Gurudas Dasgupta: A trade unionist who championed the cause of the downtrodden

Abhishek Law Kolkata | Updated on October 31, 2019

Gurudas Dasgupta. File photo

Dasgupta, known for his oratory skills, was a veteran trade union leader of AITUC

India’s trade union movement lost its doyen with veteran CPI leader Gurudas Dasgupta breathing his last at his Kolkata residence on Wednesday. Dasgupta was 83 and suffering from heart and kidney related ailments.

A powerful voice of the Left parties in the Parliament for nearly three decades since the mid-80s, the Communist leader was considered to be a spokesperson of the downtrodden and a champion of the working-class movement. He was also a fierce advocate of the public sector.

Tireless in his efforts at “exposing governments of the day” and relentless in his crusade against corporate corruption and economic offences, Dasgupta shall remain an icon of parliamentary politics.

No wonder that the veteran leader with his exceptional oratory skills united different labour outfits cutting across political hues. When he spoke, Opposition and Treasury benches listened.

Dasgupta’s death has been condoled by all including Prime Minister Narendra Modi and West Bengal Chief Minister, Mamata Banerjee.

“Gurudas Dasgupta Ji was one of the most committed and articulate proponents of his ideology. He was a strong voice in Parliament, whose interventions were keenly heard across the political spectrum,” the Prime Minister tweeted.

Journey to politics

Dasgupta began his political career as a student activist in Kolkata way back in the 1950s. He was President and General Secretary of the Undivided Bengal Provincial Students’ Federation between 1967 and 1977.

He also went on to form the youth movement Paschim Banga Yuva Sangh which later transformed into the Bengal unit of the CPI’s youth outfit AIYF.

The veteran communist’s journey into Parliamentary politics began with his election to the Rajya Sabha in 1985. An activist by nature, Dasgupta soon became the voice of the Left in the Upper House.

Dasgupta’s 25 years as law-maker spanned three terms as a Rajya Sabha member (1985, 1988 and 1994) and then as a Lok Sabha MP for two terms – in 2004 (from Panskura in West Bengal) and 2009 (from Ghatal in West Bengal).

Exposing economic offences

A major highlight in his political career came in the early 1990s when he raised the Harshad Mehta scandal in the Parliament. He is said to have exposed several irregularities.

The fiery speeches and expose forced the then PV Narasimha Rao government to set-up a joint parliamentary committee to probe.

Dasgupta again stirred the hornet’s nest as member of the Joint Parliamentary Committee which probed the alleged 2G spectrum scam. His regular skirmishes with the then UPA law-makers on 2G scam and regular criticism of the then Prime Minister, Manmohan Singh, for his silence came are a part of India’s Parliamentary folklore. Unhappy with the PC Chacko-led panel’s report, Dasgupta yet again gave a long dissent note.

Spartan in his lifestyle, Dasgupta was known to be in touch with senior leaders and contemporaries of all political parties, despite his political leanings.

Some Left Front leaders recall him having good relations with former Prime Minister AB Vajpayee. He never hesitated to meet Opposition leaders for floor coordination.


Published on October 31, 2019

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