New Delhi, Nov 18 (PTI) Former prime minister Manmohan Singh paid tributes to CPI leader Gurudas Dasgupta on Monday, saying the trade union leader kept his associations open for his adversaries and always chose consensus over confrontation.
Speaking at the memorial meeting of the Left leader organised by Communist Party of India, Singh said Dasgupta was a committed nationalist dedicated to the Constitution and its republican values.
Dasgupta, perhaps Singh's staunchest critic in the Left parties, died last month in Kolkata. He was a 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 gave a long dissent note as the P C Chacko-led panel's report was favourable to the government.
'I had the privilege of knowing Dasgupta for a long time. Though we belonged to different ideologies, he always impressed me as a committed nationalist dedicated to the Constitution and its republican values.
'Through his exceptional oratory style, he was able to present the problems being faced by the poor and labour classes, cutting across political parties. When he spoke , the Opposition and Treasury benches listened very carefully,' Singh said.
The former prime minister described Dasgupta as a 'doyen' of the trade union movement in the country and a pioneer in bringing together different trade unions on a single platform to put up a united front against a common enemy.
'In his absence, the Communist movement as well as our country has lost one of its most dedicated and well-loved leader who has dedicated his whole life to the struggle for the rights of the poor and the oppressed.
'A remarkable quality of Dasgupta was that he was never obsessed by the trappings of power. He valued the role of an Opposition, preferring consensus over confrontation. It is the beauty of our democracy that despite being an ideological opponent of Dasgupta, we are able to come together to commemorate his service to the nation,' Singh said.
Dasgupta, who served three terms as member of the Rajya Sabha and two terms as elected member of the Lok Sabha, was a 'fiery orator', recalled Loktantrik Janata Dal chief Sharad Yadav, adding that the labour leader would be 'restless' during any issue that cropped up that affected lives of the common people in the country.
In his tribute to Dasgupta, Yadav recalled how Dasgupta would fret over parliament questions and try to frame them in a way that could help the masses.
'He was a sincere man who would be deeply missed in these times,' said Yadav.
Singh said Dasgupta's leadership skills were evident from the fact that when he took over as the general secretary of the All India Trade Union Congress (AITUC), he transformed it from a lesser-known trade union into a major trade union front of the country.
'During his tenure as the general secretary of AITUC, he led many struggles of the trade unions and played a major role in uniting the various trade unions in favour of the urgent demands of the workers. He was a pillar of strength to the trade unions in banking, insurance and oil industry.
'There is tremendous power in simplicity and humility, which we often don’t realise. He was admired and respected across party lines. He was a strong voice in Parliament.
'Unlike many of his party colleagues, Dasgupta kept his associations open for his adversaries too and never hesitated to meet any opposition leader for floor coordination in Parliament,' Singh said.
Dasgupta's party colleague and CPI general secretary D Raja recalled a comrade who a 'fighter', a champion of the masses.
'He was inspiring. He was relentless, uncompromising. He was the true leader of the united trade union movement of the country championing its causes at all levels,' said Raja.
Dasgupta breathed his last on October 31 this year. PTI ASG HMB