Sep 15, 2008 at 01:31pm IST

TN celebrates Annadurai's birth centenary

Chennai: The year-long celebrations of the birth centenary of Dravida Munnettra Kazhagam (DMK) founder CN Annadurai, fondly called Anna (big brother) by his followers, begins all over Tamil Nadu from Monday.

Born at Kancheepuram on September 15, 1909 in a middle class family, Annadurai ended the monopoly of Congress rule in the erstwhile Madras State in the 1967 Assembly polls, when he formed a mega alliance of political parties of divergent views, right from pro-capitalist Swatantra Party of C Rajagopalachari to the Communist Party of India-Marxist.

This powerful political combination, aided by the anti-incumbency factor against the Congress, due to the anti-Hindi agitation - spearheaded by the pro-DMK student community - and acute shortage of rice, saw Congress take a beating.

TAKING THE LEAD: Annadurai, along with the then top leaders of the Dravidian movement like M Karunanidhi floated DMK in 1949.

Even the then All India Congress Committee President K Kamaraj was defeated in his Virudunagar Assembly seat by a little known student leader S Srinivasan.

Known for his ability to whip up sentiments through his speeches, Annadurai defeated Congress to take over as first non-Congress Chief Minister of the state in March 1967.

Annadurai had earlier joined hands with social reformer 'Periyar' E V Ramasamy in propagating social justice programme of the social reformer and became a leading light of the Justice party in the late 30s.

When the party protested 'Hindi Imposition' in the state, he was one of the few leaders who participated in the first anti-Hindi agitation in 1937.

With the Justice party fading away, he cast his lot with Periyar, when he formed the Dravida Kazhagam in 1944.

But the the two parted ways when Annadurai protested against Periyar, in his late fifties, marrying a young girl.

Annadurai, along with the then top leaders of the Dravidian movement like E V K Sampath, V R Nedunchezhiyan, M Karunanidhi, A V P Asaithambi, K Mathiazhagan and N V N Natarajan, left the DK to float Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam in 1949 as a social reformist group.

DMK did not participate in the 1952 polls, but supported some candidates like late M P Subramanian, late A Govindasamy and the present Congress leader S R Balasubramaniam who were elected as independents to the state Assembly.

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Seeing the success of these candidates, Annadurai toyed with the idea of contesting the polls.

He called for a referendum among partymen at the Lalgudi general council session in 1956 seeking their opinion of contesting the polls.

With overwhelming majority in favour of contesting the polls, DMK for the first time contested the 1957 polls and won 15 Assembly seats and four Lok Sabha seats.

While Annadurai and Karunanidhi entered the state Assembly from Kancheepuram and Kulithalai, E V K Sampath made it to the Lok sabha.

Annadurai saw to it that the party grew at grassroot level in the next five years, propagating the theme 'North thrives, South dwindles'.

But in the 1962 Assembly polls, though his party won 50 Assembly seats and a number of Lok Sabha seats, he lost at Kancheepuram to S V Natesa Mudhaliar, put up by the Congress.

However, it was a blessing in disguise as he was elected to Rajya Sabha where he got an exposure to national level politics.

His speeches in Rajya Sabha drew the attention of the then Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru, who hailed him as one of the great parliamentarians.

The Indo-China war in 1962 made Annadurai give up his demand for a separate Dravida Nadu, consisting of Tamil Nadu, some parts of then Mysore and Andhra pradesh.

He was imprisoned during the war but his commitment to national integration grew.

Annadurai was arrested for 'instigating people to protest against Hindi'.

Many people lost their lives in police firing and chaos prevailed in the state with buses being burnt and seven persons setting themselves ablaze in several parts of the state and some police personnel burnt to death.

Capitalising on the anti-incumbency factor against Congress, Annadurai formed a grand alliance, consisting of all opposition parties in the state barring the CPI for 1967 Assembly polls, by promising the two language formula in schools and rice at rupee per 'padi' (approximately one kg).

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The assurance of two language formula was implemented. He also prevailed upon the Centre to change the name of the state from Madras state to Tamil Nadu.

However, he could not fully implement his promise of rice at cheaper rate. The scheme was implemented for a short period in Chennai and Coimbatore but it was not implemented in other parts.

Annadurai's term as Chief Minister was very short as he died of cancer on February 3, 1969, which led M Karunanidhi to take over the mantle of the state.

Annadurai was the first Chief Minister to die in office in Tamil Nadu

The DMK government in Tamil Nadu, celebrating the birth centenary for a year starting from Monday, has decided to implement his pet project of providing rice at cheaper rate by reducing the price of rice issued under public distribution system from Rs. two to Rs. one per kg from Monday.

It has decided to implement several welfare schemes like upgrading 1421 primary health centres in the state as 24 X 7 maternity centres and providing free meals to pregnant women who visited government hospitals for regular checkups.

The opposition AIADMK and MDMK are also not lagging behind in celebrating the centenary.

Both parties have also organised functions for a year starting

The Central Government will also issue commemorative coins in honour of Annadurai.

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