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At 100, the firebrand’s spark is intact

K.R. Gouri epitomised the presence of women in State politics for decades

June 20, 2019 11:29 pm | Updated 11:29 pm IST - Alappuzha

Sitting in an armchair in the living room of her house at Chathanad in Alappuzha, K.R. Gouri amuses guests with witty remarks and an occasional rebuke.

The revolutionary leader, who will turn 100 on Friday, says she is not interested in celebrating her birthday. Her birthday falls on the Thiruvonam star in the Mithunam month of the Malayalam almanac.

“I have not asked anyone to organise programmes or celebrate my birthday. It is done by other people,” was her terse reply when asked about the year-long programmes planned to mark the occasion.

Apart from age-related ailments and occasional memory loss, her spirit is still unwavering. The former Communist firebrand, fondly called ‘Gouri Amma’, who epitomised the presence of women in the politics of Kerala for several decades, is no more interested in talking politics but still follows matters that interests her most.

“I took part in the women’s wall as it was for a good cause,” Ms. Gouri says.

Born at Pattanakad in Alappuzha district as the seventh daughter of K.A. Raman and Parvathi Amma, Ms. Gouri chose politics at a time when not many women dared to enter the field.

She made her presence felt by urging the then princely state of Travancore to join the Indian Union. Ms. Gouri fought the first elections in Travancore in 1948 before the formation of the State.

She was jailed on a number of occasions for political activities. In 1957, she became Revenue Minister in the first Communist government led by EMS Namboodiripad. She later held portfolios including Agriculture, Social Welfare and Industries during a political career spanning several decades.

After the split in the Communist Party of India (CPI) in 1964, Ms. Gouri joined the newly formed Communist Party of India (Marxist). Her husband T.V. Thomas, also a Minister in the first Communist government, stayed with the CPI. This led to issues in their private life and the couple separated on ideological grounds. She has some fond memories of their life. Their portraits are among several photos and paintings that adorn the walls of her room.

In 1994, she was expelled from the CPI(M) for anti-party activities. Following this, she established the Janadhipatya Samrakshana Samithi (JSS) and joined the United Democratic Front (UDF). In 2016, she severed ties with the UDF. Ms. Gouri has bitter feelings about her ouster from the CPI(M) as she calls some of her old compatriots “thieves”.

The JSS and the K.R. Gouri Amma Foundation will organise the programmes to mark her 100th birthday. It will be inaugurated by Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan at the Sakthi auditorium here on Friday. Former Chief Ministers V.S. Achuthanandan, Oommen Chandy, Leader of the Opposition Ramesh Chennithala, Speaker P. Sreeramakrishnan and others are expected to attend the function.

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