Hyderabad

Sunnam Rajaiah endeared himself to tribal people by espousing their cause relentlessly

Sunnam Rajaiah

Sunnam Rajaiah   | Photo Credit: Special Arrangement

Known for his down-to-earth approach and simple lifestyle, senior Adivasi leader of the CPI (M) and former Bhadrachalam MLA Sunnam Rajaiah endeared himself to tribal people by espousing their cause relentlessly with unfaltering commitment before succumbing to COVID-19 shortly after Monday midnight.

The sudden death of the Adivasi leader, who represented the ST reserved Bhadrachalam constituency thrice in 1999, 2004 and 2014, in Vijayawada of Andhra Pradesh, sent shockwaves across Telangana’s tribal heartland of Bhadrachalam Agency and elsewhere in the State.

Condolences poured in from across the political spectrum and mass organisations over the untimely death of Mr Rajaiah, the vice-president of Adivasi Adhikar Rashtriya Manch (AARM), who left behind a rich legacy of selfless service to uplift tribal people. Inspired by the veteran CPI (M) leader Kunja Bojji, also a three-time MLA of Bhadrachalam, Rajaiah served as the sarpanch of his native Chinamattapalli, a hamlet of Sunnamvarigudem gram panchayat, now in Andhra Pradesh’s V R Puram mandal, from 1988 to 1994.

He spearheaded a 650 km padayatra in the Agency areas of the erstwhile composite Khammam district demanding change in the design of the Polavaram project to prevent submergence of forest lands inhabited by lakhs of Adivasis. He actively led several mass movements under the banner of the Struggle Committee Against the Polavaram Submersion demanding scrapping of ordinance on Polavaram project to avert displacement of thousands of Adivasi families.

His effective leadership inspired the party cadres to organise Jala deekshas and relay fasts across the Bhadrachalam Agency in protest against the transfer of seven mandals of the former undivided Khammam district to Andhra Pradesh for construction of Polavaram project as per the State Reorganisation Act in 2014. He played an instrumental role in achieving the SC/ST sub-plan in the then united Andhra Pradesh.

An epitome of ideological commitment and integrity, Rajaiah strived to defend the rights of tribal people with indomitable spirit till his last breath, said CPI (M) Khammam district secretary N Nageswara Rao.

He led various mass movements demanding strict implementation of the PESA Act and other legislations governing the Fifth Scheduled Areas for upholding the constructional rights of tribal people. RTC buses, autorickshaws and two-wheelers were his preferred mode of transport and during rainy season he used to visit tribals living in the habitations along the Godavari river course in boats, he recalled.

Rajaiah always supported the activities aimed at building an egalitarian society, said Kula Vivaksha Vyatireka Porata Samithi (KVPS) district secretary Manohar. During his tenure as Bhadrachalam MLA in the past, once the police at the Assembly entrance mistook him for a common man when he arrived to attend the Assembly session in an autorickshaw, he recalled.

Rajaiah spoke in Koya language in the State Assembly during his stint as Bhadrachalam MLA in the past to highlight the urgent need for construction of a lift irrigation project at Pagallapalli in Dummugudem mandal, remarked Adivasi Samkshema Parishad convener M Nehru.

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Printable version | Sep 25, 2020 11:00:49 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/Hyderabad/sunnam-rajaiah-endeared-himself-to-tribal-people-by-espousing-their-cause-relentlessly/article32270922.ece

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