When the Lok Sabha and the Rajya Sabha hold special sittings on Sunday to mark the 60 anniversary of the first session of Parliament, T.M. Kaliannan, surviving member of the Provisional Parliament, will not be present. The 91-year-old Kaliannan is probably the only surviving member of the Provisional Parliament. He was barely 28 years old when he became a member of the House.
“After P. Subbarayan (1889-1962) quit the House on his appointment as the Ambassador of Indonesia [in December 1949], I became a member (representing Congress),” he recalls, adding that his membership in the Provisional Parliament was for a short period. The Provisional Parliament functioned until the first general election and formation of the first Lok Sabha in 1952.
He remembers that his participation was passive as he was much junior to a galaxy of senior leaders who were members of the House. “I had the honour of listening to tall leaders such as Rajendra Prasad, Jawaharlal Nehru, Sardar Patel, Shyama Prasad Mookherjee, B.R. Ambedkar and N. Gopalaswamy Ayyangar.”
In 1952, Mr. Kaliannan was elected as Member of the Legislative Assembly (MLA) of Rasipuram in 1952 and Tiruchengode for two terms – in 1957 and 1962. He was later a Member of the Legislative Council (MLC) between 1973 and 1979. After a couple of electoral losses, he quit politics. His involvement in politics began as a student of Loyola College, Chennai.
“In 1939, I was part of the students' delegation which met Mahatma Gandhi at Wardha. “We went there to seek his permission to go on a strike, condemning the Vice-Chancellor for his critical remarks about the involvement of students in politics. We even stayed there for nearly 10 days but eventually Gandhiji did not give us the nod,” he recounts.
Leading a simple life at Kumaramangalam, his native village in Tiruchengode taluk, Mr. Kaliannan spends his time reading half a dozen English and Tamil dailies, involving himself in temple activities and interacting with the neighbouring youth and relatives. “I encourage discussion with them on anything but politics”, he says with a wry smile.
A relative of his says that recently younger members of the family brought his contribution to the attention of senior leaders in New Delhi. They promised that efforts would be made to recognise his services but it remains an empty word, the relative adds.