A. K. Gopalan: On the 1st of October, 2004 A K Gopalan would have turned hundred had he been alive. Marking this birth centenary, the Party in the entire country and especially in Kerala is celebrating the occasion in a big way.
I had been closely associated with AKG for over 40 years. We used to stay together at 4 Ashoka Road in New Delhi when AKG was the leader of the CPI(M) group in parliament. The bungalow was allotted in his name. I have very warm memories of our comradeship in those times. His wife and comrade, Susheela Gopalan, herself an outstanding communist, also used to stay there.
He was an affectionate comrade, caring and enquiring about the well being of his comrades; he was a leader par excellence; he deeply felt for the poor and the underprivileged and they in turn identified with him; he was a colleague who respected the views of others even if he had reservations and differences; he was like a saint to many; he was one who lent an ear to anyone who approached him. To millions of ordinary people in Kerala, AKG, as he was popularly known, was an icon.
These are some qualities that made Comrade AKG stand apart from the broad spectrum of political leadership in the country.
One of the major and early political events with which AKG was associated with was the Temple entry movement at Guruvayur. Facing brutal repression AKG led batches of satyagrahis in 1931 demanding rights for the lower castes to enter the temple. This was a movement that challenged the social settings and had far reaching consequences.
Distraught with the withdrawal of the Civil Disobedience Movement and disillusioned with the Congress, AKG was in the forefront founding the Congress Socialist Party in Kerala, with a view to link the struggle for national freedom with the struggle for social revolution. The success of the October Socialist Revolution had provided a big inspiration. His everlasting thirst for knowledge led him to study the theory of scientific socialism. It was during this period in 1938 that AKG alongwith P Krishna Pillai, EMS Namboodiripad and others formed the Communist Party in Kerala.
In the forties, once when he was forced to go underground, I had taken him to Bhatinda in Punjab and entrusted him to the care of a family sympathetic to our movement.
When he was elected to parliament, he marked himself out as a legislator of a different genre. He was a revolutionary parliamentarian who voiced the issues and demands of the people particularly the working class and the peasantry in parliament. The 25 years of his parliamentary life was marked by ruthless exposure of ministers and bureaucrats. Even his political opponents, despite their disagreements, would listen to AKG with rapt attention. That was the amount of respectability and acceptability that he commanded.
Comrade AKG had a healthy practice of forthrightly placing one’s view. This was a trait that he observed till the very end of his life. Even when a divergent view was expressed he was always ready to listen to others and willing to accept the other view and correct his own when he was convinced. He learnt from the criticisms made against him. Neither did he hesitate in criticising the other’s view point. No streak of ego and the airs so familiar with many leaders touched him.
As I said earlier, he was a people’s man, identifying himself with the people’s problems and always in their midst. Glancing through the papers every morning, whenever he saw news of a struggle of confrontation with the establishment going on, he would rush to the site, even without bothering to consult others. Whether it be the betterment levy struggle in Punjab or other such struggles anywhere in the country. His participation in such struggles are still recalled by people in the concerned areas. Such was the pain and affection that he felt for the people. This is a trait that is not visible today.
P Krishna Pillai, EMS Namboodiripad and A K Gopalan constituted the three pillars of the Communist movement of Kerala. His pioneering role in the Guruvayur temple entry movement; his transition from a Congressman to a Communist; his championing of issues of social oppression etc. are all experiences that continue to inspire even today.
AKG’s life is more than an inspiration. His life and work are a guide for future generations. Simple living, unflinching dedication to the cause of the people, spirit of self-sacrifice, always at the service of the people, — Comrade AKG stood wide apart from the broad spectrum of politicians in the country. He will continue to be adored and loved.
Keralites have proved their deligence and extra ordinary brillience through out the world. Keralites are well known for their honesty and efficiency in all fields. In the list of Prominent Personalities we have tried to include all famous personalities from Kerala. We are trying to collect the details of the rest. If you have the details of any such personalities, please send to us.