Towords 1957

The year 1957 is a watershed in the socio-political life of the State of Kerala, as well as India. Eventhough Communists, who represent ideologies which run totally counter to the interests of the ruling class, assuming power through the parliamentary democracy mode, was shocking and surprising to many, it was not acccidental and was part of a historical process. At the international level it was a process spanning over almost two centuries. At the national level it was the end result of imbibing of the progressive political consciousness which emerged and grew since the beginning of the twentieth Century. This transformation is closely related to the perspective of the political movements and social struggles which emerged as a result of this progressive political consciousness. The shift in the perspective of a large section of people of Kerala is the major reason which resulted in this historical moment. Progressive ideologies, eventhough formed in other societies, exerted its influence directly and indirectly. So it is not all surprising that different progressive and revolutionary ideologies played a role in the consciousness formation of the Kerala society.

French, English and American revolutions are the theree most important historical moments which had profound influence the world over. It was during the nineteenth century which saw the emergence of socialist ideologies. Marxian ideologies led to revolutionary political transformation in the twentieth Century. By the 1950s one third of the people the world over was under the Socialist system. These developments had profound influence over India and Kerala.

It was in the 1920s that Communist ideology started influencing politics in the Country, with the formation of the Communist party. When the freedom movement with the Congress at the helm led the path of class collaboration to fight colonialism,the Marxists tried to enjoin struggle against imperialism and class struggle. This attempt, eventhough at a limited scale, succeeded in revolutionising the anti colonial struggle. But the Indian national leadership, succumbing to the pressure of the British rulers, at this juncture, divided the country and earned independence. As a result Indian politics entered a new phase.

In the context of these national level trends, socio-political consciousness in Kerala emerged with its own novelties. Renaissance is the phenomenon which had significant role in the formation of present Kerala. Contrary to what happened in other regions, reniassance in Kerala was not limited to upper castes alone. Narayanaguru who was a symbol of Kerala renaissance, was himself an Ezhava.

Compared to other regions the Communists were able to exert influence over the freedom struggle movement in Kerala. The reason for this influence bare was that they were able to chart a different path remaining within the mainstream movement led by the Indian National Congress. The reason for the Communists upsurge was that they were able to integrate struggles against imperialism, feudlism and rule of the king. This context resulted in the creation of a general progressive consciousness.
The most important part of this progress was that it resulted in the development of class consciousness and urge for struggle among workers, farmers and other toiling masses. The most important occasion of the resultant upsurge was the resistance which took place in Punnapra Vayalar. Progressive tendencies which evolved in the literary-cultural field, also had played a role in the evoluton of this situation.

Communists actively participated in the formation of the dream – unified Kerala. If there was an ideological figurehead for unifed Kerala, that was EMS Namboothiripad who wrote the famous work named “Kerala – The Malayalees motherhood” The socio-cultural and political traditon during fifty years of Kerala society is a pointer to 1957. The Communists assuming power can be considered as a normal political transformation of formation of Kerala.

There has been umpteen, academic and political analysis done on the strengths and weaknesses of the first Communists Ministry headed by EMS Namboothiripad. More will take place in future also. But the most important positive aspect of that ministry was that it was able to unsettle the super structure prevailing in the Kerala society. It is the policies and activities of this Ministry that has played the most important role in the shaping of contemporary Kerala.