Maoist idealogue-singer Gaddar turns to spirituality, politics

Updated on Apr 08, 2017 02:49 PM IST

Telugu balladeer Gaddar, whose songs once inspired many across the country to join the armed Maoist rebellion, has turned to spirituality of late and is also planning to contest elections

Telugu balladeer Gaddar’s songs were once seen as an inspiration to many across the country to join the armed Maoist rebellion.(HT file photo)
Telugu balladeer Gaddar’s songs were once seen as an inspiration to many across the country to join the armed Maoist rebellion.(HT file photo)
Hindustan Times, Hyderabad | By

From Maoism to spiritualism, popular revolutionary balladeer Gaddar has come a long way in his ideological thinking.

The 67-year old founder of Jana Natya Mandali, a cultural wing of CPI (ML) People’s War Group has started visiting various temples in Telangana and participating in religious rituals.

Telugu balladeer Gaddar’s songs were once seen as an inspiration to many across the country to join the armed Maoist rebellion against what they said was a war against the State’s exploitation of the downtrodden and marginalised communities.

Last week, Gaddar visited Yadadri temple in Bhongir district and offered prayers to Lord Lakshminarasimha Swamy, where he priests took him to the sanctum sanctorum and offered blessings.

“I prayed to the Lord to bestow the new state of Telangana with good rains and the people with the strength to fight against injustice,” he said.

In January, Gaddar performed “abhisekham” of Lord Siva at the famous Somanath temple at Palakurthi in Janagam district and offered prayers. Before that, he along with his wife Vimala and daughter -in-law Saritha visited the famed Komuravelli Mallanna temple of Siddipet district, participated in Laksha Bilwarchana and enthralled the people with his songs on Lord Siva.

Maoist balladeer Gaddar at the Yadadri temple (HT photo)
Maoist balladeer Gaddar at the Yadadri temple (HT photo)

He also went to Veda Patashala and shared his experiences with the students. He advised them to learn Vedas and also English so that the students should become Vivekananda. “Everybody who loves nature is a devotee of the god,” he said.

For those who have been following the journey of Gaddar over the last few decades, his new “avatar” has come a big surprise.

“Though he is not very active in the Maoist movement right now, he is still a hardcore follower of Marxism and Maoism. Naturally, it is a shock to us,” said a Maoist sympathiser, who preferred anonymity.

An engineering student-turned-bank employee-turned- revolutionary singer from Toopran in Medak district, Gaddar, who took his name from the famed Gadar Party of Punjab during the pre-Independence era, played a key role in the Maoist movement for over four decades.

Whenever there was an alleged fake encounter, he raised his voice against police repression. When the then YS Rajasekhar Reddy government in Andhra Pradesh held talks with Maoists for the first time in October 2004, Gaddar was one of the key negotiators.

The border areas of Andhra Pradesh and Telangana is among the Maoist hotbeds in India besides pockets in Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand, Bihar and Bengal.

“No, this is not exactly a transformation. A true Marxist is one who respects the spiritual democracy of the people. Religious faith certainly provides temporary relief to the people when they face difficulties. This is real Marxism,” Gaddar told Hindustan Times.

Quoting Italian communist leader Antonio Gramsci, Gaddar said “bourgeois cultural values” were linked to folklore, popular culture and religion.

“Marxism could supersede religion only if it met people’s spiritual needs,” he said, adding that the Bhakti movement that was witnessed in medieval India had brought a lot of cultural renaissance and reformed the people.

Gaddar, who also played a major role in the Telangana movement in the last two decades, is now contemplating entering the electoral politics, defying the very Maoist principles.

“The Maoist movement (which believes in achieving power through barrel of the gun) is facing severe repression. So, I have decided to take to parliamentary democracy mode to achieve the goal. I am talking to a cross section of people to work out a strategy,” he said.

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    Srinivasa Rao is Senior Assistant Editor based out of Hyderabad covering developments in Andhra Pradesh and Telangana . He has over three decades of reporting experience.

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