Role Of Socialists And Communists In Andhra Pradesh

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The Communists found the situation created by the war as an opportunity to emerge and carve a niche for themselves. A split began to occur in the Hyderabad State Congress with the emergence of the new brand of Communist leaders. Ravi Narayan Reddy, the hero of the 1938 Satyagraha, when released from prison came into close contact with the communist leaders of Andhra region. Differences began to appear between nationalist leaders like M.Rama Chandra Rao and Ravi Narayan Reddy. These difference though very mild at the beginning created a split between the two groups. By the 8th  conference of Andhra Maha Sabha in Chilkapur in 1941, the tussle between the two factions became more basic and fundamental. The Communists looked upon the World War II as the people's war and struck a different note from the Congress while the non-Communist groups were persuaded towards the Quit India policy of the Indian National Congress, the Communists were openly helping the war effort. The Hyderabad government, trying to protect its own interests, patronized the Communist workers and enlisted their services for the war efforts.

Another prominent Communist leader was Mukhdum Mohiuddin. The leaders established contact with the Communist Party of India which seized the opportunity of winning a separate Andhra state as a potential comminist province, an Indian Yenem where from to liberate the entire country.

The hardships faced by the peasants provided a convenient ground for the Communists to assume leadership . One of the gory practices that began was the grain levy during World War II. The government started collecting a grain levy which affected every village in the state. The revenue collectors entered each village with a stipulated quota of grain to purchase at below market prices and they had to meet the quota or face disciplinary action from their superiors. Centralized locations were marked out where the peasants at their own cost had to carry the grain and supply the required amount. The wealthy villagers bribed the revenue collectors not to collect from their hands, hid their surplus grain underground and sold it in the black market. Thus the collection would fall hard on those villagers who could at least afford to supply grain.

The woes of the peasants were enormous. The number of taxes they had to pay only kept increasing. Small disputes which are quite normal among people in villages was an additional source of revenue for the landlords. The parties had to pay dispute tax to the landlord and also a bribe for the settlement of the same. The tax even chased the men to their cremation, which otherwise would be a permanent release from their burden. The body cannot be reduced to ashes unless a tax is paid. Along with these penal dues, the people were subject to many cruel punishments like running in the front of the landlord's cart, standing in the sun for hours with heavy stones on the back etc. Taxation was so heavy that people were unable to pay and gave up their lands.

The lands that were given up in lieu of the debt invariably went into the hands of the deshmukhs who were also the moneylenders. Of all the Deshmukhs, the most hated was Ramachandra Reddy of Jangaon in Nalgonda who owned 40,000 acres of land in 40 villages. He made the peasants do forced labour in his field and extracted Nazrana (presents in cash or kind) for births, marriages or deaths in the family. He had a local court where the only way to get a favourable judgement was a bribe. He built himself a fine house for Rs.2 lakhs. In one of the incidents, a peasant called Bandangi stood up against him when he tried to interfere in a land dispute and inspite of his brother using Ramachandra's help, Bandangi after several years, actually won the case. But on his way back home, he was murdered. This further increased their hatred towards the Deshmukhs and the local people erected a shrine where Bandangi fell and offerings are made to this day.

Anti zamindari and kisan movements in Andhra

The kisan struggles took place against the Rajas of Munagala and Challapalli are prominent. The people waged long battles for their just demands under the leadership of communists and kisan sabhas. The Rajas of Munagala and Challapalli used the coercive methods and exploited the people. Farmers had been cultivating the lands of the zamindars and they were subjected to pay heavy taxes. The artisans and the people living in the villages and engaged in their cast professions were forced to do free services. “Vetti” or bonded labour has been imposed on the people. The employees working with Rajas and his goondas with their muscle power occupied the lands of the people and whoever protested it they were subjected to all types of harassment including social boycott. The Rajas threatened the people by filing criminal cases without any reason. Their servants were not even hesitant to molest the women folk in the villages. Farmers were not allowed to use the water from tanks for their crops. The wages were so meagre not even sufficient to maintain their livelihood. Usary capital played havoc with the lives of the farmers. All rights including civil and criminal powers were rested with the zamindars.

Social oppression and the economic degradation led to the emergence of social protest. Slowly village farmers associations have been organised to defend their rights. The ‘Zameen Rytu’ Organisation was formed in 1928. Villagers started organising squads to defend themselves. People belonged to various professions joined ‘Zameen Rytu’ association. With the inspiration given by the communist party people stopped working as bonded labourers. People became bold and started resisting the goondas of the Zamindar. Among the people of the estate villages new inspiration could be seen. They started even boycotting slowly the functions organised by the Rajas. People were organised to participate in satyagraha against the atrocities committed by the Rajas and their followers.

The Kisan organisations slowly developed contacts with political parties. Communists organised kisans and agricultural labourers against the zamindars. They educated the people through political schools and cultural programmes. Communists through their selfless sacrifices inspired the people against Rajas of Munagala and Challapalli. In the struggles, the Community Party lost many of its cadres. Due to prolonged struggle against the Rajas of Munagala and Challapalli because of immense sacrifices made by the people the bondage has been abolished, the tenants retained their rights on their lands. Social oppression and atrocities on people were fought back and finally the zamindary system was abolished.

Initially, the Challapalli Zamindar used the goondas against the kisans and he felt that they are useless the Challapalli Raja resorted to use the corrupt police officers. They too could not resist the united strength of the farmers.

The Challapalli Zamindar adopted various cunning tactics and occupied the lands of farmers of various villages. This has been done on the pretext that the farmers are not paying taxes. The farmers were implicated in criminal cases and used all nasty tricks to divide them. With the help of VDO’s he occupied ‘Ghotakam’ lands in Ghantasala village. The farmers bitterly fought against this and won the lands through legal battles.

In 1920, the Kisan Mandal Mahasabha held at Pedakallepalli passed a resolution to abolish the zamindari system. In 1935, the zamindar kisan Maha sabha was held in Potarlanka of Divi taluka, the zamindar tried  his best to break this meeting but due to the unity of farmers he could not succeed in it.

The east bank canal was dug from Yanamalakuduru and the Aqueduct was constructed at Puligadda and thus the water was supplied to Diviseema. The Zamindar forced the farmers to pay him ‘Nazarana’ for the new lands brought into cultivation with this irrigation facility. The farmers fought against it and won.

On 26th January, 1939 C. Rajagopalachari declared in the Assembly on Zamindari enquiry report. He categorically stated that Zamindars had no right on the lands. He further stated that they are only government employees. Rajaji also argued that no compensation should be paid to the zamindars. But this was not implemented.

The left, socialist youngmen of the congress Party was fed up with the liberal attitude of the leaders and with their indifference towards the zamindar. During the period between 1939-41, the taluk farmers organisation was taken over by the left young leaders. The British government issued arrest warrants against them. They fought against the British Imperialism and Zamindars.

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