Forgotten Left Artiste Did a Bit of Work for Indira's Congress as Well
When Muthupillai was an active Villupattu artiste, his group has even campaigned for former prime minister Indira Gandhi’s 20-point programme, which included retrieval of temple lands from landlords for redistribution to the landless poor.
He and his team had mobilized the villagers for the land retrieval movement through folk songs. “In Sivagiri, we retrieved 100 acres of land belonging to the Subramanian temple and distributed to the poor people. But those were the golden days of Congress rule,” recalls Muthupillai.
“Congress president Sonia Gandhi is not a mass leader. The party will soon die a natural death,” he predicts.
He recalls how his cultural group had launched a campaign against the Congress when the police killed 22 Communists on February 11, 1950 in Salem Central Jail.
Muthupillai was also one among those who witnessed the Kilavenmani massacre on December 25, 1968. “Our troupe had gone to the village to spread Communist ideology when we witnessed with shock the landlord locking 44 workers inside a thatched house and setting it on fire. The landlord also threw a small baby into the fire when the mother, caught inside the locked house, cried out, calling for her son,” Muthupalli claims.
Though Muthupalli has not veered away from the Communist ideology and is not averse to the idea of accepting the invitation from the CPI to campaign for its candidate in Tenkasi, he has great appreciation for Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa, who introduced welfare measures for the common man. And his vote will be for her, if he manages to get his voting right back.
Even at 83, Muthupillai is a livewire, entertaining inmates of his Corporation Night Shelter for Homeless Urban Poor at Sellur with his folk songs.