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C. N. Annadurai

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C. N. Annadurai Bio


Conjeevaram Natarajan Annadurai (Tamil: காஞ்சிபுரம் நடராஜ அண்ணாதுரை) (15 September 1909 – 3 February 1969), popularly called Anna (which means elder brother in Tamil), was a former Chief Minister of the South Indian state of Tamil Nadu. He was the first member of a Dravidian party to hold that post and was also the first non-Congress leader to form a majority government in independent India. He was well known for his oratorical skills and was an acclaimed writer in the Tamil language. He had scripted and acted in several plays. Some of his plays were later made as movies. He was the first politician from the Dravidian parties to extensively use Tamil cinema for political propaganda. Born in a middle class family of weavers, he started his career as a school teacher and then moved into the political scene of the Madras Presidency as a journalist. He edited several political journals and enrolled as a member of the Dravidar Kazhagam. As an ardent follower of Periyar E. V. Ramasamy he rose in stature as a prominent member of the party. With differences looming with Periyar, on issues of separate independent state of Dravida Nadu and on inclusion in the Indian Union, he crossed swords with his political mentor. The antipathy between the two finally erupted when Periyar married Maniammai, a lady much younger than him. Angered by this action of Periyar, Annadurai with his supporters parted from Dravidar Kazhagam and launched his own party, Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK). The DMK initially followed ideologies the same as the mother party, Dravidar Kazhagam. But with the evolution of national politics and the constitution of India after the Sino-Indian war in 1963, Annadurai dropped the claim of an independent Dravida Nadu. Various protests against the then ruling Congress government took him to prison on several occasions. The last was during the Madras anti-Hindi agitation of 1965. The agitation itself helped Annadurai to gain popular support for his party. His party won a landslide victory in the 1967 state elections. His cabinet was the youngest at that time in India. He legalised Self-respect marriages, enforced a two language policy (over the three language formula in other southern states) for the state, implemented subsidising cost of rice and renamed the Madras State to Tamil Nadu. However, he died of cancer just two years into office and his funeral was the most attended one at that time, holding a Guiness record. Several institutions and organisations are named after him. A splinter party launched by M. G. Ramachandran in 1972 years after the death of Annadurai was named after him as ADMK (Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam).

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