In his greetings, Chief Minister MK Stalin recalled that Sankaraiah, known as NS to his followers, refused pension given to the freedom fighters despite being jailed for participating in the freedom struggle. “He lives as a true Communist,” he lauded.
Apart from Stalin, CPM general secretary Sitaram Yechury, state secretary K Balakrishnan, CPI senior leader R Nallakannu and others met Sankaraiah and greeted him. “Sankaraiah was born when the world was ravaged by Spanish flu and his life gives us strength in facing COVID-19. Despite reaching 100 years of age, he still remains active,” Sitaram Yechury said after meeting the veteran leader. Sankaraiah became a Communist party member in 1940 when he was only 18 years of age. He was a student of American College in Madurai.
He functioned as the chairman of the college student union and brought then chief minister C Rajagopalachari to address the students. He could not complete his degree as he was arrested in 1941 when he was in the final year. Upon his release, he became the district secretary of the party. He was only 22. In 1946, he was arrested again, along with other Communist leaders P Ramamurthy, A Balasubramanian, MR Venkataraman, KTK Thangamani and Janaki Amma. They were implicated in what came to be known as the Madurai conspiracy case. When the CPI split in 1964, Sankaraiah joined the CPM. He became the state secretary of the CPM in 1995 and held that post until 2002. Sankaraiah was elected to the Tamil Nadu Assembly in 1967, 1977 and 1980.