Homage to Comrade Kanai Bannerjee

Centre of Indian Trade Unions (CITU) pays respectful homage to Comrade Kanai Lal Bannerjee, freedom fighter, veteran trade union leader, ideologue and former National Secretary, CITU who passed away in the early hours today (15 September 2023) at his residence at Kolkata. He was under treatment for age related ailments. He was 97. He had donated his body to the Medical College.

Comrade Kanai Bannerjee who was affectionately called as Kanai da was born on 10 October 1926 in Bikrampur, Rani mandal village in Dhaka in erstwhile East Pakistan (now Bangladesh). He was attracted to the freedom movement and then to the communist movement in his teen age itself. He recalled attending a meeting addressed by Subhash Chandra Bose in Dhaka in 1939. He joined the freedom movement and the communist party in his student days and was active in Students’ Federation. He was active in organsing people’s movements for food during the food crisis and against state repression. He was expelled from home for his political activities. He was expelled from college in Kooch bihar for his political activities and was taken back due to the public pressure. He started his trade union activities in Kooch bihar. In early days he had organsied beedi workers, tailors, washer men etc and ran cooperatives for them in early 40s.  After his coming to Calcutta, he was active in SF as well as trade union. After partition, his family came to India.

He was associated with the Rail Road Workers’ Union during those days. Later he joined the railways. He worked in the leadership of All India Railway men’s Federation for a long time. He played a crucial role in the historic railway strike in 1974.  He was asked to take premature retirement from service in 1984 and joined the CITU centre at the initiative of Comrade BTR. He was elected as an Office bearer of CITU in 1989 and functioned from CITU headquarters till 2013 when he got relieved from his responsibilities and shifted to Kolkata. As an office bearer of CITU, he had undertaken responsibilities of various sectors and states. He insisted in promoting working women to the leadership of CITU. He was instrumental in setting up the CITU library.

He was member of the central committee of CPI(M) till 2008.

A prolific reader and a good teacher, he had vast knowledge and interest in philosophy, literature and culture. He was one of the frontline leaders who guided CITU in the fight against neoliberal ideological offensive. He contributed much to the historic Bhubaneswar document on organisation of CITU. With an in depth knowledge of Indian philosophy and ancient literature, he used to wage war and sensitise comrades against all sorts of deviations and also hindutva communal ideology.

He led a very simple Spartan life. He was very affectionate to the cadres and at the same time very tough and non-compromising in political ideological fight against revisionism. At this time of tough ideological fight against revisionism and post modernism, his demise is a big loss to the CITU and the revolutionary movement in the country. CITU dips its flag in respect to the departed revolutionary leader and organiser and conveys its condolences to his bereaved family members and comrades.

Issued by

Tapan Sen
For CITU Secretariat 

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