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Modern Kerala:  A Brief Political History

The effective way of controlling a nation is by keeping it divided. All conquerors from the time of the Greeks to the Americans and the Russians have tried it and for a time succeeded until the enslaved nations united themselves as one and threw off the yoke of slavery. Divide-and-Conquer was the basic policy the British followed--a history lesson they learned from the Romans, their erstwhile overlords from 44 B.C. to 410 A.D.--all over India and particularly in Kerala.  They kept Kerala divided in three political units:  Malabar, Cochin, and Travancore, with the present Kasargod and Hosdurg Taluks forming part of another administrative unit, the district of South Canara.

The people of Kerala, since the State Peoples' Conference of Ernakulam, April, 1928, demanded the formation of an all Malayalam-speaking United Kerala (Aikya Kerala).  This movement gathered momentum during the forties, during the struggle for independence, and after.  On July 1, 1949 the state of Travancore-Cochin came into existence under the guidance of Home Minister
of the new state; the legislatures were combined; while the capital remained at Trivandrum, the High Court was moved to Cochin. 

The first elected govern-ment was headed by T. K. Narayana Pillai.  The internal dissensions within the ruling Congress Party led to the formation of a new ministry in 1951 under C. Kesavan whose chief-ministersnip lasted only a few months.  After the Nair and Ezhava chief ministers, came the Christian Chief Minister A. J. John. He could stay in office only for about two years simply because Congress-legis-lators from the Tamil-speaking Kanyakuinari District withdrew their support and demanded the merger of Kanyakumari with the Tamil-speaking Madras State.  The John-ministry was succeeded by the Praja-Socialist-Party ministry of the former chief minister Pattern Thanu Pillai in March 1954. 

The Tamil agitation in the South took a violent turn when police opened fire on violent demonstrators killing seven people.  As a result, the PSP ministry was voted out of office and replaced    in February 1955 by a Congress ministry headed by Panampilly Govinda Menon.  This Cabinet fell in March 1956 due to internal discussions within the ruling party, which resulted in the imposition of President's Rule in the state — the state was ruled directly by the President of India through the Governor.  It was during the President's Rule that the states of the Indian Union were reorganized on linguistic basis.

Under the States Reorganization Act, four Tamil-speaking southern Taluks were separated from Kerala and ceded to Madras.  The District of Malabar and the Kasargod Taluk of South Canara District were added to Travancore-Cochin to constitute the new State of Kerala.  The united Kerala came into existence on November 1, 1956 with a governor as titular head of the state; the princely Rajapramukh was forced to retire.

With the general elections of 1957, the Communist Party of India came to power with E. M. S. Nambutiripad as Chief Minister.  There was widespread DDDuIar ODOosition to thp rule of the Cnmmunists. which came to be known as Liberation Struggle (Vimochana Samararm).  Fifteen persons were killed by the police, and law and order broke down.  The President of India dismissed the Communist Ministry and imposed President's Rule on the state on July 31, 1959 according to Constitutional provisions.  After fresh elections in February a non-Communist coalition government of the Congress, PSP, and Maslan League took over administration with Pattom Thanu Pillai as Chief Minister.  In 1962, R. Shankar became Chief Minister after Pattom was appointed Governor of Punjab. In September 1964, the Shankar Ministry was voted out of power, and Kerala was again placed under President's Rule.  Meanwhile the Congress party was split into Indian National Congnsss and Kerala Congress (a Christian Party); the Communist Party also was split into two:  The Communist Party Marxist (CPM) and the Communist Party  of India (CPI).



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