DMK Chief M Karunanidhi passes away: Here’s a look at his journey

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As the news of DMK party chief M.Karunanidhi’s demise has come out, the whole state is reeling in shock and sadness. The 94 year old was known mainly as a political leader who got elected multiple times as the state’s Chief Minister and his contribution to politics is unparalleled.

94-old-year Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK) chief M Karunanidhi called the shots in his party even when at the age of 94. But age was just a number for the veteran politician of Tamil Nadu, also called as ‘Kalaignar’ by his followers. He has also been associated with Tamil film industry after starting out as a screenwriter.

Karunanidhi wrote film scripts and fiery dialogues for Tamil movies. That ability, along with the fact that he is a fantastic public speaker gave a rise to his political carrier. M Karunanidhi was a highly respected leader of the masses. Karunanidhi’s remarkable literary skills and success as a screenwriter and subsequent popularity played a big role in his rise in the DMK and his overall stature.

Karunanidhi began his career as a screenwriter in the Tamil film industry in 1947 with ‘Rajakumaari’ at the tender age of 20. The film featured late actor M.G. Ramachandran in the lead role. Although the duo turned arch rivals in the later years of politics, they initially shared a great camaraderie.

Over the course of time, Kalaignar worked in about 40 films and ‘Ponnar Shankar’ (2011), starring Prashanth in the lead role was his last film as a writer.

Also, Karunanidhi wrote the song ‘Semmozhiyaam Tamizh Mozhiyaam’ for World Classical Tamil Conference in 2010, to which music maestro AR Rahman had lent his music.

When he became a Member of Legislative Assembly (MLA) in 1957, Kalaignar was 32 years old. He was one of 15 DMK MLAs who entered the then Madras State Legislative Assembly. In the following election, in 1962, only Kalaignar returned to the Assembly out of the 15 who were elected in 1957. He has, subsequently, won a total of 13 Assembly elections and never suffered a defeat. It is unlikely that anyone will break this record in the future.

In 1967, when DMK dislodged Congress to form the government in the state, Kalaignar, then 42 years old, was sworn in as Minister of Public Works Department. Barely two years later, on February 10, 1969, he was sworn in as the Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu after the demise of his mentor ‘Anna’, CN Annadurai. He would go on to become Chief Minister in 1971, 1989, 1996 and 2006 and govern the state for a total of 19 years.

In the year 1969, he also took over the leadership of the DMK. He continued to be re-elected by the party’s General Council for the next 50 years. Over this time, he had played key roles in electing Presidents, Prime Ministers and forging nation-wide alliances.

Kalaignar’s political journey had seen him travel alongside every Congress leader from Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru to Rahul Gandhi. He had weaved relationships with Indira Gandhi, NT Rama Rao, Farooq Abdullah, Sharad Pawar, GK Moopanar, Atal Bihari Vajpayee, Sonia Gandhi, Jyoti Basu, Lalu Prasad Yadav, Ramadoss, Thirumavalavan and many others. He was closely involved in VP Singh, Deve Gowda and IK Gujral becoming Prime Ministers and formation of coalition governments.

Inseparable from Tamil Nadu’s own political journey, Kalaignar had witnessed 12 Chief Ministers — C Rajagopalachari, D Prakasam, OP Ramasamy Chettiar, PS Kumarasamy Raja, Kamarajar, Bhaktavatsalam, Anna, MGR, Janaki Ramachandra, Jayalalithaa, O Paneerselvam and Edapadi K Palaniswami.

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