CHENNAI: After eight days of treatment, DMK MLA J Anbazhagan died on Wednesday here at Dr. Rela Institute and in the medical center of a “severe Covid-19 pneumonia”. He is the first legislator in the country to die of the virus infection.
Anbazhagan was hospitalized on June 2nd with severe acute shortness of breath and tested positive at the time of admission. He was involved in party activities and performed publicly until May 27, participated in the DMK initiative “Ondrinaivom Vaa” and distributed relief goods to people.
He was connected to a ventilator on June 3. He was weaned from the ventilator when his condition worsened again, the hospital said on June 8. He was pronounced dead on Wednesday at 8:05 a.m., which was his 62nd birthday, by the way.
His last rites were held at the Kannammapet cemetery. Hundreds of DMK cadres were present and the police found it difficult to regulate the crowd.
In the meantime, DMK President MK Stalin and other high-ranking leaders paid tribute to Anbazhagan’s portrait in Anna Arivalayam, the party’s headquarters in the city.
Stalin had previously visited the hospital before the announcement of Anbazhagan’s death. The DMK has canceled all its events for the next three days and lowered the party flag to half mast.
Anbazhagan was one of the party’s best-known faces in Chennai and his death was a major blow to the officials.
The three-time MLA was elected in 2011 and 2016 from the constituency of Chepauk-Triplicane and in 2001 from T Nagar. He was one of the party’s most outspoken leaders and enjoyed great cadre support within the party.
DMK Rajya Sabha MP P. Wilson told New Indian Express that the late MLA had been instrumental in conducting a CBI investigation into the illegal sale of Gutka and Pan Masala in the state.
“Anbazhagan fought the crucial Gutka case, which involved collusion between politicians, bureaucrats from central and state government departments, and civil society officials. He fought the Supreme Court case and was successful,” said Wilson. As a powerful secretary of the party’s Chennai West District unit, Anbazhagan was known for not crushing words during the party’s internal meetings. He also had cordial relationships with party leaders from rival parties.
T Nagar MLA, VP Kalairajan, who recently joined the DMK, described Anbazhagan as a good person.
“Although I defeated him in the 2006 T Nagar elections, he gave me a very warm welcome when I came to DMK. He also helped me carry out party activities,” he said. Saidapet DMK MLA Ma Subramanian said that Anbazhagan is always accessible to its voters and party cadres.
T Mari, a DMK supporter from Chepauk, said Anbazhagan never missed a party-organized meeting or event. “He treated all party workers as equal, which brought him support from cadres and people,” he said.
It was known that Anbazhagan even expressed his opinion in the state assembly. He was briefly suspended from the gathering this January after tearing a copy of Governor Banwarilal Purohit’s address to the house and putting the papers on Speaker P Dhanapal’s table.
During his political career, Anbazhagan identified himself as a supporter of the late DMK leader M Karunanidhi.
His father Jeyaraman, popularly known as Pazhakadai Jeyaraman, has been a front official of the party since its foundation in 1949. He was a prison colleague of DMK President MK Stalin when both were imprisoned under MISA during the emergency.
Anbazhagan was appointed organizer of the DMK youth wing for the T Nagar area in 1987. He later became secretary of the DMK T Nagar unit in the early 1990s after the death of his father. He was elected South Chennai District Secretary in 2002.
Anbazhagam is the fifth DMK MLA in the 15th assembly to die. The others are former Prime Minister M Karunanidhi (Thiruvarur), K Radhamani (Vikravandi), KPP Samy (Tiruvottiyur) and S Kathavarayan (Gudiyatham).