The judgment of Calcutta High Court directing Department of Telecom to accept Com. Moni Bose as the duly elected General Secretary of E.III Union was hailed by the workers. DOT which was humbled before the judiciary had other sinister plans. Though it issued orders recognising Moni Bose as General Secretary, it also directed the union to conduct its All India Conference within 6 months, which was extremely difficult.  The intention was not to allow Moni Bose to function as General Secretary. However, AIC was also due.

Notice was issued to hold the AIC at Vaikundam Auditorium, Thiruvananthapuram, capital of Kerala, from 9th to 13th April 1994. Interestingly, OPG group, without any authority,  issued notice for AIC, to be held at Tiruchirappally, in Tamil Nadu. Despite many court orders, which stopped their disruptive actions, another attempt was being made by issuing this AIC notice. Moni Bose approached court again and it gave direction that the AIC given notice of by Moni Bose to be held at Thiruvananthapuram was the real Conference. Having failed again, OPG group was compelled to cancel their notice for AIC and attend Thiruvananthapuram Conference. 

Reception Committee was formed with Com. Suseela Gopalan, M.P. as Chairperson, Com.P.V.Chandrasekharan, Circle Secretary, as General Convener and Com. G.Sasidharan Achari as Treasurer. The Reception Committee, within the short time made excellent arrangements for holding the Conference in a grand manner.

Many prominent personalities and trade union leaders were part of the Reception Committee. Com. E.M.S.Namboodiripad, first Chief Minister of Kerala and world renowned Communist leader, who was to inaugurate the AIC reached the Conference hall in time, as usual. The hall was full and overflowing with 4000 and odd delegates as also the invitees.

It was at this time that without any provocation some delegates from OPG group started shouting slogans, throwing chairs and breaking glass panels of windows of the Conference Hall. Aim was to disrupt the Inaugural Session to be addressed by Com.EMS. Volunteers intervened and brought order. However, there was some tussle and OPG group walked out shouting slogans. Despite sincere efforts, they did not come back. Later it became clear that this walk out was planned well in advance to disrupt the AIC.

After welcome speech by Com.Suseela Gopalan M.P., Com. E.M.S.Namboodiripad inaugurated the AIC. He pointed out the importance of joint efforts of intellectual workers as well as physical workers to improve the service as well as for betterment of the condition of workers. It can be seen later that the union made all efforts to implement this message and advice. Com. M.K.Pandhe, General Secretary, CITU, Mahakavi Shri O.N.V.Kurup, Com.K.Adinarayana, General Secretary, P.IV Union, O.P.Gupta, SG NFTE and other important personalities addressed.

Sincere effort by President and General Secretary was made to bring back the delegates who walked out, going to their camp, but they refused. The report presented by the GS, audited accounts, organisational matters, problems etc. were discussed and decisions taken. A comprehensive Policy and Programme Resolution was adopted, giving direction to future activities.

AIC elected new office bearers unanimously with Moni Bose as President, V.A.Namboodiri as General Secretary and Com.K.M.Pillai as Treasurer. It was a coincidence that from the same place where I had relinquished the post of Circle Secretary was elected as General Secretary. Due to large number of delegates climbing in to the dias with garlands, shawls etc. to congratulate the newly elected office-bearers, the temporarily constructed dais started sliding down and was somehow kept erect without falling down by volunteers.

While it was to help Com.Moni Bose, General Secretary that I stayed at CHQ after Bhopal Conference now it had become unavoidable to stay at New Delhi as General Secretary. Further, Moni Bose returned to Calcutta also. However, used to come to Delhi for meetings as also for important consultations.

Disruption again

OPG group, who walked out from AIC Thiruvananthapuram, after reaching Delhi, submitted a parallel list of office-bearers, with Com.M.B.Vichare as General Secretary, thus continuing disruption. DOT refused to grant recognition to both lists. It was the realisation that dawned upon OPG group that they can never be in majority in the organisation that they disrupted the organisation. This was a tragedy for the telecom workers. It was most unfortunate that O.P.Gupta himself, who was General Secretary of the union for long 37 years, piloted this disruption violating all democratic traditions.

This was similar to the parallel list given by OPG group in NFPTE in 1971 Calcutta Federal Council. A repeat of such disruption was expected and the workers and organisation were ready to face the situation.

E.III Union urgently held a Central Working Committee at Delhi. In order to strengthen the CHQ, it was decided that Asst. General Secretaries in turn should work at CHQ. Accordingly Com. Debashish Dutta Gupta, P.Abhimanyu, P.Asoka Babu and P.Appaji, AGSs came to CHQ in turn and assisted. CWC decided to organise tours to all circles and streamline the organisation.

Com.N.P.Padmanabhan Passed away

Com.N.P.Padmanabhan, former Secretary, NFPTE, Convener of the P and T Co-ordinating Committee Kerala and the comrade who led the 1968 strike passed away on 5th March  1994 at Cannanore. He was dismissed in connection with 1968 strike and was reinstated only after Janatha government came to power in 1977.

I had the opportunity to work with him while in Thiruvananthapuram as Circle Secretary and always had the benefit of his advice and guidance. A memorial stands at Payyambalam Beach Cannanore, where his funeral took place. I published a book in his memory two years back on his 24th death anniversary in 2018. (To be continued)