Born On: March 18, 1919
Born In: Calcutta, West Bengal
Died On: February 20, 2001
Career: Political Leader
A legendary parliamentarian renowned for his austerity, democratic outlooks, and deep commitment to values, Indrajit Gupta was one of the greatest privileged Indians who sacrificed greatly for the betterment of the nation. He is best remembered for his forceful and outspoken speeches made at Lok Sabha. Such was the moderation and criticism with reason in his language that he was a known personality by his political opponents also. Spending over 37 years in Lok Sabha, he was fondly known as the “Father of the House” by his fellow mates and his departure left an empty seat that will take too long to fill again. He was one of the Communists leaders who parted with their connections in order to embrace the cause of the working class.
Indrajit Gupta was born in an anglicized Brahmo family to Satish Gupta in Calcutta, West Bengal. His father was an Accountant General of India, while his grandfather, Behari Lal Gupta, was the Dewan of Baroda, and his elder brother, Ranajit Gupta, was a Chief Secretary of West Bengal. Indrajit attained his formal education in Simla where his father was posted. He completed his graduation from St. Stephen’s College in Delhi and went to King’s College, Cambridge to pursue his higher studies. While in England, he was highly influenced by the journalist and theoretician in the Communist Party of Great Britain, Rajani Palme Dutt, and joined the communist movement. On obtaining his degree from the University of Cambridge, Gupta returned to Calcutta in 1938. Here, he joined the peasants’ and workers’ movement, but was sentenced to 'party jail’ in 1948 for supporting the party. With an attack on communists, he was forced to go underground during 1948-50.
In 1960, Gupta was elected to Lok Sabha, the lower house of Parliament, for the first time. Except for a short period from 1977-80, he remained a member of Lok Sabha until his death, thereby gaining the longest experience serving in Lok Sabha for 37 years. He represented Calcutta South-West as a member of the second and third Lok Sabha from 1960 to 1967. Later from 1967 to 1977, he was elected to fourth and fifth Lok Sabha from Alipore. He represented Basirhat in seventh and eighth Lok Sabha from 1980 to 1989 and Midnapore from ninth to thirteenth Lok Sabha from 1989 until his death. Being the oldest member of Lok Sabha, he served as pro team speaker in 1996, 1998, and 1999. The pro tem speaker is required to conduct the swearing ceremony of the newly elected members. Besides serving in Lok Sabha, Gupta had been associated with various parliamentary committees also.
He served as the chairman of parliamentary standing committee on defence in 1995-96 and chairman of the committee of subordinate legislation from 1999 until his death. His other contributions include as a member of rules committee in 1990-91, general purposes committee from 1985-89 and from 1998 onwards, committee on defence from 1998-2000, committee on petitions in 1986-87, business advisory committee in 1986-87 and in 1989, library committee in 1990-91, and committee to review Lok Sabha Secretariat rules in 1990. Being an active trade unionist, Gupta served as the General Secretary of the All India Trade Union Congress form 1980 to 1990. Brought up and raised in the Communist Party of India (CPI), he became the General Secretary of CPI in 1990 until 1996. He was a great supporter of CPI and delivered speeches in Lok Sabha that made him popular amongst his opponents as well. He was elected as the Union Minister of Home Affairs in the United Front government in 1996, which he attained till 1998. Gupta was appointed as the President of World Federation of Trade Union in 1998.
At the age of 62 in 1981, Gupta married the love of his life, Suraiya. He had to wait for years, until she lawfully dissolved her early marriage with photographer Ahmed Ali, before marrying her. The couple had one son and three daughters.
Indrajit Gupta died of cancer on February 20, 2001 in Kolkata. He was 81.
Honors & Awards
Indrajit Gupta was honored with the Outstanding Parliamentarian Award in 1992. Upon his death in 2001, the then President of India, K.R. Narayanan paid a tribute to him with three characteristics describing him - Gandhian simplicity, democratic outlook, and deep commitment to values.
1919: Born in Calcutta, West Bengal
1938: Completed education from King’s College, University of Cambridge and returned to Calcutta
1948: Imprisoned for supporting peasants’ and workers’ movement
1960: Elected to Lok Sabha for the first time
1960-67: Represented Calcutta South-West at 2nd and 3rd Lok Sabha
1967-77: Elected to 4th and 5th Lok Sabha from Alipore
1980-89: Elected to 7th and 8th Lok Sabha from Basirhat
1981: Married Suraiya
1989: Appointed to 9th Lok Sabha from Midnapore and was on house until death
1990: Became General Secretary of CPI
1992: Bestowed with Outstanding Parliamentarian Award
1996: Served as pro team Speaker in Lok Sabha, followed again in 1998 and 1999
1998: Appointed as President of World Federation of Trade Unions
2001: Died on February 20 of cancer in Kolkata, aged 81