For over half century, Muthuvel Karunanidhi remained the epicentre of Tamil Nadu’s political discourse. Right through his life, Karunanidhi remained synonymous with struggles. He was the only Chief Minister who had defied Prime Minister Indira Gandhi during emergency, for which his government was dismissed and he was sent to jail also.
Every time he was written off, Karunanidhi bounced back with admirable resilience. He led DMK through two darkest periods of its history – when the party was forced to be out of power for thirteen years when AIADMK’s MGR had ruled (between 1977-1989) and during Rajiv Gandhi assassination (1991) – yet Karunanidhi made sure the DMK remained afloat.
At 95, and after almost two years of inactivity, Karunanidhi could still inspire thousands of cadres to gather in front of the Kauvery hospital where he was admitted – and raise animated slogans for days together asking him to ‘stand up and come’.
Karunanidhi was barely fourteen when he was drawn to politics and only 29 when he laid his head on the railway track of Dalmiyapuram near Tiruchy demanding the name be changed to Kallakudi. The iconic protest made the young Karunanidhi a name to reckon with. For the next sixty five years or so, it would remain so.
A versatile leader with a keen interest in writing and films, Karunanidhi continued to write screenplays till almost he became inactive. He has written over hundred books and possibly the longest serial in any language in DMK’s official organMurasoli.
From launching Slum Clearance Board to offering free electricity for the farmers, from enacting a law that gave women equal property rights to giving women reservation in jobs, Karunanidhi introduced several schemes that bettered many lives during his five terms as the Chief Minister. He also holds the unique record of not losing any election he had contested – even during the two darkest periods of the DMK.