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When the President was rendered homeless…

Unveiling a statue of former President R Venkataraman (RV) in Chennai, Chairman of the Ramco Group of Companies, P R Ramasubrahmaneya Rajha narrated this incident:

“It was 1967 the day after the new government of C N Annadurai assumed charge. I received a call from RV the next morning enquiring if I could find a house for him in 24 hours. I was myself occupying the house of my friend. I offered to vacate it for him. Within 24 hours I moved out and handed the premises to RV. Though RV was entitled to vacate the government house in three months, he was particular that he shouldn’t occupy it even for a day after he ceased to be a minister.”

One cannot but contrast this to the large number of politicians  who manage to remain in the palatial houses allotted to them in Delhi years after ceasing to be a MP and their ingenious ways of converting these to party offices or memorials to continue to remain there.

After his term was over as President, RV returned to Chennai. He took active interest in the city’s cultural activities. One remembers his heading the Kalakshetra with distinction. Soon after the DMK came to power in 1996, DMK supremo M Karunanidhi was critical of RV occupying a government building. As past President, RV was entitled to it. He opted to shift to Delhi and spent the remainder of his life in the capital.

One more instance of the state leaders’ apathy in respecting its brilliant citizens and utilising their expertise.

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