Veteran Socialist leader P Viswambharan passes away

P Viswambharan 
(1925 June 25 — 2016 December 09)
Photo courtesy of P
THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: Freedom fighter and veteran Socialist P Viswambharan passed away on Friday December 09, 2016. He was 91. Viswambharan, who had been ailing for the past three months, died at his residence at Vellar near Kovalam. He was a bachelor. The funeral was held with state honours at 4.30 pm on Saturday on his house premises.

Viswambharan, a former MLA and MP, will be remembered for his ideological commitment and simple life. He was the first convener of Left Democratic Front (LDF) when it was founded in the year 1973.
Born as the son of Padmanabhan and Chellamma of Charuvila house, Vellar, Kovalam, on June 25, 1925, Viswambharan had his school education from LP School, Pachalloor, Venganoor English Middle School and SMV School, Thiruvananthapuram. He graduated in History and Economics. Then he joined the Govt Law College, but couldn't complete legal education as he had become an active public worker by then.

Viswambharan, who had entered the political arena participating in the Quit India Movement, played a key role in the formation of the Students Congress in former Travancore. In 1945, he was elected to the executive committee of the Travancore University Union. In 1946, he was appointed as the central office secretary of the Travancore State Congress. In 1949 he joined the Socialist Party and became its district committee member in 1950.

In 1956 he became the state joint secretary of the Praja Socialist Party (PSP). Later PSP and the socialist party under Ram Manohar Lohia merged to form the Samyukta Socialist Party (SSP) and Viswmabharan became its state general secretary. In 1968 he joined the Kerala Samyukta Socialist Party (KSSP), a splinter group which was broke away from the State Unit of the Samyukta Socialist Party in 1968. In May 1969 the KSSP reconstituted itself as the Indian Socialist Party. In 1971 he was elected as the state chairman of the Socialist Party when various Socialist factions merged at the national level. When the Left Democratic Front (LDF) was constituted in 1973, he was made its first convener.

During the emergency when the People's Union for Civil Liberties (PUCL) was formed for fighting for the civil and human rights he was the secretary and Dr M MThomas was the president of Kerala unit. He was also in the forefront of the formation of the Janata Party and was elected as its state president in 1980. He was also served as the president of the state unit of Janatha Dal. In 2003 he was made the state convener of the Socialist front.

In 1954 he was elected to the Thiru-Kochi (Travancore-Cochin) Assembly on PSP ticket. In 1960 he was once again elected, this time to the Kerala Assembly from the same constituency. In 1967 he was elected to the Lok Sabha from the Thiruvananthapuram Lok Sabha constituency on SSP ticket. He was a member of the Public Accounts Committee in the Assembly and Lok Sabha.

During his early days (from 1946 to 1958), Viswambharan was a journalist, working in Malayalam dailies such as 'Malayali,' 'Swathanthra Kahalam,' 'Deshabandhu' and 'Mathrubhumi'. He was the founder state general secretary of the Thiru-Kochi Journalists’ Union and a member of the Indian Federation of Working Journalists national council. He had also been active as a trade unionist and corporator.

"He had fought hard against the Emergency and proved himself to be a great trade union leader," Vijayan noted in his condolence message.

Opposition leader Ramesh Chennithala said Kerala has lost one of the symbols of idealist politics.

Former chief minister V S Achuthanandan said Viswambharan was one of the architects of LDF and had contributed greatly to the progress of left movements.
The Samajwadi Janaparishad National President Joshy Jacob in a statement said, "his death is a great loss to the Democratic and socialist stream.” “He did not compromise with anti democratic tendencies in political power," he said.

CPI(M) State secretary Kodiyeri Balakrishnan, KPCC president V.M. Sudheeran, CPI State secretary Kanam Rajendran, Samajwadi Janaparishad State President Vinod Payyada and LDF covnener Vaikom Viswan, among others, condoled Mr. Viswambharan’s death.