Karunanidhi, a towering political leader from the last generation with a political career spanning 75 years started as a teenager prior to Independence with Periyar’s social justice movement and continued as a mascot for Annadurai, a lieutenant of Periyar who opted for electoral politics. He was himself CM for 19 years over 5 terms and the party president of DMK for 50 years.
Professionally a dialogue writer for Tamil films he gained more prominence than the actors who delivered his dialogues. All his life he remained steadfast in his views expressed through his dialogues and prolific writing.
He was a secular opposing religion in civic affairs and rabid in his anti-Brahmanism. An advocate of social equality, he was a pioneer of affirmative action for social upliftment of the Dalits who had hitherto been excluded from political power. Avoiding populist measures as CM, he focused on developing schools and healthcare facilities to bring the underprivileged into the mainstream.
He never aspired for national politics and remained a Tamilian leader throughout his career. He was a great admirer of the Tamil language and culture and was instrumental in the development of federal polity in India as opposed to the Unitarian political culture of the Congress. At times his advocacy of Tamil rights bordered on Tamil separatism.
The only blot in his political career was his corruption because of which his one time deputy, MGR parted company to form the AIADMK. He was also criticised for his dynastic politics of later years when he tried to give charge to his daughter in the Centre, southern districts to his elder son based in Madurai while selecting his younger son Stalin as his successor. But then, a father has the responsibility to settle his children.
India was consciously divided into linguistic lines with each state having its own literature, culture, dress, food, festivals etc. The Union has by and large promoted uniformity by suppressing diversity. The federal ethos celebrates diversity and, in India especially, in my view, we have had an attempt of an excessive uniformity imposed that has been detrimental to our rich regional cultural heritages.
In that sense MK was a man advocating pride in Tamil culture. More than the relative merits of centre-state choice is the existence of the dialectic of pulls and pressures from both sides to attain a dynamic balance that keeps pace with the changing times. His anti North and anti Hindi agitations, widely criticised, must be seen in the context of promoting regional pride.
Of course, MK is very unpopular among Tamil Brahmins. But then the local Brahmins had a disproportionate hold on social and cultural power in TN for centuries. Breaking their hegemony was necessary for a social change towards greater egalitarianism. With them being pushed back, the knowledge and skills that they were custodians of, also suffered.
But then I am speaking in the capacity of a neutral bystander. Interested parties would rejoice or suffer the pangs of socio political change a lot more acutely.
His legacy is important to understand the implications of equality, secularism, federation and social change – issues that are in focus in our political discourse right now.
If only the conversation can move beyond his obvious corruption.
50 people feared dead as train runs over them amidst celebrating Dussehra near Amritsar
At least 50 people are feared dead in Jora Phatak area of Amritsar where a train allegedlly ran over people burning the effigy on account of Dussehra.
As per various media reports, hundreds of people had gathered around the area for effigy burning, when a train ran over them, trampling many of them including women and children to death. Around 300 people were at the spot watching ‘Ravan Dahan’, sources said.
The officials said that a throng of people Dussehra revellers that had thronged onto the railway tracks while watching burning of Ravana effigy was run over by a train near here, officials said.
Activist Trupti Desai who threatened to stop PM Modi’s convoy, detained early morning
Pune | Women Activist and Bhumata Brigade leader Trupti Desai on Friday morning was detained on her way to Shirdi ahead of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit to the religious town of Shirdi in the Ahmednagar district in Maharashtra.
Desai had earlier announced to have a conversation with PM Modi over his silence on the denial of women entry to the Sabarimala Temple in Kerala. She also wanted an explanation over the assault on women journalists at Niilacka base camp covering the ‘Sabarimala entry’ event.
According to local police, Trupti Desai was detained from her house on grounds of ‘preventive custody’ after she warned to block the PM’s convoy if he did not agree to discuss her demands. Speaking on her arrest to a newspaper, Desai said, “No reason has been given to me for this act of forcible detention. I was only told that the order had come from the Pune Police Commissioner. It is ironic that we activists who are striving for the cause temple entry for women are treated in this manner. Why couldn’t the police in Kerala take preventive measures and detain those hate-mongers and troublemakers ahead of the temple entry at Sabarimala instead?”
Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Friday during his visit to the town of Shirdi will perform groundbreaking ceremony for some projects of the trust along with handing over the keys of houses to some beneficiaries of the Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana (PMAY). PM Modi will also participate in functions to mark the conclusion of the year-long Saibaba Samadhi centenary programme organised by the Sai temple trust.
3 terrorists killed in infiltration bid in Jammu and Kashmir
Srinagar: Three unidentified terrorists were killed in a failed infiltration bid along the LoC in Jammu and Kashmir’s Baramulla district, a defence spokesman said on Friday. The Army on Thursday foiled the infiltration bid along the Line of Control (LoC) in Uri sector of Baramulla district, the spokesman said. He said alert troops noticed some suspicious movement along the LoC near Tourna in Boniyar area in the early hours of Thursday and challenged the infiltrators. The infiltrators opened fire towards the positions of the security forces which was retaliated, he said, adding three terrorists were killed in the gunbattle.
The identity and group affiliation of the slain terrorists were not immediately known.
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