|By Biman Basu|
[Published in People's Democracy on 7th September, 2014]
The entire life of Comrade Hare Krishna Konar was dedicated to the anti-imperialist battle and to bring changes in the existing tyranny-driven society. Throughout his entire life, he worked for the application of Marxist-Leninist ideology. He also became a pioneering figure in movements of peasants and agricultural workers to dismantle the stranglehold of feudalism on them.
Comrade Hare Krishna Konar was born on August 5, 1915 at Memari of Bardhaman district. He breathed his last on July 23, 1974 at the age of 59. The Polit Bureau’s condolence message after his death said that his entire life was dedicated to independence, democracy and socialism. When he was only fifteen, he was sent behind the bars for taking part in the non-cooperation movement in 1930. He was subsequently sent to Andaman Cellular Jail in 1932 for taking part in the extremist movement to uproot British rule in India. In the Cellular Jail itself he was attracted to the Communist ideology and became member of Communist Consolidation.
He dedicated himself to the activities of revolutionary movements, Communist Party and peasants’ movements after being released from the jail in 1938. His steadfast ideological stand against revisionism placed him amid the leading members of the undivided Party.
He played a firm role when there were attacks on Indian Communists by the narrow nationalists during 1959-1962 Indo-China border conflict. He was among the fore founders of the CPI(M). He fought resolutely against the left-sectarian line within the Party to uphold the Marxist-Leninist principle.
Comrade Hare Krishna Konar started his political activities as a member of ‘Jugantar’ revolutionary group against the British colonial rule in our country. He devoted himself for the cause of independence of the country from his student days. He was from an affluent family. I have heard from him that he broke his father’s chest to collect money for the cause of revolutionary struggle. Love for the motherland was so deep-rooted in Comrade Hare Krishna Konar. Comrade Hare Krishna Konar during his jail-life in 1930 came in contact with an active member of ‘Jugantar’ revolutionary group during that time. He was none other than Benoy Chowdhury, another stalwart of revolutionary movement. The freedom fighters of Bardhaman district were churned by the Meerut Conspiracy Case. Due to frequent visits of Comrade Bankim Mukherjee and Dr. Bhupendranath Datta in Bardhaman, the attraction towards Communist ideology was on the rise. He was arrested when police got early information of some movements planned by the ‘Jugantar’ revolutionary group in 1932. In 1933 he was sent to Andaman Cellular Jail as a member of Communist Consolidation. Marxist-Leninist ideas became his guiding force.
He was released from the jail in 1938. He became a member of the Party in the same year. He got involved with the Party activities in Kolkata and Howrah. He was sent to Bardhaman district to strengthen the movement against canal tax. During that time the Communists used to work remaining within the Congress according to the Bradley thesis. Comrade Hare Krishna Konar was given responsibility to maintain contacts with the Congress workers of Kolkata, Bardhaman, Howrah and Hooghly districts. He utilised this opportunity to inculcate Leftist ideology among them. Afterwards Comrade Hare Krishna Konar involved himself primarily in the Bardhaman district to apply Marxist principles in different activities. He was a pioneer in shaping the peasants’ movement in Bardhaman district. Subsequently he became a leading figure in the peasants’ movement not only in this state but in the entire country.
The British rulers restricted his movements in the industrial areas in the 40s. He was a leading figure in the Ajoy river dam movement in 1944. Comrade Hare Krishna Konar was busy with the activities of Communist Party and Kisan Sabha in Bardhaman district during the period of 1944 to 1948. The Communist Party was banned on March 26, 1948. Comrade Hare Krishna Konar was arrested and subsequently released after three months. He went underground and worked for the Party remaining underground till 1952.
He was elected from the Memari-Kalna assembly constituency of Bardhaman district in 1957 and from Kalna assembly constituency in 1962. He was re-elected from Kalna assembly constituency in 1967 and became minister for land and land revenue in the first United Front Government. Hare Krishna Konar played a pioneering role in seizing surplus land held by big land owners in excess of land ceiling laws and kept ‘benami’ (or false names) land. He also played a resolute role in the ideological battle with the Naxalites. The first United Front could sustain only for nine months. Comrade Konar was once again elected from Kalna assembly constituency in 1969 and took charge as the minister for land and land revenue in the second United Front Government. The initiative of seizing surplus land was even more extended in seizing the ‘benami’ land. He was an inspiration to the peasants’ movements in the state and our entire country. He was a great orator. People used to listen to him mesmerizingly in the public meetings.
He was arrested several times and also went underground for work, evading arrest. The police under British rule and later on, the police of independent India arrested this legendary leader of mass movements and peasants’ struggles. He was arrested under Defence of India Act in 1962 and was released after one year. He was once again arrested under the same act in 1964. For that reason he could not take part in the seventh Party Congress which was held in Kolkata in that very year. But he was elected to the Central Committee in that Party Congress. He was re-elected as the Central Committee member of our Party in eighth and ninth Congress respectively held in Kochi in the year 1968 and Madurai in the year 1972. Comrade Hare Krishna Konar was elected as the general secretary of the All India Kisan Sabha from the national conference of 1969, which was held in Madurai. He was re-elected as the general secretary of AIKS from the conferences held in 1971 and 1973. He discharged his responsibilities as the general secretary of AIKS till he breathed his last. He took part in several international conferences. He was the member of a delegation of Party to China and Vietnam.
He was affectionate to the dynamic, young comrades. I had the opportunity to see him closely. After leaving home in 1971, I used to stay in an unused kitchen room of an apartment opposite to the Kisan Sabha office in central Kolkata. He used to stay with his family in the second floor of that apartment. I was down with tuberculosis after spending one year in that apartment. Comrade Konar used to drop in to see me every day whenever he worked from the centre in Kolkata. I saw several humanitarian values in him.
He was suffering from an incurable disease. But still he did not compromise with the physical and mental work for the movement and the organisation. He travelled around the country for organising the Party and to consolidate peasants’ movements. He always liked to be part of the peasants’ movements. Comrade Jyoti Basu said after the demise of Comrade Konar that “He was the national leader of the CPI(M) and the Party gave him special responsibility to organise peasants’ movements. After realising the problems of the peasants’ he could take the matter to the people in a simple manner. Comrade Hare Krishna Konar showed that the problems of the peasants’ are not only their problems. If these issues could not be solved the problems of the poor people can never be solved. He never sat idle. He was not a lawyer or a barrister. But his ideas on laws related to the agricultural issues were crystal clear. He could easily identify the faults of the officers. Comrade Konar not only knew the problems of the rural people and peasants’ but he understood what they want.”
This legendary peasant leader worked tirelessly to establish firm solidarity between workers and peasants under the leadership of the working class to free people from the tyranny and oppression. Developing the solidarity between the workers and peasants could be the best tribute offered to Comrade Hare Krishna Konar in his birth centenary.
Comrade Konar has proved in his whole life that the Communists are made of a special mould. They are steadfast in their ideology and fighting spirit. They are devoted to Marxist-Leninist principles. It is important to apply these according to the context of the different countries. The coming generation should adopt the lessons left by Comrade Konar and have to apply those in their respective spheres.
Comrade Hare Krishna Konar’s birth centenary will be observed by the peasants’ organisations. It is important to take oath to form strong movements by consolidating peasants and agricultural labourers. Strong peasants’ movements can be instrumental to extend the battle against attack on democracy and democratic rights in West Bengal. This is how we can pay tribute to Comrade Hare Krishna Konar.
Comrade Hare Krishna Konar Lal Salam.