Veteran communist leader and also two-time Lok Sabha MP D Pandiyan has died on Friday following a brief illness. The 88-year-old CPI national committee member is survived by his two daughters and son P Jawahar.
Pandiyan was born in 1932 at Keezhavellaimalaipatti closer Usilampatti in Madurai district. He completed his graduation in English at Alagappa College in Karaikudi and joined the faculty in the same department.
His wife Joyce was also a teacher. He was, however, arrested when the Communist party was banned in the country in 1948, at the age of 16.
Then, in 1962, he left his teaching career and moved to Chennai to nurture the party’s literary wing. Pandiyan also served as a trade union functionary in the railways and the harbor.
He played a major role in breaking up the CPI for the second time in the late 1970s when he left and floated the United Communist Party of India. In the late 1990s, he joined his party with the CPI and was elected to the Lok Sabha from the North Chennai constituency in 1989 and 1991.
Pandiyan was among those who sustain major injuries during the bomb blast that killed former prime minister Rajiv Gandhi and some others. He had attended the public meeting at Sriperumbudur when the assassination was carried out.
Pandiyan was elected State Secretary of the CPI in 2005. He held the position for 10 years. Despite his adherence to the Communist ideology, many considered him a communist leader with a leaning toward the AIADMK.
Pandiyan was a visionary leader, who during his tenure as state secretary, wanted to construct a huge office complex to house the party headquarters, bring out a daily party newspaper, and launch a party TV channel.
Of these, he succeeded in constructing an eight-floor office building for the party and partly succeeded in launching a daily, Janasakthi, which later became a weekly due to poor patronage.
He faced much criticism from party cadres who blamed him for pushing the party into debt by taking huge loans to construct the party headquarters.
An effective orator with deep knowledge and understanding of Communist ideology, Pandiyan was also a prolific writer, authoring over 30 books and 1,000 articles. He served as the editor of Janasakthi till his last breath.