On 31st October 1920, 100 years ago the trade union wing of the Communist Party of India (CPI), the All India Trade Union Congress (AITUC) came into existence and it’s the same day nation’s communist movement suffered a setback in form of demise of Gurudas Dasgupta. The veteran CPI leader was suffering from prolonged illness. He breathed last in Kolkata on 31st October morning.
Gurudas Dasgupta commenced his journey of public life as an activist of CPI’s student wing and then became part of its youth wing in 1966.
Just after this phase, entry into trade union politics made him beloved and respected spokesperson of the working class. His association with the working class movement was for more than five decades. He led the AITUC as its general secretary for more than a decade and under his leadership the labour union became the third largest organization in this country.
Gurudas Dasgupta played important role in broadening the united platform of trade unions to lead the working class struggle against neoliberal economic policy regime. Under the UPA-2 government Dasgupta steered the joint platform of Central Trade Unions (CTUs) along with 300 other small labour wings and organized a two day workers strike with 18 crore participants.
Gurudas Dasgupta had experience of two and half decade as a parliamentarian with fiery oratory skills and debating ability. This can be termed as the most decisive period of his life. He efficiently carried the league of Bengali communists such as Bhupesh Gupta, Hiren Mukherjee.
Having served 3 terms in the Rajya Sabha and 2 terms in Lok Sabha, Dasgupta made sure no wrongdoings must be handled with a lenient approach by the government and its agencies.
During his tenure in Rajya Sabha, he complained about tax fraud undertaken by a corporate company to the Income Tax department (IT Department). The mischief turned out to be true and lastly he was awarded a sum of Rs. 7.5 lakh by the IT department. Later he donated the amount to children in Punjab who were victims of Khalistani terror.
Likewise he was the most vocal in pointing out irregularities in the 2G Spectrum allocation. As part of the Joint Parliamentary Committee (JPC) he pointed out towards a slow probe in the scandal. Similarly he uncovered the Hawala scandal also known as Harshad Mehta scandal. His role as crusader against corruption remains unmatchable in contemporary politics. Shades of Gurudas being the best lawmaker erupted during his tryst with Indian parliament.
Vast experience of decades as a trade unionist came into play during the time when he was the Chairman of Parliamentary Consultative Committee of the Labour Ministry. Decision to address distress of informal sector such as agricultural workers was relief for the working class people of this country. On labour welfare he positioned himself firmly till his active days in politics.
In personal life, Dasgupta’s grounded behavior earned him respect from all corners. On parliament’s floor he did not think twice to approach other opposition leaders to take on the government on its decisions and policies. As a veteran politician he banished himself from having a lavish life instead couple of red sweater remained his favourite attire which he used to wear all during winter days.
His collogue in the trade union movement, Gyan Shankar Mazumdar, the National Vice President of the Centre of India Trade Union (CITU) remember his approachable attitude and affluent perception towards mass movements. Gurudas Dasgupta remains a tall and unique figure of India politics because he championed the causes of the working class movement both as firmly rooted trade union leader and an excellent parliamentarian. AITUC marks the centenary year of its formation on 31st October but his demise has left us all breft with a void to be unfulfilled.
Gurudas Dasgupta started his journey as a student activist, elevated himself to be a mass leader and ended up as being a parliamentarian. Such a diverse interactive life made him doyen of the masses.