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Suppressed anger at WR funeral

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By OUR SPECIAL CORRESPONDENT
  • Published 24.02.10
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CPI leaders pay tribute to Varadarajan at the party office in Chennai on Tuesday (PTI)

Chennai, Feb. 23: Senior CPM leader W.R. Varadarajan, who committed suicide after he was removed from all elected posts of the party, was cremated today with the very comrades who had forced his ouster singing his praise.

“Varadarajan has left behind a rich legacy of service to the common man, workers’ rights and commitment to the party. We will learn from all that as well as the experience from his last days,” state CPM secretary G. Ramakrishnan said during his speech at the cremation ground, hinting that personal integrity was as important as party work.

The body of Varadarajan, or WR as he was known, was found in a lake near Chennai on Sunday, 10 days after he went missing from the city. A member of the CPM’s central committee and Citu national secretary, the 64-year-old leader was stripped of his party posts following a complaint from wife Saraswathy that alleged an extramarital affair.

Politburo member K. Varadarajan — the only central leader present at the funeral — sounded critical of the state leadership. “Varadarajan’s death can become a weapon in the hand of his adversaries. We will protect his work and his memory,” he said. Asked to explain what he had meant, K. Varadarajan said an explanation would be given later. Barring him, only CPM functionaries from the four southern states were present at the funeral. No leader from Calcutta or Delhi was present.

K. Varadarajan’s remarks are only an expression of the suppressed anger among major sections of the party in the state for not having stood by WR in his most critical hour which led to his suicide.

State party leaders are under pressure to give an explanation on why WR was stripped of his posts and if he was given a proper opportunity to explain himself.

However, a senior state leader, speaking on cover of anonymity, was confident that the anger witnessed today would subside in a few days. “It is an emotive outburst considering the circumstances of his death. Once the cadres are told that the party has to move on, everyone will get back to their work,” he said.

Former state secretary N. Varadarajan recalled the departed leader’s multilingual skills, organising capacity as a trade union leader and his grasp of labour laws, government administration and Marxist ideology. “In every respect he was an asset to our movement,” he said in a choking voice.

The final farewell saw hundreds of CPM cadres thronging the party office at T. Nagar in central Chennai after Varadarajan’s body was brought from his residence. After being kept for public viewing for a few hours, the last journey to the crematorium — three km away — saw the cortege being accompanied by a large number of cadres, many carrying party flags.

Varadarajan’s son Prashanth performed the final rites and as per the family’s wishes the body was cremated. “There is no party policy about cremation or burial. We normally leave that decision to the family or the last wishes of the leader,” explained an official of the CPM office.