By R Karumalaiyan
People's Democracy, November 24, 2013
HELD at Kannur in Kerala, the last national conference of the Centre of Indian Trade Unions (CITU) had called upon all its affiliates to observe Comrade Jyoti Basu Birth Centenary in a fitting manner throughout the year, starting from July 8, 2013. Accordingly, the Tamilnadu state unit of the CITU has chalked out a series of programmes to take the Comrade Basu’s message to the mass of workers.
On July 8, a state level seminar was organised in Chennai to flag off the celebrations. Here, eminent parliamentarian Era Sezhian, Justice K Chandru, senior advocate R Vaigai, former West Bengal chief secretary B S Raghavan and CPI(M) Central Committee member T K Rangarajan, MP, spoke on different facets of Comrade Jyoti Basu’s life and work. CITU state president A Soundararajan, MLA, chaired the seminar.
It was followed by a series of district level seminars and intensive political ideological classes for leading functionaries at various levels of the organisation.
The port city of Tuticorin is the place where Comrade Basu attended the national conference of Water Transport Workers Federation on October 31, 1984, the fateful day when Smt Indira Gandhi was shot dead by her own bodyguards. Here the centenary celebrations comprised multifarious activities. The CITU formed a Comrade Jyoti Basu birth centenary celebration committee, involving several class and mass organisations. former VOC College principal Prof Maragathasundaram and CITU district secretary V Balasubramanian were elected its chairman and secretary respectively.
The activities here included drawing, elocution and essay writing competitions for school and college students in the district, with students from 82 schools and four colleges participating therein. On November 8, there was a marathon race in which around 1,100 students participated. Dr (Prof) Seethalakshmi, principal of the APCV Mahalakshmi College, inaugurated the race.
On November 10, CITU national president A K Padmanabhan, state CITU general secretary G Sukumaran and secretary R Russell addressed a well attended seminar in Tuticorin. The centenary committee also brought out a souvenir documenting the life of Comrade Jyoti Basu and carrying articles from CITU leaders.
Similar programmes were organised in Tirunelveli, Virudhunagar and Madurai on November 11 and 12, addressed by A K Padmanabhan and R Karumalayan, assistant general secretary of state CITU. At Tirunelveli noted Tamil literary critic and SahityaAcademy award winner K A Sivasankaran, aged 90, participated with all enthusiasm, recalling Comrade Basu’s finest qualities as a role model for public life in independent India, along with E M S Namboodiripad. He added, “I would be failing in my duty if I didn’t recall Comrade Basu’s contributions to Bengal art and literature which has one of the finest traditions in Indian diaspora.”
In all these events Cultural troupes from the AIIEA and transport union along with local groups enthralled the audiences with their creative performance. A K Padmanabhan took part in all these events, urging the workers from this part of our country to carry forward the great legacy of Comrade Basu and his unflinching ideological commitment to the working class. He said contemporaryIndia has no parallel to him.
In the context of opposition to the neo-liberal policies, the CITU president said the Left Front government of West Bengal, under Comrade Basu, all along supported the national strikes called by central trade unions since 1991.
CPI(M) district secretaries K S Arjunan (Tuticorin), A Sekar (Virudhunagar), K G Baskaran (Thirunelveli) and B Vikraman (Madurai Urban) and CITU leaders M Asokan, S Balasubramaniyan and Kovilpatti town’s former chairperson Ms R Mallika also participated in these programmes.
In the first phase of the CITU state committee’s intensive ideological political training programme for its leading functionaries during the Basu birth centenary year, a three-day school was organised for the CITU state committee members and federation leaders at Virudhunagar on November 9-11. A K Padmanabhan took a class on ‘The History of Working Class Movement in India with Specific Reference to the Post-Independence Period.’ T K Rangarajan spoke on ‘Contemporary Capitalism’ while noted economist Dr Venkatesh Aathreya explained the political economy of Indian planning. Madukkur Ramalingam, editor incharge of TheekathirMadurai edition spoke on communalism. CITU state general secretary G Sukumaran inaugurated the session and state president A Soundararajan concluded with his remarks on how to face the current challenges.
Earlier, a two-day camp was organised in Dindigul on September 4 and 5 exclusively for women cadres working in trade unions. Some state level federations also conducted separate educational programmes as a part of Comrade Basu Centenary. TASMAC employees federation and auto workers federation took the lead. Thiruvarur district unit of the CITU organised a programme in September, in which A Soundararajan and state CITU’s assistant general secretary Thiruchelvan participated.