Oldest living comrade gets a party

Samar Mukherjee

IN A break from tradition, the CPM in Bengal will celebrate the birthday of a comrade on Wednesday. However, November 7 is no ordinary anniversary. That day, Samar Mukherjee, arguably the oldest surviving comrade in the country, turns 100.

For 72 of those years now, Mukherjee has been living and working for the CPM. It was in 1940 that he left his home and family to live in a party commune, where he continues to stay.

Former MLA and ex-MP, Mukherjee's last assignment was head of the CPM's Control Commission, which deals with corruption/nepotism cases.

For his birthday bash, the CPM is planning to put up a small stage in front of the commune at 9, Dilkhusha street, in Kolkata the oldest run by the party in Bengal where Mukherjee has been staying since 1965.

At different points in his life, his fellow residents at the commune were Communist stalwarts such as Muzaffar Ahmed (the founder member of the CPM) and Abdullah Rasool, Mahadeb Saha, Nirod Chakraborty and Rabin Sen. Now Mukherjee is the only resident in the five rooms here.

The CPM also hopes to use the event to underline for its cadre the core values of an ideal Communist leader, at a time when the party is facing one of its worst crises of existence.

"Although we are opposed to celebrating birthdays, November 7 will be an exception because, for the first time, a party leader has lived up to 100," CPM state secretary and Politburo member Biman Bose said. "Several party leaders and those from our Left Front allies will be invited."

CPM general secretary Prakash Karat is expected to attend, as well as former chief minister Buddhadeb Bhattcharjee.

Party veterans said it was the second such effort by the CPM to celebrate a living leader's birthday. The first was in 1963 when the party feted Muzaffar Ahmed.

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