September 21, 2014

Red Salute to Comrade Benoy Konar

The following is the press statement issued by the AIKS on September 15. THE All India Kisan Sabha dips its red banner in honour of Comrade Benoy Konar, former president of the AIKS and veteran Communist leader who passed away in Kolkata on September 14 at the age of 84. He had served as the general secretary and president of the Paschim Banga Krishak Sabha and as a Central Committee member and state secretariat member of the CPI(M) for a long period. He was the president of AIKS from 1995 to 1999 and played a major role in formulating the organisation’s position against neo-liberal economic policies and building struggles against the anti-peasant policies. He was the vice-president of AIKS till the 33rd all India conference in Cuddalore held in July 2013. Comrade Benoy Konar from a very young age was attracted to the anti-imperialist struggle for freedom. Benoyda as he was affectionately known to people of all ages was a legendary militant leader of the peasantry who played a major role in the anti-feudal struggle in Bengal. At the forefront of land struggles, he instilled confidence in the landless peasantry and rural poor and fought on their side to overthrow the oppressive feudal landlords. He had to spend long years underground and organise the peasantry facing great repression. He also faced arrest many times and spent nearly seven years in jail. Starting from the grassroots, he gradually emerged as a widely respected leader of the peasantry in the state as well as across the country. His simplicity and unwavering commitment to the cause of the oppressed and the perseverance as well as optimism even in adverse circumstances will remain an inspiration for generations to come. Comrade Benoy Konar was thrice elected to the West Bengal legislative assembly from Memari constituency in Burdwan district – in 1969, 1971 and 1977. In his role as a legislator he was the voice of the peasantry and rural poor. He continuously engaged with the issues of the peasantry and also wrote extensively on agrarian issues. Even when his health was failing, he personally made great efforts to collect funds for the AIKS central office building fund. He last addressed the Harekrishna Konar Centenary Celebrations at Kolkata last month. Comrade Konar, is survived by his wife, two sons and two daughters. AIKS extends its heartfelt condolences to his bereaved family and all comrades who worked with him. The All India Agricultural Workers Union and the Centre of Indian Trade Unions, through separate statements, have also condoled Comrade Benoy Konar,