Anna-The Gentle Colossus of Tamilnadu

Today (15 September) is the birth anniversary of the great leader of TN And India- C.N.Annadurai. He belonged to the rare breed of honest, Democratic, inclusive leaders of his time. What makes him unique from others is that he built a party from dust within eighteen years to wrest power from Congress. He made Tamilians to rediscover their roots, introduced two language scheme effectively opposing Hindi imposition, made self-respect marriages legal, renamed Madras presidency as Tamilnadu, made education free till pre-university level in Tamilnadu.

He was a strong advocate of federalism and in his speech in Madras Legislative Assembly as a first time MLA, he spoke thus: “It is the Sappers and Miners who go in advance clearing the bushes and the thorns and preparing the way for the tanks in the Army. I plead with the ruling party to use us as Sappers and Miners to clear the way for them. We are not mindful of the dust we would gather in the course of this task. The ruling party should utilise our services for getting more powers transferred from the Centre to the States.” Even in his last epistle to his partymen, he had expressed concerns about the Constitution which on paper is federal but in actual practice tends to get more and more centralised.

He was witness to brutalities of armed forces during anti-hindi imposition agitations. When he came to power, students of Tamilnadu protested against the Official Languages amendment act which had denied writing Central Government Exams in eighth schedule languages. Ignoring the advice to use police force against the students, Anna, now CM went and met the students. They booed at him. Though he was battling cancer, Anna patiently negotiated with them for five days and ensured they are back to colleges. 

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He was never power-hungry. When opposition parties accused him of failing to fulfill electoral promises and demanded his resignation, He had seriously consulted his law minister Madhavan about renouncing the Chief Minister post. When Karuthiruman, the opposition leader in Tamilnadu Legislative assembly wondered what how would Anna react if the Centre took punitive action against him for removing hindi from government schools in Tamilnadu violating three language formula. Anna replied, ‘I would tender my resignation and leave as happily as when I had taken office.’

He came from humble background, rose to power with support of masses. He allocated crores of rupees more for education than previous government. He ruled for less than two Years. He was an eloquent orator, voracious reader, simple to the Core personality. Anna had requested the Pope to recommend for the release of Mohan Ranade, a freedom fighter who was interned in Lisbon Jail for his participation in freedom struggle of Goa. When released on republic day, he rushed to thank anna. He has to witness the final journey of the leader who always worked selflessly for people.

The fifteen million people who came to attend Anna’s funeral stands testimony to the love people had for him. He was against dynasty politics, abusive debates. He is a leader about whom every Indian citizen should know.

Photo Credit: Newsflicks

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