via BOOK- REVIEW published on March 7, 2007






Dr. E. Balakrishnan



           The ‘History of the Communist Movement in Kerala’ by Dr.E.Balakrishnan, throws light on the known as well as the unknown History of Communism in Kerala. It narrates the stories of ups and downs of the movement and the numerous scapegoats it made for the sake of its convenience. Dr.M.G.S.Narayanan, former member Secretary of ICHR and eminent Historian says about the book “I realise that it is full of new insights and valuable information. It was not easy for him to find publishers in Kerala for such a work, and I know that his professional life and even personal safety were jeopardized by the publication of some political essays. He ‘lives dangerously’ in the literal sense in Cannanore, North Kerala. I take this opportunity to congratulate him for his moral courage and intellectual honesty which has enabled him to produce a work that renders great service to the new generation by showing them certain as pects of the past which are often camouflaged by propaganda. These lessons of recent history from Kerala are great practical significance for the whole of India”.


            Dr.Balakrishnan was associated with the communist movement even from his high school days. He was active in the Kerala students’ Federation, the student wing of the communist party (at present S.F.I.) and the Kerala Socialist Youth Federation, the then youth wing of the party. He was attracted to the Naxalite movement, which emerged in Kerala during 1968. He was imprisoned for a short term also. The atrocities of Stalin and communist government distanced him from the communist movement.


            The present volume traces the origin of the communist movement in Kerala to the Congress Socialist Party (CSP), which in turn was the product of the Civil Disobedience Movement (CDM) of 1930 – 32. The leadership of the communist movement in Kerala had entered the political life of this country as ardent freedom flighters. Leaders like Moyarath Shankaran had entered political life in the nineteen twenties. Others like P.Krishna Pillai and A.K.Gopalan entered the scene in the beginning of the CDM, and E.M.S. Namboodiripad entered the scene at the end of the CDM. It was the factionalism developed in the KPCC, which intensified the right-left infight and led to the development of the Congress Socialist Party. The people who had embraced congress Socialism in Kerala were people who had already emotionally alienated themselves from the Gandhian leadership of the Congress. As the All India leadership of the CSP was people who were by no mens emotionally alienated from Gandhism, their interaction with Gandhism was not on antagonistic planes. The spirit of accommodation shown by Gandhians and the All India Socialist leaders were not acceptable to the emotionally cultivated Kerala Socialists. Naturally when they came into contact with the militant communist idealogy, this became attractive to them and so a core led by P.Krishna Pillai and E.M.S. Namboodiripad established contact with the All India Communist leadership. Stalinist ideology and leadership of the Communist Party gave them emotional satisfaction and a feeling of power and self-confidence. Psychologically they were becoming the submissive followers of the authoritarian leadership of Stalin and his ideology. In their eyes Stalin was an invincible leader who defeated his enemies. Moreover, he had an ideology, personally attractive to the petty bourgeois leadership of the CSP who were hurt by the socially and economically dominant classes. Thus the institutional system of beliefs embodied in Stalinism personally synchronized with the personal belief systems of the petty bourgeois intellectuals. Submission to the authority of Stralin soon developed into an authoritarian submission leading to a situation in which everything Stalin did was justified, information emanating from Stalinist sources alone was accepted, and all information adverse to Stalin were rejected as fabrications of the enemies of Stalin and his party. This Closed Mind developed by them led to the rejection of all reasonable knowledge and information that could be derived from normal sources. Then onwards i.e., by 1937 – 39, they became possessed persons, guided by the Stalinist metaphysics. Through Stalinism claimed itself to be a development of Marxism-Leninism, this was only a claim made by Stalin and his supporters. However, because of the closed nature of their belief systems, the communists in Kerala could not distinguish between Marxism and Stalinism. The history of the metaphysics in action has been traced in all the nine chapters. Owing to this Stalinist prepossession, instead of fighting against imperialism by uniting with the Congress, as asked by Lenin, the party always fought against the Congress, sometimes even joining with the British.


            Left parties and groups like the Forward Bloc, congress Socialist Party etc., were attacked as fifth column, and imperialism was practically helped by the communists during 1942 – 45, people confronted with such a repulsive attitude from the Communist Party, waged a real war against the Communist Party, and thus the name given to that period became significant – period of people’s war against the Communist Party.


            It was the same Stalinist prepossession that blinded their eyes to the developments of 1946. Unable to perceive the reality of the dawning freedom, the party embarked on a violent course of action in many parts of Kerala. Though the August Resolution of 1946 was a mixture of violent and constitutional lines, the party leadership in Kerala chose the violent path and sacrificed thousands of lives for nothing. In 1948 the party being virtually blinded by the metaphysical outlook and close mindedness, termed the Indian State as a satellite one and called for a violent revolt. The party in North Malabar, carried out violent agitations, leading to innumerable deaths and repressions,. The police force and the State instead of getting more democratized in independent India became more and more repressive to combat communist violence. Unheard of violations of human rights, inhuman lock up torture and shooting of prisoners were perpetrated independent India on a scale even not heard of in the British period.


            The party resorted to armed resistance against the police, and made illegal encroachments on the properties of political opponents, and sized rice and other things, but denied everything in public and organized false propaganda as victims of police atrocities alone. The Police vied with the party in this : they opened fire at the slightest provocation and killed the arrested either by torture, or by firing after torture and gave it out that they were killed in encounters. The Police reprisals were out of proportion to communist violence, but nobody ever defeated the communists in propaganda. Later on, the stories of the police victimisation alone remained which became an immense mine of stories for propaganda. Propaganda machinery of post 1951 period projected this picture, with immense success.


            Peacetime activities through legal channels have been quite useful to the communists and socialists. Before the acceptance of violent communist ideology, the socialists had organized the peasantry and working class with good success. This process was started again in 1951. Organized propaganda and agitation carried out during 1951 – 56 brought good results. In 1957 the Stalinist party could not use its power with discretion. The tendency to deaminate and dictate asserted through ‘cell rule’ and interferences in the day-to-day administration of the state by the party. Even the highest organ of power in Kerala was relegated to the position of an organ of the Communists Party. Other political parties which had grown vis a vis fighting the communists, who knew the communists through their words and deeds retaliated in the same coin. Using unconstitutional means and in uniting with communal forces they brought down the communists from power.


            The book is a boon to new generation who are fed on heaps of lies regarding the Communist Party, their democratic credentials, patriotic commitment, steadfastness to ideology and what not. The book clearly brings to light, on the basis of incontrovertible documents, how from the beginning the party leadership have been assiduously toeing the unscrupulous Stalinist Line, even while mouthing Marxist slogans and Leninist shibboleths working from within the Congress, they effectively torpedoed it. Claiming to follow Gandhiji, they denounced him in most uncharitable terms. While eulogizing revolution, they betrayed the greatest revolutionary, Nethaji Subash Chandra Bose and showered him with the choicest abuses without any decency or decorum. In Kerala, they left no stone unturned to denigrate the most honest politician and sincere most friends of the poor, Sri K.Kelappan. Verbally unleashing volumes of propaganda against communalism, they made the worst compromise with it, thereby pushing Kerala into the mire of fundamentalism. E.M.S. had the audacity to equate M Adani with Mahatmaji! Similarly they paid lipservice of Sri Narayana Guru and even joined the S.N.D.P. movement only to cleverly convert that great sprituo – cultural organization into a mere party outfit. The net result of all such misdeeds is the present muddle in which Kerala finds itself – a communist vision turned into a consumerist mad-house! Kerala Model – the much – trumpeted paradigm of socio – economic achievement reduced almost into one with the highest crime rate and the lowest conviction rate, politicians of all hues conspiring to protect sex – racketeers in this cent per cent literate state ! Is not the biggest political force in the State answerable and responsible for this state of affairs?


            Dr. Balakrishnan through this dissertation has turreted out facts from obscure documents, newspapers and govt. reports and placed them before the public without fear or favour.


            The Chief merit of the work lies in being able to present to the scholarly world the other side of the bright picture offered to the readers by incessant communist propaganda. It exposes the intellectual and moral weakness to the communist leadership and the entire communist movement.


History of the Communist Movement in Kerala by Dr. E. Balakrishnan:

Copies available at:Kurukshethra Prakasan Pvt. Ltd. Kochi,Kerala – 682 035

 Phone: 0484-2338324/2700286. Mobile:09447057649.

Price Rs.150/-


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