Friday 26 September 2014

Communist veteran A.B. Bardhan, who turns 90 on Thursday

8 hrs ·(25-09-2014)
Don’t want to blame others, so no memoir: Bardhan
Ninety years is not short, even in the history of a nation. Communist veteran A.B. Bardhan, who turns 90 on Thursday, was born when India was still under colonial rule, participated in the freedom struggle and has closely seen all prime ministers and political trends in independent India. But writing a memoir is not part of his plans, and he would rather fade away without stating “all those hurtful truths.”
“Biographies are being written by all and sundry, which anyway is an exercise in self-congratulation and meant to blame others. I will not write,” he said sitting in Ajoy Bhawan — the sleepy multi-storey headquarters of the Communist Party of India (CPI) that at once reminds one of the bygone sway and the current marginalisation of the Left in India.
Of his 90 years, he spent four in jail, three of them in independent India. For the past 30 years, he has been living in a single-room quarters of Ajoy Bhawan and has never occupied a Lutyens’ Delhi bungalow, though he had one allotted to him as general secretary of the party.
He repeats the late Marxist Jyoti Basu’s statement that not accepting the Prime Minister’s post in 1996 was a “historic blunder” of the Left. “That was an opportunity, a lost one, to show to the country that Communist politics is different. Within the limitations of a capitalist system also, we must have tried that.”
Mr. Bardhan said the parting of ways with the Congress in 2008 was another “wrong move” of the Left, which triggered a series of developments that created a “vacuum that has now been occupied by rightist forces led by an authoritarian leader.”
When his politics started, freedom was imminent and socialism appeared achievable. “We were happy those days, as things that we struggled for were being achieved,” Mr. Bardhan said admitting that the dreams of those days had only become more distant. “For the Left to survive, it has to rediscover, reform and attune itself to the realities of the present.”

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