R. Jagadeeswara Rao
SRIKAKULAM: Gouthu Latchanna, addressed by his admirers as `Sardar,' who died in a private hospital in Visakhapatnam, was a warrior of many a battle.
Agitations against the British, movements for social justice, struggle for the weaker sections, all spanning over eight long decades marked his eventful life. Born in a small village Baruva in Srikakulam district in August 1909, Latchanna, the eighth child of Chittayya, a tapper and Rajamma, was a revolutionary from his school days when he challenged the `supremacy' claimed by high caste people.
His participation in `salt Satyagraha' led to his arrest at the age of 14. He went into hiding during the `Quit India' movement. Considered an `extremist,' he was arrested again while on his way to Madras to attend a meeting of underground workers.
The fight against the British before independence continued after the country became free and this time it was on the social and political fronts. He was elected to the Assembly from the labour seat of Visakhapatnam in 1948 and became a Minister in the Cabinets of Tanguturi Prakasham and Bezwada Gopala Reddy. Latchanna played an important role in bringing down the Ministry of Prakasam Panthulu on the issue of prohibition.
Founder of INTUC
The founder president of Indian National Trade Union Congress in the State and an active Seva Dal worker, Latchanna, however, left the Congress in 1951. A strong advocate of two States, he lost the Assembly election in 1971 when the Indira wave swept the State.
Latchanna who was arrested during the Emergency in 1975 later joined the Janata Party and was instrumental in getting it majority of seats in north coastal Andhra Pradesh. He joined Charan Singh's Lok Dal and later Janata Dal of V.P.Singh. His last years were marked by his struggle with ill health.
Guru and chela
Visakhpatnam Bureau adds: Latchanna considered the late parliamentarian NG Ranga his guru. But he had the courage to differ with him when political affiliations counted.