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The Story Behind PM Modi's Mention of Churchill and His Cigar in Debate on Farm Reform Laws

News18.com

Last Updated: February 11, 2021, 13:00 IST

PM Modi in Lok Sabha on Wednesday. (PTI)

PM Modi in Lok Sabha on Wednesday. (PTI)

Despite Churchill losing in 1945 and India becoming independent in 1947, the post of Churchill Cigar Assistant continued till several decades later and the fact came to light when the state government set up a commission for raising the salaries of government employees.

While speaking in favour of the farm reform laws in the Lok Sabha, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Wednesday cited a story of the Churchill Cigar Assistant in the office of Chief Secretary of Tamil Nadu. The post was specifically created for ensuring the supply of cigars to Churchill from Tiruchirappalli in the state.

Despite Churchill losing in 1945 and India becoming independent in 1947, the post continued till several decades later and the fact came to light when the state government set up a commission for raising the salaries of government employees.

The CCA had written to the Commission seeking a raise but no one was even aware that such a post existed.

“This incident is the biggest example of a need for change in governance for the progress of the society,” PM Modi suggested while defending farm laws.

Here is the story behind CAA.

It wasn’t until the 1960s, when the letter arrived that an investigation into the inscrutable job began, and the smokescreen around one of the Second World War’s great mysteries was fanned away.

In the early 1940s, Nazi Germany’s submarine fleet began to savage convoys headed across the Atlantic Ocean, carrying weapons, ordnance, food and Prime Minister Winston Churchill’s beloved Havana cigars. Faced with the prospect of Great Britain’s wartime commander being lost to nicotine withdrawals, or so the story goes, the Madras Governor stepped in, using his special powers under the Defence of India Rules.

The CCA — Churchill’s Cigar Assistant, an English-speaking cigar taster — was tasked with discreetly obtaining the finest Trichinopoly cigars, and ensuring they made their way to 10 Downing Street.

Fenn Thompson & Co — along with Hunter & Co, John Mayer and others with names similarly redolent with Trichy’s great British heritage — once supplied customers across the Empire. The company is now the only surviving producer of the Trichy.

Founded in 1900 by Solai Thevar, Fenn Thompson was one of several cigar manufacturers founded in present-day Tiruchirappalli by enterprising Indians who understood the power of branding.

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first published:February 11, 2021, 13:00 IST
last updated:February 11, 2021, 13:00 IST