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End of an era: Karunanidhi's political journey

By Chennabasaveshwar
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    Chennai, Aug 7: Muthuvel Karunanidhi, the last link between the Dravidian movement of the pre-independence era and post-Globalization India, is no more. Dr.M Karunanidhi passed away at 6.10 pm at Kauvery Hospital in Chennai.

    Revered as Kalaignar, Karunanidhi was the protege of Dravidian movement leaders CN Annadurai and Ramaswamy Periyar.

    Karunanidhi entered politics at the age of 14, inspired by a speech by Alagiriswamii of the Justice Party, and participated in Anti-Hindi agitations. He founded an organisation for the local youth of his locality. He circulated a handwritten newspaper called Manavar Nesan to its members. Later he founded a student organisation called Tamil Nadu Tamil Manavar Mandram, which was the first student wing of the Dravidian Movement.

    Young Karunanidhi involved himself and the student community in social work with other members. Here he started a newspaper for its members, which grew into Murasoli, the DMK party's official newspaper.

    Kallakudi agitation

    Kallakudi agitation

    The first major protest that aided Karunanidhi in gaining ground in Tamil politics was his involvement in the Kallakudi agitation in Kallakudi. Original name of this industrial town was Kallakudi and it was changed to Dalmiapuram after a cement mogul who built a cement plant there. DMK wanted to change the name back to Kallakudi.

    In the protest Karunanidhi and his companions erased the name Dalmiapuram from the railway station and lay down on the tracks blocking the course of trains. Two people died in the protest and Karunanidhi was arrested.

    First time in Tamil Nadu assembly

    First time in Tamil Nadu assembly

    For the first time, Karunanidhi, at the age of 33, entered the Tamil Nadu assembly winning the Kulithalai seat in the 1957 election. He became the DMK treasurer in 1961 and deputy leader of opposition in the state assembly in the year 1962 and when the DMK came to power in 1967, he became the minister for public works. When Annadurai expired in 1969, Karunanidhi became the third Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu and the first leader of DMK. He has held various positions in the party and government during his long career in Tamil Nadu political arena.

    However, he suffered multiple electoral defeats against his primary opponent M.G.Ramachandran's ADMK until the latter's death in 1987.

    Dravidian movement

    Dravidian movement

    Critics argue that Karunanidhi is really a beneficiary of the Dravidian movement and its vehicle, the political party Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK). The movement started by by E.V. Ramaswami Naicker aka Periyar and C.N. Annadurai, who led the party in the Lok Sabha. Hence, Karunanidhi inherited significant political capital unlike his contemporary EMS Namboodiripad in Kerala. However, Karunanidhi stood apart from other leaders when he faced Indira Gandhi during Emergency. For this, his government was dismissed, though on grounds of charges of corruption.

    His arrest in 2001

    His arrest in 2001

    Karunanidhi has seen up and downs in his political journey spanning over 60 years. In the 1991 elections, AIADMK ousted DMK and Karunanidhi was the sole DMK candidate to have been returned after the electoral battle. He, too, resigned in disgust. His political life has reached a low when he was dragged away by police officers from his home on June 30, 2001. During J Jayalalithaa's regime Karunanidhi was arrested for alleged corruption in the construction of ten flyovers in Chennai. The arrest and its manner led to wide criticism and agitation around the nation in Tamil Nadu.

    13 times elected to TN Assembly

    13 times elected to TN Assembly

    He has been elected to the Tamil Nadu Legislative Assembly 13 times (from 1957 to 2016 elections) and once to the now abolished Tamil Nadu Legislative Council. At the end of the 5-year administration, the DMK lost the majority of seats in the legislative assembly of Tamil Nadu when elections were held in 2011, thereby ceding power again to the AIADMK under J. Jayalalithaa.

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