President hails Madras legislature’s contribution

Hailing the rich contributions made by the Tamil Nadu legislature over the past century, President Ram Nath Kovind on Monday observed that the [erstwhile] Madras legislature had sown the seeds of a fully representative democratic form of governance, which were realised after Independence.

“The concept of the welfare State has taken deep roots in this legislature irrespective of who rules here,” he said addressing the centenary celebrations of the State legislature at Fort St. George, Chennai.

He unveiled a portrait of five-time former Chief Minister and DMK patriarch M. Karunanidhi in the Assembly on the occasion.

“This legislature became the fountainhead of many progressive legislation, which were subsequently replicated across the country to empower the weaker sections of society and strengthen democracy,” the President said.

Roots of democracy

According to Mr. Kovind, the Madras legislature can rightly be credited with nurturing the roots of democracy by focusing on governance to uplift the poor and purge social evils. “Politics and governance in the region evolved around positive and rational content that targeted the welfare of those living on the margins,” he noted. The abolition of the Devadasi system, widow remarriage, mid-day meals in schools and distribution of agricultural land to the landless were some of the revolutionary ideas that transformed society.

Lauding the leadership qualities of Karunanidhi, who started his political career as a teenager, when India was still fighting for freedom, the President said the former Chief Minister must have been satisfied while breathing his last that this land and its people had made astounding progress and development on all fronts. “He must have been satisfied too, as he spent every waking hour of his long and productive life in the service of the people of the State and also of the nation.”

Pointing out that very few political leaders were so passionate about language, Mr Kovind said: “For him [Karunanidhi], his mother-tongue was the object of worship. Tamil, of course, is one of the greatest and the oldest languages of humankind. The whole world takes pride in its rich heritage. But it was Karunanidhi who ensured that it was granted official recognition as a classical language. Kalaignar was a leader in a class of his own. He was among the last links we had with the stalwarts of our national movement.”

Recalling that the titan among the freedom fighters C. Rajagopalachari, who was the first Indian occupant of the Rashtrapati Bhavan, had graced this State Legislature too, Mr. Kovind said: “His successors too were exemplary political leaders. Among all Rajaji’s successors, however, it is Shri Karunanidhi-ji who ruled the longest, and thus has left a defining stamp on Tamil Nadu.”

“It is indeed gratifying to learn that the legislature has a tradition of honouring the greatest stars of land,” he said and pointed out to the portraits of Thiruvalluvar, Mahatma Gandhi, C. Rajagopalachari, C. N. Annadurai, K. Kamaraj, E. V. Ramasami, B. R. Ambedkar, U. Muthuramalingam Thevar, Muhammad Ismail Sahib, M. G. Ramachandran, Jayalalithaa, S. S. Ramaswami Padayachi, V. O. Chidambaram Pillai, P. Subbarayan and Omanthur P. Ramaswamy Reddiar in the House.

Earlier commencing his speech with a Vanakkam, the President attempted a few sentences in Tamil to a loud applause from the gathering and eventually switched to English.

Governor Banwarilal Purohit, Chief Minister M.K. Stalin, Assembly Speaker M. Appavu and Deputy Speaker K. Pitchandi spoke on the occasion. Among those in the gathering were Chief Justice of Madras High Court Sanjib Banerjee, Ministers, Members of Parliament, Members of the Legislative Assembly and leaders of major political parties barring the AIADMK.

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Printable version | Sep 19, 2021 1:24:00 PM |

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