E. K. Nayanar

Erambala Krishnan Nayanar (9 December 1919 – 19 May 2004) was an Indian politician of the Communist Party of India (Marxist) or CPI(M). He served three terms (eleven years) as the Chief Minister of Kerala (1980-1981, 1987-1991 and 1996-2001), making him the longest-serving holder of that office. At the time of death, he was a senior leader within the CPI(M), being a member of its central Politburo (1992–2004), and twice heading its Kerala state unit (1972-1980, 1992-1996).

E. K. Nayanar
9th Chief Minister of Kerala
In office
20 May 1996 – 13 May 2001
GovernorKhurshed Alam Khan
Sukhdev Singh Kang
Preceded byA. K. Antony
Succeeded byA. K. Antony
In office
26 March 1987 – 17 June 1991
GovernorP. Ramachandran
Ram Dulari Sinha
Sarup Singh
B. Rachaiah
Preceded byK. Karunakaran
Succeeded byK. Karunakaran
In office
25 January 1980 – 20 October 1981
GovernorJothi Venkatachalam
Preceded byPresident's Rule
Succeeded byK. Karunakaran
Secretary of the Communist Party of India (Marxist) Kerala State Committee
In office
Preceded byC.H. Kanaran
Succeeded byV.S. Achuthanandan
In office
Preceded byV.S. Achuthanandan
Succeeded byChadayan Govindan
Member of the Politburo of the Communist Party of India (Marxist)
In office
9 January 1992 – 19 May 2004
Personal details
Born(1919-12-09)9 December 1919
Kalliasseri, Kannur, Madras Presidency, British India
(Now in Kerala, India)
Died19 May 2004(2004-05-19) (aged 85)
Delhi, India
Cause of deathHeart and Kidney failure
Resting placePayyambalam Beach, Kannur, Kerala
Political partyCommunist Party of India (Marxist)
As of 2 November, 2007
Source: Government of Kerala

Early lifeEdit

Nayanar was born in an aristocratic Nair family in Kalliasseri in Kannur district on 9 December 1919, as the second son of Govindan Nambiar and Narayani Amma. Despite his father, Govindan Nambiar, being a believer in the feudalism, Nayanar took to the national movement of the time at a very young age under the influence of his cousin, K.P.R. Gopalan. Nayanar was influenced by the events following the admission of a Dalit girl to local school under the leadership of K.P.R. Gopalan. Nayanar was a participant in student movements in the Malabar region as a part of Balasangham[1] and consequently dropped out of school. He also faced severe opposition from his father. He was drawn towards the socialist ideology guided by leaders like P. Krishna Pillai. Nayanar famously helped in the establishment of a library and named it Shri Harshan Library, after Harshan, a member of the oppressed caste who was tortured to death at the Kannur Central Jail for his participation in the national movement.[2]

Political lifeEdit


Nayanar was an Indian National Congress member then he joined the undivided Communist Party of India in 1939 at the age of 20. As a youth leader, Nayanar organized several movements. He led the forty-six-day-long Aaron Mill workers' protest against the dismissal of thirty workers by the mill management in 1940. He was jailed for six months as a consequence. Nayanar was one of the organizers of Morazha rally on 15 September 1940 in protest of rising prices. Two policemen were killed in the rally and Nayanar went into hiding for six years without knowing that he was not one of the accused. He also organized peasant uprisings in Kayyur. A policeman was stoned by protesters and subsequently died in Kayyur. Communist leaders were actively pursued by police following the incident, forcing Nayanar to go into hiding in forest areas in Eleri. Later on, as Chief Minister, he set up a Government College in the area in 1981. The college was renamed to E.K. Nayanar Memorial Government college. While in hiding in Travancore, he worked as a journalist for Kerala Kaumudi.[2][3]


After Independence, cases against Nayanar were dropped. He continued working actively for Communist Party of India. He was elected Kannur taluk secretary in 1948. He again was forced to go into hiding following 'Calcutta Thesis' proclamation that lead to banning Communist Party in India. During the Sino-Indian War, Nayanar was accused of being pro-China and was imprisoned in 1964 under the Preventive Detention Act.[3][4] He was the secretary of Kozhikode district committee of the united CPI from 1956 to 1964.[1]

Nayanar was also one of the 32 CPI national council members who walked out and formed CPI(M) in 1964. He was a central committee member of the CPI(M) from the 7th Congress in 1964. He served as the Secretary of the Kerala State Committee of the CPI(M) from 1972 to 1980 and again from 1992 to 1996. He was elected to the Polit Bureau at the 14th Congress in 1992.[1]

Legislative careerEdit

In 1967, he was elected to the Lok Sabha from Palakkad. He became an MLA for the first time from Irikkur legislative assembly in 1974. Since he has been elected as an MLA five more times (twice each from Malampuzha (1980 and 1982) and Thrikkarippur (1987 and 1991) and once from Thalasseri (1996), losing only once.[4]

Nayanar became the Chief Minister of Kerala for the first time in 1980. He formed government with the support of Congress (A) under A. K. Antony and Kerala Congress under K. M. Mani. But both the parties left for United Democratic Front (UDF) coalition and the Government was dissolved on 20 October 1981. K. Karunakaran consequently formed the government, and Nayanar became the leader of the opposition.[4] He served as the leader of the opposition from 1981 to 1987.

Nayanar became the chief Minister for a second time in 1987. But he did not complete his term of five years as CPI(M) decided to contest elections early in 1991 assuming political climate to be favourable. But the left lost the elections and Nayanar became the leader of the opposition yet again. He resigned from that post the very next year when he was chosen as the Kerala state secretary of the CPI(M) and was succeeded by V. S. Achuthanandan as the opposition leader.[5]

Nayanar initially had not contested the 1996 assembly elections. V.S. Achudanandan who was projected as the Chief Ministerial candidate lost in Mararikkulam.[citation needed] A faction in the party wanted Susheela Gopalan to be the Chief Minister,[citation needed] but when the matter was put to vote in the state secretariat, Nayanar was selected to be the CM. He contested and won by-elections in Thalasseri.[5]

Nayanar introduced several reforms during his tenures as Chief Minister like The Kerala Coir workers Welfare Fund Act, 1987, The Kerala Khadi Workers' Welfare Fund Act, 1989, The Kerala Abkari Workers Welfare Fund Act, 1989, The Kerala Construction workers' Welfare Fund Act, 1989 and the Kerala Ration Dealer's Welfare Fund Act, 1998. It was during his last stint as Chief Minister that the LDF launched the People's Planning Campaign in 1996.[2]

He is revered and respected by both the LDF and UDF for his contributions for the development of the state.

Literary worksEdit

Nayanar has authored several works in both English and Malayalam. He was also an occasional poet. A few notable works are:[3]

  1. My Struggle (Autobiography, translated to Malayalam by himself as Samaratheechoolayil)
  2. Doha Diary
  3. Marxism-Oru Mukhavara (Marxism-An introduction)
  4. Nehru-Gandhi Oru Padanam (Nehru-Gandhi A Study)
  5. Karl Marx
  6. American Diary
  7. Ente China Diary (My China Diary)
  8. Parliamentum Chila Vasthuthakalum (Parliament and Some Facts)
  9. Samara Theecholayil

Nayanar had been a correspondent and editor for Deshabhimani. He had worked in Chennai as Deshabhimani correspondent. He used to write a weekly column is Deshabhimani, Munnottu (Forward).[5][6]

In popular cultureEdit

Nayanar was renowned for his humorous remarks and speeches.[3] During his third term as Chief Minister, Nayanar also used to conduct a public interaction show, "Mukhya Mantriyodu Chothikyuka" ("Ask the Chief Minister") in Asianet TV channel.[7][8]

Personal lifeEdit

Nayanar married Sarada Teacher, niece of K. P. R. Gopalan in 1958. They had two sons and two daughters.[3][4]


E. K. Nayanar Memorial at Payyambalam Beach, where he was cremated.

Nayanar was admitted to the AIIMS on 26 April for advanced treatment of diabetes, after a brief stay at the Medical College Hospital in Thiruvananthapuram earlier. His condition became worse following kidney and heart failure on 6 May when he was put on the life support system. He died on 19 May 2004 at the age of 85.[2] He was cremated with full state honours at Payyambalam Beach, Kannur. He is survived by his wife, children, in-laws and grandchildren.

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ a b c "Comrade E K Nayanar". People's Democracy. Archived from the original on 11 December 2004. Retrieved 23 September 2004.
  2. ^ a b c d "The people's leader". The Hindu. Retrieved 19 January 2012.
  3. ^ a b c d e "Chief Ministers and Leaders of Opposition of Kerala" (PDF). Secretariat of the Kerala legislature.
  4. ^ a b c d "Nayanarude Jeevitham". OneIndia. 17 May 2001. Retrieved 19 January 2012.
  5. ^ a b c "Nayanar: Crowd puller of Lefitst forces". The Times of India. 19 May 2004. Retrieved 19 January 2012.
  6. ^ "Vajpayee, Jinnah are two sides of the same coin: Nayanar". Rediff. Retrieved 19 January 2012.
  7. ^ "Facing the arc lights". The Hindu. 11 July 2007.
  8. ^ "Ask the Chief Minister!". Rediff.
Preceded by
C.H. Mohammed Koya
Chief Minister of Kerala
Succeeded by
K. Karunakaran
Preceded by
K. Karunakaran
Chief Minister of Kerala
Succeeded by
K. Karunakaran
Preceded by
A. K. Antony
Chief Minister of Kerala
Succeeded by
A. K. Antony