Throughout his 19 years as Chief Minister, Karunanidhi championed a slew of laws in areas ranging from education to healthcare to reservation to industry.
IT IS NOT AN EASY TASK TO PROVIDE A report card of the legislative progress of a five-time Chief Minister. It must be remembered that he first took oath as Chief Minister on February 10, 1969, and stepped down for the last time on May 13, 2011. He governed Tamil Nadu at various points over a 44-year period during which the economic landscape underwent tectonic changes. To appreciate this, it must be taken into account that in 1970-71, India’s per capita net national income (at factor cost at constant prices) was Rs.10,016 as against Rs.82,269 today. While the length and breadth of the legislative achievements over this era are enormous, like the person himself, it is the tenacious adaptability over the long period during which he political arena that stands out.
The early Karunanidhi years, namely 1969 to 1976, saw the prioritisation of social reforms over all others. The Tamil Nadu Agricultural Labourer Fair Wages Act, 1969, was enacted to enforce payment of fair wages to agricultural labourers in the Cauvery delta region and penalise landowners who exploited labourers. Another Act, in the same year, would ensure that all tenancy rights and interests were maintained in the revenue records for the first time. In the following year, the Tamil Nadu Land Reforms (Reduction of Ceiling on Land) Act, 1970, was passed, a law which sought to reduce disparities in land- strode the
JUNE 1970: A.N. Sattanathan handing over the report of the First Tamil Nadu Backward Classes Commission to Chief Minister M. Karunanidhi in the presence of Minister of Labour and Backward Classes N.V. Natarajan.