A rare example of a communist leader who, hailing from a traditional landlord family, went on to become the foremost leader of the proletarian revolutionary movement, Elamkulam Manakkal Sankaran Namboodiripad, popularly known as EMS, was a scholar, Marxist theoretician, voracious reader, columnist and a revolutionary in perception, but a Gandhian in practice. EMS was born in an aristocratic and orthodox family in Palakkad district
on June 13, 1909. He was educated in the Victoria High school and Victoria College, Palakkad
and St.Thomas College, Thrissur
As a young man, he became greatly involved in the social reform movement against caste. Gokhale, Gandhi and Tilak were among the greatest influences on him during college days. EMS participated in the freedom movement launched by Gandhiji in the early 1920's. He was arrested and sentenced to three years imprisonment, when he was studying for graduation, and was later released when Gandhiji withdrew the satyagraha movement.
EMS was one of the founders of the Congress Socialist Party in Kerala. When he became acquainted with Marxism, EMS was greatly inspired by the Marxian ideology, and was one of the five members who formed the founding group of the Communist Party in Kerala in 1936.
After the state of Kerala was formed, in the first elections in 1957, the Communist Party won a majority and E M S Namboodiripad became chief minister of the first elected communist ministry in India. EMS Namboodiripad was elected General Secretary of Central Committee of the Communist Party of India (Marxist) in 1977 and he led the Party in this capacity till the 14th Congress in 1992 when he stepped down due to ill-health.
Among his outstanding contributions are the application of Marxism-Leninism to Indian society and working out the strategy and tactics of the Indian revolution. He is a monumental writer and his writings on land relations, Kerala, society and politics, Marxist philosophy, literature and history mark him out to be one of the most influential communist thinkers of the country and the world.
In 1957 he headed the first democratically elected communist ministry in Kerala, the first of its type in the world, but the ministry did not last long and was brought down by the congress. In 1967, he again came to power by forming a coalition with the Communist Party of India. The government fell in October 1969 when the CPI outsmarted the CPI-M. Even though he ruled only for a short period, EMS laid the foundation for all the achievements the state made in the socio-economic front. His land reform and education policy brought revolutionary changes in the state.
This veteran leader passed away on March 19, 1998, at the age of 89.