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When Andhra was a Left bastion

Harindranath Chattopadhyay

Harindranath Chattopadhyay  

G. V. Ramana Rao

Bengali poet Harindranath Chattopadhyay was elected to the Lok Sabha from Vijayawada in 1951 with CPI backing



The undivided CPI won 16 seats in 1951, eight of them from the old Madras State



He was a Bengali English poet and the brother of Sarojini Naidu. His father was a scientist-philosopher, mother a poetess. He was married to Kamaladevi Chattopadhyay, who is credited with creating the All-India Women’s Conference, National School of Drama and the Sangeet Natak Akademi. Nobel Prize winner Rabindranath Tagore saw him as his successor.

He was also famous for the diverse roles he played in some classic Bollywood movies.

The legendary Harindranath Chattopadhyay was the first to represent the Vijayawada parliamentary constituency in the Lok Sabha. He trounced his nearest rival and Indian National Congress candidate Rajyam Sinha, wife of Benoy Kumar Sinha, a colleague of Bhagat Singh, by 74,924 votes in the 1951 Lok Sabha polls. Also in the fray then was Gogineni Bharati Devi, wife of N.G. Ranga, and atheist leader Goparaju Ramachandra Rao, popularly known as Gora. Both of them lost their deposits.

Mr. Chattopadhyay contested the election as an Independent with the support of the undivided Communist Party of India (CPI). Krishna, East Godavari and West Godavari districts were then citadels of the CPI.

The Left party won 16 seats that year — eight from the undivided Madras State, five from West Bengal, two from Tripura and one from Orissa.

The performance of CPI candidates in the region that later became Andhra Pradesh was better than that of their counterparts in the rest of the State. While seven candidates won in the Andhra region, only one won in the Tamil Nadu region. The CPI candidates who contested from Kakinada, Rajahmundry, Eluru, Masulipatnam (Machilipatnam), Gudivada (later abolished) and Cuddapah Lok Sabha seats won with comfortable margins.

The lone CPI candidate to win from the Tamil Nadu region of the Madras State was Cannanore candidate A.K. Gopalan. Koratala Satyanarayana, who later became CPI(M) State Secretary, lost by a narrow margin of 1,388 votes in Tenali.

The CPI was behind the victory of all the three candidates who contested in Krishna district. While Chattopadhyay won with the support of the party, other candidates — Sanka Bucchikotaiah (spelt in Election Commission’s records as Sanka Butehikottaiah) won the Machilipatnam seat with a margin of 47,000 votes, while Kadiyala Gopala Rao won the Gudivada seat with a margin of 56,000 votes.

Corrections and Clarifications

* * An article "When Andhra was a Left bastion" (April 1, 2009) had theblurb "Bengali poet Harindranath Chattopadhyay was elected to the Lok Sabhafrom Vijayawada in 1951 with CPI backing." The first Lok Sabha met for thefirst time in May 1952. Lok Sabha records give Harindranath Chattopadhyayaas an independent candidate from Vijaywada (Madras). (The tenure of thefirst Lok Sabha was from April 14, 1952 to April 4, 1957.)

The sixth paragraph of the same report said "The Left party won 16 seatsthat year - eight from the undivided Madras State, five from West Bengal,two from Tripura and one from Orissa." Nine Left candidates (CommunistParty - CP) won that year from the undivided Madras state - Masuliipatam(Madras), Cannanore (Madras), Mayuram (Madras), Ongole (Madras), Kakinada(Madras), Gudiwada (Madras), Rajahmundry-SC (Madras), Eluru-SC (Madras) andCuddapah (Madras). The Left won 17 seats.

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