Jayalalithaa's death leaves Karunanidhi with no arch rival

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For those in Tamil Nadu who follow politics and films closely, Manirathnam's political drama Iruvar, is easily identifiable as a representation of the political and personal lives of two prominent faces of Tamil Nadu. From friends, to foes to political rivals. If you imagined it to be representational of M G Ramachandran and M Karunanidhi, it is a repetition of sorts with Jayalalithaa and M Karunanidhi.

Lakhs of people paid tributes to Jayalalithaa. Politicians cutting across party lines praised the leader, celebrities and common folk alike thronged Rajaji hall where her mortal remains were kept. But one person's condolence message beat it all. Dr M Karunanidhi, in a message that he penned, said his arch rival's 'fame will last forever'.


Manirathnam in his film captures the complex relationship that two arch rivals share. Mohan Lal, presumed to play M G R, and Prakash Raj, representing a leader like Karunanidhi, have many disagreements and fight bitter political battles. But when Anandan, Mohan Lal's character passes away, Tamilselvan, Prakash Raj's character rushes to see his 'friend' but leaves soon realising that people will always view them as arch rival and nothing else. The depth of their friendship, however, is showcased in a poetic monolog as Anandan is creamated. Much like what happened when M G R passed away and now when Jayalalithaa passed away. Karunanidhi penned his condolence message despite being ill and admitted in a hospital.

[Also Read: OPS breaks down as PM pays floral tributes to Jaya]

How they came to be arch rivals

Politics in Tamil Nadu is never going to be the same. Out of the two heavyweight politicians, Jayalalithaa is no more and Karunanidhi suffers from ill health. Karunanidhi in his message said that 'his good friend MGR introduced Jayalalithaa to politics', but his association with Jayalalithaa began when she was only an actress.

From colleagues they graduated to be political acquaintances. With M G Ramachandran's fall out from Dravida Munetra Kazhagam, the distance between Karunanidhi and Jayalalithaa grew. Karunanidhi's status quo with M G Ramachandran inadvertently applied to Jayalalithaa as she grew within AIADMK cadre. From friends M G R and Karunanidhi quickly became political arch rivals.

With the passing of M G R, Karunanidhi lost not just a rival but a dear friend, but his death gave Karunanidhi another force to reckon with in the form of J Jayalalithaa.

Political powerplay

It was powerplay from day one between Karunanidhi and J Jayalalithaa. For him it was the opportunity to seize power and for her the necessity to remain relevant in the state as well as the party. From getting one arrested while the other was in power to installing and ininstalling Kannagi statue on the beach, Karunanidhi and Jayalalithaa built a rivalry that is unmatched.

While DMK's family politics took centre stage, Jayalalithaa relied on her loyalists to back her. Today the DMK has an heir apparent but AIADMK was orphaned with the passing away of their leader. Just like Manirathnam's movie depicts, would there be anyone to miss Jayalalithaa as much as Karunanidhi?

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