Today’s Hindu has reported that CPI(M) has vacated 4, Ashoka Road Bungalow, which was allocated to it, since after the 2014 elections, it has lost justification to occupy such a bungalow, due to less number of seats.
I read the news with sadness. Vacating M.P.’s bungalows is usual when the occupant is not re-elected, or the respective party does not get sufficient seats to retain it. Earlier also, CPI(M) had to vacate bungalows, which it occupied near Windsor place, where once the CPI(M) Central Committee office situated and also those occupied for SFI, DYFI etc.
But vacating 4, Ashoka Road is something different. It was allotted to Com. A.K.Gopalan M.P. in 1952 after the first Parliament election. He was the Leader of the Opposition as CPI was the second biggest party in Parliament after Congress. The bungalow was with the CPI(M) till now. It has got a lot of precious memories for the CPI(M) and for many ordinary comrades like me.
4, Ashoka Road was the CC Office of the Party when the office shifted from Calcutta to New Delhi in 1978. During the long tenure of Com. AKG as an M.P., he stayed in 4, Ashoka Road. Many important meetings and decisions were taken there. Even after the CC was shifted to the newly built AKG Bhawan in Gole Market area, 4, Ashoka Road was retained by the Party. The offices of the Kisan Sabha, Agricultural Workers Union and SFI were functioning there till now.
I have my own memories of the place. When Com.AKG was occupying the bungalow, on several occasions when I came to Delhi for union/conference/convention purposes, I used to go there just to met him and pay respects. He will ask about news of his friends in Calicut, about union matters etc. All in his presence felt that he is sincerely concerned about you.
When once I contacted him before starting from Calicut to Delhi, he told me to bring some coconuts. I put about some 20 – 25 coconuts in a sack and took it with me in the train. It was summer and by the time I reached Delhi and took it to 4, Ashoka Road, the coconuts were broken. He smilingly chided me, ” Don’t you even know that the coconut has to be brought at least with out removing the tuft?”. Of course, I knew by then from experience.
Even after Com. AKG was not there, I used to go there. It was for participating in a Central Govt. Employees Convention that I reached there on the afternoon of 25th June 1975. On alighting at New Delhi Railway Station we found that there were a large number of police personnel and there was complete silence and hushed voices only. Some comrades from Delhi came to us and told that National Emergency has been declared by the Government and it is not safe to stay where our accommodation was arranged. We were taken to the residence of comrade Jyothirmoy Basu, CPI(M) leader and Member of Parliament at that time. He had already gone underground to escape from arrest. After reaching there, our comrades told about the explosive situation under the draconian emergency. We were told not to go outside,for the fear of being arrested. However, I went to No.4, Ashoka Road. I met Comrade Narikutty Mohanan there who was the Delhi correspondent of Deshabhimani. Incidentally at that time a call came from Ernakulam Exchange.There were no mobile phones at that time.Even STD was not available.Every trunk call has to be connected by Exchange only. Since all press news were completely barred and communications through telephones and fax were all censured there was no opportunity for Mohanan to give a report to the Deshabhimani News paper in Kerala. When Com.K.Prabhakaran, P and T leader contacted from Ernakulam, I asked him to connect Deshabhimani and Mohanan gave detailed report about the declaration of emergency, the list of the arrested leaders and other information. And in the next day Deshabhimani, all the news came with photos of the arrested leaders and a strong editorial. I was told later that Narikkutty Mohanan was taken in to custody and questioned, but the police could not find any evidence of how the news reached Ernakulam Deshabhimani, because there were no records of fax, trunk call etc.
Vacating 4, Ashoka Road is painful, but inevitable in the new circumstances. But I am full of hope that tomorrow or day after tomorrow, the party will gain more strength and will have more Members of Parliament, so that this historic bungalow will once again be occupied by the Party or mass organisations connected with the party.