Comrade George Fernandez, former Defence as also Communications Minister and the militant leader of the 1974 Railways Strike passed away today morning (29-01-2019) at a New Delhi Hospital. He was 88. He was bedridden for a long time and was under treatment for Alzheimer illness.
George Fernandez, was a Socialist and was a fiery speaker. He was jailed several times, including at the time of the railways strike in 1974 which he led and during the National Emergency of 1975. The Railway Strike in May 1974 demanding Bonus for railway employees continued for about three weeks and thousands of workers were arrested and jailed. ESMA and other black rules were used to suppress the workers. But after the Janatha Government came in to power, Bonus was first granted to Railways workers and then to CG employees etc. During National Emergency’ Fernandez was handcuffed and jailed till Emergency was over. He contested the elections from jail and was released only after the victory of Janatha party. For some time he was Minister of Communications also, during which period I met him and discussed about victimisation cases. He was most considerate.
His speech was inspiring. I still remember his speech at Mudalakkulam Maidan, Kozhikode, which was being translated in equally fiery tone by Com. M.P.Veerendrakumar, both of whom were in the Socialist party at that time.
He later joined NDA and was Defence Minister in Vajpayee government. For the last few years he was ill and under treatment.Now the end has come.
A great working class leader has passed away. Heartfelt condolences!