Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Conjeevaram Natarajan Annadurai

Conjeevaram Natarajan Annadurai (Tamil: அண்ணாதுரை) (1909 to 1969), popularly called Anna (which means elder brother in Tamil language) was the first non Congress Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu, India after independence. He was also an accomplished writer and even before his entry into politics his penmanship and oratorial style had captivated many audiences.

Early life
Conjeevaram Natarajan Annadurai was born on 15 September 1909 in the town of Kancheepuram (formerly known as Conjeevaram). Natarajan was his father and Bangaru Ammal was his mother, though he was raised by his sister Rajamani. He later studied at Pachaiyappa's High School in the town before working in the Municipal office as a clerk. He then graduated in 1934 in the Pachaiyappa's College in Chennai in B.A. (Hons) and completed his education in the same college in 1934 with M.A. in Economics and Politics. After working as a professor for a short period of time he began involving himself in journalism and politics.

Entry into politics
Although he had been involved with the Justice Party since his early years, now he found more time to devote to his passion, i.e. politics. He joined the Dravidar Kazhagam (DK) in 1934 which was under Periyar's leadership. He soon had a meteoric rise in the party as people thronged to hear and see the charismatic Anna[citation needed]. In the 1940s he led many anti-Hindi agitations and sought to eradicate the evils of the society. He relentlessly fought against the oppressive caste system. Sadly disputes arose between Periyar when Anna felt that democratic power would help to alleviate such problems, while his mentor felt otherwise. The rift resulted in a split and in 1949, Anna and his supporters broke away to form the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK) with the aim of contesting elections unlike the DK. By 1962, Anna became a Member of Parliament in the Rajya Sabha. Since the DMK was modeled on the DK both parties despite the rift often campaigned vehemently against Hindi viewing it as an Aryan cultural invasion. His protests against the government on this earned him some unpopularity in the largely Congress-led governments. He was also raising issues like the rising prices of goods which was becoming a problem for the Congress government[citation needed]. The spiraling inflation following two wars by India against China and Pakistan had taken a toll on Congress and in the 1967elections, Annadurai led his party to a spectacular victory in the state Assembly elections. He immediately became the Chief Minister of the state, thus ousting the 20 year rule of the congress and becoming the first non-congress government to obtain a majority in the state. He set the anti-Brahmin tone of Tamil Nadu's Government, which is continued even today. Anti-Brahmin legislation is part and parcel of the Tamil Nadu Government's work, even though there are no written documents related to that. He was a strong proponent of en-masse reservations for what he termed as "native Tamil Dravidians"[citation needed] as opposed to Tamil Brahmins, whom he did not consider to be Tamilians at all. This was initiated by Justice Party founders and Periyar.

Term in Office
The actual term of Annadurai in office was amongst the shortest ever in Tamil Nadu. From 1967 until his death in 1969, he was seen as the change that many people needed to improve the worsening condition. However the inflation could not be effectively controlled despite his best efforts[citation needed]. But his work in enhancing and uplifting the lower classes through welfare schemes started to improve the social scene[citation needed]. He also renamed the Madras State to its current name Tamil Nadu. He was able to gain more power for the south from the Centre and sought greater autonomy for the states in the union. His tenure was however cut short by oral cancer as he had the habit of inhaling snuff tobacco. Despite treatments in U.s. he died on midnight February 2, 1969 just two years after becoming the Chief Minister. His death shocked many in Tamil Nadu who had become fond of Anna and an estimated 15 million people attended his funerl, the most for anyone in the world.

Literary contributions
Throughout his public life, he was publishing literary works and was involved in political journalism. In 1942 he started the Tamil weekly, 'Dravida Nadu'. In 1957 and later in 1966 he started the English weeklies 'Homeland' and 'Home Rule' respectively, though both didn't do too well. He returned to his forte of Tamil short stories and plays. Among his works are the novels "Or Iravu" (One Night) and "Velaikkari" (Servant-maid), which were later made to movies. Most of his stories revolved around social causes like exploitation of women or weaker classes. Some of the books were also controversial, like "Arya Mayai" (Aryan Illusion) where he scathingly attacks the Brahmin/Aryan combine and portrays them in poor light. He also wrote Kambarasam, a highly controversial work that attacked the Kambaramayanam in an indelicate fashion. These plays, books and stage speeches enhanced Anna's visibility. Under Anna's dynamic leadership, The DMK gained a sizeable number of seats in 1957 in the state assembly elections and ultimately forming the government a decade later.
Complete list of Annadurai's works

He is credited with infusing new spirit into the Dravidian movement and providing a vocal voice from the south[citation needed]. His influence was so powerful that his work on Tamil importance ensured that to this day Tamil Nadu remains one of the few states where Hindi is not a compulsory language in schools. His political victory was the first of sorts including being the first regional party in any major state in India to serve the full term breaking the monotony[citation needed] of Congressrule. Furthermore after Congress' defeat in 1967, they were never again able to form the government in the state and were relegated to the background following further dravidian parties like the AIADMK (All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam) which itself split from the DMK. All Dravidian parties including MDMK (a splinter of DMK), DMDK (new party by movie star Vijaykanth) use his image to garner public support before and during elections, showing his popularity in state exists even today

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