Tribute to Souren Bose on 25th death anniversary

Souren Bose

Souren Bose left us on the early morning of 17 August, exactly 25 years ago. One of the most dedicated torch bearers of the Indian Communist movement. His sudden death was an irreparable loss to the Indian Communist movement. His interview with Premier Zhou En lai in China in 1970 is an invaluable lesson for all Marxist cadre in grasping the revolutionary path of massline.

Comrade Souren Bose was one of the architects of Naxalbari movement and CPI (ML) under the leadership of comrade Charu Mazumdar in the tumultuous decade of 1960s. He gained his political baptism under com. CM from the early 1940s when he joined the communist party.. He became Polit Bureau member of CPI (ML). Till the last moment he strived to establish the re-organisation of the party.  The prolonged resistance he waged in combating left adventurism within the C.P.I. (M.L.)   was admirable. Bose left no stone unturned in backing the communist revolutionaries all over India in the struggle against revisionism, and steer Marxist-Leninist orientation within the Communist movement .He launched uncompromising struggle for establishing a New Democratic India under the leadership of Charu Mazumdar . Souren Bose e did not join any of the CPI (ML) groups for long years after coming out of jail in early 1980s, being dissatisfied with the political lines of them. He began his quest in searching for a correct political line, on the basis of his discussion with the leadership of the Communist Party of China (CPC).

I met him in Mumbai in a seminar in August 1997  on the mode of production conducted by C.P.I. (M.L) Red Flag.It was m deep regret that he had drifted from upholding the path of protracted peoples war and upheld India as a neo-colony in place of a semi-feudal, semi-colonial one. War. He became member of Central Reorganization Committee of CPI (ML) Red Flag and secretary of its West Bengal state committee, failing to diagnose its rightist direction.. In 1997 he visited Kerala, Tamilnadu, Karnataka, Madhya Pradesh, Delhi and Bihar and encouraged the comrades to carry forward the task of NDR in the new conditions taking lessons from the past. It was during one of these trips, when he was attending the programmes organized by the Maharashtra state committee of the party at Mumbai, he succumbed.

Both in his personal and political life he was a vivid illustration of Communist Culture. Starting his political life by organizing the tea-garden workers and peasants of North Bengal, he was relentlessly commited to the mass line and opposed sectarianism to the very core.. In characteristic style he used to sum up how mass line advanced the movement, and how sectarian mistakes distorted it and brought incalculable damage to it. In a humorous way he used to self-critically explain the past errors while highlighting the great contributions of the movement.

In these days when imperialism has intensified its tirade on communism his life was a living example for the new generation to emulate.

Memorial  meetings were held not only from Calcutta, but also from numerous places all over the country expressing shock at comrade Souren Bose’s unexpected departure and pledging to follow the ideals for which he fought all through his life.

The tributes in journal Red Star of 1997 were heart touching, describing his political evolution and how he was a dedicated communist to the core.

When he returned from China in 1970 end after long discussions with top CPC leaders and a brief meeting with Mao, and submitted his report, there were many in the then leadership who doubted the credibility of the report. The CPC placed emphasis for concrete analysis of concrete Indian situation and for developing the ideological-political-organizational orientation based on it.

But the sectarian influence was so deeply engrained in the movement that it was not possible then to start rectification based on CPC suggestions. The upholding of the dialectical relation between developing the revolutionary movement in one country according to concrete conditions there and linking it with proletarian internationalism was missing in  the International Communist Movement. However comrade Souren Bose persisted to confront sectarianism and revisionism, stressed on  the cardinal points from the suggestions of the CPC leaders, and stimulated  the revolutionary masses for the New Democratic Revolution.

Premier Zhou En Lai’s criticism on C.P.I. (M.L) to Souren Bose.

  1. The Chinese party grew and developed by fighting alien trends-both left adventurism and right deviation.

    2. The Chinese Revolution became successful with 3 magic weapons a. The Party b. People’s Army c. the United Front.

    3. To call a chairman of one party as the chairman of another party is wrong and it will would the national sentiment of the working class of a country.

    4. Your idea of united front is wrong stating that it will come into being only after the formation of base areas. The United front comes into being at every stage of struggle, again it breaks down.

    The worker-peasant unity is its main basis. The characterization of the entire bourgeoisie as comprador is wrong. Some exploiter sections have to be united.

    5. It is wrong to reject open trade Union, open mass organizations and mass movements and to solely uphold secret assassination. Formally we misunderstood what you meant as annihilation. ‘We used to think that the idea is taken from Chairman’s war of annihilation’. But from 1970 issue of liberation we came to understand that this assassination meant secret assassination.

    6. You have wrongly and mechanically applied Chairman Lin Biao’s theory of people’s war. It was only a military affair having no relation to political and organizational questions. During the anti-Japan war resistance we had an army of 10 lakhs, at that time some army comrades raised the slogan that positional and mobile warfare were the only means to mobilize people.

    7. The formulation that a revolutionary does not make his hand red with the blood of class enemies then he is not a communist.

    With this yard stick a Communist party would not remain a communist party.

    8. No emphasis on agrarian revolution and slogan in connection with seizure of State power. No agrarian programme and state power is counter-posed to land problem.

    9. Without mass struggle and mass organization the peasant’s armed struggle cannot be sustained. The CPC supported Naxalbari struggle not merely as a struggle of seizure of state power.

    Red article in ‘Spring Thunder’ published in China to support Naxalbari.

    10. The authority and prestige of a leader cannot be created but has to be developed.

    11. The general orientation of C.P.I. (M.L.) is correct but it’s policy is wrong.

In November 1970 Souren Bose with five other Comrades namely Kanu Sanyal, Kola Venkaiah, Chowdhury Tejeswar Rao D. Bhuvan Mohan Patnaik and D. Nagbushan Patnaik  wrote an open letter to all the party members propagating that Charu Mazumdar refused to make a self-criticism and take suggestions from the CPC advice. It held Charu Mazumdar responsible for deviating from the path of glorious Naxalbari uprising. They held him principally responsible for left adventurist deviation and should have accepted the suggestions of the CPC..

Harsh Thakor is a freelance journalist who has conducted extensive research on the Indian Communist Movement

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