Hare Krishna Konar was the eldest son of Sarat Chandra Konar and Satyabala Konar, his father and mother lived in Kamargoria village across the Damodar River, the ancestral home in Raina of Bardhaman district. Konar was born into an upper-middle-class family on August 5, 1915. His father was a well known businessman as well as a landlord in Kamargoria village. After a certain age he started his primary studies at Kamargoria Prathmik Bidyalay and was a bright student of the school, although he was interested in all the subjects but specially in Sanskrit he had a great interest, after few years he completed his primary studies from the same school in Kamargoria. And in class 5, he shifted to the South Radhakantapur village of Memari with his parents. His father enrolled his son's name in Memari Vidyasagar Smriti Vidya Mandir School. After shifting to the new village the Congress leader of burdwan Bibhuti Datta used to visit their house regularly, actually Konar was influenced towards politics by the thoughts he had listed from the Congress leader Bibhuti Babu, In this time a new leader who had recently made his name in Indian Politics named Mahatma Gandhi had come out with his new idea of Ahimsa Andolan and launched his first Satyagraha movement in 1930, which was going all over the country and were participated by teachers, professors, lawyers, college students and school students but the teachers of Memari Vidyasagar Smriti Vidya Mandir never encouraged their students to the revolutionary activities, they actually tried many ways to maintain distance between movements and the school students. So to attend the Satyagraha campaigns and the political campaigns of Burdwan Congress, Konar goes to school and in the lunch time he attend the campaigns, he regularly attend the meetings and rallies. So one day a meeting about revolutionary culture was going on konar's father came and grab his hand to take konar back to home but Hare Krishna Konar was clinging to the balcony post in front of the District Congress House, Sarat Konar had a great reputation in the village as he was a wealthy businessman and had a dream to send Konar to Oxford University for his further studies but Konar had left everythings, his studies, his future, his properties literally everything to get the Britishers rid of the country, so by struggling to take him back home from Burdwan district congress office Sarat Konar said:
You have to go home, I have arranged to send you to Oxford University, Why are you so hard to leave home? Come home with me.
On that day, under the advice of Benoy Choudhury who was then incharged for the burdwan volunteer camp for the civil disobedience movement, a senior Congress leaders sent Hare Krishna Konar back home. With a bunch of sorrowness Sarat Chandra Konar built a hospital in Memari with all the money he had saved to send Hare Krishna Konar in Oxford University, London, first he gave 1 lakh 20 thousand rupees and later 80 thousand rupees. After few days, while studying in 9th standard at the age of 15 Hare Krishna Konar was arrested for picketing in front of Burdwan Raj College. Just after releasing from jail again, Konar again ran away from home towards Disobedience movement and were again arrested in April, 1930 for 6 months in Burdwan Jail, In jail he met with Benoy Choudhury who was also arrested for participating in Civil Disobedience Movement and they discussed in various topics, In jail he talked with various revolutionaries and was initiated and influenced into the terrorist revolutionary doctrine, this jail period was the most important period of his revolutionary career, he learned that there are 3 streams of political movement in our country at this time—
(1) National Liberation Movement initiated by Congress
(2) Terrorist revolutionary movement
(3) Communist movement
All these 3 movements influenced Konar's life. The lives of many terrorist revolutionaries of the 1930s, who decided to take the path of Communism, marched with devotion and single mindedness in front of the goal of ending all forms of exploitation and oppression forever by judging the interests of workers, peasants and hardworking people. Hare Krishna Konar came from within these change movements based on practical experience. So After released from prison, Konar moved forward with the mindset of making Terrorist revolutionary movement by giving up the process of nonviolent, he moved towards the armed struggle and showed particular skill in creating revolutionary groups in and around Memari. It was during this time that Bhupendranath Dutta and Comrade Bankim Mukherjee were introduced to the revolutionary group in Burdwan. Under Dutta and Mukherjee's influence Burdwan revolutionary group got the supply of various Marxist books along with the news about the case which appeared in the newspapers article about Meerut Conspiracy Case. Hare Krishna Konar started his political activities as an active member of Jugantar revolutionary party in our country's freedom struggle against British Imperialism. As a political activist, his beginning was from involvement in various activities of the revolutionary movement of Jugantar. As we all know, Life is a Struggle for Revolutionaries. While still a student, Konar gave his life along with others to create a new tide in the freedom struggle of the country through the death struggle against British imperialism. On the other hand, Konar passed his 10th standard with an excellent result of first division in all subjects and letter in Sanskrit subject from Memari Vidyasagar Smriti Vidya Mandir, then he gone to Calcutta and taken admission in first year as a science student of Bangabasi College. He used to stayed in Canning Hostel of Scott Lane and was in contact with Benoy Choudhury and Saroj Mukherjee of Burdwan terrorist revolutionary movement and joined the Calcutta terrorist revolutionary movement. After a few days, the party's funds reached almost zero, and there was a special need for money. One of Konar's friends was Bipadbaran Roy, whose house was in Calcutta but who also used to stay in hostels. So, one afternoon, Bipadbaran Roy's uncle, who was a government employee, came with 10 thousand rupees and kept it in his house, so it was decided that they would rob that money and use it to make bombs. So Bipadbaran, Konar, and a few others went to the house and took all the money, along with some extra gold and cash, and used it to make bombs and arms in their Calcutta terrorist revolutionary movement. But then also, the full amount of money can't be arranged, so in the house of Memari Konar, he broke his father's chest to collect the remaining money, which he wanted for the organization. In Calcutta, Bangabasi College was then the center of revolutionary students who were directly associated with Anushilan Samiti or Jugantar. Then it was 1931, when the armed struggle revolution was at its peak. In the month of February, Anushilan Samiti's allies HSRA leader Bhagat Singh was sentenced to death, and in London Gandhiji made a pact with Irwin, which was Gandhi–Irwin Pact. Slowly, revolutionaries started opposing Mahatma Gandhi and his Nonviolence principles. Finally, In March 1931, Bhagat Singh was executed by hanging and Chandra Shekhar Azad was shot with a gun, who were the main figures of the armed struggle revolution. And just after that, Gandhi launched another Satyagraha movement, which was opposed by a large section of students and also by various revolutionary groups. So as a result, the armed struggle revolution increased and subsequently, the revolutionary groups also started increasing. At the same time Calcutta's biggest revolutionary group, The Indian Proletarian Revolutionary Party was formed, Konar along with Benoy Choudhury joined the group by holding each other's hand, soon Konar involved in various revolutionary activities such as making bomb, leading the robbery and slowly became the leader of that group.
Communist Consolidation and Cellular Jail (1932–38)
Hare Krishna Konar was caught on September 15, 1932, in the Begut Robbery Case. Konar was ridiculously tortured by the police after his arrest. But Konar never uttered a single name of any revolutionary and tolerated all the tortures by the British Police. In the special tribunal case, the police filed a charge sheet u/s 694 and u/s 398 of the Indian Public Penal Code against Hare Krishna Konar as an accused for robbery and murder. After the arrest he was taken to Midnapore Central Jail and on 20 January 1933 the judgment of the tribunal was delivered in Calcutta High Court, in his court trial Konar was present along with other revolutionaries from all parts of Bengal like Mohan Kishore Namadas (arrested for Netrokona Soarikanda armed case), Sudhangshu Dasgupta (arrested for Mechuabazar Bomb Case), Karthik Chandra Dey Das and Mukul Chandra roy (arrested for calcutta arms act case), Gourishankar Dubey (arrested for muzaffarpur political dacoity case), Bindubhushan Sen (arrested for jamalpur dacoity and arms conspiracy case), Jagadananda Mukherjee (cornwallis street shooting case) and when Judges ask Comrade Hare Krishna Konar if he was guilty for his revolutionary activities against the British Empire or not. On the reply to it, Konar said:
What I have done I am not shameful for that and what will be my consequences I will be proud for that.
After his addressing the judgment said:
Therefore acquit the accused of the charge under section 398 IPC with regard to the sentence to death on the accused under section 394 IPC. We have the consideration on the one hand that the offence is exceedingly grave one and on the other hand the youth of the accused who is to be about 17 years age, taking both the circumstances into account sentence the accused to undergo rigorous imprisonment six years.
After announcing the rigorous imprisonment, Hare Krishna Konar had no remorse for it. Again for a month he was kept in Midnapore Central Jail and in February 1933, the Central Government, in consultation with the Government of Bengal, decided that all prisoners who had been sentenced for 5 years or more, would be sent to the Kālā Pānī of Cellular Jail in the Andamans. As a result of the government's decision to give him the highest punishment of Kālā Pānī, at the age of 18, Konar was sent to the Cellular Jail of the Andaman and Nicobar Islands in April 1933 by the Maharaja ship of the British Empire. As a companions on the ship, Hare Krishna Konar got revolutionaries like Satish Pakrashi, Niranjan Sen, Dr. Narayan Roy, Dr. Bhupal Bose convicted in the Dalhousie bomb case, although Sudhangshu Dasgupta, involved in the Mechuabazar Bomb Case, was earlier sent to Cellular Jail in December 1932.
Soon after the imprisonment in cellular jail, comrade Konar faced the inhuman and unimaginable tortures, treatment of Kālā Pānī, it was physical tortures as well as mental torture more over the food that was given was not fit for human consumption, there were worms when they opened the bread and wild grass was boiled and served in rotten vegetables, rain water was given for drinking and the water was full of insects and worms, 13×6 cells were dark and damp and dingy thickly coated with moss, there were no toilets, there were no lights, no reading material, prisoners were not allowed to meet with each other, the guards carried out physical torture and flogging, their behaviour was insulting, things had become unbearable, so the prisoners came in a conclusion to do hunger strike against the jail authorities to improve the systems in jail, soon on 12 May 1933 the hunger strike was fast undo death, Mahavir Singh (arrested for Lahore Conspiracy Case), Mohan Kishore Namadas (arrested for Calcutta arms act case) and Mohit Moitra (arrested for an Arms Act Case) died for Force-feeding by British warders during this hunger strike, their bodies were quietly ferreted away and thrown out to sea, so that the Indians could not get an issue to revolt against the British governments. Central Jail Lahore's inspector David Barker was called to break the hunger strike, he issued orders to stop the strike of drinking water. The freedom fighters were resolute, there was a huge outcry throughout India because of this hunger strike. After 46 days of this hunger strike, the British Raj had to bow and request to stop the hunger strike and they said the facilities they are demanding for will be accepted, so revolutionary of Cellular Jail had accept it, thus the hunger strike ended on 26 June 1933, and soon after the death of three respected revolutionaries Mahavir Singh, Mohan Kishore Namadas and Mohit Moitra in the hunger strike, the facilities won from cellular jail authorities improved, which prisoners will be noted as less dangerous he will be released but will under the eyes of Britishers, light was fixed in every cell, opportunity to play sports, cultural events was organised by the jail authority and jail work was reduced to minimal, prisoners were allowed and given:
• Soap to bath
• Bed to sleep
• Edible food
• Allowed to study
• Given respect by the jail authority to the prisoners
• Allowed to communicate amongst themselves and many other facilities were also grewed.
During the hunger strike comrade konar met with Satish Pakrashi, Subodh Roy, Niranjan Sengupta, Ganesh Ghosh, Batukeshwar Dutt, Sachindra Nath Sanyal, Jibendra Das, Nalini Das, Shiv Verma, met many others and soon after the hunger strike the supervision and checking process in the jail was extremely reduced, so the prisoners had been able to smuggle in a lot amount of communist and socialist literature. Dr. Narayan Roy and Niranjan Sengupta smuggled a largest volume of literature in the cellular jail from the group of Central Jail Lahore. Several prisoners were of high learning and had been permitted all sorts of books for study in jail, on their release the prisoners made over their literature to the other revolutionary, who brought them to the Andaman unchecked by the so many authorities which formally checked them, on their way to the Andaman. The prisoners also requested the warders outside the andaman jail to get books direct from the book smugglers, the prisoners requested their relatives though letter to send them particular books, when they arrived in jail, they were checked by the authorities who finding them objectionable set them aside. However, some revolutionary prisoners who were working in the jail office who picked those books and gave them to their comrades. Konar also arranged to bring books from his Memari's house and money to buy books for Konar to study, he used to read that book all day and meet at one place in the evening and Konar would explain the essence of that book in details. The cellular jail authority made a library for the revolutionaries but the control of the library passed into the hands of all the left radical who were formerly a revolutionary and named the library as "The Veritable University of Revolutionaries", this was about the year 1935. The prisoners spent most of their time in reading communist or socialistliterature in "The Veritable University " and a thirst for books and knowledge began, there were students, doctors, lawyers, peasants, and workers all together, discussion of politics, economics, history and philosophy as the result that there was hardly any left who had not become a confirmed Communist or Socialist. Hare krishna konar, Shiv verma, Satish pakrasi held study circles, in which the principles of Socialism, Marxism and Communism were explained, biology and physiology given by the doctors amongst them, others gave the classes of historical and dialectical materialism eventually a different and new environment was created as the revolutionary met to discuss and read. Soon Hare Krishna Konar and Shiv verma decided to make an organ of the party which was called the Communist Consolidation, should be started immediately with 39 prisoners on 26 April 1935 the Consolidation was formed. "Vande Mataram" and "Bharat Mata ki Jai" and other national slogans were never used. The consolidation members only use the slogan of "Inquilab Zindabad" and "Dunia ka majduro ek ho". Dhanwantri, Bejoy Kumar Sinha, Batukeshwar Dutt, Narain Roy, and Niranjan Sengupta were appointed to the editorial board of a Newspaper, named "The Call", which were published from the jail. The "Call" was started as a monthly paper and act as a mouthpiece of communist consolidation, the number of member in communist consolidation swelled to 200 and all of them contributed articles on different subjects dealing with Communism, Marxism, Socialism, Biography of Vladimir Lenin, Karl Marx, etc., "The Call" was like a magazine paper, only one copy was written and placed in the library, it had about 150 pages, later the consolidation member celebrates the May Day, October Revolution Day, Vladimir Lenin's birthday, etc. These activities of the Communist Consolidation continued unhindered till about the middle of 1937. The Chittagong arms Group members therefore, started military parades, at first without the sanction of the authorities, but a little later with the full approval of the authorities. They also had their uniform prepared, they prepared their buttons and badges from the silver utensils they were given for use. Ananta Singh was their leader instructor, they were able to put up a very impressive show. When they marched past, and performed several lying and attacking formations with their Bamboo sticks used instead of muskets, they appeared really magnificent. The members of the Communist Consolidation were so impressed with these military drills of the Chittagong group that they also sought permission from the Communist Consolidation leaders to join the daily parades of the Chittagong Group. This resulted in the number of the Chittagong paraders increasing to about 90 and all the chittagong arms group member also join the Communist consolidation. This is the time of 1937 the prisoners were enjoying their daily activities and saying themselves as political prisoners of AndamanCellular Jail.
In the time 1937 the revolutionaries of cellular jail started feeling the atmosphere for the world war and the freedom fighters thought that before the war starts we should get back to our country to be with our people and take active part in the Anti-war movement and as after studying about Marxism, Communism and Socialism the freedom fighters of jail started saying themselves as political prisoners so they want to get treated like other political prisoners who were treated in other jails for that's why a petition was sent to Viceroy and governor-general The Marquess of Linlithgow on 9 July 1937 by Shiv Verma and Hare Krishna Konar that:
All political prisoners should be repatriated to the mainland and released. An ultimatum was given that if these demands were not met a hunger strike would begin.
But there was no response from the viceroy The Marquess of Linlithgow, so finally on 25 July 1937 the 385 political prisoners went on hunger strike, some of the 80 other prisoners got bailed by giving the excuse to the jail authority that they are going on their personal works and businesses, but actually they were going to propagate and to encourage the Indians to do protest against the British government to transfer the prisoners from andaman to mainland and creating a noise and protesting against the force feeding by the jailers. The prisoners also arrange to get information regarding Indian reactions to the hunger strike, it had already been arranged that the newspapers containing Indian reactions should be smuggled inside the jail through some warders and other contacts which had been established with some of the local peoples. A country wide movement on the mainland in support of demands of the Andaman freedom fighters began to treated as other political prisoners like other jails. There was a mass demonstration of working people, intellectuals and students. This upsurge clearly showed that their people on the mainland did not forget them. After four weeks telegrams from leaders of the nation Jawaharlal Nehru, Subhas Chandra Bose, Sarat Chandra Bose, Rabindranath Tagore, etc. poured in imploring the freedom fighters to end their hunger strike. Letter to Viceroy on 3 August 1937 by Rabindranath Tagore that:
I as a poet appeals you to transfer the political prisoners of cellular jail to mainland as the hunger strike begins and we cannot allow this flowers of the nation to wither away, so please don't use cellular jail as a concentrating camp of revolutionaries and you have to release the political prisoners from jail.
The whole nation along with me and congress working committee members appeals to you to end the hunger strike and assures you to take up your demands and to see them fulfilled.
After a lot of deliberation and discussion this historic 36-days hunger strike of 200 revolutionary freedom fighters ended. The process of repatriation started on 29 November 1937. There were a total of 385 freedom fighters in jail at the time. 339 from Bengal, 19 from Bihar, 11 from Uttar Pradesh, 5 from Assam, 3 from Punjab, 2 from Delhi and 2 from Madras and most of the member of this organization along with Hare Krishna Konar was previously the member of Anushilan Samiti and Jugantar or from Pro Marxist groups and by January 1938 Konar was back to Bengal from Andamans Cellular jail, Hare Krishna Konar was kept in Dumdum Central Jail for some time and transferred to Burdwan Jail, from where he was released on 27 March 1938.
He first worked among the workers and trade unionists in Calcutta and Howrah. After some months Comrade Benoy Chowdhury took him to Bardhaman district and he started working in the kisan (farmers) movement. In 1939, he participated in the Canal Tax protest in Bardhaman district. In 1940 he was banned by the British Government from entering Asansol, Burnpur area and later on from Bardhaman district. But he still worked from underground in Bardhaman, and he was once arrested for few months.
In 1944 he was again arrested and he was banned by the government to step out of Bardhaman City. He played important role during the Ajay river Dam movement of 1943–1944 and second stage of Canal Tax protest of 1946–1947. While canvassing for elections in colliery area of Asansol he was physically assaulted by goons, and his legs were broken. In March 1948 when the CPI was banned, he was arrested immediately for 3 months. After being released he went into hiding and remained so until 1952. His chief role was maintaining communications between Kolkata, Bardhaman, Howrah and Hooghly in this time. He played an important role during the Food Movement of West Bengal in 1953, and Civil Disobedience movement in 1957, and was arrested both times. Sino-Indian war fighting began on the Himalayan border on 10 October 1962 between the Chinese People's Liberation Army and Army of India. This issue that fueled the split in the Communist Party of India was parting of the ways between the USSR and China. Though the conflict had a long history, it came out in open in 1959, Nikita Khrushchev sought to appease the West during a period of the Cold War known as 'The Thaw', by holding a summit meeting with U.S. President Dwight D. Eisenhower. Two other reasons were USSR's unwillingness to support Chinese nuclear program and their neutrality in the initial days of Sino-Indian border conflict. These events greatly offended Mao Zedong and the other Chinese Communist leaders. In 1962, Mao Zedong criticised Nikita Khrushchev for backing down in the Cuban Missile Crisis. By that time the Soviets were openly supporting India in its border dispute with China. These events were followed by formal statements of each side's ideological positions: the Chinese came out with their document in June 1963. The Soviets too came out with their own document. Thereafter the two parties stopped communicating. During the 1962 Sino-Indian war, other parties portrayed left-wing parties as pro-China, since both were Communist. Hare Krishna Konar among with other Communists stated that the left Wings was focused on solving the border dispute through talk. As of 1963 the All India Kisan Sabha had been rendered dysfunctional as most of its key leaders and cadres had been jailed. However, by late 1963 and early 1964 most of jailed AIKS leaders and cadres were released from prison. During the 1964 split in CPI, there were efforts to retain AIKS as a united organization. However, there were tensions between the CPI(M) and CPI factions within AIKS, per Surjeet (1995) a mayor source of tension was the rejection of the rightists to demand release of jailed AIKS leaders. Among the AIKS grassroots, the majority sided with CPI(M). But the split in the AIKS top leadership was 'somewhat uneven' per Sharma (1978). Its president, Gopalan, went to CPI(M) whilst the general secretary Bhowani Sen sided with CPI(Right). Among key Central Kisan Council members, the ones that sided with CPI(M) included Lyallpuri, Parulekar, Konar, C.H. Kanaran and N. Prasad Rao. In the CPI(Right) faction, in the Central Kisan Council key leaders included Manali C. Kandaswami, B.V. Kakkilaya, Jagannath Sarkar, Z.A. Ahmed and Karyanand Sharma and on 11 April 1964, the landmark incident happened in Delhi, the "Leftist faction" happned in Communist Party of India national council including 30 Leftists P. Sundarayya, M. Basavapunniah, T. Nagi Reddy, M. Hanumantha Rao, D.V. Rao, N. Prasad Rao, G. Bapanayya, A.K. Gopalan, A.V. Kunhambu, C.H. Kanaran, E.K. Nayanar, V.S. Achuthanandan, E.K. Imbichibava, Promode Dasgupta, Muzaffar Ahmed, Abdul Halim, Hare Krishna Konar, Saroj Mukherjee, P. Ramamurthi, M.R. Venkataraman, N. Sankariah, K. Ramani, Harkishan Singh Surjeet, Jagjit Singh Lyallpuri, D.S. Tapiala, Bhag Singh, Sheo Kumar Mishra, R.N. Upadhyaya, Mohan Punamiya, and R.P. Saraf and two Centrist leaders, E. M. S. Namboodiripad and Jyoti Basu, walked out from the meeting to protest against the "revisionist policies" of General Secretary Shripad Amrit Dange and his followers, particularly the failure to have "class struggle" as its main policy. Shripad Amrit Dange's followers had an overwhelming majority in the National Council and The left fraction section organised their own conference in Tenali, Andhra Pradesh. These thirty-two leaders were also suspended from National Council of Communist Party of India on that day 11 April 1964. The left leaders who were ousted, in turn, announced a separated national convention. while the leftist fraction group holds a parallel congress in Tenali, Andhra Pradesh and The leftist section, to which the 32 National Council members belonged, organized a convention in Tenali, Andhra Pradesh 7 to 11 July. In this convention, the issues of the internal disputes in the party were discussed. 146 delegates, claiming to represent 100,000 CPI members, at the Tenali convention a Bengal-based pro-Chinese group like konar, mukherjee, Dasgupta, basu and halim, representing one of the most radical streams of the CPI left-wing and in that meeting they decided to make the party in 7th Congress of Communist Party of India. The Congress government of P C Sen in Bengal arrested many of the breakaway group's leaders days before the Congress, and in 1964 Hare Krishna Konar was imprisoned for two years, for that's why he could not take part in 7th Congress of Communist Party of India's parallel where the Communist Party of India (Marxist) were formed in calcutta, for that reason he could not able to be the member of 1st Politburo but he was elected as central committee and after some months many other communist leader was also arested for joining the seventh Congress in calcutta, such as the former chief minister of Kerala, E. M. S. Namboodiripad, the organisational specialist Promode Dasgupta, the former Chief Minister of West Bengal, Jyoti Basu, the Telangana revolutionaries, Puchalapalli Sundarayya and Makineni Basavapunnaiah as well as some members of the rightist section such as the trade unionist A. B. Bardhan and was released after an order from the Supreme Court of India in 1966. By 1967 AIKS was divided into two parallel organizations, as a consequence of the split in the party. At the August 28, 1967 Central Kisan Council meeting in Madurai, differences arose over the membership figures. The CPI(M) faction in AIKS accused the CPI faction of presenting false inflated membership data of state units in order to increase their influence in the organization. The dispute led to a walk-out from the Central Kisan Council. In 1968 Hare Krishna Konar was elected as the first general secretary of the new fraction from rightist organization to leftist.
1957–1962 In the West Bengal Legislative Assembly election of 1957, Hare Krishna Konar and Jamadar Majhi was elected as the representative of the Kalna constituency and the Communist Party returned as the second largest party with an increased representation. This platform enabled the Communist Party under the leadership of Jyoti Basu in West Bengal to exacerbate agitations against the prevalent food crisis in West Bengal by acting as the principal opposition on the floor of the assembly, increasing public awareness and providing a united front for agitators to rally around.
1969–1971 For the mid term West Bengal Legislative Assembly election of 1969, the United Front Committee was formed consisting of all the coalition partners of the previous government which agreed upon a pre-poll alliance to contest the election together under a 32-point programme. Under terms of the agreement, if the alliance were to attain a majority then Ajoy Mukherjee would become the chief minister while Jyoti Basu would become the deputy chief minister. In addition during the negotiations Basu was able to secure the portfolios of fisheries, food, excise, labour, civil defence and education for the CPI-M as well as Minister of Land and Land Revenue was changed his name to Minister of Land and Land Reforms and the minister was Hare Krishna Konar. In the election, the United Front won an overwhelming victory with 214 out of 280 seats and as a consequence the Communist Party of India (Marxist) stood as the first party other than the Congress party to become the largest party in the assembly.
The second United Front government however too fell within a short period of time, on this occasion the chief minister Ajoy Mukherjee resigned in March 1970 after facing an aggravated and dysfunctional government where smaller member parties were in confrontation with the Communist Party of India (Marxist), the largest among them on various issues. The government continued to be operational until the dissolution of the assembly by presidential proclamation on 30 July.
Naxalite movement derives its name from Naxalbari, a small place in Siliguri subdivision of Darjeeling district of West Bengal. It all started in 1967 after the first non-congress government came into power under the name of United Front Government. The dominant forces in the government were the Leftists. The main forces were the CPI and the CPI(M). They represented the aspirations of the marginalized and the poor. The minister-in-charge of Land and Land Revenue was Hare Krishna Konar who was a veteran peasant leader. In an interview with his party mouthpiece Ganashakti, he made his intentions clear about the quick distribution of surplus land and he further asked for peasant initiative and organized force. What he did not realize was that the aspirations of the poor peasantry were already on a high note and his invitation escalated them further. As the later developments showed they went far beyond his expectations. Although there were no doubts about the intentions of the leftists in the government about the redistribution, the path to achieve the goals was not that simple. There were some constraints before government. To name a few first they were not sure about how to recover the land from the landlords. Second the landlords could take the help of law to delay the seizure of land and thus postpone the redistribution for an indefinite period. Third was the working of the bureaucracy. There were some instances of even defying the orders of the ministers. As a result of these obstacles, the government could not implement the land reforms quickly. The CPI(M) was in a difficult situation because it was in the power so it could not totally do away the legal and official procedure and on the other hand the aspirations of the peasantry had to be satisfied. Everyone was not happy with government policy of redistributing the land through legal process. One of such prominent figures was Charu Mazumdar who was attacking Hare Krishna Konar on three accounts. The first point was that he submitted to the bureaucrats and feudal gentry. The second point was that there might be disputes among the peasants who acquired the land through legal process and those who got it through forceful means. The third point was that the peasants who would acquire the land through legal process might eventually become a complacent middle farmer. Developments at Naxalbari: In this light a peasants’ conference was held under the auspices of CPI(M) at Naxalbari and it gave a call for ending the monopoly ownership of land by landlords, organization and arming of peasants to destroy the resistance of landlords. Among the sponsors of the conference were Kanu Sanyal and Jangal Santhal who later became prominent leaders of the Naxalbari movement. Both of them were in favor of political propaganda and mass mobilization what was opposed by Charu Mazumdar. He wanted only action. So there were some differences on the part of the strategy to be followed but they were clear on many points such as that India's liberation could be achieved only through China's path, propagation of politics of agrarian struggle among the working class and the peasantry and building up a secret party to prepare cadres for this purpose. As a result of those differences pointed out already, Siliguri Local committee cadres decided to go on the path of mass movements whereas West Dinajpur unit decided to stick to the idea of Charu babu. Now the mobilization started on a large scale. From March to April (1967) all the villages of the Naxalbari were organized and 15000 to 20000 peasants were enrolled as whole time activists. They soon occupied the land in the name of peasants’ committees, burnt all land records, cancelled all hypothetical debts, and passed death sentences on oppressive landlords. They also formed armed bands by looting guns from the landlords, armed themselves with conventional weapons and set up a parallel administration to look after the villages. By May of that year itself three or four places were totally under the control of rebels. In the meantime Charu babu addressed a meeting of the cadres and asked them to always be on the side of the poor and landless peasant. He said that our relation with rich farmers would always be of struggling nature. Observing that the situation going out of control UF government woke up and Hare Krishna Konar was sent to the Naxalbari region and he asked the rebels to put down their arms and file the petition for the distribution of land vested with the government. It was also agreed that all the persons wanted by Police would also surrender. But the agreement was never implemented. Just after the return of minister from that place, a Police camp was established there. In the wake of these developments the first serious clash between Police and the peasants occurred on 23 May 1967, when a policeman was killed and in retaliation police opened fire on a crowd of villagers and killed nine people. Out of them six were women and two were children. This incident created tensions within and outside the United Front government. The West Bengal Secretariat condemned the incident and accused Chief Minister Ajoy Mukherjee, an ex-Congressman of laying ‘one sided stress on police measures to maintain law and order’. Meanwhile, news of clashes between peasants and landlords kept pouring in from Naxalbari and between third and 10 June. There were as many as eighty incidents of dacoity, two murders and also one abduction. Mr. B. Chavan Union Home Minister told the Lok Sabha that a reign of terror has been created in Darjeeling. By the end of June while the leadership of Communist Party of India (Marxist) was openly against the Naxalbari rebels. In Calcutta several groups within and outside CPI(M) were coming together. These groups formed the Naxalbari Peasants Struggle Aid Committee, which became a nucleus of separate party of the future. CPI(M) expelled 19 members in the light of the formation of the committee. In the meantime some other important developments were also taking place. On 28 June Radio Peking supported the movement and dubbed the United Front government as a ‘tool of Indian reactionaries to deceive the people’. This was the first incident of Chinese support to rebels and of Peking's disenchantment with CPI(M). On 12 July a major police action was launched. Although Chief Minister claimed that it was cabinet's decision, but CPI(M) tried to dissociate itself from the police action. The Chief Minister also came under attack. By 20 July the prominent leaders like Jangal Santhal were arrested and by October 1967 an apparent lull was set in Naxalbari. Assessment of the Naxalbari Movement and causes for its failure: Coming to the evaluation of the Naxalbari Movement, we should keep in mind that although it was a moderate success it was suppressed within a few months. It enjoyed immense mass support, but it could not sustain for a long period of time. There are mainly two versions for the failure of the movement. One is from the point of view of Kanu Sanyal and other one is from the point of view of supporters of Charu Mazumdar. Kanu Sanyal's in his famous Report on the 'Terai Peasants’ Movement has penned down some of the reasons. The main reason according to him was excessive reliance on the spontaneity of the masses and taking them as armed forces. Among the other reasons were the inclusion of some vagabonds and making them leaders of the movement. Lack of proper plan for the redistribution of grabbed land led to conflicts among the peasants. But according to him the main defect was failure to establish a powerful mass base. Talking about military weakness of the movement, Kanu Sanyal admitted that the revolutionaries underrated the strength of the State machinery and thought that United Front Government would not go to the extent of suppressing the movement.
Land reform movement (1966–1974)
Hare Krishna Konar played a leading role in getting surplus land held by big land owners in excess of land ceiling laws and kept ‘benami’ (or false names) vested with the state. The quantum of land thus vested was around one million acres (4,000 km2) of good agricultural land. Subsequently, under the leadership of Hare Krishna Konar and Benoy Choudhury land was distributed amongst 2.4 million landless and poor farmers. It has been argued that this land reform along with Operation Barga formed the base for the Left Front victory in subsequent elections.
It was a strange quirk of history that at each stage of West Bengal's two phase land reforms there was a stalwart to guide and lead the Program. One was Hare Krishna Konar, the other Benoy Choudhury. Both of them were totally committed to the cause, profound believers in the principles of Scientific Socialism. The fearsome volatility of Konar was necessary to remove the immobility of the administration and to break the stranglehold of the landed gentry of West Bengal on the society and the political establishment in the late sixties. The amiable Gandhian mode of accommodation of Benoy Chaudhury was equally essential in another socio-political setting to carry a large majority of people with him for the success of the massive 'Operation Barga'. Each performed his unique role to carry out land reforms in two different historical situations. Soon after the first United Front (UF) government came to power in 1967, the first arrow of the now famous Naxalbari movement was shot, killing inspector Wangeli of the West Bengal police. The countryside was seething with discontent. It was a troubled time Hare Krishna Konar became the land and land revenue minister. His talks with his old compatriot Kanu Sanyal, held in a jungle about 6 km away from the Sukna forest bungalow from midnight to early morning, had failed. The new government faced a militant peasant movement. Konar was convinced that any attempt to suppress the movement by the brute force of the repressive machinery of the state would help spread the movement through underground channels. Being a practitioner of the militant peasant movement himself, he knew the fish in water tactics of armed partisan action. He was determined to evaporate the water by weaning away the landless and land-poor peasantry by substantially meeting their land hunger. And that could be done only through vesting of ceiling surplus land held clandestinely by the landed gentry of the state. Shortly after he assumed power Hare Krishna Konar had me appointed as director of land records and surveys and put in charge of unearthing land held 'Benami' in excess of the ceiling and vesting them in the state through due process of law.
Ingenious strategy of Konar and Choudhury
Though the UF came to power with tremendous electoral support, it had to function strictly within the rigid parameters of the Indian Constitution, the established basic laws, Judicial review of executive action and set legal and administrative procedures and practises. Any threat to any of the established parameters would have led to a summary dismissal by the not so friendly central government. The political genius of Hare Krishna Konar lay in his ability to play his own ball game with the same set of rules which were apparently set against it. The Constitution of India guarantees the right to form associations and unions and to assemble peaceably. The Indian Evi-Dence Act permits disbelieving of documentary evidence on the strength of overwhelmingly reliable oral evidence. The Criminal Procedure Code (CrPC)(u/s 110) allows some sort of public participation for gathering evidence against a person allegedly engaged in "bad livelihood" in order to bind him down for good behaviour. Nowhere is it stated that the restraining powers under the CrPC should always be used against the peasantry and workers. If the agricultural workers and share-croppers assemble peacefully to espouse a cause, if public order was threatened by landowners, the latter could be restrained under the CrPC in the interest of maintenance of public order. Combine the essence of these constitutional and legal rights and procedures and you have the "Konar" recipe of legal reform with popular participation. It was so simple, so bold and so novel. Konar did not approve of the seizure and occupation by force of private property by peasants, even though such lands had in many cases been held 'benami'. Peasants, according to him, were conservative by nature. In their psyche private property was inviolable. Having lost their land through the process of exploitation, they hankered for their land as their own property. Hence illegal occupation of even illegally-held land would not absolve them of the sense of guilt for an illegal and even immoral action. Therefore, they would not have the courage and determination to fight for their rights if threatened with eviction in a changed political situation. Konar, therefore, favoured the legal way of vesting land in the state. Once the land became the property of the state, what would happen to it would be a matter of state policy and no individual's property right would be involved. It may look strange for a revolutionary, but being a hard-headed realist, it made sense to Konar.
Barga Operation was his notable contribution to the people from Left FrontGovernment of West Bengal. To begin with, group meetings between Officials and Bargadars were organized during "settlement camps" (also called "Reorientation camps"), where the bargadars could discuss their grievances. The first such camp was held at Halusai in Polba taluk in Hooghly district from 18 to 20 May 1978. In noted camp two Adibashi Borgaders objected procedure adopted by the official for Barga Operation. They suggested to start it organising people in the field instead of sitting in the houses of rural rich people or the places dominated by them. Having that report Hare Krishna Konar immediately reorganised action plan and successful Barga Operation was done.
Our Land Problem
THE LAND QUESTION is a national question and not one affecting merely the peasantry. If we fail to solve the land problem, the whole society will go down. If the nation as a whole does not stand behind the measures for land reform, the peasantry or the Government can do very little by themselves. History tells us that the land question and the struggle of the peasantry to resolve it were the motive force behind every revolutionary uprising whether in Russia or China or Vietnam. We are not sure how the land problem is going to be solved in India and what the future of this country will be. As I had said, the question of land reform does not affect the poor peasant only. Land reform is an imperative necessity for the revitalization of a moribund economy and a backward country. Modern research puts all the emphasis on providing technical know-how to increase agricultural production. This is a one-sided approach. Agriculture does not depend on the bounties of Nature alone. The peasant must have a love for his profession and there must be conscious effort for increasing production. Concentration of land in a few lands will condemn many to forced unemployment and make them a liability of society. Even if there is full production, it will not lead to equal distribution of food unless there is an equal distribution of land. Sanction of law will fail to put an end to malpractices. If opportunities to reap higher profits with less labour and investment exist, people will naturally try to take advantage of such opportunities and it is idle to believe their attitude can be changed through sermons. Solution of the land problem is necessary not only from the point of view of social justice but also from that of increasing food production. To build up our country try we must stand on our own legs and shed dependence on foreign aid. A scientific mobilization of our natural and human resources will go a long way to develop our agriculture. It is wrong notion that small holding are a bar to increasing production. Even if the peasant is given a small plot of land, he will feel the urge for increasing production since he feels it is his own. Of course, these is a limit to such an increase. The primary task, therefore, is abolition of large scale land and its distribution to the landless, the next step would be for the government to explain to the peasants the disadvantages of cultivating small holdings. The peasant will then voluntarily take to collective farming. Private ownership of land will thus be done away with. Then comes the question of removing the pressure on land. Land distribution by itself will not solve this problem. The pressure on land has to be reduced gradually. Cottage industries have got a positive role in this respect and those to be developed. The development of cottage industries, however, will not make for full-scale economic regeneration. We have to embark on industrial development. The rich will be denied the luxurious living they enjoy now, not because we have any personal grudge against them but because that mode of living does not fit with the over all interest of the country. Without going in for a radical change of the existing social system, we can not take the country along the path of progress and prosperity. It is impossible for the government to solve the land problem under the present social system. The Zamindars and Maharajas, who have other sources of income, should not be allowed to possess land. But the constitution stands in the way of taking such step. We, however, can and should try to plug the loop holes in the law relating to celling on land. The machinery of the Government connot carry out land reforms even though there are honest officers in the administration. In our case, there is the bureaucracy – a built in obstacle. The efforts of the administration have to be strengthened and supplemented by the conscious and organized participation of the peasants and the people at large. Academic discussion, to be useful, must shed their abstract nature and be practical and down to earth enunciation of policies and programme. A combination of all these factors will enable us to solve the land problems.
Hare Krishna Konar regarded Mahatma Gandhi, the congress leader as his young age freedom hero, and konar also says that the ideology of Ahimsa and Nonviolence is a great ideology through which India can obviously get freedom from the British raj. So, he had chosen the nonviolence path and also join Civil Disobedience Movement. But after gandhiji signed the Gandhi–Irwin Pact for joining the second round table conference in London and gandhi also abolished the Civil Disobedience Movement then comrade konar said that:
India was just near the independence from the British Raj but for that fellow congress leader India's independence has delayed to another 10 years.
After this incident Comrade konar did not believe in the Gandhian ideology – which advocated Civil disobedience and other forms of non-violent resistance, and felt that such politics would replace one set of exploiters with another. But there was similar ideology between comrade Konar and Gandhi, and that was both of them believed that without the unification of Hindus and Muslims India will never get independence from British. In 1931 he joined the India's Extremist Movement of Calcutta that was Jugantar founded by Sri Aurobindo, a principal leader of Indian independence from Benga. In 1932 he was arrested by the British officers and was transported to Cellular Jail in Andaman Islands.
After the founding of Communist Party of India (Marxist) Comrade Hare Krishna Konar's aim was to start India's first Land Reform and to snatch the land from Zamindars to distribute the land among poor or landless people and he also opposed the private land ownership for that's why while he was the first Land Minister of India in West Bengal he made a law of limited private Land and the limitation was 70–90 bigha per family and this law was started from early 1968s and ended until 2011 while Left Front led in West Bengal. Many people thought comrade konar as an anti maoist comrade so what he says towards the Maoist ideology that:
I support the thought of Mao Zedong of China but the ideology of Mao is extreme violent and that can be harmful for indian Democracy
Actually comrade konar was the believer of Scientific socialism, so his process of land reform was also the formula of Socialism, he says that the differentiation of land between landless and landlord came in the eyes of Joseph Stalin, comrade konar says towards this agrarian revolution that:
If agrarian revolution in the villages is not carried forward, People’s Democratic Revolution would be a far cry, the core of People’s Democratic Revolution is agrarian revolution and the key to its success is People’sDemocratic Revolution
Comrade konar says, the main puzzled matter of Land Reform was to seizure land from big landlords of West bengal, it was hard because if it would be done forcefully then the landlords would become against the communist and marxist ideology and it would become bad impression on Communist Party of India (Marxist), so it should be done in a very diplomatic and tactful way and that was done under the leadership of Hare Krishna Konar, he always say that to occupy the land from landlords there are two process first way is by forcefully snatched the land and the second way is by Brainwashing of landlords and It must be explained in such a way, as the landless peoples are the family members of landlords because rather than brainwash if we occupy the land forcefully then that would be a bad impression on communist ideology. So, comrade konar done land reform with the help of brainwashing and with the principal of Marxism–Leninism ideology.
6th Legislative Assembly in the state of West Bengal
Death and legacy
In the month of June 1974, Hare Krishna Konar was taken to Kimber Nursing Home in Parkcircus for treatment. An operation was done successfully, and another operation was underway. He said to Oncologist Dr. Ashok Sen that:
But unfortunately those were his last words because after the second operation, he slowly moved towards death and on 23 July 1974 at 6:30 pm he died of cancer at the age of only 58 in Kolkata. The next day, July 24, at 10 am, he was brought to Muzaffar Ahmad Bhawan at 33 Alimuddin Street. His body was in the hall of the PC office, and countless people lined up from 10 am to 3 pm to pay their last respect, including Indira Gandhi, A. K. Gopalan, many other cabinet ministers, and international delegations from North Korea, Vietnam, China and Soviet Union. The work of giving garlands went on till 3 pm, and then he was given a state funeral by the Government of West Bengal. During the time thousands of people gathered on the road from A.J.C. Bose Road to Keoratola, his funeral rally was the 4th largest funeral rally in India. It had nearly taken 2 hours to cross the road from Dharmatala to Keoratola, and finally at 6 pm, he was taken to the Keoratola crematorium, where he was cremated in electric furnaces. On July 25, there was a statement published in all the newspapers that:
Calcutta streets had never witnessed such a gathering like this before.
The unbridled procession showed the greatness of Hare Krishna Konar in people's hearts.
^Saha, Gour Chandra (2015). Written at Kolkata. Birth Centenary of Hare Krishna Konar (in Bengali) (1st ed.). North 24 Parganas. p. 108.((cite book)): CS1 maint: location (link) CS1 maint: location missing publisher (link)