Comrade Banshi Lal Singhvi: A voice of the voiceless


Veteran communist leader, former member of the state committee of Communist Party of India (Marxist) and district secretary of the party for nearly forty five years, comrade Banshi Lal Singhvi passed away on 3rd January, 2016 at about 8.30 am in the party office which had been his ‘home’ for decades. Like every day he got up early, took his bath, perused the newspapers, cleaned his house and the drains of the street in Machla Magra Kachchi Basti and walked to the party office. He cleaned the office and was sitting in his chair when he felt uneasy and in just a few moments passed away.Till his last moment, like a true revolutionary he was engaged in the task of transforming the lives of the people who were marginalized and were too weak to voice their problems. Comrade Singhvi not only became the voice of the voiceless but empowered them and taught them to struggle and express their opinion forcefully. His body was kept in the party office and from the office itself his funeral march was taken to the Ashok Nagar crematorium amidst the slogans ” Long live Comrade Singhvi”, “Comrade Singhvi ko Lal Salaam”, ” Inqilab Zindabad” and “Jab Tak Suraj Chand Rahega, Comrade Singhvi ka Naam Rahega”.Hundreds of party workers, sympathizers and Kachchi Busti dwellers marched with the procession and leaders of all political parties , activists, journalists and intellectuals paid tribute to him in the condolence meeting held the next day.
Born in the family of trading Jain community in village Pakhand, tehsil Nathdwara in erstwhile Udaipur district on August 7, 1944, Comrade Singhvi did not follow his family tradition. He was a revolutionary even in his student days.He led an agitation to get a government college established in Nathdwara and demonstrated against the then chief minister of Rajasthan Mohan Lal Sukhadia who had to announce the college and soon the college came into existence. Banshi Lal Singhvi graduated from this college. Later , when a minor girl was being forcefully given “Diksha” to become a Jain Sadhvi , he opposed it. He was exterminated from the community. Later he joined the Harijans and participated in the movement of their emancipation. He came in contact with veteran freedom fighter and socialist leader Narendrapal Singh Choudhary. He learnt typing and started a typing institute at Nathdwara. During these days he came in contact with the works of Karl Marx, V.I.Lenin, Rahul Sankrityayan 1969 he joined Communist Party of India and started his political work at Nathdwara.
In 1970 he came to Udaipur with his family.He started his work among the students and youth. He read the special issue of the magazine “Swadhinta” published in the centenary year of Lenin. This gave him clarity about the communist movement.In 1970 itself he joined LLB course and formed All India Students Federation units in Udaipur.At that time the communist government in Kerala led by comrade Achyutanand was felled by Communist Party of India. This made him disillusioned with CPI and he along with comrade Narayan Lal Manat joined Students Federation of India and later the same year he joined CPIM.He was instrumental in removing rivalry between Jat student leader Bhagirath Chaudhary and Rajput student leader Abhay Singh Pehalwan.
During the regime of Chief Minister Barkattullah Khan, he participated in the strike of the state government employees and was arrested for thwarting the imposition of section 144IPC.He worked to strengthen the trade union CITU along with the leaders comrade Ayal Das, comrade Bhanwar Lal Bapna and comrade Mahesh Sharma. He successfully formed trade unions in more than sixty industries in the region.He led the railway employees strike in 1974 in Udaipur. On the May day there was a huge demonstration. The police arrested him with comrade Ayaldas and comrade Mahesh Sharma under MISA (Maintenance of Internal Security Act) and they were kept in custody till 31st May. When internal emergency was declared on June 26, 1975, Comrade Banshi Lal Singhvi and Comrade Ayal Das were arrested on June 27. They remained in Jail for complete nineteen months.
After release from the jail, comrade Singhvi was given the responsibility to organize the tribal people. He spent long durations in the remote villages of Kotda, Jhadol, Kherwara and Gogunda traveling often on bicycle, on foot and later on his scooter. He traveled in hilly areas amidst great difficulty and organized the party. He led several movements to secure the rights of the tribal people on the forest land and forest produce. Because of his contribution the CPIM contested from Jhadol legislative constituency thrice securing big number of votes. In 1978 CITU Union was formed in J.K. Tyres , Kankroli after a long struggle.
But the biggest contribution of comrade B.L.Singhvi is in the setting up of urban shelter for labourers and working class people in the form of Kachchi Busties in different parts of the region including Udaipur and Chittorgarh. He succeeded in setting up busties of more than seventy to eighty thousand people in the town. He was so popular among the people of the Busties that CPIM won Municipal elections for almost twenty years. For three terms Rajesh Singhvi, his able son who is carrying his legacy in the party was elected as the councilor in Municipal Council , Udaipur and presently also CPIM has the seat.
Comrade B.L. Singhvi was a great scholar himself. He read extensively and always motivated his fellow party men to read more and more. He wrote analytically on national and international issues and expressed his ideas logically. As a speaker , he was very impressive and even in public speeches conveyed deep political and theoretical issues very effectively.
He was a mass leader who led a very honest and dedicated life . Today when he is no more, his life and thoughts will motivate and inspire all those who believe in the politics of social transformation for creating an egalitarian society.


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