Beginning of a New Epoch
By a Special Correspondent, THE HINDU
Ever since he toppled Rajaji Mr. Kamaraj has been the political power - house of Madras which had a procession of Chief Ministers ranging from the austere Mr. O.P Ramaswami Reddiar to the strong Mr. Bhaktavatsalam, The elevation of Conjeevaram Natarajan Annadurai to the leadership of the party in power, the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam, marks the beginning of a new era.
What sort of a man is Annadurai? What is his background? Will he steer the ship of State through the rocks and shoals of a dangerous decade that opening? These are some of the questions agitating the minds of many in Tamilnad.
“Anna” as he is known to thousands, hails from the weaver community of the temple twon, Conjeevaram, well known for its saris.
He made Madras City his home and took his Master of Arts degree from Pachaiyappa’s College and started life as a teacher. But he got tired of teaching and directed his indefatigable energy into the amplitude of politics.
A brilliant speaker and incisive writer, his oratory made its impact on the masses. When his political minions were sprouting E.V.Ramaswami Naicker was stirring the political waters with a cry for a separate Tamilnad. Anna was drawn to his and became his disciple. Through speeches and writtings, he tried to ram down Pperiyar’s ideology and was opposed to the Congress. His advocacy of an autonomous Tamilnad, cut off from the moorings of Delhi, was frowned upon by the Centre. Besides, the Periyar’s Brahmin-baiting campaign antgonised a large section of the people.
Breaks with D.K.
Soon however, there came a separation between Periyar and Anna, on a domistic matter, to wit the marriage of the old leader to a young Brahmin woman. This rift came in 1948 when Anna spercheaded an organisation, known as the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam. Its attitude was negative.
The authorities wanted to stifle the movement. Its anti-Hindi agitation landed it in distress. Anna was arrested and sentenced to six months jail.
Emerging from jail, he, along with a chosen few, contested the Assembly elections and won with a thumping majority. In 1957, Anna was in the opposition as leader of the DMK Party. He, however, made very little impact.
In the 1962 elections the DMK gathered momentum and many who sported the colours of the Rising Sun, got into the local Assembly and Parliament. Anna, however, was beaten. But he soon got into the Rajya Sabha, where he made a brilliant debut, underlining the grievances of the South.
In the fourth general elections, the DMK swept the Congress off its feet. Anna got returned for the Lok Sabha from South Madras.
Age has made Anna shrewd and wise. Long ago, he gave up the cry of a separate Tamilnad. At his recent Press Conference, he stated that he would try to get on well with the Centre.
A rugged individual, Anna is a talented jounalist. He has written script for movies and edits an English weekly.
Eminently accessible, he puts even the casual visitor at ease. This is the testing time for Anna who has promised to better the lot of the common man and bring down the prices of essential commodities. His chief political adviser is the elder statesman, Rajaji. The Anna C.R. axis will, it is hoped, bring about a cleaner and healthier state of public life in Madras.
At 58, Anna is the darling of the masses, and the celebration witnessed on his last birthday is an index to his amazing popularity.