Jan 28, 2012 at 10:09am IST

Anna, the architect of progressive Pondy

PUDUCHERRY: Affectionately known as ‘Anna’, the 74-year-old veteran Congress leader from Puducherry, M O H Farook Maricar, Governor of Kerala, who passed away in Chennai on Thursday, is remembered as the doyen of Puducherry politics.
A three-time Chief Minister of the Union Territory of Puducherry, he headed two Congress governments from  April 1967 to  March 1968 and 1985 to 1990 and  the first  DMK government from March 17 ,1969 to January 3, 1974. Elected thrice,1991, 1996 and 1999, to the Lok Sabha from Puducherry, he also served as Union Minister of State for Civil Aviation and Tourism between June 1991 and December 1992 in the Narashima Rao government. During this period he was instrumental in the establishment of the Puducherry Airport and Pondicherry University.  
Born on September 6, 1937, at Karaikal to M O Hassan Kuthoos Maricar and Seyed Sultangani,  he began his political career even when he was a student and participated in the struggle for liberation of Pondicherry (now Puducherry), which was then under the French rule, in 1953-54.
After completing his BA (Economics) from Loyala College, Chennai, he became active in politics and entred the Territorial Assembly in 1964 after being elected from Karaikal (North) and continued to retain  the seat 1991.
He was the Speaker of the Pondicherry Assembly from 1964-1967 and 1980-1985 and the Leader of Opposition in 1990.
Another notable achievement of his was that he holds the record for becoming the youngest Chief Minister at the age of 30 and youngest speaker of the country at 27.  However, his most important contribution was that he gave Puducherry its two most stable governments from 1969 to 1974 and  1985 to 1990, which had been a rarity till then.
The present Leader of the Opposition in the Pondy Assembly, V Vaithilingam, while recalling his days with the doyen when he was the PWD portfolio in Farook’s Cabinet from 1985 to 1990, says, “He was a political institution and had groomed many in politics like me. Puducherry politics stabilised after his entry and he was friendly with everybody.”
P Kannan, a former Health minister, opined that Farook’s days were the best period of governance in Puducherry, saying, “he put Puducherry on the growth trajectory and had a good rapport with bureaucrats.”
Farook is also remembered as a politically shrewd man. When the whirls of change brought in the first DMK government, led by C N Annadurai, in neighbouring Tamil Nadu in 1967,  Farook switched loyalties from Congress to DMK  and headed the first DMK government in Puducherry in 1969.  Later he returned to the Congress, when AIADMK captured power in the UT. He has also contested elections successfully in three constituencies of Karaikal (North), Kalapet and then Lawspet.
After spending over three decades in the UT’s politics, he  moved to national politics and won the pride of becoming the first Union Minister from the UT.  
He is survived by his son M O H F Shajahan and two daughters Malika and Yesmin. His wife  passed away a  few years ago.