N Sankaraiah, one of the oldest communist leaders in the country, passed away in a Chennai hospital after a brief illness on Wednesday morning. At the age of 102, he had dedicated his life to the principles of communism and the struggle for a just society. Leaders of the Communist Party of India (Marxist) confirmed his demise, marking the end of an era.
The Legacy of Sankaraiah
- Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan acknowledged Sankaraiah as a guiding force of the country’s communist movement and a perennial source of inspiration.
- Tamil Nadu Chief Minister MK Stalin paid glowing tributes to the late leader, recognizing his early entry into public life and his unwavering commitment to the nation, the working class, and the people of Tamil Nadu.
A Life of Sacrifice
- Sankaraiah’s life was marked by sacrifices for the greater good. A student of history at the American College in Madurai, he could not complete his degree as he was arrested just before his final examinations.
- His commitment to the cause led to eight years of incarceration until the eve of Independence, emphasizing the price he paid for the nation’s freedom.
A Leader Remembered
- Sankaraiah’s association with the communist movement began in 1940, and he played a pivotal role in the formation of the CPI-M in 1964.
- Elected to the state assembly thrice in 1967, 1977, and 1980, he also served as the CPI-M state secretary of Tamil Nadu from 1995 to 2002.
- A towering Marxist leader, his legacy will continue to inspire generations to come.
Recognition and Controversies
- Sankaraiah’s contributions were not only acknowledged verbally but were also recognized through awards.
- He was the first recipient of the Thagaisal Tamizhar (Eminent Tamil) award instituted by the MK Stalin-led DMK government in 2021.
- However, the journey to honor him with an honorary doctorate faced roadblocks, with the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK) government’s support and a subsequent delay attributed to Raj Bhavan.
The Honorary Doctorate Proposal: A Noble Gesture Met with Challenges
- Earlier this year, Madurai Kamaraj University put forward a commendable proposal to confer an honorary doctorate on the illustrious freedom fighter N Sankaraiah.
- However, this noble move faced alleged impediments, reflecting the challenges faced by individuals dedicated to the cause of freedom and justice.