M. Karunanidhi, Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu and chief of Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK) party, casts his vote at a polling station in Chennai April 13, 2011. He went on to become the CM of Tamil Nadu five times. In 2014, his party contests the election alone and loses.
And in a career spanning 80 years, he wore different hats - a student leader, scriptwriter, orator and politician. Therefore, the vacuum he leaves behind isn't just political but also ideological. Since then, he has never looked back, though his six-decade-long political stint was full of thorns.
Born on June 3, 1924, to Muthuvel and Anjugam, at Thirukuvalai in Tiruvarur, around 320 kilometres from Chennai, he was named Dakshinamurthy, which he later changed to Karunanidhi.
But it is his life in politics that cements his legend.
He founded the first student wing of the Dravidan Movement- Tamil Nadu Tamil Manavar Mandram and also started a newspaper- Murasoli on Aug 10, 1942.
Karunanidhi, who wrote scripts for Tamil cinema before entering politics, faced allegations of corruption and nepotism. "I was a key reason for her (party's) defeat". The state needs a fresh election soon and return to stability. He refused to pay the penalty, stayed in prison for more than a year and since then came to be known as "Kallakudi konda Karunanidhi" (Karunanidhi who won Kallakudi). MGR became the Chief Minister in 1977.
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Prime Minister Narendra Modi has led tributes to the veteran leader.
When the National Front was floated in 1989, he called all top political leaders to Chennai and held the foundation conference of the Front in the sprawling Marina beach. After Annadurai's demise, V.R. Neduncheziyan was a natural choice for successor and was made the acting chief minister. DMK was routed but Karunanidhi emerged as the lone MLA for the party.
"As the DMK began to engage in electoral politics, the hard edge of social reform in its films was softened and the films increasingly became vehicles for promoting the party as such rather than reform ideology".
DMK remained in the BJP alliance till December 2003.
The place for the burial of the leader is still under doubts as the Tamil Nadu government rejected the DMK's demand for allotting space on the Marina beach.
By this time, Jayalalitha had become the leader of the opposition.