Sushil Roy

Unchaining the Dialectic

Harsh Thakor

Sushil Roy, polit-bureau member of CPI (Maoist), nephew of freedom fighter Dinesh Gupta, and a leader of the revolutionary people's movement breathed his last in the C4 Urology isolation ward in AIIMS New Delhi on the 18th of June 2014. Som, as he was known in the revolutionary people's movement, was a 78-year-old man who fought a long and hard battle against feudal, brahmanical, and imperialist oppression and exploitation till the very end of his life.The last week of his life was spent in hospital being treated for a range of illnesses and conditions suffered due to neglect at the hands of the state while under incarceration. After his arrest in 2005 at the age of 68, he spent seven years in various jails. After a prolonged effort by his brother, Dr Shyamal Roy, and appeals from a whole host of civil society members, Sushilda was released for medical treatment on bail bond when it appeared that he had less than a year to live."

"Joining the CPI trade union and leading the 1963 union strike in Banshdroni, Bengal, Sushil Roy established himself as people's leader. After the seventh Congress in 1964, he joined CPI(M) and mobilized thousands of workers against the imperialist war waged on Vietnam by the United States. In 1966, Roy was at the forefront of the 72-hour Bangla Bandh programme in Kolkata during the all Bengal food movement facing police violence and courting arrest. After the Naxalbari peasant movement of 1967, Roy's difference with the CPI(M) grew and he ardently participated in political debates within the party. But by then he saw that the path to revolution had been abandoned by the CPI(M). Soon after this, he gave up his permanent job and joined the people's struggle as a professional revolutionary, and dedicated his life to the cause of revolution in the most remote parts of Bengal. As a trade union leader, as a professional revolutionary and then even as a polit-bureau member, Roy worked tirelessly for the most oppressed and deprived of the country. In the 1980's he became the general secretary of the Maoist Communist Centre,a post he kept till 1996. In his later years, opposing state sponsored vigilante groups like the 'salwa judum', standing up against the imperialist onslaught brought forth by liberalization and globalization and the exploitation of the poor in the name of development, and fighting revisionist petit-bourgeois trends within the party, Roy has been a trenchant voice in the revolutionary history of the subcontinent." [The above quotes are from the Revolutionary Democratic Front].

At a time such as this, it is crucial to locate the humanity that drove this spirit to dedicate his life to the revolutionary cause, a humanity that built a spirit that surged with the slogan of Naxalbari. In his final appeal to his brother he stated,"Death is an inevitable part of human life. Throughout my life I have fought for the real liberation of my dear motherland and have struggled for the oppressed and the exploited masses. I am still resolute in my fight for my country and its people. So, after my death, I want my body to be used for people's welfare and nothing else. It should be used for advancement of medical science; so do not cremate my body or perform any religious rituals. Please hand over my body to competent authorities who can use it for medical science purposes. This is my last wish."

This writer met Sushil Roy in the AIMS hospital a couple of months ago. He was in a terrible condition but his mental powers were so strong that he made an amazing recovery for some time. He battled death like a soldier. Sadly his health had another reversal from the 1st week of May.

Without doubt he was one of the greatest leaders ever in the Indian Communist Movement who illuminated the flame of Naxalbari and Maoism. With the tenacity of a rock he led the CPI (Maoist). After meeting him some of this writer's views changed on the erstwhile Maoist Communist Centre of which Sushil was the former general secretary. Roy played a major role in the unification of the MCCI with the CPI(ML), People's War Group. He was a master of revolutionary dialectics which he put into practice and his experience played an invaluable role. He grasped Marxist-Leninist-Maoist politics with the mastery of a professor or a surgeon. He defended the ideology of the Maoist party, tooth and nail in spite of being sentenced to jail and critical health. He thwarted off all obstacles and all his life combined the qualities of a soldier with an architect. He refuted all those who tried to divided the Maoist party and were critical of the Unity in September 2004. It is ironical that Sushil Roy died just 4 months away from the 10th anniversary of the formation of the CPI (Maoist). In his journey he confronted the most turbulent of seas. He possessed the true soul of a revolutionary.

He explained why the Chinese Communist party refrained from using the term 'Maoism'. He stated that at that stage in history it would look like imposing leadership of the CCP over the International Communist movement and exhibit arrogance or chauvinism, as Mao tse Tung was still alive. In his view 'Mao tse Tung Thought' was only a synonymn of 'Maoism', which to him was morally an ism even during Mao's lifetime (during the Cultural Revolution period).

He stressed how morallly the Maoist Communist Centre played the greatest role in Bihar and Jharkhand. He elaborated the weaknesses of the erstwhile CPI(ML) Party Unity group and the significance of the erstwhile Maoist Communist Centre. He explained that the Krantikari Kisan Commitees only partially functioned openly unlike other peasant associations like the Mazdoor Kisan Sangram Samiti of the CPI (ML) Party Unity group. He stated that the MCC did build open fronts of students, intellectuals (Krantikari Budhijivee Sangh) and cultural wings (Krantikari Sanskritik Sangh) which had a significant mass base but in the peasant movement mantained secret functioning structure. In Sushil Roy's view unlike the MCC the CPI (ML) Party Unity group only had floating armed squads or self defense squads and no stable military structure. The MCCI also formed a strong red army corps in addition to village level defence corpses. ...Although not forming a complete peasant organization the Krantikari Kisan Committees built revolutionary peasant councils similar to the red army in China. The secret party structure was mantained with iron discipline. It brilliantly combined underground mass movements with the meticulousness of a surgeon. From 1969 to its formation till 2004 before merging with the CPI (ML) People's War Group it mantained the structure of the party with water tight discipline with no central committee leader arrested and no military squad liquidated. Probably it played the greatest role by any organization in the Communist revolutionary movement in Bihar, Jharkand and Bengal.

Sushil Roy was a backbone to the Maoist party and to the very end displayed the true inner spiritual depth of a revoIutionary. Although dead he will reverberate his spirit to light the torch of Marxism-Leninism-Maoism.

Vol. 47, No. 3, Jul 27 - Aug 2, 2014