‘Es­sen­tially a fighter’: Mu­layam

FrontLine - - COVER STORY -

THOUGH we spoke and worked in two dif­fer­ent lan­guages, I be­lieve that Karunanidhi and I rep­re­sent the sig­nif­i­cant his­tor­i­cal process of the main­stream­ing of re­gional par­ties in In­dian pol­i­tics. Karunanidhi and the DMK did this from south In­dia, root­ing his so­ci­etal in­ter­ven­tions in the big State of Tamil Nadu, while many of us, in­clud­ing me, did it in north In­dia, fo­cussing pri­mar­ily on Ut­tar Pradesh, the most pop­u­lous State in In­dia. We had also worked to­gether on many oc­ca­sions, es­pe­cially in the 1990s dur­ing the United Front gov­ern­ments that ruled be­tween 1996 and 1998. Through­out our as­so­ci­a­tion we sought to work on the main­stream­ing of re­gional po­lit­i­cal ide­olo­gies, al­though from nu­anced po­si­tions.

Karunanidhi was es­sen­tially a fighter, a tena­cious one at that, both po­lit­i­cally and per­son­ally. There are many fel­low politi­cians, be­sides ob­servers and jour­nal­ists, who have found sim­i­lar­i­ties in our per­son­al­i­ties. I also like to stand up for my be­liefs, both per­sonal and po­lit­i­cal. I re­mem­ber see­ing Karunanidhi’s fight­ing spirit in 1996 when the then Pres­i­dent, Shankar Dayal Sharma, in­vited the Bharatiya Janata Party and its leader, Atal Bi­hari Va­j­payee, just be­cause the BJP was the sin­gle largest party. The post-elec­tion al­liance of sec­u­lar par­ties had a ma­jor­ity and the lead­ers of these par­ties had gone to Rash­tra­p­ati Bha­van to protest. The Pres­i­dent had or­gan­ised a break­fast for the lead­ers that morn­ing, but we had de­cided to boy­cott that. The lead­ers, in­clud­ing Karunanidhi and Com­mu­nist

When Kalaig­nar be­came Chief Min­is­ter for a sec­ond ten­ure in 1971, the de­bates and dis­cus­sions held in the Leg­isla­tive Assem­bly were thought-pro­vok­ing, with ide­o­log­i­cal nar­ra­tives. The leader of the op­po­si­tion, Dr. H.V. Hande, crit­i­cised the DMK gov­ern­ment, call­ing it a “third rate gov­ern­ment”.

When the mem­bers from the trea­sury were fu­ri­ous and were about to protest, Kalaig­nar asked them to re­main calm, and replied, “The hon­ourable mem­ber from the op­po­si­tion men­tioned our gov­ern­ment as a third-rate one. I would like to say, in fact, I’m proud to say that our gov­ern­ment is not a third-rate gov­ern­ment but a ‘fourth rate gov­ern­ment’. Yes, fourth in the hi­er­ar­chy of the var­nas­rama dharma, viz. su­dra. Our gov­ern­ment is the gov­ern­ment of su­dras, by the su­dras and for the su­dras.” The op­po­si­tion was tongue-tied. The state­ment made by Kalaig­nar with pres­ence of mind, which bore the stamp of his ide­ol­ogy, re­flects his unique style of in­ter­ac­tive func­tion­ing. Peri­yar was happy and proud when he Party of In­dia (Marx­ist) gen­eral sec­re­tary Hark­is­han Singh Sur­jeet, were vo­cif­er­ous in their crit­i­cism be­fore the Pres­i­dent. It was a mo­ment when our demo­cratic polity as­serted its cre­den­tials.

In­deed, we had our dif­fer­ences, es­pe­cially when the DMK moved on to the Bjp-led Na­tional Demo­cratic Al­liance in 1999. How­ever, Karunanidhi re­alised the mis­take of that po­lit­i­cal po­si­tion and re­turned to the anti-com­mu­nal, anti-hin­dutva plat­form in 2004. Both of us had started our pol­i­tics pri­mar­ily on the ba­sis of anti-con­gres­sism but had nu­anced our po­si­tions later in or­der to con­front big­ger threats to democ­racy and sec­u­lar­ism. This does not mean that we have given up an­ti­con­gres­sism. We have only adapted to the new po­lit­i­cal re­al­i­ties keep­ing in mind the growth of com­mu­nal pol­i­tics per­pe­trated by the BJP and the Rashtriya Swayam­se­wak Sangh-led Sangh Pari­var.

There have been some com­ments that we had big dif­fer­ences on the lan­guage is­sue, es­pe­cially Hindi ver­sus Tamil. There was noth­ing like that. We al­ways re­spected all re­gional lan­guages of In­dia. This re­spect­ful con­sid­er­a­tion had re­flected in my in­ter­ac­tions with the late CPI(M) leader and for­mer Chief Min­is­ter E.K. Naya­nar. I am sure the spirit of Karunanidhi will con­tinue to guide Tamil Nadu to a great fu­ture. learned of this state­ment made by his dis­ci­ple, Kalaig­nar, on the floor of the State Leg­isla­tive Assem­bly.

All these go to prove that Kalaig­nar, as he him­self claimed, was a Manamigu Suya­mariy­athaikkaran, mean­ing “Per­son of Self Re­spect”, first and last. As a Chief Min­is­ter, he was al­ways in­ter­ested in pre­serv­ing the dig­nity of the low­est of the low in the so­cial hi­er­ar­chy and ran a “fourth rate gov­ern­ment”, as he him­self claimed. At the all-in­dia level, as far as per­mit­ted by the Con­sti­tu­tion, he held the flag of the State aloft, up­hold­ing its rights.

Kalaig­nar has ac­knowl­edged that he hailed from a so­cially back­ward, ex­tremely op­pressed com­mu­nity, with no claim to any hon­our. Eco­nom­i­cally, too, he be­longed to a fam­ily with no af­flu­ence. He al­ways re­mem­bered all this, which acted as the mo­ti­vat­ing force for all his ini­tia­tives through his ca­reer, as a politi­cian, a man of let­ters and a valiant fighter for so­cial jus­tice. $ K. Veera­mani is pres­i­dent, Dravi­dar Kazhagam.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from India

© PressReader. All rights reserved.