C. Gouridasan Nair
T. M. Thomas Isaac revisits ‘Liberation Struggle’ to reveal its imperialist origins.
KOTTAYAM: Kerala’s political landscape is still under the shadow of ‘Liberation Struggle,’ the series of events that culminated in the dismissal of the first Communist government in Kerala led by E. M. S. Namboodiripad in 1959. Public memory about the ‘struggle’ is at best hazy despite the ironic name tag being bandied about in recent months by prominent players in Kerala politics.
Less said the better about the quantity and quality of academic inquiries into the cataclysmic events, its main actors and its sources of inspiration and support. May be no longer. Finance Minister T. M. Thomas Isaac, who is also a well-known academic, has come out with a book that throws fresh light into the ‘Liberation Struggle,’ and how it formed part of ‘Cold War’ designs of American imperialism.
Titled ‘Vimochana Samarathinte Kaanaapurangal,’ the book is the outcome of Dr. Isaac’s intense research into the subject over the last one year even as he was discharging his duties as the State’s Finance Minister. “As I was preparing for seminars organised in connection with the first Communist government’s golden jubilee, I found to my dismay that very little is known about the international dimensions of the ‘Liberation Struggle’ and imperialist interventions in it. At the time when the E.M.S. government assumed office here, the Left had risen to power through balloting in British Guayana, Guatimala, Iran and Congo as well. They were all overthrown, the entire operation having been planned and executed by the CIA. There are authoritative studies proving this and even America has admitted that it was so. There has been talk that the same had happened in Kerala. Shouldn’t the truth about Kerala also be brought out, I asked myself. This book is the answer to that question,” says Dr. Isaac as he explains how he came to write it.
Digging into government records, pamphlets, books and memoirs relating to the ‘Liberation Struggle’ and its aftermath, Dr. Isaac has found that the first rumblings of the ‘struggle’ came when the E.M.S. government came up with the Kerala Education Bill in mid-1958, sending shockwaves in Church circles. Shortly, the Church was joined by Mannath Padmanabhan, who was initially supportive of the Bill, and later by the Congress, PSP and the Muslim League.
The happenings on the political front moved into action on the ground in June-July 1959, when almost the entire State was engulfed by violence sponsored and supported by the opponents of the government. Accompanying all this was a blistering media attack against the government. The violence culminated in a police firing at different places killing over a dozen persons and the dismissal of the government.
Dr. Isaac has traced the American angle by going deep into U.S. State Department records that go to show that the American government of the time was deeply disturbed by the Communist victory in Kerala. Proof for Kerala having been discussed at the top most echelons of the American government can be seen in Note No. 647 written by then American president Dwight D. Eisenhower stating that the most important part of a report sent to him was about Kerala, that it must be sent to Allen Dulles, the then Director of the CIA, and to U.S. Embassy officials to prepare an action plan.
The U.S. government had also prepared a dossier about the weaknesses of the Communist government which ran into 482 pages. The entire operation remained a secret probably because the then Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru had earlier objected to such interventions by the CIA in India, says Dr. Isaac.
In his introduction to Dr. Isaac’s book, CPI(M) general secretary Prakash Karat says it has a great significance at a time when the Left and the CPI(M) are trying to offer resistance to the moves for a strategic alliance between India and the U.S.
The book was released by Mr. Karat here on Monday.