Maran's death leaves a void in the DMK

murasoli maran

CHENNAI Nov-23-2003

Though Murasoli Maran was out of active politics for more than a year, his passing away has created a void in the DMK and shaken his uncle and party chief, M. Karunanidhi. Mr. Maran was never in the State legislature and had always remained in the Rajya Sabha or the Lok Sabha. He was the DMK's voice in New Delhi and its representative in the Union Cabinet, whenever the party joined a coalition regime at the Centre.

Yet, Mr. Maran never gave up his role in Tamil Nadu and his advisory role in the party. He also emerged the main critic of the party administration, when it was in power in Tamil Nadu. He never hesitated to speak his mind in the party fora and was openly critical of the way some of the Ministers and senior functionaries behaved. His strength and pre-eminent position in the party also flowed from his being Mr. Karunanidhi's confidant and conscience-keeper. The two had grown together though Mr. Maran was a nephew.

He frequently pulled up Ministers in the State, when the party was in power, senior party functionaries and officials in public. The most dramatic of public statements which caused great embarrassment to the DMK was in 2001 when he announced that he would keep away from active politics on health grounds, hours before the party announced its official list of candidates for the Assembly elections. But he was persuaded to rescind that decision, though his health suffered a serious setback soon afterwards.

Named Thiagaraja Sundaram by his parents, he attended the Tiruvarur Union High School. After joining the Dravidar Kazhagam, he assumed the name Nedumaran. He completed the intermediate course from the Kumbakonam Arts College and obtained a Master's degree in Economics from the Pachaiyappa's College, Chennai.

Right from his student days, Mr. Maran, along with Mr. Karunanidhi, was involved in bringing out the Murasoli newspaper. During his student years, Mr. Maran also brought out a handwritten journal highlighting the issues of the day. He played a significant role in the anti-Hindi agitation in 1965.

In the 1950s and the 1960s, when the DMK turned to films to reach out to the masses, Mr. Maran, and his illustrious uncle, Mr. Karunanidhi, plunged headlong into the world of films. Mr. Maran ended up writing dialogues and screenplays for over 70 films, produced more than 20 films and directed three. It was Mr. Karunanidhi, who asked Mr. Maran, in 1956, to add the name of the newspaper he edited, Murasoli, to his name.

His flair for writing, his talent for dispassionate analysis and like Mr. Karunanidhi his association with the Tamil filmdom as a script writer, made the then DMK president, C.N. Annadurai, chalk out greater responsibilities for the young activist.

Senior leaders in the DMK feel that the party and its approach to issues with the Centre may not be the same without Mr. Maran. He was instrumental in bringing about an understanding between the DMK and the BJP, under the National Democratic Alliance banner in 1999, despite serious reservations in the party. Insiders felt that it could affect the "secular image" of the Dravidian party. But the two became close allies.

Though the NDA and the BJP have gone out of the way to address the concerns and issues raised by the DMK, it remains to be seen if the party will stick it out in the NDA, or reorient its policies in the post-Maran era. Its performance at the Centre, without Maran, would also have to be evaluated, though the Prime Minister, Atal Bihari Vajpayee, is known to be staunchly in favour of keeping the DMK happy and a partner in the alliance into the 2004 general elections.

SC acquits Jaya, others in Tansi cases New Delhi

Nov- 242003

The Supreme Court today acquitted Tamil Nadu Chief Minister Jayalalithaa of all charges in the two TANSI cases.

A Bench, comprising Justice S. Rajendra Babu and Justice P. Venkatarama Reddy, upheld the judgment of the Madras High Court dated December 4, 2001 acquitting her of all charges.

The Bench dismissed the special leave petitions filed by the DMK legal wing secretary, R.S. Bharathi, and the Janata Party president, Subramanian Swamy,challenging the High Court judgment.

The cases relate to the Tamil Nadu Small Industries Corporation (TANSI) Foundry and its land, which was bought by Jaya Publications, and the TANSI Enamel Wire unit plus the land purchased by Sasi Enterprises -- both in 1992.

Jayalalithaa and her close aide, Sasikalaa, were the sole partners of these two firms.

The other accused -- former Tamil Nadu Rural Industries Minister, Mohammed Asif (since deceased), the then TANSI Chairman and Managing Director, T.R. Srinivasan, a stamp duty official, S. Nagarajan, and the then Additional Secretary to the then Chief Minister, R. Karpoorasundara Pandian -- were also acquitted of all charges by the Apex Court. "Violated model code" While acquitting Jayalalithaa the Bench strongly indicted her for purchasing the property violating the model code of conduct applicable to ministers.

The Bench noted that the Chief Minister could not take shelter that the Court had no legal sanctity and that it would not apply to her. The Bench said a person holding high office like that of the Chief Minister should set an example to others.

No evidence to prove Jaya's guilt

PTI reports: A Bench comprising Justice S Rajendra Babu and Justice P V Reddi said although there is a strong suspicion of involvement of Jayalalithaa in sale of Tansi land belonging to the government to Jaya Publications, there was no legal evidence to prove her guilt.

Stating that high probity in public office was essential for good governance, Justice Babu, writing the judgment for the Bench said, "she must atone her conscience in the whole controversy.

The Bench said after discussing the trial court and the High Court judgments "we found no ground to interfere in the High Court order as none of the offences alleged have been established by cogent evidence".

The Bench had on September 26, 2002 reserved the verdict on Bharathi's petition.

HC sentence

A Special Court had convicted Jayalalithaa in both the cases and sentenced her to three-year imprisonment in one case and two-year imprisonment in the other.

The High Court had acquitted Jayalalithaa of all corruption charges in the two cases, conviction in which by the trial court had led to her being unseated from the Chief Minister's post in September 2001.

It was contended that by buying the government property, Jayalalithaa had not only abused her official position but had also violated a government order prohibiting ministers from purchasing government property.