DMK General secretary K Anbazhagan, aged 97, passed away on Saturday morning, after struggling with ill health for over a year. Perasiriyar Anbazhagan as he was respectfully called, held the post of General Secretary in the DMK for nine consecutive terms and was elected as a member of the Tamil Nadu legislative assembly in nine elections.
He was born as Ramaiah in Kattoor near Thiruvarur in Tanjore district(now Thiruvarur District)on 19 December 1922 and secured an M.A (Tamil) degree from Annamalai University. He was a friend and advisor to late DMK chief M Karunanidhi and an architect of the DMKâ€™s path in Tamil Nadu, Anbazhaganâ€™s passion for the self-respect movement and eloquence on stage had made him a close confidante of DMK founder CN Annadurai.
It was in 1942 that Karunanidhi first witnessed a speech made by Anbazhagan at a rally presided by Annadurai. At the gathering in Thiruvarur, even as the audience eagerly waited for Annaduraiâ€™s speech, he stated that a student from Annamalai university will first address them. And from the minute Anbazhagan took to the stage, the spectators were transfixed. His speech on the self-respect movement was met with applause that did not end die down till Annadurai began talking.
At the end of the event, Karunanidhi invited Anbazhagan to address students in his home town, and thus began a life-long friendship, that went on to define the DMKâ€™s political journey.
The Perasariyar was once reported saying, â€śI am first a human being, then I am Anbazhagan, third I am a man of the self-respect movement, fourth I am Annaâ€™s brother and fifth I am Kalaignarâ€™s friend.â€ť
It was infact the DMK founder who gave Anbazhagan the title Perasariyar after he took up a teaching position in a college in Tamil Nadu. As the DMK grew stronger in the state,Anbazhagan reportedly insisted on quitting his job to join the party but Annadurai insisted that he continue to teach. So, instead he took to writing on the DMK to spread the partyâ€™s message. However the inevitable happened and Anabazhagan joined the party full time. On Sept 25, 1960, Annadurai became General Secretary of the DMK and Anbazhagan took up the post of Secretary.
Anbazhagan soon came to be known for his fiery speeches and witty repertoire in the State Assembly. He was a member of the Tamil Nadu legislative council between 1962-1967 and a member of Lok Sabha between 1967-1971.
In 1969, after Annaduraiâ€™s death, reports suggest that he supported Nedunchezhiyan over Karunanidhi for the post of DMK chief. However, when he saw what the party workers desired, he reportedly let go of his own thoughts on the matter, to support Karunanidhi. Even in 1972, when MG Ramachandran led a faction of the party away to form the AIADMK, Anbazhagan resolutely stood in support of Karunanidhi. He was an MLA for thirteen years before giving up his post in 1984 over the Tamil Eelam issue.
Following this he contested in state elections till 2011, and had held the Education and Finance portfolios. He also actively supported the imminent takeover of the party by MK Stalin.
Anbazhagan told India Today as early as 2001 that, â€śThe reins of the Dravidian movement has always been in safe hands - from Periyar to Anna to Kalaignar and now to Stalin and in the future to his son.â€ť
Anbazhagan retained the power to hire new persons into the party and remove members till November 10, 2019 when the responsibility was transferred to MK Stalin.
For the DMK which has relied on Anbazhaganâ€™s wisdom and his ability to remind the party of the ideals set by Periyar EV Ramaswamy, his loss marks the end of an era.