On 7th August 2018, M. Karunanidhi, President of Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK) passed away.
On July 29, 94-year-old Muthuvel Karunanidhi completed half a century as the President of Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK). He had been the Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu for 5 terms, an MLA for six decades and someone who’s written over two lakh pages over his life. For over half a century, Karunanidhi held an undisputable sway over the socio-political scene of Tamil Nadu.
It was in his era as a politician that Tamil Nadu underwent defining changes. From banning hand-pulled rickshaws to enacting a law that gave property rights to women, from increasing reservation for OBCs to constructing samathuvapurams (villages of equality), from enacting a law that allowed people of all castes to become priests to introducing 33% reservation for women in panchayats, Karunanidhi introduced measures that consolidated Tamil Nadu’s position as a rational and progressive state.
Here’s everything that will come up in the news after his death:
1. His Controversial Burial On Marina Beach
On Tuesday afternoon, senior leaders of the DMK party requested Tamil Nadu CM Edappadi Palaniswami to grant permission to bury Karunanidhi next to his mentor CN Annadurai at the Anna square on Marina beach. But the Chief Minister did not agree saying that no former Chief Minister had been buried at Anna square, only sitting Chief Ministers including Annadurai, MG Ramachandran and Jayalalithaa had memorials there. The state government instead offered a 2-acre plot for the burial at Gandhi Mandapam. DMK then moved the Madras High Court against the government’s decision and a special hearing was held at midnight. Meanwhile, 5 PILs had been filed with the Madras High Court that said that burial at Marina was against the Coastal Regulation Zone Rules. However, just before the midnight hearing, four out of the five pleas in the court had been withdrawn, Finally, the Court gave a verdict in favour of DMK. Karunanidhi was wrapped in the national flag and buried on Wednesday at 4pm next to his mentor, Annadurai.
2. His ‘Deadly’ Funeral At Rajaji Hall
Karunanidhi’s mortal remains were kept at public hall – Rajaji Hall – in Chennai and since early Wednesday morning, leaders and supporters have been pouring in to pay their last respects to the late DMK Chief.
However, two people have been killed and 28 others have been injured in a stampede that broke out at the hall. According to reports, the incident occurred around 11.15 am. People wanting to catch a glimpse of the late DMK Chief started rushing into the grounds through one of the many entrances of Rajaji Hall. Many tried to climb over the gates of the neighbouring building and into the premises. When the police tried to contain the crowd, many people tripped and fell and were subsequently seriously injured.
Following this, DMK Working President MK Stalin requested the crowd to remain calm and cooperate with the police. Karunanidhi’s mortal remains were taken away from public reach as crowds swelled.
3. The Next Generation Leader of DMK
Unlike J. Jayalalithaa, he did not leave his party directionless. Jayalalithaa never named an heir for the party, Karunanidhi had announced that his son M.K. Stalin would step into his shoes. With over 40 years of experience in public life, Stalin had earlier proved his mettle as Chennai’s elected mayor in 1996. In 2009, Karunanidhi made him the deputy chief minister. Significantly, the same year Stalin was also made party treasurer – a post held by Karunanidhi himself before he became the party’s first president. Karunanidhi had repeatedly made it clear that Stalin will be his heir but not until ‘he is around.’ Interestingly, Stalin was made the party’s working president only in January 2017, when Karunanidhi was becoming inactive.
4. The Ambiguous Future of Tamil Nadu
Since 1971, when MGR split from DMK to form the All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (AIADMK), there was a constant tussle between him and Karunanidhi which ended only with the death of MGR. Their battle was the foundation for the personality-obsessed politics of Tamil Nadu today. In the past two decades, the state has only seen a Karunanidhi vs Jayalalitha battle, and now with both of them gone, it is not clear if conventional political arithmetic will survive in the state. Both politicians were such enigmatic figures in Tamil Nadu, that even after Jayalalitha’s demise, her legacy kept voters supportive of the party. And now with Karunanidhi’s death, can the same be expected in the next legislative elections? His son, MK Stalin already has a stronghold in the party but his brother MK Azhagiri has been a troublemaker in the party, and Karunanidhi’s daughter Kanimozhi has her own political ambitions. The power equations within the siblings are constantly changing, and it was the father who had kept the family and party glued together.
In effect, without the powerful scriptwriter, it’s not clear how the next act in the often melodramatic Dravidian political drama will unfold.