DAINIK NATION BUREAU
DMK patriarch M Karunanidhi – five-time Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu who dominated the state’s politics for six decades along with arch-rivals MG Ramachandran and later, J Jayalalithaa – died at a hospital in Chennai this evening. The 94-year-old leader was admitted to the hospital 11 days ago, on July 28, after he contracted urinary tract infection and developed a high fever.
Over the last year, Mr Karunanaidhi has been in and out of hospital while recovering after an ailment. For more than a year, he had not made any public appearance, except occasional visits to his party office and waving at supporters from his home.
He was admitted in hospital last on July 18 for a change of tracheostomy tube. On July 28, a little after midnight, he was shifted to the hospital again after his blood pressure dropped.
In the morning, the hospital and his family said he was better. But his condition deteriorated next evening. After 9 pm, as the news about his condition spread, thousands of emotional supporters gathered outside the Kauvery hospital.
Late that evening, the police used mild force on the assembled supporters, so the vehicles of DMK leaders could leave. But the crowd refused to disperse.
Since July 27, political leaders across party lines have been visiting Mr Karunanidhi – initially at his home and then at the hospital. Besides AIADMK leaders O Panneerselvam and D Jayakumar, the list of his visitors included Thirumavalavan of the VCK, former union minister GK Vasan and actor-politicians Rajinikanth and Kamal Haasan.
President Ram Nath Kovind, Vice President Venkaiah Naidu, Congress president Rahul Gandhi and Trinamool Congress leader Derek O’Brien also visited him at the hospital.
Like MG Ramachandran and J Jayalalithaa, Karunanidhi quit a flourishing career in movies to devote himself to politics and the Dravidian movement led by Periyar EVR – which he joined soon after it started in 1949. The “Kalaignar” (artiste) was known for his film scripts – a skill that greatly helped him in his political career. His powers of oratory bestowed on him a cult status much similar to Jayalalithaa.
In 1969, Mr Karunanidhi became a Chief Minister after DMK ideologue CN Annadurai died in office. Three years later, he fell out with MG Ramachandran and shunted him out of the party – leading to the formation of life-long rival All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagamor AIADMK.
The AIADMK came to power in 1977 and MGR ensured that Mr Karunanidhi’s party stayed out of power as long as he was alive. Mr Karunanidhi regained to power in power in 1989 after MGR’s death. But in the emotional aftermath of Rajiv Gandhi’s assassination, he was shunted out as he was seen to be close to the Lankan outfit LTTE, responsible for the bomb attack on the former Prime Minister.
He returned to power again in 1996, after corruption charges caused a major loss of face for Jayalalithaa. Since then, the two parties have been voted in alternately – a tradition that was broken in 2016, when Jayalalithaa was elected for a second straight term..NDTV