Karunanidhi : An Atheist who knew how to keep "the chair" intact

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The man who could never even pass the board examinations of high school never failed in the examination of politics in his life. Muthuvel Karunanidhi, the man who never lost an election in his life was born on 3rd June 1924, the man who followed the same path as his gurus like Annadurai and Periyar did not believe in the existence of God, but was filled with Karuna(mercy) for poor.

It was in his times when Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam changed its secessionist policies and became the only chief minister to hoist the national flag on Independence Day. A man against Hindi imposition, who centralised all his politics around the anti-Hindi and anti-Hindu policies of Periyar and Annadurai and became the Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu after the death of Annaurai on 10 February,1969. After his death Karunanidhi started extensive welfare schemes for the socially and economically backward sections for their upliftment.

Karunanidhi was a great Tamil poet and his contribution to Tamil literature can never be forgotten. He wrote several poems, scripts for film, essays and articles in daily newspapers. He was an expert of Tamil language and politics of language gave him the position he deserved for his service to the language.

Karunanidhi started a newspaper when he was only 14, Murasoli, which later became the mouthpiece of DMK and is still published as the mouthpiece of DMK. He entered into politics during a time when the anti-Hindi wave was its peak in Tamil Nadu and was very influenced with the speech of Alagiriswamy of Justice Party.

He participated in many anti-Hindi agitations one of which was changing the name of Dalmiapuram Railway station to Kallakudi. This is the place that changed Karunanidhi forever. He is greatly admired by the linguistic chauvinists today for furthering the cause of Tamil language. Under the leadership of Annadurai, the DMK even celebrated anti-Hindi Diwas of which Karunanidhi was a part.

During Sino-India war, DMK leader gave various speeches evoking the secessionist feelings in the mind of Tamilians and Annadurai even gave various secessionist speeches in Parliament when India was fighting a war with China forcing the then Prime Minister to introduce the 14th amendment and made the secessionist speeches an offence punishable under law. This law softened the secessionist stand of DMK but hardened the anti-Hindi stance which continued to grow after the Official Languages Act, 1963. It must be noted that Karunanidhi was not the leader during these secessionist policies of DMK.

After various charges of corruption, he was dismissed from the post of Chief Minister in 1976, by the then Prime Minister Indira Gandhi and he sat on the opposition for 13 years. He himself never lost an election and came back again in 1989 to be dismissed again in 1991 by Narasimha Government for being “TOO CLOSE TO LTTE”. But the party again came to power in 1996 with the support of Superstar Rajinikanth. 

This return brought a lot of controversy around various scams and corruption, for which he and his son MK Stalin was arrested after they lost the 2001 election. In 2004, his party formed a coalition government and had 7 Union ministers from his party. He returned back to power in state again in 2006 but after 3 years he was confined to a wheelchair following spinal surgery. His daughter Kanimozhi was later linked with the infamous 2G spectrum scam in which the then telecom minister A Raja, DMK leader was named the main suspect.

He expelled his own son, Alagiri from the party and named MK Stalin as his heir apparent. Although he could not win the 2016 assembly polls, he still won his seat from Thiruvarur.  The man who never saw the face of defeat even against the best of leaders submitted himself to death on 7 August 2019 and was buried at Perarignar Anna Memorial, Chennai.

It doesn’t matter if one agrees to his policies or not but he himself was an era of politics, a legend and a poet whose absence will always hurt the Indian politics and the space created after his death cannot be filled. He was what we call, the blessings of millions for many in Tamil Nadu.

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