Known as the ‘Bhishmacharya’ of Kerala politics, Shri. Pattom Thanu Pillai a veritable doyen among the State’s political leaders was born on 15th July 1885 at Thiruvananthapuram. His father was Shri. Varadharajan, a Sanskrit scholar and mother was Smt. Easwari Amma. From childhood, Pattom who grew up hearing the valiant tales of national leaders like Thilak, Gokhale and Annie Besant, was attracted to the political views of Gandhiji. His in-born leadership quality and debating skills earned him fame, even during school education.
He passed matriculation from Maharaja’s College, Thiruvananthapuram. His friendship with Kesari Balakrishna Pillai, who was his classmate influenced him deeply and helped to instill in him an abiding sense of patriotism. A very studious student as well, he also won a gold medal for academic excellence in the BA examination. After graduation, he taught in a private school in Thriuvananthapuram for a while. Even though subsequently he was appointed as Deputy Chief in the state Agriculture department, he continued his job as a teacher and studied law simultaneously.
After graduating from Law College, Thiruvananthapuram in 1917, he started legal practice in Thiruvananthapuram which proved to be a turning point in his political career. His colleagues at the bar were leaders of freedom struggle such as Paravoor T.K. Narayana Pillai, Ponnara Sreedhar, K.P. Neelakanta pillai , G. Chandrasekhara Pillai and C. Narayana Pillai. Under Pattom’s leadership, lawyers protested against the cruel police brutality meted out to students agitating against the Diwan’s rule. He resigned even his councillorship in the city corporation to participate fully, in the ‘Nivarthana Agitation’. Right from the beginning of the State Congress, Shri. Pattom was very active in awakening public opinion through his inspiring speeches against British rule.
In the meanwhile Shri. Pattom was invited to preside over the meeting of Congressmen in the princely states, held at Hariharapuram. Elected as the State Congress President in 1938, Pattom continued to shoulder the responsibility for almost 14 years.
Shri Pattom .A. Thanu Pillai was elected to the Sree Moolam Popular Assembly in 1921 and to the Travancore Legislative Council during 1928 - 1932 during the Regency rule. He was again elected to the Sree Moolam Assembly in 1933 and 1937 and to the Travancore Assembly in 1948. Shri. Pattom was also a Member of the Travancore-Cochin Legislative Assembly from 1949 to 1956. His fearless criticism of Sir C.P. Ramaswamy Iyer, the then Diwan, though it elated the longing for freedom of many people, irked the Diwan, which led to his arrest. However, he was released soon as he fell sick while in Jail.
After India’s independence , the first democratic government in Travancore was formed under the Prime Ministership of Shri. Pattom Thanu Pillai in which Shri C. Kesavan and Shri. T.M. Varghese were also members.
However, due to difference of opinion within the party, Shri. Pattom severed ties with the Congress and formed the Praja Socialist Party. In 1954 he formed a new front against the Congress Party with the help of the Communists, Revolutionary Socialist Party and Kerala Socialist Party. Pattom became the front’s leader and the Chief Minister during 1954-1955.
Shri. Pattom Thanu Pillai was elected, to the 1st K.L.A in 1957 from Thiruvananthapuram constituency. In the election held in 1960, after the ‘Liberation Struggle’, the alliance headed by Congress with P.S.P. and Muslim League won the majority vote, and Pattom became the Chief Minister of Kerala on February 22, 1960.
However, the changing political equations caused the fall of the ministry, leading to his resignation on September 25, 1962. Soon he was appointed as the Governor of Punjab in 1962. He was also the Governor of Andhra Pradesh from 1964 to 1968.
Being very outspoken, Shri Pattom never feared to speak out his views, which earned him friends and foes alike. Known for his great administrative skills and statesmanship, he gave emphasis to many development activities, especially in the capital city.
His wife was Smt. Ponnamma, whom he married , after the demise of his first wife, Smt. Sumukhi Amma. Shri. Pattom has three daughters.
Shri. Pattom Thanu Pillai passed away on 27 July 1970.
The Assembly paid its homage to him on 26 October 1970.
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.