Gaddar: Iconic Balladeer and Revolutionary Passes Away at 77, Leaving Behind a Rich Legacy


The untimely demise of Gummadi Vithal Rao, popularly known as Gaddar, has left a profound void in the hearts of people across Telangana and Andhra Pradesh. The renowned balladeer, folk singer, and former Maoist ideologue, Gaddar, passed away at the age of 77 following a brief illness at a private hospital in Hyderabad. His life journey, from a bank employee to a revolutionary icon, and later a prominent advocate for social justice, has left an indelible mark on the region’s history.

From Bank Employee to Revolutionary

Born in 1946 in Toopran, Kamareddy district (erstwhile Medak) in Telangana, Gaddar led a humble life until he worked briefly in Canara Bank in 1975. However, his yearning for revolutionary politics led him to abandon his bank job and embrace a new path. Joining the People’s War Group of Naxalites, he founded the Jana Natya Mandali, a cultural outfit that promoted the group’s ideology. Gaddar’s ballads and revolutionary songs not only inspired countless youths to embrace Maoism but also highlighted the struggles of the marginalized and downtrodden.

A Beacon of Resistance and Resilience             

Gaddar’s life was not without challenges. In 1997, he survived an assassination attempt when unidentified gunmen attacked his residence. Despite the injuries sustained, he remained unwavering in his commitment to the cause he believed in. Throughout his life, he endured health issues, including a severe heart condition, lung, and urinary problems, which ultimately led to his passing.

Telangana Movement and Political Transition

As the Telangana movement gained momentum, Gaddar lent his support to the cause of a separate Telangana state. However, over time, he distanced himself from the Maoist party and advocated for electoral politics. In 2018, he enrolled as a voter and exercised his franchise in the assembly elections, signaling a shift in his approach. Last month before his demise, he announced the formation of the Gaddar Praja Party, indicating his intent to contest forthcoming elections.

Legacy of Revolutionary Songs

Gaddar’s lyrical compositions struck a chord with the masses and became the anthems of various movements. His music transcended boundaries and found its way into several Telugu films, making him a household name across Andhra Pradesh and Telangana. His songs were not only artistic expressions but powerful tools for spreading awareness and inspiring change. Even in the face of adversity, Gaddar’s songs continued to echo the voice of the people, championing their rights and advocating for social justice.

Tributes from Political Leaders and the Public

The news of Gaddar’s passing shook the region, with leaders from various political parties and the public expressing their grief and tributes. Telangana Chief Minister K Chandrasekhar Rao, Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister Y S Jagan Mohan Reddy, and Congress leader Rahul Gandhi were among those who mourned the loss of this iconic figure. Across social media platforms and public gatherings, people remembered Gaddar as a revolutionary man and a symbol of hope for the marginalized sections of society.

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