Monday, August 11, 2008

Salute to Harkishen Singh Surjeet

Before proceeding towards late Mr. Surjeet, I would like congratulate Mr. Abhinav Bindra who own first ever gold medal in individual events to India. From 28 years haven’t won any gold medal in any events of Olympic. Last time Indian Hockey won a gold medal in 1980 in Moscow. Today Mr. Bindra created history by winning a gold medal.

Being from politically active family, I always impressed by some of the political leaders irrespective their political parties like Sardar Patelji, Shastriji, Rajeev Gandhi, Atal Bihari Vajapayee, Manmohan Singh, Jyothi Basu, Harkishen Singh Surjeet and etc.

On August 1st Indian lost one of its greatest thinking and pragmatic leader in Harikishen Singh Surjeet. He is considered as one of the founding pillar of coalition government builders in history of Indian politics. Recently Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh also attributed his gratitude to him during the vote of confidence.

If there was one man who was responsible for pivotal role that the Left parties played on the national stage from 1989 to 2008, it was Harkishen Singh Surjeet. It was Surjeet who played a key role in persuading the Left parties to support the National Front ministry led by V P Singh in 1989. Surjeet did not lust for power, but critics say he had his fingers in many pies and legs in many camps, which became evident when he managed to cobble up an alliance to make Janata Dal leader H D Deva Gowda the prime minister in 1996 and then install I K Gujral as his successor. Surjeet could leverage the power game anytime within the ruling dispensation with a mere call to the prime minister of the day -- from V P Singh to Gowda and Gujral.

From a revolutionary to a pragmatic politician and a king-maker, Surjeet donned many a role, but his dream of seeing a Communist as prime minister remained unfulfilled despite coming to a sniffing distance. The Marxist veteran had led the CPI-M through the tumultuous mid-90s playing a king-maker's role, but had to remain a mute spectator when the party lost a golden opportunity to head a government. The decision not to make Jyoti Basu the prime minister in 1996, taken largely at the behest of some 'young guns' in the party, saw the Marxist patriarch from West Bengal calling it a "historic blunder" and Surjeet using all his persuasive skills to avert an inner-party conflict.

Elected as the CPI-M's general secretary in 1992, a post he held till 2005, he is also seen as a mentor to leaders like Prakash Karat, who succeeded him, and Sitaram Yechury, besides a bridge between the old and new generation comrades.

Born on March 23, 1916 in a remote village in Jalandhar district of Punjab, Surjeet had his baptism in politics by fire at a very young age of 15 when he joined the 'Naujawan Bharat Sabha' formed by none other than Bhagat Singh and other revolutionaries.

His steely nerves were on show when he dared to tear the Union Jack and hoist the tricolour atop the district court building in Hoshiarpur at an age of 16, only to be shot twice by the British police and landing in jail for the first time.

He had spent a total of ten years in prison.

But that was just a beginning for the young 'sardar' as he took the mighty colonial regime head on several times. His gritty act identifying himself as "London Tod Singh" when asked for his name by a judge during a trial made him popular overnight.

His foray into the world of party politics began in 1934 when he joined the banned Communist Party. He became a member of the Congress Socialist Party in 1935 and also started working for the Kisan Sabha, which he went on to head in the early 1950s.

A voracious reader, he edited many papers and party organs including Dukhi Duniya and Lok Lehar weekly besides penning socially and politically relevant books like Land Reforms in India, Future of Kashmir, Happenings in Punjab and Outline History of the Communist Party.

He started a monthly Chingari in Saharanpur in Uttar Pradesh in 1938 when he was externed from Punjab for anti-British activities.

The veteran Marxist's friends remember that he always wanted to become a poet and took to writing under the pen-name "Surjeet". Although his pen-name remained, he did not become a poet.

A pragmatic politician with a sharp mind, Surjeet's death brings the curtains down on an era in the country's Communist history and his party will surely miss his analytical skills and political acumen in the days to come.



No comments: