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A. K. G.

Constituency Kasaragod

Born October 1, 1904(1904-10-01)
Kannur, Kerala, British India
Died 22 March 1977 (aged 72)
Trivandrum Medical College, Kerala, India
Political party Communist Party of India (Marxist)
Spouse(s) Susheela Gopalan
Religion Atheism

Ayillyath Kuttiari Gopalan Nambiar (Malayalam: ആയില്യത്ത് കുറ്റ്യാറി ഗോപാലന്‍ നമ്പ്യാര്‍), 1 October 1904 to March 22, 1977, popularly known as A. K. Gopalan or AKG, was an Indian communist leader.


Early life and education

He was born into a Nambiar family on 1 October 1904 in Kannur District of Northern Kerala and educated in Tellichery. By the time he became a teacher, India's independence movement was becoming energized by Mahatma Gandhi. Gopalan took part in the Khilafat Movement[1] which prompted a marked change in his outlook, transforming him into a dedicated fulltime social and political worker.

Indian National Congress

In 1927 he joined the Indian National Congress and began playing an active role in the Khadi Movement and the upliftment of Harijans. He was arrested for participating in the salt satyagraha in 1930.

While in prison he got acquainted with communism and became a member of the Congress Socialist Party and later the Communist Party of India when it finally took shape in Kerala in 1939. He led the hunger march from Malabar region to Madras in 1937 and the Malabar Jatha in support of the movement for responsible government in Travancore.

Communism in India

Communist Party of India

Communist Party of India (Marxist)

Naxalbari uprising
Communist Party of India (M-L)
Liberation - New Democracy
Janashakti - PCC - 2nd CC
Red Flag - Class Struggle
Communist Party of India (Maoist)

Socialist Unity Centre of India

A. K. Gopalan
E. M. S. Namboodiripad
B. T. Ranadive
Charu Majumdar
Jyoti Basu
S. A. Dange
Shibdas Ghosh
T. Nagi Reddy

Tebhaga movement

World Communist Movement

Communism Portal

Further arrest

AKG with B.T. Ranadive

The outbreak of the Second World War in 1939 prompted an upsurge in activism against British domination, and Gopalan was again arrested. But in 1942 he escaped from prison and remained at large till the end of the war in 1945. He was arrested again shortly after the end of the war and was still behind bars when India became independent on August 15, 1947. He was released a few weeks later. Thereafter he was a member of Lok Sabha for 5 consecutive terms till his death on March 22, 1977 and became the first leader of opposition in the parliament of India.

During the Sino-Indian war in 1962, AKG along with other Indian communists like E.M.S. Namboodiripad took an impartial view and requested both nations to discuss and settle matter peacefully. The official leadership of the party at that time denounced this and supported India Government. Many leaders of the left group were arrested with the support of the leadership of the party. When the party leadership blocked the publication of an article written by then General Secretary, EMS condemning government on attacking the left leaders in the party using the cover of the war, he himself quit the post and supported the left group. AKG was part of left group and faced disciplinary action by the party leadership dominated by the right. During this time a newspaper published a letter alleged written by rightist leaders S.A Dange to the British during the freedom struggle. In this letter he promised to keep away from freedom struggle if granted bail. This was used by the left group to beat the right. When the demand of the left to set up a party level inquiry about the alleged letter of S.A Dange was rejected in the National Council of CPI the left group walked away and formed a new Party.

AKG joined the new break away faction , which later came to be known as Communist Party of India ( Marxist). He also wrote extensively. His autobiography In the Cause of the People has been translated into many languages. His other works include For Land, Around the World, Work in Parliament, and Collected Speeches, all in Malayalam.


AKG was married to Susheela Gopalan, an Ezhava, who was a prominent Marxist and trade union activist. His daughter, Laila, is married to P. Karunakaran, the Member of Parliament for the Kasargode constituency.

Indian Coffee House

AKG played an important role in the formation of Indian Coffee House, a worker cooperative initiative by organising the thrown out employees of Coffee Houses of Coffee Board to establish ICHs in late 1950s. His contribution is documented in Coffee Housinte Katha, a Malayalam alternative history book by Nadakkal parameswaran pillai the founder of ICHs in Kerala with the Communist Leader of Thrissur Advocate T. K. Krishnan.

Important Dates In AKG’s Life

AKG memorial in Thiruvananthapuram
  • 1904 Was born in Mavilayi, Kannur District.
  • 1923 Became schoolteacher in an elementary school.
  • 1926-29 Participated actively in Congress Party.
  • 1930 Joined a Satyagraha and was jailed. Became full-time political worker.
  • 1931 Participated as a Captain of the volunteers, in the Guruvayoor Temple-entry Satyagraha.
  • 1934 Joined Congress Socialist Party, founded in Kerala.
  • 1936 Led unemployed jatha from Cannanore to Madras-600 miles on foot.
  • 1937-38 Participated in workers’ struggles and militant peasant agitations.
  • 1939 Joined Communist Party.
  • 1941 Escaped from Vellore Jail.
  • 1946-47 Jailed and spent Independence Day in prison.
  • 1948-51 Jailed under preventive detention; case in Supreme Court.
  • 1951 Elected President of AIKS.
  • 1952 Elected to Lok Sabha and became Leader of the Communist Party in Parliament. Elected subsequently in 1957, 1962, 1967 and 1971, Parliamentary elections.
  • 1952 Visited China and the Soviet Union, attending the 19th Congress of the CPSU.
  • 1957 Participated in the Samyukta Maharashtra and Mahagujarat movement. Arrested in Gujarat.
  • Gave leadership to the struggle of retrenched labourers of India Coffee Board which resulted in the formation of Indian Coffee Houses.
  • 1958 Went to Punjab to aid the peasants in the anti-betterment levy struggle.
  • 1959 Led the struggles of Amravathi peasants in Kerala and went on prolonged hunger strike.
  • 1960 Led peasant jatha in Kerala demanding land reform.
  • 1962 Jailed by the Congress government.
  • 1963 Led peasants against eviction and police terror in Keerithode, Kerala.
  • 1963 Among the 32 leaders of the National Council of the CPI who walked out.
  • 1964 Participated in the Seventh Congress of the CPI(M) elected to the CC and PB in which position he remained till his death.
  • 1965-66 Jailed by the Congress government.
  • 1970 Gave leadership to the militant hutment dwellers struggle of agricultural labour in Kerala where scores died in police firings and goonda attacks.
  • 1972 Participated in the Kerala surplus land struggle and was arrested.
  • 1975 Arrested under MISA and later released.
  • 1977 Visited Kannur district to oppose police-Congress repression.
  • March 22, 1977 Died in Thiruvananthapuram Medical College hospital after a severe stroke.


  • Shaji Karun, a prominent film director of Kerala, made a biopic on AKG titled `AKG — Athijeevanathinte Kanalvazhikal'. The film used a part-documentary, part-fiction format. It was released in theaters across Kerala on August 2008[2].

See also




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