of those who evince keen interest in matters of public
importance, have asked me to explain the D.M.K. Legislature
Party's stand as regards the 'Ootty sessions'.
I find in the papers, that the Leader of the House along
with the Leader of the Opposition has gone to Ootty
to make an 'on the spot study'. That shows that the
party in power and the opposition party feel that the
matter is urgent and needs the quickest attention. It
seems they surveyed the Aranmore Palace and other estates,
besides certain Hotels and Cafes; various important
suggestions, I understand, were made for improvements.
Surely, when a democratic body charged with the responsibility
of catering to the well-being of the people meets in
session, the members should be afforded all the facilities
necessary. And the whole retinue of officials accompanying
them should be placed in suitable comfort and convenience.
Hence for making democracy interesting and cheerful,
some amount of money is to be spent. The ruling party
will not grudge it. Possibly, if such unimportant and
commonplace schemes like slum clearance or providing
tenements for the lower middle class are mooted out,
the ruling party would move slowly, cautiously and almost
at snail's pace. But this is a problem of 'making our
masters merry'— and the ruling party would spare no
effort, and would not be stingy,—and would accept all
suggestions for improvements. The warmth with which
this problem is being tackled and with such speed shows,
how keen and enthusiastic the ruling party is, to hold
the sessions at Ootty.
And it was left to the D.M.K. alone, to oppose this
exodus, and that is why, I was not a member of that
Friends from Ootty, wrote to me last week, asking me,
if and when I am going over there; for, so, they pointed
out, they found in the papers the news, that the Leader
of the House along with Leaders of Opposition parties
intends going over to Ootty to make an 'on the spot
Well, I did not get the rare privilege of accompanying
the Leader of the House, and the reason is simple; I
do not subscribe to the view of holding a session at
Not that I have anything against Ootty. I know and have
appreciated Ootty, for its scenic beauty and salubrious
atmosphere and I have lot of friends too. The reason
why I opposed this move, is based on no fancy or prejudice.
I consider strongly that this exodus, is extravagant,
unnecessary, and there is an odium attached to it. And
I, along with millions of our countrymen was asked to
view this exodus, as an 'arrogant waste', which the
Whites introduced just to show off their superiority!
They can't bear the heat of the summer; and to sit sweating,
inhaling the hot air at Madras during the summer, would
undermine not only their physic but also their mind.
"Hence", argued the alien rulers, "it
becomes imperative that we should find a cooler place
for the summer sessions."
And these same Congress leaders, went from corner to
corner denouncing this 'diabolical scheme', this 'extravagance'
and this 'arrogance'.
"Look at the ways of the foreigners, while you
the tillers and toilers sweat and labour, they exploit
you in a thousand ways, and go to Ootty to enjoy! They
would not die of sun-stroke if they remain at Madras
during the summer. And if they find the summer so hot,
why remain here at all! Why not go back to their own
island, where to see the sun is a luxury and a treat!
Begone Sirs, begone! This country is not meant for you.
Its very summer kills you! Begone to your land of snow
and chalk, mist and coal!"—I remember the late
Mr.Satyamurthi wax eloquent in this strain. And I, along
with millions in this land, was convinced of the basic
truth underlying that argument, and it is this; "To
argue that the summer sessions should be held at Ootty,
because the heat at Madras would be oppressive, is to
air a sort of political arrogance, which the people
would not, could not and should not tolerate. When the
whole lot of our people are bearing this 'heat', why
should a few hundred people, find it oppressive and
rush to the top of a hill?"
At least the Whites had some excuse—they came from a
cool country—but to ape their ways, is ridiculous and
to spend a good sum of money for the satisfaction of
whims and fancies, is totally unjustifiable and certainly
I hold very strongly this view, that this exodus is
out and out a whim and fancy and so serves no useful
But, the rulers find it a bit delicate to present this
point. They do not aruge, that the summer is unbearable
and so they should be allowed to go up the hill and
They are adepts in the art of side-tracking issues.
Their greatest asset is their ingenuity. So they presented
another reason altogether. "Think not, my countrymen,
that our going to Ootty is the same as that of the Whites
going to Ootty. They went to exhibit their superiority!
We propose going there, in all humility and with a purpose—and
the purpose is this; Ootty and the surrounding regions,
would be improved by this exodus! So it is to confer
comfort and improvement to those people in the region
we intend going there, not for our own comfort or pleasure
or pride."—So argued the rulers.
When this proposal was placed before the Business Advisory
Committee and in the House itself, I, on behalf of the
D.M.K., stoutly opposed that proposal. I even tried
to persuade them to give up this idea, by pointing out,
that public resentment against it, is strong.
And at one time I was made to understand that, they
were not very keen on pressing the idea.
In fact the Leader of the House made a rather heroic
statement in the House. He said, that the government
was not very keen of holding the sessions at Ootty unless
all the parties agreed to the proposal.
Hence I was surprised when again the proposal was brought
forward, and I was shocked to find even the Communist
party supporting the exodus. I reiterated my view—but
my objection was overruled, for, all other parties formed
a solid phalanx to floor the D.M.K.
It was later announced in the House, that they have
decided to hold sessions at Ootty whenever necessary—with
the Leader of the D.M.K. dissenting.
There was no clapping—and there was almost a sort of
chill when that announcement was made. Probably many
were taken aback, for, they were thinking that since
the Leader of the House made a categorical statement
that the government would not press this idea, unless
all parties agreed, and since the D.M.K. stood against
the exodus, there won't be any exodus. And perhaps,
they were sorry to find out the ruling party, humbled,
and eating its own word.
The Leader of the House need not have shown a sort of
bravado the other day, by his statement, that there
would be no Ootty session unless all parties agreed,
and then tamely accept the idea, though the D.M.K. stood
against it. He need not have played the 'saint' for
such a long period. He could have taken this decision
at the first sitting itself. Probably he thought that
I would not press my objection, if time is allowed to
pass. Meanwhile, perhaps they thought, they could educate
me about the charms of a hill station and bring me round.
Persuasion, cajolery nor threat, could possibly make
any sincere man change his view on a fundamental issue.
And about this exodus, I have a very strong objection,
and placed the same before them with all the sincerity
at my command.
The other argument that Ootty would be improved by an
exodus, is at the most, a bait.
There are hundred ways of improvement—and I for one
do not think that a month's or two months' session would
confer benefits and ensure improvements.
What the improvements are to be, can be seen, if one
studies the report appearing in the papers: The 'study
team', sauntered along the palatial building, the Aranmore,
and then went to the 'Woodlands' and the 'Dasaprakash',
to find out, if there would be enough accommodation
for the members and the staff. That shows, what improvements
Ootty is to get!
Ootty as the loveliest of the hill stations, could be
made to hum with activity if the State government devotes
its attention towards the art of tourism.
Probably there would be an immediate demand from the
legislators, that since Ootty is costly, the daily allowance
should be doubled or trebled.
We would probably find our legislators in wools and
flannels, in sweaters and the like (barring perhaps
Sardar Vedarathnam). We would possibly find our legislators
and those who accompany them, sauntering on lawns and
appreciating the lovely flowers. Ootty cannot hope to
get 'improvements!' Ootty sessions would be interesting
for the legislators!
If the State improves tourism, if certain industries
like the raw film industry are organised, if horiculture
is attended to, Ootty is bound to improve—and asking
the legislature to meet there for a couple of months
is not a fruitful way.
Another argument was mooted out by a friend of mine—of
course, a legislator. He said that if we should hold
the Assembly sessions not always in Madras but at different
places, so that, there could be an intimate contact
with the people. If such a view is accepted, well, why
not hold the sessions at Tanjore? We have the Rajah's
palace. It is becoming dilapidated— and after necessary
improvements, we could have the sittings there—there
where the Cholas and Pandyas held their sway, where
Saraboji improved the fine arts!
Or, we have the Thirumalai Naickar Mahal at Madurai—a
place of historic importance—a sitting there would be
enough to remind us about our heritage. Why not one
session at Kuttralam, where the murmur of the 'Aruvi'
will be a sort of sweet music, and act as a balm to
No! That was not their object. The 'Whites' held their
'Durbar' at Ootty—and why not we?—that and nothing but
that has taken hold or them, and the D.M.K. refuses
to become an abettor in a crime. It is an insult to
the people. It is an extra vagance.
In persisting in this scheme, even after making a statement
on the floor of the House, that there would be no 'Ooty'
unless all parties agreed, the ruling party has but
given one more proof, that so long as the people are
meek and submissive, holding on the fatalist view all
through, the rulers could afford to be callous, and
even arrogant. My only regret is that the other parties,
and especially the Communist party, should lend support
to this undemocratic and extravagant scheme of holding
a session at Ootty.
The ruling party's decision to hold the Ootty session
is not a stray incident, but a symptom of the metamorphosis
that has so thoroughly taken place. The Congress is
busy embracing all the 'castaway' ideas. What was termed
'bossim' by these same people during the British regime,
is now being paraded with glee, but under a different
name. The pomp, the pageantry and the paraphenalia—condemned
by the Congress leaders during the alien rule, are today
being maintained and defended. What became of the argument,
that such expenses are extravagance, none knows.
"The Congress legislators in the twenties stubbornly
refused year after year to vote for Governors and Viceroys,
carpets, body-guards, bands and other perquisites of
pomp and luxury. We should be shocked to be told now
that the demands they voted down, not because they were
opposed to pomp and luxury, but because they envied
the British Governors and Viceroys who enjoyed these.
The homage that hypocrisy pays to great ideals can go
no further if Gandhiji's heirs disown their past and
defend in the name of dignity all the extravagance they
had once condemned."
I have given an extract from an editorial that appeared
in 'Hindustan Standard' a nationalist daily.
But he be nationalist or a rationalist, these egoists
refuse to listen to them. They decide, then consult,
brush aside opinions, and finally announce. The Olymphian
height wherein they are perched, makes them a bit dizzy.
I am not surprised at their performances, and am mighty
well satisfied that through such incidents, they stand
exposed. But why the Communist party should lend its
support to this exodus, is beyond my powers of comprehension.
It is for the public to pronounce a judegement on such