A statesman in Gandhian tradition: Governor

CHENNAI, AUG. 30. Political leaders of various hues in Tamil Nadu expressed their deep shock at the passing away of the TMC founder-president, Mr. G.K. Moopanar. In their condolence messages, they recalled Mr. Moopanar's political decency and soft nature.

Leading the tributes, the Governor, Dr. C. Rangarajan, said that in Mr. Moopanar's death the country had lost a senior leader of vision and wisdom. Even in times of stress and strain, he remained calm and offered sage counsel. Trained in the Gandhian tradition, he was truly an elder statesman who commanded the respect of one and all. The country, Tamil Nadu in particular, suffered a great loss, the Governor said.

The Chief Minister, Ms. Jayalalithaa, said the news of Mr. Moopanar's death left her in great anguish. He was a senior leader, respected and honoured by everyone. ``When I met him in hospital two weeks ago, he spoke to me well. He told me that we will take a joint decision on the coming local bodies polls''. But unfortunately his health deteriorated causing concern to all. He was one of the few leaders who was never shaken by any development. His death was an irreplaceable loss to the nation.

Conveying her condolences to the grieving family members, she said Mr. Moopanar's career was an example in public life.

The DMK president, Mr. M. Karunanidhi, said he had lost a great friend, who showered friendship and warmth on everyone beyond party and ideological differences and was a humane person. ``His love and affection for my family members would continue to linger in my heart,'' Mr. Karunanidhi said.

The TNCC leader, Mr.E.V.K.S. Elangovan, said a pillar of nationalism had fallen. Mr. Moopanar's death was a blow to the Congress whose growth he had nurtured.

Following in the footsteps of Kamaraj, Mr. Moopanar worked closely with Indira Gandhi and Rajiv Gandhi and was known for his ability to solve political problems in many States. Mr. Elangovan said Congress flags State-wide would fly at half-mast for a week.

Describing Mr. Moopanar as a person who never displayed animosity towards anyone, the PMK founder-leader, Dr. S. Ramadoss, said the people had lost a humane leader, who displayed clarity of thought, political bravery and steadfastedness in ideology. His political acumen was respected throughout the country.

Expressing condolences on behalf of the BJP, its State general secretary, Mr. L. Ganesan, described Mr. Moopanar as a model leader who was both devout and patriotic. He cherished good relationships with people casting aside political rivalry.

The CPI (M) State secretary, Mr. N. Sankariah, said Mr. Moopanar in his 50 years of public life had tirelessly strived to unite secular forces and strengthen the fight against communalism.

The CPI State secretary, Mr. R. Nallakannu, said Mr. Moopanar, despite being a religious person, did not give any quarter to religious fanaticism and followed secular ideals. ``We have lost a leader who could steer politics through adversity,'' he said and recalled Mr. Moopanar's commitment to art, music and culture.

The Janata Party president, Dr. Subramanian Swamy, recalled his 20-year long friendship with Mr. Moopanar, despite political differences. He was an ``oasis of decency'' in a State plagued by political confrontation which spilled into personal animosities. His demise was a major blow to the already-weakened democratic politics of Tamil Nadu.

Among others who condoled Mr. Moopanar's death were the MDMK general secretary, Mr.Vaiko, the MGR ADMK leader, Mr. S. Thirunavukarasu, the Dravidar Kazhagam general secretary, Mr. K. Veeramani, the INL President, Mr. M.A. Latheef, the Tamil Nadu Janata Dal (Secular) president, Mr. G.A. Vadivelu, the Tamil Maanila Muslim League president, Mr. S. Sheikh Dawood, the TMMK president, Mr. M.H. Zawaharullah, the Puthiya Tamizhagam president, Dr. K. Krishnasamy, the Dalit Panthers spokesperson, Mr. Pavel, the Tamil Nadu Nationalist Congress Party leader, Mr. G.P. Sarathy, the Makkal Tamizh Desam president, Mr. S. Kannappan and the Vanniyar Sangam president, Mr. A.K. Natarajan.

It is a great loss to the TMC. ``We are orphaned'', said, Ms. Jayanthi Natarajan, former Union Minister for Civil Aviation.

The TMC (Democratic Front) leader and former Union Minister, Mr P. Chidambaram, said the ``golden period'' of Mr. Moopanar's career was the eight years when he was the AICC general secretary and close confidant and advisor to Indira Gandhi and Rajiv Gandhi. Mr Chidambaram, who was with Moopanar when the TMC was formed in 1996, said the departed leader had a long-term vision. ``He loved Tamil Nadu. He loved people of Tamil Nadu. And he did what he thought was right for the people''.

To a question on the possible merger of the TMC with the Congress, the former Union Minister said it was for the two parties to take a decision. However, the political space, not occupied by the DMK and the AIADMK, ought to be filled up by a party with ``Congress gene''.

To another query, Mr Chidambaram acknowledged that with the demise of Mr. Moopanar, the void among national parties in the State had become greater.