CHENNAI: The recent appointment of Dravidar Kazhagam (DK) president K Veeramani’s son, Anburaj, as the headquarters secretary of the organisation has caused anger and resentment among the acolytes of Periyar E V Ramasamy, who feel that the social movement was getting the hues of a political party through dynastic succession.
“How many agitations has Anburaj participated in over the years and how many meetings has he addressed to take the ideals of Periyar to the common people?” asks writer Tamilarivi Manian and calls him a “novice”.
Pointing out that there was a parallel between Veeramani and DMK chief Karunanidhi, he says while DMK founder C N Annadurai never promoted his adopted children in politics, his successor Karunanidhi did it by giving party posts and also MP seats to two of his two children - M K Alagiri and Kanimozhi. Veeramani is doing what Periyar never did, he says.
The DK is not a mutt and Veeramani cannot act like a Shankaracharya, enjoying the right to annoint his successor. In a social movement, unilateral selection of successors is unacceptable, particularly when the very act goes against what Periyar stood for, he points out.
Viduthalai Rajendran, a long-time member the DK who broke away in 1996 to form the Periyar Dravidar Kazhagam, says Periyar, despite involving his family members in protests and agitations, never anointed any of them as his successor. Even Maniammai, whom Periyar married much later, came into the movement as an ordinary worker and Veeramani was neither related to Periyar nor Maniammai.
That Veeramani, after inheriting the leadership of the DK from Maniammai, is making a bid to hand over the entire organisation that owns properties and educational institutions all over the State, to his son, who is a failed businessman, has also caused a murmur within the DK, though the activists are reluctant to speak out about it.Veeramani surprised them at the party meet in Thanjavur on October 10 by making the announcement about his son’s appointment unilaterally.
However, Veeramani has been surprising many old-timers of the DK for more than a decade by giving priority to running the self-financed institutions of a trust he operates in the name of Periyar rather than promoting the rationalistic ideology.
His penchant to blindly support whoever is in power in Tamil Nadu - be it Jayalalithaa or Karunanidhi - and his placing legal hurdles in the initiative to bring out a collection of writings and speeches of Periyar have already earned the ire of many traditional DK supporters.
Since he is hell bent on stopping the publication of Periyar’s works, old time followers of Periyar accuse Veeramani of having a dog in a manger attitude.
But his latest move to suddenly bring in his son, who had so far been living an independent life least concerned about the activities or programmes of the Dravidar Kazhagam, has earned their wrath as they see in it a clear attempt to hand him over the properties and funds of the party.
But as Tamilarivi Manian puts it: “Dynasty in political parties is curable but in a social movement it is incurable.”