Sundarayya : A rare Communist

Sundarayya : A rare  Communist

A meeting was arranged by Sahitya Sravanthi (literary organization affiliated to the CPM) to celebrate the birth centenary of Putchalapally Sundarayya...

A meeting was arranged by Sahitya Sravanthi (literary organization affiliated to the CPM) to celebrate the birth centenary of Putchalapally Sundarayya on May 19 at Sundarayya Vignana Kendram, Hyderabad. Well-known poets and writers like K Siva Reddy, Addepally Ram Mohan Rao, Nikhileshwar, Sudhama, Medipally Ravi Kumar, Yakub, M Parthasaradhi, Shiramsetty Kantha Rao and Ampasayya Naveenwere present. Telalapally Ravi, a well-known journalist and political analyst, presided over the meeting.

All stalwarts spoke on the life and works of Sundarayya and paid rich tributes to him. Though a politician, Sundarayya had written several books. His magnum opus is: 'The Heroic Telangana Peasants Armed Struggle and its People'. He had written this book in English and its translation into Telugu was also released simultaneously in 1970. It is considered to be an authoritative book on the historic Telangana peasants' armed struggle that had shaken the 7th Nizam's dictatorial rule in Telangana during the 1940s.

The poor peasants of Telangana waged a great armed struggle against the landlords (who were called 'Doras') who were treating peasants and agricultural labourers like slaves. They were suppressed, oppressed and exploited every day by these feudal lords. Middle class agriculturists also supported this armed struggle. The 7th Nizam, who was ruling Hyderabad State during those days, supported the feudal lords.

That is why the struggle which was led by the Communist Party (peasants of Telangana called Communist Party Sangam) was not only against zamindars but also against the 7th Nizam. The famous book written by Sundarayya is 'Vishalandhra Praja Rajyam'. This book paved the way for the formation of AP that brought all Telugu-speaking people under one State. Putchalapally was one of the top leaders who participated and directed this armed struggle during 1946-51. He maintained a diary in which he recorded all the important events.

He was the most appropriate person to write an authentic book on this struggle. Every writer who wanted to write a book on this historic struggle invariably referred to Sundarayya's book.

During the early 1960s we, as postgraduate students of Osmania University, used to read a book 'How to be a Good Communist' written by the then Communist leader of China 'Lievo Shai Chi'. The writer had prescribed certain norms and yardsticks to call a person 'a good Communist'. He should be an absolutely selfless person, must live a very simple life, must set an example to all other Communists by his selfless and simple style of living. He should always strive for unity among working class; always implement the policies of the Communist party's Politburo.

After going through the book, we would question ourselves whether the norms set by Lievo Shai Chi were followed by any Communist. Our unanimous choice was Sundarayya.

Sundarayya lived like a true Communist throughout his life. 'He lived communism'. As an MP, he used to go to the Lok Sabha on his bicycle. He was born in a zamindari family in 1912 at Alaganipadu of Kovur Taluq of Nellore district. He was educated at Thiruvallur, Rajahmundry, Bengaluru and the then Madras. Like all politicians of those days, he joined the Congress party but very soon left it.

When he was studying at Madras, he read the Communist Manifesto. From then onwards, he went on reading books on Communism. Thus he made a deep study of communism and became a communist. In 1934, the Communist Party of India was founded and he was one of the founders. Though born in a zamindari family, he always lived like a poor man. He distributed all the land bequeathed to him by his father to poor and landless peasants of his village. He took another great decision of not having children of his own. He could convince his wife that having own children would lead to selfishness and temptation to earn properties for them.

I am reminded of Plato. Plato thought of an ideal State where the rulers should not have their own families. They should not have wives or children as they instill selfishness in them. Rulers must be above all family entanglements. According to Plato, everyone should not be allowed to rule the State. Highly intelligent, well trained and absolutely selfless people with a philosophical bent of mind should become rulers. Such an ideal ruler (though he never enjoyed power) was Sundarayya.

Though Sundarayya always worked to build unity of working class and Left forces, he was one of the important leaders instrumental in splitting the united communist party of India (CPI) into two parties, the CPI and CPI (Marxist). When the war with China in 1962 took place, Communists led by Dange had condemned China as the aggressor. But communists of Sundarayya's ilk supported China and called India the aggressor. Although there were some serious differences between Dange's group and Sundarayya's group in the CPI, the group which supported China was headed by Sundarayya, which came into existence as CPI (M).

The historical split in the united communist party of India was a great tragedy. This split in 1964 led to another split in 1967 as some of the leaders like Kanu Sanyal and Charu Mazumdar advocated armed struggle as an appropriate method to achieve revolution as against the parliamentary path. Though split from the CPI, the CPM too had adopted the parliamentary path as its policy.

People like Charu Mazumdar and Kanu Sanyal did not find any fundamental difference between the CPI and the CPM. So, they split the CPM and formed another party- CPI- Marxist-Leninist. As the writer said, there was split in a split in Communist parties in India. Thus, there are innumerable Communist parties in India. The common people are totally confused.

Sundarayya had tried to convince people like Charu Mazumdar that things were not favourable to an armed struggle in India, and the parliamentary path was the only way. But his arguments were in vain. During his last days Sundarayya had differences with the policies being adopted by the leadership of the CPM.

He tendered his resignation to the post of All India General Secretary of the CPM. But he never left CPM until his death on May 19, 1985. As his biographer Dr AP Vittal says : "He was known particularly for his exemplary devotion to the cause of the working class, selflessness, simplicity and sincerity in political life". Though there are many communist parties in India, all well-wishers of Leftists hope that at least these two parties merge into one party so that the Left movement grows into a strong force

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