Agrarian Bill was Gouri Amma's biggest contribution

KN Raveendranath | Updated on May 11, 2021

Gouri Amma

'I was attracted to Left politics after listening to her speech'

K R Gouri Amma's contributions to the Kerala society and to Left politics is immense. I have had the opportunity to work with her since my student days.

I was attracted to the Left after hearing the speeches and watching the works done by the likes of Gouri Amma.

My first meeting with her was in the early 1950s. She was jailed along with the undivided Communist Party's leaders TV Thomas, who later became her husband, and R Sugathan after the Punnapra-Vayalar struggle against the then rulers of Travancore. They were released after India gained independence and the formation of United State of Travancore and Cochin. We, as college students, decided to give a felicitation to the three leaders at Edappalli near Cochin ahead of the first general election to the Lok Sabha. Their speech during that programme had an influence on me.

Later, I became a member of the district committee of undivided CPI. After the split, Gouri Amma and I joined CPI(M). We worked together in the first State Committee of the CPI(M) in Kerala. Since then, we worked closely in many areas.

Her main contribution to the society was drafting the Kerala Agrarian Relations Bill of 1957. It was a continuation of the Communist principles to protect the rights of farmers in the State. Soon after taking charge of the Revenue Ministry in the first Government of Kerala led by EMS Namboodiripad, she brought the Kerala Stay of Eviction Proceedings Ordinance, stopping all evictions of farmers from their fields. This Ordinance was followed by the Agrarian Relations Bill. This is a major contribution of her as a politician and as a communist.

Her presence in the party boosted both the undivided CPI and later the CPI(M). She was graduate in Arts and Law. There were not many women in the Communist movement of her calibre and qualifications at that time. So her decision to associate with the movement was indeed worked well for the party.

The workers of the coir factories formed the base of Kerala's working class movement. These coir factories supplied materials even to big manufacturers based abroad. TV Thomas and Gouri Amma were the undisputed leaders of this movement. So throughout her political life, Gouri Amma stood with the cause of working class. When CITU was formed in 1970 following differences with AITUC, Gowri Amma helped us to make inroads among workers in coir and cashew factories.

The CPI(M) took a decision that Kerala's traditional industries must be supported. As Industries Minister in the EK Nayanar Government, she helped the traditional industries to grow. When Mavoor Rayon factory faced difficulties in getting raw materials from Kerala forests, she intervened to ensure that the factory gets adequate supply. She was keen to see that industries grow in the State.

I don't think that her decision to leave CPI(M) has anything to do with the strategic goal of the party or the working class movements. There could be some policy issues that led to her decision to leave the party.

(Raveendranath is a former member of CPI(M)' Central Committee and is a founder leader of the CITU. He has been a long-term colleague of Gowri Amma. This note was as told to AM Jigeesh from BusinessLine)

Published on May 11, 2021

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