Com. Priya Gupta

Name Priya resembles with his inter action with the society. He became Priya to one and all. He was a man of erratic temper, but that was momentous only. He never kept anything in his mind. Forgetfulness was his greatness.In personal discussion at leisure he was as simple as child. But when time needed he stood like a rock. He did compromise on his personal affairs even trying situation, but never compromised in the affairs of interest of down trodden. Even in his busy hours he used to hear common workers but his close associates had to wait for opportunate moment. He felt irritated when he heard any incident of highhandedness and dealt them firmly, come what may. I can not but cite a few of many occassions which I had the prevelege of having personal knowledge.

After joining in Railway Service at Amingaon in January 1954, my fellow colleagues took me to the other bank of Brahmaputra, Pandu to get myself acquinted with an Union officials. I was simply charmed by his simplicity. It was a love at the first sight. This love grew and grew and grew. Most of the present band of Union workers were attracted in the trade Union movement coming in contact with him. He had a magnetic power of attraction. He used to become friendly not only of the Union workers but the entire family members and sometimes relatives of them, cutting across the barrier of Union and political opinion.

Movement for achievement of Assam Compensatory Allowance was at its peak. June 1956 Sri Lal Bhadur Sastri the Ministrer for Railways came to visit Pandu Region of N.E. Railway, Sri Priya Gupta came down from Gorakhapur to Pandu, led a demonstration before the Minister for Railways, who was campaigning in Guwahati Circuit House. Sastrijee was reluctant to come out and address the gathering. Shri Bishnu Ram Medhi, Chief Minister of Assam also objected. Sri Priya Gupta told Sri Medhi that Railwaymen had got every right to hear their Minister. Ultimately Sastrijee came out and address the gathering. Assam Compensatory Allowance was sanctioned later on.

Leave of class IV staff was half to that of other employees – Sri Jagjivan Ram, Minister for Railways came to Jamalpur in 1057 to address a Conference of Apprentices. Sri Priya Gupta was also invited. Sri Priya Gupta, as asul of him sat alongwith the masses instead of in the dias. When Sri Jagjivan Ram strated his speeech Sri Priya Gupta stood and asked Sri Ram that he was championing the causes of down trodden masses, Class IV staff falls on his category, why the disparity of leave, passes etc. would not be removed Sri Priya Gupta retoted “Ye Keisa Wada Hai, Jo Mantry Lok Wada Karte Hai aur Delhi Jake Bhol Jate Hai”. Sri Ram retorted “Jagjivan Yese wada Karta nehi hai”. Within 3/4 months, orders were issued removing disparity in leave on average pay to the class IV staff in all Central Government Services.

On 13th May 1968, discussion on charter of demands was held with the Railway Board when the issue of need based minimum wages was discussed Sri Priya Gupta said “the Class IV staff are getting wages below subsistance level. Their wages are below poverty line”. Sri Gangully, Member Staff, Railway Board retorted saying “Class IV staff are playing transistor, while I can not purchase a watch”. Sri Gupta replied “you could send your daughter in the Convert Mr. Ganguly by spending four hundred rupees per month, but these Class IV staff could not send their son even in Primary School which is a pre-requisite for appointment in Class IV category even. Sri Ganguly objected said “why you have brought my daughter’s thing here”. Sri Gupta replied “Since you have brought my sons thing here, I have got right to bring your daughter’s thinfg here”. Sri Priya Gupta was a Bachelor . Sri Ganguly knew him intimately. He asked “who is your son?” The discussion was at high pitch we all were surprisingly hearing the discussion. Sri Peter Alvares, General Secretary, All India Railwaymens’ Federation was by his side, but did no venture to interfere. reply was, “all the six lakh Class IV staff are the sons of All India railwaymens’ Federation.” This unexpected reply had silenced Sri Ganguly.

During dark days of Emergency, when we met Sri Kamala Pati Tripathy to discuss certain burning problems, Sri Tripathy asked, ” Where is your President? You change your President.” Sri Priya Gupta replied “if I would tell you to change Indirajee, how would you like ?” During those days none had ventured to speak like this. This was possible only him. He did never submit to unwanted, uncharitable remarks from high ups.

In October 1977 Sarbashree Umraomal Purahit, T.N. Bajpai and myself along with Sri Priya Gupta went to discuss the issue of Bonus with Sri Morarjee Desai, Prime Minister in his official residence. During discussion, when Sri Priya Gupta said “Railwaymen are below poverty line” Morarjee Bhai retorted, pointing out Sri Umraomol Purahit (Used to be in good costume), ” is it below poverty line ?” Sri Priya Gupta immediately replied “Yesa bat mat kahiya Morarjee Bhai, ab jis deske Pradhanmantri hai, yus deska admikoto tan me kapra nehi hai, magor ub to yse nehi hai” Morarjee Bahi said, ” Tom to Yesahi Hai”. He replied “Keya Desh Badal Giya.” Then Morarjee Bhai held the discussion in cordial manner.