Travancore, however, was not destined to have a peaceful
transition to freedom democracy. In October 1946, she
had to face one of the most violent upheavals in her
recent history - the Punnapra- Vayalar revolt. It developed
as a reaction to the constitutional scheme proposed
by the Dewan, C.P.Ramaswamy Iyer, early in January,
1946. The scheme provided for adult franchise, but retained
the dewanship as an irremovable excertive. The State
Congress rejected the scheme. The Communists decided
to launch a violent struggle to bring an end to the
oppressive rule of the Dewan.
The coastal taluks of Alappuzha and Chertala were, in
particular the strongholds of the Communist Party. By
the middle of 1946, there were many camps of party workers
at Punnapra in Alappuzha and at Vayalar in Chertala.
Volunteers from the working class were recruited and
given training. This increased the tension in the area.
The Government deployed not only the police but the
military also. This worsened the situation. The All
Travancore Trade Union Congress called for a general
strike on October 20, 1946. Martial law was clamped
in the area and the Dewan himself assumed the functions
of the commander-in-chief. The impassioned workers and
volunteers preferred confrontation - stones, bamboo
spikes, areca spears and swords confronting machine
guns. What followed, from 24 to 27 October, was a tale
of heroism and tragedy.
The revolt was suppressed. But this did not bring the
difficulties of the Dewan to an end. A political crisis
was again precipitated when the British announced their
decision to leave India. The Dewan announced that Travancore
would remain an independent State on the lapse of British
paramountcy. This unleashed a fierce controversy. The
Dewan let loose the forces of repression. In the midst
of repression and confusion, an unsuccessful attempt
on his life was made. Better counsel prevailed and the
Dewan made his exist from the State. With the advent
of freedom, Travancore was part of the Indian Union
and the first popular ministry under Pattom A.Thanu
Pillai was installed.