Trinamool won't hesitate to take Maoist support: Buddhadeb

KOLKATA, 5th August, 2010: The Trinamool Congress will go to any lengths and even enlist the support of Maoists to further its ends, West Bengal Chief Minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee said on Thursday.

“They will take the help of Maoists; will seek the help of anyone to unleash violence and lawlessness in the State,” he told a meeting here to commemorate the 122nd birth anniversary of Muzzafar Ahmed, one of the pioneers of the Communist movement in India.

“Now they [Trinamool and Maoists] will come together and hold a rally.” Mr. Bhattacharjee was referring to the August 9 rally in Lalgarh for which the Maoist-backed Police Santrash Birodhi Janasadharaner Committee has extended its support.

As of now Bankura, Purulia and Paschim Medinipur districts were under Maoist attack; between 150 and 200 people had been killed there so far. The influence of the extremists would be allowed to spread across West Bengal and there would be bloodshed through the State, the Chief Minister said. Listing the achievements of the Left Front Government, he asked: “Can the forces of lawlessness be an alternative to us?”

“The Trinamool and the Maoists have set up a joint army to counter the joint operations conducted by Central and State security forces,” said Biman Basu, State Secretary, CPI(M).
The Muzzafar Ahmed Memorial Prize for progressive and creative literary works was awarded to Dikshit Singha for his book, ‘Rabindranather Polli Punnargathan Prayas’.

Meeting at Mahajati Sadan

West Bengal Chief Minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee addresses a meeting organised at Mahajati Sadan in Kolkata on 5th August, 2010, to mark the 122nd birth anniversary of Muzzafar Ahmed.

122nd birth anniversary celebrated Muzzafar Ahmed Bhavan

Biman Basu, Buddhadeb Bhattacharya, Nirupam Sen, Binay Konar and other leaders paying their tribute to comrade Muzaffar Ahmad at CPI(M) state office, Kolkata.

122nd birth anniversary of Muzzafar Ahmed celebrated at Muzaffar Ahmad Pathaghar, GANASHAKTI BHAVAN

Biman Basu garlanding a potrait of Kakababu at Muzaffar Ahmad pathaghar.

Biman Basu and Nirupam Sen visiting an exhibition organized on the ocassion of the birth centenary of comrade Pramode Dasgupta at Muzaffar Ahmad Pathaghar.


Muzaffar Ahmad, Calcutta, and Socialist Politics, 1913-1929

By Suchetana Chattopadhyay
Department of History, Jadavpur University, Calcutta-32, India

Bengal's first communists emerged from the ranks of the region's Muslim intelligentsia in the early 1920s. Their transformation involved a rejection of mainstream politics based on identities of 'nation' and 'community'. This process has been little investigated. This research aims to treat this neglected area by studying the early life and times (1913-1929) of Muzaffar Ahmad (1889-1973), the founder of the communist movement in Bengal and one of the earliest leaders of the Communist Party of India (CPI). Though the left was minute during the 1920s, the shaping of socialist politics in Bengal during 1922-29 marked the beginning of a political tendency which was to leave its imprint on post-partition West Bengal and the struggle for Bangladesh in East Pakistan.

The origins of communism, a vital component of the organised socialist movement which emerged for the first time in Calcutta in the 1920s, was rooted in the appearance of Muslim intellectuals who tried to give shape to a new form of anti-imperialism by stepping out of the confines of mainstream nationalism dominated by the Bengali Hindu property-owning classes; of political movements based on perceptions of Muslim exclusivity; and of secular or ethno-linguistic identities. For these intellectuals, class ideology represented freedom from forms of exploitation and alienation: the other political options refused to address these adequately. Class itself was perceived as an identity, which would disappear when communist society was attained. Its emancipatory promise and transitory nature could be pitted against the non-emancipatory structure and the transcendental, essentialist claims of the dominant identities. This section regarded class-consciousness as a space beyond the politics of identities.

A social, and contextually grounded, interpretation of Bengal politics is developed by looking at the critical transitions Muzaffar Ahmad underwent in a period of momentous changes. Why was he alienated by dominant identity politics? What were the forms that he learnt to reject? What were the social components, which were subsumed and marginalised by these dominant forms, and which then introduced a critical rupture with his past? To seek answers to these and other related questions this thesis takes Muzaffar Ahmad's early career (1913-1929) as its chronological frame. 1913 was the year of his migration to Calcutta. 1929 marked the end of the first phase in his political career as a pioneer of the communist movement as it had emerged in Bengal and India of the 1920s. This was the year when leading communists were arrested and tried in the 'Meerut Communist Conspiracy Case' (1929-31), where Muzaffar Ahmad was chief among those accused. The biographical details of Muzaffar Ahmad between 1913 and 1929 coincided with a significant phase in the social and political history of India and the world. These years can also be read as two crisis-points in the history of imperialism and capitalism: 1913, the eve of the First World War, and 1929, the year of the Wall Street crash which set off the 'great depression'. They enclose a period within which socialist ideas and communist activity became politically familiar in different parts of the globe. The success of the Bolshevik Revolution and the formation of the Third Communist International directly boosted these currents. Socialism came to be perceived by many in the colonising and colonised countries as a viable alternative and a solution to the problems posed by capitalism and imperialism in the midst of economic crisis and war. A radicalisation of political culture could be felt among the intelligentsia in various urban centres of the world, Calcutta being no exception. Many socially alienated, economically distressed and politically dissatisfied urban intellectuals stood at the crossroads of established and radical identity-formations. Among them there was a small 'fraction' informed by social radicalism from below and the leftward turn in literary and cultural fields. They were disaffiliating themselves from the more established political routes open to those from their social background to combat colonialism and affiliating themselves with a more radical vision of decolonisation. The radicalism of the period was not devoid of contradictions. The ideas and aspirations of those with radical potential were often intertwined with social institutions, political movements and cultural norms that could lead to reversal and retreat from left radicalism. Nevertheless, they bore the imprint of the desire for a redefinition of state and society.

It is in this climate, which found reflection in the unionisation of workers and the socialistic wavering of middle-class intellectuals touched by left currents, that Muzaffar Ahmad could be located. The 'reshuffling' and mutations of self that gave rise to his new political identity were rooted in this context. It was related to a complex process of disaffiliation from existing structures of anti-colonial politics and linked to a radical conjuncture created by the post-war mass upsurge, by material hardship and by growing contact with the world of labour. It was underlined by a break with the outlook of mainstream leaders and the dominant ideologies they represented.

This thesis sets out to examine both the setting and the changes, as represented by Muzaffar. It analyses the context and significance of Muzaffar's migration to the city (1913-1919). His rural background in the remote East Bengal island of Sandwip, and the kind of identity-thinking such a milieu encouraged, are discussed. Next treated are his arrival in Calcutta, the only metropolis in Bengal, on the eve of the First World War, and the conditions in the city that contributed to his future radicalisation. Examined in particular are his experiences as an impoverished intellectual and Bengali Muslim cultural activist in a city undergoing wartime privations. The next chapter (1919-21) deals with Muzaffar's political transformation along leftist lines, in the context of the working-class upsurge in Calcutta and the impact, on Muzaffar and some of his contemporaries, of socialist ideas following the success of the Russian Revolution. Muzaffar's fully-fledged entry into political journalism and his growing sensitivity to the labour question are shown to have played a vital role. The following chapter (1922-24) deals with the first socialist nucleus in Calcutta, with Muzaffar as the principal organiser. During this period, his links with the Communist Third International, distribution of banned socialist literature, and communications with other anti-colonial radicals led to his arrest and trial in the 'Kanpur Bolshevik Conspiracy Case' (1924). The next two chapters examine the growth and activities of the first socialist organisation in Bengal (1926-29), including Muzaffar's role and the attendant constraints, contradictions and ideological occlusions. The following two chapters analyse the changing politics of Muzaffar's prose and the emergence of a 'language of class' and treats his autobiographical writings as a prism through which his early career can be read. The conclusion explains the transformation of Muzaffar Ahmad's political identity as an example of the emergence of communist dominated socialist politics in a colonised Indian urban milieu.

By investigating the roots of early communism and socialist politics in Bengal, through the personality of Muzaffar Ahmad, this research aims to locate the social significance of a political space, which attempted to transcend dominant notions of identity. At a time when spectres of Hindu majoritarianism and communal holocaust are revisiting India and history is being harnessed to erect new enclosures based on identities of 'nation' and 'community' in a global climate of violent late-imperialist assertions, this is a way of recording not just the amply documented strength but also the ever-present contradictions, which beset identity-formations.



Kazi Nazrul Islam on "Gonobani" & Muzaffar Ahmad

[The following letter was written to Sri Gopal Lal Shannyal, the (then) editor of Atto-shokti, the weekly publication of Deshbondhu Chittoronjon Das' Swaraj Party. Under a "book-review", in the issue of August 20, 1926, Sri Taranath Roy, under the pseudonym Tara-Ra, criticized Gonobani, the mouthpiece of Bongio Krishak-Shramik Dal. This letter was written in response to that.]

Srijukto "Atto-shokti" Shompadok,

... Then, the death-nail question of Tara-Ra: "Who are the labors, without sufficient cloth, food, and shelter, that are in charge of this organization?" I humbly submit my plea to Mr. Tara-Ra to be kind enough to visit 37 Harrison Road, the office of Gonobani. If you do bless us with your visit, you will see the foot-dust of many hapless chaps has piled up much higher than the stacks of "Gonobani." There is more floor than carpets. Chairs are luxury. ... My eyes become full of tears when I see the CEO of Gonobani, Muzaffar Ahmed. ... The condition of his body is deplorable. He is a walking symbol of protesting humanity. I swear if, seeing Muzaffar, one's dry eyes don't become wet. Such as selfless, unassuming, quiet worker, such a wonderful heart, such a saintly vision, a shining talent - above all, such a big, colossal heart and mind - one wonders how was he born in Noakhali, the domain of fanatic maulavis, or in Bengal, this country of mullah-maulavis. He is like a flame of fire, you can't control by beating. He is like a flower, eaten by insects, but still emitting fragrance. Tuberculosis has had the best of him - I don't know how will he live. Many Muslim leaders have cashed in during this fad of communal environment, many of whom don't deserve even to be disciple at his feet; only Muzaffar is virtually starving to death. I know that two full days he had to go without food to help bring out this Gonobani. Even Tom-Dick-Harry (Budhdhu Mian) is a leader, while Muzaffar is dying from vomiting blood. Yet, I have not seen a soul to love this Bharat-borsho, this nation, so wholeheartedly - let alone any Muslim leader, not even Hindu leaders. If some people have their head straight during this turbulent period of communalism, you can easily find out by reading Muzaffar's "Langol" and "Gonobani." ...

The very soul of the Musalman Shahitto-Shomiti is due to Muzaffar, but he always kept his name and contribution secret. When the same Shomiti was reinstituted, its new members did not even mention or recognize Muzaffar because he was in the bad book of the government (while most members themselves are in the good book). At this utter ingratitude, Muzaffar did not even utter a word. He was like the oil that lights the lamp. No one saw him. They only saw flame that burns by drawing on the oil. It's not just Muzaffar, almost everyone of this organization is in the same situation. Haleem, Nalini - all the same. Everyone needs attention and care. Some has appendicitis, some cancer; others have malaria, ulcer or arthritis. Let's not mention their skeleton like condition or their malnutrition. Almost all of them are waiting for the ferry-ride to the other side of the life. They don't have any waist pack full of money, and it seems that bombs are being made inside the tummy - that's their condition due to hunger. They are sagged all the time, like the bladder without any air inside a football. ... I extend an invitation to the author to descend, using the elevator, from his tri-story office that is usually cooled by electric fans and lit by electric lamps, decorated by tables-drawers-desks, attended by guards and then drive in his office-provided automobile to see our "Gonobani" office and its "directors". These thirsty ones might be able to enjoy a cup of tea at his expense. Of course, he would be offered a cup too. I myself would have taken Srijukto Tara-Ra, but I am constrained too. For several days now, I need to go to Kolkata, but unable because I can't afford the train fare. The rats are busy in BOXING games inside our pots and pans. The capitalists are even shrewder than I am. They say, "If you want to massage, try the body, not head - you might earn some pocket money. But that (boxing) is not to be, even if Muzaffar dies like a dried fish (shutki)."

Then, in regard to writings in "Gonobani", "they" have mentioned, "The farmers and labors of Bengal would be able to understand those better if, in addition to learning read, they read a few theories. I could not understand either their point or the sarcasm. However, I did realize how far is his understanding about the subject of his writing. Does he not know that hardly any labor of any country would understand Das Capital of Karl Marx. Those who would read and understand such works would not be farmers/labors, rather people like Lenin or Lansbury (spelling?). Even if the labor class in general does not understand, the theories of Karl Marx have done good, continues to do so and will do in future. His ideology has bred a group of people that wants to transform the whole world. The mass will never understand the theories or ideologies, but those theories or ideologies will breed people who will help the mass understand the essence of those theories. The driver will take care of the engine, the mass will ride. Gonobani is not for the farmers or labors either. It is for those who will educate the farmers and labors. The mouthpiece of Krishak-Shramik Dal: it means that Gonobani is the voice of the silent, suffering hearts - Gonobani will try to give their unbearable pains expression in words.(excerpts only)

(draft translation by Mohammad Omar Farooq)

[Source: Nazrul Rochonaboli, Vol. 4, 1996, pp. 51-55]