Karunanidhi turns 85; seeks SSCP as birthday gift

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Chennai, June 3: Tamil Nadu Chief Minister M Karunanidhi, who turned 85 today, sought Sethusamudram Shipping Channel Project (SSCP) as his birthday gift from Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, even as scores of partymen and well-wishers greeted him, presenting shawls, bouquets and portraits.

''I have no personal desire. I want the Sethusamudram project to be implemented for the development of Tamil Nadu,'' the octogenarian said when asked for his birthday message.

When the Prime Minister called him over phone this morning and conveyed his greetings, the DMK leader thanked him and appealed to him to implement the SSCP, after naming it as 'Sethu Ram', if the Hindu outfits opposed the project in the name of Lord Ram.

Mr Karunanidhi, referring to his birthday message that the project be named after Lord Ram, appealed to the Prime Minister to implement the project as 'Sethu Ram' project.

Besides the Prime Minister, Congress President Sonia Gandhi and a host of leaders, including State Governor S S Barnala, TNCC President M Krishnasamy, PMK leaders G K Mani and Dr Anbumani Ramadoss, Viduthalai Chiruthaigal Katchi leader Thol Thirumavalavan greeted him on the occasion.

Assembly Speaker R Avudaiyappan, Chief Secretary L K Tripathy, Director General of Police K P Jain, City Police Commissioner R Sekar and other IAS and IPS officials also called on the Chief Minister and extended their greetings.

The city and several other parts of the State wore a festive look as partymen celebrated the birthday in a grand manner, distributing sweets and welfare assistances.

The Dravidian patriarch began the day with a visit to the memorial to his mentor and late Chief Minister C N Annadurai on the Marina at 0700 hrs and that of rationalist leader Periyar E V Ramasamy at Periyar Thidal and offered floral tributes. He planted a sapling at his CIT Colony residence and paid obeisance to the portraits of his parents at his Gopalapuram residence. He accepted greetings from his wife Dayalu Ammal, sons M K Azhagiri and M K Stalin, daughter Kanimozhi and other family members.

On his arrival at Anna Arivalayam, the party headquarters, thousands of partymen, who started thronging the party office right from the early hours, welcomed him with bursting of crackers and by distributing sweets. Later, they lined up and greeted the leader by presenting him shawls, bouquets and portraits.

The DMK leader had initially said no to birthday celebrations, stating that he was upset that the SSCP was hanging in the balance and there was a spurt in terrorism. But later, he had relented and agreed to the celebrations, when his senior colleague and party General Secretary K Anbazhagan appealed to him to agree for the celebrations and asked partymen to go ahead with the celebrations as an antidote to Mr Karunanidhi's anguish.

Elsewhere in the State, special worships, blood donation camps, planting of saplings, mass feeding and distribution of welfare assistance marked the celebrations.

In Thanjavur, partymen planted 85 saplings, marking Mr Karunanidhi's 85th birthday and organised blood donation camps.

A report from Namakkal said party workers, in a gesture of goodwill, visited the local Government Hospital and distributed fruits, bread and milk to the inpatients.

In Tirunelveli, partymen distributed gold rings to the new borns and in Kanniyakumari, 850 saplings were planted and a foundation stone for a new bridge was laid on the occasion, reports said.

UNI

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