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P. Ramamurti

(1908 – 1987) – (Tamilnadu)

P. Ramamurti (Aged 79), an Indian politician and politburo member of the Communist Party of India (Marxist), was born on September 20, 1908 in Chennai, Tamil Nadu, India. He received his education from Hindu High School, Presidency College, Madras, and Banaras Hindu University. During the Indian independence movement, he joined the Congress Socialist Party (CSP).

In 1927, he participated in the protests against the Simon Commission. Like many other members of the CSP in South India, he joined the Communist Party of India and was one of the founding members of the party in Tamil Nadu. He became the Secretary of CSP in Tamil Nadu and was a member of the All India Congress Committee. In 1936, he started organizing trade unions. P. Ramamurti was elected to the Madras Legislative Assembly from the Madurai North Constituency in 1952 while he was in jail. In total, he spent eight years in jail and five years underground.

Ramamurti was affectionately referred to as PR within the party and the larger Indian Left. In 1952, he became the first Leader of the Opposition of the Madras State in a House of 375. This was before the First States Re-organisation in 1956, which led to the creation of Tamil Nadu and Kerala. The election returned a fractured mandate, without any party gaining a simple majority. The Communist-led coalition formed the largest block and staked claim to form the government. However, C. Rajagopalachari, India’s first Governor General after Independence, who was also from Madras, came out of retirement and convinced the then Madras Governor Sri Prakasa to invite him to form a Congress government in the state.

The decision was heavily criticized and viewed as the Indian National Congress’ manipulation to defeat a popular government led by Communists. Rajagopalachari was not an elected member of the assembly as he had not participated in the polls. Rajagopalachari requested Prakasa to nominate him to the assembly, thereby foregoing the usual process of election by the members of the assembly. Ramamurti opposed this by filing a petition in the Madras High Court seeking to annul Rajagopalachari’s nomination.

At the 3rd CPI party congress in 1953, Ramamurti was elected to the Central Committee and the politburo of the party. In 1964, he was part of the faction in the party leadership that formed the CPI (M). In 1967, he was elected to the Lok Sabha from the Madurai constituency. In 1970, he became the first general secretary of the Centre of Indian Trade Unions. He passed away on December 15, 1987, in Chennai, Tamil Nadu, India.