“Women's Bill could not have been passed without his support”

Congress president Sonia Gandhi on Saturday commended Tamil Nadu Chief Minister M. Karunanidhi for his support to the Women's Reservation Bill, which was adopted in the Rajya Sabha recently.

Participating in the inauguration of the Legislative Assembly-Secretariat complex here, Ms. Gandhi said the Bill could not have been adopted “without his support.”

Pointing out how the United Progressive Alliance and the Union government were benefiting by Mr. Karunanidhi's “wise counsel,” the Congress leader said “ever since the inception of our coalition, he has been a pillar of strength to the PM, to me and the coalition. Every time there has been a small problem or some hesitation at the Centre, the person whom the PM would first contact or telephone has always been Mr. Karunanidhi.”

Pointing out that each legislature had developed unique traditions, the Congress president said Tamil Nadu's Legislature was no exception. The first woman to sit in the country's legislature was Muthulakshmy Reddy, who became a member of the Legislative Council in 1927.

Ms. Gandhi also recalled that after the Congress lost in a by-election in the early 1950s, the then Chief Minister, C. Rajagopalachari, asked the Assembly to vote on a motion of confidence. The Assembly witnessed great debates between Congress leader C. Subramaniam and Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam founder C.N. Annadurai, and between DMK president Karunanidhi and All-India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam founder M.G. Ramachandran.

Ms. Gandhi praised Congress leader K. Kamaraj, who was Chief Minister during 1954-63, and said he exemplified the saying, “Speech is silver. Silence is golden.”

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh said Subramaniam, R. Venkataraman, former Tamil Nadu Minister and later President of the country, and MGR contributed to national development and the progress of the State.

Mid-day meal scheme

Subramaniam played a historic role in the liberation of the nation from hunger and dependence on imported food by providing leadership to the Green Revolution. Venkataraman was the architect of Tamil Nadu's industrial development. “MGR set an example for all of us with his mid-day meals scheme, which our government has improved upon,” Dr. Singh said.