“Sisters and brothers,
I am delighted to be here amidst all of you to unveil the statue of former Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu, late Dr. Kalaignar Karunanidhi on the occasion of his 98th birth anniversary celebrations. He was certainly one of India’s most dynamic Chief Ministers.
I thank the Government of Tamil Nadu for inviting me to this important event. Chennai is a city close to my heart and has a special place in my life. From the days of my childhood, on account of its proximity to Nellore where I come from, Chennai has had a profound influence on me.
I have had the good fortune of interacting with Kalaignar Karunanidhi quite closely over several decades during the course of my long journey in public life.
He was a very versatile person with a unique combination of a number of talents.
He was an astute politician who won every election he contested and provided leadership to his party for nearly fifty years. As the Thirukkural says -
சொலல்வல்லன் சோர்விலன் அஞ்சான் அவனை
இகல்வெல்லல் யார்க்கும் அரிது.
(Solalvallan Sorvilan Anjaan Avanai
Ikalvellal Yaarkkum Aridhu.)
Meaning: Mighty in word, of unforgetful mind, of fearless speech, it is hard to conquer such man.
He was an able Chief Minister who has left a lasting legacy of development and social welfare.
He was a gifted orator who could hold an audience spell bound with his wit, literary flavour and learned expositions.
He was an outstanding legislator who excelled in the art of constructive political debate. He always considered his position as an instrument of public service not to enjoy the fruits of power. Kalaignar himself had said –
பதவி என்பது முள்கிரீடம் போன்றது
Padhavi Yenbadhu Mul Greedam Pondradhu
Means: Position is like a crown of thorns.
He had an artistic, cultural and journalistic flair that earned him the honorific title of “Kalaignar” in 1948 after his play “Thookumedai” became a resounding success.
He was truly a multifaceted personality who has left an indelible impression on the development canvas of Tamil Nadu.
Through his scripts and dialogues, he blazed a new trail in Tamil cinema.
As an insightful commentator on current affairs and political analyst, Kalaignar wielded a powerful pen, writing extensively in Murasoli, the party publication he founded.
The common strand which runs through the work of Kalaignar Karunanidhi the administrator, the social activist, the political reformer, the script writer, the poet, the playwright, the journalist and the author is that of social equality and inclusive development.
Sisters and brothers,
We are quite fortunate that, after our independence in 1947, we have had, in our country, a series of illustrious Prime Ministers and Chief Ministers who have shaped the development trajectory of our great nation. They have made tremendous efforts in the States, Union territories and at the Union government level to respond to people’s aspirations, design policies, create programmes, build institutions. These consistent efforts have taken our country forward. Guided by the enlightened pathway shown by the Constitution makers, these leaders at various levels, have tried to give meaning to the words in our Constitution.
Barring a few aberrations, they have helped India shape into a vibrant, progressive democracy upholding the vision contained in the Preamble of the Constitution. Kalaignar Karunanidhi comes in this list of iconic leaders who had put people at the centre of their work. Thanks to leaders like him, the country has strengthened its federal character and, as Prime Minister, Narendra bhai Modi calls it, emerged as a strong ‘Team India’.
Each of our States has a vibrant, unique quality. Each of our States is rich in linguistic richness, literary and cultural treasures, excellent architecture, remarkable craftsmanship, scientific, industrial and agricultural accomplishments. We, as a nation, have moved forward and have made perceptible progress by recognizing and celebrating this fascinating diversity and capitalizing on the inherent strengths in each State. We have realized that we can bring about a rare synergy if we tap into the abundant, hidden energy that is waiting to be kindled within each of our citizens in each of our States.
That’s what visionary leaders like Kalaignar Karunanidhi had tried to do. His vision was to empower people, especially those who were marginalised and were outside the circle of development. He was a leader who thought of “Uzhavar sandhai” or farmer’s markets and a health insurance scheme for the poor. He was a leader who gave a boost to industrial growth, infrastructure and information technology. He was a leader who loved his motherland and mother tongue and helped the world know about the state’s wealth of cultural heritage and the literary works in the classical language of Tamil. He was the one who declared the prayer song for Tamil Nadu in 1970, the ‘Tamil Thai Vazhthu’ with which we begin all functions in this State.
Sisters and brothers,
Kalaignar Karunanidhi was a leader who stood firmly by his political beliefs and convictions. It is important to recall the fact that Kalaignar Karunanidhi had opposed the imposition of Emergency by the then Prime Minister, Mrs. Indira Gandhi, in clear and unambiguous terms.
Rising from the margins of society, working untiringly for the underprivileged and occupying the centre stage of public life for several decades, Kalaignar Karunanidhi’s multi-dimensional work has had a lasting impact on the socio-political landscape of Tamil Nadu. Kalaignar has left behind an enduring political legacy few leaders can boast of. I am sure that the current Chief Minister, Thiru M.K. Stalin will be guided by the vision and work of his illustrious father.
I once again thank the Government of Tamil Nadu for inviting me to this special event and wish the Chief Minister, Thiru Stalin, his cabinet colleagues and all the civil servants working in the State all the best in their untiring efforts to continue the developmental journey of the State with the same earnestness as Kalaignar did. I do hope the State will make rapid progress on all fronts and, working with the Union government in the true spirit of ‘cooperative federalism’ and ‘competitive federalism’, make India realise its true potential in the years to come.