Ardhendu Bhushan Bardhan

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Biographical details

The Times of India Jan 03 2016

Akshaya Mukul

Steered Party During 1990s' Turbulence

Veteran Communist Party of India mem ber Ardhendu Bhush an Bardhan, who steered the party during the turbulent period of coalition politics at national level in the 1990s, died in New Delhi on Saturday after prolonged illness.

Bardhan (92) was a blunt man with a razor sharp memory, a first class raconteur, an oral historian, a communist to boot and a boon to journalists who would land in his small room in Ajoy Bhavan to know about the machination-filled days of Indo-US nuclear dea n 2007-08. He was the sole win dow to what happened in a short marriage between Left and Congress. One of the most detailed and colourful descrip ion he gave was his encounter with Sonia Gandhi when she called him and Harkishan Singh Surjeet after the 2004 verdict for possible support.

Last year Bardhan sat down to reminisce about his ife with TOI and a question asked was about his illness Bardhan talked of an incident, many decades old. In the late 1940s, Bardhan along with 80 of his comrades went on hunger strike in Nagpur jail.This was the time when CPI was banned due to, what Bardhan called, Left adventurism.On 45th day , Bardhan had a virulent attack of diahorrea.During the course of the hunger strike, Bardhan and his comrades were being forced fed through nose. Dr Abraham, brother of actor David, was the jail superintendent.Abraham told then home minister DP Mishra about Bardhan's illness. But as Mishra dithered on signing his release papers, Abraham threatened he would resign and go to the press. Bardhan was saved.

In a way , hunger incident turned him into a full-time trade unionist. Out on bail, he landed in Calcutta and SG Sar desai took him under his wings. Under an assumed name of Raghuraj Singh Thakur he was asked to work among Hindi-speaking workers in Kidderpore area. A Sylhet-born Bengali, Bardhan had moved at the age of five to Nagpur where his father worked in the accountant general's office.

For almost two years he worked in Calcutta before Jyoti Basu asked him to return to Nagpur. It was at Basu's advice that he surrendered at the end of December 1951. In 1957, the party asked Bardhan to contest for the assembly election from Nagpur, which he won. By 1960s he had become a prominent trade unionist and chose to stay with CPI at the time of division in 1964. He hit the big league of national politics in the 1990s after moving to Delhi and taking over as general secretary in 1996.

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