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Former chief minister of Tamil Nadu M. Karunanidhi, 94, dies
August 7, 2018, 5:03 pm
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Muthuvel Karunanidhi, popularly known as Kalaignar (artist) today breathed his last in Chennai. The five-time chief minister of Tamil Nadu was a screenwriter in Tamil Nadu film industry before entering politics. Born in Thirukkuvalai village in Nagapattinam district, Karunanidhi has been heading the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK), the Dravidian party founded by C. N. Annadurai in 1949, since 1969. Starting his career as a screenwriter in Tamil film industry and began using Tamil cinema to propagate his political ideas through the movie Parasakthi. Karunanidhi is also known for his contributions to Tamil literature in form of poems, letters, screenplays, novels, biographies, historical novels, stage-plays, dialogues and movie songs.

At 14, Karunanidhi was inspired by Azhagirisamy of the Justice Party, an organisation which represented the non-Brahmins in Madras, and participated in anti-Hindi agitations. At 33, he entered the Tamil Nadu Assembly by winning the Kulithalai seat in the 1957 election. When Annadurai passed away in 1969, he became the chief minister of Tamil Nadu. Over the years, he has held various positions in the party as well as in the government and has been elected to the Tamil Nadu Legislative Assembly 13 times.

However, his long political career had its own share of controversies. A clipping from Jayalalitha, former Tamil Nadu CM and his rival, AIADMK’s J. Jayalalitha who passed away in December 2016, shows how bitter the rivalry was between the two parties.

Jayalalitha recalled how on 25  March 1989, she was manhandled and attacked on the floor of Tamil Nadu Assembly by DMK MLAs in front of Karunanidhi, who was then the chief minister, and both his wives watching it from the VIP boxes as the DMK MLAs physically assaulted her and one of them even tried to pull up her saree. She said that that day, she left the Assembly in tears and angry and vowed to not set foot in the Assembly again till Karunanidhi was not unseated as the CM. Two years later, Jayalalitha took oath as the chief minister of Tamil Nadu.

Karunanidhi’s personal battle with Jayalalitha grew so intense that on 30th June 2001 at 1:45 am, Karunanidhi was woken up by police, roughed up and arrested in connection with the ‘flyover scam’ which resulted in alleged losses amounting to Rs. 12 crores in the construction of mini-flyovers in the city. It was reported that Karunanidhi was physically lifted by the police and he was screaming that police was attempting to kill him as he was dragged down the stairs of his house. Many political parties, including Congress, condemned this arrest and Principal Sessions Judge P Ashok Kumar came down heavily on the police and called it an abuse of power.

Karunanidhi had kicked up a storm in 2007 when he had questioned the existence of ‘Ram Setu’. At a function in Erode in 2007, he had reportedly asked for proofs of the Ram Setu. ‘”Who is this Raman (as Lord Ram is referred to in Tamil)? In which engineering college did he study and become a civil engineer? When did he build this so-called bridge? Is there any evidence for this?” he had said.

Not only that, Karunanidhi had also been accused of abetting the assassination of former prime minister Rajiv Gandhi by LTTE (Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam). The 5,280-page Jain commission interim report held Karunanidhi responsible for abetment, but the final report had no such mention. In yet another interview, Karunanidhi had claimed that LTTE chief Prabhakaran was his ‘good friend’ and said he would be saddened if he is killed in the war in Sri Lanka.

The ailing DMK chief had been admitted to Kauvery Hospital in Chennai a few days back and his health had been deteriorating. He breathed his last today.

The Kauvery hospital released a statement saying that M Karunanidhi passed away today, 7 August, at 6:10 pm.

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