[Comrade C.K. Lukose, Polit Bureau member and former Kerala State Secretary of Kerala of SUCI (Communist) breathed his last on 13 February 2019 in Thiruvananthapuram. On behalf of the Central Committee of the Party, a memorial meeting was held on 25 February, at Sarat Sadan, Howrah, West Bengal. The memorial meeting was presided over by Comrade K Radhakrishna, Polit Bureau member of the Party. Comrade V Venugopal, Central Committee member and present Kerala State Secretary of the Party also paid his tribute by delivering a heart-touching speech. Comrade Provash Ghosh, General Secretary of the Party, was the main speaker. His speech is published below. Speeches of Comrades Radhakrishna and Venugopal will be published.]
You all know that in a memorial meeting, we, who are living and are students of Comrade Shibdas Ghosh, the great Marxist thinker, reminisce on the life-struggle of the departed leader or comrade with the objective of gaining necessary education from that struggle. You are also aware that ours is not merely a party. It is a new model family. When social and family lives are being wrecked because of a rotten environment and crisis of values that utter degeneration of the capitalist society is breeding and exacerbating with every passing hour, we are engaged in the struggle for building up this model family based on higher communist ethics and morality as per the teachings of Comrade Shibdas Ghosh. Our mutual relations are not just of assigning work and then checking the performance. It is a relation that is spurred on by nobler feelings of heart based on higher revolutionary ideology, ethical and moral values. So, when we lose any member of this family, more so when any forerunning member departs us, we writhe in pain. All of you assembled here know Comrade C K Lukose, our departed Polit Bureau member, by name. Some of you might have also seen him in the meetings from a distance. But comrades outside Kerala are not very much familiar with his exemplary revolutionary struggle and his crucial role in building up the Party in Kerala. This is our failure. So far, our central leaders were confined to particular areas and were known only there. Other comrades in other parts of the country had seldom any opportunity to be aware of their roles and struggles. This practice has been changed after the recently concluded 3rd Party Congress so that the Central Committee leaders are able to know the comrades round the country and the comrades too become acquainted with them. Hence, at the outset, I would like to speak something relevant in this regard.
I would like to tell you how could a character like Comrade Lukose develop on the shores of the Arabian Sea, far away from here, on the basis of the teachings of Comrade Shibdas Ghosh. Our Party work in Kerala began in 1968-69. An AIDSO worker and supporter of the Party who passed out from an engineering college in West Bengal, joined Quilon Engineering College in Kerala, as a teacher. He was told to take with him some Party literatures and works of Comrade Shibdas Ghosh so that he could carry out some propaganda work there. Because of his efforts, a few students were attracted towards the Party. Comrade Lukose was one of them. At that time, Comrade Krishna Chakraborty was sent to Kerala and he played an important role there. But suddenly Comrade Natarajan, who was most promising among those engineering students passed away. A portrait of Comrade Shibdas Ghosh which he painted is in the Central Party Office in Kolkata. Comrade Lukose shared a very intimate friendship with Comrade Natarajan. These few comrades initiated the Party work in Kerala. Comrade Lukose became very much disturbed by the sudden and untimely demise of Comrade Natarajan. But overcoming his pain and rising above all hesitations, he came forward to shoulder more and more responsibility in building up the Party. Here, I need to mention another aspect. When our work started in Kerala, our Party was very little known in the country. It was not like what you see today. The names of SUCI (Communist) and Comrade Shibdas Ghosh had not reached South India. Like in West Bengal, undivided CPI was then a very powerful force in Kerala. The CPI leaders in the initial period of their party formation were honest and militant. In Kerala, the CPI had organized struggles against feudal kings. Their leaders were very popular too. It was in Kerala that the CPI could form its first government way back in 1957. Such was its role and strength. When the CPI(M) was formed in 1964 through a split, larger faction of the undivided CPI leaders joined it. At that time, they possessed a struggling character. They then enjoyed support of both the Soviet Communist Party and the Chinese Communist Party. So people presumed them to be communists. Hence, the people used to question us how could we claim ourselves as genuine communists when the CPI (M), CPI were in existence, building up movements and enjoying backing of both the Soviet and Chinese parties? We faced similar questions in West Bengal also at the formation stage of the Party in 1948-52. Such was the case with Kerala also. Leaders like Comrade Lukose had to face, deal with and overcome such questions. You must know this history of development of Party organization in Kerala. In such a situation, only a few comrades took the initiative of Party building. But, some of them could not conduct the arduous struggle and hence fell behind. After this, Kerala Party faced one more deep crisis when the then Secretary of the State Party deviated from Marxism-Leninism-Shibdas Ghosh Thought. Comrade Venugopal and the others were students at that time. At that critical moment of the Party, Comrade Lukose came forward and took up the responsibility to save the Party. After this, he never looked back. I want to emphasize on this aspect of Comrade Lukose’s struggle.
I would like to speak about another aspect. Most of us who are on this dais could get living association of Comrade Shibdas Ghosh, more or less. Many of us have seen him closely and shared an intimate association with him. On the other hand, Comrade Lukose had seen Comrade Shibdas Ghosh in the meetings. At best, he could exchange a few words with him. But he had no opportunity to come in close contact with Comrade Shibdas Ghosh. Yet, he succeeded in assimilating the essence of the invaluable revolutionary teachings of Comrade Shibdas Ghosh by going through his works. On the one hand was the crisis in Kerala Party and the task of keeping the morale and confidence of some junior comrades intact. On the other hand was conduction of a hard all-embracing struggle to develop himself as a worthy communist. Silently, he went on conducting this difficult painstaking struggle thereby thoroughly changing himself and beginning to advance further in his struggle. You have just heard from Comrade Venugopal how he had influenced his family too. So he had struggled both within his family as well as outside, covering all aspects of his life. Never did he compromise anywhere. It is here that you will find a true reflection of a valuable teaching of Marxist philosophy. As shown in the Marxist theory of knowledge, external contradiction is a condition of change and internal contradiction is the basic cause of change. External influence becomes effective only when the imperativeness and desirability of the change is accepted from within. Even after being in constant association with fore-ranking leaders and going through many Party literatures, many comrades fail to change themselves. On the other hand, there are comrades who despite not having received the opportunity to be in close association of the higher leadership and being stationed far away, could succeed in grasping the revolutionary teachings, change themselves and go on improving their standard continuously from higher to yet higher stage. Comrade Lukose was a glowing example of how this is made possible.
Under the leadership of Comrade Lukose, Kerala Party has successfully fought a force like the CPI(M) at every step. The Kerala Party boldly faced and overcame all false propagandas, thwarted one after another attack and rebutted the slanders and smear campaigns that the CPI (M) had directed against us. Through such a commendable struggle, our Party organization is now spread along the length and breadth of the state. Let me read a portion of their latest organizational report. Out of fourteen districts of Kerala, Party has elected district committees in eleven of them. In two districts, we have organizing committees. Party work has started in the other district also but committee formation has not yet taken place there. In Kerala, the number of party members and applicant members are more than one thousand. Apart from this, there are several thousand Party supporters. In that state, AIUTUC, AIDSO, AIDYO, AIMSS – all these class and mass organizations are functional. There are twenty six registered unions affiliated to AIUTUC. Science and medical units are also operating. Comrade Venugopal has said in his speech that on the basis of the teachings of Comrade Shibdas Ghosh, they have succeeded in forming a permanent people’s struggle committee – ‘Janakiya Pratirodh Samiti’— throughout the entire state of Kerala. This is their credit. No other state has succeeded to form such a committee till now. The eminent Justice V R Krishna Iyer was the Chairman of this people’s committee till his death. Many movements have been conducted under the leadership of this committee. This committee is still functioning. Party developed such a deep relation with Justice Krishna Iyer through this committee that he attended many of our programmes in Kolkata. Kerala Party had succeeded in doing this. They had also succeeded in associating Dr. N A Karim, an eminent educationist and ex-Vice Chancellor with the ‘Save Education Committee’. Subsequently, Dr. Karim became a supporter of the Party. In this way, they have succeeded in assembling many intellectuals in Kerala. Comrade Lukose had the ability to attract both the intellectual section as well as the toiling people. Another big achievement of the Kerala Party is establishment of a hospital which they have been running for many years at a very low cost for providing medical care to the poor people of the state. A doctor comrade who is a whole timer and member of the Party State Committee is rendering full time service to that hospital. Apart from this, they have also successfully developed people’s committees to spearhead movements on various demands and issues like banning alcohol, against crimes and atrocities on women, safeguarding the interest of peasants, etc. A state level Anti-imperialist Forum has also been formed. Many women are there who, in absence of any employment opportunity in the state, are forced to go outside Kerala including overseas destinations to work as nurses. These nurses face several problems in their workplaces which keep their parents and family members continuously worried and apprehensive. Viewing this as an issue which ought to be taken up and addressed in right earnest, a ‘Nurses-Parent Forum’ has been formed at the initiative of the State Party. Kerala Party has been relentlessly conducting movements involving common people on many burning issues of life. As a result, our Party has been able to earn people’s confidence and is recognized as the only party to struggle for people’s cause. During the recent floods which devastated Kerala, it was only our Party which immediately jumped to save and rescue the affected people with all its might and conducted extensive relief work. All comrades and supporters of our Party took part in these relief and rescue activities. This also earned immense appreciation from all sections of the masses. In all these activities and movements, Comrade Lukose was the source of inspiration. You have heard from Comrade Venugopal how Komsomol unit was built up in Kerala.
A special and important part of Party organization are the Party centres where our comrades stay together. These centres are viewed as the preliminary stage organizations which could be elevated to Party communes through a definite process of struggle. This concept was not there previously in world communist movement. It is a specific form of organization based on the teachings of Comrade Shibdas Ghosh with the objective of developing collective life. Constant common association, constant common discussion leading to constant common activities and to develop it further constant common living – that is what the Party centres are aimed at operationalising. This is a very difficult struggle. In this struggle, there are contradictions and conflicts, scope for misunderstandings and even bitterness. There is 1influence of bourgeois culture on our comrades. They are also attacked by bourgeois culture. Party centres too are affected by this. Again, in these centres, there is also a struggle to acquire higher proletarian culture on the basis of Comrade Shibdas Ghosh Thought. We run these centres on the basis of the teachings of Comrade Shibdas Ghosh. In Kerala, there are 26 Party centres. All these centres were being guided by Comrade Lukose. It is relatively easy to deliver a speech, to prepare a write-up, even to organize a public agitation. But to imbue a group of individuals, one by one, with a new ideology in order to free them from careerism, conventional family life and manifold attacks of bourgeois vices and in course of that, developing them as workers of a genuine communist party is not so easy. Comrade Lukose, in this way, succeeded in developing a few hundreds of our comrades. We have more than a hundred whole-timer comrades in Kerala. These comrades have left their families, discarded all their personal interests and submitted themselves wholeheartedly to the Party. Who had inspired them? Who was that leader? He was Comrade C K Lukose, a leader who could imbibe the teachings of Comrade Shibdas Ghosh.
Comrades respond to the appeal of only those leaders who come forward leaving everything behind, whose words match their acts in all aspects of their personal lives and in their behaviour, culture and work. Even those who at least honestly struggle to practise what they preach attract other comrades. Comrade Lukose was a leader of the above standard and it is only because of this that he was able to inspire the comrades. He was elected State Secretary at the first Kerala State Conference in 1988. But actually he had emerged as the leader much before that. Comrade Shibdas Ghosh used to say that there are two types of leaders. One is a leader elected from the conference. But there is another type of leader, who irrespective of whether elected or not, becomes able to earn respect, love, trust and confidence of the comrades and thus are accepted from the core of their heart. Comrade Lukose attained the standard of being a leader of the second kind. He used to listen to the problems of every comrade with great patience and tried to help them with deep love, affection and care. I have observed that he used to listen more but talk very less. He had the ability to convince comrades and others with very few words. But whatever and whenever he spoke, he spoke with perfect arguments and in a manner which could touch the hearts of others. Everybody, irrespective of age, used to freely associate with him. Never did his conduct, behaviour and attitude reflect that he was a leader of such stature. He used to mix and associate with the comrades as a friend and colleague. He could easily accept criticisms by other comrades. Referring to the session of criticism-self-criticism organized before the last Party Congress, he had written to me that ‘I have been criticized and I am happy by that.’ Comrades used to feel no hesitation or constraint to tell him anything or to express to him any difference of opinion. Always he used to educate the comrades. He was always ready to learn from them. Other leaders and comrades of the Party should draw necessary lessons and education from the higher qualities that he had acquired as an ardent student of Comrade Shibdas Ghosh. He was in the habit of meticulously going through the Marxist classics including speeches and writings of Comrade Shibdas Ghosh as well as all the literatures published by the Party. Apart from this, he used to cultivate various aspects of literature, science and culture. He used to read literature of our country and also of other countries as well as mythologies.In order to develop the minds of the children, he used to tell them stories from the lives of many great men. In this course, he has succeeded in developing few hundreds of children and became more than a father to them.
As you know, the image of Marxism-Leninism-Communism has been considerably tarnished by the CPI (M) in the soil of Kerala. But on the same soil, the Kerala State Party based on the teachings of Comrade Shibdas Ghosh and under the able leadership of Comrade Lukose, could raise high the nobility and superiority of Marxism-Leninism. Since good communist character is reflected in the conduct and behaviour of our comrades in Kerala, developed based on Comrade Shibdas Ghosh Thought, the conscious section of the people of this state is continuously getting attracted towards our Party. Comrade Lukose had emerged in Kerala as a model communist character. It is for this reason that he could command respect of many people outside the Party even. In spite of this, there was not an iota of conceit, egocentrism or self-projection in him. ‘I have done this’ or ‘This happened due to me’ – he was not in the habit of saying all these. When he used to discuss with us, he used to behave like a student with an open mind to acquire more knowledge. On the one hand, he was very soft-spoken, modest and amiable in nature, while on the other hand, he was very firm and uncompromising on questions of principles.
When the leader whom he came in contact with in the initial stage of his political life, whom he loved and respected very much and who was very dear to him had suffered moral degeneration, he was immensely pained when he came to know about it. At that time he was very sick and bedridden. But he never hesitated to severely criticize the misconduct of that leader. That leader had repeatedly appealed to him for rapport. But he did not vacillate for a moment. Unwaveringly, he stood by the decision of the Party. Once, in a school of politics in Muzaffarpur, Comrade Shibdas Ghosh had said that ‘If you ever observe that I myself, Shibdas Ghosh, who is speaking of morality and ethics, have deviated from this even a bit, expel me from the Party.’ Comrade Lukose used to carry this teaching of Comrade Shibdas Ghosh in his heart. Comrade Shibdas Ghosh had warned us that the struggle to acquire communist character is a very difficult one. He pointed out that we have all come from the bourgeois society and this bourgeois society is not what it was either in the19th century nor in the beginning of 20th century. Bourgeois society today is filthy, ugly and rotten. We live in such a rotten society. Therefore, from the highest leader to every comrade – all are continuously being attacked by this polluted environment. Every moment we have to be alert and fight against this attack. Otherwise, centring on the question of love-affection or hankering for name and fame, the harmful bourgeois vices would make inroad in us. If we remain unalert, there might be a hidden attack and like termites, it would eat away the very vitals of revolutionary character from within. Even the highest leader is also prone to such attacks. He further said, ‘Do not possess blind allegiance to any leader. The interest of the Party and revolution is supreme. Therefore, if you observe any defect or deviation in a leader, stand up courageously and fight that in the interest of the Party and revolution’. Today I can say openly and unhesitatingly that Comrade CK Lukose proved himself to be a worthy student of Comrade Shibdas Ghosh. He had severely and uncompromisingly criticized the defects and deviations of his erstwhile leader, without even a moment of hesitation. This is also an exemplary education for all of us.
As Marxists, we know that a personality, a leadership, a particular capability do not come by birth. It cannot be attained just by honest efforts either. Again, even an ordinary person can raise himself or herself to a high standard. It depends on how one understands the highest ideology and the highest culture of one’s time and by accepting that ideology, how one struggles to apply that in life covering all aspects and thereby advances forward. A host of problems would arise, many hindrances would come in the way. And even there may be sudden attacks. It may be that close associates would desert, friends would become foes, co-travellers would join the opponents. Any of these can happen. Even it may happen that someone whom I had once loved and accepted might stoop to a lower standard and degenerate. Comrade Ghosh taught us that in such an event, there ought not to be any compromise. Let there be separation. There is no question of peaceful coexistence in this regard. A person, who can brave bullets, might also falter and become weak on the question of love and affection. In this respect also, there is caution from Comrade Shibdas Ghosh.
In our Party, a struggle has been going on to create new men following the guidance of Comrade Shibdas Ghosh. He himself created some such characters. The communist movement in the world is now in crisis. It is very difficult to become a communist in today’s situation. In the 1940s and 1950s, in the favourable environment of glorious onward march of world communist movement, many had come forward to embrace communism. The Soviet socialism was then steadily progressing under the leadership of Great Stalin. The Chinese revolution had achieved glorious victory. Gigantic liberation movement was going on in Vietnam. All these international developments created a tide in favour of communism. So there was an earnest desire among the toiling masses to become communists. Today a reactionary wave is sweeping the world. There is immense confusion and frustration about communism among the masses. In this adverse situation, it is indeed a very difficult struggle to join communist movement, to achieve and save communist character. But Comrade Lukose had set an example as to how in such a difficult situation a communist conducts struggle to preserve communist character till the last breath. Comrade Radhakrishna has told you of the commendable struggle Comrade Lukose had conducted in the last phase of his life ignoring a disease-afflicted failing health. I have also observed some aspects of it. He never missed any Central Committee meeting despite his deteriorating health. He never stayed back on health ground. While staying at Shibpur centre, he used to discuss many theoretical questions. I went to Kerala twice when he became fully incapacitated. In one study class, I saw that comrades were lifting him on a chair to the venue so that he could listen to the class. He could not remain seated for long in a chair. So he was taken to an adjacent room. I thought he went there for taking rest. Later I came to know that he was listening from that room lying on the bed. Such was his quest for knowledge and eagerness to learn. Next time also I saw the same thing. He never said that he would not be able to attend any meeting because of ill health. He could not walk, could not even speak. But his brain was active, desire to know more was high. I did never see any expression of illness on his face. Even when he became unfit to move his limbs, eat, walk and even lie on the bed of his own effort, there was no imprint of such a grave illness on his face when he met the comrades or us. He had an ever smiling face. His eyes had remained shining all along. When I went to visit him for the last time, he requested me in an almost inaudible voice to look after the Kerala Party and take care of my health. Even for communicating this much, he needed help of other comrades who could make out what he was saying from the movement of his lips. I fully remember that. He could feel that his death was imminent. So, it is the duty of the Central Committee to look after Kerala State Party. That was not all. He also requested me to relieve him from the post of Kerala State Secretary and also drop him from the Central Committee. But here I disagreed with him. I said: You would certainly continue to be in the Central Committee because we need your advice and views. He agreed to it. While the sessions of the 3rdParty Congress were going on in Ghatsila last November, I saw many comrades were taking photos with their cameras. It is a normal thing now-a-days. At the end, when myself and Comrade Haidar were getting down from the dais, one comrade from Kerala who was taking photos came to us and told that comrade Lukose intended to talk to us. Then I came to know that Comrade Lukose saw the entire proceedings of the Party Congress through video, sometimes sitting and sometimes lying in bed. He followed the entire Party Congress and its deliberations. See how intense was his eagerness even being so seriously ill. I saw him in the video. He looked at us, smiled and gave us red salute. We also gave him red salute. I could feel this was his last red salute to us.
Comrades, how can I forget such a comrade. What a character! This has been a creation of Comrade Shibdas Ghosh Thought. He has been an example before all of us. Disease had to admit defeat before his revolutionary grit and determination. He defeated all pains associated with the disease. He defeated death also. He will remain in the hearts of the comrades of Kerala through generations as the builder of SUCI (Communist) in the state, the first one in south India. He will also ever live in the hearts of all the comrades of India. This character cannot be forgotten. He also taught a band of comrades how collective functioning is to be ensured on the basis of Comrade Shibdas Ghosh‘s teaching and keeping democratic centralism operative. I believe those comrades would stand like one man to fulfil the void created by this sad demise of Comrade Lukose and fulfil his unfinished tasks. That will be the showing of true respect to him.
Comrades I would like to tell one more thing. This I have discussed in other meetings also. I shall not enter into any other political point today. It is true that the strength of the Party is increasing. Wherever there is an attempt, wherever we can reach out Comrade Shibdas Ghosh Thought to the people, we have been getting response. Today all other parties are discredited, totally bankrupt on the question of principle. The social democratic parties like the undivided CPI and then the CPI (M) which once posed big hindrance to our advancement, are now digging their own grave. The CPI (M)is now begging at the doors of various bourgeoisie parties for a few parliamentary seats. Such is the condition of the CPI (M) now. Coming days would bring more scope and possibilities for our Party. But there is a caution in this regard. Great Lenin once said that spread of Marxism is associated with the lowering of ideological struggle. Not that it would happen inevitably. But the apprehension remains. When there are only a few, they need to struggle hard, overcome many stiff hindrances and fight against many adversities. In the process, they are more steeled with revolutionary ideology and become strong and sound. But when difficulties and hindrances are relatively less and success is easier to achieve, then the struggle to attain higher ideological standard and character tends to slacken. That is what great Lenin had warned about. Our comrades, leaders, young Central Committee members, the State Secretaries, District Secretaries all must conduct continuous struggle to lift their ideological and cultural standard. Juniors should not be blind about the seniors. If they notice any mistake on the part of the leaders, they must courageously point it out. Married comrades must fight if they found their spouses are making mistakes. They must also fight on the question of approach towards their sons and daughters. Please keep in mind that Marxism-Leninism -Shibdas Ghosh Thought is the only ideal, the only ray of hope in the present day world. The whole human civilization is in deep crisis today. Not only economic crisis, crisis of human values, human essence and morality. There is hardly anyone worth to be called MAN. This is the condition of the whole human race today. Amidst this pervading darkness, we have to save the Party, protect it and hold aloft the noble banner of Marxism-Leninism-Shibdas Ghosh Thought. The Party has to be made stronger. Mere increase in quantity will not do. What we need is quality. And to maintain quality, it is absolutely necessary to relentlessly conduct the struggle to lift our ideological-cultural standard. As taught by Comrade Shibdas Ghosh, do not spare anyone, not even the General Secretary to save the Party. With these words I like to read out an appeal of Comrade Shibdas Ghosh which is relevant today. At the memorial meeting of Comrade Subodh Banerjee, he said: “I said, that the coming days are very important to us. You are to build this party fast, within a very short period, with the political and organizational strength necessary to provide leadership to revolution. We could not have achieved this task earlier even if we had contemplated it. But now, with our present numerical strength, if all of us — each and every leader and cadre — strive to put it into reality, with adequate contemplation, we shall succeed to achieve it. To that end, every worker present here shall have to carry out his respective work without turning away from it, with individual initiative and intellect — no matter whether you can achieve it or not, you succeed or fail. Its method shall be that, on the one hand, you will be learning the party’s politics, and, on the other, you will make every effort to organize people in any sphere on the basis of this politics. …So, grasp the basic point — Indian revolution is on the threshold of emergence, and nothing of worth remains of this society — this you should realize. No longer the ruling class can give it any lease of life with any palliatives whatsoever. The Indian society is in the throes of birth. Only, it suffers from want of people’s organized conscious political movement, from want of a genuine revolutionary party with that minimum of necessary strength with which this ferment for revolution in the people, this situation ripe for revolution can be led into an organized protracted powerful war for revolution. In entirety the objective condition for revolution is ripe, with all its ingredients and ammunition. The people yearn for a change. The ruling class has nothing else to bank on, except the military muscle of this old order. They count also on people’s ignorance and political confusion, but that is not of any major importance. The reality puts so much pressure on the people that no confusing logic and delusions of religion can hold them back. Once the tide of revolution breaks out, no argument will succeed to prevent the onrush of the masses. …But what is lacking? It is that genuine revolutionary party, based on the correct revolutionary political line, ideology and comprehensive revolutionary theory with the minimum necessary strength. There is that party, it has developed — only it lacks in that strength with which it can channelize the outbursts of people’s agitations into the correct course on a definite revolutionary line for protracted battles. Fast you have to muster this strength — anyhow, at the cost of life even.”
This is the appeal of Comrade Shibdas Ghosh. Now go back from this meeting by taking necessary lessons from a rare communist character worth emulating like Comrade Lukose and carrying in your heart the appeal of our Great leader and teacher. With this, I end here.
Red salute Comrade C K Lukose!
Red salute our leader, teacher and guide Comrade Shibdas Ghosh!
Comrade Lukose lives undying in our hearts — K Radhakrishna
[Speech delivered by Comrade K Radhakrishna, Member, Polit Bureau, SUCI(C), at the memorial meeting of Comrade C K Lukose departed Polit Bureau Member, organized by the Central Committee of the Party at SaratSadan, Howrah, West Bengal, on 25 February 2019.]
Beloved Comrade Secretary, Members of the Polit Bureau and Central Committee on the dais and Comrades,
We have all gathered here to pay homage to Comrade C K Lukose. Already Comrade Venugopal has placed some of the aspects of the struggle of Comrade Lukose, and how he became the backbone of our Party, the genuine communist party on the soil, in Kerala, and he was first among the few who carried the banner of SUCI(Communist) and thoughts of Comrade Shibdas Ghosh in South India. Not only that, I think he was one of the very few from the south who could meet the great thinker Comrade Shibdas Ghosh. Maybe he had occasions to meet him once or twice. But among the few who were transformed by the thoughts of Comrade Shibdas Ghosh, Comrade Lukose was one. Already Comrade Venugopal has said that Comrade Lukose was an engineering student in the late 1960s and later he became a totally dedicated revolutionary whole-timer. In the year 1988, when the first state conference was held in Kerala, he became the State Secretary of the Party. Comrades all these have already been dealt with in details. My point, what I want to place before this house, is the struggle that he conducted uncompromisingly against his disease. He was afflicted with this disease about eight to ten years back. Later, whenever there used to be a Central Committee meeting, he was not able to travel alone from Kerala to Kolkata. So he used to come to Bangalore and both of us travelled together in the train. Again, we used to return to Bangalore by train and from there he used to go back alone to Kerala. As the years passed by, at times it became difficult for him to travel alone. So some junior comrades of Kerala accompanied him up to Bangalore and to go back. And then I accompanied him to Kolkata, and during the days of CC meetings, I used to stay with him. But Comrades during the entire period he never sought any help for himself. I found him having difficulties. But he performed everything himself. While going to bed or when he wanted to lie down on the bed for rest, he had difficulties because of his ailment. Even for getting up from the bed, he faced problems. But still he never sought any help and determinedly tried to do everything himself. Even, he carried his own luggage. He was so independent. At times I helped him. I did try. I could not keep quiet. But I understood the medical advice was that he should perform his work himself. He should not become dependent. So unless it was very indispensable, I did not help him. I only watched him performing his task with a lot of difficulty. But never I found in him any disappointment or frustration. But I used to get agonized. And in the last few years, as Comrade Venugopal has said, he not only lost his mobility, he started losing his ability to speak also. And many times, he would write his opinion and then send it to the General Secretary, Comrade Provash Ghosh. Whenever he wanted to write something, he used to call me. I used to go to Ernakulam, or to Trivandrum. There was a particular time when, after taking medicines, he could talk with a lot of difficulties. May be for half an hour he could sit and it was extremely difficult to understand the words he was speaking. With a lot of difficulties it could be made out what he was saying. But he never lost heart. And it was a great effort on my part to pick up his words, word by word. Maybe, he could finish one paragraph in half an hour. Then he got exhausted and he went to take rest. Again, after some time, he came back and completed the entire letter. Comrades, in this course, I had seen that he needed assistance of two comrades for keeping his mobility. It could be day time, night time or for walking a few steps. It was impossible for him to walk alone. But even when he was in such a torturous condition, I found his thinking was intact, so uncompromising, always guided by the thoughts of Comrades Shibdas Ghosh. At least I could not detect anything else. Even when he debated on any issue, he remained very scientific and precise. But Comrades, during the last few years, at least in the last one year or so, even that ability of speech also was going away. It was truly agonizing. I could only recall the famous scientist Stephen Hawking who was affected with motor neuron disorder. He was also not able to talk for years together. He passed away recently. But at least he was able to convey his ideas and emotions with the help of his fingers. He used to type something and thus was able to convey his ideas, thoughts and feelings. What was most agonizing in case of Comrade Lukose was that he was not able to convey his thoughts or emotion also during the last phase of his life. He could not write. He could not speak. Only at times, I found his eyes were speaking. Normally, hardly something was seen in the eyes. But when he wanted to convey something, we could find his eyes despite all difficulties, expressive. And now Comrades, I can tell you that his spirit was very undying. As Comrade Venugopal has aptly told, his age was not of death. 71 years today is nothing. His was indeed an untimely demise. The disease took away his life — a very, very valuable life. It is not only a loss for our Kerala Party (unit) or at all-India Party level but a great loss for the entire working class of the country. But then there ought to be a very hard struggle by all of us to fill up the void, the gap created by his death. The Kerala Party has to stand up and face the challenge of the time. Comrades, as taught by Comrade Shibdas Ghosh it is our pledge to fulfil the dreams of Comrade Lukose who lives undying in our hearts. With these words, I conclude here.
Long live Comrade C K Lukose !
Turning grief into determination, we shall continue to hold aloft the banner of Marxism-Leninism-Shibdas Ghosh Thought — V Venugopal
[This is the speech delivered by Comrade V Venugopal, member, Central Committee and Kerala State Secretary, SUCI(C), at the memorial meeting of Comrade C K Lukose, departed Polit Bureau Member of the Party, convened by the Central Committee, on 25 February 2019 at Sarat Sadan, Howrah, West Bengal]
Comrade President, Comrade General Secretary, Members of the Polit Bureau and other leaders on the dais,
Comrade Lukose had been suffering from Parkinsonism for quite long, the symptoms of which was found about eight to ten years back. And of late it took a very serious turn. He became almost immobile and unable to speak, unable to gesture even. But still in Kerala our party had been taking all care to nurse him, to keep him in good spirit. And he also, his thinking or concepts not having been affected a bit was mentally very active in day to day activities in the Party as well as the day to day political development. That on 13 February his demise will come — actually nobody was able to gather. But it happened. In Kerala as well as on the national plane, we had to lose him at this age. He was 71 years old. But it is not a very old age to die in these days. Anyhow we have to reckon with the fact. The whole Party, including thousands of supporters and sympathizers of the Party and thousands of workers who are organized by the Party and with whom the Party has always shown solidarity in each and every of their movements was put to grief very much. Comrade Lukose had a distinctive role, distinctive as well as leading role in establishing the Party of the proletariat in Kerala, particularly, and also South India as a whole. Actually, in Kerala we lost, so far as the state alone is concerned, not only a leading figure but also a guardian under whom hundreds of cadres and activists of the Party wholeheartedly took up their revolutionary activities for our beloved Party, trained and geared by Comrade Shibdas Ghosh. It is about fifty years since our party SUCI(Communist) has been working in Kerala. The initial years in the late 60s and early 70s were very telling because an entirely new brand of communism was introduced in the state, which was unknown to the type of communism prevailing in Kerala for a long time then, that was represented by CPI and CPI(M) and also in the late 60s by Naxalite CPI(ML). A few students of Quilon Engineering College came and took up the task and being inspired by the great thoughts of Comrade Shibdas Ghosh they started a struggle not on intellectual plane only but in their life, which was then a new attempt in Kerala at developing into a revolutionary. Comrade C K Lukose was one among them. It was really a great struggle, an intense struggle and painstaking struggle. So far the South was concerned it was a struggle which did not shape up anywhere before that. They tried to even organizing poor people and workers also, but more than that to build up a communist character was the focal point of the struggle. Being imbibed by Comrade Shibdas Ghosh’s idea of professional revolutionary, they undertook in their life — giving up everything — to organize the revolutionary party of the proletariat, which is essential in organizing revolutionaries in any country. Many of them were not earlier connected with politics. Rather, being attracted by the philosophy of Marxism-Leninism which was enriched and developed by Comrade Shibdas Ghosh, a new struggle was taken up. That was the most important thing. Young people came and gave up their career, education and everything, taking up revolutionary struggle. I must say that several comrades tried it, and in the following years several comrades came and tried their best to continue the struggle. Everyone could not continue, so some of them went back, some of them failed, some of them stumbled and fell. But Comrade Lukose was gradually coming up and taking up the struggle very persistently and continuously for the necessity of the Party at each moment. He took decision on giving up whatever personal he had got and ultimately he became successful in developing as a full time and professional revolutionary. This I said because not that he was the only man who came to the Party then, but he was the only man who persistently pursued the struggle. By the time he decided to join the party he was a married man. Very patiently as well as with due regard and respect he made his family also to take to and recognize the Party and brought them to the Party as comrades and companions. Gra-dually the party expanded in Kerala. Comrade Lukose provided leadership in formulating the party line and in analysing the political situation in the state. You know the development of a party body was also dependent on his struggle. The Kerala State Committee of the Party which we have now is the product of decades of struggle, where day-by-day the committee was enriched. The committee was brought up on the principle of Democratic Centralism with Comrade Lukose as leader, and actually in Kerala the number of cadres that we could build up almost every year without fail increased, new cadres came and took up activities for the Party. It was all because of the model struggle which was shown by Comrade C K Lukose. He, in my experience, what I felt, was: he cared for his colleagues, he respected his colleagues and he was very much particular to train his colleagues on so many scores. So what happened was that a band of very efficient political cadres were built, political leaders were built by Comrade C K Lukose. And also he was mainly responsible to bring out our political organ Unity in Malayalam. The editorial committee was led by Comrade Lukose, and we developed a band of relatively good writers, political writers. Similarly, he was the man who took the lead to organize children in the state. Particularly, a Komsomol wing was organized in Kerala, and also a broader children organization, called ‘Prachodana’, was organized in which hundreds of children enrolled every year and a new culture, character, a new knowledge, understanding about great people, scientists, and a scientific mind was created. He began to be called by children as ‘Valyappa’ (grand-father). He was very endearing to hundreds of children in the state. In the same way he gave guidance to build our women’s organization also. He was able to influence his own family, his wife Lalitha Mathew became a very good activist until recently when affected by rheumatoid arthritis she could no more freely move at all. She became the member of the Party and she took the responsibility as the President of our women’s wing AIMSS. He also tried to involve children in our Party activities. Now they are very good well-wishers and supporters of the Party. Similarly, his life so far as those aspiring to become real communists are concerned could very well be an example. He was a model. So, comrades, no doubt our whole Party has lost a very good leading cadre. But Kerala has lost the very backbone of the state. But daily by his own endeavour Comrade Lukose has produced the band of comrades who can come up, take over and carry forward the movement further.
In Kerala when the Party was constituted initially in the early seventies, it was not at all a known party. Comrade Shibdas Ghosh or SUCI(C) were unknown names even for other parties of our state. CPI (M)’s attempt to attack us or resist the growth of our party was to brand SUCI(C) as terrorists and Naxalites. In the initial phase, to some extent, they could successfully do it also. But gradually in Kerala when the type of Marxism presented by CPI (M) and CPI are in such a pathetic condition, the really left minded people could understand our Party and we arenow having a large section of well- meaning people supporting our Party.
It was Comrade Lukose’s idea upon which we that is, the Kerala State Committee took initiative to form ‘Janakeeya Pratirodha Samiti’. That was an organization above caste or community, or even political party basis also, to fight for common cause. With the idea some of the leading figures of the state were impressed. For long 25 years Justice VR Krishna Iyer remained its President and under the banner of People’s Resistance Committee very big movements, several movements were conducted in the state of Kerala. Some of the leading figures came and participated in the movements on the street. It was very well thought out idea by our Comrade C K Lukose. Today, SUCI (Communist) is a countable force in Kerala. Wherever genuine people’s movements are there, people know that SUCI(C) will be there. Whenever any section of the people will come to us and ask our advice or our leadership we are ready to offer it.
The prestige that we have gained is tremendous as a Party of people’s movements. All these achievements we made with Comrade Lukose in the forefront. Even when he was bedridden, even when he could not move at all, he had valuable and living ideas which he would convey to us. For about two years he became totally immobile. For this period our party developed a band of comrades to nurse him round the clock, 24 hours. They worked day in and day out to care for him and nurse him. All this time it was found whenever leading comrades went and visited him, many of our central leaders including our General Secretary in the meantime visited Kerala and met him, it was a very inspiring occasion to him. He never thought that his illness is to affect his thoughts. Rather, even while he was in his last days – when nobody actually supposed that he is going to be no more so soon — but whatever issues were there, whenever we could somehow apprise him of an issue, convey the issue to him, he used to give his analysis, he used to give his explanations which were very much valuable for us. So until the last he never thought that his illness has become a block in the path of responsibility he has to fulfil. Rather, even while he was immobile almost, he tried to regain his lost abilities through whatever little movements he could do; with that he used to exercise and all. He is an all-out example, so to speak. He was an example of permanently active, permanently active means he could not be seen a single second passing without work, activities; he was a workaholic, so to say, and cult of knowledge that he created in the party was also very big. We had a set of comrades, or generally in the whole party there was a good atmosphere of theoretical cult, where comrades would read not only Comrade Shibdas Ghosh’s works but classics also, right from Marx, Engels. Many comrades used to read out such works to him till his end. He handled a column in Unity: ‘Theoretical Lessons’ where every month he would bring out this or that chapter or life of a revolutionary and discuss on that. All could, particularly, children and lady comrades could go to him whenever some difficulties arose in life. They could go with satisfaction. So when in his last journey, we could see that even very small children could not console themselves. And those people from outside who came and attended the funeral they wondered: what is the relationship that this man has been maintaining with the many hundreds of people assembled who broke out in tears. Actually, he was very close to all of us. He is a very good model for how one can win his family members also if you persistently try. Some not really close he made come to take some responsibilities in their own capacity with love, regard and all. He was a leader who could interact with ladies most democratically giving everybody her due share of respect. Inside the party the democratic atmosphere in which women were given their due and due respect, stands out. Comrade Lukose was very particular about that. In short, in Kerala the party has lost a very leading figure creating a void which it is very difficult to fill all on a sudden. But again, there is one thing that we have developed a very good State Committee guided by Comrade C K Lukose which can take up the challenge also. At a national level we lost a very good national leader. He used to look after Tamil Nadu also on behalf of the Central Committee. Comrade C K Lukose was the pioneer in South India who took up Comrade Shibdas Ghosh Thought and transformed his life entirely into that of a working class leader, a revolutionary and set an example to all of the working class in our area, at least in the South. This you can say certainly. The life of his was very precious. As Comrade Shibdas Ghosh taught us, there is only one way i.e. turning grief into determination. In Kerala we are trying for that. We are sure that we will win in the struggle. His life and struggle will be permanent examples before us. We shall continue to carry the flag of Comrade Shibdas Ghosh Thought as Comrade Lukose did.
Long Live Comrade C K Lukose!
Long Live Revolution!