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Home / India News / Communist leader Gurudas Dasgupta dies

Communist leader Gurudas Dasgupta dies

india Updated: Oct 31, 2019, 23:59 IST

New Delhi

The Indian trade union movement lost a doyen as veteran communist, Gurudas Dasgupta, 83, died on Wednesday night in Kolkata. He had been suffering from heart and kidney related ailments.

He spent three terms in the Rajya Sabha and two in the Lok Sabha. As the general secretary of the All India Trade Union Council (AITUC), Dasgupta, almost single-handedly transformed the lesser-known trade union into a major force, once surpassing the CPI(M)’s Centre of Indian Trade Unions (CITU) in membership.

But unlike many dogmatic communists, Dasgupta kept his communication channels open for adversaries too. Former Prime Minister, Atal Bihari Vajpayee, liked him (often called him Guru Dasgupta) and Trinamool chief, Mamata Banerjee, enjoyed a good rapport with him even when she was the communists’ arch rival. Once he even called up Banerjee to ensure that her party colleagues did not disturb him during his speech.

The alleged 2G scam saw the best of Dasgupta as a lawmaker. He was the most active member of the Joint Parliamentary Committee on 2G, the first Left leader who accused the then Prime Minister Manmohan Singh of “dereliction of duty” and finally gave a long dissent note as the PC Chacko-led panel’s report was favourable to the government.

It might be an irony but the lyrics of a song by American punk band Streetlight Manifesto best describes Dasgupta: “With a golden heart comes a rebel fist.”

A strong trade union leader, Dasgupta, in his personal life, remained a warm and affectionate husband. When in Delhi, he would frequently be in touch with his wife, Jayasri. When his wife was unwell, Dasgupta requested the then health minister Ghulam Nabi Azad if two top doctors of AIIMS could examine her in Kolkata. Azad obliged.

Despite being a veteran politician, Dasgupta lived in a small bungalow in Delhi’s Canning Lane. He had a frugal lifestyle and would often wear the same shirt for two consecutive days. His favourite was a red cardigan which he wore throughout the winter (he actually had a couple of red cardigans).

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