Former Tamil Nadu chief minister and DMK patriarch Muthuvel Karunanidhi famously known as M Karunanidhi passed away on Tuesday. He was a 94-year-old. The veteran politician was admitted in Kauvery Hospital in the city two weeks ago, where he was being treated by a panel of expert doctors. His body was taken to his Gopalapuram residence last night, after which it was shifted to Rajaji Hall. Several political leaders, including Prime Minister Narendra Modi, will attend the funeral in the city.
M Karunanidhi’s politics engaged with a slew of ideas — secularism, caste, affirmative action, federalism, regional identity — and their role in public affairs. His demise comes when these issues are returning to the political centre stage as the nation moves towards another general election.
Early life and family
Karunanidhi born in Thirukkuvalai village in Nagapattinam district, he was born as a son of Muthuvelu and Anju. Karunanidhi was more interested in drama, poetry, and literature during his school season. Karunanidhi, who was inspired by the speaker Azhagirisamy, considered the pillar of the Justice Party, completely engaged in social movements at his 14th age. With the help of some of his students in the field of youth, the “youth revitalized the organization”.
Karunanidhi began his career as a screenwriter in the Tamil film industry. His first movie as screenwriter was Rajakumari. After this Karunanidhi wrote Blockbuster film Manthiri Kumari. During this period he and M. G. Ramachandran, then an upcoming actor and later day founder of AIADMK party started a long friendship eventually turning into rivals in later years politics.
Karunanidhi is also known as Tamil literature and book writer. His contributions cover a wide range: poems, letters, screenplays, novels, biographies, historical novels, stage-plays, dialogues and movie songs. The books written by Karunanidhi include Sanga Thamizh, Thirukkural Urai, Ponnar Sankar, Romapuri Pandian, Thenpandi Singam, Vellikizhamai, Nenjukku Needhi, Iniyavai Irubathu and Kuraloviam. His books of prose and poetry number more than 100.
Entry into politics
Karunanidhi entered politics at the age of 14, inspired by a speech by Alagiriswamii of the Justice Party, and participated in Anti-Hindi agitations.
- He founded a student organisation called Tamil Nadu Tamil Manavar Mandram, which was the first student wing of the Dravidian Movement. Karunanidhi involved himself and the student community in social work with other members. Here he started a newspaper for its members, which grew into Murasoli, the DMK party’s official newspaper.
- The first major protest of his life in the TamilNadu politics was Kallakudi agitation in Kallakudi. In the protest, Karunanidhi and his companions erased the name Dalmiapuram from the railway station and lay down on the tracks blocking the course of trains. Two people died in the protest and Karunanidhi was arrested.
- At the age of 33, Karunanidhi entered the Tamil Nadu assembly by winning the Kulithalai seat in the 1957 election. He became the DMK treasurer in 1961 and deputy leader of opposition in the state assembly in the year 1962 and when the DMK came to power in 1967, he became the Minister for Public Works. When Annadurai expired in 1969, Karunanidhi became the Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu and the first leader of DMK, since the leader post was customarily left vacant for Periyar during Annadurai time as Annadurai was party general secretary only. He has held various positions in the party and government during his long career in Tamil Nadu political arena.
- During the Emergency DMK was the only ruling party that opposed the emergency for which his government was summarily dismissed by Indira Gandhi’s government and many of his party leaders were arrested till emergency was lifted. Later D.M.K teamed with Janata Party post emergency but suffered defeat at assembly elections under accusations of corruption.
- He was however back in power when he took over as Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu on 13 May 2006 after his coalition defeated his main opponent J. Jayalalithaa in the May 2006 elections. At the end of the 5-year administration, the DMK lost the majority of seats in the legislative assembly of Tamil Nadu when elections were held in 2011, thereby ceding power again to the AIADMK under J. Jayalalithaa. During the 2016 closely fought elections DMK narrowly lost seats against J. Jayalalithaa’s AIADMK.
- He currently represents the constituency of Tiruvarur in the Tamil Nadu state Legislative Assembly. He has been elected to the Tamil Nadu Legislative Assembly 13 times (from 1957 to 2016 elections) and once to the now abolished Tamil Nadu Legislative Council.
- Karunanidhi became the CM of Tamil Nadu in 1996 following a sweeping electoral win in the preceding elections. Following a 5-year rule, his party again lost at the elections to J. Jayalalithaa’s AIADMK in 2001.
- He delivered the special address on the inaugural day of 3rd World Tamil Conference held in Paris in 1970, and also on the inaugural day of 6th World Tamil Conference held in Kuala Lumpur (Malaysia) in 1987. He penned the song “Semmozhiyaana Tamizh Mozhiyaam”, the official theme song for the World Classical Tamil Conference 2010, that was set to tune by A. R. Rahman.
- ‘Ulaga Tamizh Manadu’ [ World Tamil Conference ], was the first coined word for the conference in 2010, however, the IATR organisation that had the right to conduct the conference was not happy hence change in name.
M Karunanidhi was in poor health from October 2016 and minimized his political activities and public appearances, with the last one being on his 94th birthday on 3 June 2018. On 28 July 2018, Karunanidhi’s health deteriorated and became “extremely critical and unstable”, and he was admitted at Kauvery Hospital in Chennai for treatment.
He died there at 6:10 p.m. on 7 August 2018 due to age-related illness, which led to multiple organ failure. The government of Tamil Nadu has declared a public holiday on 8 August 2018 and a seven-day mourning after Karunanidhi’s death. The national flag will fly at half-mast.
A national mourning on 8 August 2018 was announced by the government of India. The national flag would fly at half-mast in Delhi, all state capitals and across Tamil Nadu on 8 August 2018. The governments of Karnataka and Bihar announced one-day and two-days state mourning respectively.