TIRUCHY: DMK chief M Karunanidhi had a record win in his first contest from Kulithalai Assembly constituency in 1957, which was present in the then undivided Tiruchy district. He had secured 22,785 votes out of total 48,163 polled. In a polling booth at Thanneerpanthal, ‘Rising Sun’ symbol swept all the votes. It is worth mentioning here that Congress was the most powerful party at that time. The 1957 election was the first electoral battle for the DMK and 15 of its 117 candidates won. Importantly, not all DMK candidates contested the polls on the Rising Sun symbol.
For instance, Annadurai and Karunanidhi got ‘Rising Sun’ but Neduncheziyan contested on Chicken symbol. When Karunanidhi went to Kulithalai for his election campaign, the farmer workers of Nangavaram Pannai that spread over about 10 villages were protesting against their zamindar over wage issue. He assured them that he would resolve the problem and he kept his promise after he won.
Karunanidhi’s maiden speech in the Assembly was on the Nagavaram issue and he waged a 20-day protest (August 23-September 9, 1957) against the landlord by leading the peasants. The landlord did not allow peasants to work on his lands and brought workers from other districts. Condemning this, Karunanidhi led the protests and it was at that time, peasants stepped into the farm lands and started doing cultivation despite imposition of Section 144 in that area. Police had to arrest the peasants every day. Finally, the officials mediated peace and the landlord budged.
Goundampatti Muthu, who was present during that peace talk, recalled, “Those fiery days saw peasants standing on one side and the landlord along the ruling class on the other. The protests happened without violence and that was the reason for its success.” He also remembered his association with Karunanidhi in the campaign in Kulithalai segment. “Karunanidhi had a car that time and we travelled to all parts of the constituency. Many women put ‘Rising Sun’ as Rangoli in front of their houses. He could command peasants’ support as he assured to stand by their side. Unlike local Congress leaders at that time, Karunanidhi moved well with the working class people. He stayed at their houses and had food there. This worked in his favour and made him win,” he added.