BTR completed his studies in 1927, obtaining an M.A. degree with distinction. In 1928 he joined the Communist Party of India (CPI). He was also an important leader of the first national trade union in the country, All India trade Union Congress (AITUC). He was connected with the activities of Girnin Kamgar Union in Bombay and became its leader. BTR was also connected with the Railway workers and became became the General Secretary of the GIP Railwaymen’s Union.
BTR was connected with the historic Navy Revolt of 1946 and organised support of the working class to the strike. In 1948, he was elected as the general Secretary of the CPI which position he continued till 1950. After formation of CPI(M) in 1964 he was elected as a Member of Polit Bureau, which position he continued till his death. He was the first President of CITU elected in the formation Conference at Calcutta in May 1970 and continued as such till he passed away.
He was a leader who braved every obstacle and led his comrades marching on the correct path. His correct militant stand, educating the cadres, forthright approach and speech – all were appreciated by the workers. He led CITU for many years made it one of the strong and militant trade union in the country.
I am fortunate to have been associated with him for a long period. He was a real advisor in organising NFPTE as also organising struggles. He has attended many of our union conferences and addressed. When I invited him over telephone to inaugurate the Joint Circle Conference of P&T Unions to be held at Calicut in 1988, without any hesitation he agreed. But a few days after he contacted me over telephone and said that since a meeting of the Central Committee of the Party has been decided to be held on that date, he will not be able to attend. I requested him to at least send an article to the Conference Souvenir to be published. He agreed and within a few days received the same. It was a well prepared article on the trade union movement and not only it was published in the souvenir, but was also published in many of the union journals.
I also remember another incident. During an organisational discussion, where Com. Ranadive was present, Com. N.J.Iyer, veteran NFPTE leader, complained that ‘Com. Namboodiri is always talking of strike and struggles, necessarily and unnecessarily.’ That was a time when the extreme left has started its influence in TUs and probably Com. Iyer might have though that I was leaning towards extreme line. When I explained the unavoidability of the struggle in that context, Com. BTR also agreed and advised the struggle is to be undertaken. I spoke to Com. Iyer and cleared myself of his misunderstanding. Both of us were happy.
His entire family was with the party and the working class movement. His sister Ahilya Rengnekar, wife Vimala Ranadive – all were all India leaders of both CPI(M) and the CITU and women’s movement.
Com. B.T.Ranadive passed away on 6th April 1990 at a hospital in Bombay after illness for some period. It was a great loss to the entire working class and the Communist movement.
Red Salute to Com. BTR on his 30th Death Anniversary!