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T.M. Varghese (1886–1961) was a former minister and politician from Kerala. He was born in a Marthoma Syrian Christian faimily and the eldest son of Mathai, Thandaaneth, Pallikkal, (near Kayamkulam). His education was at Mavelikkara and Trivandrum (now Thiruvanthapuram). T.M. Varghese's education was paid for by his paternal uncle P.T. John, a very wealthy prominent lawyer of his time. After graduating from the Law College, he began practicing at Kollam (known to Portuguese as Quilon).

Early life

At the age of 16 he married from Mavelikkara. His bride was only 9 years old.[1]. They bought a piece of land near Kamman Kulam near Government High School, Kollam.

Abstention Movement.

Soon after Sir C.P. Ramaswami Iyer popularly known as Sir C.P. was appointed as Dewan of Travancore, he appointed foreign Brahmins to all the top posts of Government. Against this the Nairs joined together and agitated. This is known as the “Malaylee Memorial Agitation.” As a result of this, Maharaja of Travancore Sri Chitira Thirunal Balarama Varma issued a proclamation on October 21, 1932 to constitute a new State Assembly. This came into effect on January 1, 1933. As per this order, the seats were divided among the community as given below: Community, Population (in ten thousands), No. of representatives in the Assembly:- Christians (160.4, 10); Ezhavas (86.9, 3); Nairs (86.8, 36); Other Hindus (47.9, 15); Muslims (35.3, 3) Low Caste (91.7, 1) Europeans (578 people, 2). Total population 5,090,000. Total seats in the Assembly 70. [2]

Christians were involved in business, tea & rubber estates. Ezhavas were the hard working people. Muslims were in business. All these communities helped the state to improve economically. But when it came to the assembly seats they were left behind. So under the leadership of T.M. Varghese representatives of Christian, Ezhava and Muslim communities met the Diwan. He gave them a vague reply. So They decided that there was no use in meeting this Diwan. T.M. Varghese realized that a government with no responsibility to the people was an anachronism.[3]. A meeting of the leaders of the three communities was called at the L.M.S. hall, Thiruvanthapuram on January 25, 1933. They decided to stay united under T.M. Varghese and abstain from the elections. This is known as Nivarthana Prakshobhanam (Abstention Movement).

Joint Political Party.

Christians of Travancore met together at Thiruvanthapuram on November 21, 1932 and formed All Kerala Christian Union (Kerala Kristava Maha Sabha). A general meeting of this Union was held at Kozhenchery in 1935 from May 9 to 11. On the first day T.M. Varghese proposed a resolution that, “The election of the Travancore Legislative Assembly is not justifiable, the government officers have made unlawful influence in its formation, and it is against the wishes of Christian-Ezhava- Muslim people, it is requested that the government should immediately disband the present assembly and elect a new one.” On the last day there was a meeting of All Kerala Joint Political Meeting. C. Kesavan one of the speakers said, “I am talking about C.P. (Diwan Sir C.P. Ramsami Iyer). We don’t require this pest. Travancore got a bad name after his arrival. This country will be gone to the dogs unles this man leaves.” (this is now known as C. Kesavan’s Kozhencherry Address).[4] This angered the Diwan Sir C.P. and C.Kesavan was arrested on June 7, 1935 and was sentenced to two years jail. Three lawyers T.M. Varghese, K.T.Thomas and Barrister George Joseph appeared for C.Kesavan.

All Kerala Joint Political Party (Samuktha Party) was formed and elected T.M. Varghese as Chairman and K.T.Thomas as Secretary. Because of all these, the government at last conceded their demands to a certain extent by introducing communal reservation in appointments to the public service. On August 1936 a new constitution was promulgated and election for the Travancore State Assembly was held on April-May, 1937. T.M. Varghese won the election as a candidate of the All Kerala Joint Political Party. In the Sree Mulam Assembly he was elected as Deputy Chairman.

C. Kesavan who was put in jail in 1935 was released in 1937. Welcoming Kesavan at Kollam and Alapuzha, T.M. Varghese said, “In the name of and on behalf of the 5.1 lakhs (5,10,000) of people of Travancore, I accord with pleasure, a hearty welcome to the most-self sacrificing individual C. Kesavan.” [5] Diwan was furious. As per his suggestion a no confidence motion was moved against the Deputy speaker. In the voting that followed 42 supported the motion, 24 was against and 2 abstained. Thus T.M. Varghese was removed from his post as deputy speaker.

In 1938, a number of leaders and newspaper editors were assaulted. There was no enquiry on this. For discussion, T.M. Varghese brought a resolution in the Assembly but Sir C.P. did not accept it.

State Congress.

In February 1938, T.M. Varghese tabled a motion that, “The proceedings of the Assembly may be suspended to discuss the point “Responsible Government,” (Utharavaditha Bharanam - Government responsible to the people). Sir C.P. allowed this motion to be discussed. In the Assembly, T.M. Varghese declared. “There is no need of a Diwan, in between the 5.1 million people of Travancore and their Maharaja.” Pattam Thanu Pillai (later Chief Minister) and K.T. Thomas spoke supporting the motion. On that day after coming out of the Assembly hall, they formed the Travancore State Congress.

Arrests followed. Banks and newspapers were closed. Agitation spread. Finally on July 30, 1947 Travancore decided to join Indian Union. On August 15, India attained freedom. On 19, Sir C.P. resigned. The government issed a proclamation on September 4, 1947 stating the formation of a “Responsible Government.”

Minister.

In the election that followed, T.M. Varghese was elected from Pathanapuram constituency and became minister of education. On October 17, 1948 the ministry resigned. In 1949, T.M. Varghese was elected as the Speaker of the Assembly. Again in 1952 T.M. Varghese became Home Minister in A.J. John’s short lived ministry.

Last Days.

T.M. Varghese was a strong Marthomite (member of the Marthoma Church) and took active part in all its activities. On December 24, 1961, when he attended the Christmas celebrations at Kollam Marthoma church, he was in joyous mood. The next day he fell sick and on December 31 died. The body was laid to rest at the Marthoma Church cemetery, Kollam.

The people of Kerala erected statues and a Memorial Hall at Kollam is in his name.

Citations

  1. E.M. Kovoor. [1965]. T.M. Varghese. Current Books
  2. Saroja Sundararajan, Sir C.P. Ramaswami Aiyer]] - A Biography. Page 293
  3. E.M. Kovoor. [1965]. T.M. Varghese. Current Books
  4. A commemorative plaque and statue were erected at Kozhencherry, Pathanamthitta District of Kerala, in memory of this speech.
  5. Saroja Sundararajan, [2002] Sir C.P. Ramaswamy Aiyer - A Biography. Page 147.

References

  • Kovoor, E.M. [1965]. T.M. Varghese. Current Books, Kerala.
  • Mathew, N.M. (2007). ] Malankara Marthoma Sabha Charitram, (History of the Marthoma Church), Volume 2. Pub. E.J.Institute, Thiruvalla, Kerala.
  • Mathew, N.M. [2008] Malankara Marthoma Sabha Charitram, (History of the Marthoma Church), Volume 3. Pub. E.J.Institute, Thiruvalla, Kerala.
  • Menon A. Sreedhara [1967]. A survey of Kerala History. S.ViswanathanPrinters & Publishers, Chennai.
  • Saroja Sundararajan, [2002]. Sir C.P. Ramaswamy Aiyer - A Biography, Allied Publishers, Mumbai.

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