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A journalist get so many experiences in the process of gathering news. But those experiences rarely get recorded. They go unnoticed though they can reveal a world of information that is not always apparent.

Some editors unveil the inside story of what happens behind the news. They share their experiences with those they trust.

A P Narayanan is a journalist of many years of experience in a leading Tamil newspaper. He is known as Anna Narayanan.

Anna Narayanan has interacted closely with nearly all the chief ministers of the state starting from Rajaji through Kamaraj, Anna, Karunanidhi, MGR and Jayalalithaa. He shared some of the experiences he had in his professional capacity as a journalist to me. Here are some of what he shared.

When China attacked India in the 1960s, India was plunged into crisis. Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru sent Rajaji to the US to seek help. When Rajaji returned from the US after talking to US President J F Kennedy, Narayanan went to the Chennai airport to interview him.

Rajaji started haranguing then foreign minister Krishna Menon as soon as the interview started. He criticised Nehru also. Narayanan asked him politely what had happened.

When Rajaji returned from the US after talking to US President J F Kennedy, Narayanan went to the Chennai airport to interview him.

Rajaji said the US president said he would get the Chinese out on one condition, which was that India should allow US troops to be permanently stationed in India. But Nehru refused to accept it. Instead he asked Rajaji to return to India. Rajaji pithily told Narayanan that Nehru was removing bricks from the foundation to build the superstructure of the building.

When Nehru died, the impression was that Morarji Desai would succeed him as prime minister. At that time, K Kamaraj was the Congress president. After taking part in the funeral, Kamaraj returned to Chennai. Journalists sought him out to find out who would be the next prime minister.

Journalist Anna Narayanan with MGR

Kamaraj would generally avoid directly speaking to the media when important decisions were being taken. But he would reveal information indirectly. When asked the question, who after Nehru, Kamaraj said cryptically that they are looking for someone who can get along with everybody.

Journalists reported the news saying there was no chance of Morarji becoming prime minister with good reason. Morarji brought in gold control as finance minister in Nehru cabinet as there was a foreign exchange crisis after the China war. But the gold control measures led to much turmoil across the country. Though many Congress leaders and Nehru himself asked that the laws be repealed, Morarji refused. Kamaraj was recalling Morarji’s stubbornness when he said the next prime minister would be someone who could get along with others, says Narayanan.

Narayanan recalls a time when posters on streets were an important campaign tool for political parties. Rajaji who had served as Governor General of India, which was a very high position, became governor of West Bengal. Many commented that this was like appointing a district collector as a village official. Then, Rajaji became the premier of Madras Presidency. But he did not win any election. He took office as a member of the legislative council.

Making fun of this, the DMK put up wall posters across Tamil Nadu. It said Rajaji was marching ahead through the back door when all the front doors were closed for him.


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