New Delhi, August 1 : It is ironic that Harkishan Singh Surjeet, who was instrumental in ensuring the Left's support to the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) Government, should pass away within a month of the death of UPA-Left alliance.
Surjeet, the 92-year-old CPM leader, was instrumental in forming a number of anti-Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) coalitions in the 1990s and for ensuring Left support to the present UPA Government.
Born on March 23, 1916 to a Bassi Jat family in Bandala, in Jalandhar District, Surjeet started his political career during the freedom movement in his early teens, as a follower of Bhagat Singh.
In 1930, he joined Bhagat Singh's Naujawan Bharat Sabha. On the anniversary of the martyrdom of Bhagat Singh, Surjeet hoisted the Indian tricolour at the court in Hoshiarpur, an action during which he was shot twice. Later, he was punished by the British colonial regime. In court he stated his name as London Tod Singh (one who breaks London).
In the pre-war years, he started publishing Dukhi Duniya and Chingari.
Surjeet joined the Communist Party of India in 1936. During the war, he was imprisoned by the colonial authorities.
When India became independent and was partitioned in 1947, Surjeet was the General Secretary of the CPI in Punjab.
Just after independence, Surjeet was forced to go underground for four years.
Surjeet was a co-founder of the Kisan Sabha (Peasants Union) in Punjab. In the 1950s he led the historic anti-betterment levy movement in Punjab. His work with farmers led to his election as General Secretary and then President of the All India Kisan Sabha. He also worked in the Agricultural Workers Union.
When the CPI split in 1964, Surjeet decided to join ranks with the Communist Party of India (Marxist).
Surjeet was one of the nine members of the original CPI (M) Polit Bureau. He continued to rise within the party until he was elected General Secretary of the Central Committee of the CPI (M) in 1992, a post he held till 2005, retiring at the age of 89.
After retiring from his post as General Secretary, Surjeet continued to play an active role in the country's national politics. Many times, including after the 2004 Lok Sabha election and during the 1996-1998 United Front Government, he played the role of a king-maker, mending and assembling broad coalitions.
But deteriorating health, led to Surjeet not being included in the CPI (M) Polit Bureau at the party's 19th Congress in early April 2008. He was instead designated a Special Invitee to the Central Committee.
Surjeet passed away in New Delhi on August 1, 2008. He was convalescing at the Metro Hospital in Noida since July 25 and breathed his last at 1.35 P.M on Friday.