Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee speaking at the meeting;
Benoy Konar, Biman Basu and Jyoti Basu on the dais.

THE 119th anniversary of the birth of Comrade Muzaffar Ahmad, commonly known to communists in India as ‘Kakababu’, was commemorated with appropriate dignity at the Mahajati Sadan in Kolkata on August 5. The meeting was attended by the almost entire state CPI(M) leadership and had central committee member of the CPI(M) Benoy Konar in the chair. This year’s Muzaffar Ahmad book awards went to historians K N Panikkar and Jayantanuja Bandyopadhyay.

In his address, senior CPI(M) leader and former Bengal chief minister Jyoti Basu said that Comrade ‘Kakababu’ and his compatriots in the Communist Party were forced to negotiate tough hurdles on the way to Party building. The Communist Party was repeatedly banned. Its top leadership incarcerated and made to face a series of false charges; they were implicated, again falsely, in ‘conspiracy cases’ and were identified as ‘anti-national.’


The communist leaders and workers were subjected to brutal police torture in and outside of jails. They were beaten up, shot down, and had long jail sentences slapped on them. Yet, the work of Party building and widening mass contact went on. The Communist Party became stronger through class and mass struggles. Comrade Muzaffar had written extensively on the formative years of the Communist Party in India and these are essential readings for younger generations of CPI(M) leaders and workers.

Reminiscing Jyoti Basu said that he had met Comrade Muzaffar Ahmad when he came back from England in 1940. Comrade Muzaffar’s reputation had preceded him, said Jyoti Basu, for ‘Kakababu’ was already in touch with the Third International and with British Communist leaders like Harry Polit and Rajani Palme Dutt. Jyoti Basu said that he had many things to gain knowledge of and learn from Comrade ‘Kakababu.’

Jyoti Basu pointed out that in 1940, the Bengal unit of the Communist Party had but four thousand members. The total membership in 2007 exceeds three lakh. The CPI(M) is dedicated to the task of building up of a classless, exploitation-free society, something about which Comrade Muzaffar had dreamed.


The CPI(M) is proud that there exist in India now three Left Front governments — in Kerala, Tripura, and in Bengal. The first communist government in Kerala in 1959 was not allowed to function and was undemocratically toppled. In 1977, the CPI(M), too, had not been very sure that the LF government would be allowed to run here. Jyoti Basu iterated something he had been emphasising for some time now. It is important to realise, that many people yet continue to vote against the CPI(M) and the Left Front and some of them are poor people. All-out efforts should be made to draw them into the ambit of the CPI(M) and the Left Front. They must be approached, their critique listened to with quiet dignity, and they must be told the achievement and the failures of the Left Front government, and the reasons why.

Jyoti Basu expressed his happiness at the manner in which the present Bengal chief minister Buddhadeb was free and frank in discussing before the people the attainments and the non-starters of the Bengal Left Front government: this is how it should be for a government where the Communist Party plays such a crucial role. This will make the Party invincible for the enemies. Jyoti Basu said that the CPI(M)’s organisational expansion in the north of the country was lagging behind than in the southern states. The Party conferences coming up must be utilised to make the Party base wider and stronger, he concluded, and noted that in this manner the best tribute would be paid to the memory of the communist pioneer Comrade Muzaffar Ahmad.


State secretary of the Bengal unit of the CPI(M) Biman Basu started on a critical note by saying that 100 per cent of the membership of the Bengal CPI(M) was fully and comprehensively equipped ideologically, though their level of political consciousness needed to be raised all the time, in the developing reality of class and mass struggles.

Biman Basu pointed out sharply that the process of Party conferences must be used as a touchstone to enrich the Party further, and make mass contact deeper. Party has a definitive role to play in stopping and correcting those persons who would utilise the Party for small, narrow even sectarian personal interests. This is to be done through political-ideological training and implementation of the programmatic understanding at the ground level.

People must be made aware by the Party of the myriad of attacks that were coming down on the CPI(M) from indigenous and foreign sources. There is a conspiracy afoot to weaken the Left Front itself. In widening mass contact, the lesson of Comrade Muzaffar Ahmad’s style of functioning must be adopted faithfully: Comrade Kakababu would give a patient hearing to everyone, never lose his temper, and would put through his arguments with logic and conviction. Sometimes, these traits are lacking amongst Party members of today.

Biman Basu said that although the Party organisation was not equally strong and deeply rooted everywhere in the country, it was spreading its wings over wider territories. Biman Basu concluded by noting the menace of imperialism threatening the sovereignty of the country, and forces of religious fundamentalism on the move to upset the national unity and integrity. These forces must be opposed, as Comrade Muzaffar Ahmad had pointed out many, many years back.


Bengal chief minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee said that the over the past three decades the Bengal Left Front government functioned in a pro-people, especially pro-poor manner. The CPI(M) is a Party of the kisans and mazdoors. The Left Front government makes progress through further strengthening of the mazdoor-kisan unity. The enemies have targeted this and they are organising violence. The chief minister recalled that the agricultural successes achieved under the Left Front government was no static affair and that efforts are on all the way to enhance and diversify agricultural production. However, agricultural success alone would not have the desired impact on development and for this, especially for employment generation, one needed industrialisation.

The Left Front government was fully aware of the pain that could be generated when the transition would be made from agriculture to industry and that is why progress in this direction was made in a deliberate and slow manner. Leftism meant the protection of the interests of the working masses. Leftism meant land reforms, employment generation through industrialisation, protection of the rights and interests of the workers, securing the interests of the unorganised workers, make the women self-dependent in economic terms through self-help groups.

Buddhadeb pointed to the experience of Latin America, China, Vietnam, and South Africa and said that in Bengal, there was no model to follow. The path being followed in Bengal under the Left Front government, said Buddhadeb, was an untroddden, alternative path of development in a country where capitalism was very much a forceful presence. Buddhadeb also paid effusive tributes to Comrade Muzaffar Ahmad and described him as a communist pioneer in the true sense of the term.----B Prasant

Peoples' Democracy, August 12, 2007

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