Comrade Bardhan, the tireless Communist fighter, taught us the value of unwavering determination and commitment to advance the cause of the Indian people. Another thing he taught us, in the milieu of fast-degenerating political morality, was value of politics.
That politics is not a stepping stone for a career but supreme service to society, to bring about a social transformation in the country.
My association with Comrade Bardhan goes back to the 1980s, when he was a trade-union leader and i was a student activist. Though many years apart (he was a leader of the Student Federation in the 1940s) he established an excellent camaraderie with me (as he did with many others in our time).
I was always struck by his total transparency in how he lived, worked and dealt with people. He lived mostly in the CPI headquarters at Ajoy Bhawan, where I would often go to have tea with him.
He would insist on borrowing any new book I would lay my hands on, never one to shy away from keeping up with the latest ideas and arguments. As we were travelling together once, he was struck by a copy of Joe Sacco’s ‘Palestine’ I was carrying and we spoke for a long time on it.
He remarked how all of us in India, Indian communists should also adopt and popularise our message through innovative means, like how Sacco had done, through his lines and illustrations.
There is much more that comes flooding in the mind as I come to terms with the fact that he is no more.
A regret I have is that at our last meeting at the seminar the CPI organised to commemorate its 90 years in November, he had asked me to come and see him.
Unfortunately, we could not really have a conversation when I saw him last, as he had been hospitalised already. I remember him for his vitality and robustness, and alertness in meeting all attacks against Marxism with a consistency we will never forget.
Lal Salam. Comrade Bardhan.
(The picture above is from the time Comrade Bardhan and I were together in Patna earlier this year)
Sitaram Yechury is the CPI-M’s general secretary