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When the postman knocked

WILLINGDON, A controversial figure in his time and about whom numerous stories — many no doubt apocryphal — were told, continues to keep readers interested enough to keep the postman busy.

Reader C. A. Reddi reminds me that the first no-confidence motion against a government in power in India — in effect, at the time, against the Governor — was introduced in the Assembly by Dr. C. R. Reddy in November 1923. Interestingly, Reddy was a member of the Raja of Panagal's Ministry he was showing no confidence in! S. Sathyamurti, representing the University of Madras, made his maiden speech during this debate — and a memorable one it was, from all accounts. But all their efforts failed to get the motion passed; it was lost by one vote.

It was during these sessions, when diarchy was attempting to establish itself that the Council members subscribed Rs. 4,000 or so, Reader Reddi adds, for a bust of Lord Montague which they wanted installed in the Council Chamber. It remained there till well after Independence, but where is it now, he wonders.

Reader K.R.N. Menon says he was told by a relative — a senior official in Willingdon's day — that Lady Willingdon (a rather forceful personality) was very particular about maintaining the Marina as a stretch of beauty. She persuaded her husband not to allow private ownership of property anywhere along it. Apparently this was not only so ordered around 1920, but the Government also bought up all private property that remained on the Marina. Which is quite possibly how Queen Mary's College got a couple of bungalows owned by Indian justices of the High Court and how Ice House passed into government hands.

Reader C. A. Thomas sends me a twice-told tale about "henpecked" Willingdon and his Vicerine, which my friend S. Krishnan will no doubt remind me as having been narrated about numerous others.

Apparently, the Viceregal couple were at an animal fair in Delhi where they stopped to look at a handsome stud bull, whose prowess was described to them rather graphically! "He can service cows more than a dozen times a day!" When Lady Willingdon looked meaningfully at His Excellency, the Viceroy wryly drawled, "But not the same cow, my dear!"

S. MUTHIAH

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