November 26, 2023

TN: Farewell to N Sankaraiah in Chennai

V B Ganesan

THE mortal remains of N Sankaraiah, a founding member of the CPI(M), were cremated with state honors at the Besant Nagar crematorium in Chennai on November 16. The police rendered a gun salute to Sankaraiah, who passed away at the age of 102 in Chennai on the morning of November 15 after a brief illness. Upon learning of NS's demise, Party cadres from across the state rushed to Chennai in the thousands to pay their respects to the departed leader. His mortal remains had been placed at PR Ninaivagam, the Tamil Nadu state committee office premises, since the evening of November 15 to allow people to pay their respects. Leaders of all political parties in Tamil Nadu, including Congress leader Rahul Gandhi, conveyed condolence messages upon the passing of Sankaraiah. Many of them visited PR Ninaivagam to offer floral tributes. Tamil Nadu chief minister and DMK president MK Stalin paid homage to the leader at the hospital in the morning, accompanied by DMK general secretary Durai Murugan.

At the Party office, leaders such as Dravidar Kazhagam president K Veeramani; MDMK general secretary Vaiko; VCK president Thol. Thirumavalavan; MMK president Prof. Jawahirullah; DMK leaders TR Baalu, A Raja, RS Bharathi, Thamizhachi Thangapandian MP; Tamil Nadu ministers Udhayanidhi Stalin, M Subramanian, MP Swaminathan, E Karunanidhi, Anbil Poyyamozhi, KR Periya Karuppan, Kayalvizhi Selvaraj, AIADMK leader D Jayakumar, AAP state president Vaseegaran, RPI leader CK Thamizharasan, corporation mayor R Priya; CITU leaders AK Padmanabhan, A Soundararajan, G Sukumaran; AITUC leaders TM Murthy and Radhakrishnan; Congress MP Vijay Vasant, Congress leader and chairman of Minorities Commission Peter Alphonse; BJP leaders VP Duraisamy, Karu Nagarajan, and Kesava Vinayagam, along with senior journalists N Ram, Sashikumar, Nakeeran Gopal, and Dinamani editor K Vaidyanathan, paid floral homage to the departed leader.

On the morning of November 16, CPI(M) general secretary Sitaram Yechury, Polit Bureau member Prakash Karat, Kerala CPI(M) state secretary MV Govindan Master, Central Committee member PK Sreemathi, AIKS president Ashok Dhawale, Puducherry state CPI(M) secretary R Rajangam, Murugan, and others paid floral tributes to the departed leader. Leaders from AIDWA, SFI, DYFI, Untouchability Eradication Front, and Tamil Nadu Peoples’ Unity Forum also paid their respects.

At 11:00 am, a procession carrying the mortal remains of N Sankaraiah moved through the city. As the procession reached Adyar, 102 Red volunteers, dressed in red shirts and khaki pants, led the way towards the crematorium. Subsequently, leaders such as Sitaram Yechury, Prakash Karat, MV Govindan Master, PK Sreemathy, N Ram, Ashok Dhawale, A Soundararajan, A Raja, RS Bharathi, CPI(M) state secretariat members, and state committee members joined the march. Following them, Party cadres from various districts and activists from various mass organisations rallied along, chanting slogans in honour of N Sankaraiah.

During the condolence meeting convened after the state honors, K Balakrishnan, CPI(M) Tamil Nadu state secretary, presided over the gathering. While paying tribute, Sitaram Yechury remarked that N Sankaraiah had led a remarkable life, serving as an inspiration across generations within the Party. Yechury emphasized Sankaraiah's unwavering spirit in advancing the Party's objectives, his commitment to revolutionary changes in Indian society, and his enduring passion for these ideals. Ashok Dhawale, AK Padmanabhan, PK Sreemathy, N Ram, K Veeramani, Vaiko, Thol. Thirumavalavan, and various leaders from different political parties shared their recollections of their interactions with N Sankaraiah.

K Balakrishnan reflected on Comrade Sankaraiah's life as an exemplar of communist ideals, highlighting that until his last breath, Sankaraiah adhered to the Party's discipline like a committed general. Balakrishnan said this provides a valuable lesson to the present cadre of the Party.

On the same day, condolence meetings were conducted across Tamil Nadu, where leaders from diverse political parties paid their respects to the departed leader. In Puducherry, leaders from all political parties, including former chief minister Narayanasawamy, participated in a procession and addressed a condolence meeting held on the evening of November 16.