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P. Krishna Pillai (പി. കൃഷ്ണപിള്ള in Malayalam) (19 August 1906 at Vaikom, Kottayam – 19 August 1948 at Muhamma, Alleppey) was a Communist revolutionary from Kerala, India, Kerala's First Communist, Founder of the Communist movement in Kerala, and Poet.[1]

P. Krishna Pillai
Krishna Pillai Memorial at Chellikandathil House Hideout of.JPG
Krishna Pillai Memorial at Chellikandathil House
Personal details
Born(1906-08-19)19 August 1906
Vaikom, Kottayam
Died19 August 1948(1948-08-19) (aged 42)
Muhamma, Alleppey
Political partyFounder of the Communist movement in Kerala

P. Krishna Pillai was born in a lower-middle-class Nair family of Vaikom as the son of Narayanan Nair and Parvathiamma. He lost both his parents at an early age and had to drop out of school at the fifth grade. Leaving his home in 1920, he travelled extensively in the north of the Indian subcontinent.

When he returned home two years later, he found Kerala seething with social unrest. Subsequently, he took part in a number of popular movements. He was an active volunteer of Vaikom Satyagraha (1924) and Salt Satyagraha march from Kozhikode to Payyanur (1930). In 1931 he became the first non Namputhiri Brahmin (he was from Nair Community of Kerala) to ring the temple bell of the Guruvayoor temple.

Krishna Pillai who began his political life as a Gandhian and a member of the Indian National Congress in his early youth had gradually transformed into a socialist with communist leanings. And when in 1934 Congress Socialist workers formed the Congress Socialist Party in Bombay, Krishna Pillai was appointed its secretary in Kerala, all the while functioning under the banner of the Indian National Congress.

By 1936, Krishna Pillai who until then had concentrated his political activities to the Malabar region now campaigned in the Cochin and Travancore. In 1938, he organized the famous worker's strike in Alappuzha (Alleppey), which turned out to be a great success and one of the inspiring factors behind the Punnapra-Vayalar Struggle of 1946 and the eventual downfall of the rule of C. P. Ramaswami Iyer in Travancore.

The successful transformation of the Malabar unit of the Congress Socialist Party into the Kerala unit of the Communist Party of India (CPI) was mainly due to the untiring work of Krishna Pillai. The formal formation of the CPI unit in Kerala was on 26 January 1940. Years later in 1948 when the CPI accepted the Calcutta Thesis which included in it the express need for an armed struggle against the Indian state, CPI faced a nationwide ban and most of its leaders including Krishna Pillai were forced into hiding.

While hiding in a worker's hut in Muhamma, Krishna Pillai sustained a snakebite and succumbed to it, aged just 42.

P. Krishna Pillai's role in building the Communist party is Kerala is second to none. He was a great organizer who succeeded in reaching out to the oppressed masses of Kerala and making them aware of their rights and the need for uplifting their social and economic conditions of life. His dedication to the Communist party could be understood from a short sentence by which he proposed marriage to his prospective wife Thankamma. Krishna Pillai said: "Life with me will be difficult, different. My wife should stand by me, the party and its cause. Then alone will she be happy".[citation needed]


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