January 14, 2009


KOLKATA: Another link has been snapped between the pre-independence Bengal Left-led revolutionary movement against colonialism and the Communist struggle, with the passing away of comrade Sailesh Chaudhuri, a member, until recently and until a fell disease rendered him physically challenged, on the board of editors of the weekly organ of the Bengal CPI (M) Deshahitaishee. State secretary of the Bengal CPI (M) Biman Basu presently in Purulia, and Ashok Bandyopadhyay, present editor of the weekly among others have condoled the departed comrade’s passing away.

Born in the former East Pakistan on November 25 1925, comrade Sailesh became a Party member at a tender young age in the year 1941. He developed himself theoretically and in the fields of struggle, bit by tiny bit, until he was a soldier of the then CPI, and the CPI (M)) -- after the united Party split in 1964.

A comrade who hated the word ‘journalist’ to be appended to his name and reputation (which was considerable), comrade Sailesh remained a ‘reporter,’ until he was rendered incapacitated. We recall the fiery decade of the 1970s when comrade Sailesh was found by us reporting on the jute strike from the now-sick Gondolpara jute mill in the heart of bustling Chandernagore in Hooghly, living his life amongst the chatkal mazdoors, mingling with them, sharing the considerable burden of their lives as lay-offs increased by quantum leaps – and the mazdoors under the Chatkal Mazdoor Union would not give up. This trend of comrade Sailesh’s style of reportage continued until the recent Panchayat polls when he would roam the districts and watch the rural bodies in action.

No wonder, his reportage had the stamp of field-level authenticity-- something that the corporate media has always lacked, sitting as they do in the comfort of their cubicles and weaving anti-Communist stories to their hearts contents-- and facts be darned. Comrade Sailesh wrote in simple language divested of linguistic callisthenics, and was never a show off although he was by any standard a ‘star’ reporter, an asset to any media, Communist or otherwise, if only for the hard factual reporting he would exult in.

We consider it to have been our privilege to work with comrade Sailesh for three decades or more, especially during the period I wrote in the decade of the 1980s, a foreign affairs column in the Deshahitaishee. A soothing but consistent critic of my contributions especially to PD, comrade Sailesh never had a harsh word for me except to say that I needed to tone my ‘revolutionary’ zeal down to the softness of the earth where harsh battles are fought and where such conflicts shall continued to be fought until the farther goals are achieved. Comrade Sailesh was a man filled with expectations for such social changes and remained a Communist to the core until his death.

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