Veteran Congress leader Aryadan Muhammed passes away

He was one of the most prominent and influential Muslim faces of Congress in the Malabar region.

Published: 25th September 2022 10:03 AM  |   Last Updated: 26th September 2022 04:49 AM   |  A+A-

Aryadan Muhammed

Aryadan Muhammed

By Express News Service

MALAPPURAM:  Veteran Congress leader and former minister Aryadan Muhammed passed away on Sunday. He was 87. He was under treatment for age-related illness at a hospital in Kozhikode. His body was kept for the public to pay homage at his residence in Nilambur and at the District Congress Committee (DCC) office in Malappuram. Wayanad MP Rahul Gandhi and state Congress chief K Sudhakaran were among the leaders who paid their last respect at his residence. The burial will be held at Mukatta Valiya Juma Masjid at 9 am on Monday.

A three-time minister and eight-time MLA, Aryadan was a master strategist and was instrumental in A K Antony and Oommen Chandy emerging as top leaders capable of challenging the mighty K Karunakaran in the Congress factional feud. His deep knowledge in legal and economic affairs helped him stand out from other political leaders of his generation. 

Aryadan was born to Unneen and Kadiyamunni in Nilambur on May 15, 1935. He chose a path different from most of his family members who showed allegiance to the Indian Union Muslim League (IUML). He completed his education at the Government Manadevan High School, Nilambur, where he was the captain of the football team. 

The political leader in him matured through trade unionism. He worked for the rights of plantation workers in Nilambur. “He is one of the senior trade union leaders from Malappuram. He earned lots of life experiences and knowledge in economics through trade union works,” said V Mohammed, a senior Congress leader in Malappuram. 

In 1959, he became the president of the Wandoor Farka Congress committee. In 1960, he was elected secretary of the Kozhikode DCC. He became a member of the Kerala Pradesh Congress Committee in 1962. He was elected the Congress’ Malappuram district president when the new district was formed in 1969. 

A prominent Muslim face of Congress in Malabar

Aryadan faced tough challenges from the CPM in Nilambur. He was defeated twice (1965 and 67) in Nilambur by CPM leader Karikadan Kunhali also known as Sakhavu Kunhali. On July 26, 1969, Kunhali was shot dead. The police registered a case against Aryadan and he was imprisoned. However, he was later acquitted by the High Court citing a lack of evidence.

After his acquittal in the case, Kerala saw the emergence of a powerful political leader. When the A group in the Congress parted ways with the party and aligned with the CPM in 1980, Aryadan became the minister for labour and forests in the cabinet headed by E K Nayanar (January 1980 to October 1981).

He served as the minister for labour and tourism in the ministry headed by Antony from April 1995 to May 1996. He held the power portfolio in the ministry headed by Oommen Chandy (2004-2006). In the second Chandy Ministry from 2011 to 2016, Aryadan was the minister for power and transport. Aryadan fearlessly criticised the IUML even in Malappuram.

“Religion should stay out of political affairs. I don’t believe Godmen,” he once said. He did not consider Panakkad Thangal a spiritual leader, instead, he considered him a political leader who is bound to face criticism. Aryadan was one of the prominent Muslim faces of Congress in Malabar. Ill health forced him to stay out of active politics of late. Now, with the absence of Aryadan, it will be a tougher task for Congress to make a comeback in Nilambur.

Malappuram’s ‘Kunjakka’ bids farewell

(Cynthia Chandran)

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: People in Malappuram have always stood for Congress’ Aryadan Muhammed and IUML’s P K Kunhalikutty. For them, the former was ‘Kunjakka’ and the latter ‘Kunjappa’. This was why their Kunjakka represented Nilambur assembly constituency for a record eight terms. But his colleagues in the Congress preferred to call him ‘Chanakya’ for the deftness with which he resolved crises in the party.

Aryadan during an election campaign

Aryadan always took pride in the fact that the Congress politics in Malappuram revolved around him for the past seven decades. But his son Aryadan Shoukath was unsuccessful in carrying forward the legacy of his father. The senior Aryadan was a tad bit disappointed when his son lost to Left-backed independent P V Anwar in 2016 assembly elections. Adding to his woes, Anwar retained the seat in 2021. Aryadan Muhammed had won every assembly election since 1977, except the 1982 polls. Prior to that, Aryadan had tasted defeat in 1965 and 1967 when he lost to CPM’s K Kunjali. 

Recalling the excellent rapport he shared with Aryadan,  Congress veteran A K Antony told TNIE, “Aryadan had strongly opposed my stand on several issues. But when I explained to him the reason, he would agree to it. Our policy was to debate, dissent and then agree. The politics we practised is completely different from that of the current crop of politicians.” Aryadan opposed both majority and minority communalism and was the torchbearer of secularism, Antony said.

Aryadan was the mastermind behind the “A” group’s rise in the state Congress politics which had not gone down well with K Karunakaran. Towards the fag end of his life, Aryadan’s name popped up in the solar scam and the murder of sweeper Radha in the Nilambur Congress office. 


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