Aryadan Mohammed skippered the Congress in Malappuram district for about half-a-century and dared many a time to take on the Indian Union Muslim League (IUML). Although the IUML was a prominent partner of the Congress within the United Democratic Front (UDF), Aryadan cared the least for the League’s one-upmanship in Malappuram.
He represented the secular face of the Congress even at times challenging the IUML’s religious-centric politics. He showed no qualms in branding some IUML leaders as communal. He blatantly dismissed the spiritual hegemony of the Syed Shihab Thangal family of Panakkad, causing heartburns to many in the IUML and evoking criticism from even the party leadership. But he never cared.
Yet, Aryadan maintained cordial relations with most leaders of the IUML. He was careful to stay away from controversies after his term ended as a Minister and MLA in 2016.
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Endearingly called Kunhakka by the people of Nilamur, his house at Chettiyangadi always welcomed the people irrespective of their party, religion or class. The gate of his house always remained open, and he was known for his hospitality. And there was not a single day when his portico looked deserted after he started his political career.
Although Aryadan has completed his autobiography with the help of journalist M.P. Vinod, he passed away before its publication. “He has spoken at length about different phases of his life in his autobiography. He has shared the travails that he suffered while being in jail for nine months following the murder of CPI(M) leader Kunhali,” said Mr. Vinod.
Aryadan took two years to complete his autobiography. He was hospitalised while the book was on its way to the press. Three books, including his autobiography and a compilation of his Assembly speeches, were to be published to mark the 70th anniversary of his political life. But he left before that.
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Among the episodes of his life, an agitation by the labourers of Arthala Tea Estate at Karuvarakundu that he spearheaded in 1958 earned him a permanent place among the working class in and around Nilambur. “That struggle was historic. It showed his diligence as a trade union leader,” said Mr. Vinod.
Although Aryadan represented Nilambur in the Assembly for 34 years, he never fixed an MLA board on his car. Never did he open an MLA office at Nilambur. He was known to have said famously once: “The people know me, and I don’t have to proclaim myself as an MLA.”