The state saw governments led by both the Left and the Congress and their various combinations but none took an issue with its name.
A lot of people believe a rose is a rose is a rose, and that it would smell as sweet by any other name not because Shakespeare said so but because it smells so. But the Doubting Thomases in the Kerala Assembly do not quite believe that. And they are unanimous in their disbelief. The only red land left in an increasingly rightward marching India wants to set the record straight and rename itself as “Keralam” to reflect the style of Malayalam, the language a majority of its people speak. It is not just the style, the state is called “Keralam” in Malayalam, chief minister Pinarayi Vijayan reasoned while moving a resolution in the state Assembly, requesting the Union government to give its consent.
Present-day Kerala, like many other states, comprised princely states of Travancore and Kochi along with Malabar, which was under the Madras presidency during the time of the Raj. The call for a united Kerala was part of the national movement. In fact, E.M.S. Namboodiripad, the Marxist patriarch, in his book, Keralam Malayalikalude Mathrubhumi (Kerala, the Motherland of Malayalis), he wrote in 1948, put the idea in the concrete form. The demand materialised when the then Union government decided to reorganise states based on language and Kerala was born on November 1, 1956. And Namboodiripad became the first chief minister of the state, Kerala. The state saw governments led by both the Left and the Congress and their various permutations and combinations but none took an issue with its name.
India has been witnessing a name-change spree for quite some time — most metros and several major towns that existed four decades ago have all rechristened themselves; so have several state capitals. The state of Orissa is Odisha now. So, it’s not unlikely for the BJP, the Leftists and the Congress to come together and rename God’s Own Country, a term coined in the 1980s under a Communist chief minister, what its people have always wanted.