CHENNAI : Live your life the way you want to and don’t compromise for anyone,” said Member of Parliament and poet MK Kanimozhi, addressing members of the women wing of Federation of Indian Chamber of Commerce & Industry (FICCI), FLO Chennai Chapter, during a session on ‘Politics & Poetry’ as part of the organisation’s silver jubilee celebrations.
The daughter of former chief minister of Tamil Nadu, late MK Karunanidhi, is known for rendering support to pan-Tamil issues and also issues of people from marginalised sections of the society. Talking about facing challenges head-on in a male-dominated space, she said, “Politics is a male-dominated space...for a woman to be heard, she has to talk ten times louder than the men.
That’s why most women politicians are loud. But, to have a say and create a change through politics, one has to endure the struggle. Since I was born into a political family, I was privileged and had my father and brothers for support. But, I had my share of struggles too. It’s not easy for a woman, but more women should come into politics and every other unexplored space.”
She is also seen as her father’s ‘literary heir’. Answering a string of questions by Indira M Kameswaran and Geetha Muthuswamy about the same, she said, “I have inherited the literary talent from my father. He was a politician who was a poet and I was a poet who became a politician. My father convinced me to enter politics...fathers always have a way with their daughters, don’t they? Both mediums have the power to make changes,” she shared.
Kanimozhi sees poetry as a mask the politicians wear. “There are several writers and poets who have been politicians. Sometimes I question myself whether they use it as a mask. In politics, you sometimes have to be quiet and not let out the entire truth. So, the truth comes out through powerful poetry. I have noticed this even in my father’s literary works...his subtle speech would turn into a powerful piece of poetry. Sometimes the mask is necessary to convey the truth,” she said.
During a time when Google didn’t exist, her father was her go-to ‘Google scholar’. “It was nice to have a scholar at home. All I had to do was ask him what something meant. He encouraged me to read and learn. My mother was strict and during exams, I was only allowed to read the textbooks. But, my father was more fun. He used to ask me to read what I wanted to, and said: ‘The whole point is about learning’. But of course, my mother disciplined me and what I am today is because of her,” she said.
From recalling her school days, talking about how her father was particular that she scored well in the Tamil language exam, and his concern for anyone who travelled late night, to discussing her role models, the politician was simple, crisp and unabashedly truthful. “Our theme this year is ‘Avatars of a woman’ and we will have more such talks in the future,” added Anupama Shivaraman, chairperson, FICCI