Says his life is an inspiration to progressive movements

Congress president Sonia Gandhi on Sunday emphasised the need to uphold the values of R. Sankar and called upon party men to rededicate themselves to those values for the contemporary age.

Speaking after unveiling a bronze statue of R. Sankar, installed by the R. Sankar Foundation of Kerala here, Ms. Gandhi said the leader was the rarest of his kind in Kerala politics and always stood for his principles. He was a social reformer, orator, and educator. He spoke with passion on behalf of the backward classes. Tracing his contribution to the freedom struggle and after, Ms. Gandhi said he constantly propagated the values of education and secularism. Recalling his role in the ‘liberation struggle’ (Vimochana Samaram of the late 1950s), she said he was instrumental in bringing in reforms in the education sector by setting up educational institutions across the State. This helped change the lives of the backward classes in the State. His contribution was not confined to the Congress party alone, but proved to be an inspiration to progressive movements in society, she said.

Delivering his presidential address, Kerala Pradesh Congress Committee (KPCC) president Ramesh Chennithala said the unveiling of the statue had lot more significance for the Congress party. It represented a reaffirmation of the party’s commitment to the principles of R. Sankar and work for the betterment of the backward communities. The values he upheld were always a source of strength to the Congress party, he said.

In his keynote address, Chief Minister Oommen Chandy recalled that it was R. Sankar who had introduced the concept of welfare schemes by implementing welfare pensions for the poor and the downtrodden. He firmly believed that the State administration should not remain indifferent to social issues, Mr. Chandy said. R. Sankar thought the State should take steps to reach out to the people by extending assistance that they were eligible for. Even while working for the betterment of the backward classes, he maintained the best relationship with leaders of other communities, Mr. Chandy added.

Union Minister of State for Human Resource Development Shashi Tharoor recalled R. Sankar’s contribution to the furtherance of social justice. KPCC general secretary T. Saratchandra Prasad detailed the efforts behind installing the statue. It took 41 years for this, he said.