Press Release

The Polit Bureau of the Communist Party of India (Marxist) deeply mourns the death of Benoy Krishna Chaudhury, a veteran Party leader and an outstanding revolutionary.

Comrade Benoy Chaudhury, born on 15th January 1911, plunged into the freedom movement from his early days. He joined the revolutionary group, Jugantar, and from the age of 16 was actively involved in the struggle for India’s freedom. He was first arrested in the civil disobedience movement in 1930. Later, he was arrested in the famous Bhirbum conspiracy case in 1933 and convicted for five years. While in jail, he joined the Communist consolidation group and after his release in October 1938, he joined the Communist Party. He was a leading figure in the historic Canal Tax Movement in Burdhwan and in the Ranigang Paper Mill strike in 1938-39. He was a leading figure of the massive peasant uprising in Bengal, the `Tebhaga movement’. During the Second World War he was externed by the British from Burdhwan district. He functioned underground till 1942 when the Party was legalised. When the Party was again banned in 1948, he had to go underground once again.

In 1952, in the first General Elections in free India, he was elected to the West Bengal legislative assembly from the Burdhwan constituency defeating the Maharaja of Burdhwan. During the entire course of his revolutionary life he spent more than twelve years in jail, arrested both by the British before independence and the Congress government after independence. His underground life spanned more than ten years.

He served as the secretary of the Burdhwan district committee of the undivided CPI from 1939 to 1949. He was elected to the West Bengal State Committee in 1951 and to the secretariat in 1962. He played a leading role in the struggle against revisionism and was one of the key figures in the formation of the CPI(M) and its consolidation in Burdhwan and West Bengal. He was elected to

the Central Committee of the CPI(M) at the 10th Congress at Jullander and elected to the Polit Bureau in May 1990.

Comrade Benoy Chaudhury was an outstanding leader of the kisan movement in Bengal and the country. He served as the President of the All India Kisan Sabha and for several terms served as the vice-president of the organisation.

When the Left Front assumed office for the first time in 1977, he served as the cabinet minister for land, land reforms, panchayats, community development and rural development. He served in this capacity during the first four terms of the Left Front Government. He did not contest the last elections to the legislative assembly on grounds of age and health.

It was under his stewardship that the implementation of the land reforms in West Bengal, initiated by the 1967 United Front government, was supervised and completed. Comrade Benoy Chaudhury undertook exhaustive study of the legal ramifications and completed the land reforms in close association with the peasant movement. The famous "Operation Barga" (recording the rights of sharecroppers) was pioneered by him. One of the most efficient of panchayat raj institutions in India and the devolution of power to the grassroots was also undertaken under his able leadership. West Bengal today has consolidated such grassroots democracy where more than fifty percent of the state’s developmental funds are routed through the local bodies.

In his death the Communist movement in the country has lost an outstanding revolutionary; the Left movement in the country has lost a ceaseless champion of the working class and the peasantry and India has lost a supreme patriot. The CPI(M) dips its red flag in salute to his memory. The Party flag will fly at half-mast for three days in memory of the departed leader.

Comrade Benoy Chaudhury had donated his eyes and his body to the Nilratan Sarkar Medical College and Hospital. Accordingly the body will be handed over to the concerned authorities and a condolence rally in his memory will be held at Calcutta on May 9, 2000.

The Polit Bureau of the CPI(M) conveys its heartfelt condolences to his family members and the West Bengal party.