Tag Archives: Marxist

I am a Marxist, Dalai Lama says

KOLKATA: Describing himself as a Marxist, Tibetan spiritual leader the Dalai Lama on Tuesday said many Marxist leaders have now become capitalists in thinking.

“As far as social-economic theory is concerned, I am still a Marxist,” the spiritual leader said adding that he admires Marxism because of its focus on reducing gap between the rich and the poor.

“Many Marxist leaders are now capitalists in their thinking. It depends on their motivation, thinking, wider perspective,” the spiritual leader said during a lecture on world peace in Presidency University.

“In capitalist countries, there is an increasing gap between the rich and the poor. In Marxism, there is emphasis on equal distribution. That is very crucial to me,” he said.

He blamed discrimination against women and those from low-castes for hampering peace in India, but said, “Muslims in India are living more safely than the Shias of Pakistan.”

The Dalai Lama greets the audience as he arrives to speak on “A Human Approach to World Peace” at Presidency Univeristy in Kolkata, on January 13, 2015.

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Comrade Sobho, an iconic figure

By Aziz Narejo

We, the people of Sindh have been very fortunate to have a giant of a man like Comrade Sobho among us. He was an iconic figure. No doubt about it. A humanist, a communist & the friend of the poor. His love for Sindh – the land & the people – and his struggle for the rights of the downtrodden is of legendary proportions. Through the years, he had attained a mythological stature in Sindh.
Post-Pakistan authorities, specially during the draconian rule of Ayub Khan, exerted tremendous pressure on Comrade Sobho to Leave Sindh. But he didn’t. This courageous man withstood all the pressures & faced hardships but didn’t move away from his motherland. He suffered for it. Years of jail, house arrests & trials & tribulations didn’t break his spirit.
Today we in SANA, remember him again. We will always remember him. Whole Sindh will remember him for all the times to come. All the progressive & humanist people will remember him. He will always live with us, in our heart & our soul. With the sweet breeze of Sindh & the fragrance of the clay. On the Banks of Sindhu & in the mountains of Khirthar. He will be with us. Forever.

Comrade Sobho had love & special relationship with SANA (Sindhi Association of North America) too. He attended a SANA convention in USA. About eight years later, he was Chief Guest & Keynote speaker at our first SANA Sindh Convention. Actually Comrade Sobho had officially declared open our first SANA Sindh Convention. He was awarded Lifetime Achievement Award at our second SANA Sindh Convention.

Courtesy: Social media (Facebook) + Sindhi e-lists/ e-groups, 9 Dec. 2014.

The rise and fall of the communist party of Pakistan

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Pakistan’s first communist party was actually formed in India (!). The Communist Party of India (CPI) was of the view that the newly created country (Pakistan) was ripe for a communist revolution due to the fragile nature of the country’s politics and economics at the onset of the partition of India in 1947.

The CPI sent a number of its Muslim members (led by Marxist intellectual, Sajjad Zaheer), to Pakistan for the purpose of fostering ties with labour leaders, students and leftist politicians and to prepare the ground for a communist revolution in Pakistan.

Entryism’ — originally a Marxist concept (honed by Soviet communist leader, Leon Trotsky) in which dedicated members of a small communist party were encouraged to infiltrate strong progressive and/or socialist ‘bourgeoisie outfits’ to gain direct access to a larger polity — was also explored.

Zaheer formed the Communist Party of Pakistan (CPP) in 1948 in Kolkata and then shifted the party to Pakistan. The party began organising itself in both wings of the country (East Pakistan and West Pakistan).

As planned, it also forged links with labour leaders and trade unionists and gave shape to an active student organisation, the Democratic Students Federation (DSF). The latter not only became the party’s student-wing, but also the country’s leading student outfit at the time.

As a strategy the student group and the labour unions were not officially proclaimed to be wings of the CPP but had secret CPP workers at the helm of these organisations.

CPP was Leninist in orientation. Due to lack of developed bourgeoisie capitalism and the consequential absence of a strong urban proletarian base in the newly formed country, CPP tried to implement the Leninist idea of triggering and guiding a communist revolution through a small, well-trained and dedicated group of intellectuals and workers (like the Russian revolutionary, Vladimir Lenin, had done in Russia in 1917).

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India – Renowned Sindhi writer Sundri Uttamchandani passes away

SundriIndia: Sundri Uttamchandani (سندري اتم چنداڻي), said to be the most well-known Sindhi-Indian of our times and Sindhi language’s prominent writer has passed away in India. She was born in Hyderabad, Sindh on September 28, 1924. She was a Sindhi secular liberal writer herself and was awarded the Sahitya Akademi Award in Sindhi for her Book Vichhoro, a compilation of nine short stories, in the year 1986, given by Sahitya Akademi, India’s National Academy of Letters.

She married Assandas Uttamchandani (A.J.Uttam), a Freedom fighter, with a keen interest in Sindhi Literature with clear leanings toward Marxist Philosophy and, who become in the later years one of the leading writers of Sindhi progressive literary movement, A J Uttam, was one of the founders of Sindhi Sahit Mandal in Bombay/Mumbai. Sundri accompanied him to weekly literary meetings which were presided over by a fatherly figure, Prof M U Malkani, who was a fountain head of encouragement to new and upcoming writers.

This exposure to Sindhi writers and their creative works were to become source of inspiration for her and in the year 1953 she produced her first novel “Kirandar Deewaroon” (Crumbling walls). This proved to be path breaking. She shattered the near monopoly of male domination in literature by her one feat, while on the one hand, she won the accolades and acclaim of all senior writers for use of ‘homely’ language, a folksy- idiomatic language used by women folk in their household and thus brought in a new literary flavour in Sindhi literature. The theme and structure of the novel was mature and it has distinction of being reprinted many times over. This Novel was translated into many Indian languages and brought her acclaim by literary critics of those languages, thus elevating her from a writer of a regional language to writer the of All India fame. Her Second Novel “Preet Purani Reet Niraali” came in the year 1956, which has run into 5 reprints, which amply speaks of its merit and popularity.

More details » Wikipedia
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sundri_Uttamchandani

How long and how many more liberals you will kill? You can crush all of us. But you can’t stop the spiring.

Pakistan’s musician Taimur Laal on massacres of liberals in the “Land of the Pure” by the “guardians of the Religion of Peace!?” Laal’s video on the trials, tribulations, and sacrifices of the people of Pakistan in the struggle against extremism in our society.  Religio-fascists! how do you claim that the battle is over in which we have not even taken the very first step! You can crush All of us. But you can not stop the spring.

Poet: Faiz Ahmed Faiz. Directed by Dr. Taimur Rahman.

Courtesy: Laal » YouTube

Pakistan’s revolutionary youth join hands in the struggle: Meeting to form All-Pakistan Progressive Youth Alliance

– by Adam Pal

Events of the Arab Revolution and the movements across Europe and USA have once again vindicated the Marxist positions about the role of youth. It was the youth who initiated these revolutions and movements. Subcontinent and Pakistan have a rich history of the revolutionary role played by the youth. As the “best barometer of society”, the revolutionary youth of Pakistan have realized the need to join hands in their common struggle against oppression, unemployment, fundamentalism, discrimination, costly education and capitalism. …

Read more » Marxist.com

Occupy Islamabad!

For decades, we have heard, and chanted, slogans against the evils of capitalism. We have witnessed the monopolization of multinational corporates and intensifying ratio of starvation, growing side by side. We have seen so many wars, imposed in the name of peace. We have heard enough lies about the people’s struggle and their achievements of the past. We have watched the world transforming into a global village of miseries, poverty, bloodshed, hunger and oppression. Now, the masses, all over the world, seem to realize the root cause of all the miseries: exploitation of man’s labour by man. Capitalism is failing. The world is changing!

It is a historical moment for us. The advocates of free-market economy are shaken by the series of protests that, starting from the New York City, have captured the hundreds of cities all over the world. These protests represent the awakening class-consciousness of the masses that has culminated in the Occupy Wall Street Movement. These occupy activists have gathered to change the existing economic inequality of the system. They have always been taught that Marx was wrong in his critique of capitalism. They have realized the empirical evidence of the opposite.

Karl Marx, in the 19th century, had explained the inevitable presence of exploitation as an essential ingredient of capitalism. The German social scientist had proved that, in any society, the exploitation takes place when a few people own all the means of production and the majority, who doesn’t own anything, is bound to sell its labour to that minor class which accumulates private property. While, the state functions to protect that unequal distribution of wealth, assuring the widening class-differences.

The NY Post has referred the Occupy Movement as the New York’s ‘Marxist Epicenter’. It has countered the myth, propagated by the media, that the occupy activists are a breed of bored, hippie-like folks who are doing some adventurism to seek attention. According to their report, the flags depicting revolutionary icons can be seen everywhere, showing their ideological commitment. Moreover, the ‘occupiers’ openly refer to each other as ‘comrade’, a term used by the left-wing worldwide, meaning ‘friend’ or ‘ally’. Their literature openly declares Socialism as a cure of all the prevailing problems.

At this historical moment, the Pakistan’s left is reorganizing like their counterparts of the West. We have a long history of youth’s struggle against the dark military regimes. From the Democratic Students Federation’s front ‘Red Guards’ to the Lawyer’s movement, our young activists have always stood for the people’s cause. Continuing their legacy of internationalism, Pakistan’s left parties have decided to start anti-capitalist camps, initiating from Lahore, not only for the solidarity for the Occupy Wall Street movement, but also as a continuous struggle to change our indigenous problems. We need to realize the importance of this revolutionary wave. We need to be in the flow. For how long the people will continue to suffer and dream for a better society? The time has come to make those dreams an existing reality. The time has come to reject all the confused liberators. The time has come to chant, ‘Occupy Islamabad!’

But, unfortunately, the state is not the only thing to occupy, in our case. We are aware that Pakistan suffers from multiple complex issues. We don’t only have the corrupt feudal political families and their huge palaces to occupy; we have millions of minds to occupy which are burning in the flames of religious fanaticism. We have to occupy the rising sectarian mindset of the people. We have to occupy the religious rage to assure peaceful coexistence of everyone. We have to occupy the narcissistic prism and replace it with rationality and realism. We have to occupy the filth of the society and the filth within. And we, the people, can do that! We can do that because we are the 99 percent!

Courtesy» The Express Tribune

Hari Haqdaar

Comrade Hyder Bux Jatoi (حيدر بخش جتوئي) (1970 – 1901) was a revolutionary, leftist, peasant leader in Sindh, Pakistan. He is known by his supporters as “Baba-e-Sindh”. He was also a Sindhi writer and poet. He was for many years the president of the Sindh Hari Committee (Sindh Peasants Committee), a constituent member of the National Awami Party.

Early life (According article of Nadeem Wagan) Hyder Bakhsh Jatoi who was born on October 7, 1901 in Bakhodero village near Moen-jo-Daro in Larkano district. Deprived in infancy of motherly care and love, he was brought up by his father and aunts. Being a handsome child he was liked by all, particularly by the womenfolk of the family.

Soon after, on completing his primary school, the young lad joined the Sindh Madarsah School at Larkano, where he showed his brilliance by topping the list of successful examinees every year. He topped the Sindh vernacular final examination in 1918 among candidates from all over Sindh and then won his first position in Sindh at the matriculation examination from the Bombay University in 1923.

He studied at the D. J. Science College, Karachi, and remained a resident boarder in Metharam Hostel attached to the college. He graduated in 1927 with honours in literature and won distinction in Persian from the Bombay University.

Courtesy: Wikipedia

CP of Pakistan’s 8th congress report

The 8th historical congress of the Communist Party of Pakistan was successfully convened and concluded from 11-13th April,2011, at Hyderabad city Sindh. The decision for holding the party’s most awaited congress,

Continue reading CP of Pakistan’s 8th congress report

Rasool Bux Palijo, a Politician, a Tactician & a Writer

Notes From My Memory, Part VII, By Mir Thebo: Rasool Bux Palijo, a Politician, a Tactician & a Writer

by Mir Thebo

In early 1960s, Rasool Bux Palijo and I were neighbors in Rosy Corner flats in Hyderabad. Those were very dirty pigeon hole flats in Tando Wali Mohammad area. Palijo lived on 2nd floor while I lived on the 1st. floor. Occasionally I went to his flat. He had no furniture and no proper bed in the flat. Palijo hated cleanliness. One could rather say that he hated regular life therefore he didn’t like well-dressed petty bourgeoisie people. He never cared about food. Shoes would be lying over the floor. He had good collection of books but they would be scattered all over the place. He didn’t like to live there so most of the time he remained outside.

By profession, he was a lawyer, a mediocre advocate at that because he was not interested in practicing law, although he was intelligent and had a logical mind. He had a small office in the Circular Building, which didn’t look like a professional lawyer’s office. He didn’t care much about these things. He was a good reader though. He read non-fiction, fiction and poetry books. He loved Shah Latif’s poetry. He was also an admirer of Shaikh Ayaz’s poetry. In later period, he disowned Shaikh Ayaz and his followers glorified Ustad Bukhari more than Ayaz but they were friends during 1960s. Ayaz also liked Palijo.

Palijo also read Urdu, Russian, Chinese, English and Arabic literature. He had good knowledge of history and international situation. He also had a good knowledge of the history of Sindh. He was great at appreciating someone. He will make you fly higher and higher until you reach the top of the world. He would say things that will make you wonder if you really possessed such ‘qualities’ as mentioned by Palijo. But if you disagreed with him, he will throw you in the dust mercilessly so much so that he will not allow you even to protest. He is a witty person with good sense of humor. He has good hospitality. He will serve you meals and every thing including drinks, etc. I have few chances to drink with him along with other friends. I never observed him out of control but he is careful not to drink too much with casual visitors.

Palijo was a Marxist at that time. I don’t know if he still is or has changed as many of us old Marxists have said goodbye to our once favorite ideology of Marxism. During my last meeting with him at his residence in Naseem Nagar in 2005, he came across as neither a Marxist nor a Maoist. He didn’t mention either of them in his analysis. He sounded like a populist Sindhi nationalist political leader.

Palijo is considered to be a great tactician but sometimes he is caught in his own tactics and faces failure. Many times he has stumbled and fallen down but he has good stamina to rise up again and start a fresh. He is very swift in changing tactics and at that moment he never cares about the principles. Any way lets talk of his life of the earlier period of 1960s. As a politician, you will see his glimpses many times in my memoir.

In 1960s, Palijo was General Secretary, National Awami Party (NAP), Hyderabad City. NAP at that time was the open united front of the Communist Party of Pakistan (CPP) headed by Khan Abdul Wali Khan.

Continue reading Rasool Bux Palijo, a Politician, a Tactician & a Writer

Tariq Ali’s backhanded tribute to Salmaan Taseer

by Mahvish Afridi

Is Tariq Ali a reporter, a Marxist activist or an author of fluffy Islamist novels reminiscent of Nasim Hijazi? Or is he just an ideologue past his sell by date, cashing in on his Communist Cows.  Nonetheless, he clearly has his prejudices and his article “Salman Taseer Remembered” (London Review of Books) reveals some of them.

In what should have been a tribute to a childhood friend, Tariq Ali can’t help himself and resorts to his typical petty digs based on his own prejudices and neurosis. He remembers their childhood memories but cannot bring himself to appreciate the late Salman Taseer’s business success and political activism.  I suppose that is natural given that Tariq Ali comes from a privileged feudal background and ran off from Pakistan instead of facing any consequences for being part of the Left movement of the late 1960s. Tariq Ali’s grandfather Sir Sikandar Hayat Khan was a leader of the Unionist Muslim League, a feudalist political party formed to represent the interests of the landlords of Punjab. It is the same feudal lord about whom Allama Iqabl wrote: nigah-e-faqr mein shaan-e-sikandri kia hai

In Tariq Ali’s elitist lexicon, being a self made and highly successful businessman is far inferior to being a paid lecture circuit mouthpiece for Hamas and Taliban and their supporters that reside on the fringes of the Far Left.

His glossing over the incarceration that Taseer had to face for his political affiliation with the Pakistan Peoples Party and its leadership are probably an indication of his insecurity for running away to England at the first sign of trouble. Not unlike other members of Pakistan’s ‘fake civil society’, Tariq Ali hates the PPP and the Bhuttos because they deprived him and his likes of the imaginary revolution that Tariq Ali so much wanted to lead but never possessed the guts and heart to do so.

In his back handed tribute to Shaheed Taseer, Tariq Ali reveals more about himself and his prejudice than about the late Governor’s successful life. …

Read more : CriticalPPP

Remembering Jaun Elia a Marxist wirter and poet

Jaun Elia (Urdu: جون ایلیا, December 14, 1931 – November 8, 2002) was a notable Pakistani Urdu poet, philosopher, biographer and scholar. He was widely praised for his unique style of writing. He was the brother of renowned journalist and psychoanalyst Rais Amrohvi and journalist and world-renowned philosopher Syed Muhammad Taqi, and husband of famous columnist Zahida Hina. He was a man of letters, well versed in Arabic, English, Persian, Sanskrit and Hebrew.

Jaun Elia was born on December 14, 1931 in an illustrious family of Amroha, Uttar Pradesh. He was the youngest of his siblings. His father, Allama Shafiq Hasan Elia, was deeply involved in art and literature and also an astrologer and a poet. This literary environment modeled him along the same lines, and he wrote his first Urdu couplet when he was just 8.

Read more : Wikipedia

Literature and Revolution

Leon Trotsky’s Literature and Revolution

“Trotsky was perhaps the greatest representative in history of the Marxist school of literary criticism, which itself incorporated what was most farsighted in the aesthetic criticism produced by the bourgeois-democratic revolutions of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries.”

This extraordinary work of Marxist literary criticism, first published in 1924, is a further illustration of the author’s multifaceted genius. Leon Trotsky, co-leader of the Russian Revolution and its leading orator, Soviet foreign minister and founder and leader of the Red Army, was also one of the leading Marxist critics of this period.

Trotsky subjects the leading trends in literature and art in the early years of the revolution to criticism that is sharp but never tendentious. He illuminates and develops the Marxist method of historical materialism, rejecting “art for art’s sake” conceptions as well as their apparent opposite, the theories of “proletarian culture” and “proletarian art,” then becoming fashionable in certain left circles. …

Mehring Books is pleased to make Literature and Revolution by Leon Trotsky available to readers of the World Socialist Web Site. Click here to order

Afzal Bangash: the Marxist maverick

By Dr Mohammad Taqi
“I count myself in nothing else so happy, As in a soul remembering my good friends” — Shakespeare in Richard II

Reminiscing about some of the stars of the secular galaxy of Pakistan and especially Pakhtunkhwa is needed not just due to a family association or personal, feel-good nostalgia. It is a must because the current generations – being fed a steady diet of Wahabiism – ought to get acquainted with the history of this land.
Where first the state-controlled, and now the state-indoctrinated media persons have systematically relegated both our saints and secularists to oblivion while projecting larger-than-life images of the obscurantist characters from Pakistan Studies and Islamic Studies textbooks, such recollections become an obligation. One such distinguished progressive was the leader of the Mazdoor Kissan Party (MKP), Muhammad Afzal Bangash who died on this day (October 28) in 1986. ….
Read more : Daily Times

Kashmir: Of Azadi, Geelani, and ‘beti’ Arundhati

by S. Arshad
Irrespective of whether they are booked for treason or sedition or not at the moment, the Kashmiri separatists achieved one thing. They succeeded in taking their ‘war for azadi’ out of Kashmir and roping in the support of other disgruntled sections like the Naxals and of course, of beti Arundhati as called fondly by the ‘Qaide Inquilab’ Syed Ali Shah Geelani.

How this ‘unholy’ alliance is going to benefit the Kashmiri separatists and the Naxals is anybody’s guess .Political analysts are baffled by the bizarre bonhomie between the two movements that do not recognise the state of India. While the Naxals believe in bringing about a violent coup to establish the rule of the proletariat based on Marxist-Leninist ideology that believes that religion is the opium of the masses, the Kashmiri separatists want to get independence from India to establish Nizam-e-Mustafa (Islamic system) in Kashmir.

Another disturbing report says that the ISI has advised some Kashmiri separatist leaders to make inroads into Naxal ranks. Syed Ali Shah Geelani’s conference in Delhi clearly seems to be a concerted effort by Geelani and his ilk along the ISI directives. And he seems to have achieved some success in it. If this is true then the government should take this development very seriously and nip this unholy alliance in the bud ….

Read more : newageislam

Book on Comrade General Sharof by a Sindhi writer

– Zulfiqar Halepoto

Sher Muhammad Bijarani (Marri) was a Baloch nationalist tribal chief and militant. He fully favoured a struggle against Pakistan. He was also known as Babu Shero, Shero Marri, General Sherof and Baluchi Tiger. He was the first Baloch who gave the Baloch armed struggle a new shape by following the tactics of modern guerilla warfare, against the occupiers of Balochistan. He was a military commander and an expert on Marxist literature.

Continue reading Book on Comrade General Sharof by a Sindhi writer

Meet with a Marxist Literary Theorist in Karachi – In Conversation with Aijaz Ahmad

Join us for an evening with Marxist literary theorist and political commentator, Aijaz Ahmad Professor Aijaz Ahmad has taught at universities in the US, India and Canada. In New Delhi, where he resides, he has been a Professorial Fellow at the Nehru Memorial Museum and Library. He has also held the Rajiv Gandhi Chair at Jawaharlal Nehru University and the Khan Abdul Ghaffar Khan Chair at Jamia Millia Islamiya University . Currently, he is on the editorial board of the Delhi-based publishing house, LeftWord, and Senior Editorial Consultant for news magazine Frontline, where his political essays appear frequently. He writes in English, Hindi and Urdu. Some of his books in English are Ghazals of Ghalib, In Theory: Classes, Nations, Literatures, and Lineages of the Present, Globalization and Culture: Offensives of the Far Right, and Afghanistan, Iraq, and the Imperialism of our Time. His work-in-progress is provisionally entitled In Our Time: Empire, Politics, and Culture.

The discussion will be moderated by:

* Syed Jaffar Ahmed – Professor of Politics & History at Karachi University

* Dr. Asad Sayeed – Economist

* Nadeem Khalid – Activist

Date: Saturday, 20th February 2010: Time: 6:30 pm

Venue: 10-C, Sunset Lane 5, Phase 2 Extension, DHA, Karachi

Seats are limited and will be available on a ‘first come, first served’ basis. No reservations.

For further details please contact: 0300-823-0276 | sabeen@peaceniche. org

Saturday, 20th February 2010

Amarjit Chandan: A tribute to Harkishan Singh Surjit

For the last two decades, in an era when coalitions have been the norm in Indian national politics, Harkishan Singh Surjeet, who has died aged 92, the general secretary of the Communist party of India (Marxist) for 13 years till 2005, was a major power-broker. It was a role he described as one of the most trying of his life. In 1989 an anti-Congress party coalition came to power, backed by Surjeet’s CPI (M) – but after Congress’s Rajiv Gandhi was assassinated in 1991, a Congress-led coalition took over until 1996. Surjeet’s CPI (M) then backed two fragile Janata Dal-dominated coalitions (1996-97).

CPI (M) leader was a Sikh, and combating communalism – whether by religion, language, caste or region – was central to his beliefs. The BJP led governing coalitions between 1998 and 1999, and from 1999 to 2004.

Surjeet backed the current Congress coalition which came to power in 2004. Indeed, in the vote of confidence debate in the Indian parliament last month on the US-India nuclear deal, Manmohan Singh, the prime minister, thanked him for his support in defeating the BJP.

While Surjeet enjoyed significant influence during his years as party leader, unsurprisingly he described the period as “one of the most trying” of his life. In 1996, there was indeed a moment when the CPI(M) might have supplied the prime minister at the head of the United Front coalition: Basu – at the time chief minister of West Bengal – was the consensus candidate, but the party’s politburo decided not to participate in the government. Basu later described it as a “historic blunder”. Surjeet had voted in favour of Basu.

Born in a small peasant family in Rupowal, a village in eastern Punjab, Harkishan Singh cut his political teeth in a charged atmosphere, when the region was the epicentre of anti-colonial national struggle. Inspired by the revolutionary independence fighter Bhagat Singh, hanged in 1931, Surjeet was imprisoned the following for hoisting the Indian tricolour at the district courts in Hoshiarpur on the anniversary of the execution. He soon came into contact with senior political prisoners and two years after his release, in 1936, joined the CPI.

Surjeet started actively organising small landholders around economic issues like debt and digging irrigation canals. Writing patriotic poetry and working for Punjabi political papers, he acquired the nom de plume Surjeet – conqueror of the gods.

With the outbreak of the second world war, the CPI, following the Moscow line (Stalin had recently concluded his pact with Hitler) denounced the war as imperialist. Leading CPI members were rounded up by the British, including Surjeet, who had gone underground, and detained in Deoli detention camp, Rajasthan. For Surjeet it proved to be an opportunity to study Marxism further.

All were released in 1942, and gave their unqualified support to the British as a way of waging the people’s war. The Ghadr-Kirti party, the rural populist organisation led the firebrand Teja Singh Swatantar, Surjeet’s main rival, merged with the CPI.

Following the 1941 Nazi invasion of the Soviet Union, the CPI’s line changed into support for what had now become the “people’s war” and CPI leaders, including Surjeet, were released in 1942. By 1944 Surjeet was propounding his own thesis for a Sikh homeland on the model of the Pakistan being proposed by the Muslim League. But Surjeet’s idea was firmly quashed by Rajani Palme Dutt, the Communist party of Great Britain’s chief ideologue, who for many years supervised the CPI on behalf of Stalin’s Comintern.

In 1952, at the age of 36, Surjeet was elected general secretary of the Punjab section of the CPI, and two years later was elected to the Punjab legislative assembly and again in 1967. He was a member of Rajya Sabha, the upper house of the Indian parliament, from 1978 to 1982.

But in the early 1960s the Sino-Soviet split in global communism triggered a crisis in the CPI. This was exacerbated in 1962 by the six-week Sino-Indian war. Many CPI leaders, including Surjeet, backed China and were imprisoned. In 1964, along with eight other communist stalwarts, he walked out of the CPI and formed the CPI (Marxist) causing a vertical division across the country in the trade unions and other mass organisations. The CPI(M) kept the Stalinist rhetoric, but in practice has been pragmatic. Since 1977 is has led the Left Front in West Bengal, making it the world’s longest-running democratically elected communist government, and has invited multinationals to invest in the other two states where it leads the governments, Tripura and Kerala.

There was further division in the late 1960s, when Maoist fundamentalists

formed the CPI (Marxist-Leninist) after a tribal peasants’ agitation in Naxalbari in the Darjeeling district of West Bengal was ruthlessly crushed by the CPI(M)-led government in the state capital of Kolkata. Nevertheless, in terms of electability, Indo-communism, in whose development Surjeet has had a significant hand, has achieved what Euro-communism could not.

A key issue for Surjeet was keeping the Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata party (BJP) out of office. The

After the split in the party, when the main funding from both the Soviet

and Chinese communist parties had dried up due to the CPI(M)’s independent

ideological stance, Surjeet could rely on support from emigrant British and North America Sikh communities.

From the mid-1960s Surjeet visited Britain at least twice a year. In 1966 the CPI(M)-backed Association of Indian Communists was set up in London. He personally supervised its annual elections and those of the Indian Workers Association (Great Britain).

It was as a boy in the early 1960s that I first met Surjeet. As a friend of my father he was a regular visitor to our house in Nakodar in the Punjab. Affable and caring, he never lost his composure even in heated debate: he was a splendid orator in both Punjabi and English.

Three years ago he visited Lahore for the first time after Partition and met with his old Muslim comrades including CR Aslam and Tahira Mazhar Ali. He told Aslam that he had left the keys to the Party headquarters in Fazal Husain building McLeod Road with him in 1947 and now came to Lahore to take them back!

He leaves a party with a national membership of about half a million and 43

seats in a 545-strong parliament; it is the next largest after Congress (145 seats) and the BJP (138), while the Communist Party of India (CPI) has 10. Even after the total reversal in the CPI(M)’s policy towards the Soviet-supporting Congress party, which was one of the causes of the split with the CPI back in 1964, Surjeet was considered the main obstacle to the CPI(M) reuniting with the CPI and his passing may hasten reunification.

He is survived by his wife and two sons and a daughter.

Courtesy and Thanks: Wichaar.com & Guardian

http://www.wichaar.com/news/152/ARTICLE/7977/2008-08-07.html

[An edited version of this obituary was published in The Guardian 6 August 2008.

http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2008/aug/06/india]