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E. M. S. Namboodiripad

Elamkulam Manakkal Sankaran Namboodiripad, (, June 13, 1909 – March 19, 1998), popularly known as E. M. S., was an Indian Communist leader, Socialist-Marxist theorist, revolutionary, author, historian, social commentator and the first Chief Minister of Kerala state. As the first non-Indian National Congress Chief Minister in Republic of India, he became the leader of the first democratically elected Communist government in India (San Marino being first in the world).

Elamkulam Manakkal Sankaran Namboodiripad pioneered radical land and educational reforms in Kerala state that are today being duplicated by other states of India. It is largely due to his commitment and guidance that the Communist Party of India (Marxist), of which he was Politburo member and general secretary for 14 years, has become such a domineering political force, playing a vital role in India's new era of coalition politics.[1]


Personal life

Elamkulam Manakkal Sankaran Namboodiripad was born on June 13, 1909, as the son of Parameswaran Namboodirippad, at Elamkulam, in Perintalmanna taluk of the present Malappuram district into an aristocratic upper-caste Brahmin family. In his early years, he was associated with V. T. Bhattatiripadu, M. R. Bhattatiripadu and many others in the fight against the casteism and conservatism that existed in the Namboothiri community. He became one of the office bearers of Valluvanadu Yogaskshema Sabha, an organization of progressive Namboothiri youth. During his college days, he was deeply associated with the Indian National Congress and Indian Independence Movement.

He was a writer and author of several literary works and his book on the history of Kerala is notable.[2][3]


In 1934, he was one of the founder leaders of Congress Socialist Party, a socialist wing within the Indian National Congress and was elected as its All India Joint Secretary from 1934 to 1940. During this period he was also elected to the Madras Legislative Assembly (1939).

He remained committed to socialist ideals and his compassion towards the downtrodden working class made him join the ranks of the Communist movement. He was considered to be one of the founders of the Communist Party of India (CPI) in Kerala, for which he had to go in hiding for some time. During the 1962 Sino-Indian war, he was among those leaders who aired China's view on the border issue. When the CPI split in 1964, EMS stood with the Communist Party of India (Marxist) (CPI(M)). He served as a member of the Central Committee and the Politburo of the CPI(M), before becoming its General Secretary in 1977, a designation he held until 1992. He was a member of the party Politburo until his death.An out standing marxist scholar whose credentials remain unchallenged even to day , much of the Kerala society,s current day advancement owes itself to the insight of this polymath and social genius whose name resonates throut kerala ,there is no passing day in kerala without quoting his name or the erstwhile communist ministry headed by him

Election to state Government

During his political career, EMS was defeated only once in the public elections, when he lost to K.P.Kuttikrishnan Nair (the founder leader of Trade Union Movement in India) of the Indian National Congress by a huge margin from the Kozhikode constituency. In 1957, EMS led the Communists to victory in the first election for the state government, making him the first communist leader anywhere to head a popularly elected government.[4] Anyhow the first democratically elected communist government in the world came to power in San Marino San Marino. It was also the first time for a regional party anywhere in India to win state elections. On 5 April 1957 he was appointed as the first chief minister of Kerala. His government soon introduced the Land Reform Ordinance and Education Bill. His government was dismissed in 1959 by the Central Government, which invoked the controversial Article 356 of the Indian Constitution following what later became known as 'The Liberation Struggle'.

He became the Chief Minister of Kerala for the second time in 1967 as the leader of a seven-party coalition including the Muslim League. He wooed the Muslim League by promising them a district of their own, which has been seen as a highly selfish move to make for a communist. This time his tenure lasted for two and a half years and he created a separate district called 'Malappuram' during this term as per prior agreement.

EMS was the Leader of Opposition in the Kerala Legislative Assembly from 1960 to 1964 and again from 1970 to 1977. He influenced Kerala society by his vision on decentralization of power and resources (People's Plan), and the Kerala Literacy Movement. He authored several books in English & Malayalam. Chintha Publication, Kerala has published all his books under the title, 'E M S Sanchika'. He was well known as a journalist as well.

Sino-Indian war

During the 1962 Sino-Indian war, when left wing parties were under attack for their pro-China stance, he laid stress on the significance of solving the border dispute through talks.[2]

Association with Progressive Movement for Arts and Letters

EMS, Kesari Balakrishna Pillai, Joseph Mundassery, M. P. Paul and K. Damodaran were architects of "Jeevat Sahitya Prastanam", which later came to known as Purogamana Sahitya Prastanam. (Progressive Association for Arts and Letters). Though Kesari was considered to be one of the visionaries of the Progressive Movement of Arts and Letters of Kerala, serious difference of opinion emerged later between full-time Communist Party activists and other personalities, namely Kesari and Joseph Mundassery. In this context, EMS famously called Kesari a "Petit-Bourgeois intellectual", which he later corrected. EMS also acknowledged some of the earlier misconceptions of the Communist Party with respect to the Progressive Literature and Arts Movement. This debate is known as 'Rupa Bhadrata Vivadam', an important milestone in the growth of Modern Malayalam Literature.


EMS died on March 19, 1998. He was married to Arya Antharjanam and had two sons and two daughters.

The E.M.S. Memorial Co-operative Hospital in Perinthalmanna
The E.M.S. Memorial Co-operative Hospital in Perinthalmanna


External links


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