C. M. Poonacha

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C. M. Poonacha
Born Cheppudira Muthanna Poonacha
Kodagu (Coorg),
Nationality Indian
Occupation Freedom Fighter, Politician

Cheppudira Muthana Poonacha usually referred to as C. M. Poonacha was Chief Minister of Coorg, Minister in Mysore State, Member of Parliament (Rajya Sabha and Lok Sabha), Union Railway Minister of India and Governor of Madhya Pradesh and Orissa.

Freedom Movement[edit]

C. M. Poonacha was a descendant of the Coorg Dewans. During the Freedom Movement he was sentenced to imprisonment twice during the Salt Satyagraha in 1932 and 1933. He was again imprisoned in 1940–41. and in 1942–44. He became a member of All-India Congress Committee in 1938. Also, in 1938 he was elected to Coorg District Board, became its President in 1941 and in 1945 he was elected to Coorg Legislative Council. From 1945 to 1951 he was leader of the Congress Legislative Party in the Council. He hence became a prominent member of the Indian National Congress party in Coorg.


In 1947 Coorg was a separate state in South India until 1956. The other states of South India at that time were Bombay Presidency, Madras Presidency, Mysore kingdom, Travancore kingdom, Cochin kingdom and Hyderabad kingdom. The Coorg State Assembly had a strength of 24 members and the Cabinet consisted of just two members.

Constituent Assembly Member (Constitution of India)[edit]

C M Poonacha represented the Coorg state as a member of the Constituent Assembly.[1]

Chief Minister (Coorg)[edit]

Two parties fought the 1952 state elections: the Takkadi ('Scales of Justice') party under veteran Gandhian Pandyanda Belliappa, who was a dominant political force and voice of Coorg with its anti-merger plank, and the Congress under C.M. Poonacha in Coorg. Poonacha was elected Chief Minister of Coorg State (1952–56) in the first general elections. Coorg had two MPs in the Union Parliament then, besides having a state legislative body.[2] In 1956 the State Reorganisation Act was passed. Coorg was merged with Mysore and the legislative body at Mercara dissolved. While the Chief Minister was C.M. Poonacha, (who also held the finance portfolio), the only other Minister was Home Minister, Kittur Mallappa. C.M. Poonacha had won the Beriathnad seat while K. Mallappa won the second seat from Sanivarasante.[3] The Congress won 15 seats and Independents (opposing merger), represented by the Takkadi party, won nine seats. Under various circumstances Coorg was merged with the then Mysore in 1956.[4] This election was widely controversial as it was believed that many people from nearby districts of Hunsur, Mysore and Mandya were brought to Kodagu to vote as the government of Karnataka(Congress) believed people of Kodagu will vote overwhelmingly in opposition of the merger. The head of State was the Chief Commissioner, Colonel Dayasingh Bedi. As the governor’s equivalent, Colonel Bedi was presiding over the meetings of the Cabinet.[5][6]

State Minister (Mysore)[edit]

Kodagu was, amidst protests, merged with the then Mysore State in 1956. The 1951 pattern of voting continued in 1957 when elections were held for the two Assembly constituencies in Kodagu – Virajpet and Madikeri. Poonacha of the INC was re-elected from Madikeri. He defeated Kolera Karumbayya of the Praja Socialist Party.[3]

After the formation of the new Mysore State Poonacha was Minister for Home and Industries under its Chief Minister S. Nijalingappa. He was also Chairman, State Trading Corporation of India from 1959 to 1963. He led the Government of India Trade delegation to some East European countries in 1960 and was the leader of the State Trading Corporation delegation to Japan in 1961.

Central Minister[edit]

Poonacha was elected to the Rajya Sabha in April 1964. Later Poonacha was made Union Minister without portfolio in Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru's cabinet. From 1 to 24 January 1966, he was Minister of State in the Ministry of Finance and from 25 January 1966 to 12 March 1967 Minister of State in the Ministry of Transport, Aviation, Shipping and Tourism. He contested and won the Lok Sabha seat for the Mangalore constituency in 1969. He contested again in 1971 but lost.[7][8][9]

Union Railway Minister[edit]

After some time he became Union Minister for Railways from 1967 to 1969 (at first interim and then final) and Minister for Steel and Heavy Engineering in 1969. At that time he was the Member of Parliament representing Mangalore Lok Sabha constituency to which Coorg then belonged. [10][11][12]



After his retirement from active politics, he served two terms as governor, once as Governor of Madhya Pradesh (Governors of Madhya Pradesh) taking charge on 17 August 1978 and later as Governor of Orissa on 30 April 1980 (Governors of Odisha).


Poonacha had two sons and two daughters. Two of his children, C. P. Belliappa and Kaveri Nambisan, are well-known writers in English.

See also[edit]


External links[edit]

Preceded by
Bhagwat Dayal Sharma (first term);
Justice S.K. Ray (second term)
R.N. Mishra (third term)
Governor of Odisha
Apr 1980– Sep 1980 (first term);
Nov 1980 – Jun 1982 (second term);
Sep 1982 – Aug 1983 (third term)
Succeeded by
Justice S.K. Ray (first term);
R. N. Mishra (second term)
Bishambhar Nath Pande(third term)