communist movement. He organised the peasant movement and the trade union movement in Howrah district.  He is the only Party member alive today who attended the first Party Congress held in Bombay as a delegate in 1943. 


Samar Mukherjee played a notable role in building the refugee movement in West Bengal taking up the cause of the lakhs of people who had come across from East Bengal after partition. He became a member of the state secretariat of the undivided Communist Party in 1961. After that, he played an important role in the inner-Party struggle which eventually led to the formation of the CPI(M).  Samar Mukherjee was elected to the Central Committee of the Party in 1966.  He served as a member of the Polit Bureau from 1982 to 1998.


Another important dimension of Samar Mukherjee’s activity began in 1971 when he was elected for the first time to the Lok Sabha.  He continued to be a member of the Lok Sabha till 1984 and then became a member of the Rajya Sabha for two terms till 1993.  He was the deputy leader in the Lok Sabha while A K Gopalan was the leader.  Later he became the leader of the CPI(M) group in the Lok Sabha from 1977 to 1984.  As a Communist parliamentarian, he effectively combined his work in parliament with the trade union movement and taking up people’s issues.


Samar Mukherjee played a key role in the development of the CITU of which he was the treasurer and later the general secretary.  He was one of the organisers of the historic railway strike in 1974.  


Samar Mukherjee brought complete dedication and meticulous attention to all the responsibilities that he discharged – as a Party organiser, as a trade union leader and as a parliamentarian.  Samarda is an archetypal Communist. He has led a spartan life. While being a parliamentary leader, he always stayed in a room allotted to him in the parliamentary office – first in 4 Ashoka Road and later in Windsor Place.  Even after the payment of the Party levy, which took away the bulk of his salary and allowances, Samarda would save up much of the rest of the money and donate it to the Party.  In Kolkata, he continues to live in the Party commune. 


Samarda is known for his amiable behaviour and his warmth and concern for all the cadres.  As many revolutionaries of his time, he never got married.


Comrade Jyoti Basu used to say that Samarda is “God’s own man”.  This saying in English denotes a selfless person who has all the virtues of a good human being. 


Samarda is the sole surviving member of that generation of Communists who sacrificed everything and served the Party with complete dedication.  All the Party members should strive to emulate the exemplary life led by Samar Mukherjee.  We are fortunate in having him in our midst still. On behalf of the entire Party, we wish him good health and many more birthdays to come.