The Civil Disobedience Movements started by Gandhiji in 1920 had its immediate echoes in Travancore. The Congress Committee of the state organized meetings, processions and boycott of British goods. In the early thirties, Travancore passed through one of the stormiest Political agitations in its history. The agitation known as Nivarthana movement was started as a protest against the constitutional reforms of 1932. In spite of the repressive measures of the government, the agitation ultimately ended in success. Specific considerations were given to each community as a result of the agitation.
In 1938, the Travancore State Congress came into being. Pattom Thanu Pillai was its first president. C. Kesavan, P. K. Kunju, T.M Varghese were the other prominent leaders of the State Congress. The aim of the new organisation was the achievement of fully responsible government for the people of Travancore.The Quit India Movement did not produce any violent reaction in Travancore. But the post-war period witnessed the crowding of dark clouds in the political horizon of Travancore. In January 1946 Sir C. P. Ramaswamy Aiyer announced his proposal for constitutional reforms which provided for an irrevocable executive on the ‘American model’. The State Congress rejected the scheme as unacceptable.
The achievement of responsible government in Travancore came as a dramatic end to a series of sensational developments that took place in the year 1946-47. In July 1947, Sir. C. P. Ramaswamy Iyer announced that Travancore would set itself as an independent state with effect from the date of British withdrawal from India. The declaration of the Diwan caused a great controversy inside and outside the state. The reckless use of force by the Government proved to be ineffective against the state-wide mass movement led by the congress party. The Diwan was attacked and he soon resigned the office and left Travancore. With that struggle, the struggle for responsible government came to a successful end in the state. The first popular ministry of Travancore consisting of Pattom Thanu Pillai, T. M. Varghese and C. Kesavan, came to power on March 24, 1948.
Integration of Travancore and Cochin and the formation of Kerala state
The policy for merger and integration of states initiated by the state Ministry of the government of India under the guidance of Sardar Vallabhai Patel paved the way for the integration of the States of Travancore and Cochin. As a result, on 1st July 1949, the State of Travancore-Cochin came into existence. The Cochin Maharaja was pensioned and Sri Chitira Tirunal Bala Rama Varma, the Maharaja of Travancore was appointed as the Rajapramukh of the new state. The legislators and ministers of the two states were combined to form the legislature and the ministry of Travancore-Cochin.
The first popular ministry in Travancore- Cochin was headed by T. K. Narayana PiIlai, the Chief Minister of Travancore. In the general elections of 1951-52, the congress party secured 44 seats out of 108 in the state legislature. In the mid-term election held in February 1954 a Congress Ministry by Panampilli Govinda Menon assumed office. This Cabinet fell in March 1956. The fall of this ministry was followed by the first spell of President Rule in the state. Later in 1957 November 1, Kerala was formed..
Political developments after the formation of the state and Congress party
The first general election to the Kerala State Legislature was held in February 1957. The Communist Party of India and a few Independents supported by it secured 65 out of 126 seats in the legislature. Presidents Rule came to an end on April 5, 1957 and a Communist ministry under the Chief Minister of E. M. S. Namboothiripad came to power. Anti-people policies and brutal ways of cell rule by the Communist Government evoked opposition in all quarters of the state, which led to innumerable agitations across the state that resulted in its overthrow in 1959. President’s rule was proclaimed once again in Kerala.
In February 1960, fresh elections were held to the Kerala State Legislature. There was an alliance between the Congress, the P.S.P and the Muslim League against the Communist Party. In the wake of the victory of the alliance, Congress-P.S.P coalition ministry with Pattom. A. Thanu Pillai as Chief Minister was sworn in on 22nd February 1960 and President’s Rule came to an end. In September 1962, Pattom. A. Thanu Pillai was appointed as the Governor of Punjab state. R. Sankar, the leader of the Congress Party became the Chief Minister. This Ministry resigned office on September 10, 1964. With the fall of the Sankar Ministry, Kerala State was again placed under President’s Rule. The major political development of the period was the split in the Communist Party namely the Marxist Communist Party.