R. Balakrishna Pillai

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R. Balakrishna Pillai
R Balakrishna Pillai.jpg
Minister for Transport, Government of Kerala
In office
10 March 2003 (2003-03-10) – 29 August 2004 (2004-08-29)
In office
22 March 1995 (1995-03-22) – 28 July 1995 (1995-07-28)
In office
24 June 1991 (1991-06-24) – 16 March 1995 (1995-03-16)
In office
26 December 1975 (1975-12-26) – 25 June 1976 (1976-06-25)
Minister for Electricity, Government of Kerala
In office
25 May 1986 – 25 March 1987
In office
24 May 1982 – 5 June 1985
In office
25 January 1980 – 20 October 1981
Member of Parliament, Lok Sabha
In office
Preceded byG. P. Mangalathumadom
Succeeded byB. K. Nair
Member of the Kerala Legislative Assembly
In office
25 March 1977 (1977-03-25) – 12 May 2006 (2006-05-12)
Preceded byKottara Gopalakrishnan
Succeeded byP. Aisha Potty
In office
1960 (1960)–1965 (1965)
Preceded byN. Rajagopalan Nair
Succeeded byP. K. Raghavan
Chairman of the Kerala State Welfare Corporation for Forward Communities
In office
17 May 2017 (2017-05-17) – 3 May 2021 (2021-05-03)
Preceded byJustice A.V. Ramakrishna Pillai
Succeeded byK. G. Premjith
In office
23 July 2013 (2013-07-23) – 26 January 2015 (2015-01-26)
Preceded byOffice established
Succeeded byJustice A.V. Ramakrishna Pillai
Personal details
Born(1935-03-08)8 March 1935
Valakom, Kottarakara, Kingdom of Travancore
Died3 May 2021(2021-05-03) (aged 86)
Kottarakara, Kollam, Kerala, India
Political partyIndian National Congress (1950s–1964)
Kerala Congress (1964–77, 1985–91)
Kerala Congress (B) (1977–85, 1991–2021)
SpouseVatsala (died 2018)
Children3 (incl. Ganesh Kumar)
Parent(s)Keezhoote Raman Pillai
Karthyayani Amma
Residence(s)Keezhoottu Puthen Veedu, Valakom, Kottarakara, Kollam

Keezhoote Raman Balakrishna Pillai (8 March 1935 – 3 May 2021) was an Indian politician who served as minister of the state of Kerala in India, holding portfolios such as Transport and Electricity. He was a member of the Kerala Legislative Assembly from Kottarakara constituency in Kollam district for almost three decades. He was the Chairman of Kerala Congress (B).[1] Throughout his political career, Pillai remained a controversial figure in Kerala state politics. He was the first Kerala minister to be imprisoned for corruption.

Gandeevam, a biography of Pillai written by Vrindavanam Venugopalan with a foreword by Sooranad Kunjan Pillai, was published by Viswakeralam Daily. Pillai's autobiography was published by DC Books in 2011. He also acted in two Malayalam movies in 1979 and 1980 - Vedikkettu and Ival Oru Naadody. Prisoner 5990 is his autobiography.

Personal life[edit]

Balakrishna Pillai was born on 3 April 1935, in Valakom near Kottarakkara in Kollam district, as the son of Keezhoote Raman Pillai and Karthyayani Amma. His father was a wealthy Nair landlord with plenty of land in the present-day Kerala and Tamil Nadu states. He was married to Vatsala and has two daughters and a son. The latter, K. B. Ganesh Kumar, is a film actor and politician who served as a state minister during 2001–03 and 2011–13.[2] His wife Vatsalakumari died on 3 January 2018 aged 76.[3]

Pillai died on 3 May 2021, at Vijaya hospital in Kottarakkara.[4] He was admitted to the hospital a few days earlier owing to respiratory issues and was on ventilator support.[5] His body was cremated with full state honours.

Political career[edit]

Student politics[edit]

R. Balakrishna Pillai was member of Thiruvathankur Students' Union (which later became Tirukochi Vidyarthi Federation and later Kerala Students' Union).[6]

Indian National Congress[edit]

Balakrishna Pillai later joined the Indian National Congress (INC) party. In 1960, he became member of the Kerala Pradesh Congress Committee executive and of the All India Congress Committee.[6]

He was elected to the Kerala Legislative Assembly for the first time in 1960 from the Pathanapuram Assembly Constituency of Kollam district, as an INC candidate, at the age of 25 and holds the record for becoming the youngest MLA of Kerala.[7]

Kerala Congress formation[edit]

In 1964, fifteen MLAs led by K. M. George (including Balakrishna Pillai) left the Congress and formed a regional party called the Kerala Congress, with George as the chairman and Pillai as general secretary. Pillai won the elections from his home constituency Kottarakara in 1965 but was defeated in the next two elections of 1967 and 1970. He was elected to the Lok Sabha in the 1971 General Election from Mavelikara constituency and served as the Member of Parliament (MP) until 1977.[1]

From December 1975 to June 1976, he served as the Minister for Transport, Excise and Jails in the Kerala Cabinet.[8]

Kerala Congress split[edit]

After the death of K. M. George in 1976, there was tussle for control of the party between Balakrishna Pillai and K. M. Mani. In 1977, the party split into the Mani and Pillai groups. He was re-elected to the state legislature in 1977 and then again in the general elections of 1980, 1982, 1987, 1991, 1996, and 2001, but was defeated in the 2006 election. His victory margin of 37,000 votes in 1980 remained a record for the State Assembly polls for more than a quarter century.[9][8]

He was a founder member of United Democratic Front (UDF). He was Minister for several years starting in different Ministries headed by C. Achutha Menon, K. Karunakaran, E. K. Nayanar, and A. K. Antony.[10]

Punishment by Supreme Court[edit]

The government appointed Justice K. Sukumaran to inquire into allegations related to the Idamalayar and Kallada Dam construction projects. Based on his report, R. Balakrishna Pillai and others were prosecuted by a Special Court.[11] The Supreme Court on 10 February 2011 sentenced R. Balakrishna Pillai and two others to one-year imprisonment for allegedly abusing their position in the award of a contract for the Edamalayar hydroelectric power project.[12] The apex court bench of Justices P. Sathasivam and B.S. Chauhan reversed the Kerala High Court judgment which had acquitted all three. Chief Minister V. S. Achuthanandan had moved the Supreme Court, in his personal capacity, challenging the verdict of acquittal and the apex court allowed Achuthanandan's appeal.



  1. ^ a b Anand, G. (3 May 2021). "Kerala Congress (B) chairman R. Balakrishna Pillai passes away". The Hindu. ISSN 0971-751X. Retrieved 26 June 2021.
  2. ^ "മുന്‍മന്ത്രി ആര്‍. ബാലകൃഷ്ണ പിളള അന്തരിച്ചു". Mathrubhumi. Retrieved 26 June 2021.
  3. ^ "Balakrishna Pillai's wife passes away". Mathrubhumi. Retrieved 26 June 2021.
  4. ^ "ആര്‍. ബാലകൃഷ്ണ പിള്ള അന്തരിച്ചു; വിടവാങ്ങിയത് കേരള രാഷ്ട്രീയത്തിലെ അതികായന്‍ | Balakrishna Pillai | UDF | LDF | Passes away | Breaking News | Manorama News". www.manoramanews.com. Archived from the original on 3 May 2021.
  5. ^ "Kerala Congress (B) supremo R Balakrishna Pillai hospitalised, on ventilator". The News Minute. 29 April 2021. Retrieved 26 June 2021.
  6. ^ a b "Kerala Congress B chairman Balakrishna Pillai passes away". OnManorama. Retrieved 26 June 2021.
  7. ^ "Kerala Congress (B) chairman R Balakrishna Pillai passes away". The Economic Times. Retrieved 26 June 2021.
  8. ^ a b "Kerala: Towering figure & a darling of controversies | Thiruvananthapuram News - Times of India". The Times of India. TNN. 4 May 2021. Retrieved 26 June 2021.
  9. ^ "Remembering R Balakrishna Pillai: A leader who played an important part in forming UDF". The News Minute. 3 May 2021. Retrieved 26 June 2021.
  10. ^ PTI. "Kerala Congress (B) chairman R Balakrishna Pillai passes away". @businessline. Retrieved 26 June 2021.
  11. ^ Justice K. Sukumaran (December 2001). "NO FORESIGHT... NO FOLLOWUP" (PDF). IPT. Retrieved 23 April 2012.
  12. ^ Apex court gives one-year jail to former Kerala minister. Sify.com (10 February 2011). Retrieved on 2 December 2011.