The Annual Report of was presented by General secretary Com. O.P.Gupta. As usual, the report was lengthy, more than one hundred pages with many unnecessary comments about other leaders and also about comrades who don’t agree with him. It took about two hours to read the same, which was done by Assistant General Secretaries and other All India office bearers.
The discussion on the report was explosive. The delegates who spoke severely criticised the agreement reached by the union with the management of restructuring of cadres by agreeing to the dictates of the DOT by surrendering more than one and half lakh vacancies, conceding that higher qualification is required for promotion instead of seniority as hitherto. These are well known tactics for the privatisation of the telecom services, they accused.
The delegates also accused the CHQ leadership of removing those workers and leaders who opposed the top leadership and their wrong policies. Comrades Moni Bose (W.Bengal), J.Renganathan (Chennai) and V.A.N.Namboodiri, (Kerala) who had resigned their all India posts of Vice- Presidents and Asst. General Secretary respectively, explained the reasons for their resignations, which itself was an indictment of the CHQ. Comrades M.N.Reddy (Andhra), Ananta Battacharjee (Calcutta), R.S.Yadav (U.P.), Shivdas Banerjee (W.Bengal) and other leaders also exposed the wrong policies of Com. O.P.Gupta, General Secretary and expressed their viewpoints effectively. As usual, this writer, with well prepared notes with facts and figures exposed the pro-government decisions and actions of the GS which was against the interests of the workers. The dictatorial attitude of the GS was tooth and nail opposed. Though the President, Com. Homi Daji, tried to cut short the speeches, the delegates were able to present their points in an effective manner.
The open session was held on the third day which was addressed by Minister of State for Communications, Shri Venkaiah Naidu. The demands of the workers were presented before him by the leaders.
While the conference was going on, our comrades utilised the opportunity to meet the delegates of all the circles and tried to convince the correctness of our stand on demands and requested them to oppose the anti-worker agreements. We sat for hours together in these discussions and many comrades were fully convinced.
In the same way our senior comrades sat together in the morning, noon and evening to review the discussions, its effect on the delegates etc. In one of the meeting, this writer suggested that not only we oppose the wrong actions of the CHQ, but should contest the elections, which was readily accepted by our comrades and work started for the same. Though our comrades were in the leadership in seven circles only, as OPG used to ridicule us, we could find out there were many comrades in other circles who agreed with us. Some comrades pointed out that left unity will suffer in case of contest, but this isolated suggestion was dismissed. The general opinion was that either we will win or at least get substantial votes.
The next issue was that who will contest the posts. Com. Moni Bose suggested that Com. VAN should contest as General Secretary on the point that I have been functioning as Asst. General secretary at CHQ and is well aware of the problems of the workers. I proposed Com. Moni Bose, as he was the senior most leader who should contest against veteran leader Com. O.P.Gupta. My suggestion was accepted and it was decided that Com. Moni will contest for General Secretary and myself for the post of President. Leaders for the other posts were also finalised. All these discussions and decisions were strictly kept secret, as we were fully aware that, if the news is out, Com. Gupta will ensure that the either the election is not held or the election is manipulated.
Com.O.P.Gupta and his supporters were under the impression that after the heated discussion and protests, all will become calm and the election will be unanimously conducted as is the tradition for many years. Nobody was prepared to invite the wrath of the powerful leadership. So, when the President Com. Homi Daji, invited nomination for the post of All India office-bearers, the first panel received was one with Com. V.A.N.Namboodiri as President and Com.Moni Bose as General Secretary. Com. OPG also submitted his panel. When both the lists were read out, there was complete silence in the hall. Com. Homi Daji, though was included as President in Gupta’s panel, withdrew from the contest and name of Com.K.L.Sharma(Rajasthan) was put in his place. OPG approached for a unified list, but as we, knowing his clever tactics, did not agree and the contest became unavoidable. (To be continued)