A. K. Gopalan

Last updated

Susheela Gopalan
(m. 1952)
A. K. Gopalan
AK Gopalan 1990 stamp of India.jpg
Gopalan on a 1990 stamp of India
Member of the Indian Parliament
for Cannanore
In office
1952 (1952)–1957 (1957)
  • Velluva Kannoth Rairu Nambiar
  • Ayillyath Kuttiyeri Madhavi Amma
Known forCo-founder of Communist Party of India (Marxist)

Ayillyath Kuttiari Gopalan Nambiar (1 October 1904 – 22 March 1977), popularly known as A. K. Gopalan or AKG, was an Indian communist politician. He was one of 16 Communist Party of India members elected to the first Lok Sabha in 1952. Later he became one of the founding members of the Communist Party of India (Marxist).


Early life and education

Ayillyath Kuttiari Gopalan was born on 1 October 1904 in Peralasseri, Kannur District of Northern Kerala and educated in Tellichery. He was educated at Basel Evangelical Mission Parsi High School, Thalassery [1] and at Government Brennen College, Thalassery. [2] By the time he became a teacher, India's independence movement was becoming energised by Mahatma Gandhi. Gopalan took part in the Khilafat Movement which prompted a marked change in his outlook, transforming him into a dedicated full-time social and political worker. He was also involved in Malabar revolution.

Indian National Congress

In 1927 he joined the Indian National Congress and began playing an active role in the Khadi Movement and the upliftment of Harijans. He was arrested for participating in the salt satyagraha in 1930.

Kandoth assault

While in prison he got acquainted with communism and became a member of the Congress Socialist Party and later the Communist Party of India when it finally took shape in Kerala in 1939. He led the hunger march from Malabar region to Madras in 1936 and the Malabar Jatha in support of the movement for responsible government in Travancore. The strongest caste system was in the North Kerala. The lower caste people were not allowed to walk on a public road in Payyannur. At this time A.K. Gopalan and the Keralites led the procession through the public road in front of the Kandoth Thiyya caste Temple (Palliyara) near Payyanur, Kannur. The lower castes were not allowed by the then Thiyyar chiefs to walk on a public road in Kandoth temple. "This is a time when Harijans are being denied the freedom to travel on public roads." The reason was that the nearby temple would be defiled. To promote the Guruvayoor Satyagraha. [3] The group consisting of Kelappan and Gopalan marched along this route with the Harijans. As the procession approached the road, a crowd of about 200 people, including young men and women, A.K. Gopalan, Keraliyan and the Harijans were very badly beaten up by the Thiyya leaders. Gopal and others were later admitted to the hospital. The attack lasted for half an hour. This was the first crackdown on Gopalan's political career. [3] [4] Women came carrying heavy wooden sticks and beat them. All the people present in Ghosha were beaten by these chiefs. But A.K.G Standing where Gopalan and Keralian were, he faced the barrage. Others fled. A.k.G told the accompanying women to run to safety. KG demanded. The attack lasted for half an hour. The "Kandoth short stick" was infamous in the press of the day. [3] Many people were injured. A.K. Gopalan and Keralian fell unconscious. They were taken by car to the hospital, where they lay unconscious for several hours. Even the Keralite's death statement was taken. Took home in the morning This attack K. This was Gopalan's first physical attack in his political career. But the "Kandoth assault" was an event that found a prominent place in news coverage. [3]

Further arrest

AKG with B.T. Ranadive Akg-btr.gif
AKG with B.T. Ranadive

The outbreak of the Second World War in 1939 prompted an upsurge in activism against British domination, and Gopalan was again arrested. But in 1942 he escaped from prison and remained at large till the end of the war in 1945. He was arrested again shortly after the end of the war and was still behind bars when India became independent on 15 August 1947. He was released a few weeks later. Thereafter he was a member of Lok Sabha for 5 consecutive terms till his death on 22 March 1977 and became one of the leaders of opposition parties in the parliament of India.

During the Sino-Indian war in 1962, AKG along with other Indian communists like E.M.S. took an impartial view and requested both nations to discuss and settle the matter peacefully. The official leadership of the party at that time denounced this and supported the India Government. Many leaders of the left group were arrested with the support of the leadership of the party. When the party leadership blocked the publication of an article written by then General Secretary EMS condemning government for attacking the left leaders in the party using the cover of the war, he himself quit the post and supported the left group. AKG was part of the left group and faced disciplinary action by the party leadership dominated by the right. During this time a newspaper published a letter allegedly written by rightist leaders S.A Dange to the British during the freedom struggle. In this letter he promised to keep away from the freedom struggle if granted bail. This was used by the left group to beat the right. When the demand of the left to set up a party-level inquiry about the alleged letter of S.A Dange was rejected in the National Council of CPI, the left group walked away and formed a new Party.

AKG joined the new break away faction, which later came to be known as Communist Party of India (Marxist). He also wrote extensively. His autobiography Ente Jeevitha Kadha has been translated into many languages. His other works include For Land, Around the World, Work in Parliament, and Collected Speeches, all in Malayalam.

A. K. Gopalan v. State of Madras

In 1950, A. K. Gopalan was served with a detention order under Preventive Detention Act 1950. He appealed to Supreme Court under Article 32 of Indian Constitution claiming his fundamental right of freedom of speech and expression and to travel freely in India have been violated. [5] The six-judge bench of Supreme Court with a majority of four upheld his detention. [6] But the bench struck down Section 14 of this act, which provided that the grounds for detention should not be given to detenus. [5] [7]


AKG was earlier married and later left his wife. [8] [9] [10] Later AKG was married to Susheela Gopalan, who was a prominent Marxist and trade union activist, from the Cheerappanchira family. His daughter, Laila, is married to P. Karunakaran, a former Member of Parliament for the Kasargod constituency.

Indian Coffee House

Statue of Gopalan in Kannur AKGStatueKannur.jpg
Statue of Gopalan in Kannur

AKG played an important role in the formation of Indian Coffee House, a worker cooperative initiative by organising the thrown out employees of Coffee Houses of Coffee Board to establish ICHs in late 1950s.

AKG memorial in Thiruvananthapuram Akgopalan.JPG
AKG memorial in Thiruvananthapuram
AKG smrithi mandapam Payyambalam Beach eke goopaalnrre shvkuttiirN.JPG
AKG smrithi mandapam Payyambalam Beach

Shaji N. Karun, a prominent film director of Kerala, made a biopic on AKG titled AKG – Athijeevanathinte Kanalvazhikal. The film used a part-documentary, part-fiction format. It was released in theatres across Kerala in August 2008. [11] Baiju played Gopalan in the 2014 feature film Vasanthathinte Kanal Vazhikalil . [12]

Autobiography – My Life Story

His autobiography is Ente Jeevitha Katha (written in Malayalam) Ente Jeevitha Katha-.

See also

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The Kontoth assault names a clash in 1930 over temple entry. Lower castes were not allowed to walk in front of the kondoth-temple of the Thiyya castes at Kondoth in Kannur. A.K. Gopalan led a procession to grieve the Harijans and the Thiyyar Leaders and the Thiyyar women who witnessed the brutal beating of A.K.G. and the Harijans.


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