Pattom A. Thanu Pillai

Raja Shri Pattom A. Thanu Pillai (15 July 1885 – 27 July 1970) was a participant in the Indian independence movement who later served as the Chief Minister of Kerala from 22 February 1960 to 25 September 1962. He was known as the 'Bhishmacharya' of Kerala politics.

Pattom A. Thanu Pillai
Pattom Thanu Pillai.jpg
4th Governor of Andhra Pradesh
In office
4 May 1964 – 11 April 1968
Chief MinisterKasu Brahmananda Reddy
Preceded bySatyawant Mallannah Shrinagesh
Succeeded byKhandubhai Kasanji Desai
4th Governor of Punjab
In office
1 October 1962 – 4 May 1964
Chief MinisterPartap Singh Kairon
Preceded byNarahar Vishnu Gadgil
Succeeded byHafiz Mohammad Ibrahim
2nd Chief Minister of Kerala
In office
22 February 1960 – 26 September 1962
GovernorBurgula Ramakrishna Rao
V. V. Giri
DeputyR. Sankar
Preceded byE. M. S. Namboodiripad
Succeeded byR. Sankar
4th Chief Minister of Travancore-Cochin
In office
16 March 1954 – 10 February 1955
GovernorChithira Thirunal Balarama Varma
Preceded byA. J. John
Succeeded byPanampilly Govinda Menon
1st Prime Minister of Travancore
In office
24 March 1948 – 17 October 1948
MonarchChithira Thirunal Balarama Varma
Preceded byOffice Established
Succeeded byParur T. K. Narayana Pillai
Personal details
Born(1885-07-15)15 July 1885
Trivandrum, Travancore, British India
Died27 July 1970(1970-07-27) (aged 85)
Thiruvananthapuram, Kerala, India
Political partyPraja Socialist Party (from 1954)
Other political
Indian National Congress (Until 1954)
Spouse(s)Ponnamma Thanu Pillai

Early lifeEdit

Born in Thiruvananthapuram, A.Thanu Pillai was the son of a Brahmin father Varadayyan and a Nair mother Eswari Amma.[1] Thanu Pillai earned his degree in law and started his legal practice as an advocate. Under the influence of his mentor A. Narayana Pillai, he was attracted towards the newly formed Travancore State Congress and he abandoned full time practice in favour of agitating for Responsible Government.[1][2] Following the Narayana Pillai sedition trial, he took over the leadership of Indian National Congress in the erstwhile princely state of Travancore.

Political careerEdit

Early PoliticsEdit

Pattom Thanu Pillai remained as one of the leaders of Indian National Congress during the period when Kingdom of Tranvancore became an Independent state and later merged with Cochin to form Travancore-Cochin. On 3 June 1947, United Kingdom accepted demands for a partition and announced its intention to quit India within a short period. The Maharaja of Travancore desired to declare himself independent.[3][4][5] Supported by the then Diwan, C. P. Ramaswami Iyer, Chithira Thirunal issued a declaration of independence on 18 June 1947.[3][4][5] As Travancore's declaration of independence was unacceptable to India, negotiations were started with the Diwan by the Government of India.[6] Family sources indicate that C. P., himself, was not in favour of independence but only greater autonomy and that a favourable agreement had been reached between C. P. and the Indian representatives by 23 July 1947 and accession to the Indian Union could not be carried out only because it was pending approval by the Raja.[7][8][9] Nevertheless, an assassination attempt was made on C. P. on 25 July 1947 during a concert commemorating the anniversary of Swati Thirunal.[4][5] C. P. survived with multiple stab wounds and hastened the accession of Travancore state to the Indian Union soon after his recovery.[4][5]

Later PoliticsEdit

After the accession of Travancore state to the Indian Union, P. G. N. Unnithan took over as the last Diwan of independent Travancore on 20 August 1947 following C. P. Ramaswami Iyer resigning as Diwan (subsequent to the attempt on Sir CP's life at the Swathi Thirunal Music academy on 25 July 1947). P. G. N. Unnithan chaired the Travancore Constitutional Reforms Committee. He relinquished office on 24 March 1948 when a people's government led by Sri Pattom Thanu Pillai as Prime Minister took over. Pattom Thanu Pilla was the first Prime Minister of Independent Travancore state. He resigned as Prime Minister of Tranvacore on 17 October 1948. He was succeeded by Parur T. K. Narayana Pillai as the second and last Prime Minister of Travancore.[10] After India's independence in 1947, Travancore and Cochin were merged to form Travancore-Cochin on 1 July 1949. It was originally called United State of Travancore and Cochin with Trivandrum as the capital. It was renamed State of Travancore-Cochin in January 1950 and was recognised as a state. During merger of Travancore and Cochin E. Ikkanda Warrier was the Prime Minister of the state of Cochin. Warrier resigned as the last Prime Minister of the state of Cochin on 30 June 1949 helping the merger of the two states. Parur T. K. Narayana Pillai was unanimously elected the leader of the Congress Legislature Party and he assumed charge as the first Chief Minister of Travancore-Cochin from 1 July 1949.

Positions and WorkEdit

First Ministry of the state of Travancore-Cochin headed by Parur T. K. Narayana Pillai resigned on 24 February 1951 following a corruption charge on the ministry. He was succeeded by C. Kesavan as the second Chief Minister of Travancore-Cochin. The first assembly of the state of Travancore-Cochin was dissolved on 12 March 1952 following the resignation of C Kesavan. Following the elections to the Legislative Assembly, held on 27 March 1952, A. J. John became the third Chief Minister of Travancore-Cochin. The second assembly of Travancore-Cochin lasted till 16 March 1954. By that time Pattom Thanu Pillai left Indian National Congress and joined Praja Socialist Party (PSP). In the election for the third Legislative Assembly of Travancore-Cochin held in 1954, Praja Socialist Party won 19 seats out of the contested 38 seats. Praja Socialist Party formed a coalition government along with the Indian National Congress who had won 45 seats. Pattom Thanu Pillai became the fourth Chief Minister of Travancore-Cochin with the support of Indian National Congress on 16 March 1954. He resigned on 10 February 1955 and was succeeded by Panampilly Govinda Menon as the last Chief Minister of Travancore-Cochin. He remained in office till 23 March 1956. After that the state remained under President's rule till 5 April 1957. During this time state of Kerala was formed. Under State Reorganisation Act of 1956, the four southern taluks of Travancore, namely Thovalai, Agasteeswaram, Kalkulam and Vilavancode and a part of the Chencotta Taluk was merged with Madras State. On 1 November 1956 Travancore-Cochin was joined with Malabar District of Madras State, the taluk of Kasaragod and South Kanara to form the new state of Kerala.

After the first ever elections to the Kerala Legislative Assembly in 1957, the Communist Party of India emerged as the single largest party. E M S Namboodiripad formed the first elected government with the support of 5 independent legislators. The government was not able to complete its full 5 years term. The Communist-led government was dissolved as a consequence of the movement known as the Vimochana Samaram (Liberation Struggle). The Communist government was dismissed on 31 July 1959 and President's rule was imposed in the state, under Article 356 of the constitution. Fresh Elections were held in 1960 and Pattom A. Thanu Pillai became the second Chief Minister of Kerala, as head of a PSP-Congress-Mulsim League coalition administration.[1] He assumed office on 22 February 1960. However, he resigned as chief minister of Kerala on 26 September 1962 to make way for R. Sankar of the Indian National Congress as the next Chief Minister of the state. He was appointed as Governor of Punjab on 1 October 1962 by the Central Government headed by Jawaharlal Nehru. Later he became Governor of Andhra Pradesh on 4 May 1964 and remained in office till 11 April 1968.[1]

Resignation and DeathEdit

Two years after resigning as Governor of Andhra Pradesh, Pattom Thanu Pillai died on 27 July 1970, at the ripe old age of 85. His death occurred at his home in Thiruvananthapuram. He was cremated with full state honours at the premises of his home.


  1. ^ a b c d "Pattom. A. Thanu Pillai". Government of Kerala. Archived from the original on 22 March 2006. Retrieved 13 November 2011.
  2. ^ Pulparampil, John, in Nation Building and Local Leadership: A Study from South Published by Educreation Publishing Length 449 pages accessed at
  3. ^ a b Dominique Lapierre, Pg 260
  4. ^ a b c d Dominique Lapierre, Pg 261
  5. ^ a b c d A. G. Noorani (2003). "C.P. and independent Travancore". Frontline. 20 (13).
  6. ^ Sir C. P. Remembered, Pg 111
  7. ^ Sir C. P. Remembered, Pg 112
  8. ^ Sir C. P. Remembered, Pg 113
  9. ^ K. N. Panikker (20 April 2003). "In the Name of Biography". The Hindu. Archived from the original on 3 January 2013. Retrieved 1 May 2020.
  10. ^ S.N., Sadasivan (2005). Territorial Integration. Political and Administrative Integration of Princely States. Mittal Publications. p. 66. ISBN 9788170999683.

Further readingEdit

Political offices
Preceded by
Prime Minister of Travancore
1948– 1948
Succeeded by
Parur T. K. Narayana Pillai
Preceded by
A. J. John, Anaparambil
Chief Minister of Travancore-Cochin
1954– 1955
Succeeded by
Panampilly Govinda Menon
Preceded by
E. M. S. Namboodiripad
Chief Minister of Kerala
1960– 1962
Succeeded by
R. Sankar
Government offices
Preceded by
Narahar Vishnu Gadgil
Governor of Punjab
1962 – 1964
Succeeded by
Hafiz Muhammad Ibrahim
Preceded by
S. M. Shrinagesh
Governor of Andhra Pradesh
1964 – 1968
Succeeded by
Khandubhai Kasanji Desai