DMK Lok Sabha MP A Raja has sparked outrage among MGR fans after referring to the late Chief Minister M.G. Ramachandran as “loose” in a recent video, drawing comparisons to his mentor M. Karunanidhi’s style of political discourse. The derogatory remarks have incited the wrath of MGR loyalists, who view the former chief minister with reverence for his three consecutive terms from 1977 to 1987.
In an undated video that recently surfaced, A Raja, known for his association with the 2G scam and a prominent figure in the DMK, stirred controversy by making derogatory remarks about the legendary actor and former Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu, M.G. Ramachandran (MGR). MGR, born on January 17, 1917, and passing away on December 24, 1987, was a charismatic figure with a massive fan following, celebrated for his contributions to Indian cinema, politics, and philanthropy.
MGR’s political journey took a significant turn when he was expelled from the DMK in 1972 after seeking an account of party funds. Undeterred, he promptly formed his own political party, securing a resounding victory in the first Lok Sabha by-election of the same year. His political trajectory, marked by unprecedented success, continued to shape the political landscape of Tamil Nadu.
The DMK, under M. Karunanidhi, faced over 13 years of political wilderness due to MGR’s influential presence. The actor-turned-politician strategically used his film career as a platform for political communication, crafting a narrative that portrayed him as a doer of good, a fighter against corruption and evil, a rescuer of those in distress, and a teetotaler.
Even in movies not scripted by DMK ideologues, MGR’s on-screen dialogues carried subtle political undertones. His dedicated fan base considered him a “demigod,” and even after his demise, MGR is revered as a deity. Visitors to his home were traditionally offered food, and he addressed grievances, taking action when warranted.
MGR implemented various welfare schemes, including a non-meal programme for children, free uniforms, textbooks, and entrance examinations for professional course admissions. Despite his efforts to introduce reservations for economically weaker sections in the OC community, opposition from rival parties prevented its realisation.
The controversial remarks made by A Raja in the video have infuriated MGR’s admirers. Raja is heard saying, “I have scant respect for MGR. I never respected him. He is a loose (mentally deranged).” The statement has ignited widespread condemnation, especially given MGR’s revered status among the people of Tamil Nadu.
A Raja’s comments have also prompted questions about the appropriateness of such language from a seasoned politician, particularly one with a significant political history. The undated nature of the video adds an element of uncertainty regarding the timing of Raja’s remarks.
In December of the previous year, during a public meeting, Raja claimed that India’s current support for Israel in the ongoing conflict was previously advocated by the DMK in Tamil Nadu. He criticized the Modi government for claiming achievements that, according to him, were originally initiated by the DMK. In his comments, Raja drew a comparison between MGR and DMK leader M. Karunanidhi, highlighting what he considered the difference between ordinary and visionary politicians.
Raja, however, overlooked historical nuances, as MGR’s impact on Tamil Nadu politics cannot be undermined. In 1971, DMK’s electoral success was significantly influenced by posters of MGR depicting him in a hospital bed with bandages on his neck, a result of an incident involving the actor MR Radha. MGR’s cinematic charisma resonated more powerfully than political meetings, ultimately influencing electoral outcomes.
Critics argue that after the demise of DMK leader Annadurai, the logical choice for leadership would have been the second-in-command, Nedunchezhian. However, Karunanidhi, then PWD minister, strategically persuaded MGR to support him, ultimately leading to his ascendancy as Chief Minister. This move, critics contend, was part of a larger plan to consolidate power and transform the party into a family-run enterprise. MGR, at the time, was oblivious to the underlying machinations.
The fallout between MGR and Karunanidhi occurred when MGR, exhibiting his characteristic straightforwardness, demanded accountability for party funds, leading to his expulsion. Karunanidhi subsequently resorted to disparaging remarks, including labelling MGR as Malayalee, showcasing the political opportunism that ultimately fractured their once-close alliance.
Raja’s controversial comments, coupled with his history of anti-Hindu rhetoric, have intensified the ongoing political discourse in Tamil Nadu.
The episode sheds light on the intricacies of Tamil Nadu’s political landscape, where personal and political histories intertwine, creating narratives that continue to shape the trajectory of the state’s politics. As A Raja faces backlash for his remarks, the incident underscores the delicate balance between political expression and the need for statesmanship, especially when dealing with revered figures in Tamil Nadu’s political history.