Thousands pay tribute to Harkishan Singh Surjeet

August 3rd, 2008 - 4:43 pm ICT by IANS  

A file-photo of P. Chidambaram

New Delhi, Aug 3 (IANS) It was a sea of red at the Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M) headquarters here Sunday as thousands of party workers from across India gathered to pay homage to veteran leader Harkishan Singh Surjeet who died Friday after a prolonged illness. The body was brought to the A.K. Gopalan Bhavan at Bhai Vir singh Marg, the CPI-M office, at 10 a.m. in the morning for public viewing from his residence at 3, Teen Murti Lane.

Party workers from states such as Uttar Pradesh, West Bengal and Kerala thronged the place to pay their tributes to the veteran Marxist leader.

Volunteers and party workers were wearing red t-shirts and red scarves printed with the party symbol.

The road was blocked to traffic and only party workers were allowed in. There was a huge police presence as well as a horde of media persons.

Party workers were shouting slogans, “Comrade Surjeet ko lal salaam, Comrade Surjeet Amar Rahe’ (Red salute to Comrade Surjeet, Comrade Surjeet is immortal) while paying their tributes to the leader.

Ministers and leaders of various political parties arrived to pay their last respects.

Defence Minister A.K. Antony, Finance Minister P. Chidambaram, Bahujan Samaj Party Chief Mayawati, Samajwadi Party leaders Mulayam Singh Yadav and Amar Singh, Janata Dal-United leader Sharad Yadav, Janata Dal Secular leader H.D. Devegowda, Telugu Desam Party leaders N. Chandrababu Naidu and K. Yerran Naidu, Delhi Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit and Lok Jan Shakti Party chief Ram Vilas Paswan were among those who paid homage to the leader.

“I had old relations with him, like that of father and son. We will try to follow and strengthen the example of secularism and social justice which he set in front of us,” Ram Vilas Paswan told reporters later.

President Pratibha Patil sent a floral tribute. Left leaders, including A.B. Bardhan and D. Raja, also paid tributes. Sitaram Yechury and Nilotpal Basu were present.

Earlier, Railways Minister Lalu Prasad and Home Minister Shivraj Patil had gone to Surjeet’s house to pay their tributes.

“He was a unique person. With his demise, an era has ended. He was instrumental in cobbling the third front governments whenever they were formed,” said Sharad Yadav while remembering Surjeet, who is known as the architect of Indian coalition politics.

“He had relations with political leaders of all parties,” Yadav added.

The funeral procession to Nigambodh Ghat, where his last rites will be performed, will begin at 3 p.m. from the party office.

The procession would be led by 92 volunteers (signifying Surjeet’s age) carrying CPI-M flags, followed by members of the politburo and central committee.

The wife and younger brother of Surjeet will also be part of the funeral procession as well as thousands of party workers.

Surjeet, 92, was the general secretary of the CPI-M from 1992 to 2005. He died due to multiple ailments at 1.35 p.m. Friday in the Metro Hospital, Noida.

He was born in a Punjab village March 23, 1916. He is survived by wife Pritam Kaur, two sons - Pramjeet Singh and Gurucharan Singh (Punjab CPI-M committee member) - and daughter Charanjeet Kaur.

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