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Home / India News / ‘With a golden heart comes a rebel fist’: Gurudas Dasgupta dies at 83

‘With a golden heart comes a rebel fist’: Gurudas Dasgupta dies at 83

Gurudas 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 CPIM’s arch-rival.

india Updated: Oct 31, 2019, 12:12 IST
Saubhadra Chatterji
Saubhadra Chatterji
Hindustan Times, New Delhi
Former Lok Sabha MP and Communist Party of India (CPI) leader Gurudas Dasgupta died at the age of 83 in Kolkata on Thursday.
Former Lok Sabha MP and Communist Party of India (CPI) leader Gurudas Dasgupta died at the age of 83 in Kolkata on Thursday.(Sonu Mehta/HT File Photo )

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 singlehandedly, transformed the lesser-known trade union into a major force, even surpassing the CPIM’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.

He knew the limitations of his party (and the ideological restrictions) but Dasgupta, as the floor leader of the CPI in the House, never hesitated to meet any Opposition leader for floor coordination in Parliament. Once he even called up Mamata 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.”

Dasgupta may have been a strong trade union leader, but in his personal life, he was 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).

And Dasgupta’s sprawling AITUC office on Deendayal Upadhyay Marg was not just a place to solve problems of party workers. One afternoon, a young woman came with her friend to meet Dasgupta. The Haryanvi woman had been dumped by her husband and she wanted revenge

For almost an hour, he counselled the woman while many comrades with prior appointments waited. But Dasgupta was in no hurry. For, he told the woman, “My child, revenge is the easiest path. But it takes more courage to rebuild one’s world.”

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