A  Rebel and a Chief Minister

Hashim Rajan

C. Kesavan was a grand revolutionary in the mould of legendary Lenin, Mao, Che and Ho Chi Minh.

Born into a humble family of traditional weavers in 1891 in Thattatakezhakathil, Mayyanad, Quilon; C. Kesavan through intense hardships braving odds became the Citizen Number One - the Chief Minister of Travancore.

C. Kesavan had his formal education in Maharajas College, Ernakulam, University College, Trivandrum and later took his law degree from Law College, Trivandrum. As a boy, he was a mischievous prank; and was nicknamed as ‘cricket’.

C. Kesavan was a multifaceted person. He was a remarkable singer in his own right. In 1922, when Rabindranath Tagore visited Trivandrum, C. Kesavan sang that unforgettable ‘Divyakokilam’, penned by Kumaran Asan in praise of Tagore.

As an actor, C. Kesavan was the immortal ‘Dushyantan’ of the epic Shakuntalam.

In the field of journalism, C. Kesavan created history. He was the founder - editor of Kaumudi, established in 1938 and the first daily came out from C.V. Kunhuraman family. Later, he published Navasakthi, Prabodhini and Samatha.

As a teacher, C. Kesavan was widely respected. He had stints at Mavelikkara English School and Palghat Basal Mission School. C. Kesavan in his student days was an excellent weaver and sold his products in the markets of Quilon.

C. Kesavan met the ‘queen’ of his life: Vasanthi, the only daughter of C.V. Kunhuraman, the founder-editor of Kerala Kaumudi. She was a teacher. They married and have five children – K. Ravindranath, K. Balakrishnan, K. Ramabhadran, K. Indira, K. Aysha.

Political Life of C. Kesavan

C. Kesavan was a practicing lawyer at the bar in Quilon, alongwith E.V. Krishna Pillai and T.M. Varghese.

C. Kesavan plunged into political activity with the Abstention Movement in 1933.

In 1935, he made that historic speech in Kozhencherry, which was the turning point in the history of modern Kerala. C. Kesavan was arrested; send to imprisonment and was released in 1937.

The rousing reception C. Kesavan got at Kidanganparambu Maidan, in Alleppy is history. The meeting was presided by K.C. Mammen Mappila, the Chief Editor of Malayala Manorama. He described C. Kesavan as the ‘uncrowned king’ of Travancore. This was the main reason for cancelling the license of the paper by C.P. Ramaswamy Iyer, the Diwan of Travancore. T.M. Varghese lost the job as the Deputy President of Travancore Assembly.

The Abstention Movement led to the formation of Travancore State Congress in 1938, which was presided by C.V. Kunjuraman. Pattom A. Thanu Pillai and T.M. Varghese was elected to the working committee as members. Finally, C. Kesavan won the battle against all odds.

C. Kesavan became the Minister in the first popular government, formed in 1948 and later, the Chief Minister of Travancore-Cochin in 1951.

C. Kesavan has authored one of the most classic autobiography in Malayalam - Jeevitha Samaram.

He passed away at the age of eighty on July 7, 1969.

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