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     Home > Kerala History >Towards Freedom

          History of Kerala


          Towards Freedom

          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 rule.

          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.

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