A Tribute

Remembering LSN Murthy

V Subrahmanyam

LSN Murthy, a veteran leader of CPI (Maoist), passed away in the Nizam Institute of Medical Sciences (NIMS), at Hyderabad. After five years of incarceration, he was released on bail in 2018. For four years he has been staying at the Chandra Rajeswara Rao Foundation, Home for the Aged, in Hyderabad. A month back he was diagnosed with esophagus cancer and was admitted into NIMS on 21st November, 2022. It was found to be in the advanced stage. After a month-long struggle, LSN, aka Sarat, as he is popularly known, lost his last battle on 21st December. He passed away at the age of 76. In his death, the revolutionary movement lost an important communist of the Naxalbari generation from twin Telugu states.

Born on 15th June 1946, in Tenali to the couple Lakkaraju Gopala Rao and Raja Rajeswari, LSN was the adorable child as he was the youngest among the 9 children- four male and five female. Their parents shifted from Village Katevaram which was 4 kms to the Taluk centre, Tenali which was 30 kms away from Guntur, the district centre.

LSN was not the first one in his family to face Sedition and other serious charges by the state. His family had a glorious history in the freedom struggle. His parents gave away gold and sold land for the sake of freedom. His grandfather faced sedition charges. His uncles were convicted for participating in the civil disobedience movement.

LSN's grandfather Basavaiah along with his brothers Syamsunder and Sunder Rao were active in the freedom movement. Opposing the Minto-Marle reforms, from 1908 onwards, they actively participated in raising anti-British struggle. They helped Gadicherla Hari Sarvottama Rao and the founder of the Swaraj magazine–Pingali Lakshmi Narayana Rao to escape from the police dragnet and sent them to Pondicherry safely. But Basavaiah, LSN's grand dad, was sent to jail on sedition charges for this adventure. After his release, he procured pistols from Calcutta and distributed them to activists. He got bombs manufactured locally. In 1912, though the attempt failed, Basavaiah along with his coworkers tried to explode the train by keeping bombs on the Railway tracks when the then Viceroy– Lord Hardinge II, was to travel from Vijayawada to Madras. LSN's uncles were arrested in the civil disobedience movement and served 6 months conviction.

LSN’s father sold a good chunk of his ancestral property, around 30 acres of land, towards the activities in the freedom movement. His mother gave 800 gms of gold as fund for the Quit India movement.

LSN after his studies joined Defence Accounts Department (DAD) at Pune in 1968, at a very young age. He was transferred to Secunderbad in 1970, and there he was attracted to Marxism and particularly to the Naxalbari struggle and revolutionary politics. The united Andhra Pradesh was bubbling with revolutionary activities, as the ongoing Srikakulam armed struggle was touching the hearts of Telugu people extensively. The long silence after the withdrawal of the Telangana Armed Struggle in 1951 was broken. Taking the torch of the Naxalbari struggle of 1967, Srika-kulam peasantry took to the armed struggle to shake of the yolk of the ruling classes, exposed the Parliamentary path of the revisionists, paved way for the establishing a revolutionary communist party that needed to make a rupture with the old and new revisionism.

LSN began his revolutionary activities by organising strikes in the DAD itself. A week-long strike in 1972 unheard of its kind in the Department took place. Though LSN was not the Secretary of the Union, but he was the guiding force behind the strike.

Soon, he resigned from the job and decided to work for the revolution. From then onwards, he never looked back. He followed the Mao dictum to the letter–a real communist works till his last days.

Joining the CPI(ML) led by Kondapalli Seetharamayya, later came to be known as CPI(ML) (People’s War), LSN plunged himself into the trade union activities. The AP committee had already realised that keeping away from the mass organisations was counterproductive and goes against the mass line. According to that understanding it encouraged its members, and activists to work among the masses, building, organising and participating in various kinds of mass organisations. The activities initiated by LSN and his associates like BSA Satyanarayana and Srinivas, who later became martyrs, made the foundations for the revolutionary working class movements in Andhra Pradesh. Especially the struggles led by these leaders who were working in Postal and Telecom sectors with the help of LSN conducted militant struggles during the post-emergency period.

Earlier in 1972, The Art Lovers of Hyderabad group matured into Jana Natya Mandali (JNM), whose reach to the masses in Telugu States later became unprecedented. LSN while being busy with the trade union activities also helped in bringing out a revolutionary political magazine–Pilupu (Call), meant to hold aloft the armed struggle of Srikakulam peasantry, which by then went into a setback, and to clarify about the path of the People’s War, the raison d’etre of the Srikakulam struggle, amidst raising questions by the doubting Thomasses. While the building of various mass organisations laid the way to extend the party’s mass base that supplied cadre to continue the armed struggle in AP and extend it into Dandakaranya, the magazine Pilupu helped clear the questions about the reasons for the setback, dispelling the pessimism, a natural concomitant after any defeat. Pilupu worked more as a theoretical organ of CPI (ML) during a difficult period. LSN was closely associated with its publication activity.

LSN’s dedication, commitment and hard work, made him close to the AP State Committee of the CPI (ML). Apart from the responsibilities in the TU Front and in JNM as the political commissar, he was involved in many works of the State Committee. Post-emergency–CPI(ML) began its open magazine–Kranti. He became the first editor of Kranti. He took pains to publish and distribute it to all the nooks and corners of Andhra Pradesh. Kranti was read widely in all the three regions of Andhra Pradesh.

All these years, he was helping the CPI(ML) state committee in establishing contacts with CPI(ML) (Party Unity) and MCC and in the discussions with them for the unity efforts.

Arrested in 2013, he spent most of the time in Rajahmundry’s notorious 2B ward which was known for its isolation. Not only he spent the jail life in a single cell, but he was all alone in the large 2B Ward. The jail life and the Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) gradually deteriorated his condition. He almost lost his vision gradually, and was unable to read or write.

LSN is a role model for all the revolutionaries. LSN is no more. But he ever lives in the memories of those who yearn for revolution and cherish to change the society.

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Vol 55, No. 29, Jan 15 - 21, 2023