Chennai: Veteran communist leader, freedom fighter and a founding member of the CPI (M), N Sankariah passed away at a private hospital in Chennai on Wednesday due to old-age related ailment. He was 101.
Tamil Nadu Chief Minister M K Stalin announced a State funeral would be accorded to the late leader, who had served as MLA for three terms and also as the CPI-M’s State secretary in the past.
Born on July 15, 1922, Sankariah had courted imprisonment during the freedom movement as an undergraduate student of the American College in Madurai. His 18-month incarnation disrupted his academic career and he was unable to complete his graduation. Ironically, an attempt by the Madurai Kamaraj University to recently confer him an honorary doctorate in recognition of his services to the country was stalled by Governor-Chancellor R N Ravi.
Sankaraiah, who was known to be forthright in his views, was among 32 National Council members of the CPI, who walked out of the party, to form the Communist Party of India (Marxist) in 1964.
A statement from the CPI (M) polit bureau said he was among one of the oldest Communist leaders of the country.
He altogether spent eight years in jail, during various periods including in post-Independent India for undertaking various protests.
Tamil Nadu CM Condoles CPI(M) Leader's Death
Condoling his death, Tamil Nadu Chief Minister M.K. Stalin said the late leader’s life and sacrifices for the country, the working class and the Tamil land will remain etched in history forever.
Regretting that his desire to confer an honorary doctorate on Sankariah did not materialise, due to the “conspiracy by few narrow-minded persons who were unaware of the history of freedom struggle in Tamil Nadu,” Stalin said it was his life’s blessings that he could present the State Government’s Thagaisal Thamizhar award to the Marxist leader two years ago. “I was moved that he donated the entire award money towards COVID-19 relief works,” the Chief Minister said.
A co-traveller of the likes of late DMK patriarch M Karunanidhi in public life, Sankaraiah always placed his party’s interests above his personal equations with leaders. He also edited the CPI (M) Tamil Nadu mouthpiece ‘Theekathir’ in its initial years.
Several other leaders in Tamil Nadu condoled his death.
The CPI (M) polit bureau noted that he had joined the Communist Party in 1940 and became one of the key organisers of the united Party in Tamil Nadu. “He made a major contribution to building the Communist movement in Tamil Nadu and he served as the secretary of State committee from 1995 to 2002. He was the leader of the CPI(M) group in the Assembly in 1977 and 1980. He was also involved in the development of the kisan movement and became the general secretary and president of the All India Kisan Sabha,” it said.
“In his death, the Communist movement has lost a leader with the glorious record, but his legacy lives on,” the party added.
Sanakariah’s mortal remains would be kept in the party’s state headquarters and the last rites would take place on Thursday.