K. R. Gouri Amma
Kalathilparambil Raman Gouri Amma (14 July 1919 – 11 May 2021) was an Indian politician and the first woman minister and first revenue minister of Kerala state. She was a Marxist revolutionary, advocate, author and diplomat. She was also one of the founding leaders of the Communist movement in Kerala. She headed the Janathipathiya Samrakshana Samithy (JSS), a political party based in Kerala. Prior to the formation of JSS she was a prominent figure in the communist movement in Kerala. She was the first female law student coming from the Ezhava community. She was a minister in the communist-led ministries in Kerala in 1957, 1967, 1980 and 1987. She also became a minister in the Congress-led cabinet from 2001 to 2006. She held the record for the second longest serving MLA in Kerala Legislative Assembly.
Gouri was born in Pattanakkad village, Cherthala in the Alappuzha district of Kerala as the seventh daughter of Arumuriparambil Parvathiamma of Cheruparambil and Kalathilparambil Raman in an aristocratic Ezhava family, Kalathilparambil - Arumuriparambil. She attended schools at Thuravoor and Cherthala and completed her college education at Maharaja's and at St. Teresa's College with gold medal both in Ernakulam. She also received a law degree from Government Law College, Thiruvananthapuram. Her father was her inspiration throughout her life, and her family gave 132 acres of land to the Kerala government.
K. R. Gouri Amma was elected to the Travancore-Cochin Legislative Assembly in 1952 and 1954. In 1957 she was elected to the Kerala Legislative Assembly. Since then she has been continuously elected to the Kerala Legislative Assembly in 1960, '67, '70, '82, '87, '91 and 2001 and served as minister in various ministries. Gowri Amma was involved with the Kerala Karshaka Sangham from 1960 to 1984. She was also the leader of the Kerala Mahila Sangham from 1967 to 1976.
Early political lifeEdit
She is one of the longest serving politicians in Kerala politics. Under the influence of elder brother and trade union leader K. R. Sukumaran, she entered the vibrant world of politics at a time when women hardly found themselves in politics. Starting her public life through trade union and peasant movements, Gouri was jailed on a number of occasions for participating in political activities. She was elected to the Travancore Council of Legislative Assembly in 1952 and 1954 with an overwhelming majority against sitting MLA, P. K. Raman.
Minister in the first ministry of Kerala StateEdit
She became Revenue Minister in the first communist ministry in 1957, headed by E. M. S. Namboodiripad (EMS). In the very same year she married T. V. Thomas, a prominent politician and also a minister in EMS' government. In the first Communist Ministry, K.R. Gouri Amma served as Minister for Revenue, Excise and Devaswom from April 1957 to July 1959.
After the split of Communist Party in 1964, K. R. Gouri joined the newly formed Communist Party of India (Marxist). But her husband, T. V. Thomas, stood with the Communist Party of India. This created fissures in their relationship and soon they parted owing to the differences in their political views.
Land Reforms Bill in KeralaEdit
The Land Reforms in Kerala is one the greatest achievements of Gowri Amma. It was she who piloted the revolutionary Land Reforms Bill for the Communist Government. One of the first things the Communist Ministry did was to promulgate an Ordinance banning evictions of all tenants and kudikidappukar throughout the state. In due course a comprehensive Agrarian Relations Bill was drafted and piloted by the Minister for Revenue, K.R. Gouri Amma. The Bill sought to confer ownership rights on land to tenants including sharecroppers and fix a ceiling for the land a land owner could possess. It also had provisions for distributing the surplus land taken from the landlords to the landless poor. The vested interests rallied around them all kinds of reactionary, religious and communal forces and launched the so-called 'Liberation Struggle'. The Government was successful in passing the Agrarian Relations Bill in the Assembly before it was dissolved, but the Bill failed to get the President's assent.
The 1960–'64 United Front Government (anti-Communist) prepared a new Land Reform Bill giving several concessions to the landlords and taking away many of the benefits conferred upon the peasants in the Agrarian Relations Bill. The people of Kerala and K.R. Gowri Amma had to wait for another ten years before a Land Reform Bill abolishing landlordism and giving land to the tillers was passed and fully implemented.
Minister in the 2nd E. M. S. Namboodiripad MinistryEdit
In 1967 elections the Left Democratic Front Government under the Chief Minister-ship of E.M.S. Namboodiripad came to power. In it, K.R. Gouri Amma served as Minister for Revenue, Sales Tax, Civil Supplies, Social Welfare and Law from March 1967 to October 1969. She moved a number of progressive and radical amendments to the Land Reforms Bill passed by the previous Government. When it was implemented, landlordism was abolished in Kerala. 3.5 million tenants and about 500,000 Kudikidappukar were made owners of their land. More than one lakh acres of land was declared as surplus land and was distributed among the agro-labourers in rural areas.
Minister in the first E. K. Nayanar ministryEdit
From 25 January 1980 till 20 October 1981 K.R. Gouri Amma was made Minister for Agriculture, Social Welfare, Industries, Vigilance and Administration of Justice Minister in the First E. K. Nayanar ministry.
Minister in the second E. K. Nayanar ministryEdit
In the Second E. K. Nayanar ministry (1987–1991) also she was made Minister for Industries and Social Welfare, Vigilance and Administration of Justice. After this ministry she had some differences with the party and later ousted from the Communist Party (Marxist) in 1994.
Janathipathiya Samrakshana SamithyEdit
In 1994 she was expelled from the CPI (M). Following this she established a new political outfit named Janathipathiya Samrakshana Samithy (JSS). JSS went on to join the United Democratic Front, the arch-rivals of the Left Democratic Front to which CPI (M) belongs.
Minister in the third A. K. Antony ministryEdit
She served as the Minister of Agriculture in the third A. K. Antony ministry (17 May 2001 – 29 August 2004).
Minister in the first Oommen Chandy ministryEdit
Oommen Chandy was sworn in as the Chief Minister of Kerala on 31 August 2004 after the controversial resignation of A. K. Antony two days earlier, on 29 August 2004. Gouri Amma served as the Minister of Agriculture, Soil Conservation, Soil Survey, Warehousing Corporation, Diary Development, Milk Co-operatives, Agricultural University, Animal Husbandry and Coir in the first Oommen Chandy ministry (31 August 2004 – 12 May 2006) also.
Even though Gouri Amma was engaged in political conflict with the Communist party for many years, she came closer to the party in her last days. She is the last member of First Communist Ministry to remain influential in Kerala politics. KR Gouri Amma got the most revered adieu for a Communist. She was cremated at the Valiya Chudukad in Alappuzha, where the martyr's memorial of the historic Punnapra-Vayalar agitation is located where Communist stalwart like P Krishna Pillai, R Sugathan, George Chadayammuri and incidentally, Gouri Amma's husband and Communist leader TV Thomas, were laid to rest. According to some sources, Gouri Amma had in the past years expressed her wish to be cremated there.
K.R. Gouri Amma has been associated with numerous social and political movements:
- President of Kerala Karshaka Sangam from 1960 to 1984.
- President of Kerala Mahila Sangam from 1967 to 1976.
- Secretary of Kerala Mahila Sangam from 1976 to 1987.
- Secretariat Member of the CPI State Committee.
- Established the Janathipathiya Samrakshana Samithy (JSS) in 1994.
- General Secretary of the Janathipathiya Samrakshana Samithy.
Kerala Sahitya Akademi AwardEdit
Gouri Amma was admitted to PRS hospital Thiruvananthapuram due to fever, breathing trouble and urinary ailments, and died there from an infection on 11 May 2021, a couple of months before her 102nd birthday.
In popular cultureEdit
Lal Salam is a 1990 Indian Malayalam-language political-drama film directed by Venu Nagavalli and produced under the banner K. R. G. Release. It stars Mohanlal, Murali, Geetha, and Urvashi in the lead roles. This movie was a major blockbuster in India, running in seven centres for more than 150 days.
The story revolves around two phases of the lives of three comrades - before and after the imprisonment of Sakhavu Stephen Nettooran (Mohanlal - inspired from Varghese Vaidyan), Sakhavu D.K. Antony (Murali - inspired from T. V. Thomas) and Sakhavu Sethulakshmi (Geetha - inspired From Smt. K. R. Gowri Amma) - members of the Communist Party of India (CPI).
Chief Minister K. R. Gowthami was a 1994 film based on the life of K.R Gouri Amma. This movie was made in 1994 after K.R Gouri was ousted from CPIM. The film stars Geetha, Vijayaraghavan, Devan and Sukumari in the lead roles.
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