People's Democracy

(Weekly Organ of the Communist Party of India (Marxist)

Vol. XXX

No. 17

April 23, 2006







VETERAN communist and trade union leader Comrade C Kannan died at his residence at Kannookkara in Kannur district of Kerala on April 16, 2006. He was 96. 
Comrade ‘C’, as he was popularly known, was one of the pioneers of trade union movement in Kerala. He was born in 1910 in a poor family in Kannur district. Poverty forced him to abandon schooling at the primary level itself. At the tender age of eleven he began working in beedi manufacturing unit. It was the initiative and leadership provided by Comrade C Kannan to organise the exploited beedi workers that saw the formation of Tobacco Workers Union in 1934 in Kannur. Among the many struggles of beedi workers that he led in the Malabar region was the popular 36-day struggle in Kannur in 1937 and the 1939 struggle of the Ponnani beedi workers. The Ponnani struggle led to his arrest and imprisonment. Comrade Kannan also played a leading role in organising the textile workers. Under the directions of the legendary communist leader P Krishna Pillai, Comrade Kannan led the Aaron Mill struggle in 1944. 

An active participant in the freedom struggle, Comrade Kannan initially joined the Congress Socialist Party. One of the pioneers of the communist movement in Kerala, he formally joined the Party in 1939. He was elected to Malabar Committee in 1952. Later on, he joined those who formed the CPI(M) in 1964. Later he was elected to the state committee of the Party.
He was elected to the Kerala legislative assembly three times. He represented Kannur in 1957 and Edakkad in 1965 and 1967. He also served in the Kannur Municipal Council for 25 years. 
After the outbreak of the Second World War, there were large scale arrests of communist leaders. Alongwith A. K Gopalan and other leaders in Kerala, Comrade Kannan too was arrested and sent to the Vellore jail. In September 1941 he alongwith A K Gopalan escaped from jail. However, this freedom was shortlived and he was arrested again and had to face punishment for jail break. In all, Comrade C underwent imprisonment for a total of nine years and remained underground for eight years. In the police firing at the Salem Jail in February 1950 he escaped, although 22 other inmates were killed 
When the CITU was formed in 1970 Comrade Kannan was one of its founding leaders. For 30 long years, Comrade Kannan was the president of the Kerala state unit of the CITU. For many years he served as the all India vice president of CITU, a position in which he continued till his death. 

A comrade known for his simple living and austerity, Comrade Kannan’s integrity was impeccable. Coming from a humble background, it was tireless work and dedication that made Comrade Kannan a leading light of the trade union movement in Kerala. His spartan lifestyle and devotion to the working class movement made him command universal respect. 

When the body of Comrade Kannan was brought to the Azheekodan Mandiram, the district committee office of the Party, to allow people to pay their last respects, thousands and thousands of people from different walks of life came to bid a tearful farewell. Workers and leaders of various political parties thronged the Party office. Among those who paid homage to the deceased leader were Polit Bureau member V S Achuthanandan, state secretary Pinarayi Vijayan, Left Democratic Front convener Paloli Mohammed Kutty.