People's Democracy

(Weekly Organ of the Communist Party of India (Marxist)


No. 35

August 28, 2011





THOUSANDS of people from all walks of life paid their respects to Comrade M K Pandhe, veteran trade union leader and CPI(M) Polit Bureau member who passed away on August 20, 2011. The body of the departed leader was kept at the BTR Bhavan, the central office of the Centre of Indian Trade Unions from 9-10 am on August 21 where the trade union leadership and hundreds of workers paid homage to their dear leader. By 10.30 am, the body was brought to AKG Bhavan, the headquarters of the CPI(M).


CPI(M) general secretary Prakash Karat led the Polit Bureau members in paying respects to Comrade Pandhe. Pramila Pandhe and family members paid their respects. Members of the Central Committee, office bearers of the CITU, All India Kisan Sabha, All India Agricultural Workers’ Union, All India Democratic Women’s Association, Democratic Youth Federation of India, Students’ Federation of India, All India Lawyer’s Union, Jansanskrti and many other mass organisations as well as unions paid their respects amidst incessant slogan shouting by comrades. A B Bardhan, general secretary, CPI, S Sudhakar Reddy, deputy general secretary, CPI, Debabrata Biswas, general secretary, All India Forward Bloc, Gurudas Dasgupta, general secretary, AITUC Abani Roy from UTUC, S P Tiwari fron TUCC, Krishna Chakravarthy from AIUTUC, Swapan Mukherjee from AICCTU and others paid respects. CPI(ML), INTUC, HMS, NTUI and representatives of banking, insurance, state government employees associations also paid their respects. The chief managing directors of many PSUs like BHEL, Coal India, Air India, Airport Authority of India joined their workers in paying their respects.

The last journey of Comrade Pandhe, a tireless traveller who crisscrossed the entire country and the globe to unite the workers and spread the message of working class internationalism, began from AKG Bhawan at 2.30 pm. Thousands of workers, and leaders of fraternal trade unions and mass organisations marched in the procession led by the politburo and central committee members of CPI (M) and the central office bearers of CITU. The last journey ended at Lodhi Road crematorium where the body of Comrade Pandhe was cremated with resounding slogans of ‘Comrade Pandhe Amar Rahe’.






The Centre of Indian Trade Unions (CITU) lost its most beloved leader Dr M K Pandhe who was also the tallest leader of the Indian trade union movement of the time. Dr Pandhe died on August 20, 2011 at early hours (00-20 hrs) following a massive heart attack. He was 86 years old. The CITU expresses its profound grief at the demise of Comrade Pandhe. 


Comrade Pandhe’s public life spread over seven decades beginning as a student movement activist in his early youth and he continued to remain fully active, agile and concerned as one in the thick of the working class and the Left movement, till the last hours of his eventful life, totally undaunted by ageing problems and failing health. Suffering from cancer and all the hazards of treatment and accompanying complications could not deter him in the least from his activities spreading over the length and breadth of the country, across sectors. The country’s toiling class lost a dedicated fighter for the cause of their emancipation.   


He joined the communist movement in 1943 and played a frontline role in asserting the role of the working class in the fight for social transformation and emancipating the people from all kinds of exploitation. He was elected to the Polit Bureau of the Communist Party of India (Marxist) in 1998 and continued in that position till his death.


His singular contribution to the trade union movement and in organising and leading the workers in the strategic sector of industries has been unparalleled. Also crucial is his contribution in organising the workers in the unorganised sector and also emphasising the working women’s role in the trade union movement.


He was the national secretary of the All India Trade Union Congress (AITUC) in the early sixties and was one of the founder leaders of the Centre of Indian Trade Unions (CITU), the organisation which he steered as one of the most frontline centres of the working class movement. He was the general secretary of the CITU from 1991 to 2003 and remained president from 2003 to 2010.


Comrade Pandhe had always been the champion of broadest unity of the working class in the struggle on common issues. In the phase of coming together of all trade unions of different affiliations on a united platform on common issues and unleashing of the era of joint struggle of trade unions on national scale in the late seventies, the untiring effort of Comrade Pandhe has played the most crucial role. Comrade Pandhe commanded high respect and acceptability as a towering leader in the entire trade union movement irrespective of affiliations.


Comrade Pandhe was also widely known and respected in the international arena of the trade union movement. His initiative has led to widening the international relations of the CITU in a big way. He had been the co-president of the International Energy and Miners’ Organisation (IEMO) which had been a joint international platform of energy and mining workers worldwide irrespective of affiliations. 


His firm commitment to working class ideology and to anti-imperialism had always been the guide to the CITU in organising the united movement and exposing the capitalist order. His untiring initiative and able leadership in this direction has contributed immensely both in developing and maintaining continuity in the united platform of struggle against neo-liberal policies since 1991 which got further broadened to all-in unity of the trade union movement in the joint struggle since 2009.   


He had been a prolific writer as well. He had written innumerable pamphlets on the issues facing the trade union movement and on the economic policy issues. His booklet titled Policies of liberalization: Attack on Economic Sovereignty published in 1991, translated in all Indian languages and circulated in several lakhs throughout the country became the talking points on the disastrous policy of liberalisation, privatisation and globalisation for all trade union activists and organisers irrespective of affiliations in the anti-LPG joint struggles. Also notable had been his pamphlets on Fraudulent Price Index, Global Economic Crisis, On Employees Pension Scheme and his regular contributions in trade union journals almost on all issues facing the working class movement.


Despite being the tallest leader of the working class movement, he was accessible to all including the common workers. His simple life-style and utmost simplicity will always be remembered. In fact his unflinching commitment to working class, indomitable zeal to work and organise, strong conviction on the urgency for developing class leadership, great intellectual capacity to intervene and down-to-earth approach to communicate and interact with people made him the tallest leader of the country’s trade union movement.  


Comrade Pandhe is no more. His demise is a severe loss to the country’s working class movement. The CITU pledges to carry forward his mission in his cherished direction, while condoling his death and conveying condolences to his wife Comrade Pramila Pandhe and other family members.



The Trade Union International (Construction) under the WFTU pay its red salute to the legendry trade union leader of India and the World, Comrade M K Pandhe.


On behalf of millions of Construction, Building Materials and Wood Workers of the World, we pay our respectful homage to Comrade M K Pandhe who passed away on  August 20, 2011.


Comrade Pandhe was not only a leader of Indian trade union movement but he was like a pillar in the fight of the world trade union movement against the neo-liberal policies of the imperialist powers. He was a source of inspiration for the toiling masses who are fighting in the streets against capitalism.


We are committed to him and his belief of socialism. We will carry on with the red flag of the working class which he has handed over to us.


We convey our deep condolence to his wife, son, daughter and other family members on behalf of our organisation.



The Construction Workers’ Federation of India express its deep sorrow and pays respectful homage to our teacher, legendary figure in Indian and World trade union movement, our friend-philosopher-and guide Comrade M K Pandhe.


Comrade Pandhe was the founder president of our Federation since 1989 till 2003. He was an inspiration to us, to move ahead. Today our Federation under the banner of the CITU is the biggest one, and it became possible only due to his constant valuable advise on organisational matters, on theoretical questions and on political issues.


We pay our red salute to him and convey our heart-felt condolence to Comrade Pramila Pandhe, his wife and his beloved son and other family members.



The All India State Government Employees’ Federation deeply mourns the sudden demise of Comrade M K Pandhe, the tallest leader of the Indian working class who passed away in the early hours of August 20.


Comrade M K Pandhe, the leader of not only the Centre of Indian Trade Unions (CITU) but also the entire Indian working class movement strived hard for the unification of the Indian working class and to spread and imbibe the sense of proletariat internationalism among the Indian workers.


He organised many militant struggles at the national level to fight against the onslaughts unleashed by the rulers by imposing the retrograde and the reactionary policies of neo-liberal economic reforms in the name of liberalisation, privatisation and globalisation.


He associated the Indian workers with the international trade union movement and at many international fora voiced in full throated spirit the liberation of the working class by throwing away the yoke of the obnoxious capitalist system. Ideologically he fought against the reformist approach and upheld the values of the revolutionary trade union policy and practice.


He closely associated with the activities of All India State Government Employees’ Federation and participated in the conferences and conventions organised by the federation and delivered inspiring and illuminating lectures to awaken the employees.


His memories will be everlasting in the minds of the government employees and the workers in this country and guide them in their ongoing struggles for safeguarding the interests and championing the cause of the people of this country in general and the working class of this country in particular. The All India State Government Employees’ Federation dips its banner in honour of the departed leader and vows to carry forward militant and relentless struggles for the freedom and emancipation of the working class.




The Mumbai Port Trust Worker’s Union expresses its heartfelt condolence and tributes to Comrade M K Pandhe veteran trade unionist and CPI(M) Polit Bureau member, ex-president of the CITU and vice president of Water Transport Workers Federation of India (WTWFI).


He will always be remembered as a leader who selflessly served the trade union movement and the working class. We have lost an important leader, who worked relentlessly for the welfare of the working class.



The All India Kisan Sabha expresses profound sorrow at the death of Comrade M K Pandhe, Polit Bureau member of the CPI(M) and well known, widely respected trade union leader of the  country. He was 86.


Immediately after his student life, Comrade Pandhe started working very hard in the trade union movement, first in the AITUC and later in the CITU, with great dedication and became very popular among all sections of the working class and rose to become its trusted leader.


He was the general secretary of the CITU from 1990 to 1999 and was its president till 2010. He was instrumental in uniting the major central trade unions on issues facing the  working class and other toiling masses during the last  more than three decades. Comrade Pandhe never deviated from the path of constant struggles alongwith maintaining the high standards of proletarian intervention.


The All India Kisan Sabha fondly cherishes the memory of his constant efforts for worker-peasant unity among the working class, particularly in fight against neo-liberal policies in our country.


The All India Kisan Sabha will always remember the simplicity of his life style, his easy accessibility, his close contact with the rank and file.


The All India Kisan Sabha dips its red banner and conveys deep condolences to Comrade Pramila Pandhe and other family members.                                                              



On behalf of the office bearers, the general council and over 5.5 million members of the All India Agricultural workers Union (AIAWU), we dip our red banner to honour and grieve the loss of a tireless and outstanding leader of the working class, Comrade M K Pandhe. 


His role in the early years of the formation of the CITU will always be remembered together with that of Comrades B T Ranadive and P Ramamurthi. Like them, his whole life was devoted to the Party of the working class, the CPI(M) and to the struggle to free the working class movement from the shackles of class-collaboration and surrender to the ideologies of neo-liberalism  and communalism.  At the same time, true to the task of uniting all sections of the organised working people irrespective of ideology in the broadest platform of concrete class struggle, he determinedly worked on the principles of unity and struggle.


He was one of the main protagonists of the National Platform of Mass Organisations and the Coordination Committee of Central Trade Unions and National Federations, which have, over the decades, spear-headed mass struggles and country-wide general strikes led by the working class.


We, as the necessary link between the working class and peasantry in forging the worker-peasant alliance that alone can carry us forward to a socialist transformation in the interest of the people as whole, deeply grieve his loss and will do everything possible to carry forward the unity and work for a Confederation of all central trade unions and national federations so dear to his vision of struggle in the future.


We dip our banner in his memory and convey our heartfelt condolences to the CITU, the CPI(M) and Comrade Pramila Pandhe, his wife and comrade-in-arms, his son, grandchildren and other family members.



The central executive committee of the Democratic Youth Federation of India expresses profound grief at the passing away of Comrade M K Pandhe, senior most leader of the trade union movement in the country and Polit Bureau member of the CPI (M).


Comrade Pandhe who joined the Communist Party in 1943, made his mark as a dedicated and respected leader of the working class movement. He was committed for working class unity and played a significant role in bringing about the unity of the central trade unions. He lived a life of utmost simplicity and worked tirelessly till he breathed his last. His death is an irreparable loss for the Left movement of the country.


The CEC of the DYFI pays its respectful homage to the memory of Comrade Pandhe and conveys its heartfelt condolences to his family members.



The central executive committee of the Students’ Federation of India expresses deep grief at the passing away of veteran leader of the working class, former president of the CITU and member of the Polit Bureau of CPI(M), Comrade M K Pandhe.


Comrade Pandhe started his political activism at a very young age in the student movement and later he became one of the towering leaders of the trade union movement in India. He was the secretary of the Sholapur Students Union in 1943. He joined the Communist Party in the same year.


His affable personality and conduct won him the love and affection of working people across the country. His contributions as a voice of the workers and oppressed sections were impeccable.


In his death, the working class and other sections of toiling masses have lost a valuable leader. The Students’ Federation of India pays its respectful homage to his memory and conveys condolences to his wife and members of his family.


The CPI(M) state committees of Punjab, Orissa, Haryana, Mumbai committee and Jammu regional committee have sent their condolence messages to the Party Centre.



The CPI(ML) extends deepest condolences on the demise of veteran communist and trade union leader, and CPI(M) Polit Bureau member Comrade M  K Pandhe.


Comrade Pandhe’s loss will be deeply felt by India’s working class struggles and the country’s Left movement. The workers of India will always remember him for his leading role in building a resolute resistance to the anti-labour, anti-people policies of liberalisation. He always adhered to the best communist traditions of simple lifestyle, and his activism right till the last days of his life will always inspire communists everywhere.


The CPI(ML) pays homage to Comrade Pandhe’s legacy, and stands with his family and comrades in this time of loss.