|Sri Muthuramalinga Thevar, a close associate of Nethaji Bose. doovi.com|
Ukkirapandi Muthuramalinga Thevar (30 October 1908 -30 October 1963), also known as Pasumpon Muthuramalinga Thevar, was a dynamic politician of Tamil Nadu. In the annals of Indian politics only a handful of leaders won the heart and soul of the people cutting across caste and creed and Sri Thevar was one among them. He worked along with Subhas Chandra Bose when he was organizing and running the Indian National Army (INA) to fight against the British. His association with Nethaji became an eyesore for the British and Sri. Thevar earned the ire of the British government. His brief disappearance on the Indian political scene became a mystery and the rumour was thick in the air that Sri Thevar had travelled to Korea and China with Nethaji. In January 1949 Thevar announced that Nethaji was alive and he saw him. His remarks led to many speculations. Later, Sri Thevar became a leader of the All India Forward Bloc (AIFB), and his leadership qualities and dedication to work saw him become national deputy chairman of AIFB from 1952. He was elected three times to the parliament, Delhi.
Sri Thevar studied up to the Secondary school and since early days never had he lost interest in horse riding, martial arts and shooting. Besides, he was a good speaker and a devout Hindu. In 1933 at Vivekananda library in Sayakgudi, he gave a wonderful speech for three long hours before a spell-bound audience. This brought out his eloquence, scholarship and depth of knowledge of the subject taken for discussion.
The Criminal Tribe Act of 1920 (CTA) promulgated by the Govt. of Madras Presidency, clubbing many tribes was an unjust act. What made Sri Thevar furious was it also included Mukkulathor as a criminal tribe. In the northern states certain tribes killed people for their livelihood and the British took a long time to put an end to what was called ''Thuggee'' problem. This made the British conclude all the tribes were criminals. The CTA was promulgated in October 1871, covering northern states, and later in peace meal, extended to other Presidencies/ regions. This act came into effect in Madras Presidency and Sri Thevar made all out efforts to see to it that this Criminal Act was abolished for good in May 1948. This act was an insult coutless law-abiding tribes. Thevar had led several agitations in many villages after 1929 urging people to defy the CTA. Sri Thevar was supported by leaders like P. Ramamurthy and Jeevanandam.
|Sri. Muthuramalinga Thevar. doovi.com|
In 1936, after his return from Burma, quite upset over the non-cooperation of the Justice party *it was in power) with respect to termination of the Criminal Tribe Act, he joined Congress to strengthen it. Soon he contested from Muthukalathur constituency to the Ramnad District Board and defeted his Justice party candidate. Among his election victories, the assembly election of February 1937 is worthy of mention. He contested against the powerful Rajah of Ramanathapuram who represented the Justice party. It was a landslide victory for Thever. In 1952, contesting from Mukkalathur constituency, Sri Muthuramalinga Thevar won both the assembly seat as well as the parliament seat. A double header, indeed, a rare feat. He was instrumental in abolishing the Zamindari system in the Madras presidency (Under Sri Prakasam ), This was done with a view to helping the sufferings of the poor peasants. Being a follower of Gandhiji, he was against untouchability and promoted prohibition of alcoholic drinks. When Madurai lawyer Vaidyanatha Aiyar and others on 8 July 1939 made an historic temple entry in to Meenakshi temple along with Harijans, Mr. Thevar threw his full weight behind Mr. Aiyar and gave him whole-hearted support to his team. As a pious man, he was at loggerheads with the rationalist parties of Tamil Nadu who were bent on destroying traditional Indian culture and temple worship. Being a no non-sense leader, Thevar came down heavily on the Dravidar Kazhagam its successor DMK for stimulating separatism and parochialism. Moreover, he distrusted and despised the Atheist element of the Dravidian political discourse.
|Statue of Thevar in Parliament opened by A. P. J. Abdul Kalam, wikipedia|
Sri Thevar not only dedicated his life for the welfare of the downtrodden - peasants and Harijans, but also played an active role in the area of industrial labor. He would try to solve the labor problems between company management and employees as much as possible amicably. Of course, on a few occasions, it went out of hands, for which he was jailed. Through out his life, though born with a silver spoon in his mouth, he led a life of a ''Karma Yogi'' and never deviated from the path of righteousness. Courage compassion and spiritual discipline and honesty were all his hallmarks and he died in Madurai on 30 October 1963.
The Central and the state governments should take serious steps to name the Madurai Airport after Sri Thevar, It will be a great honor for this noble soul who sacrificed his entire life for the welfare of other people, in particular, those who were below the poverty line. Further, he played no less role in India's freedom struggle against the British occupation. Full credit goes to Sri Thevar for the removal of CT Act that affected the dignity and honor of several sections of communities in Tamil Nadu.