Shri E.M.S. Namboodirippad, popularly known as EMS, holds pride of place as the first Chief Minister
of unified Kerala. A staunch and committed socialist, historian and Marxist theorist, he had the rare
distinction of having led to power, through the ballot, the first democratically elected Communist
government in the world.
Shri EMS was born on June 14, 1909 in Perinthalmanna taluk of Malappuram district. His father was
Shri Parameswaran Namboodirippad, whom he lost in the early years of his life. His mother, Smt.
Vishnudatta Antharjanam, played a vital role in his life and deeply influenced him. Even though his
formal education started very late, he studied Sanskrit, the Vedas and the Upanishads with the help
of a tutor at home.
Even from his early age , Shri. EMS was associated with the activities of ‘Yogakshemasabha’, the
progressive reformist movement led by V.T. Bhattathirippad, which sought to fight against the casteism
and reactionary conservatism that was prevalent among the Namboodiri community. At the tender age of 15, EMS became the Secretary of Valluvanadu ‘Upayogakshema sabha’, which was the stepping
stone to a long and distinguished political life, which lasted decades and greatly influenced both the
state and national politics.
Shri EMS began his school education in 1925 in Perinthalmanna High School in the third forum. In
the last year of school, he left Perinthalmanna High School and joined the High School in Palakkad.
His acquaintance with the student leaders of Victoria College, which was adjacent to the school
influenced him profoundly, and began to mould his outlook towards the ongoing national struggle for
independence from British rule.
Shri. Nampoodirippad’s college education was in St. Thomas College, Thrissur, which he joined in
1929 for the Intermediate level. During the eventful two-and-a-half years that he spent there, he
acquired the practical experience necessary to become a political leader. His association with the
magazine “Unni Namboodiry”, a progressive publication under the auspices of V.T. Bhattathirippad,
helped him immensely not only to mould his political outlook but also to hone the writing skill inherent
During his college days , Shri. EMS was deeply associated with the Indian National Congress and the
national movement for independence. He attended All India Congress meeting in Madras and State
level meetings at Payyannur and Vadakara. He abandoned college studies in 1932, to take part
in the Civil Disobedience movement. He was arrested in Calicut and sent to jail. With this arrest, the
transformation from a politically aware student to a full-time political activist became complete. His
association with prison mates having socialist ideals , enabled him to get closer to the Congress
Socialist Party, a socialist wing of the Indian National Congress. He was elected as the State Congress
Secretary in 1934. In 1936, Shri. EMS was given membership in the Communist party, then secretly
formed. The entire Congress Socialist Party wing became the Communist Party of India at the meeting
held at Pinarayi in 1939. The very same year Shri. EMS was elected to the Madras Legislative
Shri EMS travelled to many north Indian cities to organise socialist groups within the Congress party.
After independence, he devoted his life to the Communist movement and even when the party was
banned, he continued to work in hiding.
In the election that followed immediately after the formation of the State of Kerala, Shri. EMS was
elected from Nileswaram. He led the Communist Party to electoral victory and became the first Chief
Minister of Kerala in 1957. The progressive legislations enacted by his government somehow invited
the wrath of certain sections of Kerala society. Shortly afterwards the “Liberation Struggle” was
launched leading to the dismissal of the Ministry.
Shri. EMS was elected to the KLA three times from the Pattambi constituency in 1960, 1967, and
1970 and from the Alathur constituency in 1977. When the Communist Party split in 1964, Shri
EMS chose to stand with the CPI (M). He served again as the Chief Minister of Kerala from 1967 to
1969. As Chief Minister, he chaired the Committee of Privileges twice. He was also the General
Secretary of the CPI (M) for many years.
Through his several books, writings and speeches Shri. EMS changed the outlook of Kerala society and
helped lay the foundation, for what later came to be known as the “Kerala Model” of development.
Even during the twilight of his life Shri. EMS continued to inspire and influence many people through
his visions on decentralisation and people’s planning.
A gifted writer also, Shri. EMS has to his credit many noteworthy works. His famous works include his
autobiography “How I became a Communist”, “Kerala Society and Politics: A Historical Survey”, “Nehru,
Ideology & Practice”, “The Mahatma and the ism”, “Problems of National Integration”, “Kerala Yesterday,
Today and Tomorrow”, “India Planning in Crisis”, “A History of Indian Freedom Struggle” etc. and many
essays and travelogues.
Smt. Arya Antharjanam was his wife and they have two sons and two daughters. Shri. EMS
Namboodirippad passed away on 19-03-1998 at the age of 89.
The Assembly paid its homage to him on 23.03.1998.