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Chunangat Kunjikavamma

(1894 – 1974) – (Kerala)

Chunangat Kunjikavamma (Aged 80) born on 1894, was an Indian politician. In 1938, she became the first female President (Sarwadhikari) of Kerala Pradesh Congress Committee, and Sri E.M.S. Namboodiripad (who later became the first communist Chief Minister of Kerala State) was the Secretary. Sreemathi Chunangat Kunjikavamma belonged to a prominent Nair family of Chunangat, in Ottapalam, Palakkad District. She served as the first woman President of the Kerala Pradesh Congress Committee during the late 1930s. She fought against British Imperialism in the Indian independence movement for a quarter of a century as a frontline regional leader of the Indian National Congress.

Kunjikkavamma was a voracious reader and came to understand much about the foreign subjugation of India through the writings of the great leaders of the national movement. She decided to forsake all the material comforts of her prominent family to plunge headlong into the struggle against the British Empire for the sake of her motherland’s freedom.

Kunjikkavamma donated liberally for the cause of the freedom movement. Once, when Mahatma Gandhi visited Kerala, Smt. Kunjikkavamma told her son to garland Mahatma with a gold chain that he wore. On another occasion, when Gandhiji gave a speech on national awakening, she donated more of her gold ornaments to the National Fund. Gandhiji immediately auctioned the chain to the Harijan Welfare Fund. She also started wearing Khadi from that day onwards, following Gandhiji’s advice. She became a full-time worker of the Congress and organized many meetings to awaken people to the ideals of Congress. She participated in the State conferences as well as All India conferences of the Congress and greatly encouraged the women of her region to join the freedom movement.

She was jailed during 1930 and 1932. In 1932, she had given leadership to a great demonstration boycotting foreign goods. She was arrested and placed in Kannoor jail for three years. After her release, she remained active in the freedom struggle and was arrested again and spent the next two years in Vellore Jail along with other great women leaders of the movement like Srimathi Kuttimalu Amma, Mrs. Samuval Aaron, and Mrs. Asher.

Kunjikkavamma helped in the construction of the high school and the Kasturba Memorial Kendra at Chunangat, her native village. She also donated 8 acres of her land to the Bhoodan movement led by Acharya Vinoba Bhave. She was awarded the Tamra Patra by the Central Government in 1972 as recognition of her role played by her in the freedom struggle. She declined an offer by the Kerala Government of the day to grant her land in Vayanad district in recognition of her efforts in the National Movement. She spent the last years of her life at her daughter’s residence and passed away on August 21, 1974.