MGR era: The darker side of a ‘golden period’

MGR's rule in Tamil Nadu for 10 years till his death on December 24, 1987 came to be known as the ‘golden period’ of Tamil Nadu politics | Image - Eunice Dhivya

Ninaithathai Mudippavan. One who accomplishes what he has set out to do.

Released in 1975, the iconic Tamil film by the above name was a superhit. The name signified much more for its star and part-time politician, Maruthur Gopalan Ramachandran aka MGR, who had only three years back broken away from the DMK to form his own party, the AIADMK.

Two years later, he captured power in Tamil Nadu and went on to rule the state for 10 years till his death on December 24, 1987.

For legions of his fans and followers, MGR was a demi-god. From ‘Puratchi Thalaivar’ (revolutionary leader), he came to be known by the title ‘Makkal Thilagam’ (people’s star). Fondly called ‘Ponmana Chemmal’ (the one with a golden heart), his regime came to be known as the “golden period” of Tamil Nadu politics. A number of welfare schemes for the poor will find roots in his regime — the noon meal scheme, free electricity for farmers, ladies’ buses, women in police force, etc.

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