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President Kovind unveils Karunanidhi portrait at TN assembly

At the event attended by Chief Minister and Karunanidhi’s son M K Stalin and Governor Banwarilal Purohit, Kovind hailed the Dravidian patriarch as a leader “in a class of his own”.

By: Express News Service | Chennai |
Updated: August 2, 2021 10:36:19 pm
President Ram Nath Kovind unveils former CM Karunanidhi's portrait, in presence of CM MK Stalin. (Express Photo)

President Ram Nath Kovind Monday unveiled a life-sized portrait of former Chief Minister M Karunanidhi at the Tamil Nadu Assembly as he paid tribute to the progressive social legacy of the legislature during its centenary celebration.

At the event attended by Chief Minister and Karunanidhi’s son M K Stalin and Governor Banwarilal Purohit, Kovind hailed the Dravidian patriarch as a leader “in a class of his own”.

“For him, his mother-tongue was the object of worship… Kalaignar [as Karunanidhi was fondly called by Tamils] was a leader in a class of his own. He was among the last links we had with the stalwarts of our national movement,” Kovind said.

On the council, he said: “The concept of the welfare state has taken deep roots in this legislature irrespective of who rules here.”

He said the history of Madras legislature became the fountainhead of many progressive legislations which were subsequently replicated across the country to empower the weaker sections of society and strengthen democracy.

“The history of the Madras Legislative Council, as you know, dates back to 1861. An advisory body set up back then bloomed into a law-making assembly in 1921. Under colonial rule, there were, of course, many limitations and challenges on the functioning of such a body. Also, there were numerous separate constituencies based on caste, community and other parameters. Still, even if partial, it was a move towards a responsible government. Democracy, in its modern form, was returning to the land where it was practised centuries ago,” Kovind said.

Referring to a period when the Madras Presidency consisted Tamil Nadu as well as parts of Kerala, Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, Odisha and Lakshadweep, he said the dreams and aspirations of the people of these regions, shaped by the freedom movement, found an expression in the new Madras Legislative Council.

“This legislature can rightly be credited with nurturing the roots of democracy by focusing on governance to uplift the poor and purge social evils. Politics and governance in the region evolved around positive and rational content that targeted the welfare of those living on the margins,” he said.

The President also referred to the “revolutionary” ideas that came from the Madras legislature — the abolition of the Devadasi system, widow remarriage, mid-day meals in schools and distribution of agricultural land to the landless.

Urging the youth to “engage with the past in order to understand the present and progress in the future,” Kovind said: “From the lives of Mahatma Gandhi, Subramania Bharati and others, you will find answers to questions that are arising in your minds.”

He quoted the Tamil poet Bharati: “We will learn both scripture and science, We will explore both heavens and oceans, We will unravel the mysteries of the moon, And we will sweep our streets clean too.”

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