Festivities across Tamil Nadu on Tuesday marked the completion of the year-long birth centenary celebrations of DMK founder and former chief minister C N Annadurai, a man who changed the political spectrum of the southern state in 1960s.
People from all walks of life joined the celebrations as festoons and party flags fluttered and songs eulogising Annadurai, fondly called as ‘Anna’, were played.
The event was observed by the Opposition AIADMK as well with party chief J Jayalalithaa releasing a special booklet on the leader.
Born in a weaver’s family in Kancheepuram in 1909, Annadurai graduated from the Pachaiyappa’s College in Chennai in 1930 and joined politics two years later.
Once follower of rationalist and Dravidar Kazhagam founder Periyar E V Ramasamy, Anna broke ranks with him after ’Periyar’ married a woman 40 years younger to him, and floated the DMK.
He had also earlier opposed Periyar declaring the Independence Day on August 15, 1947 as a “day of mourning.”
Anna, known for his oratorical skills and proficiency in both Tamil and English, was also a literary figure and penned revolutionary plays such as “Velaikkari“(housemaid), which was also made into a film.
The DMK won 15 Assembly seats in 1957, with Anna himself being elected as the legislature party leader.
The DMK tally rose dramatically to 50 in 1962 assembly elections, making it the main opposition in the House. Though Anna had lost to the Congress nominee in Kancheepuram constituency, his home turf, he was elected to the Rajya Sabha the same year.
Riding on an anti-incumbency wave and anti-Hindi sentiments of the students, Anna, formed a rainbow alliance with rightist Swatantra Party and CPI(M), to contest the 1967 polls.
The move paid high dividends as DMK gained an absolute majority to form the first non-Congress government in Tamil Nadu. The Congress is yet to taste power in the state since then.
In his election manifesto, Anna assured three measures (Padi) of rice for Re 1. He then declared “three measures is our aim, but one measure is certainty.”
He also promised to scrap the three-language formula- teaching English, Tamil and Hindi - in schools and bring two language formula that omitted Hindi.
During his tenure as Chief Minister, Anna made the Centre to agree to change the name of Madras State to Tamil Nadu. However, his tenure was short-lived as the leader fell victim to cancer in 1969.
The DMK, which initially demanded a separate Dravida Nadu, however gave it up after Chinese aggression in 1962.
Among Anna’s ardent followers were the two icons of Tamil Nadu politics, the incumbent CM, M Karunanidhi and former Chief Minister M G Ramachandran (MGR).