Tribute to late Satya Narayan Singh

Satya Narayan Singh

21st October marked the 38th death anniversary of Satyanarayan Singh (SNS). He was one of the pioneering leaders of the revolutionary party CPI (M-L), which was formed demarcating from the neo-revisionist CPI (M) after the historic Naxalbari uprising. SNS was Central Committee and Politbureau member of that party. Faced with grave losses and damages in CPI (ML) under the leadership of comrade Charu Majumdar due to ‘left’ deviations, to extricate from path of left deviation and save party and revolution, SNS strived to reconstruct  the central committee and was made the General Secretary of revived CC of CPI (ML). He was an architect in trying to unite the communist revolutionaries of India fragmented into different components, into a single party of Marxism-Leninism-Mao Tse Tung thought. To achieve this objective, he played a very important role in uniting the communist revolutionaries of united Andhra Pradesh under the leadership of Chandra Pulla Reddy into CPI (M-L). In the process of unity, PCC CPI (ML) was formed by merger of two organizations led by the revived Central Committee and Unity Committee of CPI (M-L). After the merger SNS became general secretary of the merged organisation PCC, CPI (ML) for a long time. He died of a heart attack on October 21, 1984 in Visakhapatnam, Andhra Pradesh when present to hold some unity talks with Andhra Pradesh comrades as general secretary of an important part of the current New Democracy organization which was made through some divisions and unity.

Satya Narayan Singh, played the role of a political organizational leader of the historic Mushahari peasant uprising in Bihar after Naxalbari uprising and was a very important leader in the undivided CPI (M-L). The name CPI (M-L) was suggested by him and the party programme of CPI (M-L) which was adopted at the party congress in 1970 was drafted by him.

SN Singh was born on January 30, 1923 in a middle peasant family in Dhamar village of Ara district of Bihar. He was an active participant in the movement against-British Imperialism at an early age. He participated in the Quit India Movement in 1942 through Congress Socialist Party. He joined the Communist Party during World War II. During the British period, he was working in the air force. While he was working in that force, in 1946, he was sentenced to two years of imprisonment for refusing to salute the Union Jack flag of the British Empire. After being released from jail, he became a professional revolutionary in the Communist Party. In Communist Party Comrade SNS was first assigned the responsibility of Shahabad district of Bihar and later of the district organizations of South Bihar(present Jharkhand) . He led the historic struggle of Tata workers in Jamshedpur in 1952. For this, the government arrested him and three other members of the CPI in the Jamshedpur Conspiracy Case (1952) and he was sentenced to 8 years of imprisonment. He was again arrested in 1962 for his opposition to the Sino-Indian War and remained in jail until 1966.He opposed revisionist CPI leadership and joined CPI(M) after it was formed in 1964 separating from CPI..He strongly supported the historic Naxalbari Uprising of 1967.When Coordination Committee of Communist Revolutionaries (AICCCR), the forerunner of the formation of the CPI (M-L) was formed he was made the Bihar Convener of the Unit. CPI(ML) committed some grave errors  of left deviation ,with  Satya Narayan Singh  being in the forefront of extricating  CPI (M-L) from ‘Left’ deviations, authoritarianism and line of individual annihilation, and bringing it within the framework  revolutionary massline

From the time of the Mushahari struggle (1968) till the formation of the Janata government (1977) (when the case against the Naxalites were withdrawn after the defeat of the fascist Indira government), he remained underground. He was one of the rare communist leaders who diagnosing the danger of fascism in semi-feudal, semi-colonial India, backed the movement led by Jayaprakash Narayan in 1974. In 1977, Com SN paid a deaf ear to the bombardment of revolutionaries with left adventurist orientation and correcting the erroneous understanding .that election should be strategically boycotted and placed the classic Marxist lesson that election issue could be utilised as a tactical issue for revolutionaries. He thus was an architect in the process of correcting the ‘left’ deviations regarding elections prevalent within the Communist revolutionary camp.

SN Singh is one of the few leaders who demonstrated high organisational capability within the ranks.  Industrial working class masses not only in small industries or enterprises but also in large industries or enterprises. He was also an able organizer, knitting the movements of all classes, including farmers. He was a very impressive speaker or orator in public and indoor meetings, theoretically sound   and a skilled writer. SN Singh  played a major role  in shaping the course of the peasant movement of Mushahari, Surajgara, Karpi etc and workers movement and organisations in Jamshedpur, Sindri Fertilizer Factory, Rakha Copper Mines, Jadugora Uranium and in, Bokaro CISF Jawan Mutiny etc. which is still entrenched in the minds of communist revolutionaries. He led a life of simplicity, consistently making self-criticism. He was an embodiment of revolutionary initiative and zeal and an  ever popular and adorable   public leader. Whoever came in close contact with him was deeply influenced by his ideas. He refrained from being arrogant or egoistic, being an open hearted, and open-minded and revolutionary working class leader.

However,Satya Narayan Singh  steered the movement to a rightist course when supporting Jayaprakash Narayan movement in 1974 and prematurely advocating participation in elections in 1977.He failed to diagnose the class collaborationist character of JP or bourgeois character of the Janata Party, after emergency. His formulation of anti-fascist front was influenced by Chinese Three world’s theory, forging an alliance with US Imperialism. SN Singh sowed the seeds of the rightists trend within the Indian Communist revolutionary movement today, setting a trend of revolutionary groups embracing the parliamentary roadway feature of the movement in his times were the opportunist alliances with Chandra Pulla Reddy in 1974, and split in 1980.D.V Rao made the most accurate criticism of the right deviation of SNS.In that period splits were a routine feature, within the Communist revolutionary camp. In later times like in 1987, CPI (ML) New Democracy re-united CP Reddy-SN Singh factions. Today the chief proponents of Satya Narayan Singh’s line are the C.P.I. (ML) PCC and the C.P.I. (ML) New Democracy. The latter equally upholds CP Reddy, being mainly active in Punjab,Telengana ,Andhra Pradesh and Bihar. Significant supporters of SN Singh’s path were late Santosh Rana and Vhaskar Nandy, two major Communist stalwarts. A balanced appraisal has to be evaluated on the contribution of SN Singh.

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

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