Thumbaippatti village of Madurai once had a fresh water pond “Oorani”. Only savarna people are allowed to enjoy water from this pond. So called lowborns had to adjust with the mucky water outside of the village. But one boy was not inclined to do the adjustment. One day he walk upright through savarna street and show his rage by drinking water from Oorani. Though they crucified him, this ruction handover the flame into nearby areas and created new dawn to the oppressed people. This boy was then renowned as a character of non-controversial honest staright-forward politics. His name is Kakkan.
Hunger for dalit freedom forge him to work for Harijana Seva Sangham from school days itself. Kakkan along with A Vaidhyanatha Iyer led dalits to enter inside Madurai Meenakshiamman temple in 1939 was a revolutionary event. Kakkan joined Indian National Congress at the time of National movement. He had met Gandhi during his visit to Madurai and accompanied in his travel. Kakkan was impressed by Gandhiyan ideologies and thereafter he identified himself as Gandhiyan. British arrested him for participating in the Quit India movement and beaten up in the lockup for five full days.
He was dying and taken to hospital in a mule charabanc along with dead bodies, fortunately succeeded death by margin of hair. But sooner he was send to Alipura central jail in Andra. Whip and hunger tested him. Two years of severe imprisonment straw his pulp.
He was elected from Madurai during the first general election of Independent India. Being the second self of Kamarajar, Kakkan becomes the precident of Tamilnadu congress committee after 1957 election. Kakkan becomes the first person from an oppressed community to become a precident in the history of congress. He was taken the charge of the police, electricity, welfare of sheduled caste and sheduled tribes, food and consumer affairs, Irrigation, alcohol prohibition and animal husbandry ministries. He build Mettur and Vaigai reservoirs. He played vital role in executing Kamarajar’s revolutionary midday meal scheme. He opened more than hundred schools especially in under developed villages. He started Tamilnadu Agricultural university. He economically protected the agricultural societies of Tamilnadu. He was the first to give structure to Tamiladu vigilance and many more.
Success stories apart, after the defeat in 1967 election Kakkan had to vaccate from govt guest house and had to walk from streets to streets for a rented house. There was no surprice that he only posses two pair of khadar and a cheppal to his name since he gave all his salary to various welfare funds. He always refused to use ministerial luxuries for unofficial activities including party meetings. One day he was traveling through local bus to attend congress public meeting and he was the transport minister then. Unfortunately he didn’t had enough money to take the ticket. Even the bus conductor and passengers requested him to stay in the bus, but he travelled some distance corresponding to the money he paid and walked the rest!
After the death of Kamarajar, Kakkan was retired from active politics. Later he was diagnosed with arthritis and admitted in Madurai govt hospital. It was during that time MGR visited the hospital to seek the welfare of Madurai Muthu (Ex mayor) had also look over the fecilities in local ward. MGR was shocked to see Kakkan lying on naked floor. He immediately ordered doctors to take him to special ward and gave money for the treatment. But Kakkan kindly refused the money with a smile. It of no doubt that MGR who passed the bill for free transportation and free medical aid for ex ministers had seen Kakkan in his mind.
In 1983 december 23rd Kakkan passed away. In lot of ways I feel so guilty for not cherishing the valued contribution of Kakkan. This generation barely know his name. No one built memorial for him. Nither showered flowers on him nor recited poems…
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(Image is taken from google)