How relevant is MGR’s legacy in Tamil Nadu politics? Top leaders debate at India Today Conclave South 2021

With the meeting elections across the nook in Tamil Nadu, political events throughout the state have gotten themselves right into a conflict over the legacy of MG Ramachandran, former Tamil Nadu Chief Minister and the founding father of All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (AIADMK). But, can anybody as we speak fill MGR’s footwear? Will a brand new icon emerge in Tamil Nadu politics? Top leaders from the state debated the relevance of MGR’s legacy and whether or not anyone may stake declare to it at the India Today Conclave South 2021.

During the debate, Sripriya, an actor and State Secretary, HQ Propaganda, Makkal Needhi Maiam (MNM), mentioned, “MGR, the very name, reminds us of charisma and intelligence put together. Many who claim the legacy of MGR may be intelligent and few may be charismatic too, but both together is undoubtedly [MNM founder] Kamal Haasan.”

“…MGR always appreciated Kamal Hassan and asked him to be in politics. The legacy of MGR has been bestowed on Kamal Haasan by the people. It’s a great opportunity,” Sripriya mentioned.

WATCH | India Today Conclave South 2021

In response, AIADMK spokesperson Kovai Sathyan mentioned, “They say he’s [MGR] an icon but for us [AIADMK], he is a ‘yugpursh’… he had a vision. He wanted to be in public life and each and every action of his [was meant to] reach that vision. When he did so, he reached out to the weaker and marginalised section of the society. All he had in his mind was there are two sections of the society — haves and have nots.”

“Such is his legacy and so we call him a yugpurush,” Sathyan mentioned, including, “He never played any cards for political mileage. He has led a life which can be imbibed by many. Such is the legacy.”

Responding to a query on the battle over MGR’s legacy, TKS Elangovan, Member of Parliament, Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK), mentioned, no person can copy different leaders and that one has to give you his personal picture.

“Tamil Nadu has seen great leaders. We had Rajaji [C Rajagopalachari], we had Kamaraj. Both were in the Congress, but subsequently, Kamaraj founded his own party. We had Anna, we had MGR. MGR is MGR, Anna is Anna… to compare them is not very easy…,” Elangovan mentioned. “A leader should have his own ideas for the welfare of people…Everybody should stand isolated and not copy MGR,” Elangovan additionally mentioned.

And, how does the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) view MGR’s legacy? Narayanan Thirupathy, spokesperson of the Tamil Nadu BJP, mentioned, “MGR was a very great man. He respected human values and the connection he had with people, nobody had…There’s nothing wrong to prove or cherish and praise the charisma of MRG. They [people] connected with what MGR had.”

“BJP workers will take the example of MGR. There’s nothing wrong in praising others,” he mentioned. “There’s nothing wrong in making MGR an icon. Icons are icons, obviously,” he mentioned.

When requested if BJP noticed Rajnikanth as an MGR-like determine, Thirupathy mentioned, “We have Prime Minister Modi as a superstar… We want more MGRs and more Rajnikanths to be in state politics so that the state of Tamil Nadu will become better. As far as Rajnikant is concerned, we welcomed when he said that he’s coming to politics… He’s most welcome accepting our party policies. We want the welfare of the state. There’s a vacuum, no doubt at all.”

Also throughout the debate, R Kannan, the creator of ‘MGR: A Life’, mentioned, “MGR was a cut above the icon. He was a man hugely inept with an infinite source of charisma that none one could match and people are competing to match today.”

“What MGR stands for is not charisma, but for the fact that people had immense [belief] in this man… He symbolised the era of consolidation of welfare politics… Today Tamil Nadu is a formal welfare state. He institutionalised public-private partnership in higher education, medical sciences,” Kannan mentioned.

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