Payyanur is famous for its remarkable role in the freedom struggle of the country. This small town had done a lot for the national movement. The fourth All Kerala Political Conference was held at Payyannur under the auspices of the Kerala Provincial Congress. This conference was presided over by Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru. The Payyannur Conference passed a resolution requesting the Indian National Congress to adopt “Complete Independence” instead of “Swaraj” as its goal at the annual session which was scheduled to take place at Calcutta (now Kolkata) during that year. Uppu Satyagraha (Salt Satyagraha) of 1930, Quit India Movement, Khadi Propagation are some of the activities that brought Payyanur to the national arena. Because of its immense contribution to the Independence Movement Payyanur was called as “Second Bardoli”.
The freedom movement of Payyanur got a new vigor and energy from the agitation for boycotting Simon Commission. The KPCC conference of 1928 held at Payyanur, presided by Pandit Jawahar Lal Nehru, opened a new chapter in the history of the Independence movement .
Payyannur was the main venue of the Salt Satyagraha, a major turning point in the Indian Freedom Movement, in Malabar. On 13 April 1930, a batch of Congress volunteers under the leadership of K. Kelappan started on foot from Kozhikkode to the beaches of Payyannur and broke the salt laws there on April 21. The Satyagraha camp at Payyannur was raided and the campers were beaten up. The Uliyath Kadav Payyanur incident became a turning point in the history of freedom struggle in Kerala. It thrilled the people and thousands were ready to join in the struggle for freedom. There were widespread demonstrations in Kannur, Thalassery and other parts of the district and a number of Congress workers were arrested. The period following the withdrawal of the Civil Disobedience Movement witnessed the emergence of radical wing in the Kerala Provincial Congress. Some of the radical elements in the Kerala Provincial Congress organized a Kerala unit of the Congress Socialist Party in 1934 and functioned as a separate group within the Provincial Congress. The leadership of this group was in the hands of persons like P. Krishna Pillai, A.K. Gopalan and E. M. S. Namboodiripad.K.V.KunhiKannan Nair of Kadachira, Kannur, a socialist leader. An extremist group of Nationalist Muslims also emerged within the Congress during this period under the leadership of Muhammad Abdur Rahiman. The Congress Socialists and the Nationalist Muslims made common cause against the Gandhi an group known as the Right Wing which was led by such leaders as K. Kelappan, C.K. Govindan Nair and K.A. Damodara Menon.
A notable development in the politics of Malabar during the thirties was the rise of the Muslim League as a district political party. It was the Muslim leaders of Kannur and Thalassery who played the lead role in forming this organization. The leftist elements in the Kerala Provincial Congress were also active in the politics of Malabar in the late thirties. They took an active part in organizing the workers, peasants, students and teachers of Kannur district under their banner. In the election held to the Kerala Pradesh Congress Committee in January 1939, the Rightists suffered a severe setback. Muhammad Abdur Rahiman Sahib  was elected as the president of the K.P.C.C and E. M. S. Namboodiripad as its general secretary. Towards the end of the same year, a branch of the Indian Communist Party was formally founded in Malabar. The Congress Socialist Party workers joined the Communist Party en bloc.