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Champion of woman labourers, veteran Communist leader Roza Deshpande dies

Daughter of Communist Party of India’s (CPI) founding member Shripad Amrit Dange, Deshpande started her political career with All India Students Federation (AISF) and was active during Samyukta Maharashtra and Goa liberation movements.

By: Express News Service | Mumbai | September 19, 2020 10:57:30 pm
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VETERAN TRADE unionist, communist leader and former parliamentarian, Roza Deshpande died of prolonged illness at her Dadar residence. She was 92 and is survived by a daughter and son.

Daughter of Communist Party of India’s (CPI) founding member Shripad Amrit Dange, Deshpande started her political career with All India Students Federation (AISF) and was active during Samyukta Maharashtra and Goa liberation movements.

Seen as a champion of the rights of woman labourers, Deshpande led a famous agitation in 1964, which forced chemical and pharmaceutical factories to drop an objectionable clause that stated that woman employees should step down from their duties after marriage. She was elected to the Lok Sabha from the erstwhile Bombay South Central constituency in 1974 as the CPI candidate. But she and her father would soon be expelled from the party after they backed Prime Minister Indira Gandhi’s stance during the Emergency period. After that, the two formed All India Communist Party in which she was the general secretary.

In 1980, she travelled to Moscow to meet Leonid Brezhnev, President of the then Soviet Union, as Indira Gandhi’s emissary. Besides trade union activities, Deshpande was an avid follower of Marathi literature and history.

In his condolence message, Maharashtra Governor Bhagat Singh Koshyari wrote, “I’m deeply saddened to know about the demise of thinker and Communist leader Roza Deshpande. She carried forward the legacy of social service inherited from her illustrious father. She lent a strong voice to raise various problems of women and workers.”

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