No real Tamil-speaking leaders in TN!

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No real Tamil-speaking leaders in TN!

Tuesday, 23 December 2014 | Kumar Chellappan | CHENNAI

No real Tamil-speaking leaders in TN!

The Tamil Nadu BJP is on cloud nine following the two-day visit of party’s national president Amit Shah to Chennai. D Napoleon, the film star-turned-DMK politician joining the BJP in the presence of Shah, was the best thing which has happened to the saffron party in recent times. But there are more things that do not meet the untrained eyes in the internal dynamics of Tamil Nadu politics.

Since 1969, when Karunanidhi was elected by the then undivided DMK to head the Government following the unexpected demise of CN Annadurai, the party’s life and soul, nobody other than non-Tamils had become the Chief Minister of the State. O Panneerselvam, of course, is a Tamil. But he himself tells everybody that his tenure is only a stopgap arrangement.

Unknown to most people inside and outside Tamil Nadu is the truth that M  Karunanidhi, the self-styled leader of Tamils all over the world, is a Telugu by birth. He is a Telugu born in Tirukkuvalai in Thiruvarur district in the composite Madras Presidency. Whether he likes it or not, Dr Kalaignar (as he wants people to address him. Kalaignar is the Tamil for the greatest scholar in arts and literature!) is the descendent of Telugu-speaking parents and his mother tongue is Telugu. Old timers in Tamil Nadu reminiscence Dr Kalaignar’s friendship with another great son of Andhra Pradesh, who literally over-turned Andhra politics with his slogan, ‘The Telugu pride’, the legendary N T Rama Rao, who took the Congress bastion by storm.

The Tamil pride for which Karunanidhi fights is his way of thanking Tamils for hosting and accepting him. Tamil Nadu’s tryst with non-Tamil leaders does not end with Dr Kalaignar. MG Ramachandran, who was ousted by Karunanidhi from the DMK and who succeeded him as the Chief Minister was a Sri lanka- born-Keralite whose mother tongue was chaste Malayalam.  So long as MGR was alive, Karunanidhi was in political wilderness.

Following the death of MGR, the AIADMK was taken over by Jayalalithaa Jayaraman, a Mandya (Mysore)-born Iyengar whose mother tongue is Kannada. But Jayalalithaa speaks Tamil, Telugu, Malayalam, English and Hindi with ease and poise.

Others who are in line to occupy the Chief Minister’s chair in Tamil Nadu too are non-Tamils. Vijayakanth, the DMDK leader, is a Telugu. The hardcore Tamil nationalist and rationalist Vaiko (whose original name is Vayapuri Gopalasamy, which he changed it to Vaiko as per astrological advise !) too is a Telugu born to Andhra parents. Vaiko, who was once portrayed as the future Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu, though it is doubtful whether he would be able to win an election without the support of the DMK or the AIADMK or the  BJP.

The new recruit to the Congress in Tamil Nadu, yesteryear film actress Khushboo, is a Punjabi Muslim. Rajnikanth, the Tamil matinee idol, about whom the BJP had great hopes and was also projected as a Chief Minister material, is a Mysore born Marathi. This could be the reason why the BJP was interested in projecting the Style Mannan (king of styles) as their leader. Sunday saw D Napoleon, the DMK strongman from Tiruchirapalli, joining the BJP. Interestingly, Napoleon too is a Telugu  Reddiar whose physique speaks volumes about his lineage and pedigree.

And finally about EV Ramasamy Naicker, the founder of the Dravida movement in Tamil Nadu. His biographers state that he was born in a Kannada Balija Naidu family settled in Erode.  But a senior scribe in Chennai who has a passion for drawing out ancestral lineages of politicians, says that EVR is from Andhra Pradesh whose mother tongue was Telugu.The search for a true Tamil nationalist may take some more time.to materialise.

A veteran political analyst has found out the reason for the failure of the Vanniyar dominated PMK to make it to the big league. The party is full of Tamil speaking leaders!

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