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E K Nayanar

Chief Minister

Erambala Krishnan Nayanar (December 9, 1919 - May 19, 2004) was a prominent Indian political leader of the Communist Party of India (Marxist). He held the post of Chief Minister of Kerala three times 1980-81, 1987-91 and 1996-2001. He holds the distinction of serving the post for the longest period of time - 11 years, spanning 4009 days. He was a member of the Polit Bureau of CPI(M).

He was born into wealth and privilege in British-ruled Malabar (north Kerala) (exactly in Kalyassery in Kannur district), at a time when the Congress was considered by the authorities as a recruiting ground for subversives, and communist ideas were sprouting in the country. His father Govindan Nambiar, however, believed in the feudal way of life and would often fly into a rage when the young Nayanar began to frequently don the Gandhi cap as a student volunteer enticed into the national movement by his close relatives, most prominently, uncle and the late communist leader K.P.R. Gopalan.

Nayanar used to recite a Malayalam poem repeatedly to his comrades, which roughly translated, meant: "A life, however beautiful, my friends, has something missing in it, if it has not been to the hangman's chambers, the prison or the battle field." It had a lot of meaning for Nayanar, who had indeed worked "underground" in all regions of the State. After the Kayyur incident, Nayanar had switched his area of activity to Travancore (south Kerala) where, masquerading (initially) as a proof reader in a prominent Malayalam newspaper, Kerala Kaumudi, he organised party activities from Thiruvananthapuram to Kanyakumari and later in Kottayam and Alappuzha. Nayanar devoted boundless energy to the communist cause and rose in the Communist Party of India (CPI), becoming the Kannur taluk secretary in 1948 and the Kozhikode district secretary in 1955. In most of his media interviews, Nayanar reminded everyone in his inimitable naughty style: "Does (Chief Minister) A.K. Antony know every panchayat in Kerala? He does not. But I know every village in this State like the back of my hand. There is no place where I have not been in hiding from the police."

Nayanar was a member of the national council and State executive of the undivided CPI. When the party split in 1964, he was among the 32 members who walked out of the CPI national council to form the CPI(M). He was a member of the central committee of the CPI(M) from the 7th Congress in 1964. He was elected to the Polit Bureau at the 14th Congress in 1992. He served as the secretary of the Kerala state committee of the CPI(M) from 1972 to 1980 and again from 1992 to 1996.

In 1967 he was elected to Lok Sabha from Palghat (now Palakkad). He was elected to Kerala Assembly six times. Among the legislative constituencies he won from were Irikkur, Malampuzha, Thrikkaripur and Thalassery.

He became the Chief Minister of Kerala for the first time on January 25, 1980. His term ended in 1981. He served a four-year term starting from 1987 and a full five-year term in 1996.

He was a capable journalist having edited the Deshabhimani daily and written innumerable articles in regular columns. Nayanar died on May 19 2004 in New Delhi following a heart attack.

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