Veteran Communist Revolutionary  DV Rao  Remembered


July 12 is the death anniversary, and 2016 marks the beginning of the centenary,  of  Com DV Rao. Devulapalli Venkateswara Rao (Born 1917 June 1- died on 1984 July 12),  prominent communist revolutionary (CR) of India ,  known for his unique role in leading the Telangana People’s Armed Struggle (1946-51), was the youngest member of the Central Committee of  the undivided Communist Party of India, and closely associated with the authorship of the Andhra  Communist  Party  Provincial  Secretariat’s  Andhra Thesis (1948) that  raised, for the first time ever,  the relevance of Mao and  Chinese path  to the Indian revolution, i.e.,  20 years before Naxalbari. He developed their Indian application subsequently  as depicted in his extensive writings published in English and Telugu.

DV  Rao  was a Member of the Loksabha during 1957-62. DV Rao along with his closest comrade –in-arms, TN—Tarimela Nagi Reddy (1917-1956), who was also a Member of the same  House,  the latter known for his magnum opus India Mortgaged,  represented the trend of revolutionary mass line in the Indian communist  movement. 

DV Rao wrote many articles on Telangana including a detailed Review of P. Sundarayya’s early 1970s’ Book,  Telangana People’s Struggle and its Lessons that was translated into several languages. The Review, published as a booklet in 1974, in English and Telugu, with the title Telangana Armed Struggle and the Path of Indian Reolution, had raised many questions on crucial facts and interpretations given by Sundarayya, then the General Secretary of CPI(M).  There were no convincing answers.  DV Rao’s last major work, The History of the People’s Armed Struggle of Telangana (1946-51) Volume-I, in Telugu,  was published in 1988 July,  four years after his death. The Volume covered the period upto September 1948 Police Action. It was regarded as the most authentic, objective, meticulous and detailed history written by a participant-leader of the struggle. The book with an edition of  5000 copies running into some 680 pages was  sold out, only five  percent of it being through bookshops. It was reprinted in 2014 April, and again in 2015  February. The book, published by Proletarian Line Publications of Hyderabad had a Foreword by its Editors which has a section giving a brief, objective  account of life and work of DVRao. The English translation of the Foreword was  published in The Proletrian Line  issue No 56 dated July-August 1988.  Given below  is an  extract from that Foreword.  DV Rao was the Founder-Editor of The Proletarian Line, journal of CRs, being published since 1978-79.(Contact Address: Editor, The  Proletarian Line, 5-5-1022/107, Mallikarjuna Nagar (North),  Chintalkuta, LB Nagar, Hyderabad-500 068.)

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  A brief account of  DV rao’s  life and work.

Com. DV hailed from the village Bandameedi Chandupatla of Suryapet Taluka of Nalgonda district. However he was born in 1917  (1-6-1917) at Inugurthi village of Manukota taluka of Warangal district, in a family of landlords (Deshmukhs). His father was Shri Devulapalli Varada Rao and mother Shrimati Devulapalli Gopamma. He had his early education there. He had his primary education in Tirumalagiri and Namavararn, villages near Chandupatla, and the middle school education at Suryapet. He pursued his high school education at Khammam. During this period he attended the 3rd Conference of the Andhra Maha Sabha at Khammam. He had his Intermediate education at Warangal. He joined the B.A. course for his graduation at Osmania University. He participated in the famous Vandemataram Strike of the university students for which he was expelled from the university along with many others. Along with many others he refused to oblige the university authorities who demanded an apology from the students for readmitting them. After moving from pillar to post in search of a university which would admit them, Com. DV along with others joined the Jabalpur Arts College and completed his graduation. During this period he had an occasion to know about the national movement and also meet, though briefly, some of its leading figures. He also came into contact with socialist and communist literature. After his graduation he returned to his native village (1938).

Com. DV married Shrimati SriRangamma just before he completed his graduation. She stood by him in all the trials and tribulations of his stormy life as a communist revolutionary.

In 1939 he was contacted by the CPI. Among other things the implications of joining the party and carrying on communist activity in the Hyderabad state were made clear to him. As a part of these, it was made clear that one should be prepared to sacrifice his life. There was a ban on the party according to the then existing laws. Com. DV thought over all the problems of joining the party, and with a full knowledge of its implications agreed to join the party as a full-time worker. From then on he stuck to communist convictions in thought, word and deed to the last moment of his life.

Thus Com. DV’s political life began with his entry into the Communist Party. The various movements then prevalent in Telangana as well as all over the country did have some impact on him. But he was not impressed by them to the point of forming convictions. Similarly his brief contact with the national movement and its leaders only served to reveal its grave weaknesses to him. It was only the ideology of Marxism-Leninism and the revolutionary programme of the party which appealed to him.

Thus began the first decade of his life and work as a communist revolutionary. He gained a wealth of experience during this period which saw the inception, growth and development of the Telangana people’s struggle (1941-51) which took the form of armed struggle during 1946-51. He organised the party in the Nalgonda district and learning from the people embarked on the path of developing class struggles. His Marxist-Leninist method of learning from the people and adopting appropriate tactics saved the district party from the pitfalls resulting from the class-collaborationist policies of the party. By the strength of this method he could guide the Telangana armed struggle on proper rails inspite of the right and left opportunism practised by the Central Committee of the CPI. Com. DV played a crucial role in the development of the Telangana Struggle at all important stages right from the inception of the party, commencement and development of the class struggle, the struggle taking the form of armed struggle and for continuing the armed struggle against Union armies and opposing the demand for the withdrawal of the armed struggle. By now it is well known that the All India leadership as well as the Provincial Committee leadership took the decision to withdraw the armed struggle behind his back and implemented the same fait accompli.

Of particular importance is the fact that he was the pioneer of the programme of land distribution and of volunteer squads. He was the first to grasp that rural poor were thirsting for land as early as 1944 and initiated the programme for land distribution during the 1946 struggles in Nalgonda district. He raised the first volunteer squad from the peasantry of Devaruppala village of Nalgonda district which soon spread far and wide and became a movement. It is after this that the village Sanghams came to be known as the Gutupala Sanghams. (Gutupa in Telugu means a full-sized lathi of local make. Gutupala Sangham means an organisation of people who wield these lathis for defending their movement and its gains.). In the document which he wrote in 1949 opposing demands for the withdrawal of the armed struggle, he explained the experiences of Telangana armed struggle showed a new way for the Indian revolution. Thus it represented the correct application of Marxism-Leninism-Mao’s Thought to the realities of Indian revolution. It must be said at this juncture that Comrade DV’s contribution to the Telangana struggle is much more than is generally realised. Much of his multifarious contribution to the Telangana armed struggle has not seen the light of the day. Along with some documents written by him, the present Volume sheds some light on Com. DV’s role at crucial junctures. But the author has strictly confined to the history and wanted to take up his role as also of others in his memoirs which he could not write. Here we will confine ourselves to state that Com DV’s contribution to the Talangana struggle embraced the ideological, political, organisational and military fields.

The period from 1951 to 1968 is one of the domination of  parliamentary path which is another name for renunciation of the revolutionary path. He never reconciled himself to the parliamentary path during this period. He fought against the revisionists and neo-revisionists and revived the revolutionary line again in 1968-69 through the Circular Lay foundations for a struggle-oriented mass movement, and the famous Immediate Programme of  Communist revolutionaries. It took no time for Com DV to realise that building the party of communist revolutionaries means a relentless struggle not only against revisionism and neo-revisionism but also against the left and right opportunism prevalent among revolutionaries. In this prolonged struggle , Com. DV enriched revolutionary theory by applying Marxism-Leninism-Mao’s Thought correctly to Indian conditions. As a result of his persistent efforts the Indian revolutionary line which he founded and developed has come to stay. He along with com. T. Nagi Reddy founded the UCCRI(ML) in April 1975 to carry on efforts for unification of communist revolutionaries. He continued his ideological struggle against opportunist, careerist and disruptive forces as also the efforts to unify all genuine communist revolutionaries even after the death of com. TN in July 1976.

During the course of this struggle he summed up the experiences of Srikakulam and Naxalbari struggles along with elaborating the experiences of Telangana. He paid utmost importance to the task of building up a communist revolutionary organisation and a mass revolutionary movement of a new type. The very fact that he did not slacken in the least his efforts in this direction even when working on this book speaks volumes for the same.

Com. DV held leading positions in the party. He was the Secretary of the Nalgonda district Communist Committee to start with and continued in this capacity even later in the united CPI. He represented the Nalgonda. District  in the State Committee. He was taken into the Secretariat of the  State Committee in March 1948. As the member of the Secretariat he was in charge of conducting the Telangana armed struggle. It was as a part of discharging these responsibilities that he wrote the document (1949) Refutation of wrong trends advocating withdrawal of the Telangana Armed Struggle. He was taken into the Central Committee which was formed after the resignation of BT Ranadive on the basis of the line represented by the Andhra Thesis. Later he continued either as a member of the National Council or the Central Committee till he left the CPM in June 1968. He served as a Member of Parliament (Lok Sabha) representing the Nalgonda double-member Constituency winning by a massive majority. In the 1969 convention of Andhra Communist Revolutionaries he was elected as the Secretary of Andhra Pradesh Revolutionary Communist Committee. He continued in this responsibility till April 1975 when he, along with Comrade T. Nagi Reddy, formed the UCCRI(ML). He was elected as the General Secretary of the CC of the UCCRI(ML) at the Unity Conference held for this purpose. He continued in this responsibility till he breathed his last.

Com. DV’s work as a Communist revolutionary spans nearly five decades. It is interesting to note that the first criminal case foisted against Com. DV was in connection with his role in the land struggle of the lambada peasantry of Mundrai village. It was the then Nizam Government which foisted this case. In fact it is the first tribute by the autocratic regime to the revolutionary who became the father of the theory and practice of agrarian revolution in the country. A considerable part of his revolutionary work was occupied by underground activities against the various autocratic governments. During the Telangana armed struggle he led nearly 7 years of underground life (1946-1952). After 1968 he led nearly 10 years of underground life (1969, 1975-1984). He was arrested under the Defence of India Rules in 1962 (November ’62 to July ’63) for opposing Government of India’s war of aggression against China, and in 1965 (December ’64 to May ’66) during India’s War against Pakistan. In 1969 he was arrested along with late Com. Tarimela Nagi Reddy and others and kept in detention from December ’69 to May ’72. A conspiracy case was foisted against them. This is known as the Hyderabad Conspiracy Case. The Conspiracy case was based on the Immediate Programme drafted by Com. DV. He was then released in May’72 along with Com. TN and others on conditional bail which they jumped in June’75 to resume underground activities when Internal Emergency was proclaimed in the country by Mrs. Indira Gandhi’s regime. Com. DV along with Com. TN and some others were sentenced to 4 years rigorous imprisonment in the Hyderabad Conspiracy case. However Com. DV was leading an underground life all these years due to which the Government could not carry out the sentence. Thus Com DV spent nearly 17 years in underground activities and about 5 years in various jails in his life and work as a communist revolutionary. These facts are apparent examples which go to show his indomitable revolutionary spirit and the depth of his revolutionary convictions and practice.

It is generally well-known that Com. DV was a gifted and prolific writer. All his writings are inseparably connected with the problems of the revolutionary movement and were in fact necessitated by the burning problems facing the revolutionary movement. He could finish only a part of what all he was capable of writing and possessed the experience, study and understanding necessary for the same. He had drafted some articles, leaflets and documents prior to 1968 which were published then. Barring a few  exceptions, most of them have not seen the light of the  day, in recent times. They include some military documents which guided the armed struggle against Nehru’s armies in Telangana. These documents, though few, are a product of his experience, study and application of Marxism-Leninism-Mao’s Thought (Experiences of Chinese revolution) to Indian conditions. The post-1968 writings contain the exposition and elaboration of the Indian revolutionary line.

He was a regular contributor to the various journals run by the communist revolutionaries from time to time. In particular he played a decisive role in establishing The Proletarian Line and the Sanketam as the English and Telugu organs of Communist revolutionaries during the last part of his life. Thus he demonstrated in practice what communist revolutionary journalism should be like. He analysed the various national and international developments from the communist revolutionary standpoint and gave timely slogans to suit the fast-changing political situation. He devoted sufficient attention to the political developments in the State. His articles contained attacking and pungent criticism and thorough exposures of the various dubious policies and schemes of the ruling classes. Ideological and political criticism and exposure of right and left opportunism of various forms formed a regular part of his writings. He shunned empty phrase-mongering and verbal exercises in his writings. However he dispelled pessimism and inculcated revolutionary fervour and convictions with an unequalled force.

He was keenly interested in the problems facing the literary and cultural fronts. His writings connected with these problems show this. He had a plan to write on various topics connected with literature and culture, philosophy and history. However due to lack of time he could not carry out these plans.

Com. DV possessed the best of the qualities of a true communist revolutionary. Tireless, selfless revolutionary activities undaunted by the worst of obstacles marked his entire life as a communist revolutionary. He abided by the highest standards of revolutionary morals marked by truthfulness, honesty, personal integrity, selfless and sacrificing spirit, simple and highly disciplined life and a spotless character. While possessing a high degree of revolutionary self-confidence, arising out of his revolutionary convictions and clarity of thinking, he was a picture of revolutionary modesty. As a serious communist revolutionary, there was no place in him for conceit, boasting and empty slogan-mongering. His entire life and work testifies to his deep faith in the masses, learning from the masses and fidelity to communist revolutionary principles. Like a true revolutionary he exhibited an extraordinary unity between words and deeds. In short he lived and worked like a true communist revolutionary in thought, words and deeds all through his revolutionary life. Communist revolutionaries will emulate these brilliant revolutionary qualities to facilitate their onward march to their cherished goal.

It is indeed very unfortunate that Com. DV could not complete the editing of the book he undertook. He passed away on the 12th of July 1984 at about 8.30pm. His end was sudden and instantaneous. He had finished his work and was going to take his food when he collapsed suddenly of heart failure. His death is a serious loss to the Indian revolution and the void left by him cannot be filled in the near future.

We pay our respectful homage to the departed leader in this connection.

There is no dearth of leaders in the fairly long history of the communist movement in our country. Quite often it happens that the presence of leaders is one thing and providing correct leadership to the revolutionary movement in the country quite another. The latter requires the correct application of Marxism to the concrete conditions of our country. This is where most of the above leaders failed miserably and ended up in the quagmire of revisionism, neo-revisionism and various other manifestations of left and right opportunism. Contrary to this, Com. DV applied Marxism correctly to the practice of Indian revolution and developed the Fundamental Line of Indian revolution. In addition he elaborated this line basing on the experiences of various revolutionary struggles in the country, particularly the Telangana armed struggle, and gave an Indian interpretation of Marxism. Thus Com. DV won for himself the rightful role as the outstanding Marxist-Leninist theoretician and practical revolutionary leader of our country.

The Fundamental Line he developed for the Indian revolution and elaborated, and the Indian interpretation he gave to the Marxism-Leninism-Mao’s Thought by applying it to the realities of our country,  are powerful and invincible weapons in the hands of the communist revolutionaries. With these weapons in their hands, the communist revolutionaries will march with determination towards their goal of achieving the victory of the people’s democratic revolution in the country.

With The History of the Talangana People’s Armed Struggle (1946-’51), Com. DV has placed the treasure-house of revolutionary experiences before the revolutionaries and people at large. Though the armed struggle in Telangana was waged from 1946 to 1951, the organised revolutionary movement had begun by 1940-1941 itself. The author has also dealt with, in detail, the organised activities from 1940-41 till the commencement of the armed struggle. We have no doubt the book will be a great help not only to understand the Telangana armed struggle, but also the problems facing Indian revolution.

We take this occasion to express our gratitude to the numerous comrades, sympathisers and well-wishers who have cooperated with us in various ways to see that this book sees the light of day.

MK Adithya is a meidaperson. Email: [email protected]

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