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Com. K.G.Bose - The Revolutionary Leader
The BSNL Workers are celebrating BSNL Employees Union Foundation Day on 22nd March 2012, with inauguration of its own Union Building at New Delhi. The date is also important as the 35th death anniversary of the veteran working class leader Com.A.K.Gopalan, freedom fighter, PB Member of CPI(M) and Opposition Leader in the first Lok Sabha. The building is being named as ‘K.G.Bose Bhawan’ in memory of our beloved leader, guide and visionary who charted the future course for the P&T movement in the country. It will only be appropriate at this moment to remember and pay homage to the revolutionary leader, his guidance and leadership and the way he became the shining star of a whole generation of young comrades like me.
Krishna Gopal Basu was born 7th July 1921 to Shri Jaya Gopal Basu and Smt. Nivanani Basu. Shri Jaya Gopal Basu was a teacher. A native of Helutala village (now in Bangladesh), after partition, the family shifted to Calcutta and constructed a small house at Beliaghata, where K.G.Bose was born. Late Moni Basu (Moni Bose) was KG’s younger brother. Their father and elder brothers died early and it became the responsibility of Krishna Gopal Basu to look after his sisters and younger brother. The brothers managed their studies with some help from the Ramakrishna Mission. Later in 1941, he got appointment as a clerk in the office of the Divisional Engineer, Telegraphs, Calcutta, at a salary of Rs. 45 after passing a competitive examination. This was a great relief to the struggling family. Even after getting a job, KG continued his studies in the college and was active in the student movement as also Marxist Study Group.
P&T Trade Union Movement
At that time, the Posts and Telegraphs were part of the same department. Telephone service has been introduced in the big cities a few years back and were growing fast and was part of the Telegraphs. The trade union movement in P & T was divided and there were three main all India organisations viz. Indian Telegraph Union, The Postmen & Lower Grade Staff Union and All India Postal & RMS Union. In addition, more than one dozen other unions existed. From the day one, Krishna Gopal Basu, became an active worker in the Indian Telegraph Union. He became its Branch Secretary in no time. In 1945, Com. Moni Bose, his younger brother, also joined the Department in the very same office.
1946 All India Postal Strike
The All India Postmen & Lower Grade Staff Union declared an indefinite strike from 11th July 1946 on a 16 point Charter of Demands. It was a period when the entire country was fighting against the British rule and many struggles were being organised as part of the Independence movement. The government immediately declared the postal strike as illegal. In W.Bengal, under the leadership of Com.Bhupendra Nath Ghosh, who later became the Secretary General of NFPTE, full support was given to the strike. Com. K.G.Bose took a leading role in organising the same. The Congress and the All India Trade Union Congress, which was the only national trade union at that time, gave full support to the strike. The British government had to come down to negotiate and 12 out of the 16 demands were conceded and the strike ended on 6th August after 26 days on a successful note. Government also declared “Good Conduct Pay” to the P&T employees. The strike resulted in a new thinking on the part of workers and leaders on the necessity of having a united organisation in P&T. The leaders who opposed the strike got isolated from the workers.
The Formation of UPTW
The major three unions, Indian Telegraph Association, Indian Postal Union and the All India Postal & RMS Union were merged and the Union of P&T Workers (UPTW) formed in the Akola Conference in 1946. Com. Om Prakash Gupta, the young office secretary of the Union and who was with the progressive section at that time, was elected as the first General Secretary of the UPTW. The growth of UPTW was phenomenal. Under the militant leadership of Comrades B.N.Ghosh, Om Prakash Gupta, K.G.Bose, V.S.Menon and other young cadres all over the country, within a short time, UPTW grew all over India and the membership reached to more than two and half lakh, which no other union could reach so far in the P&T. The UPTW decided to organise agitational programmes and called for the Supreme Council to be held at Madras for taking the strike decision. All the top leaders including B.N.Ghosh, O.P.Gupta and others were arrested even before the Supreme Council could meet. KG was arrested along with other comrades in Calcutta.
Dismissal from Service
Along with many other comrades, Com.K.G.Bose was suspended from service in connection with the 1949 strike. Many young comrades including Moni Bose, Janak Gupta (wife of O.P.Gupta and who was also the Secretary of the union at Delhi) were terminated from service. There was severe victimisation which continued for a long period. It was a very trying period, with the government continuing victimisation with revenge. Com.K.G. was never taken back in service. He was finally dismissed in 1961, through a farce of inquiry proceedings. Com. Moni Bose and Janak Gupta and some others terminated leaders were not reinstated. All of them became full time workers of the Union. Com. O.P.Gupta was re-elected as General Secretary, but was arrested and kept in custody. Com.K.G. was arrested several times during the period and for some times he went underground to avoid arrest.
Formation of the NFPTE
In the fluid situation, the necessity of a united union, including those still outside of UPTW, was acutely felt. Minister of Communications, Shri Jagjivan Ram, took initiative in bringing a united organisation, which was the aspiration of the workers also. Despite several difficulties, the new organisation, National Federation of P&T Employees (NFPTE) was formed on 24th November 1954. It was a red day in the history of the P&T Trade Union movement in the country, which inspired the entire P&T and Central government employees. Comrade Bhupendra Nath Ghosh (B.N.Ghosh) was elected as the first Secretary General of NFPTE in the Federal Council held at New Delhi. The Federation consisted of 9 All India Unions, representing the class III and Class IV unions in the four arms of Postal, RMS, Telegraph, Telephones and one combined union for the Class III and Class IV employees in the P&T Circle Offices. Com.KG, who had made maximum efforts for the reorganisation was elected as the Circle Secretary of the Postal Class III Union, Telecom Engineering Class III Union and Telecom Engineering, Line staff & Class IV Union of W.Bengal Circle.
Elected as All India President of Postal Union
Com. K.G.Bose, who was functioning as the Circle Secretary of Postal Class III Union was elected as the All India President of the Union in the Ludhiana Conference in 1963. Accordingly his activities were extended to the all India level in a big way.
Formation of 12th July Committee
TOne of the important contributions of Com.KG was the formation of the 12th July Committee of W.Bengal, which consists of the organisations of the Central Government, State government, public sector and local self government employees, primary and secondary teachers etc. The Committee was formed in 1966 and the KG was elected as the first Joint Convener of the same. He was much interested in such joint functioning as it was the necessity of the times to fight against the attack on the working class, which was in existence in W.Bengal at that time.
One Day Token Strike of 19th September 1968.
The government’s refusal to concede the need based minimum wage to the central government employees resulted in another strike, this time a token strike for one day on 19th September 1968. Com. KG toured throughout India in preparation for the strike. There was massive participation of Central government employees. The central government once again made use of the Essential Services Maintenance Act (ESMA) and victimised the workers in thousands through arrest, suspension, dismissal, termination etc. The progressive section under the leadership of Coms. KG Bose, N.J.Iyer, K.Adinarayana and others wanted to fight the victimisation, but O.P.Gupta, wanted to wait for the leniency from the government instead of sustained agitation. In circles like Kerala, W.Bengal etc., work- to- rule and other agitations continued till the victimisation was vacated.
KG elected as President of NFPTE
The resentment against the NFPTE leadership increased and in the Federal Council meeting in 1970, a stiff contest took place. Coms. K.G.Bose and A.S.Rajan were elected as President and Secretary General of NFPTE defeating the O.P.Gupta – D.Gnaniah group. For the first time in the history of NFPTE, a worker president was elected. Till that time all the Presidents of NFPTE were outsiders, mainly leaders of AITUC etc. This time, a dismissed P&T worker was elected as President and the workers were jubilant.
KG as MLA and Pay Commission Member
In the last period of the 1960s, Com.K.G.Bose was elected as an MLA in W.Bengal assembly. He was also nominated as a member of the Pay Commission for the state government employees. Both responsibilities, he fulfilled with credit.
KG falls ill
The continued tours all over India exposing the reformists and organising the union as also the hectic activities of the 12th July Committee and responsibilities as an MLA and Pay Commission Member had a disastrous effect on his health. On a check up, it was found that the dreaded cancer has caught with him. But, he continued his work without any break. It was during this period that Com.KG visited Calicut to attend a largely attended Convention. It was in 1974. He reached Calicut by train at about 0800 hours in the morning. Hundreds of workers under the leadership of Workers Centre, a co-ordination Committee of Central, State, public sector employees and teachers welcomed him and took him in a procession to the Town Hall where the Convention was held. His address in the Convention was inspiring. We had arranged a Press Conference later. The next day he was taken to Mangalore, again in train, where also, he addressed a well attended meeting. From there he returned to Calcutta. But we never knew, nor did he tell us that he was suffering from cancer. When we knew later that he was suffering from cancer at that time, we were pained much to remember that we made him walk about one km distance in procession in the morning sun and compelled to him to attend so many functions. After a few months, he was sent to London for treatment.
Treatment at London
He was given expert treatment at London, but the disease had already reached a situation beyond treatment. During his treatment at London he used to write letters and guided the struggle against reformists and for the demands of the workers. To the extreme sorrow of all who knew him and worked with him, Com.K.G. passed away at the London Hospital on the 11th December 1974. A revolutionary life has ended. He left behind him his wife, Com.Parul Bose, a trade union worker herself, and his son, Dipankar Bose and the Bose family.
Red Salute to Com. K.G.Bose, the Revolutionary Leader!
“ I want to survive and continue my uncompromising fight against all injustices and in this struggle I am not alone, thousands and thousands of comrades are with me and they are the source of my inspiration” ...”We cannot be a party to any proposal which may be considered as surrender of the principled stand by the common workers.” ( K.G.’s letter from London Hospital)