4 SOCIAL SCIENTIST
Communist Party emerged with a slender majority., and on 5 April a new cabinet of nine communists led by EMS Namboodiripad and two independents was sworn in. Devoid of state powcr^ and in office only as long as the central government acquiesced in its existence,, it was able to take a number of steps which benefited the exploited classes, including debt relief, fixity of tenure^ land reforms, higher wages, rapid industrial development, lower prices, administrative reforms and,, of immense political significance during the so-called Vimochana Samaram (Struggle for Deliverance), educational reforms.8
The revolutionary changes initiated by the government raised in many observers sanguine hopes of further progress. Kathleen Gough, for example, rounded up her 1965 survey as follows:
Among proliferate and propertyless communist supporters, economic issues are prominent. In villages the poor cite benefits received during the communist rule in 1957-59 ... My own impression is that the communist period so deepened the existing class struggle and liberated propertyless people from their old ties of subordination, that traditional relations of private property,, tenancy and wage labour cannot now be made to work harmoniously.4 Such observations were quite common.*
Many communisits laboured under the same impression. It was., however., B T Ranadive who hit the nail on the head when he observed that the Communist Party had not grasped the full impact of the struggle going on which was
a big class and political battle ... not for electoral victory but for political supremacy. Reaction dug deep into the recesses of the old society among the backward masses to give the Communist Party a heavy blow. We overestimated the impact of the popular measures enacted by our ministry on the people as a whole. To a certain extent we thought that at least everybody, every interest that was benefited, by us would automatically vote for us. This arose out of an underestimation of the pull of ideological forces, of the obscurantist forces of religion and caste, because it did not correctly place the impact of anti-communism as a political force.6
What indeed had happened during the 28 months the communist government held office was that reaction succeeded in fencing off a big section of the downtrodden masses away from the communists by enlisting the aid of communal and religious organizations. The reforms proposed by education minister Joseph Mundassery served as their best possible rallying point.
The educational system in Kerala had provided the state with the highest literacy rate in the country. The communist government conceded that private schools ^had rendered commendable services in