People's Democracy

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


No. 36

September 09, 2012


Tripura Observes P Sundarayya Birth Centenary


Haripada Das


P SUNDARAYYA, a pioneer communist leader of the country, an icon of the Telangana peasants revolt and first secretary of the Communist Party of India (Marxist), was solemnly remembered by the people of Tripura on the occasion of his birth centenary through programmes organised on August 31 and September 1-2, 2012. The call for observance was given by the CPI(M)’s Tripura state committee. 


While homage was paid to Comrade Sundarayya in all party offices across the state on August 31 morning, hall meetings were held at Agartala Town Hall on August 31 and September 1-2.


The first hall meeting was on the topic “P Sundarayya: A Pioneer of Communist Movement in India.” Inaugurating the three day observance of P Sundarayya’s birth centenary, CPI(M) general secretary Prakash Karat said, Sundarayya was not only among the founders of the communist movement in India, he also defined the line of an agrarian revolution, outlined the policy of linguistic states and led struggles for its accomplishment in our federal structure of governance. In any history of the communist movement in our country, no doubt his name would be at the top, Karat commented.


Narrating Comrade Sundarayya’s involvement in the freedom struggle in his student life, imprisonment and his contact with Amir Haider Khan under whose influence he joined the communist movement at the age of 21, Karat said at the time he joined the communist movement, some communist groups were working scattered in various parts of the country. It was PS who first felt the need of a centralised all-India party.


Referring to the unparalleled role PS played in the historic Telangana peasant armed struggle against the feudal rule of the then Nizam of Hyderabad, Karat said the great martyrdom of over 4000 communist guerrillas did not go in vain. The results of this great movement were the abolition of feudal landlordism, distribution of land to its tillers in more than 6000 villages and accession of Hyderabad to the Indian Union.


In Kerala too, PS is as much honoured as are EMS, AKG and Krishna Pillai. It was under the PS’s influence that the latter three quit the Congress Socialist Party and joined the Communist Party.


Coming to the present day national situation, Karat said the UPA government at the centre is pursuing neo-liberal policies at the diktat of US imperialism which is forcing the former to remove all barriers so that big multinational companies may have their grip on all economic sectors and loot our resources. There have been, one after another, several mega scams that have siphoned out lakhs of crores of rupees. But the central government hardly bothers about it; rather its main concern is about satisfying the US bosses. On the issue of liberalisation, BJP and Congress both are sides of the same coin and cannot be alternative to one another. A real alternative must be built up by the Left and democratic forces, Karat asserted, adding that building up such an alternative would be the real homage to Comrade P Sundarayya at this crucial juncture.


At the outset, floral tributes were paid on the portrait of P Sundaraiya by Prakash Karat, Manik Sarkar, Central Committee members, and state and divisional leaders of the party.


Before the meeting, Prakash Karat released a book titles Alor Pathe (A Path That Leads to Light) and inaugurated a photo exhibition based on 98 photographs showing various moments of P Sundarayya’s life, in the Town Hall’s lawn. Four other books --- A Hero from Freedom Movement to Telangana Armed Struggle, The Beginning of Telangana Armed Struggle, On Coordinating the Duel Responsibilities and Red Salute to P Sundaraiya --- were released by Polit Bureau member Manik Sarkar, Central Committee member Rama Das, state secretariat members Niranjan Debbarma and Narayan Rupini respectively.   


Paying respects to the great legacy of P Sundarayya, Manik Sarkar said he possessed all the qualities a true communist should have. All the deeds of this great humanist were for the welfare of the common people. He rightly realised that the Congress party represented the exploitative capitalists and feudal lords. It was on realising this reality from day to day battles that he joined the communist movement.


Coming to the national situation, Manik Sarkar said the people are much disillusioned with the Congress and the BJP but, unfortunately, the communists cannot are unable to reach out to the people. Uneven growth of the communist movement in the country is a big barrier for us. In view of the debacle we faced in West Bengal and Kerala, we have to shoulder extra responsibility in Tripura where the vested interests, internal and external, are targeting us. We have to keep in mind that a large section of the people is still in the wrong camp and that by patient work we have to bring them out, Manik Sarkar said. Only then can we befittingly frustrate all machinations of the bourgeois landlord parties and thereby pay real homage to our great leader, P Sundarayya.


Niranjan Debbarma, who presided over, also addressed the audience.


On second day, Central Committee member Rama Das presided over the hall meeting and the main speaker was Sitaram Yechury, a Polit Bureau member. The topic was: Intensify Struggle against the Newer Strategy of World Imperialism in the light of the P Sundarayya’s Teachings.  Reminiscing Comrade PS, Yechury said when the CPI(M) was isolated in its initial days, it was PS who with strong conviction proclaimed that, no matter if the whole world stands against us, we would march ahead with our ideology since the people of the country are with us. He outlined the three contradictions in the concrete Indian condition ---  people vs imperialism, people vs capitalism and people vs feudalism. These are all interrelated and anyone of these cannot be resolved without resolving the others.


Explaining the background behind the recent world economic slowdown and its implications, Yechury said the capitalist countries granted some expenditure on social sectors in order to divert the people’s attention from the socialist countries’ gains. Now that these socialist countries are not in existence, capitalist countries are drastically cutting down welfare measures. The mechanised production and jobless growth in the capitalist countries have left lakhs of people unemployed, pauperised and thereby severely devoid of purchasing power. But the inherent unsustainability of the system has also come to the fore. Without buyers, sellers are unable to make profits. Though capitalists pushed up sub-prime loans for augmenting the people’s purchasing power, this measure too miserably failed as most of the creditors failed to pay back. Thus a good number of giant multinational companies went bankrupt, which adversely affected the markets. The huge accumulated capital needs worldwide mobility to get invested. This is why the imperialist countries are imposing neo-liberal policies on the weaker countries. Yechury referred to the blatant imperialist aggression of Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya, and the moves to targeting Syria and Iran. Neo-liberal policies also involve cultural aggressions through print and electronic media, the speaker added.


But imperialist hegemony cannot go unchallenged. The entire Europe saw waves of protest marches for years together. At the same time, Latin American countries are pursuing alternative paths even in the capitalist system, thus inspiring the people to shun the neo-liberal policies, Yechury. 


The speaker accused the UPA-2 government of trying to make India a junior partner in the US strategy to strengthen its domination in Asia-Pacific. The UPA is not worried that the parliament stands stalled due to coal scam; it is worried that unless the legislation about the nuclear deal with the US is passed, it cannot issue an order for nuclear furnaces worth 40 billion dollars. The recent scams are not just corruption, but blatant loot of public exchequer. A part of this very loot is being utilised in elections to ensure ‘victory,’ Yechury said. He also referred to the ensuing assembly election in Tripura, saying it is beyond imagination how much money the bourgeois parties will spend in the state to dethrone a communist led government. In spite of that, they would suffer a dismal defeat in the state, Yechury felt, adding that the tyranny in West Bengal and Kerala too would be defeated through popular protests.


CPI(M) state secretariat member Gautam Das reminisced Sundarayya’s visit to Tripura in a kisan conference in 1974 after the then Congress government passed an amendment to the state’s Land Reforms Act 1960. The amendment sought to legalise the illegally transferred land from the tribals to the non-tribal Bengalis. Sundarayya outlined the charter of kisan demands in that conference, including restoration of the illegally transferred lands to original owners. This was the policy the Left Front is pursuing till today, Das informed.


Das also elaborated the negative role played by the Congress and its ally INPT (erstwhile TUJS), their patronage to the ethnic violence in Tripura in 1980 which claimed the life of about 1400 people, both tribals and Bengalis, their nexus with the outlawed extremist outfits who carried out ruthless killings, abduction, arson, collecting ransom etc for several years, their machination to create a breach in the age-old ethnic amity between tribals and non-tribals, and the recent exposure from the confession of Dhanu Kalai and his accomplices. These show that the Congress and INPT are still in league for committing subversive acts like serial bomb blasts so as to destabilise the state before the assembly polls. But Das was confident that the democratic, peace-loving and politically conscious people of Tripura would foil all such conspiracies and bring back the Left Front government for the seventh time to carry forward the ongoing development work and transform Tripura into as a model state in the country.


On September 2, the main speaker of the hall meeting was B V Raghavulu, a Polit Bureau member. The topic of the day was: Relevance of the Contributions and Teachings of P Sundaraiya in the Fight against Feudalism and Social Oppression. Senior state secretariat member Anil Sarkar presided.


Paying homage to P Sundarayya, Raghavulu said the yardstick to assess a person is not how long he lived, what position he held or how much money he amassed. We assess a man on the basis of his contribution to transformation of the society. In this respect, PS was a man of different kind as his entire life was dedicated for the cause of oppressed and exploited.


The revolutionary life of P Sundarayya began in 1930 --- with a protest against feudal customs, fighting for equal rights for dalits and backwards. He fought that dalits and other lower caste people must have the right to draw water from the common wells. He dined with dalits and encouraged inter-caste marriages. Also, he always stood for equal rights for women. Even today, feudalism is entrenched in our society --- due to the compromising attitude of the ruling classes in the post-independence period, Raghavulu asserted.


Apart from the armed Telangana struggle, Raghavulu referred to some other historic movements led by PS. Among those, prominent were the peasants protection yatra in coastal Andhra in 1934 and the movement for removal of silt from Bandaru irrigation canal that saved about six lakh acres of arable land in May 1944. He persuaded his brother, Ramachandra, to set up a people’s hospital which is still delivering treatment to the poor at low costs. He was in the forefront of rescue and relief operations during every natural calamity, Raghvulu informed.


As a parliamentarian, Raghavulu said, Sundarayya showed an extraordinary skill. At the same time, however, he was always alert about not falling prey to parliamentary allurements. He studied any issue in depth before making comments and made sharp but responsible criticisms with constructive suggestions. Though a legislator, he went to the assembly or parliament on a bicycle and led a very simple life. He thus stands as a model of what a communist parliamentarian should be, Raghavulu commented.


The speaker described the crucial role of PS on many occasions --- in the turbulent situation during the split of the party in 1964, during the naxalite disruption in 1967 and during the divisive Separate Telangana movement in 1969 and 1973. He gave top priority to imparting political education to the party cadres and was very careful about the wholetimers, saying that a revolutionary party must have a proper cadre policy.   


Sundaraiya possessed noble like patriotism, humanism, simplicity, selflessness, honesty, hard work, courageousness, determination, collectivism, discipline, punctuality and transparency in work, which any great man would have. These values upheld by PS are all the more important today when the neo-liberal ideology is on the offensive. Consumerism and individualism are having a strong grip on our society. Corruption, cheating, subterfuge etc are being glorified. On the other hand, cooperation, solidarity, benevolence and tolerance are considered as traits of the incompetent. The life of P Sundarayya may be the guiding force in our fight against all these vices, Raghabulu suggested.