People's Democracy

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


No. 39

September 30, 2007

Comrade P Ramamurti Centenary Year Inaugurated


Prakash Karat addressing the public meeting after unveiling the statue of Comrade P Ramamurti in Madurai on September 20


W R Varada Rajan


THE year long observance of the centenary of Comrade P Ramamurti, veteran leader of the communist movement in India and the founder general secretary of the CITU, was inaugurated with the unveiling of his statue by Prakash Karat, general secretary of the CPI(M) at a colourful function at Madurai on September 20, 2007.


Comrade P Ramamurti, affectionately called as PR by the Party comrades and mass of workers and people all over India, was born in a tiny village of Veppattur, in the Thanjavur district of the composite Madras Presidency on September 20, 1908. Spending his school days in his native village and later in Chennai, he moved to Banaras Hindu University in Varanasi. But, very soon he was drawn into the freedom movement and underwent imprisonment for burning the foreign clothes in Varanasi and for picketing in Chennai. Like many other contemporaries of his times, he was a leading personality of the Indian National Congress, serving as a member of the All India Congress Committee as well as Tamil Nadu Congress Committee. He joined the Congress Socialist Party and later the Communist Party of India in 1936. During his involvement in the freedom struggle, he faced three conspiracy cases foisted by the British regime. He plunged into the trade union movement and led many a struggle of the working class. He was elected to the Legislative Assembly while undergoing imprisonment. He also served as a member of the Lok Sabha as well as Rajya Sabha, where he espoused the cause of the toiling masses and drew appreciation of all sections of the people. He was part of the first 9-member Polit Bureau of the CPI(M) and the founder general secretary of the CITU, when it was formed in 1970. His was a multi faceted personality –– a campaigner, organiser, writer, speaker, parliamentarian and a Marxist intellectual. He breathed his last on Decemeber 15, 1987.


Prakash Karat, speaking on the occasion, said that it was very appropriate to have erected the statue of Comrade PR in the city of Madurai, where he had spent a large part of his revolutionary life, both in the trade union and political arena. Comrade PR’s life was closely intertwined with the entire history of the communist movement, covering the struggles against imperialism, of the working class and for social justice. Comrade PR had several unique qualities which made him one of the tallest leaders of the communist movement in our country, he said. In particular Prakash Karat recalled how PR waged an uncompromising struggle to defend the sovereignty and self reliance of our country, including the public sector. When the present UPA government was keen on dismantling the public sector and attempting to disinvest the shares of even the ‘navratna’ PSUs, we in the CPI(M) have to offer stubborn resistance to these moves, following the legacy bequeathed by Comrade PR, said Karat.


N Vardharajan, secretray of the Tamilnadu state committee of the Party, said that he deemed it a matter of immense pride to preside over the function of unveiling the statue of Comrade PR, a frontline leader of the communist movement, freedom fighter, veteran trade union leader and founder of the CITU. He recalled the contributions made by Comrade PR to the trade union movement, both in the state legislature and parliament and pointed to the Neyveli Lignite Corporation and the BHEL as shining examples of PR’s efforts in ensuring industrial development of Tamilnadu. Comrade PR’s speech in the state legislature on the budget, was an inspiring example of presenting even intricate economic issues in simple Tamil. He pledged to follow in his footsteps in carrying forward the anti-imperialist struggle and the fight for ushering in the social and political change in the country.


R Umanath, Polit Bureau member and a comrade-in-arm of PR for long decades, poignantly recalled his association with PR from 1940 till his passing away in 1987. They were together in Party work, during underground periods, in parliament and in facing trials in courts. Comrade PR spent 8 years of his life in prisons and another five years in underground life, despite his physical handicap. When the Congress Party made, through back door, Rajaji as the chief minister of the Madras Presidency after it failed to get a majority in the assembly elections in 1952, Comrade PR effectively challenged and exposed the Congress regime and its policies, which provoked Rajaji to declare ‘communists are my No. 1 enemy’. Umanath also recalled the role played by PR in fighting revisionism in the communist and trade union movements.


D Pandian, secretary of the state CPI paid glowing tributes to Comrade PR, whose centenary is being observed. He drew attention to the fact that the communist movement is also observing the centenary of two of Comrade PR's companions, Comrades Jeevanandam and B Srinivasa Rao.


The family members of Comrade PR, including his wife Ambal, his two daughters Ponni and Vaigai, were all present on the occasion. Reminiscing about her beloved father, R Vaigai, senior advocate, said Comrade PR belonged not just to their family but to the larger family of all those who share his ideals. She also narrated how her father effectively argued in the conspiracy cases foisted during the British regime, as also in other cases he faced in the courts in independent India and in various labour disputes before the tribunals etc.


J Hemachandran and A Soundrarajan, president and general secretary of the state CITU, which had contributed the statue of Comrade PR that was installed, spoke at length on the trade union life of Comrade PR.


Prakash Karat presented a shawl to Rajendran, professor of the College of Sculpture at Mahabalipuram, near Chennai, who designed the statue of Comrade PR. Artist Rahmat, Easwaran and P S Kannan, who helped in erection of the statue at the Theppakkulam site, were also honoured on the occasion.


The Tamilnadu chief minister, M Karunananidhi, in his message, recounted immense sacrifices made by Comrade PR during the freedom struggle; he also noted his fight against social oppression and caste discrimination, poverty, expolitation and inequality. He paid glowing tributes to his qualities as a communist, trade unionist, writer and a Marxist thinker.


The mayor of Madurai Corporation, Ms Thenmozhi Gopinatahan had also sent a message greeting the occasion, regretting her inability to attend the function in view of her having to leave for Delhi for an official meeting.


Speaking on the occasion, P Mohan, MP from Madurai, recalled how Comrade PR attracted the youth of Tamilnadu to the communist movement. N Nanmaran, MLA, recounted Comrade PR winning the assembly elections from Madurai from behind the bars. The Madurai town committee of the CITU had organised the function in a befitting manner. Its secretray Vikraman welcomed the gathering. Jothiram, secretary of the Madurai town district committee of the CPI(M) proposed a vote of thanks.