I tender my hearty felicitations to Sri C. N. Annadurai and his Cabinet colleagues on the occasion of their assuming office in Madras. I wish them all Godspeed in the arduous task of administering the Madras State, and offer my wholehearted support and co-operation.
I may be pardoned for striking a personal note. Though for some years now, I have abstained from political activities, I had been a strenuous politician and an ardent Congressman for over twenty-five years in those stormy days of the Freedom struggle. Six members of my family including my wife, daughter and son went to jail in the freedom struggle under the auspices of the Congress. I had occupied fairly high positions under the Congress-- as a member of the Tamilnad working committee for many a term, as leader of the Madurai Municipal Council and as a member of the Madras Legislative Assembly sitting with my wife as a couple (which record in the Madras Assembly has not been broken till now), a member of the Constituent Assembly, a member of Parliament all, of course under the kindly patronage of the Congress.
That with such record of service and sacrifices to the Congress and the country, I should feel elated over the defeat of the Congress at the polls in Tamilnad is in truth a matter more for sorrow than for surprise. I am sure other Congressmen feel likewise. Why should it be so? It is for Congressmen to ponder over. To an impartial observer of events in Tamilnad the answer must be simple enough.
It is not my purpose to go deep into the causes for the, tragic debacle of the Congress in Tamilnad. Suffice it to say, that the rout of the Congress in Tamilnad is thorough. The President of the Congress, the President of the Pradesh Congress, Speaker and Deputy Speaker, all the Central ministers, all, but one of the local ministers have been defeated, some by staggering majorities. I feel like exclaiming (with due apologies to Shakespeare) "O! what a fall to the Congress, my countrymen!" It is of course a great pity that talented, able and experienced veteran ministers like Sri C.S. and KV. should have been carried away by the avalanche. But they may have some solace in the fact that the defeat is directed not against any one of them in particular but against the historic organization to which they had now the misfortune to belong.
Now, the DMK has assumed office in Madras in pursuance of the mandate of the people. We all welcome it. The recent statements of Sri C. N. Annadurai augur well for a good and just administration in Tamilnad.
Firstly I welcome Sri Annadurai's statement drawing a clear distinction between party and government, and that government is to function for the benefit of all people and not for the members of the ruling party. During the Congress regime they became more or less merged. I am glad that he has rightly sought the co-operation and blessings of even his erstwhile political opponents. His meeting with his inveterate political opponent E.V.R., is in truly Gandhian spirit and is commendable, though, in my view, E.V.R's co-operation if any will be more harmful than helpful to an impartial administration. His meeting Sri M. Bhaktavatsalam, and intended meeting with Sri Kamaraj are indeed cultural gestures and are commendable- ‘All friends and no enemies to my government', seems to be Sri Annadurai's motto.
Secondly, the voluntary reduction of the ministerial salary to Rs. 500 is a singular act of sacrifice. The historic Karachi resolution of the Congress is being implemented by the DMK in 1967! I ask Congress ministers of other States, "What do you now propose to do?"
It is a very good thing that the new Chief Minister should have decided to live in his own humble small house in Avenue Road in Nungambakkam, even as Rajaji did earlier in 1937 and later in 1952 when he was Chief Minister. I am equally glad that the DMK ministers have decided to use small cars and to give up all pomp and show. All this will be in glaring contrast to the conduct of the Congress ministry. Simplicity in life and office will be greatly appreciated by our people.
I also welcome the DMK’s decision to enforce Prohibition and to abolish land tax.
Let me take this opportunity to issue a note of caution. The DMK seems to be in hot haste to achieve results quickly. The motive is laudable; but quick achievement is not always practicable in all cases. Let it be distinctly realized that there is no such thing as Aladdin's Wonderful Lamp in the matter of administration of a State: Thiruvalluvar in one of his maxims has stated
I may offer one suggestion to the new Ministry: The only way to give good rice to all at reasonable prices it to remove controls, root and branch. Take courage in both hands and remove food controls. Do not distrust the landlords, merchants, or anyone for that matter. In 1951 Rajaji removed the controls, and with what wonderful results all know. The Centre's consent may be necessary and it may take some time to come. Take your own time, but decide upon it, please. This is my humble appeal on behalf of the people.
Rajaji's support to the new DMK Ministry is indeed their great asset. He seems to be the friend, philosopher and guide to the Ministry. I would very much like the DMK to conduct themselves in such a way as to deserve Rajaji's continued support and cooperation. Let them listen to him with respect and patience. On some occasions it may be difficult to swallow the pill he may prescribe. Time will show them that he is more often right than otherwise.
Gandhiji had wanted the Congress to be dissolved in 1947. But the leaders would not agree. Now the people it is who have virtually dissolved it in 1967 in Tamilnad by registering their votes against them. I fear it is rather a Herculean task to revive or revitalize the Congress in Tamilnad. But if the DMK Ministry were to commit the mistakes the Congress had been doing in its regime, those mistakes will provide the oxygen for the Congress to breathe in Tamilnad. Let the DMK be ever vigilant and do right by the people.
People have now realized their strength. They have now known that power, position, prestige, money, might, bullet, fleet of cars, influence by misusing the magic names of Mahatmaji or Nehruji -- these are of no avail when once they are determined to be masters. Elections in Tamilnad have demonstrated it in an unmistakable manner.
Let me finally wish the DMK Ministry once again the best of luck. I have not the slightest doubt that the new Ministry will justify the confidence reposed in them by the people in such abundant measure.
This article was authored by L Krishnaswami Bharati and was published in the 18 March 1967 edition of Swarajya.
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