Even though there was an uneasy peace brought
on by the British rule in Malabar , Thiruvithanmkur and Kochi, it
was only a matter time before the people sought independence from
the foreigners. It was after the First World war that the first
signs of dissent surfaced. In 1922 the students protested against
the fee hike in educational institutions. This soon became a rallying
point for pro-home rule agitation.
But it was the Khilafat Movement that really
focussed the issue more forcefully. Hindus and Muslims stood as
one against the British and the Landlords in the Malabar region.
Severe police action and Martial law followed. But the movement
lost its bearing when it finally took on communal overtones when
armed Muslims targeted Hindus.
This then became a simple law and order problem and the British
gained complete supremacy by ruthless deployment of police, notably
the Malabar Special Police, which to this day is a feared symbol
of colonial oppression.
The Independence movement at the National
level had a direct bearing on Kerala's political landscape too.
The Salt Satyagraha found its echo here. The Vaikom temple entry
Satyagraha for permitting lower castes entry into the temple gained
the recognition as a direct challenge to the existing political
and hierarchical supremacy of the rulers and by extension the British
But soon there were more organisations formed
to fight for their rights. The Samyukata Rashtriya Congress consisting
of an alliance of Christians -Muslims - Ezhavas ( a powerful community
of Kerala) formed an alliance to seek reservations in Government.
This is the first time community based party system came into Kerala's landscape.
Later the Thiruvithamkur State Congress
was founded by Pattom Thanu Pillai to fight against the high handedness
of the last Dewan of Thiruvithamkur, Sir C P Ramaswamy Iyengar(popularly
known as Sir CP). There is no doubting the Dewan's capabilities
at governance, but what made the Congress to move against him was
his streak of authoritarianism. The movement started in 1938 and
led to widespread violence all over the state. The Congress was
outlawed. There was sympathetic movements from across the border
from Kochi too.
The Independence from the British did not
end the rule of the Maharaja. Sir CP opposed Thiruvithamkur's accession
to the newly independent India. The Congress who contested the elections
to the state, won an overall majority and wanted accession at all
costs. The debate only ended with an attack on the person of Sir
CP. This left the Dewan thoroughly demoralised and he disappeared
from the scene soon after. The state acceded to India soon after.
It was another move towards reunification
of Malayalam speaking population that on 01 Jul 1949 a new state
was formed called Thirukochi, consisting of old princely states
of Thiruvithamkur and Kochi . The question of reorganisation of
Kerala now appeared imminent. The Malayalam-speaking regions of
Malabar and Thirukochi were ultimately joined together as one state
on 01 November 1956 and christened KERALA.
Kerala's post independence history is a
saga of Leftist movement elbowing out the principal national party
- Indian National Congress. The deep social, communal and economic
divisions within Kerala was on the boil. Capable and energetic leaders
took over and nurtured a Communist movement against the full might
of state suppression.
Among them EMS Namboothiripad, AK Gopalan
and P Krishna Pillai were the unquestioned leaders. Sir CP had single-mindedly
hunted them. But this only helped the movement to grow in strength.
By 1957, they had become the first democratically elected Communist
Government anywhere in the world.
Though the Government had the brightest
luminaries in the ministry ever seen in Kerala, it was doomed to
failure because of the extreme schism in society which this government
caused. Soon Swatatntra Samaram or "Independence war"
had broken out in the state leading to civil disobedience, riots
and mounting civilian casualties. Using the pretext of breakdown
of law and order, Smt Indira Gandhi was able to convince her father
Prime Minister Jawahar Lal Nehru to dismiss the government in 1959.
The story of Kerala after 1959 is a story
of many governments of the Congress-led or Left-led parties coming
and going at regular intervals. Kerala has seen no fewer than 17
Ministries till now.