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Harkishan Surjeet is dead
Tribune News Service

Noida, August 1
The ailing senior CPM Leader, Harkishan Singh Surjeet breathed his last in Metro Heart Institute and Hospital, Noida, at 1.35 pm today.

Surjeet, who had been coming to the Metro hospital quite often for many years for treatment, died of cardiac arrest and acute breathing problem, according to doctors attending on him. Many of his vital organs had failed and even his mental faculties had been affected now, said Dr P. Lal, chairman of the hospital and himself a noted heart specialist.

Lok Sabha Speaker, who came to Noida today on learning about his demise, said he was “a great national leader who was completely dedicated. His death is a serious loss to the country. He had kept the people and the country upper most in his thought.

Chatterjee described him as the architect of Left movement in the country.

CPM general secretary Prakash Karate and Brinda Karate also visited the Metro hospital along with a large number of leaders from Left parties, who came to pay their respect to the departed leader. Pillay from Kerala also visited Noida on hearing of Surjeet’s death.

Surjeet had played a key role in the formation of UPA government at the Centre after the 2004 general elections and making Dr Manmohan Singh acceptable to the CPM, the CPI as country’s Prime Minister.

Harkishan Singh Surjit started his career as a Kisan leader in 40s in the country and had always espoused the farmers’ cause.

New Delhi (Agencies): The party flag was lowered and there was almost pin-drop silence at the CPM office here today as the party mourned the loss of the stalwart leader.

The entrance to the party’s central office was cleaned up and a big photo of the CPM veteran was put up for people to pay their tributes at. A pall of gloom had enveloped the premises.

Former Prime Minister I.K. Gujral, who was a close friend of Surjeet, reached the party office to mourn his death. “I am in an unfortunate position to talk about the grievous loss of a lifelong friend. My association with Surjeet was life-long,” said Gujral. “We became friends in 1936 when I joined college. He was already a stalwart.” “I distinctly remember myself and my parents meeting Surjeet in the communist party office in Jalandhar when we came to India after Partition.” “May his spirit guide our destiny,” Gujral added.

CPM leader Nilotpal Basu was also present and said: “He was a product of the freedom struggle. His death is not only a loss of our party, neither of the Left movement only, but of the whole nation.” “He played the role of a vigilant guard in the struggle of protecting the country’s democracy. We will have to complete the work which he has left incomplete,” Basu said.

The CPM earlier issued a statement expressing its grief over the Surjeet’s death. “He was a master tactician who could translate the party’s political line into practice, implementing it with great skill and innovation. His was a lifelong fight against communalism,” the party said in the statement.

“I was deeply shocked and pained by the news (of his death),” the Prime Minister said in a statement soon after his arrival in Colombo to attend the SAARC Summit.

Manmohan Singh described Surjeet as “a great political leader, a true patriot, a man committed to the welfare of the downtrodden, a great Indian and above all a dear friend”.

“I greatly valued his friendship and his guidance. As I said recently in Parliament, he was one of the architects of the United Progressive Alliance (UPA).”

Manmohan Singh said he was one of the leading lights in Punjab “and for many years an outstanding leader of the communist movement in India”.

Sonia Gandhi also mourned the death of Surjeet saying the nation had lost a towering leader who had inspired a generation. AICC spokesman Shakeel Ahmed said Surjeet was not only a CPM stalwart, but also a leader who had a strong voice in national politics. Chief Minister of Kerala V.S. Achuthanandan said he had been fortunate to be associated with Surjeet for more than five decades.

“I recall the association that I had with him fondly. When our party here in the state went through troubled times, the timely intervention that he made was very crucial. His loss is irreparable,” said Achuthanandan. Surjeet’s role in containing the warring factions of the CPM in Kerala had won him appreciation from all sides, especially during the Malappuram party congress in 2005 when the party seemed irrevocably divided between Achuthanandan and secretary Pinarayi Vijayan.

“He had a wide following and this included top political leaders from various parties. With regards to the growth of the CPM, the role he played in shaping the party is really memorable,” said Vijayan.

A team of leaders from Kerala are expected to be in New Delhi Sunday for Surjeet’s funeral.



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