Tamil Nadu

Four decades on, this veteran leader is still going strong

battle-hardened:Senior DMK leader Durai Murugan describes his journey so far as a satisfying one.— Photo: C. Venkatachalapathy

battle-hardened:Senior DMK leader Durai Murugan describes his journey so far as a satisfying one.— Photo: C. Venkatachalapathy  

In the summer of 1971, a 33-year-old lawyer entered the poll fray as DMK’s contender in Katpadi. He won that election and there has been no looking back since then for Durai Murugan.

At 77, the veteran’s energy and zeal is infectious. He is a ferocious speaker, but his popularity is largely due to his sense of humour, something that he shares with party leader M. Karunanidhi. An eight-time MLA, he has thus far lost only in two elections, and has donned the role of minister for Public Works and Law in previous DMK governments.

“As MLA, I have occupied both benches of the Assembly — ruling and Opposition. But whichever side I was in, I did not stop serving my people,” he says. By people, he means the people of Katpadi. He has weathered political waves, even when the party has faced taxing times.

By the virtue of being around the constituency for a long time — he has held it for over four decades now — Mr. Murugan knows many people by their name. His regular drives to villages, interactions with people, including at tea shops, are why he is so popular. “I mingle with people. I try to speak in their language, whether it is Telugu or Hindi.”

He keeps his interactions with villagers simple as taught by C. Annadurai, who told him to “speak what people know and not what you know.” Asked about DMK treasurer M.K. Stalin, the veteran leader says that he has been impressed with Mr. Stalin’s approach in this election. “We share a cordial relationship. It was the two of us who decided the candidates for the elections.”

The conversation then veers towards political culture in the State, and he says that it has changed over the years. Political vendetta rules the roost now. “Even when MGR was in power, we had a good political culture. The culture of political vendetta prevailing now is silly.”

He considers his first election the most interesting. His opponent was none other than his friend Dhandayuthapani, a Congress loyalist. There was a lot of camaraderie on display during the election battle. “We studied together. When we entered the fray, we continued our interactions, and I even took his vehicle for campaigning. When I won, his father was among the first to garland me. But times have changed now,” he recounts.

The seasoned politician has to his credit several development work he has done over the years.

The journey so far has been satisfying, he says, but there is more work left to do.

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Printable version | Jul 9, 2020 10:48:20 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/tamil-nadu/four-decades-on-this-veteran-leader-is-still-going-strong/article8506818.ece

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