Kerala: A Brief Political History
effective way of controlling a nation is by keeping it divided.
All conquerors from the time of the Greeks to the Americans and
the Russians have tried it and for a time succeeded until the
enslaved nations united themselves as one and threw off the yoke
of slavery. Divide-and-Conquer was the basic policy the British
followed--a history lesson they learned from the Romans, their
erstwhile overlords from 44 B.C. to 410 A.D.--all over India and
particularly in Kerala. They kept Kerala divided in three
political units: Malabar, Cochin, and Travancore, with the
present Kasargod and Hosdurg Taluks forming part of another administrative
unit, the district of South Canara.
people of Kerala, since the State Peoples' Conference of Ernakulam,
April, 1928, demanded the formation of an all Malayalam-speaking
United Kerala (Aikya Kerala). This movement gathered
momentum during the forties, during the struggle for independence,
and after. On July 1, 1949 the state of Travancore-Cochin
came into existence under the guidance of Home Minister
of the new state; the legislatures were combined; while the capital
remained at Trivandrum, the High Court was moved to Cochin.
first elected govern-ment was headed by T. K. Narayana Pillai.
The internal dissensions within the ruling Congress Party led
to the formation of a new ministry in 1951 under C. Kesavan whose
chief-ministersnip lasted only a few months. After the Nair
and Ezhava chief ministers, came the Christian Chief Minister
A. J. John. He could stay in office only for about two years simply
because Congress-legis-lators from the Tamil-speaking Kanyakuinari
District withdrew their support and demanded the merger of Kanyakumari
with the Tamil-speaking Madras State. The John-ministry
was succeeded by the Praja-Socialist-Party ministry of the former
chief minister Pattern Thanu Pillai in March 1954.
Tamil agitation in the South took a violent turn when police opened
fire on violent demonstrators killing seven people. As a
result, the PSP ministry was voted out of office and replaced
in February 1955 by a Congress ministry headed by Panampilly Govinda
Menon. This Cabinet fell in March 1956 due to internal discussions
within the ruling party, which resulted in the imposition of President's
Rule in the state — the state was ruled directly by the President
of India through the Governor. It was during the President's
Rule that the states of the Indian Union were reorganized on linguistic
the States Reorganization Act, four Tamil-speaking southern Taluks
were separated from Kerala and ceded to Madras. The District
of Malabar and the Kasargod Taluk of South Canara District were
added to Travancore-Cochin to constitute the new State of Kerala.
The united Kerala came into existence on November 1, 1956 with
a governor as titular head of the state; the princely Rajapramukh
was forced to retire.
the general elections of 1957, the Communist Party of India came
to power with E. M. S. Nambutiripad as Chief Minister. There
was widespread DDDuIar ODOosition to thp rule of the Cnmmunists.
which came to be known as Liberation Struggle (Vimochana Samararm).
Fifteen persons were killed by the police, and law and order broke
down. The President of India dismissed the Communist Ministry
and imposed President's Rule on the state on July 31, 1959 according
to Constitutional provisions. After fresh elections in February
a non-Communist coalition government of the Congress, PSP, and
Maslan League took over administration with Pattom Thanu Pillai
as Chief Minister. In 1962, R. Shankar became Chief Minister
after Pattom was appointed Governor of Punjab. In September 1964,
the Shankar Ministry was voted out of power, and Kerala was again
placed under President's Rule. Meanwhile the Congress party
was split into Indian National Congnsss and Kerala Congress (a
Christian Party); the Communist Party also was split into two:
The Communist Party Marxist (CPM) and the Communist Party
of India (CPI).