Veteran Communist leader and former member of the CPI(M)'s Polit Bureau R. Umanath died in a hospital in Tiruchi on Wednesday. He was 92 and is survived by his daughters U. Vasuki, who is also the CPI(M) state secretariat member and U. Nirmala Rani.

Born in a poor Brahmin family in Kasaragode, Umanath learnt to play harmonium to accompany his mother who eked out a livelihood as a bhajan singer. While his family had hoped that Umanath, a student of Annamalai University, would land in a good job, he disappointed them by quitting his studies to become a full time member of the Communist party.

He worked closely with P. Ramamurthy and was arrested along with him in the Chennai conspiracy case in 1940-41. In his political career Umanath has spent nine and half years in jail, and another seven years underground. As a member of Parliament, Umanath's first speech was against capital punishment.

Umanath was married to Pappa, daughter of Lakshmi, who died in jail after 24 days of protest fast. Both Umanath and Pappa worked together in the Communist movement till their last days.

He was elected twice to the Lok Sabha from the Pudukottai constituency and twice to the Tamil Nadu Assembly from the Nagapattinam constituency.

Umanath's body was brought and kept at the CPI (M) party district headquarters Venmani Illam on Karur bypass road in Tiruchi city, to enable people to pay their homage.

National leaders of the party are expected to attend his funeral. CPI(M) state secretary G. Ramakrishnan said Umanath's cremation would be held on May 22 at Tiruchi.

CPI(M) condoles death

The Polit Bureau of the Communist Party of India (Marxist) has expressed grief at the death of Umanath. He was one of the founders of the CITU and the first general secretary of the organisation in the State.In a resolution, the party said the Communist Party was repressed by the British in the years before Independence.

Umanath was convicted, along with other Communist leaders, in the Madras Conspiracy case and jailed for two-and-a-half years. He spent altogether nine-and-a-half years in jail both before and after Independence. He also spent seven years underground, the last period being during the Emergency (1975-77).

The CPI, in its homage to Umanath, noted he had played an important role in organising the working people and leading their struggles particularly in Tamil Nadu.

This article has been corrected for a factual error.