Veteran Communist leader and member of the first State Legislative Assembly Rosamma Punnose died of old-age-related illness in Oman on Saturday. She was 100.
Ms. Punnose had the distinction of becoming the first pro tem Speaker of the Assembly. She was also the first MLA to lose her membership following a court verdict. Ms. Punnose was also the winner of the first by-election held to the Assembly in 1958 from Devikulam. AIADMK leader the late M.G. Ramachandran (MGR) had campaigned for her in Devikulam.
She began her political career as a member of the Travancore State Congress in 1939 and was jailed along with her sister, Ackamma Cherian, freedom fighter, for taking on the British.
Ms. Punnose joined the Communist Party of India (CPI) in 1948.
She was married to the late P.T. Punnose, Communist leader. It was Ms. Punnose who laid a firm foundation for the plantation workers’ trade union movement. She also served as State control commission member and State executive committee member of the CPI.
She celebrated her 100th birthday at her ancestral home in Thiruvalla in May.
Chief Minister Oommen Chandy, Leader of the Opposition V.S. Achuthanandan, Speaker G. Karthikeyan, CPI(M) State unit secretary Pinarayi Vijayan, and a host of socio-political leaders had called on Ms. Punnose at her house in Thiruvalla with birthday wishes.
She was staying along with her son Thomas Punnose in Salalah. The body will be brought to Thiruvalla, according to relatives.Condolences
Mr. Karthikeyan, Mr. Chandy, Mr. Achuthanandan and leaders of various political parties and organisations condoled the death of Ms. Punnose.
In separate messages here on Saturday, they described Ms. Punnose a leader whose courage of conviction and endearing ways had few parallels. The Speaker recalled that she had won respect from all with her humility. The Chief Minister said she was an inspiration for women to enter public life. The Opposition Leader said Mr. Punnose had secured a place in history with her role in the freedom struggle and the Communist movement and by remaining in the centre stage at crucial moments in the State’s history.
In his message, CPI State unit secretary Pannian Ravindran said Ms. Punnose was a leader who had dedicated her life to social transformation. Hailing from a section of society which was hostile to the Communist movement, she had joined the ranks of revolutionaries with total dedication. With her death, one more link with the generation that had devoted to social emancipation had got snapped, Mr. Ravindran said.
RSP State secretary A.A. Aziz described Ms. Punnose as a people’s leader. Kerala State Women’s Commission chairperson K.C. Rosakkutty said Ms. Punnose’s selfless service for society was a model for everyone in public life.