THE IMPACT OF ANNA Back to Article Titles
ON TAMIL NADU POLITICS
Dr.C.N.Annadurai, popularly known as CNA and Anna, became a legendary figure even during his lifetime. This tiny man caused a big change in the Indian polity. He can rightly be called as the father of all regional feelings and philosophies and one of the best parliamentarians that India has even produced. Blessed with great intellect and eloquence, he impressed the youngsters of this State and converted them to his political stand after convincing them of his views.
He had been a prominent figure and factor in Tamil Nadu politics for about thirty years from the anti-Hindi agitation of 1938, through which he registered his entry into frontline politics to 1969,the year in which he died in office, which made all Tamils to sweep and wail irrespective of their political identification.
In spite of the short span of his administration from March 1967 to February 1969, he made the people of this State believe that they were experiencing a new epoch.
He was a product of Periyar EVR camp, which had been fighting for the self-respect of Tamils right from 1926.He was an embodiment of Western thought and Tamil sentiments. He condemned the backwardness and superstitious practices of the society and admired Western life where science and education have a role in life. At the same time, he was particular in preserving the identity and the antiquity of Tamil language and culture. In short, he wanted to purify politics and for that power had been a weapon in has hands. He was for the improvement of Tamil language and the due share of Tamil society in Indian polity. He was a radicalist and rationalist but not an extremist. He was a Marxian in thought, but a Gandhian in approach. That’s why he could give up the demand for Dravida Nadu when the need arose for giving up the demand.
He had always been against the imposition of one language over the people whose mother tongue is a different language. He regarded it as linguistic imperialism. He was for unity of Indian states but not for uniformity. He was against the stepmotherly attitude of the Centre towards this province. To him, India was a geographical expression turned into a political entity by historical compulsions. This identity and integrity could be preserved, he said, only by inter-dependence between languages, cultures, nationalities and governments of the States and the Centre.
To him, language and race were the prime factors for determining nationality. He believed that Hindu religion was an imposed discipline over the people of South India. He was against the second rate treatment given to Tamils in politics and religion. To him, India was not Hindi belt alone; it was something more. Indian civilization was not the one based on Brahminical culture alone, rather it was the agglomeration of various secular, regional and religious factors. He was against the interpretation of nationalism on religious lines. For him, religion was not an inseparable part of politics. He was for secular democracy and not for the theocracy.
Dravidian separatism plus Indian nationalism was the ideology offered by Anna to the politics of Tamil Nadu. His political enemies used to criticize very often the “Dravida Nadu issue”. The following explaination throws light upon that.
Anna never went against his principles but made necessary changes in the politics with reference to the changing circumstances. The resolutions he brought in at the Salem conference of the Justice party held in 1944, his conflict with Periyar over ‘August issue’ and the switch over to linguistic oriented politics in 1963 by giving up racial oriented politics exhibit his pragmatic approach.
Alexander came upto Hydaspus. Even after defeating Porus, he did not advance further. Why?
The Congress party that demanded Swaraj in 1916 stood for complete independence in 1927. Why?
The Indian National Movement headed by the Congress party, that opposed the partition of Bengal in 1905, accepted the same in 1947. Why?
The people of East Bengal, who wanted statehood on the religious lines in 1947, went against West Pakistan in 1971.Why?
While the Communist principles preach international brotherhood, Stalin concentrated much on Soviet nationalism. Why?
The Jan Sangh party that criticized India’s relationship with Muslim countries did not change the foreign policy of the nation when they came to power in 1977. Why?
That is called clientele oriented politics. A politician should formulate his policies only in accordance with the need of the time and mood of the society.
Anna, in view of the inclusion of the Canarese, Malayalees, and Telugus in Madras Presidency functioned on racial lines. In short his Dravida Nadu was nothing but the nationalism of the then Madras Presidency. The re-organisation of the states on linguistic lines made the racial politics obsolete. Anna was pragmatic but not dogmatic.
He made earnest attempts to enlighten the people to develop interest in politics by writing numerous articles on internal and world politics in the journals like Dravida Nadu, Kudi Arasu, Malai Mani, Kanchi, and Home rule, besides many dramas and books. By his impressive speeches on the stages for which thousands of people would wait for hours together, he propagated the principles of the Dravidian movement.
Voltaire had been a cyclone all along his life. He left no young heart in Europe unaffected by his speeches and writings. But he left nothing to his credit that can be compared with Rousseau’s Social Contract. Anna’s major contribution lies in converting a social movement into a political force and thereby capturing power, which in turn, has disturbed the social and political equilibrium, all to the advantage of the hitherto socially and educationally backward non-Brahmin castes.
Cinema (talkie) was becoming popular in 1940s. Anna effectively used it as a vehicle of propaganda. With a band of artists like Messrs N.S.Krishnan, K.R.Ramasamy, M.G.Ramachandran, M.Karunanidhi, Sivaji Ganesan (for a short period) and S.S.Rajendran propagated his ideas. Women like Mrs.Vijaya Kumari, Mrs.Madilakshmi and Ms.Chandrakantha were also in the camp.
With him, he had brilliant lieutenants like Messrs E.V.K.Sampath, V.R.Nedunchezhian, K.Anbalagan, K.Manoharan, M.Karunanidhi and C.P.Chitrarasu to carry out his plans and schemes.
People like Messrs N.V.Natarajan, A.V.P.Asaithambi, P.U.Shanmugam, Chittibabu, Anbil Dharmalingam, Mannai Narayanasami, Neela Narayanan, Sa.Ganesan, A.Govindan, A.P.Arasu, Sadiq Pasha, S.Muthusamy, Mrs.Sathiyavani Muthu, Maran and A.P.Janarthanam formed the network of the party with whose help he could achieve his ideals.
In addition to this, he enjoyed the backing of Tamil scholars like Pavendar Bharathidasan, Maraimalai Adigal, Dr.Ilakkuvanar, Kundrakudi Adigal and K.A.P.Viswanathan.
All his abilities and associates enabled him to root out the Congress party in 1967 polls. Abolition of Hindi from schools, legalization of Self-Respect marriages, renaming of Madras State into Tamil Nadu, conduct of the Third World Meet and the introduction of Tamil in government offices and higher education are his major achievements while in office as the Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu.
Since 1967, the Dravidian parties have been in power, thanks to the efforts of Periyar and Anna. Voices for State autonomy are frequently raised. Concerns are conveyed against the imposition of Hindi. Bandhs and counter bandhs are held for Srilankan Tamils. But, is it enough?
While Anna still remains Anna (elder brother), his followers have become Thanai Thalaivar and Purathci Thalaivar. The simplicity he practiced is completely absent now. Anna was accessible to all but that is not the case now. He was an atheist, but atheism has become a thing of the past among the rank and file of the ruling party.
During his Chief Ministership, the Tamil Nadu Legislative Assembly sat for 90 days and passed 40 bills covering various aspects. Anna also enjoyed the privilege of defeating a no-confidence motion moved by the Opposition leader P.G.Karuthiruman. Anna accepted the responsibility of looking after the exchequer and improved the position from a margin of 600.20lakhs to 914.08lakhs. During his regime, Anna presented three budgets, which were welcomed by the general public; interestingly his government spent only one lakh for the advertisement purposes.
Anna’s regime witnessed the abolition of levy on dry lands, offering of wastelands to the landless poor, free education for students upto Pre-University class, formation of Prosperity Brigade, Gold Medal award for inter-caste marriages, implementation of prohibition policy, execution of various schemes of Tamil development and also the difficult rupee a measure rice scheme was implemented in the cities of Coimbatore and Madras. Anna was simple but serious in carrying out certain schemes particularly for the most underprivileged. The impact of Anna on Tamil Nadu politics is no doubt tremendous.
Back to Article Titles