(This is the English translation of the speech delivered online in Bengali by Comrade Provash Ghosh, General Secretary, SUCI(C), at the Martyrs’ Day observance programme held on 31 August 2021 at Jaynagar, South 24 Parganas, West Bengal. Responsibility of translation error and inadequacy of expression, if any, lies with the Editorial Board of Proletarian Era.)
It is very painful for me not to be physically present in today’s programme and opt for addressing online from far away. At the outset, I offer red salute to Comrade Rabin Mandal, President of the programme, and presently the only surviving revolutionary leader who imbued with Comrade Shibdas Ghosh Thought had organized legendary peasants’ struggles in the district of South 24 Parganas, West Bengal, in the 1950s and 1960s. I also offer red salute to all the revolutionaries who being spurred on by the teachings of Comrade Shibdas Ghosh had organized class and mass struggles and, in course of that, embraced glorious martyrdom or have passed away because of old age or affliction by serious disease.
The purpose for which this programme has been organized i.e. release of a book on the tale of glory of the valiant peasants’ struggle in the district of South 24 Parganas might appear trivial and limited to many. But in the inexorable course of history, it has tremendous significance and enormous importance. This book may not be voluminous. But in it have been described, though not in full, many incidents and narrations of a historic struggle which are having immense significance. I know that not a single media would cover this programme or write about this book.
Our Party is highly indebted to the district of South 24 Parganas, this Jaynagar town and the surrounding rural heartland. In history, there are of places and days which apparently do not seem to be that important. But when judged in a particular context, and because of certain specific reasons, they assume immense significance. The places where the religious preachers of ancient times had initiated their spiritual practice are enshrined in the pages of history. Likewise, venues where the flames of renaissance were first ignited, thereafter from where the French Revolution had sprouted, the Paris Commune was organized, and great leaders like Marx and Engels had enunciated the ideology of scientific socialism, great Lenin had formed the Bolshevik Party through a convention or the dates when Communist Manifesto was first published, when the Soviet Revolution had achieved victory, when great Stalin took pledge to protect and advance socialism following Leninist guidelines, when the Red army under the stewardship of Stalin launched and won the anti-fascist war or Mao Zedong, the architect of Chinese Revolution, founded the Communist Party of China and began his historic long route march–each of all these spots and days occupies distinct a place in history. Similarly, the days on which the Indian renaissance movement was initiated by Rammohan and further advanced by Vidyasagar in our country, the place where the revolutionaries of Indian freedom movement had held their first meeting and the dates on which the martyrs embraced the gallows holding their heads high, are written in golden letters on the pages of history. Likewise, many places begone with the memories of Rabindranath, Saratchandra, Deshbandhu, Netaji Subhas, Bhagat Singh and others are regarded peerless in history.
Similarly, the first genuine revolutionary party of the proletariat on this soil of India based on Marxism-Leninism was founded in the Jaynagar town on 24 April 1948. From that point of view, Jaynagar would occupy a permanent space in history. At that time, Comrade Shibdas Ghosh had said– ‘when I realized that the freedom movement of our country was not going to be led to its logical culmination and a capitalist rule in place of an imperialist colonial rule was going to be established in India because of absence of a genuine communist party, I took upon myself the responsibility of forming such a revolutionary party. I had only a handful of revolutionary compatriots with me. All other left parties then taunted us. They used to say, ‘you won’t succeed’. ‘You have no manpower, no resources, no press-publicity’. At that time, I went without food for days. I had no shelter to stay. But I was firm to pursue what I have understood as truth. I shall die fighting, shall fight while dying. May be, I would die under a tree. May be, no one would even know about my death. But if there is truth in my struggle, history would give recognition to that one day.’
At that time meaning in the mid-1940s, Comrade Sachin Banerjee, another revolutionary from Jaynagar carrying the legacy of martyr Kanailal Bhattacharyya, joined him in this struggle. Earlier, Comrade Nihar Mukherjee had joined him. Comrade Sachin Banerjee brought Comrade Shibdas Ghosh to Jaynagar and provided him a place to stay. Comrade Sachin Banerjee had been a fighter of the uncompromising revolutionary trend of our freedom struggle and formed a club in Jaynagar by assembling quite a number of youths. He placed Comrade Shibdas Ghosh as a teacher before them. On 24 April 1948, the flag of the SUCI(Communist) was first hoisted in this town of Jaynagar. The founding convention of the Party was held at ‘Rup O Arup’ hall here. Later, I have also conducted meeting in that hall. I have been to Jaynagar and Kultali many times. This hall is situated on the way. Every time I passed by that hall, I tried to remember that historic occasion of Party foundation. I also know that many of our comrades from different states and districts as well as foreign delegates who come to Kolkata, also cherish the desire to come to this town and see this hall. All of them are overwhelmed with deep emotion and profound respect. The name of this hall will remain ever-glowing in the pages of history.
As I have already mentioned, Comrade Shibdas Ghosh had said that he might die of starvation and no one might be aware of his death. Yet he had a firm conviction that if that if there were any truth in his struggle, in his mission for revolution, history would acknowledge that one day. We know history does have given him recognition. No media has conveyed his message, has given any coverage of his thoughts, life and struggle. The Party he had founded is making bold strides ahead–not based on the strength of MLAS, MPs, governmental power or monetary resource, but on the strength of correct revolutionary ideology and cultivation of truth. History has proved time and again that truth is invincible, irresistible and decisive. Today, thousands of Party workers in 28 provinces are carrying the teachings of Comrade Shibdas Ghosh in their hearts and organizing people’s movements. Where are those parties which one day had derided Comrade Ghosh? RCPI has no existence. The RSP and Forward Bloc are on the way to extinction. The CPI (M) which had run the government in the state uninterruptedly for 34 years and became power-mad, is now limping, holding the hands of the Congress on the one side and their newly-found ‘secular’ friend Pirzada on the other. It is frantically searching for young blood to regain vitality. The miserable state these parties are in, devoid of ideology or principles and hankering for power, is no surprise but destined to happen as per laws of history.
In this region of Kultali, Mathurapur and Jaynagar of this district strewn with rivers, severe oppression and repression by the zamindars (feudal landlords) had been going on right from the days of the British rule. Later, during the Congress rule, those feudal lords turned into jotedars or rural bourgeoisie. With the help of the police and their private armed footmen, they used to oppress and repress the poor peasants, sharecroppers and agricultural workers. The poor people of these areas presumed these are all fait accompli, the result of the sins committed in previous birth and as will of the almighty. There would be no respite from these ruthless exploitation and repression. So they submitted to those without a word. The air was rent with the wails of so many helpless women. At that time, Comrades Sachin Banerjee, Subodh Banerjee and thereafter Yakub Pailan, Rabin Mandal, who is present here, Renupada Halder and later Amir Ali Halder, Nalini Pramanik, Aminuddin Akhand and such others had moved from one village to another, awakened and roused the rural poor with Comrade Shibdas Ghosh Thought. As a result of this, a heroic and death-defying struggle had surged forth in the entire belt for the first time based on Marxism-Leninism-Shibdas Ghosh Thought. Peasants’ struggle had taken place earlier also in the various provinces of this country even during the British rule. But this was the region from where peasants’ struggle and mass movement in the right direction based on correct application of Marxism-Leninism and inspired by Comrade Shibdas Ghosh Thought had augured in this country. From that perspective also, the district of South 24 Parganas carries a glorious heritage.
In my student life in 1951, I had gone to this district. Comrade Rabin Mandal and others were then leaders and myself an ordinary Party worker. I saw that not only the men-folk but even women also strived hard to make the struggles victorious and protect Comrade Rabin Mandal and others from the police atrocities. The women even had fought pitched battle against the police. They had endured torture, went to jail, shed blood and even sacrificed life to realize their just demands and wrest their legitimate rights. In this way, a strong mass belt of the SUCI(C) was established here. In this backdrop, this place has a historic tradition.
This district has also set an example as to how to courageously fight in the face of bullet disdaining fear and threat, how to shed blood and embrace martyrdom to uphold the cause of the suffering humanity being imbued with the teachings of Comrade Shibdas Ghosh. Now our comrades are conducting blood-soaked struggles in various provinces and becoming martyrs. But the first examples were set by this district.
From this district, Comrade Subodh Banerjee, being guided by Comrade Shibdas Ghosh Thought, was elected to the West Bengal assembly. After becoming an MLA, he had shown, based on Lenin’s teachings, how to expose the real character of bourgeois democracy and how to intensify extra-parliamentary movements conducive to revolutionary movement. He showed that not election, but revolution is the only way to establish a society free from exploitation. Later Comrades Rabin Mandal, Renupada Halder and Prabodh Purokait were elected as MLAs. They all played the same role under the leadership of Comrade Subodh Banerjee. Comrade Subodh Banerjee became minister of the United Front Government twice in 1967 and1969. As a representative of this district to the assembly, he, based on the teachings of Comrade Shibdas Ghosh, had shown how one can work in the interest of revolution even being a minister. The CPI (M) was also in that ministry. But they wanted to run the government in the manner the Congress did. When a question was raised whether the police of the United Front government would suppress the struggles of the peasants and workers as well as the legitimate mass movements, Comrade Subodh Banerjee as a worthy student and revolutionary compatriot of Comrade Shibdas Ghosh firmly said: “No. As Communists, as revolutionaries, we cannot allow police to interfere in or crush legitimate democratic movements.” Because, during Lenin’s time, there was no occasion of any communist party member getting opportunity to be a minister in a bourgeois set up. Lenin taught that so long people are not disillusioned positively about election, revolutionaries would have to take part in election and try to enter bourgeois parliament to make people free from parliamentary illusion. At the same time, they needed to conduct class and mass struggles outside parliament. But if there is a situation when the leftists-communists are in a position to form government, how can that government be used to intensify class and mass struggles as well as accelerate revolution? Answer to this question is not available in Lenin’s teachings because Lenin did not come across such a situation. It was Comrade Shibdas Ghosh who provided the answer for the first time. This too is a historical teaching of his. Comrade Subodh Banerjee implemented that teaching. Following that, there was tide of workers’–peasants’ struggles and mass democratic movements in West Bengal. Impact of those was felt in other states also. Frightened, the capitalists began to pressurise the CPI (M), CPI and other constituents of the United Front to remove Comrade Subodh Banerjee, the representative of the SUCI(C), from the post of labour minister. Succumbing to that pressure, the other parties of the United Front denied labour ministry to Comrade Subodh Banerjee in the second UF government in 1969 and he was allotted the PWD portfolio. Yet our Party did not quit the UF government–not because of lure of ministry but with a view to sustaining implementation of the declared policy of non-interference of police in democratic mass movement.
As PWD minister, Comrade Subodh Banerjee, as a part of giving due recognition to the revolutionaries of Indian Freedom movement, took initiative to install the first statue of Shaheed Kshudiram. As an emblem of blazing youthful spirit, this statue near Calcutta High Court is a fount of inspiration to the revolutionaries. The sculptor of this statue was Comrade Tapas Dutta, another student of Comrade Shibdas Ghosh. Thus, a beginning was made to erect statues of the revolutionaries at that time. This role was also very important. Later, on being elected to the state assembly, Comrade Debaprasad Sarkar also played the same revolutionary role. After him, Comrade Tarun Naskar also maintained that legacy.
From this very district of South 24 Parganas, Comrade Chitta Roy was elected to the parliament in 1967 and played similar revolutionary role. Later in 2009, Comrade Tarun Mandal became an MP from the same constituency and established a shining example of how a revolutionary discharges his due role in the parliament. All these created history in this country.
I myself have gone to many villages and localities in Jaynagar, Kultali, Mathurapur, Mandirbazar, Pathar Pratima and Canning from 1951 onwards. Those who have passed away or became martyrs were very intimately known to me. I carry within myself the pain of their demise even today. I am very much inspired by them. I have come across many struggling women, many fighting women from the peasant families, many vibrant youths. At that time, there were not very many people here with formal academic qualifications. But people then were very honest and upright. They never questioned how many MPs or MLAs the SUCI(C) had. Whether the SUCI(C) was in the government or in the Panchayat. If the SUCI(C) was getting backing of the police-administration or not. People then used to raise their head high and jumped into struggle responding to the appeal of revolution, appeal of truth ingrained in the teachings of Comrade Shibdas Ghosh. During the course of their courageous struggle, so many hundreds of people were attacked and assaulted, repeatedly put behind the bars. So much of blood was shed in the villages. Some of the valiant fighters were killed by the Congress. Maximum number of people were killed by the CPI (M) during its rule. The Trinamool Congress is also creating terror and murdering our comrades so that this nerve-centre of revolution is smashed and the SUCI(C), the revolutionary party of the proletariat in India, is reduced to non-existence here. But it is already proved that by flexing muscle power and money power, by luring the voters with sops, freebies and cash, the SUCI(C) can be defeated in the election but cannot be erased from the minds of the poor people. So today, when many of our erstwhile illustrious leaders are dead, many leading comrades are killed, many others are serving life-term on being framed in false cases and the SUCI(C) candidates are being defeated in the elections, the influence of the SUCI(C) is in every village household. No one could erase that. Even today, there is a cry from their heart that the SUCI(C) be strengthened and again gives leadership to their struggles.
Today we are passing through various crises and adversities. You are aware that worldwide, capitalism-imperialism is ridden with acute irresolvable crisis. In our country also, economic-political-social-cultural-ethical-moral crises have assumed severe proportions. Humanity has never faced all-out crisis of such a magnitude. Unemployment and job loss started from the Congress rule. Now, in the BJP regime, the number of unemployed and retrenched persons have increased by several crores. Lakhs of industries are closing down. None of these would reopen. The bourgeois governments have been on a spree to sell out all public sector industries like mines, steel factories, railways, roads etc. built with people’s money to monopoly houses and multi-nationals. Now the ruling BJP government is nakedly serving the class interest of the monopoly giants and multi-nationals. So, while on the one hand, the profit of the corporate houses and top industrialists is multiplying several fold, multitudes of poor people are being pauperized. Crores of impoverished countrymen are begging in the streets. Lakhs of children are born on the footpaths. They do not know who are their parents. Right from childhood, they are begging to survive. The homeless millions have become footpath-dwellers. The boys and girls from villages are frantically searching for jobs. They are ready to work at any paltry wage. But where are jobs? No job is available. So, there is spurt in theft, robbery, burglary, murders, trafficking of women and children. Such is the condition. Prices of essential commodities are rising steeply. While a handful of monopolist tycoons like Ambani-Adani-Tata-Birla-Jindal-Mittal are accumulating heaps of wealth, crores of people are becoming wretched and destitute. This is capitalism. Comrade Shibdas Ghosh had founded this Party to overthrow this ruthlessly exploitative capitalism by revolution.
The BJP government has not taken due initiative in time to prevent harrowing spread of corona virus. This virus had originated in Wuhan province of China. If air, road or water transport to and from Wuhan would have been suspended right at the outset, this deadly virus would not have been transmitted to the entire world including India. Such a huge number of people would not have been afflicted by the disease and so many millions of precious lives would not have been lost. But the capitalists of India and other countries did not suspend business transactions with Wuhan in their commercial interest. Their greed for maximum profit entailed such a big catastrophe. The ruling bourgeoisie is spending huge public money for augmenting military power and police force. The ministers, MPs and MLAs are also making huge money. But the number of hospitals are not increasing. There is acute shortage of qualified doctors, nursing staff and medicines. In fact, there is hardly any scope for medical treatment of myriads of countrymen. Thousands are dying of Covid 19 without treatment. So many dead bodies are found floating in the rivers. Even there has been no attempt to pool all the resources and assemble all the eminent doctors and scientists of the world under one umbrella to confront this deadly virus. On the contrary, the pharmaceutical multinationals have found a golden opportunity to make fabulous profit.
Capitalism is bringing down attacks on other spheres as well in our country. The government is opening the entire agricultural sector to the monopoly houses for profit maximization at the cost of the peasants. A historic peasants’ movement against this sinister move is going on for last ten months at the borders of Delhi. Days are in the offing when the peasants would possess no land, no right on the agricultural produce. Apart from that, big business houses would capture the entire crop procurement and distribution system. So the entire agricultural market would be at their disposal. In result, crores of small shop-owners, vendors and retail traders would be ruined.
At least the people of South 24 Parganas need to be aware of another menacing attack. There is no guarantee that the place where you are conducting this meeting would remain intact after 50 to 70 years. Profit-greed of capitalism is causing ecological disbalance, global warming, melting of glaciers, air pollution, reckless deforestation, depletion of ozone-layer, rise in sea levels, geological disorder etc. entailing frequent super-cyclones, abnormal increase in temperature, excessive rain, periodic floods, persistent drought, conversion of green fields into deserts, and devastating ocean waves like Tsunami. It might so happen that the Ganga, Padma and other rivers might cease to exist. The seas might devour a vast stretch of coastal areas and swamp rural and urban habitats. These natural calamities are all endowments of capitalism.
Capitalism is attacking from all sides. It is destroying human conscience, ethics and morality. Family life is ridden with this or that trouble. Love, affection, tender feelings of heart–all such finer senses are eroding fast. Old parents are deserted by the children to grab property or disown responsibility of taking care of them. There is concerted effort on the part of the establishment to dehumanize people, particularly the youths by encouraging consumption of liquor, drugs, proliferation of pornography and sex-perversion. Consumerist mindset is being deeply entrenched in them. News of rape, gang rape and child assault are galore in the pages of newspapers. A six month old girl child to an 80 year old lady–no one is spared. Even fathers are raping daughters. Such debauchery and senseless slavery of instinct are not seen even in the animal world. What is not covered in the media is more dangerous. Human beings are being made inhuman in every respect. Their character is demolished. These depraved human beings do not carry the heritage of Rammohan, Vidyasagar, Nazrul, Vivekananda, Rabindranath, Bhagat Singh, Netaji Subhas or Kshudiram nor do they remember them. The glamorous film stars and fabulously wealthy sportspersons are projected as role models. Unpalatable stories of their scandals are highlighted. This is how the conscience of the youths is being destroyed. This is a deep conspiracy to ensure that no one worth the name man is left to rise up against injustice, spearhead protest movements against evil design of the ruling class. Such an environment is being created. So entire humanity is facing a monstrous attack from the imperialists-capitalists in every sphere of life. The only ideology which can emancipate humanity from the yoke of such attack is Marxism-Leninism-Shibdas Ghosh Thought based on which our Party is carrying on struggles, developing movements in various parts of the country. We are playing a significant role in the ongoing peasants’ movement in Delhi. Our comrades are actively involved in that movement. Similarly, they are building up mass movements in many other provinces.
In South 24 Parganas, the Congress had killed many of our activists and leaders. The CPI (M) had killed many more of our comrades including front-ranking highly respected peasant leaders. Even the TMC is now bringing down murderous attack on us. Their only objective is to wipe out the revolutionary party. We do not run after having MPs or MLAs by hook or by crook. Once the CPI (M) and then the TMC offered ministership to our MLAs from this district. But we did not agree giving up ideology and principles. Because Comrade Shibdas Ghosh had founded this Party, reared and steered it for developing people’s movement, for bringing about emancipation of the oppressed and poor masses by accomplishing anti-capitalist socialist revolution and not for securing ministerial berths or having MLAs or MPs at any cost.
As per the teachings of Comrade Shibdas Ghosh, we need moral strength and higher character. To us, one Kshudiram, one Kanailal Bhattacharyya, one Bagha Jatin, one Ashfaqulla, one Pritilata are much more valuable, much more precious than 50 or 100 odd MLAs or MPs. In this way, we are grooming our workers based on Comrade Shibdas Ghosh’s teachings. Here lies our strength. The CPI (M) being driven by power-madness had once brought down so many attacks on us; killed so many of our comrades. But where is that CPI (M) today? Once dislodged from power, it has lost everything. But we have not been growing on the strength of governmental power or number of MLAs and MPs. Our strength lies in our ideology, higher ethics and morality. So our Party is not breaking down but boldly moving ahead.
I would not take much time today. I only like to add that those veterans who are alive today have also been steeled through participation in a host of class and mass struggles. The progenies of those who have passed away or became martyrs are also very much alive. To them, I would say that their ancestors, their parents, their near and dear ones had set up glowing examples by responding to the call of revolutionary ideology and joined the movement of emancipation of the toiling millions. They were not lured by lucre or ran after power. Similarly today, the CPI (M) has destroyed the tradition of conducting struggle with valour against injustice and oppression which West Bengal was known for, by practising heinous politics of handing out undue privileges and favours to reap electoral benefits. It has maligned leftism. Now the TMC and other bourgeois parties are doing the same thing. Keep them away with abhorrence. If someone gets something by selling out conscience and human essence, would one call that a righteous gain? In fact, that is similar to losing something. Please recall what the great men of history whom you respect had taught us, what examples they had set worth emulating.
The BJP is fomenting communal divide between the Hindus and the Muslims, precipitating casteist-ethnic-parochial rift to drive a wedge into the fighting unity of the people. In our Party, no one is known by his caste, religion or region. There is no division between tribals and non-tribals. We are all oppressed exploited human beings. That is our sole identity. We believe that this society is divided between two classes–the exploiters and the exploited. The ruling bourgeoisie is the exploiting class while the working class and other sections of toiling the masses are the expoited. It is this unity of the exploited masses that we want to build up.
My last appeal is to the next generation of the fighters of the bygone days as well as their neighbours and others who are alive. Stand courageously against injustice and oppression. Set up examples like your predecessors. Hold aloft the flag of revolution. Strengthen the SUCI(C) and organize democratic mass movements. Intensification of mass and class struggles alone will pave the way to anti-capitalist socialist revolution. There is no other alternative to end this gruelling oppression and repression. This is the demand of the hour. With this, I conclude by offering my revolutionary greetings to all of you.