Chennai: Come 24 December, it will be 31 years since Maruthur Gopalan Ramachandran, or MGR, breathed his last. But his fame, just like his watch that is still believed to be ticking in his grave, is still alive and active.
While Jayalalithaa chanted ‘MGR Naamam Vazhga’ till the last elections she fought, Vijayakanth prided himself as ‘Karuppu MGR’.
Rajinikanth, during his speech at a function to unveil MGR statue, said he can give a pro-poor rule like the matinee idol-turned-politician.
Chief Minister Edappadi K Palaniswami, lately posing for photographs with children and elderly women à la MGR, clearly stole the show at MGR’s birth centenary celebrations that were conducted across Tamilnadu by the government for a year.
And the icing on the cake was the inaugural of ‘Chennaiyil Thiruvaiyaru’ music event in the city Tuesday evening, in which veteran actress Saroja Devi, who had shared the screen space with MGR in many films, compared EPS with MGR and said Palaniswami always had a smiling face like his party founder.
“I have seen many Chief Ministers in my lifetime. Almost all them invariably look serious. Some don’t even smile. But, EPS has got a smiling face, like MGR,” she said, and urged him to serve the needy as MGR did.
So, what makes MGR relevant even three decades after his death? Says Venkat V, a political science expert, “His charisma was unparalleled and the goodwill he earned among the masses can still be seen in villages. The power his symbol, ‘two leaves’, holds is a mystery for many. MGR understood the expectations of the people and tried his best to fulfil them. For his birth and death anniversaries, his fans and supporters still keep his decorated portrait outside their house / shops and pay tributes. Hence, there is nothing surprising in present-day politicians trying to position themselves like MGR, in an apparent bid to woo the public.”
Hari, an AIADMK functionary, says, “No matter how many politicians from different parties battle for the legacy of MGR, none can become MGR. And, as members of the party founded by him, we alone have the right to carry his fame and good work forward.”