KANNUR: MVR, the name synonymous with undaunted courage and willpower, had always been an inspiring icon for the ‘young comrades’ in North Malabar in the 1960s and 1970s. The firebrand leader had played the pivotal role in strengthening the CPM and was instrumental in fostering its feeder organisations like the Kerala Student’s Federation (KSF) and Kerala State Youth Federation (KSYF), which were later affiliated to the national organisations, SFI and the DYFI, respectively.
“Raghavan has always argued for mobilising the youth under the party banner. Though many leaders of the party did not encourage his attempts in this regard, Raghavan could succeed in realising the birth of KSYF with the support of AKG. The first two units of KSYF were formed in Kannur and Kozhikode.Later, Raghavan was given the charge of the DYFI and he had a significant role in moulding leaders like Kodiyeri Balakrishnan and E P Jayarajan,” says Churai Chandran, CMP leader and a close associate of MVR.Having joined the Communist party at the tender age of 15, Raghavan was soon appointed the secretary of the first branch committee of the party at Pappinissery, his native village. His autobiography ‘Oru Janmam,’ which chronicles the history of the Communist party in the state and the ideological conflicts within the party, begins with his burning memories of the intense stir of workers at the Pappinissery Aron company.The autobiography also describes his attempts to provide an ideological base to the youngsters in Kannur with the support of N C Sekhar.
The reverberations of the Naxalbari uprising of 1967 were felt in Kerala as well and the CPM had to take up the tough task of preventing the exodus of youngsters to the Naxal movement. Party leaders and activists of MVR’s generation strove hard to keep the ‘angry young men’ within the CPM fold then. As the Kannur district secretary of the party, MVR made earnest attempts to dissuade Varghese from joining the Naxal movement, though it turned futile. When Thalassery and Pulpally police station attacks by Naxals further exalted spirits of CPM activists, Raghavan had to make effective interventions to prevent further drain of party workers to Naxalism. “I lost a close colleague and a comrade with the death of Varghese,” Raghavan remembers in his autobiography. Soon after the outbreak of Thalassery riots of 1971-1972, Raghavan with Azhikodan Raghavan, O Bhartahan, Patyam Gopalan and M Kelu had to coordinate activities to check communal tension and to save the minority community which came under attack. “Though party workers were directed to prevent the riots, some of them had joined the rioters as their sentiments against the Muslim League tempted them to turn against Muslims. But soon they were given sharp political education, which prevented them from engaging in such deeds,” Raghavan recollects in ‘Oru Janmam.’ However, after he was expelled from the CPM in 1985, the youth outfits of the CPM often sharply reacted against the activities of MVR’s new party CMP (Communist Marxist Party). Raghavan had to face the intense ire of the DYFI activists in the issue of self-financing colleges which ended in the infamous Koothuparamba firing on November 25, 1994, that claimed the lives of five activists of the DYFI. But with MVR’s unique leadership skills, the CMP could overcome the crisis and remain pulsating strongly in state politics until Raghavan began to keep away from politics owing to old-age ailments a couple of years ago. “The biggest contribution of MVR was that he could challenge the democratic centralism in the CPM,” Churai added.