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Madurai mourns its colossal loss

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POIGNANT MOMENT: Chief Minister M. Karunanidhi consoling the wife of P.T.R. Palanivel Rajan in Madurai on Saturday. Photo: K. Ganesan
POIGNANT MOMENT: Chief Minister M. Karunanidhi consoling the wife of P.T.R. Palanivel Rajan in Madurai on Saturday. Photo: K. Ganesan

S. Vijay Kumar

Palanivel Rajan was instrumental in creating huge infrastructural facilities in the temple city

MADURAI: The sudden demise of Hindu Religious and Charitable Endowments Minister P.T.R. Palanivel Rajan came as a rude shock to his family, friends, admirers and followers, who woke up to the tragic news on Saturday.

A rousing reception was awaiting the former Speaker on his maiden visit to Madurai after assuming charge as Minister. However, hands that held bouquets suddenly had wreaths in them. A pall of gloom descended on `Palayam Illam', the residence of Mr. Palanivel Rajan, at Chokkikulam.

Rallying force

The 74-year-old veteran politician had a long innings in the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK) and was one of its seniormost leaders. For many party cadres in the southern districts, he was a rallying force.

During his five-year tenure as Speaker, he was instrumental in creating huge infrastructural facilities worth several crores in Madurai, including the 27.2-km Ring Road, Mattuthavani Integrated Bus Stand and a few bridges across the Vaigai. Voters in this part of the State were confident that he would create more facilities in the temple city.

Mr. Palanivel Rajan belonged to an illustrious family that was closely associated with the Dravidian movement and the Justice Party. His father `Thamilvel' P.T. Rajan installed the present panchaloka idol of Swamy Ayyappa, the presiding deity at Sabarimala Temple, family sources said.

A forceful personality known for his candid approach, Mr. Palanivel Rajan had his schooling in Trinity residential public school in Sri Lanka. He graduated from Madras Christian College and then studied at Madras Law College. He was elected to the first Tamil Nadu Bar Council as a member after he joined the Madurai Bar in 1954.

He was elected to the Assembly thrice and once to the Legislative Council. For over 20 years, he was involved in the co-operative movement. He was president of the Tamil Nadu Co-operative Housing Society between 1972-76 and the first president of the Madurai Mill Workers Co-operative House Building Society, a post he held for several years.

Madurai Kamaraj University conferred the Doctor of Law on him (Honoris Causa) in 1997. He had a long association with the university and was its Syndicate member.

A philanthropist, Mr. Palanivel Rajan's hobbies included Carnatic music, tennis and cricket. He earned respect from all quarters, including politicians, cutting across party lines.

Though a staunch believer of Dravidian principles, Mr. Palanivel Rajan was an ardent devotee of Goddess Meenakshi. He leaves behind his wife Rukumani and son Thiagarajan, who is settled in the United States.

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