Chennai, June 3: A partyman dressed like MGR, the late Tamil Nadu Chief Minister who had catapulted the DMK to popularity, a bucket full of coins and some pigeons attracted attention...
Not minding their leader's appeal not to pamper him with 'goodies' and first advising them not to 'host any bash' other than showering him with their love and affection, thousands of cadres, men and women, turned up at the party headquarters to wish DMK President and Chief Minister M Karunanidhi on his 85th birthday and shower him with gifts.
However, Mr Karunanidhi was not 'excited' about any of these gifts. For as he set out from his CIT Nagar residence at 0700 hrs in the morning, Mr Karunanidhi told a small group of newspersons that ''the best birthday gift for me would have been the 'Sethusamudram Shipping Channel Project'.
The project was caught in legal wrangles over opposition to dig up the canal, demolishing the Ram Sethu or Adam's bridge structure in Rameswaram.
Amidst the din and bustle of drums and the air renting songs eulogising him at 'Anna Arivalayam', the party headquarters, Mr Karunanidhi received cadres at a huge auditorium in the company of a few close associates in the party like State Ministers K Ponmudi, Arcot N Veerasamy and Duraimurugan, and Union Communications Minister A Raja. His younger son and heir-apparent M K Stalin was not by his side unlike last year, busy as he was attending to other matters.
'Kalaignar', as he is affectionately called by partymen, received good wishes from the cadres from 0930 hrs to 1230 hrs. Among the prominent political leaders who greeted him in the morning were senior Congressman Kumari Anandan and Union Minister of State V Narayanaswami. The cadres, carrying gifts including portraits of Mr Karunanidhi and assortment of fruits, reached the city by various modes of transport and lined up at the entrance of the heavily-guarded party headquarters.
While some women cadres presented him with a packet of sweets and gold coins, Muslim women and girls, dressed as brides, handed him baskets of dry fruits.
Age and a recent bout of back pain not permitting him, Mr Karunanidhi had to adjourn for lunch and rest at 1230 hrs and Mr Veerasamy announced to the cadres still waiting in long queues that they could greet their leader from 1600 hrs at his CIT Nagar residence.
The birthday bash would culminate in a public meeting opposite a stretch of the world famous Marina beach later in the evening, in which national leaders of differtent parties, including Union Ministers Pranab Mukherjee, Praful Patel, T R Baalu and Raghuvansh Prasad Singh, CPI(M) leader Sitaram Yechuri and CPI leader D Raja would participate.