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Tribute to Comrade Vasantada Ramalingachari
- on 90th birth anniversary

Harsh Thakor

 On December 21st, the revolutionary comrades dipped their blood on the 90th birthday of Vasantada Ramalingachari, one of the major leaders of the Srikakulam Girijan Movement. and a central Committee member of the Communist Party Re-Organization Centre of India (Marxist-Leninist). A strange coincidence that it was around the same time that we marked the 50th martyrdom anniversary of Comrade Subbaro Panigrahi who fell to the police bullets on December 22nd 1969.

Although martyred 16 years ago in 2003 on November 24th the valiant comrade left no stone unturned with his memories still embedded in many a comrade's mind ,like a red light shimmering within it. .In-spite of belonging to such a humble background he mastered Marxism-Leninism and was champion of the mass line, like few comrades ever in the history of the Indian Communist movement. He traversed the most turbulent oceans, overcoming obstacles at every juncture in his political life. With the tenacity of a rock resisted all counter revolutionary winds. Till his last breadth he was a crusader for the liberation of the opressed and shimmered the light of Marxism-Leninism-Mao thought like the continuous flow of the water of a river or an inextinguishable light..He blended the organization of an architect with the analytical ability of a professor, foresight of an artist and relentless spirit of a soldier.

The valiant comrade was born to Shri Vasantada Mallayyachari and Smt. Ramayamma in Vizianagram on December 21st, 1929. He studied upto SSLC in Kappa high school in Vizianagram.He was the 2nd of 4 brothers, and took inspiration from his elder brother, who had already introduced communist features in the family. Comrade Ramalingachari gained baptism from discussions he participated with leaders of the Telengana Revolutionary movement and literature he accessed from them. From 1952 he began to work as a full-fledged communist worker. He moved from Vizianagaram, to Srikakulam district. He started his first party building work in Bobilli. Subsequently he performed a major role in building communist revolutionary political practice and communist revolutionary organizational forces in the Bhadragiri Agency area and in the teachers, youth, students, student and agricultural labour from North Andhra plain areas.

Ramalingachari learnt a lot from the Telengana Armed peasant struggle on mass armed agrarian revolutionary line. He moved from his birthplace of Vishakapatnam to Bobilli in Srikakulam.

In his reign as Secretary of the district committee of the CPM he played an outstanding role as a Marxist-Leninist-Maoist in inner-party struggle against revisionism in taking the Srikakulam Girijan movement on revolutionary lines and in knitting forces of the struggling people into a cohesive revolutionary unit. His work attacked the bondage of the most ruthless exploitative classes in the very backbone, enabling the Girijans to withstand attacks of the state machinery applying agrarian revolutionary method. This is the principal reason that although the state unleashed untold repression by throwing thousands of girijans into jail or assassinating hundreds of Communist revolutionaries, the spark of the struggle lives even today in our minds.

He was the architect of the mass line in the Srikakulam Movement as a member of the Andhra Pradesh Coordination Committee of Communist Revolutionaries. He invested every ounce of his energy in taking the Srikakulam movement to a higher level and for establishing unification of all Communist revolutionary forces on the basis of the mass line. He prepared its draft of criticism of left deviation in 1969.In October 1969 he was arrested. His major role was exposing the left deviation of Chandra Pulla Reddy. He discharged his responsibilities as a state committee member of APCRR in 1969.

With the Srikakulam movement becoming a victim of left deviation, Ramalingachari strived towards sowing the seeds for building the Girijan peasant movement in Kondamondalu Agency area and East Godavri district.

He drafted the foreword of the report of the Kondamodalu peasant movement in December 1970  of the APRCC .It  discussed and rejected some wrong conclusions of Chandra Pulla Reddy in a document based on East Godavri experience sent to the outside committee in November 1969.Here he summarized the distinction between mass peoples resistance and guerrilla armed squad actions. The document explained how police repression was most intense and only because of changing their old methods and with necessary political understanding of the movement. It dialectically refuted the view that "people get prepared only when they gain confidence in the fighting strength of our armed squads .The poor people get prepared for land distribution only when they gain confidence in the fighting strength of our squads which can resist Govts. armed forces. "He gave a fitting reply to the document by the jail leaders of Chandra Pulla Reddy titled "Reject the Document, ‘Left Deviation inside the party.'

In the forward of the Kondamodalu report Ramalingachri explained the importance of assessing the subjective factors prevalent .He narrated the background of the arrest of Poulas in April 1969 with people rushing with arms to the jail Pouals was kept. When the armed police came to prevent the people from tilling the land, hundreds of people resisted encircling the sub-inspector. In October 1969 the girijans stood organized to resist the landlords when they attempted to destroy the crops raised by the girijans. When the landlords retreated to the background and the police came to the fore, the entire people disappeared into the bushes in response to the suggestion to retreat into the hidings. This frightened the police who now proposed to talk and around 5 elders responded. The Police now left the scene. Very few persons expressed doubt whether they could win the battle possessing less weapons than the police. The fact that the villagers moved in with elders to resist proves base of mass line or revolutionary preparedness.

Comrade Ramlalingachari was imprisoned for three years from 1969-70.as a result of the Hyderabad and Paravatipuram conspiracy conspiracy cases .In 1971 he gave a statement with regard to the 3 conspiracy cases in the Hyderabad sessions court. This statement summarized the conditions of the girijans, development of the girijan movement and its significance and the reactionary conspiracy of the ruling classes. This was one of the most insightful documents on the Srikakulam movement. He also wrote another document "Leadership's criticisms regarding the resolution of Regional Committee which analysed the mistakes in a most dialectical or logical manner of the serious mistakes committed from 1970-72.This has tactical relevance even today. Even on bail he blazed he light of revolution and during emergency from 1975 went underground.

He joined the Unity Centre of Communist Revolutionaries of India in 1975, taking on the responsibility of the secretary of the State Committee of the organization. The party made remarkable strides within Andhra Pradesh till 1977.Regretfully differences cropped up and In 1977 he left the Unity Center of Communist revolutionaries of India to form the Andhra Pradesh Communist Revolutionary Organizing Committee.(APROC) In this time virtually single-handedly carrying the brunt on his shoulders with scant resources he performed the invaluable task of re-organizing the Srikakulam Girijan Movement at its very base. He critically refuted left and right deviationist trends, particularly the mistake of the "annihilation of class enemies and strived to establish re-organization of the Communist party. Seeds were sown by him in various fronts to develop revolutionary mass work which had great significance in later times. Some of his popular writings in this period were "Naxalism does not mean individual annihilation and it is not Marxism to oppose Naxalism in the same of opposing individual annihilation”, and "Problems of unification and organizational tasks being faced by Communist revolutionaries".

With great perseverance and patience he combated opportunist trends within the movement and was one of the architects of the Centre of Communist Revolutionaries of India in 1988 when his group merged with the UCCRI (M.L.) sections led by HBS and Anand. He played a major role in shaping the politics of the new Unified Organization which eventually merged into the Communist Party Re-Organization Centre of India(Marxist-Leninist) which ironically in August this year commemorated the 25th anniversary of it's formation in 1994..Significant that both these organizations were the main catalysts of the proletarian revolutionary mass line.

He played the role of a catalyst in not only guiding his own organisation but activists of other organizations, nurturing many comrades. His approach was most un- sectarian recognizing and supporting revolutionary democratic work of other groups and establishing a liason with them. Although staunchly believing that the C.P.R.C.I.(M.L.) was the leading protagonist of the mass line he would go out of the way to initiate solidarity actions from groups following other trends be it C.P.I.(M.L.) New Democracy or the erstwhile C.P.I.(M.L.) Peoples War Group. In a most fair or balanced manner he pointed out the glaring weaknesses existing within the concerned leaderships of various struggles and strived to establish political solidarity with them on the basis of people's revolutionary practice. To develop practice of Communist revolutionary massline he wrote the booklets "Political situation of Vizianagaram-Srikakulam districts and the necessity of the Communist revolutionary Political force " and published magazine 'Diksuchi.' He made serious efforts to consolidate the base of the erstwhile Srikakulam movement and re-organise it. With great ingenuity he analyzed the problems and devised methods in context of the revolutionary massline and guided the struggling masses to sharpen their revolutionary practice to combat the state machinery who endorsed the exploitation and atrocities perpetrated on the masses.

The great strides made by the C.P.R.C.I.(M.L.) in the agrarian revolutionary movement in Malkangiri owe a lot to the political guidance of Ramalingachari.

Till he died he made serious efforts to assist the inner organizational forces as well as forces outside the organization to establish communist practice to weave the people in emerging as a conscious political force that could thwart the ruling class attacks and confront the mighty state machinery.

Sadly health took its toll in the last years of his life and crippled his activity. Still he tugged on relentlessly with the spirit of a true soldier.

His memorial meeting was held on 14th December in Bobbili in Vizianagaram on 14th December in 2003 .It shimmered the comrade's indomitable, creative and determined spirit at its zenith with comrades participating from West Bengal, Orissa and Punjab ,apart from many local state level leaders. All groups upheld his great contribution to the Girijan movements and the Communist revolutionary camp as a whole. I can never forget the words Comrade Viswam had for him praising Ramalingachari's contribution sky-high.

His political teachings and practice are all the more significant today with right capitulationist trends infecting the Indian Communist movement as well as shades of the left sectarian tendencies of the past. Even with its phenomenal sacrifices and development in Dandakaranya surpassing achievements of arguably any organization worldwide the C.P.I. (Maoist) still has inherent weaknesses in practice of agrarian revolutionary mass line. Significant this year we mark 50 years since the great para -military police attack in October 1969 in Srikaulam on Girijans and the 20th anniversary of the staged encounter of Comrades Murli, Shyam and Mahesh of the erstwhile C.P.I.(M.L.) Peoples War group in December 1999 in Koyyur. In both cases sustained and heroic retaliatory actions were undertaken against the enemy but eventually both the movements succumbed  to the might of the state. This brings to light the teachings and practice of Comrade Ramalingachari on relationship between agrarian revolutionary and military line and subjective factors and how heroism of armed squads cannot substitute people's role. After the execution of the 3 erstwhile PWG comrades great protest rallies were held by many sections of the Communist revolutionary camp which was heartening but in a self -criticism circular the PWG itself admitted that often it could not educate or involve the broad masses and mobilized only their cadre in their protests,. Only by linking people’s war with agrarian revolutionary movement as its axis and not by mere armed actions of guerrilla squads can the reactionary state be defeated. Nevertheless, Comrade Ramalingchari had all but admiration for the relentless spirit expressed through counter-retaliatory actions of the C.P.I.(M.L.) Peoples War Group who he felt made the state and ruling class forces shiver in their spine.

The Communist revolutionary camp is still fragmented in different groups and the building of the party is still in the rudimentary stage, with re-organization still to take place. With the Communist revolutionary camp so splintered his teaching and practice are like a fulcrum in uniting scattered forces. Cadres have to meticulously study the writings of Comrade Ramalingachari in order to illuminate the Chinese path of people’s war in India. It was a deep regret that he expired a year before the formation of the C.P.I.(Maoist) as his experience would have been a boon for other groups in how to develop a proper liaison with the C.P.I.(Maoist) even if not engaging in armed struggle .He was also a deep loss to the leadership of the C.P.R.C.I.(M.L.) in terms of sharpening practice of agrarian revolutionary practice .

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Harsh Thakor thakor.harsh5@gmail.com