Saturday, November 27, 2021

Karunanidhi - The Definitive Biography by Vaasanthi

Karunanidhi - The Definitive Biography by Vaasanthi is a nice book. However, there are few mistakes in that book.

She mentioned that, after Karunanidhi completed class 5, he was taken to High School for admission in class two. But the headmaster refused to take him in Class 1 or 2, and was also not ready to take him to Class 5. Finally, he was admitted to Class 5.

For a normal reader, it is definitely confusing. Why would a student after completing Class 5 would like to join Class 1 or 2? Why would the headmaster, who rejects a student for Class 1 or 2, but finally agrees for Class 5?

In those days, there was something called first form, second form etc. First form is equivalent to 6th class, Second form is equivalent to 7th class etc. The Headmaster would have rejected Karunanidhi to take to 6th Class (1st Form) or 7th Class (2nd Form). The author got confused and the readers would be definitely more confused. 

In Page 101, She mentioned that, Morarji Desai government fell because of the conflicts between Socialist and Jana Sangh factions. 

It has been a common practice for everyone to criticize Jana Sangh for everything. In the Janata Party that formed the government, Jana Sangh got more seats than any other party, but it did not get the Prime Minister post. It did not even get the Deputy Prime Minister. It got only one Senior Cabinet Minister post (Vajpayee as External Affairs Minister). The top leaders Morarji Desai, Charan Singh, Babu Jagjivan Ram and others fought between themselves, it fell because of the differences between Morarji Desai and Charan Singh. Charan Singh might have used Jana Sangh name to split, but, Jana Sangh was never a trouble to the government. 

In Page 102, she mentioned that, Charan Singh's government fell in less than 2 years. But, it fell in less than 6 months. In fact, Charan Singh never faced the parliament. 

In Page 103, she mentioned that, in 1980, in Tamil Nadu, the DMK-Congress(R) alliance won 37 out of the 39 Lok Sabha seats. In 1980, Indira Gandhi's party was Congress(I). Congress(R) was gone long before. In 1978, the then Indian National Congress' president Kasu Brahmananda Reddy expelled Indira Gandhi, and she formed her own party Congress(I). With that party, she contested the Lok Sabha elections in 1980. 

In Page 118, she mentioned Rajiv Gandhi's party as Congress (R). After Indira Gandhi came to power in 1980, she made her party as Indian National Congress, and other Congress parties disappeared. 

In the chapter "The Vaiko Affair", her logic was not accurate. Vaiko was close to LTTE, and Karunanidhi distanced himself from LTTE in 1990. In 1993, there was an Intelligence report that LTTE was planning to assassinate Karunanidhi and install Vaiko as DMK's president (who was then next big leader after Karunanidhi in DMK). After that report, Karunanidhi expelled Vaiko from the party for going against the party on multiple things (including his behavior on LTTE). 

She said the reason might not be accurate. She felt that Karunanidhi wanted to make Stalin as his successor, and Vaiko may be a blocker in his succession. She says, everyone knows that, DMK is run like a family affair, and whatever the name that Karunanidhi says, only that person would take over the party. Also, Karunanidhi would not say any name other than his sons. She wondered whether the LTTE was that immature that they did not know that Karunanidhi would make only his son as his successor and not someone else. 

Whatever she said is accurate, if Karunanidhi was alive. If he was suddenly assassinated without naming a successor, then typically the person who could manage most of the party leaders/members would take the control of the party. In 1993, Stalin was definitely a small leader when compared to Vaiko. Even if Stalin wanted to contest for the top post, Vaiko would have easily gathered more support and would have become the President of DMK. If Karunanidhi was given an option to select a successor, he would have surely selected Stalin. But, if there was no option given, LTTE strategy might have worked. 

While she was talking about the Vaiko episode, in 1993, Karunanidhi mentioned about undermining his leadership in the press and website. In 1993, Internet was not available to the general public in India. Was he really talking about websites in 1993?

She could have done a better job, when she was writing about A.Raja's episode. When she read A.Raja's book, "2G Saga Unfolds", she could have given his perspective at least in a few pages, rather than mentioning only (probably incorrect) negative points of that episode. 

In page 205, she mentioned Nedunchezhiyan as the Acting Chief Minister. The Indian Constitution does not have any provision of Acting Chief Minister or Acting Prime Minister. Nedunchezhiyan was a Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu. Just that, his party made him as a Chief Minister temporarily till they elect another leader. 

In page 206, she mentioned an incident in 1990, and said, N.T. Rama Rao, then Chief Minister of Andhra Pradesh. N.T. Rama Rao was not a Chief Minister in 1990. 

In page 207, she indirectly accused Chandra Sekhar saying, since Karunanidhi voted in favor of V.P. Singh in the vote of confidence, he dismissed his government. If Chandra Sekhar was going to dismiss all the parties that voted against them, then he had to dismiss the majority of the state governments. When he did not even have the power to decide the budget, how can one think that, he dismissed a state government out of his own will. Indira Gandhi and Morarji Desai used to dismiss the state governments recklessly and foolishly. But, it is unfair to criticize Chandra Sekhar for that dismissal.

In page 209, she mentioned that, Deve Gowda was 11th prime minister of India. He was 12th prime minister of India. She ignored Guljarilal Nanda, thinking he was Acting Prime Minister. He was not an Acting Prime Minister, but he was full fledged Prime Minister, just that, Congress party made him as Prime Minister temporarily. 

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