Conjeevaram Natarajan Annadurai (Tamil: காஞ்சீபுரம் நடராஜன் அண்ணாதுரை) (15 September 1909 – 3 February 1969), popularly called Anna (which means elder brother in Tamil), was a former Chief Minister of the South Indian state of Tamil Nadu. He was the first member of a Dravidian party to hold that post and was also the first non-Congress leader to form a majority government in independent India.
Annadurai was born on 15 September 1909 in Kanchipuram (then called Conjeevaram), Tamil Nadu, to Natarajan and Bangaru Ammal in a dominant Sengunta Mudaliar caste. He was raised by his sister Rajamani Ammal. At the age of 21, he married Rani while he was still a student. The couple had no children of their own hence they later adopted and raised Rajamani's grandchildren.He attended Pachaiyappa's High School,but left school to work as a clerk in the town's Municipal office to assist with the family finances.In 1934, he graduated with a B.A. degree (Hons) from Pachaiyappa's College in Chennai. He followed that up with a M.A degree in Economics and Politics from the same college. He worked as an English teacher in Pachaiyappa High School. Later he quit the teaching job and began involving himself in journalism and politics.
He was well known for his oratorical skills and was an acclaimed writer in the Tamil language. He had scripted and acted in several plays. Some of his plays were later made as movies. He was the first politician from the Dravidian parties to extensively use Tamil cinema for political propaganda. Born in a middle class family of weavers, he started his career as a school teacher and then moved into the political scene of the Madras Presidency as a journalist. He edited several political journals and enrolled as a member of theDravidar Kazhagam. As an ardent follower of Periyar E. V. Ramasamy he rose in stature as a prominent member of the party.
With differences looming with Periyar, on issues of separate independent state of Dravida Nadu and on inclusion in the Indian Union, he crossed swords with his political mentor. The antipathy between the two finally erupted when Periyar married Maniammai, a lady much younger than him. Angered by this action of Periyar, Annadurai with his supporters parted from Dravidar Kazhagam and launched his own party, Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK). The DMK initially followed ideologies the same as the mother party, Dravidar Kazhagam. But with the evolution of national politics and the constitution of India after the Sino-Indian war in 1963, Annadurai dropped the claim of an independent Dravida Nadu.
Various protests against the then ruling Congress government took him to prison on several occasions. The last was during the Madras anti-Hindi agitation of 1965. The agitation itself helped Annadurai to gain popular support for his party. His party won a landslide victory in the 1967 state elections. His cabinet was the youngest at that time in India. He legalised Self-respect marriages, enforced a two language policy (over the three language formula in other southern states) for the state, implemented subsidising cost of rice and renamed the Madras State to Tamil Nadu.
However, he died of cancer just two years into office and his funeral was the most attended one at that time, holding a Guinness record. Several institutions and organisations are named after him.