Gaddar: A Stormy legacy comes to an end


Rama Krishna Sangem

Gaddar, India’s most popular iconic singer who once represented armed revolutionary forces passed away August 6, Sunday afternoon. He was 74 and survived by wife, Vimala and son and daughter. He was suffering from some medical ailments for sometime,especially after a heart a recent heart surgery. The news of his passing away  saddened millions of his fans and friends, across not in Telangana and Andhra but all over – far and wide.

Born in a Dalit family at Toopran in Secunderabad in 1949, Gadar, birthname, Gummadi Vithal Rao, began his youth days as a bank employee, but later – in early 1980s – drawn towards revolutionary politics – particularly armed struggle led by  late Kondapalli Sitaramaiah’s People’s War group of CPI(ML). Gaddar subsequently founded Jana Natya Mandali (JNM), a cultural front outfit of PWG.

For JNM, Gaddar is lyricist, balladeer, singer and dancer. In between his songs, he used to speak on PWG ideology and contemporary politicizes. It’s no exaggeration to say, Gaddar, through JNM became the voice and wheels of Naxalism in then combined Andhra Pradesh and parts of Dandakaranya forest belt. In early 1990s, he was hailed as “Praja Yudha Nouka” (Warship of Masses). His friends called him stormy petrel of mass movements.

Gaddar survived an attempt on his life in 1997 April when some unidentified assailants fired at him. He recovered from a prolonged hospitalization, but drastically slowed down since then. At the time, he alleged then Chandrababu Naidu government was behind the attempt on him. However, later Gaddar shared dais with Naidu in a public meeting at Medchal during 2018 Telangana assembly elections.


Departure from revolutionary politics

Gaddar’s U turn in politics too is equally dramatic, yet intriguing. There was a certain phase, when no one knew if he was or not with the PWG (which later transformed into CPI(ML) Maoists). His differences with the party were at best left to speculation. However, over the years, he indicated that he charted out his own independent course –  away from te revolutionary or underground politics.

Be it Dalit movements after Karamchedu massacre of Dalits in 1985 or other issues, Gaddar penned and sang songs backing them. For some years, he pursued Buddhism and path of knowledge. Later, he lent his voice to separate Telangana state cause. He, in the process penned many songs and conducted a Padayatra and acted in some movies too.

For the last one decade, Gaddar declared he was joining parliamentary politics, meaning elections, giving up his past stance. Very recently he attended Congress party meetings – sat on the dais where Priyanka Gndhi addressed a rally in Hyderabad some weeks back. He promoted his son Surya Kiran’s political entry into Congress and even tried to form a new party in his name.

Gaddar’s friends and fans could digest his moving close to Congress and power politics, but not his change of mind from atheism to spirituality.  His praise of an expanded Yadadri Lakshminarasimha Swamy temple and applaud of a 125 ft statue of Sri Ramanujacharya on the city outskirts didn’t go well with them. Whatever others may think, Gaddar always stood by his convictions and dared to break out a path for himself.

His legacy will forever be there, unparalleled!

Rama Krishna Sangem

Ramakrishna chief editor of excel India online magazine and website

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Rama Krishna Sangem

Excel India national news magazine is a media startup founded and piloted by Rama Krishna Sangem, a Hyderabad based senior journalist with over three decade experience in the field of media, mostly in print journalism. His rich experience in reporting for both Telugu and English newspapers and heading a TV news channel and some online outfits will be of immense use to this venture. Excel India English news magazine seeks to fill the gap of analytical understanding to our readers who today are confronted with myriad media platforms. Our online version not only offers regular updates and commentary on happenings around us, but also gives larger stories not limited by space constraints of a print magazine. Excel India is ably run by a team of senior journalists committed to values and quality standards in the profession. We urge you all to support and guide us in this endeavour. Reach us at