We have witnessed in our life times ‘an era of Ideal Trade Union Life’ thro the personification of Gupta, the tallest father figure of our Telecom Trade Union Movement. At the age of 24, he entered with his head high into the arena of the Trade Union Movement at the behest of Com Dange and Dada Ghosh to execute the most sacred duty of organizing and uniting the P&T workers.
Omprakash was born in a very big family with 2 sisters and 5 brothers to the parents Shri Ramlal and Smt Sona Devi on April 8th, 1922. He had his primary schooling at Karnal and Higher education at Multhan and Lahore. At Lahore, Shri I K Gujral was his senior. Com Gupta was dismissed from Army Headquarters Government service with some suspicion that he was abetting Quit India Movement during 1942 and forming underground cells. It is a great irony to mention here that he was dismissed by British Government without pension but he fought and won Government pension for even the dismissed BSNL employees from the present Indian Government.
He was invited to the profession of a teacher to a school conducted for political prisoners at JallianwallaBagh by none other than Com Surjeet who then became the General Secretary of CPIM. Com Gupta collected donations from various people and helped to conduct that school. He rejoined college and pursued his master degree.
Com Janak was secretary of our Union Branch at Delhi. She was hailed from an area now belonging to Pakistan. She was also arrested during 1949 strike call and Gupta was sent to 14 months imprisonment. Their comradeship led them to their marriage, which was initially opposed by Janak’s mother on the ground that Gupta was a professional Unionist.
His first initiation in the trade Union movement was his merger resolution for UPTW. He never practiced the question of unity as a mere tactical step, but actualized it with deep commitment and with greater vision of settling the impossible.
Though his knowledge on Marxism and Gandhism was fair enough, he never claimed his intellectual highness and avoided appearing so. He always tried to apply Marxism with Gandhian techniques in the day to day trade union affairs. Hunger Fast and Non cooperation were his famous tools to mobilize workers and to make the Government to come to terms.He applied the concept of fighting for downtrodden and proved his commitment by regularizing more than one lakh casual labourers and making them to enter into different rungs of cadre hierarchy by promoting them as TM & TTA. The base instinct of “No discrimination” was his main motive force that engineered leveling group D and group C in the matters of holidays, medical facilities and weekly off.
He was the author of the concept of automatic promotion and through this concept lakhs of central govt employees benefited. He compared IAS promotion policy for getting promotion to Group C and Group D. Here also he applied no discrimination concept only. It is an idea that he derived from our Indian constitution. He applied his master mind for getting pension to the absorbed employees during the formation of BSNL and thereby created history.
His oratory style was very simple and never used confused jargons. He never uttered or discussed matters without relevance to the cause of workers. He was in the habit of quoting two extremes in the course of his speeches- Stories from Mahabharata and Ramayana and quotes from Mao’s Red Book. He applied Lenin’s self determination theory for ‘NFTE and its 9 unions’ functioning. He applied the famous Marxist concept of renewing the productive forces in the matter of cadre restructuring. He was an ardent negotiator and consistent fighter.
His organizational principles were to the core classic and mostly humane, as all the classics are basically humane .He taught us that majority should not be intoxicated and minority has no veto. He strongly believed, if like minded persons join to expose the leadership in the exercise of their rights then the leadership is also having the right to defend the organization and decisions.
In the April 1982 Telecom, he wrote “Restraint and calm are essential when unity has to be built. Let us learn to respect others and help them to come over their vacillations and weakness instead of abusing them and making unity more difficult” Throughout his trade Union life he tried to keep NFTE a broad based united organization by avoiding political overtones.
He always stood for caring and sharing. His father gave him some amount to buy a house at Delhi. But he used that amount of course with the help of workers for Purchasing Dadha Ghosh Bhawan the building of our union. He was in the habit of giving personal touch and always cherished long memories of his comrades in arms. He never failed to visit the home of leaders like K Ramamurthy, K G Bose, Moni Bose and com Jagan. When Jagan was dismissed a ten rupee note was sent to him by Guptaji to mitigate the sufferings.
With his passing away an era ended. Let us give farewell to the great soul with heavy heart and tears. Let us learn and relearn the ideals and practices of com O P Gupta our legendry leader.