An efficient, strong-willed woman, with a mind of her own, is how many leaders describe KR Gouri Amma.
Veteran Communist leader KR Gouri Amma would have turned 102 in a few weeks. On Tuesday, she died at a private hospital in Kerala’s Thiruvananthapuram due to age-related illness.
She was the only surviving minister from the first Communist government in Kerala in the late 1950s. At that time, she was the revenue minister. She held several key portfolios – finance, industries, among others – in her eight-decade-long rich political career across political fronts in Kerala.
An efficient, strong-willed woman, with a mind of her own, is how many leaders describe her.
KR Gouri Amma steered the historic anti-feudal land reforms bill, which eventually became a law and paved way for the landless farmers to own land.
As a strong leader, she never hesitated in taking a stand against the majority in the party. Her strong will, according to some, was crucial to her rise and eventually became the reason for her expulsion from the party.
Senior leaders across party lines, including Kerala Governor Arif Mohammed Khan, Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan and opposition leader Ramesh Chennithala paid rich tributes today ahead of the final rites at Alappuzha, her home town.
Hon’ble Governor Shri Arif Mohammed Khan said : Smt. KR Gouri Amma’s struggles to ensure social justice and her contribution to land reforms and industrial growth in Kerala will always be gratefully remembered. May her soul attain Mukti “: PRO, KeralaRajBhavan (T2/2)#GouriAmmapic.twitter.com/GlL4G2PXYC
— Kerala Governor (@KeralaGovernor) May 11, 2021
“We are talking about the 1940s. Even today it is extremely hard to see women rise to top ranks of a party. But KR Gouri Amma did it because of her sheer courage, and and determination. She emerged as one of the tallest leaders of the party in Alappuzha, at a time when there was no dearth of male leaders. She came from a well-to-do Ezhava family, and her father was a landlord, influential and the well known names regular at their home. But she joined the Communists, inspired by her elder brother, and fought hard for the people,” MG Radhakrishnan, a senior journalist and the Editor-in-chief of Asianet News, told NDTV
After the Communist split in 1960s, Gouri Amma joined the CPI(M), her husband TV Thomas, another tall Communist leader, joined the CPI.
It was in 1994 that Gouri Amma was expelled from the CPI(M) on disciplinary grounds.
She later formed the Janadhipathya Samrakshana Samithi (JSS) and briefly joined the UDF, serving as a minister during AK Antony, Oommen Chandy’s term. She and the JSS, then left the UDF, to return to the LDF-fold.
“KR Gouri Amma’s rise in the party coincided with the time when women were fighting their way to positions of influence in Kerala. She was also a practicing lawyer. The party ousting her on so called disciplinary grounds, years later, also coincided with the time when patriarchy was raising its fangs again in Kerala. Her popularity across the rank and file can be understood from a slogan – ‘In the land of coconuts, Gouri Amma will rule (translated from Malayalam)’. But the leaders never allowed that to happen,” BRP Bhaskar, a political commentator, told NDTV.
Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan remembers her as a “brave fighter”. “Com. K R Gauri was a brave fighter, dedicated her life to end exploitation, build an egalitarian society. She made seminal contributions in building the Communist movement & as an administrator. Let’s show respects, by pledging to build a more progressive society. Red Salute,” he said.
KR Gouri Amma “is among those who laid the foundations of modern Kerala,” Kerala Finance Minister Thomas Isaac underlined. “I have known her from the days when I was not even a MLA. She stood for human rights, she stood what was right,” he shared.
“KR Gouri Amma is among the tallest leaders of Kerala. She has been at the forefront of several social reforms, that Kerala will never forget,” Opposition Leader Ramesh Chennithala told NDTV.