A master orator, who sways the audience with his splash of anecdotes and chirpy remarks besides loaded statements, the DMK patriarch is on an age-defying and punishing election schedule, carrying the burden of resetting the party's fortunes, albeit moving on a wheel-chair.
The five-time chief minister is facing the unenviable task of blunting the challenge posed by his Madurai-based son and expelled leader M K Alagiri, who has set out on a mission to spoil the chances of some of the DMK candidates, including bigwig T R Baalu in Thanjavur.
The family feud triggered factionalism in the party, and especially in its Madurai unit, cost Alagiri dearly, who has alleged his younger brother M K Stalin's stamp was writ all over the selection of candidates, which has widened the split.
Suffering a severe blow in the 2011 Assembly elections -- DMK even failed to become main Opposition party conceding it to then AIADMK ally DMDK -- Karunanidhi had to weather domestic storms as his sons are locked in a dispute over who will be his political heir.
The DMK chief himself has given enough indications that he preferred the Chennai-based younger son Stalin. As the leader of the party, Karunanidhi is leaving no stone unturned to secure maximum number of MPs from the 39 constituencies in Tamil Nadu and one in adjoining Puducherry and is not only harping on his party's policies and previous achievements but targeting his bete noire AIADMK chief Jayalalithaa over a number of issues.