19th March 2021 is the 23rd death anniversary of Com. E.M.S.Namboodiripad, the Communist leader of international recognition, freedom fighter, General Secretary first of CPI and then General Secretary of CPI(M) for a long period, and the first Chief Minister of Kerala.In his nearly seven decades of public life and revolutionary activities, E.M.S. Namboodiripad left an indelible imprint on the progressive and working class movement of the country. As a young man, he became active in the social reform movement against caste. He left college in 1931 to join the freedom struggle and was jailed in the satyagraha movement. From then on wards, he played an important role in the Congress movement and was one of the founders of the Congress Socialist Party in Kerala. In 1934 he became the all India Joint Secretary of the Congress Socialist Party. It is in this period that E.M.S., while leading the Congress Party as General Secretary of the Kerala Pradesh Congress Committee, that he became acquainted with Marxism. He was one of the five members who formed the founding group of the Communist Party in Kerala in 1936. E.M.S. Namboodiripad represented the coming together of the two streams, the anti-imperialist and the anti-feudal struggles, which laid the foundations for the development of a powerful communist movement in Kerala. He was one of the key proponents of Aikya Kerala which led to the formation of Kerala as a unified linguistic state.E.M.S. Namboodiripad was first elected to the Madras Provincial Legislative Assembly in 1939. As an important leader of the Communist Party he donated the proceeds of his landed property to the Party. He went underground, building the Party in crucial periods between 1939-42 and 1948-50. He was elected to the Central Committee of the Communist Party of India in 1941. He became a member of the Polit Bureau of the CPI in December 1950 and later its Secretariat. He became General Secretary of the united CPI in 1962.
After formation of Kerala state, in the first elections in 1957, Communist Party won and E.M.S. Namboodiripad became Chief Minister of the first elected Communist ministry in India. It was EMS ministry which initiated the path breaking land reform legislation and other democratic measures, till the ministry was dismissed undemocratically in 1959. E.M.S. Namboodiripad became Chief Minister of Kerala again in 1967 heading a United Front ministry till 1969.E.M.S. joined the leading group from the united Party who formed the CPI(M) and was elected to the Central Committee and the Polit Bureau of the Party at the Seventh Congress of the Party in 1964. He continued to serve in these positions till his death.
E.M.S. Namboodiripad was elected as the General Secretary of Communist Party of India (Marxist) in 1977 and he led the Party in this capacity till the 14th Congress in 1992 when he stepped down due to ill-health. His leadership in rallying all the Left, democratic and secular forces was invaluable.
E.M.S. was a brilliant Marxist theoretician. He made outstanding contributions to the application of Marxism-Leninism to Indian society and in working out the strategy and tactics of the Indian revolution. His vast body of writings bear the mark of an original and creative mind which mastered the dialectics of Marxist theory. His writings on land relations, Kerala, society and politics and his writings on Marxist philosophy, literature and history — mark him out to be one of the most influential communist thinkers of the country and the world. His writings have been published in 100 big volumes by the Kerala State Committee of the CPI(M).E.M.S. Namboodiripad was a rare example of a Communist leader who hailing from a traditional landlord family graduated to become the foremost leader of the proletarian revolutionary movement. He spent three years in jail and six years underground. His was a life of sacrifice and simplicity. He set an example which has inspired tens of thousands of communists all over the country and world. In Kerala, he was a legend in his lifetime who was adored and respected by all sections of the people. Till the last day of his life, despite failing health, E.M.S kept to his daily routine of writing articles and providing guidance to the Party.
He died on March 19, 1998 at the age of 89.
Com. EMS was closely connected with the P&T Trade union movement and attended many conferences of the union, including the All India Conference of the AITEE Union Class III held at Thiruvananthapuram in 1994, where I was elected as the General Secretary of the union.
His strictness for time and timely completion of any responsibility and task is well known. This I have seen myself. Once I have the opportunity to travel with him from Calicut to Mangalore, where he was to address a meeting of NFPTE. He was continuously writing and by the time we reached Mangalore, he put the same in a cover, wrote the address and told me to post it immediately so that it will reach Chintha Journal next day itself.
An interesting incident also happened. While addressing the meeting at Mangalore Head Post Office on the day, he saw the photo of Babu Tarapada Mukherjee, pioneer of the P and T TU movement, fixed on the wall and asked whose photo it is. When I mentioned that it was the photo of Babu Tarapada, Union leader, he smiled and commented: ‘ so, you have your union leaders’ photo in the Post Office also.’ I mentioned to him that since there are no place in many Post Offices for holding meetings, we usually hold the same in the office, after office hours.
I used to meet him at the Party office in Delhi when he was the General Secretary of the CPI(M), whenever I went to Delhi for union meeting/conference. He will briefly ask me the purpose of the visit and then continue with his work. Once he handed over some cassettes with his speech which was to be delivered to Thiruvananthapuram for the meetings in connection with the Municipal Corporation elections.
While I was functioning as Circle Secretary of the E.III Union at Thiruvananthapuram, I used to go and meet him at his house in the nearby colony. He will simply nod or say a few words and then will ask to sit and have a cup of tea inside. His son, (late) Aniyan was also very friendly.
India is facing one of its greatest crisis with the BJP government trying to divide the people on religion, the citizen ship itself is questioned and CAA adopted, corporates are favored, PSUs, the national assets are being sold. And against these, when the democratic minded organisations and common people are waging a big battle for existence, the memory of Com. EMS will inspire us to continue our struggle against all injustices and inequalities.
Red Salute to Com. EMS!