End of an era: K Anbazhagan's demise leaves vacuum in Dravidian politics

As the nine-time general secretary of the party, Kalyanasundaram Anbazhagan was a witness to the ups and downs of the DMK as well as the political history of the State for over seven decades.

Published: 07th March 2020 10:39 AM  |   Last Updated: 07th March 2020 07:02 PM   |  A+A-

Veteran DMK leader K Anbazhagan.

Veteran DMK leader K Anbazhagan. (Photo | PTI)

Express News Service

CHENNAI: Kalyanasundaram Anbazhagan (97), one of the close associates of Dravidian stalwarts - Periyar EV Ramasamy, Arignar Anna and Kalaignar M Karunanidhi, has bid adieu.  

A nine-time general secretary of the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam for over four decades since 1978, Anbazhagan had a front seat during the eventful years in Tamil Nadu and was a key presence for around 80 years. He has indeed left a vacuum in Dravidian politics. His demise came four years after he bid adieu to electoral politics in April 2016. 

Born in Kattoor village in Tiruvarur district on December 19, 1922, as Ramaiah to Kalyanasundaram and Sornam, he changed his name to Anbazhagan after becoming involved in the ‘Pure Tamil Movement’ led by Tamil scholar Maraimalai Adigal in 1942.  Politics laced with social reform and a great love for the Tamil language was in his veins since his father was an associate of the Dravidian patriarch Periyar.  

Respectfully referred to as ‘Peraasiriyar’, (Professor) Anbazhagan was a loyal follower of Periyar EV Ramasamy and a close associate of CN Annadurai.

As the nine-time general secretary of the party, he was a constant and calming presence through the ups and downs of the DMK. He also had a ringside view of the happenings inside the State assembly as an eight-time MLA. He was also a member of the now-defunct Legislative Council in 1962.

When Periyar snapped his ties with Congress in 1925, Kalyanasundaram was among those who left Congress.

Ramaiah was attracted towards the ideals of Periyar at a very young age. Like the senior leaders of the Dravidian movement, Anbazhagan too was a good orator and with an inimitable style - that of a professor explaining a lesson to his students. His speeches rarely ended without touching the topics of Tamil pride and the quotes of Periyar and Anna. 

At the age of 17, he started giving speeches. For the first time, he addressed a public function in the presence of Anna in 1942 at Thiruvarur. When Anna was called to deliver his speech, unexpectedly, he introduced a frail-bodied youth Anbazhagan and asked him to do the honours. Thus began the long innings of Anbazhagan as an orator. 

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Though well versed in English, he never trumpeted this skill of his. Only when the press posed questions in English did he display his ease in handling the language. In the Parliament and the State Assembly, he replied in English only when it was absolutely necessary. His speeches in all languages were embellished by the fact that he always avoided personal attacks and unsavoury remarks. 

To the end, Anbazhagan was a leader who commanded respect even from his political adversaries and also from his bitter critics.  

Former editor of Thuglak, the late Cho S Ramaswamy, a diehard critic of Dravidian politics, had words of praise for Anbazhagan’s disciplined conduct as a party functionary.  “He was an example of how the senior leader of political parties should conduct themselves. He always held the party more important than personal aims,” Cho had commented. 

Anbazhagan described himself thus: “First I am a human being; second as a person - Anbazhagan; third I am a rationalist belonging to self-respect movement; fourth, I am a brother of Anna; fifth, a friend of Kalaignar.”

Anbazhagan's friendship with DMK president M Karunanidhi lasted for over seven decades. An ardent Tamil lover who preached and practised the use of Tamil in all junctures, he was accepting of other languages too.

At a very young age, he had translated the speech of P Balasubramaniyam of Sunday Observor at a crucial conference of the Justice Party in 1944. 

Notably, he authored 41 books in Tamil on Dravidian ideology and the need for redeeming the glorious past of Tamils. He will be missed.


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  • Giri

    "Dravidian" politics (if you can call shenanigans politics) have always been vauous and didnt need somebody to die for them to become so!
    1 year ago reply
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