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MEN WHO MATTER

A leader of the masses

Photo: C.V. Subrahmanyam

Ch. Narasinga Rao

As a student leader, during the dark days of Emergency, he went underground but carried on the party agenda by dropping pamphlets at various junctions in the city, in the pre-dawn hours to enable people to know the omissions and commissions of then Indira Gandhi Government. This was despite the arrest warrant against him under Maintenance of Internal Security Act.

The student leader of that era is none other than the present CPI(M) State secretariat member and CITU State president, Ch. Narasinga Rao, who was and continues to be in the forefront of almost any agitation in the city and district when it comes to protecting the rights of workers and the downtrodden.

"I had stayed at CBI junction in the heart of the city during the Emergency but managed to escape the notice of the police. I used to mingle with the shift workers of Hindustan Shipyard Limited (HSL) and the Hindustan Zinc Limited (HZL) and go on my bicycle to Scindia and Gajuwaka", recalls Narasinga Rao. During the 20-km. ride, he used to interact with workers and know their problems. That interaction helped him establish trade unions in various industries as a Centre for Indian Trade Unions leader in later years.

Hailing from a middle class agricultural family, Narasinga Rao had a natural liking for agriculture. It was, however, his grandmother who took him to the city and insisted on his education. He took his B.A. degree from the SRR and CVR Government College in Vijayawada. During his college days he was attracted to student and social issues. The CPI(M) leadership asked him to work on the student front when he expressed his desire to join whole-time politics in 1975. He joined the Bachelor of Law course in Andhra University and was one among the founders of the Students Federation of India (SFI) movement in the university.

During his student days in the university, private (city) buses used to knock down students frequently. The SFI was spearheading an agitation against the private buses. The then Chief Minister, Jalagam Vengal Rao, had come to the city to open the RTC Complex in 1976. "I along with S. Sudhakar and other SFI leaders staged an agitation and compelled the Chief Minister to make an announcement that city buses would be nationalised," he recalls.

Mr. Narasinga Rao joined the CITU in 1978 and has risen to hold the highest post in the organisation in the State. As a CITU and CPI(M) leader, he along with his associates strove for safeguarding the interests of workers in various industries both in the public and private sector. The party was instrumental in preventing privatisation of Visakhapatnam Steel Plant (VSP) by moulding the opinion of the employees. He had a one-to-one meeting with then Prime Minister, Atal Behari Vajpayee, for about seven minutes. At the end of the discussion, Vajpayee was convinced and agreed for capital restructuring.

"The present thrust of CPI(M) is on protecting public sector units, in protecting the interests of unorganised workers and trade unions. Our party is also seriously concerned with the displacement of an estimated 50,000 fishermen by the projects coming up along the coast between Visakhapatnam and Tuni," he says.

B.M.G.

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