MGR devotee makes colourful splash in Kochi
A former school headmaster from Chennai, Viswanathan R is on a visit to Kochi. He gushes about his deep admiration for MGR
It was a bizarre sight: a man dressed in bright unicolour attires, from hat to shoes in red, green and yellow, crisscrossing the city a couple of days ago. Sporting large goggles, he held a portrait of MGR close to his chest.
“I am Viswanathan, ‘MGR’ Viswanathan,” he smiles. A former school headmaster from Chennai, Viswanathan R is on a visit to Kochi. He gushes about his deep admiration for MGR. “We share the same birthday, you know. He was born on January 17, 1917, and I on January 17, 1957 – exactly 40 years apart,” he says with pride, adding, “our Ambassador car numbers are also the same – 4777.” Viswanathan adds that it was MGR who had sponsored his higher education, and later motivated him to become a teacher.
A pivotal encounter with MGR occurred during the 1978 floods in Tamil Nadu. “At that time MGR was the chief minister. He toured the flood-hit regions, including my hometown. I was moved to see his genuine concern for the people. That event cemented my resolve to follow in MGR’s footsteps,” says Viswanathan. Upon retiring from a corporation-run school in 2016, Viswanathan studied law. “MGR had once told me I could serve poor people as a lawyer. So I became one,” he says.
Meanwhile, he also established the MGR Makkal Katchi – a registered political party – in Tami Nadu. He went on to contest from the Avadi constituency in the 2021 Tamil Nadu assembly elections. “Now, I run my party and practise as a lawyer for the poor in the Madras High Court,” he beams.
What brought him to Kochi? “I came here as part of a membership drive to rope in more people into my party,” says Viswanathan. “The response has been great. I really enjoyed travelling in your Kochi Metro.”
As he prepares to leave for Chennai, Viswanathan says he would revisit Kerala in a couple of months to boost his party workers. “I ran out of membership forms; next time, I will bring more,” he adds.