In Karunanidhi’s demise, India loses one of its tallest leaders


Chennai (NM Bureau): One of the last tall figures of the decade old Dravidian movement and patriarch of the Dravida Munitra Kazhagam (DMK) party M Karunanidhi passed away on August 7 in the evening. The five time former Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu and 11 time MLA in the state legislature, M Karunanidhi is an icon to remembered for ages to come. He was saddled in the seat of DMK Chief for 50 years without any break. Karunanidhi, known Kaliangar by his supporters passed away in Kauvery Hospital here at 6.10pm on Tuesday. He was 94 yr old.

Karunanidhi was born on 3 June 1924 at Thirukkuvalai in the Tanjore district.In 1938, at the age of 14, Karunanidhi entered politics after being inspired by a speech made by Alagiriswami, one of the leading figures of the Justice Party. This was the time when the anti-Hindi agitation was at its peak in Tamil Nadu. In 1957, Karunanidhi was elected to the Tamil Nadu assembly for the first time from the Kulithalai constituency in Trichy district. Since then, he has never lost an election that he has fought and has been elected to the TN assembly 13 times. The DMK patriarch was made the treasurer of the party in 1961. In 1962, he was selected as the Deputy Leader of Opposition in the Tamil Nadu assembly. When the DMK was elected to power in 1967, Karunanidhi was given the portfolio of public works and thereafter he handled various ministries every time his party came to power. In 1969, Karunanidhi was sworn-in as the Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu for the first time following the demise of former CM Annadurai. Since then he has served as the CM of Tamil Nadu for a total of five terms.

Karunanidhi parted ways with his best friend MG Ramachandran in 1972 after a bitter succession battle after the death of CN Annadurai. MGR then went ahead and formed the AIADMK and became an arch-rival to Karunanidhi. Karunanidhi hogged the national limelight in 1975 by strongly opposing the then Prime Minister Indira Gandhi for imposing Emergency. His fierce opposition resulted in the central government dissolving the Tamil Nadu government in 1976, citing reasons of corruption. When the DMK was decimated in the 1991 state assembly election, Karunanidhi, who was the sole candidate to have won, resigned from his post owing to the embarrassing performance of his party. In 2001, Karunanidhi was dragged from his home in the midnight and was arrested by police officials for the alleged corruption in the construction of ten flyovers in and around Chennai. His arrest had created massive political ripples in Tamil Nadu. In 2004 he played a significant role in giving shape to the United Progressive Alliance led by the Congress party and till date, DMK continues to be one of its main constituents.

In 2011, Karunanidhi fought the state assembly election tooth and nail but lost miserably due to the involvement of his daughter and DMK MP Kanimozhi and DMK party leader A Raja in the 2G scam. In 2016, after the Tamil Nadu assembly election, he became politically inactive owing to his bad health. In 2018, he completed 50 years as the DMK party chief. He is the first Indian politician to lead a political party for such a long time.

He was a celebrated screenplay writers of his time and his films always had a purpose to convey a special message. His writing specially dealt with the Dravidian movement which opposed Brahmanical practices and sought equal rights for the Dalits and the downtrodden. His films not just the critical acclaim but many of his films won commercial success as well. He has also acted in around 50 movies. 

Karunanidhi’s early success with movies happened with superhit  films like Rajakumari (1947) and Manthiri Kumari (1950). Some of his movies were first banned for public screening but had to be thrown open for viewers under public pressure. He started his career as a screenwriter when he was just 20 years old. His last film was ‘Ponnar Shankar’ starring actor Prashanth in the lead role in 2011. Movie ‘Parasakthi' became one of the most influential films of Tamil cinema's early history. It turned out to be the biggest milestone in Tamil cinema. It broke many traditions that were in existence. Indian films used to have numerous songs, but Parasakthi brought down the numbers. Instead of songs, the film was high on politics-influenced dialogues of Dravidian movement started by Social reformer Periyar. Karunanidhi has left a huge vacuum in the socio-political landscape of India.

The legend Karunanidhi will always be remembered for the immense contribution to Indian Politics and Tamil Cinema.

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