DMK Patriarch M Karunanidhi Passes Away at 94; Thousands Mourn Karunanidhi was made DMK president in 1969, a post he relinquished after he fell ill in 2017

MUTHUVEL KARUNANIDHI, who served as Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu five times and as President of the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagham (DMK) party for almost 50 years, died on 7 August 2018. He was 94.

Karunanidhi had been ill for quite some time now and was being treated at Kauvery Hospital in Chennai for about eleven days before his death. He had been admitted on July 28 due to a drop in his blood pressure.

Since being admitted, Karunanidhi had a flurry of visitors including President Ram Nath Kovind, Vice President Venkaiah Naidu, Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister Chandrababu Naidu, Congress President Rahul Gandhi, Former Prime Minister HD Deve Gowda, Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan, cabinet minister Nitin Gadkari and several others.

Members of the Tamil film industry like Rajinikanth, Kamal Haasan, Ajith, and Vishal, too visited the nonagenarian.

A Death and a Funeral

On Tuesday evening, Kauvery Hospital where Karunanidhi was being treated, had put out a statement informing the public about the leader’s deteriorating health.

The bulletin saw many DMK supporters gathering outside of the hospital while reports of relatives arriving at Karunanidhi’s residence in Gopalapurram came in.

The hospital released a statement on Karunanidhi’s death shortly after this.

Karunanidhi’s body was moved to his residence and then shifted to Rajaji Hall for the public to be able to pay their respects.

According to an Indian Express report, over 5,000 police personnel were deployed in Chennai alone while an additional 1,000 paramilitary personnel were requested from Coimbatore and Arakkonam for the burial.

According to media reports, Karunanidhi’s son and DMK working president MK Stalin requested the party cadre to maintain peace and discipline. He also requested the cadre to disperse from the hospital area.

“There will be people who will want to cause a bad name to the party using this sad situation. You should identify such anti-social elements, prevent any untoward incidents and hand them over to the police,” he said.

A dispute arose around the burial of Karunanidhi’s body next to the Anna Samadhi at Marina Beach with the Madras High Court hearing an urgent plea filed by DMK lawyers.

MK Stalin, accompanied by his elder brother MK Alagiri and his sister Kanimozhi, had met Tamil Nadu Chief Minister EK Palaniswami to request him to allow them to bury their father next to DMK founder CN Annadurai’s memorial.

According to media reports, the request had been denied citing “legal hurdles and cases pending in court”. However, the AIADMK government had offered to give two acres of land at Gandhi Mandapam for the burial.

A PIL requesting a ban on the construction of memorials had been filed at the Madras High Court just last week. According to The News Minute, the petition claimed that the memorial and the crowds it attracts poses a threat to the marine organisms. Several other petitions had also been filed opposing the construction of memorials, specifically during Jayalalithaa’s death, on Marina Beach.

However, the petition was withdrawn.

As DMK lawyers prepared to file a petition seeking permission to bury Karunanidhi at Marina Beach, several political leaders and Tamil film industry members spoke in support of the memorial.

In a tweet addressing the state government, Rajinikanth wrote, “The Tamil Nadu government must take all steps to provide space for burying Karunanidhi next to Anna Memorial at the Marina. This would be the highest respect we would be paying to him. This is my humble request.”

After hearing the case for about two hours on Wednesday morning, the Madras High Court gave permission for M Karunanidhi’s body to be buried next to Anna Samadhi. MK Stalin and Kanimozhi were seen breaking down upon hearing the court’s verdict.

M Karunanidhi will be buried this evening with state honours and a gun salute.


Fondly called Kalaignar which loosely translates to ‘scholar of the arts’, he was a screenwriter before he joined politics. He scripted over three dozen Tamil films and his screenplays have been responsible for the rise and mass following of actors like MG Ramachandran and Sivaji Ganesan.

Karunanidhi started his screenwriting career with a film called ‘Rajakumari’ starring MG Ramachandran, an upcoming actor then. Karunanidhi’s films espoused the Dravidian ideology, the most notable being ‘Parasakthi’ which was heavily criticised by orthodox Hindu groups for being anti-Brahmanism. This was also Sivaji Ganesan’s first film.

The films following ‘Parasakthi’ continued to contain social commentary and reflected several ideas of the Dravidian movement such as the abolition of untouchability, the rights of widows to remarry and the abolition of the zamindari system.

Theatrical release poster. Source: Public Domain

Apart from using films to propagate the Dravidian ideology, Karunanidhi also used films as a means to popularise the Tamil language and literature.





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