Dispute over omission of founder prez at labor association centenary party – The New Indian Express
Express press service
ALAPPUZHA: The centenary celebrations of the Travancore Labor Association (TLA), the first registered trade union in the former princely state of Travancore, and its leader Vadapuram Bava have been the subject of controversy with allegations according to which the organizers would have forgotten about the other leaders who were involved in the formation of the association in Alappuzha in 1922.
Bava was the first secretary general of the association and Dr MK Antony Madatilackal was its president. But those celebrating the centenary forgot Antoine’s name. In protest, his supporters paid floral tributes at Anthony’s grave at Mar Sleeva Forane Church in Pazhavnagadi here.
Professor Abraham Arakal, former principal of Maharaja’s College, Ernakulam, said there was no doubt that Bava was one of the founders of the organization. “However, Antony was the union president and a doctor from Alappuzha. He was a classmate of the freedom fighter Dr. BC Roy and after school joined the British Navy as a doctor during the first World War II. He then went to the UK. He was influenced by the Labor Party there.
He also studied Fabian socialism and labor movements in Britain, returned to Travancore in 1915 and engaged in trade union activities in Alappuzha. He was the intellectual source of the association. But the organizers forgot his name,” he said.
“He later became a successful Travancore industrialist with the start of Mar Thoma Rubber Company. His industrial connections may be the reason his role in the association has been overlooked,” Abraham said. CPI and the Vadapuram Bava Foundation organized events to celebrate the century of the union and its leaders.
Sajeev Janardhanan, chairman of the foundation, said the Indian Council of Historical Research decided to include Bava as a freedom fighter. “CPI, which had distanced itself from Bava for more than 50 years, is now celebrating the centenary and trying to portray it as a communist,” he said.
CPI District Secretary TJ Anjalose said organizers had mentioned the names of the association’s leaders, but the story placed a lot of emphasis on Bava. “We also plan to release the story, including the role of Antony and other leaders, ahead of the AITUC state meeting this year,” Anjalose said.