Coimbatore: Marxist leader and former MLA K. Thangavel, who cut his teeth as a banian mill worker and went on to spearhead many successful agitations for labour rights in Tamil Nadu, died of COVID-19 here on Sunday.
The 68-year-old party veteran and trade unionist, who was treated for coronavirus at a hospital for the past 14 days passed away early today, the CPI(M) said.
He is survived by his wife and two daughters.
A Marxist ideologue, he was renowned for his lectures on Marxism and leadership qualities and had been a state executive committee (known as state secretariat in the party) member for about 25 years.
Thangavel, born in an ordinary family, started his life as a banian mill worker and mobilising workmen, he led many successful agitations for their labour rights.
During his stint in trade unions at various levels he was instrumental in getting these mill workers various rights.
“As a leader, he left an indelible mark through his excellent work. He was simple, honest and calm,” the party said in a statement paying rich tributes to him.
Elected as an MLA in 2011 from Tirupur South Constituency, he championed labour welfare in the assembly and was close to the ordinary people in his constituency.
Expressing grief and extending condolences, the CPI(M) said Thangavel’s death is a huge loss for the party, the Left movement and the working class.
DMK president M.K. Stalin, citing Thangavel’s humble origins, said he distinguished himself as a trade union leader through his hard work to get labour rights.
Pointing to Thangavel’s long drawn out agitation (for 127 days) for labour rights, he said it is remarkable in the annals of fight for workers’ welfare.
He had data on issues that affected the ordinary people and the working class on his finger tips, Stalin said, offering his condolences to the bereaved family and party.
CPI state secretary R. Mutharasan, condoling his death, hailed the Marxist leader for his struggle to get workers their rights.
MDMK general secretary Vaiko praised Thangavel as an honest leader who earned the goodwill people in all parties.
Announcing a three-day mourning, the CPI(M) said party flags would fly at half-mast as a mark of honour to the departed leader.