CHENNAI Aug 8: Former Tamil Nadu chief minister and DMK patriarch M Karunanishi passed away after battling illness at the Kauvery hospital in Chennai on Tuesday.He was 94.
“With deep anguish, we announce the demise of our beloved Kalaignar Dr M Karunanidhi on 07.08.2018 at 06.10 pm. Despite the possible efforts by our team of doctors and nurses to resuscitate him, he failed to respond,” the hospital said in its medical bulletin.
“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,” the hospital further said.
The Tamil Nadu government announced a seven-day period of mourning and holiday tomorrow.
DMK workers were seen breaking down after Kauvery Hospital released a statement that the DMK chief was no more.
The former Tamil Nadu chief minister was admitted to the hospital following a dip in his blood pressure last month and he was under treatment in the Intensive Care Unit ever since.
President Ram Nath Kovind said he was extremely sad to learn of Karunanidhi’s passing. “Our country is poorer today,” he tweeted.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi said Karunanidhi “stood for regional aspirations as well as national progress. He was steadfastly committed to the welfare of Tamils and ensured that Tamil Nadu’s voice was effectively heard. India, and particularly Tamil Nadu, will miss him immensely.”
Congress president Rahul Gandhi said that India has lost a “great son”.
“Loved by the Tamilian people, Kalaignar strode the stage of Tamil politics, like a colossus, for over 6 decades. In his passing, India has lost a great son. My condolences to his family as also to the millions of Indians who grieve for their beloved leader tonight,” he said on Twitter.
Rajinikanth, one of Tamil Nadu’s most legendary actors, has called today a “black day” that he can never forget.
Karunanidhi largely stayed away from active politics since he underwent a surgery in 2016.
His death follows the demise of his arch-rival Jayalalithaa in 2016, bringing to an end an era when electoral fortunes swung, pendulum-like, to either of these two political titans.
Now, the DMK will look to MK Stalin, one of Karunanidhi’s sons, to lead the charge as Tamil Nadu prepares to vote in next year’s general election. Stalin is already the party’s working president.
Born Dakshinamurthy on June 3, 1924, in Thirukkuvalai, a village in present-day Tamil Nadu’s Nagapattinam district, Karunanidhi joined the Justice Party when he was only 14.
When CN Annadurai split with EV Ramaswamy to form the DMK, Karunanidhi was one of its founding members. He would later credit “confidence” and “strong determination” for his rise from humble beginnings to high office.
Besides having a shrewd political mind, Karunanidhi began writing dialogue and screenplays for Tamil films. His debut was Sivaji Ganesan’s Paraasakti, which features a court testimony — “I ran, I ran” — that has become something of an object of popular culture.
He wrote historical and reformist stories propagating the Dravidian movement’s socialist and rationalist ideals.
Karunanidhi’s debut in the Tamil Nadu legislature came in 1957; he was elected from a district where he led an agitation in support of local farm workers. Then, his rise was meteoric: Deputy leader of the Opposition in 1962, Annadurai’s public works minister in 1967, and chief minister in 1969.
Karunanidhi prolonged his stint in the top post after an assembly election win in 1971. He would return to it three more times, in 1989, 1996 and 2006.
Even in his nineties, Karunanidhi still addressed public meetings weathering all challenges and setbacks including MG Ramachandran’s expulsion from the DMK in 1972, and a squabble involving Stalin and another son, Azhagiri whom Karunanidhi expelled. His party has also faced charges of corruption, beginning with the Sarkaria Commission’s indictment in the late 1970s to the 2G spectrum case.
Karunanidhi is survived by his second and third wives, Dayalu and Rajathiammal, and six children – Muthu, Azhagiri, Stalin, Selvi, Thamizharasu and Kanimozhi.