Karunanidhi: A colossus in Dravidian politics

Karunanidhi: A colossus in Dravidian politics
People laying flowers over the coffin of Late M. Karunanidhi
Chennai, Aug 7 (IANS) : | Publish Date: 8/8/2018 12:00:00 AM IST

 Muthuvel Karunanidhi was one of the last links to the Dravidian movement that ushered in the rise of backward classes in politics and the end of Congress rule in Tamil Nadu five decades ago on the plank of social justice.

A five-time Chief Minister, the 94-year-old Karunanidhi, who strode the public life of Tamil Nadu like a colossus, also played a key role in national politics when he aligned with Indira Gandhi in 1971 and reaped rich rewards in elections. 
But he staunchly opposed the Emergency of 1975-77 during which his government was dismissed on corruption charges. He was banished to the opposition ranks till the death of his friend-turned-foe and iconic film hero M.G. Ramachandran or MGR in December 1987.
Under Karunanidhi, the DMK occupied a prime position in the UPA governments at the Centre in 2004 and 2009 and earlier in the NDA government under Atal Bihari Vajpyee, an alignment that surprised many given the party’s Dravidian moorings.
He was a wily politician who succeeded his mentor C.N. Annadurai or ‘Anna’ as Chief Minister in 1969 and kept a stranglehold on the party and government. He remained the President of the DMK for nearly 50 years, a rare feat in any democratic country. 
Always sporting dark glasses, which became his trademark identity, and in later years a yellow stole, which critics said was against the atheism he preached. With the death of his arch rival J. Jayalalithaa in 2016 and his departure now, Tamil Nadu is left with a void. Born in Tirukkuvalai in the erstwhile Thanjavur district on June 3, 1924, Karunanidhi was a multifaceted personality -- journalist, playwright, script writer -- whose fiery dialogues as an iconoclast in films unleashed changes in Tamil Nadu’s social scene.
He joined the Dravidian movement as a teenager under the tutelage of the late social reformer ‘Periyar’ E.V. Ramasamy and Anna. 
‘Kalaignar’, as Karunanidhi was called for his proficiency in arts and literature, fashioned theatre and cinema in a way that gave a fillip to the Dravidian movement and the rise of DMK as a major pole in Tamil Nadu. Karunanidhi’s political fortunes rose when Anna broke away from the DK to float the DMK in 1949. The box office hit of Tamil movie ‘Parasakthi’ for which he wrote the script and a ‘rail roko’ agitation in Kallakudi near Tiruchirapalli made him known throughout the state.
Karunanidhi is survived by his two wives Dayalu and Rajathi, sons M.K. Muthu, Alagiri, Stalin and M.K. Tamilarasu and daughters S. Selvi and Kanimozhi and grandchildren.
Former President Pranab Mukherjee said Karunanidhi will be deeply missed. 
“Sixty years a legislator, five times CM and a pillar of many coalitions at the Centre, he influenced his state’s and the national politics like few others. My deepest condolences to his family and admirers,” Mukherjee tweeted.
BJP President Amit Shah said no one can forget his struggle during the Emergency.
Among other national leaders, Union Road Transport Minister Nitin Gadkari, Commerce and Industry Minister Suresh Prabhu, Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister N. Chandrababu Naidu and CPI-M leader Sitaram Yechury also condoled the death of the DMK stalwart.
Top political leaders from Maharashtra, led by Governor C.V. Rao and Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis, Ashok Chavan on Tuesday paid rich tributes to M. Karunanidhi who passed away in Chennai.
Fadnavis said that in Karunanidhi’s demise, the country had lost a towering political leader who gave a new direction to Tamil Nadu. Nationalist Congress Party President Sharad Pawar said: “Saddened to know about the demis... He will be always remembered as a leader of masses.”
Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar today expressed profound grief over DMK president M Karunanidhi’s death.
BJP MP Shatrughan Sinha today expressed grief over death of DMK president M Karunanidhi and urged the Centre to announce a national mourning for him. Gujarat Chief Minister Vijay Rupani, Assam Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal, Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan today expressed grief over the demise of M Karunanidhi.

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