Tamil Nadu

Veteran AIADMK leader Aranganayagam no more

C. Aranganayaga

C. Aranganayaga

AIADMK’s veteran leader C. Aranganayagam, who played a key role as Education Minister in launching reforms in the field of education in the 1970s and 1980s, died at a private hospital in Chennai on Thursday after a brief illness.

He is survived by his wife, two sons and a daughter. His son-in-law and BJP’s State vice-president M.N. Raja said the former Minister, who turned 89 on Sunday, was suffering from diabetes.

Starting his career as a school teacher, he branched off into law and was one of those who played a role in the formation of the Coimbatore Bar Association, Mr. Raja recalled.

During July 1977-October 1986, Aranganayagam served as Education Minister in the Cabinet headed by M.G. Ramachandran. He got back the portfolio in February 1992 when Jayalalithaa was the Chief Minister. In May 1993, he was dropped following the Madras High Court quashing a government order, granting recognition to teacher training institutes, and passing severe strictures. In the Jayalalithaa Cabinet, he also held the portfolio of Labour for about eight months.

Aranganayagam’s political career took off in February 1974 with his victory in the byelection to the Coimbatore West assembly constituency. H.V. Hande, who was Health Minister in the MGR Cabinet, recalls that Aranganayagam was the first person to get elected to the Assembly on the AIADMK’s two leaves symbol.

Dr. Hande, who was in charge of the constituency then, described the byelection as a “tough contest” because two groups of the Congress, led by the then Prime Minister Indira Gandhi and former Chief Minister K. Kamaraj, had put up a common candidate.

Arangayagam went on to win in Coimbatore West on two more occasions — 1977 and 1980. He was also elected from Thondamuthur in 1984 and 1991.

His spell as Education Minister in the MGR Cabinet was eventful as the State government introduced, in June 1978, the 10+2 schooling system or higher secondary course in the place of the Pre University Course (PUC), which was abolished a year later. When the AIADMK government decided to bring in a common entrance test for admission to professional courses in the State in 1984, Aranganayagam was one of the prominent advocates of the idea and he asserted that the decision on the entrance test was in response to large-scale criticism of the interview system that was in vogue. Since 2007-08, admission is being held on the basis of performance of students in the qualifying higher secondary examination.

The area of higher education was opened up in the mid-1980s as private colleges, mainly in the discipline of engineering, began to come up.

Panruti S. Ramachandran, who was Aranganayagam’s colleague in the MGR Cabinet, described him as an “able and competent” Minister and said he was thorough in his subject.

Aranganayagam had, on a couple of occasions, left the AIADMK only to return later. In September 2006, he joined the DMK and eight years later, he quit the party, citing various reasons including his stand on the application of economic criterion in reservation.

In April 2017, he was convicted by a special court in a case relating to amassing of wealth disproportionate to his known sources of income, when he was the Minister in the 1990s. A three-year rigorous imprisonment was awarded to him. He had filed an appeal against the verdict and the case is pending, Mr. Raja points out, adding that the sentence remained suspended.

Chief Minister Edappadi K. Palaniswami, Deputy Chief Minister O. Panneerselvam and BJP’s State president L. Murugan condoled the death of the former Minister.

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Printable version | Aug 14, 2022 8:11:40 am | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/tamil-nadu/veteran-aiadmk-leader-aranganayagam-no-more/article34445093.ece