The coming into power of a Communist government in Kerala on April 5,1957 through electoral victory was looked upon as a socio- political miracle by the whole world. But the fact was that kerala society was evolving in such a way as to accept a government with communist ideology although a formal communist party was started only in 1939. Still the dominant section of the Indian National Congress in Malabar viz, the congress socialist party was motivated more by Marxian social synergism than by Gandhian tactics. The communist political philosophy was familiar in Kerala’s society much before the formation of the communist party.


Feudal agrarian relations with landlords and tenants held together Kerala’s society even at the formation of the first Communist government and for many years afterwards. The organized labour in the coir sector at Alapuzha, the workforce in the tile factories at Kozhikode and the plantation labour were some of the exceptions. An undercurrent of caste pride and prejudices in the majority Hindu community and diehardism and suspicion among the minority Christian and Muslim communities were still riding high. But the spread of liberal education especially among the young men of the large joint family feudal households, which were undergoing heavy strain of breaking up, brought about a sea change. These young men saw a bright future for Kerala society by accepting Communist philosophy and became the activists of the Communist party wholly devoting themselves to the spreading of the new ideology, becoming the flag bearers of communism even to the remote villages giving up all personal comforts and forgetting even to marry till their late forties. They persistently tried to awaken and energize the masses who, no wonder, began adoring them.

The well-organized Syrian Christian community although insulated against Communist social philosophy had to concede to the impact of the movement among certain sections of its young people who too created ferment. The Muslim community too contributed their crop of idealistic youth to the movement.


The movement was aided and abetted by events on the cultural front. After independence reading rooms and libraries came up in all parts of Travancore, Cochin and Malabar.People were interested in reading newspapers, periodicals and books. There were novelists and storytellers like Thakazhy, Kesavadev and Ponkunnam Varkey, play- wrights like K. Damodaran and Thoppil Bhasy and poets like Vayalar Rama Varma who together moulded the Malayali psyche into embracing a communist form of polity.


The political arena in Travancore, Cochin and Malabar on the eve of Independence and the years that immediately followed was vitiated by opportunism, personal rivalries, ego clashes and intrigues for power among the leaders of the Indian National congress. They had given up Gandhian idealism, the cogent force of Indian politics and were wearing it on their sleeves for namesake. In Travancore- Cochin the Congress party debunked their own leaders in power to quench personal ambitions. They propped up a P.S.P Government in 1954 and dropped it on flimsy grands. The dismal performance of the Congress after an overwhelming victory in the Travancore election of 1948 is mirrored in the fact that there were three ministries in Travancore between march 1948 and July 1949 and three in the newly formed united states of Travancore- Cochin from July 1949 to 1951-52 general elections. The Congress parties of both Travancore and Cochin lacked discipline and were unable to manage caste and communal rivalries and regional interests. Further, the common people saw an intrusion of the very wealthy and arrogant enemies of the Congress during the freedom movement, into the party after independence and their manipulations for power.


The formation of the State of Kerala in 1956 along with the reorganization of states in the Indian union strengthened the communist party in the state. The inclusion of Malabar where party enjoyed great influence gained though a saga of painful struggles had a deep impact. The exclusion of the four Tamil speaking southern taluks helped the consolidation of the communist party in the state.

Although the degeneration of the Congress Party was uppermost in popular psyche the Communist Party of India did not make any diatribe against the Congress. Instead the CPI became accommodative of the large progressive segment in the Congress. In fact the Communist Party looked forward to co-operating with this segment for implementation of agrarian reforms and in the execution of laws aimed at the good of the people. Thus the Central Committee of the CPI reported to its Palghat Congress in 1956: “Even though the Indian National Congress is a political party of the bourgeoisie having in its fold many landlords there is a large number of democrats in it. It has a democratic anti-imperialist tradition. Our attitude to the Congress Party should be one of strengthening those forces within the congress, which take comparatively progressive stand. We must exhort them to fight against the monopolist feudalist reactionaries who attempt to tighten their hold on the Congress. In matters like implementation of agrarian reforms and the execution of laws aimed at the good of the people we must request the members of the Congress to join us in urging the government to expedite. We must also try to make common cause on such issues with congress committees”. Obviously this policy prompted progressive elements to soften their attitude towards the Communist Party. The friendly atmosphere generated by this policy also helped to catapult the Communist Party to power in the 1957 election.

The New York times attributed: “The weak inefficient and corrupt administration of the Congress regime in the state for a decade since independence was an important factor that led to the Communist victory in 1957.”