Chennai: Veteran politician of Tamil Nadu, DMK patriarch M Karunanidhi (94) passed away on Tuesday evening after a brief illness which was described as "age related organ disorders" by doctors treating him.
Tamil Nadu government has announced a seven day mourning as a mark of respect to Karunanidhi.
Karunanidhi was born in the village of Thirrukuvalai, in what is now eastern Tamil Nadu on 3rd June 1924. He left school early and began working as a screenwriter in the Tamil film industry. There, he honed skills for promoting the Dravidian movement against the high castes that later contributed to his rise as a popular politician.
Karunanidhi became involved in politics in his early teens, beginning with public protests against the use of Hindi in the region. He formed organizations for local youth and students and started a newspaper that eventually became the Murasoli, the DMK’s official newspaper. He became a close associate of DMK founder Anndurai and first received broader notice in Tamil politics when he led the 1953 protest in a town where its Tamil name had been replaced with one honouring an industrialist from northern India with a Hindi name.
Karunanidhi, running as an independent candidate, was first elected to the legislative assembly of the erstwhile Madras state (the name for Tamil Nadu until 1968) in 1957. Beginning with the 1962 assembly polls (which included the DMK), he was continually re-elected to that body. He became the party’s treasurer in 1961 and deputy leader of opposition when the party entered the state assembly the following year. After the DMK won the 1967 assembly elections (with Karunanidhi soundly defeating Congress), he formed the government, and Annadurai became the chief minister.
In 1996, a Karunanidhi-led DMK government filed several charges of corruption against J Jayalalitha, leader of the AIADMK, who then spent a short time in jail. In 2001, after the AIADMK had returned to power following assembly elections that year, Karunanidhi was arrested and briefly detained on corruption charges related to highway-construction projects. The case was later dismissed. In 2006, at the age of 82, Karunanidhi became the chief minister of Tamil Nadu for the fifth time, after a DMK-Congress alliance had secured a majority of seats in assembly elections.