DMK Patriarch To Return To Anna Salai

When Chief Minister M K Stalin accorded permission to Dravidar Kazhagam (DK) to install a mega 95-foot-tall statue of Thanthai Periyar at Siruganur in Tiruchirappalli District, a few days ago, he was reminded by the DK leaders to fulfil the wishes of the late Rationalist leader to reinstall the statue of former Chief Minister M Karunanidhi on the arterial Anna Road, a longstanding wish of Periyar.

If all goes well, a statue of the DMK Patriarch would be reinstalled at the same spot – General Patters Road Junction where it was installed in 1975, in deference to the wishes of Periyar. In a rare coincidence, the statue was then unveiled by Kundrakudi Adigal, a fervent Saivite Hindu, eminent Tamil orator and writer.

Mr Stalin told the Assembly on September 1 that the statue of Kalaignar would be installed at the same spot where it once stood 34 years ago as members of the treasury benches hailed the decision by thumping of desks.

Responding to DMK MLA TKG Neelamegam who wanted the Government to reinstall the statue, Mr Stalin said DK President K Veeramani too expressed a similar desire when he called on him a few days ago (to thank him for granting permission to install the statue of Periyar at Sirumugai village in Mannachanallur block in Tiruchirappalli district). The DK leader wanted him to place the statue at the same place since it was a wish of Periyar, Mr Stalin said.

“I told him (Mr Veeramani) that there were court orders against installation of statues on arterial roads as they would hinder the free flow of traffic. But the DK leader said permission had already been obtained (when the statue was originally installed in 1975) and there would be no need to get permission again.”

There is a statue of Periyar, Anna (former Chief Minister C N Annadurai) and MGR (former Chief Minister M G Ramachandran) on Anna Sakai, Mr Stalin said adding it would be appropriate to consult legal experts (before taking a final call). “We have to also abide by the order of the court. The statue will certainly be installed on Anna Salai,” he said amid thumping of desks by the treasury benches in the house.

The DK had originally installed the statue much to the hesitation of Mr Karunanidhi. He tried in vain to persuade Mr Veeramani to drop the plan and finally agreed after he was told that it was the wish of Periyar. The statue, standing tall, was, however, damaged along with the pedestal by vandals on December 24, 1987, the day when the then Chief Minister M G Ramachandran’s demise triggered violent incidents.

When newspapers carried a picture of a youth attacking the chest of the statue with a crowbar, the DMK leader, in his inimitable poetic style, wrote to the party cadre, addressing them as ‘Udanpirappe (brethren) in Murasoli, the DMK’s mouthpiece, giving vent his feeling. “Those who instigated the youth (who damaged the statue) might rejoice (on seeing the picture), but the youth did not stab me on my back but on my chest...vazhga vazhga (long live),” the Dravidian patriarch said.