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Marxist ideologue Govinda Pillai passes away

Thiruvananthapuram, Nov 23,2012 (PTI):

Veteran CPI(M) leader and Marxist ideologue P Govinda Pillai, who dominated Kerala's political and cultural spheres for over six decades, died at a hospital here.

Party sources said today that 86-year-old Pillai had not been keeping well for quite some time and the end came at a private hospital here late last night.

He is survived by wife Prof Rajamma, son M G Radhakrishnan, a senior journalist and daughter Parvathi, journalist, writer and activist. His son-in-law V Sivankutty is a CPI(M) MLA from the state capital.


Popularly known as 'PG', Pillai's death marks the end of a generation in Kerala's Left politics, stretching from the days of the freedom struggle.

He dominated Kerala's political and cultural spheres as a front-ranking Communist, journalist, writer and aesthete and was respected across political and ideological barriers.

He leaves a lasting impression in Malayalam literature as critic, historian and a prolific columnist who wrote with equal ease on a wide variety of topics, ranging from international affairs to diverse Indian folklore traditions.

Pillai was elected to the Assembly in 1957, 1964 and 1967.

Later, the party assigned him to lead its publication and literary wing and he served as chief editor of CPI(M)'s official organ Deshabhimani for nearly two decades. Choosing to be part of CPI(M) after the 1964 split in the Indian Communist movement, Pillai, hailing from a well-to-do family, served on its state committee for decades.

He also had worked at the party centre in Delhi before the split in the Indian Communist Party in 1964.

Though he vehemently defended CPI(M)'s ideological positions, his free expression of views on issues occasionally invited disciplinary action, including his open criticism of the Chinese Communist regime's repression of the youth convergence at Tiananmen Square in Beijing in early 1990s.

An avid reader and film buff, Pillai was instrumental in starting the International Film Festival of Kerala as an annual cultural event during his chairmanship of Kerala State Film Development Corporation (KSFDC). 

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