Kerala’s first revenue minister, communist icon and firebrand woman K.R Gowri Amma has died on Tuesday morning at a hospital in Thiruvananthapuram. She was 102.
Born into an OBC Ezhava family, she was the first female law student coming from the Ezhava community in Kerala.
Gowri Amma, the second longest serving MLA in Kerala Legislative Assembly was a minister in the communist-led ministries in 1957, 1967, 1980, and 1987 and in the Congress-led cabinet in 2001.
Her biggest contribution was widely accepted as the implementation of the land reforms bill during the EMS government.
She was also elected to Travancore-Kochi Legislative Assembly in 1952 and 1954 before the Kerala state was formed. At the age of 22 as a law graduate, she first contested the election in 1948, lost.
The eleven times MLA was arrested several times and even tortured in police custody. She was elected to Kerala Assembly while serving her jail term in 1957. Recounting the brutal stories in police custody she once told an interviewer that if lathis had the power to impregnate, she would have conceived several times.
Gowri Amma was involved with the Kerala Karshaka Sangham from 1960 to 1984. She was also the leader of the Kerala Mahila Sangham from 1967 to 1976.
Caste politics in the CPM scuttled her chances of becoming the first female and Ezhava chief minister Kerala and her criticism of the leadership leading to her expulsion from CPIM in 1994.
“I was not made the Chief Minister of Kerala because of casteist mindset of EMS,” Gowri Amma accused late EMS, Kerala’s first chief minister of casteism.
In 1994, she ended her 45 years of association with the communist party and formed Janadhipathya Samrakshana Samiti (JSS). Gowri Amma was expelled from the CPI(M) for “anti-party” activities. She remained active in politics through the JSS party she floated, which became part of the Congress-lead United Democratic Front (UDF) for a time.
She has published an autobiography titled Atmakatha, which won the 2011 Kerala Sahitya Academy Award.