Tamil Nadu mourns the loss of Kalaignar Karunanidhi

CHENNAI: Muthuvel Karunanidhi, a five-time chief minister of Tamil Nadu and the DMK president for 50 years, has died . He was 94. “With deep anguish we announce the demise of our beloved Kalaignar Dr M Karunanidhi at 6.10pm on August 7, 2018. Despite the best possible efforts by our team of doctors and nurses to resuscitate him, he failed to respond. We profoundly mourn the loss of one of the tallest leaders of India and we share the grief of family members and fellow Tamilians worldwide,” Kauvery Hospital executive director Dr Aravindan Selvaraj said in a release. The Tamil Nadu government announced a public holiday on August 8. The state will observe a seven-day mourning as a mark of respect for the former chief minister. A champion of Tamil, the man who wrote books, novels and dialogues for plays and movies, was an astute political leader who never lost an election in a career spanning six decades. When the man in his trademark dark glasses would start a speech in his gravelly voice with the words “En uyirinum melaana anbu udan pirappukkale” (my brethren, who I consider greater than my life) in chaste Tamil, the large crowds that would assemble to hear him would go wild in rapture, cheering him on. It was a line that Muthuvel Karunanidhi would use at the beginning of every speech – one his Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK) party workers would never tire of. He would electrify the party cadre with his acerbic wit and the vitriol he would shower on his opponents. Given his humble origins, not many would have given him a chance of becoming one key pole around which the Dravidian movement in Tamil Nadu would go on to flourish. Devout Hindus pray to Dakishnamurthy a form of Shiva considered to be the Adi Guru (first teacher). Dakshin in Sanskrit means South and when Karunanidhi’s parents named him Dakshinamurthy, they would not have imagined the influence that he would eventually wield on politics and even the art and culture of South India. His parents were from the Isai Vellalar caste of temple musicians who would play the nadaswaram (a double reed wind instrument) and mridangam (a percussion instrument) as well as double up as barbers on special occasions. Experiences of caste oppression in what he saw as a Brahmin-dominated system made a young Dakshinamurthy identify himself strongly with the oppressed classes. He became a member of the strong anti-Brahmin moment in the state at a very young age. Inspired by the Justice Party’s ideals of social equality, rational thought and self-respect, Karunanidhi became an activist at the age of 14. An early clue to his prodigious talent, both for organising and writing, came in the form of an organisation he started for the youngsters of his neighbourhood in Nagapattinam district, as well as ahandwritten newspaper called Manavar Nesan that he brought out. So inspired was he by the fiery speeches of Azhagirisamy of the Justice Party, that he eventually named one of his sons Azhagiri. In 1938, when the Indian National Congress led by C Rajagopalchari introduced Hindi as a compulsory subject in the then Madras Presidency, the Justice Party lead by E V Ramaswamy ‘Periyar’ and C.N. Annadurai protested, leading to an anti-Hindi agitation in which a young Karunanidhi participated. Pride in the Tamil language, culture, arts, history and its people’s past achievements drove much of Karunanidhi’s ideology. In 1944, at the age of 20, he became a movie scriptwriter for Jupiter Pictures. The first movie that hit the screens for which he had written the script was Rajakumari, released in 1947. The leading man in that movie was none other than MG Ramachandran, who would become first a close friend and eventually a political arch foe whom he could never vanquish. It was the 1952 movie Parasakthi starring another Tamil superstar, Shivaji Ganesan, that signalled the arrival of Karunanidhi as a cultural phenomenon. The powerful dialogues, the underlying theme of a campaign for a Dravidan nation against the backdrop of caste oppression, stirred the Tamil masses. Karunanidhi used the power of his pen to push the ideological line of the DMK – of justice, equality, rational thought, self-respect, Tamil pride and identity as well as anti-brahminism. Even as his scriptwriting career soared to new heights (eventually he would go-on to write the scripts for 39 movies apart from poems, plays, novels and songs that led to the title of Kalaignar or The Artiste being conferred on him by fans)), his interest in and commitment to politics never flagged. When Annadurai left the Dravidar Kazhagam of Periyar to form the DMK, Karunanidhi threw in his lot with Anna. In 1957, at the age of 33, Karunanidhi entered the Tamil Nadu assembly for the first time from the Kulithalai seat in Trichy. From then on, irrespective of the electoral fortunes of the party, Karunanidhi personally never lost an election. Within five years, he was deputy leader of the opposition and party treasurer. In 1967, when the DMK came to power, he was public works minister in Anna’s cabinet and after his political mentor died in 1969, he became the CM of the state for the first time, a feat he would go on to repeat four more times. In 1972, MGR, who had done much to popularise the DMK’s ideology and its electoral symbol of the Rising Sun, left the party after differences with Karunanidhi and launched […]

Source: TopStory- Matters India

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