Muniswamy Mudaliar

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Muniswamy Mudaliar
Member of Legislative Council (Fiji)
North Western Indian Division
In office
1932–1937
Preceded by Parmanand Singh
Succeeded by Chattur Singh
Personal details
Religion Hindu

Muniswamy Mudaliar was a Fiji Indian Tamil politician who was a member of the Legislative Council of Fiji from 1932 to 1937. He lost the support of his electorate when he refused to resign from the Legislative Council when the common roll motion was defeated, as had been agreed to before the election. In 1932 he became the first Fiji Indian Justice of Peace.[1]

From 1929 to 1932 the three seats reserved for people of Indian origin in the Legislative Council were vacant due to a boycott of the Council, led by Vishnu Deo, in protest of not granting equal status to Indians in Fiji. When elections were called in 1932, Vishnu Deo's party called for the boycott to continue, but a rebel Indian nominated for the Southern Constituency. To ensure that the rebel candidate did not succeed, Vishnu Deo nominated K. B. Singh for the seat. Vishnu Deo wanted K.B. Singh to move a motion for common roll when he was elected and aware that he would need a seconder for the motion nominated Muniswamy Mudaliar, for the North Western Indian Division.[2] Both Singh and Mudaliar were elected easily.

On 14 October 1932, under the guidance of Vishnu Deo, K.B. Singh put forward a motion for common roll, seconded by Muniswamy Mudaliar. The Governor convinced the two Indian members to withdraw the motion so that he could discuss it with the Secretary of State. Contrary to Vishnu Deo’s advice, the motion was withdrawn. In February 1933, the Secretary of State informed the Legislative Council that it was impracticable to have common roll. K.B. Singh resigned and was re-elected over the same rival but Mudaliar refused to resign. K.B. Singh took his seat in the Legislative Council, contrary to Vishnu Deo’s instructions and the two evaded the common roll issue. They were denounced in public meetings organised by Vishnu Deo and his associates but were rewarded by the Government by being made Justice of Peace. On 23 March 1934, they introduced another motion for common roll which was defeated but its consequence was that new motion could not be introduced immediately after next election.

Fully aware that they would not be able to retain their seats in the next election, K.B. Singh and Mudaliar accepted the Governor’s advice and moved a motion calling for members of the Legislative Council to be nominated and not elected. The motion was passed but the Colonial Office implemented a compromise, combining election and nomination. The Legislative Council was increased to 31, made up of 15 unofficial members, made up of 5 members from each ethnic group, and 16 official members (usually heads of departments). All the Fijian seats were to be nominated by the Great Council of Chiefs, but three each of the Indian and European seats were to be elected on communal franchise and the remaining two filled through nomination.

Following the 1937 election, K.B. Singh was nominated into the Legislative Council by the Governor but Muniswamy Mudaliar faded into political oblivion.

Mudaliar was a shopkeeper from Wailailai in Ba.[1]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b Sharma, Guru Dayal (1987). Memories of Fiji: 1887 - 1987. Guru Dayal Sharma, Suva, Fiji. p. 98. 
  2. ^ "Fiji Elections Archive: Elections for the Legislative Council, North Western Division 1929 - 1959". Archived from the original on 2009-10-23.