Kodiyeri Balakrishnan- A Gentle Colossus Passes Away

by Umar Nizarudeen

No other political leader in the recent public memory, in Kerala, was mourned with fervent intensity as Comrade Kodiyeri Balakrishnan, former Kerala Home Minister, who passed away in a hospital in Chennai. His gentle demeanour and ecumenical approach endeared him to the public. As the home Minister of Kerala, he initiated umpteen reform projects that not only saw the light of the day but also paved the way towards a more friendly and efficient `police-public’ interface, that has stood the test of time and inspired other states to follow in his path.

The intensity of Comrade Kodiyeri Balakrishnan’s adherence to the idea of justice was stellar and made him a household name in Kerala. The Kerala model of development, despite setbacks, continues to flourish in its social consciousness due to its untiring efforts. The ideal politician that he was, Comrade Kodiyeri Balakrishnan conscientiously defended the rights of the poor and the indigent against the oppressive forces. The fruits accruing from the Kerala enlightenment led by Sri Narayana Guru, Mahatma Ayyankali, Vakkom Moulavi, and others were sustained by the collective movement that he led. The momentum of social and political reform was never lost. Comrade Kodiyeri Balakrishnan was a reformist to the core. As an administrator and Marxist, Comrade Kodiyeri Balakrishnan reformed his context.

Apart from his exceptional capabilities as an administrator, Comrade Kodiyeri Balakrishnan distinguished himself as a leader of the masses. He never made a wrong intervention. In the face of an ocean of adversities, he stood like a rock and faced hardships with his colleagues, no matter whether they were college students fighting for their rights or agitating workers. This radical ecumenism was the hallmark of Comrade Kodiyeri Balakrishnan. When students of a prominent Trivandrum city college were lathi-charged by the police, Comrade Kodiyeri Balakrishnan immediately reached the venue and stood like a colossus protecting the students. He was a gentle colossus who firmly took a stance against the forces of communal fascism and fissiparous tendencies. The enlightenment ethos of Kerala, nurtured by Sree Narayana Guru and Chattambi Swamikal, Vakkom Maulavi, Mahatma Ayyankali, and others, survives to this day in some vestigial form, thanks to the untiring efforts of stalwarts like Comrade Kodiyeri.

The immediate impact that Comrade Kodiyeri Balakrishnan had on the Malayali public was in his relentless pursuit of justice. He was uncompromising in his scathing criticism of the right-wing fascistic forces. He bequeathed upon a generation of youngsters, a secular and syncretic outlook that negated communal fascism. Comrade Kodiyeri Balakrishnan was that rare antagonist of fascism that national politics never had. He unflinchingly confronted divisiveness in all its forms. The incredible diversity of Kerala as a political ecosystem was eminently protected under his able helmsmanship.

In his passing Comrade, Kodiyeri Balakrishnan leaves a huge void that would be difficult to fill. The impact of his life and career is too far-reaching to be cursorily mentioned. The eternal conflict of the toilers with the oppressors has lost a champion in his demise.

About the Author:

Umar Nizarudeen is with the University of Calicut, India. He has a Ph.D. in Bhakti Studies from the Centre for English Studies in JNU, New Delhi. His poems and articles have been published in Vayavya, Muse India, Culture Cafe Journal of the British Library, The Hindu, The New Indian Express, The Bombay Review,  The Madras Courier, FemAsia, Sabrang India,  India Gazette London, Ibex Press Year’s Best Selection, and also broadcast by the All India Radio.

One Comment

  1. welldone ummer sir. heart touching narration about com.kodiyeri…