Five-Time Tamil Nadu Chief Minister M. Karunanidhi Passes Away

Howard TerryAug 07, 2018

DMK president M Karunanidhi's health condition is extremely critical and unstable, said Kauvery hospital on Tuesday in its latest medical bulletin. The government has also declared a seven-day mourning in the state.

DMK working president MK Stalin had met Chief Minister Edappadi K Palaniswami with a request for land on the Marina Beach in Chennai for a memorial of Karunanidhi.

DMK patriarch Karunanidhi was admitted to the Kauvery Hospital on July 28 following a dip in his blood pressure.

Karunanidhi, one of the most senior politicians in India, was Tamil Nadu's Chief Minister five times but has been ailing for some time.

An atheist and self-declared rationalist, Mr Karunanidhi rose to political prominence in the 1940s as part of the Dravidian movement - which challenged the supremacy of upper caste Brahmins - and through his participation in anti-Hindi language agitations.

"We have lost a deep-rooted mass leader, prolific thinker, accomplished writer and a stalwart whose life was devoted to the welfare of the poor and the marginalized", tweeted Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

As his political career was taking off, Karunanidhi also became a popular screenwriter for Tamil films. Chants of "Ezhundhu Vaa Thalaivaa" (Awake, our leader) and "Vaa, Vaa, Gopalapuram Polaam Vaa" (Come, Come, let's go to Gopalapuram) could be heard outside the hospital. His father was a farmer in the village of Thirukuvalai in Tiruvarur district of Tamil Nadu.

M. Karunanidhi, or Kalaignar for his party cadre and legions of fans, had the distinction of serving as the longest serving party president, crossing a milestone in the country's political history on July 27 when he became the first leader to serve 50 years as president of a party. Earlier the Doctors had said that the 94-year-old former Tamil Nadu Chief Minister's response to medical intervention over the next 24 hours would determine the prognosis.

President Ram Nath Kovind said of the veteran leader that as "as a contributor to the development of Tamil Nadu and of India, he has few peers".

A profile of Karunanidhi by Caravan describes that after the DMK failed to oust the Congress in 1957 and 1962, the party was able to seize a majority in the state in 1967 thanks to his stellar efforts. On such occasions, the government and parties should rise above politics.

He is survived by four sons and two daughters.

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