DMK general secretary K Anbazhagan passes away at 97

After completing his education, he took up a job as a lecturer at the Pachayappa college from 1944 to 1957 due to which he was fondly called 'perasiriyar'(professor)

A proficient writer, Anbazhagan has authored many books on Tamil literature and also brought out a magazine called 'Puthu Vaazhvu'. Photo: PTI

K. Anbazhagan, DMK’s General Secretary for 43 years and four-time minister passed away on Saturday (March 7) at 1 a.m due to prolonged illness at Apollo Hospital, Chennai.

The 97-year-old leader is survived by two daughters and a son from his first wife.

Born as Ramaiah on December 13, 1922, in Kattor (now Thiruvarur District), he completed his post-graduation in Tamil from Annamalai University in Cuddalore.

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A Periyarist, Anbazhagan was deeply interested in the leader’s self-respect movement and also changed his name to Kalyanasundaram Anbazhagan owing to his interest in pure Tamil movement.

Seeing his interest in the self-respect movement, DMK stalwart and former chief minister CN Annadurai invited Anbazhagan to give a speech in a meeting. It is there he first met M. Karunanidhi in 1942.

After completing his education, he took up a job as a lecturer at the Pachayappa college from 1944 to 1957 due to which he was fondly called ‘perasiriyar'(professor).

Known to be close friends with Karunanidhi, their bonding grew with time, so much that Karunanidhi’s children used to address him as ‘Periyappa’ (grand uncle). On many occasions, Karunanidhi too regarded him as his brother.

The perasiriyar was once reported saying, “I am first a human being, then I am Anbazhagan, third I am a man of the self-respect movement, fourth I am Anna’s brother and fifth I am Kalaignar’s friend.”

In 1949 when Annadurai parted ways from EVR Periyar to form DMK, Anbazhagan came to Anna’s camp.

Between 1967 and 1971, he served as a Lok Sabha MP and was elected to state assembly nine times. From 1977 to until his death, he served as the party’s general secretary.

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He was an MLA for thirteen years before giving up his post in 1984 over the Tamil Eelam issue.

In 1988, when the Vajpayee government tried to implement recital of ‘Saraswathi Vandana’ in-school prayers, Anbazhagan was one of the first leaders to oppose the move.

In 2011, he was defeated in assembly election from Villivakkam constituency.

A proficient writer, he has authored many books on Tamil literature and also brought out a magazine called ‘Puthu Vaazhvu’.

An active member of the Dravidian movement, Anbazhagan wrote fiery speeches and urged people to strive towards equality by breaking out from the caste system.

According to him, DMKs greatest achievement was making Tamils stand up for themselves and feel proud of their identities.

“When I was living in Myladuthurai, there were two Brahmin streets. Most of the doctors and lawyers were Brahmins. The lower class people used to call them as ‘saami’ (Lord). They used to say that they are going to meet ‘Doctor saami’, ‘Lawyer saami’, etc. The upper caste people used to call themselves by their caste name like ‘Mudaliyar’, ‘Pillai’, etc. There was a time when Hindus hesitated to drink a glass of water at Muslims and Christians houses. But today, we all shed our differences and we are united as Tamils. Today, no one need to bend before others,” he once wrote.

Condoling the death of the Anbazhagan, DMK President MK Stalin released a statement.

“DMK condoles the demise of General Secretary K. Anbazhagan. DMK postpones all its party functions for 1 week and all DMK flags to fly half-mast for a week,” the statement read.

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