M Karunanidhi's staying power his signature
Chennai, May 13: Eighty-two-year-old Muthuvel Karunanidhi, the stormy petrel of the Dravidian movement, has shown remarkable staying power since he made his debut in the Tamil Nadu Assembly in 1957, to assume office as Chief Minister for a record fifth time today.
A powerful writer and forceful orator, Karunanidhi, turning 83 next month, rose from humble beginnings to be a top rung party functionary, in his public life spanning seven decades.
After the DMK, founded in 1949, entered electoral politics in 1957, he made his debut from Kulithalai in the then Tiruchirapalli District and went on to register 11 successive wins at the hustings, setting a new record in the history of state politics.
In the May eight poll, Karunanidhi won from Chepauk in the city, scoring a hat-trick, his first one, as he had earlier chosen to contest not more than twice from a particular constituency.
When party founder and Dravidian stalwart C N Annadurai led the party to power in 1967, ending Congress monopoly, Karunanidhi was placed third in the Cabinet after the late V R Nedunchezhiyan as Public Works Minister.
But after the death of Anna in 1969, Karunanidhi, who enjoyed the support of the late M G Ramachandran, pushed aside Mr Nedunchezhiyan and became Chief Minister for the first time.
After Anna's death, Mr Karunanidhi, taking on Congress giants Rajaji and K Kamaraj, led the party to a record massive victory, winning 184 of 234 seats to assume office as Chief Minister for the second time. He won the battle with the support of rationalist leader Periyar E V Ramasamy and MGR.
When MGR broke away to form the Anna DMK (ADMK), which later became the All India Anna DMK (AIADMK), Mr Karunanidhi, despite being out of power for a decade, kept the DMK intact as strong opposition.
After MGR's death in 1987, the DMK staged a comeback and Karunanidhi became Chief Minister for the third time in 1989. However, his government was sacked within two years by the then President R Venkataraman on the LTTE issue. In the elections that followed in 1991, after the assassination of Rajiv Gandhi, Karunanidhi emerged the lone winner for the DMK.
The DMK, however, true to its style, bounced back to capture power in 1996 and Karunanidhi became Chief Minister for the fourth time.
Though he had declared that the 2001 Assembly election would be his last battle, the DMK leader, deferring to the wishes of partymen, entered the fray this time, fielding himself from Chepauk.
Displaying immense willpower, the octogenarian overcame the drawbacks of age and campaigned extensively, travelling the length and breadth of the state, to come home to victory.
Karunanidhi's long political career ran side by side with his career in films since the mid-forties. He wielded his pen effectively to emerge as a powerful script and dialogue writer.
The astute politican is known as able administrator and organiser, apart from his adroit tackling of dissent and adversaries.
It was the assiduous use of the pen and the commitment to social causes, which he espoused along with his mentor, Anna, through the medium of films and on public platforms, that saw the DMK's rise.
After romping home to power, the frail looking leader has shown renewed vigour in his task of leading the state for the next five years.