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M.A. John, Congress leader, passes away

Staff Reporter



M.A. John

KOTTAYAM: M.A. John, 78, veteran Congress leader and social critic, is no more.

John, whose wife had gone to the U.S. to their daughter's home, was alone at home at Kurianad, near here. The body was found by some of his friends who arrived at his house to invite him for a public function in Thrissur. Doctors later diagnosed the cause of death as a massive heart attack.

John leaves behind his wife and two daughters. The body has been kept in a private nursing home at Monippally.

John, who played a pivotal role in building up the modern Congress party in Kerala by infusing new blood in the early 1950s and 1960s, is credited with the introduction of leaders such as Union Defence Minister A.K. Antony in the party. His uncompromising stance on political morality and a Congress ideology based on socialism and secularism got him a fan following in the party, but many believe these very same qualities seemed to be his undoing in his political career.

Born into an agriculturist family in 1932, John entered politics at an early age and soon caught the eye of senior leaders through his sharp intellect and uncompromising stand on ideals in which he believed. He played a key role in building up the Youth Congress and the Kerala Students' Union.

John's uncompromising stance on the need for the old guard in the party to move out in place for the younger lot found him pitted against veterans such as T.O. Bawa in the organisational elections. And soon he was eased out for lack of party discipline. However, John found himself in the thick of action a few years later when Indira Gandhi organised her own party splitting the Congress.

However, the political romantic in John was soon disillusioned and floated his own ginger group calling it ‘Parivarthana Congress.' The short-lived experiment, however, saw John moving out of the political limelight. He, however, tried to make another come back last decade when K. Karunakaran formed his Democratic Indira Congress-Karunakaran joining as its senior vice-president. That too failed to take him out of the political wilderness.

A favourite

Though John was out of the political limelight, any development in the Congress would result in a battery of mediapersons scurrying to his residence where he would patiently recount the earlier incidents in which he too was a key player. Another major attraction was the presence of one of the finest personal libraries any political leader could boast of, housing some of the rarest political documents.

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