Kerala’s prominent Communist leader Gowri Amma passes away
The 102-year-old was admitted to a private hospital due to age related illness, before she died on 11 May.
Prominent Communist leader and towering personality in Kerala’s political sphere, K R Gowri, passed away in Thiruvananthapuram on Tuesday, 11 May. She was admitted to a private hospital due to age-related illness.
K R Gowri was 102-years.
Born on 14 July 1919 at Cherthala in Alappuzha’s, Gowri Amma, as she was fondly called was the first woman law graduate from the backward Hindu Ezhava community.
She was inspired to join politics from a very young age. As a student, she has led several agitations and peasant movements to ensure the rights of labourers and the underprivileged.
She was also active in agitations as part of the Quit India Movement. Although she was jailed and tortured several times for leading agitations, she did not stop moving forward in her career, fighting all odds.
She joined the Communist party in 1948 and went on to become the first revenue minister of Kerala’s democratically elected Communist government in 1957 under the leadership of E M S Namboodiripad.
It was during her tenure as the first revenue minister that she brought the revolutionary land reforms bill, which dramatically changed the land ownership rights in the state of Kerala. Land reforms, pioneered in Kerala by the Communist Party had fixed a ceiling for ownership of land and ensured that excess land be taken away from landlords and given away to the landless.
She married her cabinet colleague and towering Communist leader T V Thomas, from Alappuzha.
In 1964, when the Communist party split, she stood with the CPI(M), while her husband chose to be with CPI. In the year 1994, she was expelled from CPI(M). She was 76 then. That, however, did not stop her from starting her own outfit – Janathipathya Samrakshana Samithi (JSS).
Challenging the CPI(M) stalwarts of those days like E K Nayanar, and V S Achuthanandan, she led her party. JSS later became a part of Congress-led United Democratic Front. In 2001, she became a minister in the Congress government led by A K Antony and served as agriculture Minister.
She had served the Kerala government for the longest period, only after KM Mani, of the Kerala Congress.
Out of the 17 assembly elections she contested, Gouri Amma had won in 13 elections. She became a minister in six governments. She has also handled a wide range of portfolios in her political career that spanned over several decades.
From 1957 to 1959 she was minister for revenue, civil supplies. Later, from 1967 to 1969, she was the minister in charge of sales tax, excise and social Welfare. And from 1987 to 1991 she held the post of vigilance and administration of justice.
In 2015, Gowri Amma, reunited with the Left Democratic Front. She continued to work for her outfit JSS and was named as its president recently.
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