Narrative of a Life and a Movement


By Suchetana Chattopadhyay 

Tulika Books, New Delhi, 2011, pp., Rs.600.00 


Suchetana Chattopadhyay's book is three things wrapped in one cover. It is a narrative of the life of Muzaffar Ahmad, the founding figure of the Communist Party of India at the Bengal front. But it is not a biography of this leading Indian Communist. This book is rather about a few early years of Muzaffar Ahmad's life, a period from 1913 to 1929 to be exact, bound by the two years signifying Ahmad's entry into the city of Calcutta in his early youth, on the one hand, and his emergence as one of the central figures of Indian Communism in relation to the Meerut Conspiracy case and the foundation of the Communist movement in Bengal, on the other.

By centring round the life of an early Communist the author also explores the early phase of Communist politics in the region. The author, however, focuses on the city of Calcutta. This reveals the third aspect of this academic venture, i.e., comprehending the spatial perspective of the early Communist movement in Bengal. The author reads the early response of the City of Calcutta, which had been the prime mover of colonial politics and anticolonial activities in the eastern front, to the incoming ideas of socialism to evolve out of it an alternative mode of decolonization as well as a wider struggle for human emancipation. Ahmad's initiation into socialism and his own contribution to the emergence of a new brand of politics out of it have been understood in this geographical setting. The author thus addresses a crucial question related to Indian Communism regarding its roots in and relevance to the Indian necessities.

Through a cityscape she shows the significance of socialism for moulding a sensitive youth with an awakening political mind. The story begins with a study of Muzaffar Ahmad's native village in a remote island called Sandwip at Noakhali in present-day Bangladesh. Although long distanced from the urban facilities of the colonial set-up as well as the burning zeal of the nationalist protest against colonial exploitation, this island was fully exposed and subordinated to colonial capital. This brunt of colonialism, according to the author, did not automatically add a political dimension to the social identity of the peripheral and marginalized rural people.

Nevertheless, as a logical consequence of colonial rule there was continuous outflow particularly of young people from the rural hinterland to the central hub of colonial rule in search of ...



Buddha blames govt for Hills stir

TNN | Aug 6, 2013, 03.53 AM IST

KOLKATA: Breaking his silence over the ongoing Darjeeling turmoil, former chief minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee on Monday blamed the Mamata Banerjee government for it. Bhattacharjee said the seeds of unrest were sown when the state government hurriedly signed the tri-partite GTA agreement.

The Centre's decision to carve out Telengana may have acted as a catalyst, but if not now, this would have led to unrest later, the CPM leader said.

Chief minister Mamata Banerjee - and Trinamool Congress leadership - have been consistently pinning their blame on the Centre for present Darjeeling unrest.

"We had opposed the GTA agreement for this very reason," Bhattacharjee said while speaking on the 125th birth anniversary of Muzaffar Ahmed at Mahajati Sadan on Monday. He-along with other CPM top leaders-spoke on the 125th birth anniversary of Muzzafar Ahmed at Mahajati Sadan.

Taking a dig at the pre-poll tie-up between the Trinamool and Gorkha Janmukti Morcha (GJM) before the assembly polls, the former CM said there was a point the Trinamool had gained from such anarchist forces and now the people of Bengal are paying its price. The former CM was taking a dig at the pre-poll tie-up between Trinamool and Gorkha Janamukti Morcha in the run-up to 2011 assembly polls.

Accusing the state government for failing to maintain peace in Darjeeling, opposition leader in the assembly, Surjya Kanta Mishra, said, "The chief minister may have strained ties with Congress, but she should be in touch with the UPA government to keep life normal in Darjeeling hills which has been crippled by an indefinite bandh on the Gorkhaland demand."

Mishra said that the chief minister should have patience and the keep doors open for talks with the Morcha 'before things go out of control'.

"We neither back the statehood demand nor support the indefinite bandh. What we want is normal life in Darjeeling hills," he said. Alleging that the 'seeds of unrest' was embedded in the tripartite treaty with the GJM, he said

"This state government had indirectly supported Gorkhaland demand by inserting the name in the GTA."

"You indirectly supported the GJM demand for Gorkhaland and GTA has given recognition to it,"

Mishra urged Mamata Banerjee to call an all-party meeting to discuss the Darjeeling issue.

Buddhadeb blames Mamata govt for Darjeeling turmoil




125th Birth Anniversary of Comrade Muzzafar Ahmed