அறிஞர் அண்ணாவின் கட்டுரைகள்

Epistles To the eminent [3]

Hon'ble Health Minister

It is reported in the press, that you have made certain pronouncements on the problem of Opposition Parties in Madras State, while opening a Maternity Centre last week. Many will think that the occasion chosen by your goodself, for delivering a political thesis, conceived it ought to have been after a deep probe into the charming whirlpool of present day politics, a bit amusing. I for one do not treat it in such a light-hearted manner. One cannot and ought not to dismiss the doings and sayings of men adorning the ministerial seat, as something amusing. They are important—at any rate as long as those who deliver such sermons happen to occupy important posts. I repeat, Sir, I was not amused—rather I felt a bit sorry, for the uncouthness, lack of polite manners, that that incident revealed.

Having been invited by a local body, to open a maternity centre, wherein, the leader of the opposition, was also present on invitation, it is not expected of your goodself to attempt at 'sermonising' about the role of the opposition in the State of Madras. It is so unbecoming, and embarrasing.

Those who thought it fit to get honoured by your august presence and participation in the function, would have expected to get the benefit of your advice on matters pertaining to Health—not the abstract or theoretical side of it—but as it is related to the Governmental activity. They would have expected, that you would be placing before them the progress made so far, the target set up and the march towards it. They had a right to expect from the Minister of Health, as exposition and explanation of the policy of the Government in which, you have been given an important role to play. Mothers of that place, would have gathered with a very natural eagerness to hear from the Minister, the steps taken and to be pursued for the amelioration of the rural population. But you have chosen, a subject, least expected—you began to lecture unto them, how the opposition was functioning in the State. Perhaps you thought, that the problem of struggle in the political arena, should be explained while opening a Maternity Centre—another place wherein another kind of struggle is to be witnessed. Or, was it that the thought of still-born children, and abortions was so torturing to your good soul, that you wanted to take solace and cheer, by taking a stroll in the political field?

Much as you might try to explain, none could fail to note, that the occasion chosen, was the most inappropriate, and that which was delivered was so uncouth that those who with much hope invited you for an important function, would have muttered in muffled tones, that this was another case of love's labour lost. And pray, what was the necessity and urgency for delivering your opinion about the opposition party, at that place? Was it the presence of the Leader of the Opposition that was responsible for your itching? Surely, even one with a cursory acquaintance with culture would have felt on seeing the Leader of the Opposition there, a strong reason for talking non-controversial problems. That surely is not the place for poking one's nose into such affairs. If only you had bestowed some thought over the problem, I am sure, you could have understood the embarrassment caused by your unchivalrous attitude.

When for a function, the people of that locality invite a Congress minister along with the Leader of the Opposition, they would naturally think, that there would be no controversy, no pricks and punches. But, perhaps you thought, that one should not miss such chances, and began to take a delight in having a dig ! Little did you forsee Sir, the irritation, and even contempt that attitude created in the minds of those innocent, unsophisticated people of that locality. They were all along expecting something better, nobler and more decent from a Minister. They never thought that the Congress Ministers are so terribly hungry that they would pick up anything to munch, from any place!

Apart from the 'timing,' which to say the least means indecency, why should you, Sir, take upon yourself the task of parading the strength of the Congress Ministry? There are many—poor me one amongst them—who were hoping that you would be of a different disposition than the other ministers ! For, most of the others, were Congressmen before they became ministers, while you became a Minister first and then a Congressman ! So anybody has a right to expect, something unbiassed in your views. But having been in the den all these years, you have perhaps acquired their traits to an abundent degree. I fail to remember the appropriate proverb in English to explain such situations, and shudder to mention the Tamil proverb, for it is so awkward.

Unconcerned with inappropriateness and urged by the jungle instinct, you began a tirade against the opposition. And, what is it that you, after a careful study, patient analysis and deep research, discover ? The mighty truth, that the opposition was not strong! May I respectfully inform you, Sir, that the people are not conversant with G.Os, and D.Os, they read no files and compute no sums, but they know this much, that there is a Brute Majority for the Congress and that the Opposition is composed of distinct parties, and hence there is no strength, that number yields. They know it, and are sorry that it is so and they are but waiting to reverse the picture when the next opportunity arises. That apart, may I point out, the truth, bluntly—the opposition is composed of men, who have courage of conviction, and sincerity of purpose. They are not of the sort, who bark just to get a bone, and wag while munching it! True, they are fighting against odds. True too, they have not strength enough to thwart the attempts of the ruling party when it robs the people of the barest justice. True too, their voice of reason and caution, is not paid due respect. But in spite of such unfavourable circumstances they refuse to 'yield', they refuse to bend'! Democracy is best maintained by the emergence of such tough men. Who knows not, that some seek out a snug place on the opposition benches, only the cast their hungry eyes at the Ministerial side, catch the wink distributed from here, exhibit their weakness and beg for favours?

One need not take much trouble to illustrate this point. You are yourself a monumental example of an opposition member hugging at a opportunity and munching the crumbs thrown! Were you not, honoured Sir, the sponsor and the leader, of the Common Weal Party? Did you not indulge in a tearing and rearing propaganda against the Congress? Were you not championing the cause of the backward communities, and did you not place before them the plea, that the Congress would crush their rights and aspirations? Loud used be your voice of protest, an long your list of acts of commission and omission perpetrated by the Congress. Constant tours, anxious consultations, deft declarations need I remind you about all those methods?

And I will not be true for myself, if I do not point out that you are the same person who volunteered to sign the pledge issued by the D.M.K—assuring your support for the demand for Dravida Nadu in exchange for the support during the elections ! Is your memory so dimmed, that needs, poor me, to remind you of that incident? Oh! No! You are not devoid of intelligence to such an extent, as to forget certain of the important events in your political career.

Having obtained the mandate of the people did you act up to that? Today, you make a pontifical statement, that the Opposition is weak. When you had your chance of building up an opposition, did you harness your energy are employ your intelligence, for strengthing the opposition party? No! You placed yourself at the disposal of the ruling party.

Discarding principles, betraying the confidence place in you, you Sir, without pang or shame, walked in the parlour of power-mongers and sold yourself, lock stock.and barrel for a place! And yet, you have the guts to say, that the opposition is not strong. Numerically yes! But in political morality, ethical standard, we are not weak and vacillating. We refuse to vend ourselves despite temptations, refuse to yield despite threats, we do carry aloft the torch of sincerity and what little light it throws, drives to some extent at least the darkness hovering over the lives of the people.

With what an amount of sheepishness would you have faced your audience, if somebody, following your method, placed before that audience, a short political 'Who is Who'? But the people, at least the politically conscious amongst them, are conversant with the truth. They know from whom they are getting this wholesome political lesson! Just as even butchers are sometimes tolerated in 'Bhajan' so do the people tolerate the presence of political turn-coats amidst them—just for the fun of it.

And if you Sir, were to think, that because of your position as a Minister, you could go on emitting any kind of nonsense, you are mightily mistaken.

It is indeed an 'irony of fate' that you should sermonise. Most sinners do! But let me assure you, that the opposition is based on a definite policy and programme, and speaking for the D.M.K., I make bold to say, that the policy is becoming popular day by day, and the people are but waiting to get the means of unseating the unscrupulous rulers. You may not be aware of it—no tyrant hears the rumble of revolt—but the hunger and poverty, ignorance and disease, that the people are now asked to bear, are enough to convince them, that they are under a regime, which has got a silvery tongue and wooden head.

Please, hence, do not hasten the pace, by such indecent attacks. You have found a cosy place—fatten yourself, Sir, by employing the chance you have got. The proverb only enjoins to make hay while the sun shines, but not to............. I refrain from filling up the gap—for old time's sake.