A doyen of Dravidian politics, DMK patriarch and former five-time chief minister M Karunanidhi was laid to rest with full state honours in the sands of Marina Beach in Chennai. Kalaignar, as he is popularly called, was buried in a golden casket – the inscription on which read: “the man who worked hard and never rested, is resting in peace here.”
He was laid rest as a sea of humanity bid him a tearful farewell after an unsavoury courtroom battle his party won to secure for him the final resting place at the Chennai landmark. The burial space where Karunanidhi’s mortal remains were laid to rest is located adjacent to the mausoleum beneath which DMK founder and Dravidian icon C Annadurai was laid to rest.
The country’s high and mighty descended on the city to pay their last respects to the “Thalaivar” (the leader), school dropout, who left an indelible imprint on the state’s public life over decades through his literary, cinematic and political achievements.
In poignant scenes, Stalin was seen crying inconsolably after touching his father’s feet before the casket containing Karunanidhi’s body was lowered into the grave. The leader’s youngest daughter and Rajya Sabha MP Kanimozhi fondly caressed his head and cheek one last time. Karunanidhi being a self-proclaimed atheist and rationalist, no Hindu rituals were performed.
The 94-year-old leader had breathed his last at a hospital last evening in Chennai after fighting for life for 11 days. A galaxy of leaders including Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Congress president Rahul Gandhi, former Prime Minister Deva Gowda, Chief Ministers N Chandrababu Naidu, H D Kumaraswamy, Pinarayi Vijayan, K Chandrasekhar Rao and V Narayanasamy, were in attendance.
Political stalwarts like former Chief Ministers Farooq Abdullah, Akhilesh Yadav, Oommen Chandy, CPM general secretary Sitaram Yechuri, his predecessor Prakash Karat and many others placed wreaths at the feet of the departed leader at the Marina.
Karunanidhi was buried with full military honours with soldiers giving him a gun salute and buglers sounding the last post. Karunanidhi’s son and heir apparent M K Stalin received the national flag wrapped around his father’s body. Other family members including the leader’s wife Rajathi Ammal, other sons and daughters showered flower petals at his feet.