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Kumari Anandhan – July 1st, 2005

Dr. Kumari Anandhan is a staunch congress man. He has had the wonderful opportunity to have worked close with Thiru: Kamarajar. He has represented the Nagerkoil Constituency, as a Member of Parliament, once. He has also served as the Member of Legislative Assembly, a few times. He has a great passion for the Tamil language. He is an eloquent speaker and a good writer. He has written more than thirty books in Tamil. In this interview part one, he expresses his views on politics.

1. How do you foresee the strength of the congress party in Tamil Nadu after the merger of a number of sub-congress parties together?

Since the period of Kamarajar and Rajajie, differences of opinion have been a norm. Considering the betterment of the party, people were ready to give and take. To-day, there are factions in the congress party. As a result of various opinions, the strength of the party declines.

If two policies are adapted collectively, then the congress party could be strengthened. One is that there should be only one leader; another is that there should not be any differences of opinion. Even if differences exist, they must try to resolve among themselves. I am sure that, such a situation would soon come.

2. Do you think today’s political situation in India is adaptable for women?

Definitely yes. During the period of freedom fighting, women did not take part. Women like Sarojini Naidu first made their entry into politics and there was a fear on their long run existence then. Still, they could take a lead in the salt sathyagraha revolution. Vijalakshmi Pandit, Rajakumari and others followed her footsteps. They even represented India in the United Nations. So, I guess there should never even a question arise, if politics is suitable for women now. Women are respected better than men. The situation is more conducive for women. The 33% allocation for women was brought considering the importance of women’s role in politics. I would say, women should not shun away from politics.

3. So do you accept that women and men are equal?

There is no doubt in it. But each one of us has their duty. one should first do their duty, then get into social work. They say, the child as soon as born, immediately realizes the touch of her/his mother. A mother has a very special duty to take care of her child. If a mother like a father too is very busy and if she is not able to dedicate enough time for her child, what will happen to the child? So here the stress on mother tends to multiply when she has to finish her work and also dedicate herself to the needs of the child. If her husband understands this and tries to share her work, then it will be easier for the woman.

4. Do you think proliferation of so many parties in Tamil Nadu is a healthier one?

No, not really. Even I had a party called ‘Gandhi Kamarajar National Congress’. Later on I merged it with Congress. I have never strayed away from the basic principles laid by Kamarajar. Many a time, I have claimed that there should only be two or three parties and there is no need for so many parties. May be we can think more about this.

5. Do you think the ordinary people understand politics?

We must make them understand. To quote from an example, in 1979, I contested and won from Nagerkoil District. Again in the next election, I contested from the near by Constituency. I was opposed by an actor. I addressed the meeting comprising five hundred people. I spoke about merging the rivers in the way an ordinary man could understand. After seeing the situation over there, my daughter Mrs. Tamil Isai, who was with me, said, ‘Dad, sure we will win this time’. After the meeting, when we were coming back on our way, we saw the actor, my opponent addressing a crowd of 2,000 people. So, we just stopped by and listened to his speech. He addressed the crowd, that if he is being elected by people and sent to parliament, he will shoot all his movies in his constituency itself. So my speech on the merging of rivers was in contrast to his speech. So what would you say for this? So, people they themselves should know what is good for them in the first place.

6. Can you tell us about Kamarajar?

Though Kamarajar did not study beyond standard five, he was a visionary and ever wanted to do good for people. He was very keen on not spending the party’s funds unnecessarily. I was a professor initially and later on became very close with Kamarajar. I was given a car and a driver by the party. One day when Kamarajar saw me driving the car, he terminated the driver and I was asked to self drive. He was very particular, not to spend the party’s money unnecessarily. During the night time, before he goes to sleep, he will make sure he himself switches off the lights. One day I asked him, ‘wouldn’t we do all these small works? In spite of your heavy schedule, why should you strain for these kind of small things?’ His answer for that was ‘In case if you forget to switch off the light, it is a national waste. Agriculturists work hard to earn their daily expenses. Our country is so poor. In such a situation, can we afford to waste?’ It is hard to see such a great leader.

7. What are your experiences with Rajiv Gandhi?

He was an young and energetic leader, who aspired the best for India. During his tenure, there were remarkable achievements. The number of STD booths in the country today is due to his dream in promoting India to the world standards. He also wanted to uplift the standard of rural India to that of world level. He has done a lot for the benefit of women through Panchayat Raj. Recently Rahul Gandhi congratulated me for walking in the ‘dandi yathra’ and wished me for my 72nd birthday.

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