Respected leader, Com. Sankaraiah, Central Committee Member Com. G. Ramakrishnan, Com. L. Sundarrajan, who is presiding over the meeting, Com. N. Ramakrishnan, other leaders on the stage, dear comrades and friends, greetings.
I am indeed happy to be here to associate myself with the release of the book written by Com. G Ramakrishnan.
It is a unique occasion in many ways. The lives of communists, the lives of those who are at the grassroots, the lives and sacrifices of those who have defended the red flag are very often unrecognised. It is also rare that their lives should be recorded by a Central Committee Member and State Secretary. And therefore, my dear comrades, I would like to extend my warm greetings to Com GR for meting and speaking to all these comrades, for understanding their lives and sacrifices, and for bringing this reality to the wider public.
I also hope the book will be made in available in other languages so that people outside Tamil Nadu can understand the reality of the roots of the party in the State.
I myself have have not had the opportunity to read the book, but from what Com GR has told me about the stories and from the synopsis given by Com. Rajan, I understand the book depicts the multi-dimensional roots of the party in Tamil Nadu.
I understand that the lives of 82 comrades - men and women - have been recorded in the book. And therefore, while being unable to speak about the individual stories, I understand there is a common thread running through the stories, and lives of these comrades.
And, I think it is necessary for us today to be able to grasp the importance of that thread. These are men and women who have been fired by the dream of revolution, by the dream of socialism, by the dream of social and economic equality.These are men and women - workers, poor peasants, dalits, those from other oppressed classes - who from their own experience have come to the understanding that capitalism can never provide them any semblance of justice.
And through those struggles, not for one year or two years, but for decades, they have created an alternative culture. My dear comrades, as communists, we talk about alternative politics, we talk about alternative policies. But, that struggle for an alternative is fought by men and women, flesh and blood. And, it is that struggle that creates an alternative culture - the culture of the working people, the culture of the working classes, the culture of the poor.
These stories are not only inspiring politically, but also at a human level and provides a different level of beauty to our lives. These are stories of men and women who never expected personal rewards. A comrade who is polio-stricken, but travels house-to-house to sell Theekathir. A young man who as a child, saw the red flag being burnt in front of his father and who then tattooes the hammer and sickle on his chest and tells the police, you can destroy the flag but can you remove this sign ? These are stories of great beauty because these acts were not for personal aggrandisement, or for personal gain or reward.
These stories also teach us that the efforts of every single individual make a difference. The party is built of its individuals. It is the sum total of members and supporters that forms what is called the party, The party is not some disembodied entity.The party consists of you and me; it consists of every worker, who is of equal value in the struggle for revolution.
The party lives through its members, and the party lives through the contacts of each one our members with the mass of people. What is the party's life except its relations with the people? Mao Tse Tung had once described communist cadre as being fish in the water. Without the water - the water means the people - the fish will die. Without contact with the people, the party can never be a dynamic living organisation.
Today, when we are under attack, when the red flag is under attack, when the whole conception of socialism is under attack, we need strong comrades with a strong belief in the identity of being a communist. And, through this book and the inspiring lives of these 82 comrades that Com. GR has brought us, we learn the lesson that we can achieve the greatest when we are working for others under the red flag.
So, once again, I greet Com.GR. I am sure all of you will read this book, learn from it and the lives and sacrifices of our comrades. After all, that is what the CPI(M) is about and that is what a communist is about.