People's Democracy

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


No. 15

April 10, 2005



Somnath Chatterjee Lays Foundation Stone

To Moturu Hanumantha Rao Pranganam


                                                                                     M Venugopala Rao


The Lok Sabha Speaker Somnath Chatterjee recently laid the foundation stone  of the new building complex of the premier Telugu daily Prajasakti at Hyderabad. To be named after the paper’s former editor, Comrade Moturu Hanumantha Rao, the new building would enable the progressive newspaper to face more effectively the challenges thrown up by the emerging scenario.


Addressing the well-attended function at which Andhra Chief Minister    Dr Y S Rajasekhara Reddy was also present, Somnath Chatterjee paid rich tributes to selfless and socially committed leaders like Comrades S P Sundarayya and M Hanumantha Rao who guided the progress of Prajasakti during the difficult formative years and made it what it is today.


 As the voice of the progressive and revolutionary sections of the Telugu society, the paper had emerged as one of the most shining examples of a socially sensitive and responsible daily, articulating the concerns of the working class, the deprived and the disadvantaged, he said. It had consistently stood for certain eternal values such as equity, socio-economic justice, fundamental human rights, etc and not detracted from its core values, Chatterjee said.


Going through various trials and tribulations, including repressions and restrictions, during its six and a half decade existence, Chatterjee said Prajasakti had come out triumphant and continued to take up the causes that inspired its origin, without compromising on journalistic ethics and the larger national values.


 It was a tribute to the determination and commitment of the leading figures associated with the daily, like Comrades Sundarayya and Hanumantha Rao and several others, who had been an integral part of both the political and the intellectual sides of the Communist movement,  that Prajasakti survived all odds, succeeded in spreading the message of the Communist movement and earned a special place in the esteem of the Telugu people, cutting across all socio-political divide, Chatterjee said.


Chatterjee stressed that a responsive Press committed to the principles of democracy and an egalitarian society should involve the people in the process of the socio-economic transformation of the country and help in creating conditions for opening the pathways to change in various spheres of national life. The responsibility of the Press, essentially was one of creating awareness among the people about various national issues and problems, he said.


Stressing the imperativeness to strengthen the national fabric and cherished ideal like democracy, secularism, pluralism, etc, he said  an alert and vigilant Press must make meaningful contribution to the onerous task. It was the duty of the Press to promote an informed democracy in which

transparency, accountability and all other components of good governance prevailed.


 Unfortunately, he said there was a tendency among a section of the media to project partisan points of view in the name of dissemination of news, which should be wholly factual and objective.  The glory of the media was in its presentation of the information based on truth, Chatterjee said lamenting that the basic duty was forgotten by some sections of the Press.  


Underlining India’s emergence as the largest working democracy in the world, Chatterjee said when the Constitution-makers provided for a comprehensive list of fundamental rights, which included the all- important right to freedom of speech and expression, they were, in fact, laying down the foundation for the freedom of the Press in the country. This should be cherished, he said, and people should fight against interference with it as also against its aberrations.


 Similarly, he said, when the founding fathers of the Constitution established other vital institutions of democracy, there was a well-thought- out scheme behind them, which postulated that no one would cross the Lakshman Rekha, as laid down in the Constitution, stressing that the Press also had a vital role in sustaining democracy.


Underlining the importance of the regional Press, Chatterjee said the language Press could act as a catalyst for the progress and prosperity of the masses and give a definitive direction to the onward march of the country.  Identifying journalism as a great mission, and not merely as a profession, to uphold and promote certain cherished values and loflty ideals,  Chatterjee asserted that it called for commitment, courage and conviction, as exemplified by the founders of Prajasakti.


“You have rightly decided to name this building after late Comrade M Hanumantha Rao, a leading political figure of the State, who was also our distinguished colleague in Parliament and the long-time editor of this prestigious newspaper”, Chatterjee said.


 Referring to the People’s Polyclinic that is going to be housed within the complex, Chatterjee said the whole idea of a people’s hospital was something unique and worthy of emulation by the whole country, especially for areas not having the benefit of modern medical facilities.


  The Chief Minister said it was appropriate that the new complex was being named after Comrade Hanumantha Rao.  Underscoring that all the pillars of the democracy, legislature,  executive, judiciary and the Press must discharge their responsibilities in a balanced manner, Reddy said  the Press should be objective in its reporting and whatever it wrote should benefit the people.


Regretting that several newspapers were crossing the Lakshman Rekha and publishing sensational news without ascertaining the facts,  he said    unlike such newspapers, Prajasakti had been pointing out the failures of the government and standing  by the movements of the people and the struggles conducted by the Communist and Congress parties against the anti-people policies and in the process, faced many difficulties,


The Chief Minister hoped that Prajasakti would succeed in giving direction to the society and playing its role in the stages of  decisive changes that would take place in the coming period, wishing that the paper would come still  nearer to the people.  


Earlier,  Koratala Satyanarayana, Chairman Prajasakti Sahiti Samstha,   said it was felt appropriate to name the building after Comrade Hanumantha Rao for the services rendered by him as one of the builders of the Communist movement in the state, and as a sharp writer and editor of  Prajasakti for 20 years after re-launching it as a daily on  August 1, 1981.


 Explaining the progress of Prajasakti over the years, Koratala took pride in the fact that the paper had not given up the tradition of upholding the cause of the masses.  The reason was the strength of its commitment, inspiration of the movement and the strength of the people, he said. With six editions in the state and a vast machinery and hundreds of dedicated staff,as a comprehensive newspaper, Prajasakti had earned a place along with the mainstream media, he said.


 Observing the principles of responsible journalism, Prajasakti had always been committed to the objectives of democracy, secularism, socialism, protection of the interests of the common people, social justice and struggle against imperialism, Koratala said. When socialism received a setback internationally, when communalism flared up nationally and when the policies of globalisation became a big danger in the state, Prajasakti fought like a weapon, with the strength of  unflinching commitment, he said.


 During the last general elections, Koratala said Prajasakti stood as the only Telugu newspaper to reflect the public opinion by conducting a survey in a scientific manner. He thanked the government and the CM for alloting the land for the complex  at an affordable price.


Prajasakti editor V Srinivasa Rao said it was a people’s newspaper and  the peoplee themselves helped it whenever a programme for its development was taken up.  Prajasakti was an alternative forum, not a competition to anyone, he said. The editor also read out messages of goodwill received from several prominent people, including the former Chief Minister and TDP president, N Chandrababu Naidu,  and also greatfully acknowledged donations by several people.


 Mohammed Shabbir Ali, Minister for Information and Public Relations,  also lauded Prajasakti for working with a commitment to secular values and interests of the farmers, workers and the poor.


 Veteran journalist V R Bommareddy, C Raghavachary, former editor of Visalandhra, I Venkatrao, former chairman of A P Press Academy, and  its present chairman D Amar, K Ramachandra Murthy, editor of Andhra Jyoti, and T Ashok, editor of Vartha were on the dais. V Krishnaiah, general manager of Prajasakti, welcomed and news editor S Vinay Kumar proposed a vote of thanks.