How Did Communism and Marxism Flourish in Kerala State in India?

Shipping in the Indian state of Kerala.
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The citizens of Kerala have the distinction of being the first group of people in the world to collectively and democratically elect a communist government. In 1957, the Indian state made history with this political move that had long-lasting effects on the people, the policies and the politics of Kerala. The rise of Marxism in Kerala is a fascinating story of a wide swath of people rising to meet a growing sense of revolution propelled by the quest for equality and the rights of the people.

1 Communist State Forms

In the early part of the last century, peasant and labor movements created a rift among the political parties in power. The 1930s brought tension among those who worked and those who reaped the benefits of the hard-working citizens. This created the emergence of the left-wing political parties and forming a communist state became a powerful factor.

The anti-colonial native Muslims that hailed from Malabar supported the movement. They quickly dominated the Kerala Provincial Congress Committee and aided in the anti-British sentiment and push for self-rule. When World War II took over the largest powers on the planet, the situation was ripe for change in the state of Kerala.

2 History of CPIM in Kerala

In 1964, a faction of the Communist Party of India split off and the Communist Party of India (Marxist) was created. It was officially formed in Calcutta at the Seventh Congress of the Communist Party of India. With more than 1 million members, the CPIM continues to lead the state government in Kerala as well as the West Bengal Left Front. Communism in Kerala remains, and the members of the collective communist parties that populate the state of Kerala continue to be voted into power more than 50 years later.

3 Communism in India Today

For the last two decades, the Left Democratic Front has been a major political coalition in the state of Kerala. It is one of two major unions to have power in the area since the 1990s. The LDF is a union of left-wing political parties in Kerala that includes the Communist Party of India, the Communist Party of India (Marxist), the Janata Dal, a secular party, the Nationalist Congress Party, the Indian National Congress, which is socialist, the Kerala Congress, an anti-merger group and the Revolutionary Socialist Party.

While the world dubs them communists, the people of Kerala in the Communist Party of India (Marxist) have a strong working class ideology and communist-leaning interactions with the neoliberal world order. The state of Kerala is home to 35 million people who continue to feel they are propelling the ideology of the revolution that began nearly 100 years ago.

Kimberley McGee is an award-winning journalist with 20+ years of experience writing about education, jobs, business and more for The New York Times, Las Vegas Review-Journal, Today’s Parent and other publications. She graduated with a B.A. in Journalism from UNLV. Her full bio and clips can be seen at