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Man with 'tilak' in a rationalist party

Written by: Staff

Madurai, May 20 (UNI) A man with a 'tilak' on his forehead, rare in a party proud of its fierce adherence to rationalism! Seventyfour-year-old Ponnambalam Thiagarajan Palanivel Rajan, popularly known as PTR, hailed from a family with a rich history thanks to its steadfast association with the Dravidian movement.

He was born on February 22, 1932 to late Sir P T Rajan and Karpagambal in Uthamapalayam in the erstwhile composite Madurai district. He emerged as a leader with distinction from southern Tamil Nadu. In his nearly 40 years of public service, he adorned various offices, including that of Tamil Nadu Assembly Speaker during 1996-2001.

The late leader, who saw many an electoral battle, also served as a member of the now defunct Legislative Council. Twice he represented the Assembly from Theni. In the 2001 Assembly poll, he lost to a newcomer from the AIADMK in Madurai Central seat by a slender margin.

Elected from Madurai West constituency in the just concluded Assembly election, he was inducted into the Karunanidhi Cabinet as HR&CE Minister on May 13, exactly a week ago.

Joining the DMK in 1968, he held various important posts in the organisation. Prior to this, he was with the Justice Party, of which his illustrious father was a founder. Late Sir P T Rajan, a leading light of the Self Respect Movement and the Justice Party, was a Minister in the composite Madras State in the Government formed by the Justice Party before Independence.

After earning his BSc degree, he pursued a graduate programme in Law at Madras. Proficient in both English and Tamil, he practised law at the Madurai Bar. He was closely associated with Madurai Kamaraj University for well over two decades and was a Syndicate member.

An ardent devotee of Goddess Meenakshi, he evinced keen interest in preserving religious and spiritual heritage, a trait inherent in his family, which was involved in renovation and Mahasamprokshanam of the Meenakshi temple here. His family contributed to the renovation of Sri Ayyappa Temple, Sabarimala, ravaged by a fire a century ago.

His induction as Hindu Religious and Charitable Endowments Minister had much significance. For, P T R Palanivel Rajan was not only a symbol of the DMK's religious tolerance but its best known face of accommodation, dispelling the entrenched notion that the party is anti-Hindu.

He is survived by his wife Rukmani and a son, working as an engineer in the United States.


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