India

From failing Class 10 exams to becoming 5-time CM of Tamil Nadu

Karunanidhi: The scriptwriter who wrote and shaped Tamil Nadu's destiny.

Chennai: As a script writer he would have lived a life of obscurity in the shadows of film stars who enjoy cult status in Tamil Nadu. But sharp-tongued, quick-witted M Karunanidhi had other plans. He outshone many a celebrity, as he presided over the destiny of the Dravidian state along with his tinsel town co-travellers and arch rivals in politics- MG Ramachandran and his protegee J Jayalalithaa – for decades.

That art and politics blended seamlessly in Karunanidhi was manifest from the sobriquets of ‘Thalaivar’ (The Leader) and ‘Kalaignar’ (The Artist) he earned from ardent followers.

A masterful practitioner of modern-day politics, he wielded considerable influence beyond his own state, in the corridors of power in New Delhi sewing up alliances with both the Congress and the BJP, often drawing criticism from his rivals, who called him an opportunist.

Hugely influenced by the ideology of EV Ramasamy ‘Periyar’ and Annadurai, Karunanidhi became one of the most enduring mascots of the Dravidian Movement, which aimed at seeking equal rights for the depressed sections and women, and was against Brahminism.

Muthuvel Karunanidhi- June 3, 1924-August 27, 2018

Joined politics with anti-Hindi agitation

  • M Karunanidhi cut his teeth in politics as a 14-year-old when he participated in the anti-Hindi agitation in 1938.
  • Elected to the Assembly 13 times, he outmanoeuvred Nedunchezhian to become the CM for the first time in Feb 1969.
  • Karunanidhi became the chief minister five times.

Impressed Periyar with his oratory

  • After failing in Class X, he moved to Coimbatore to make living writing scripts for theatre groups. However, his oratory style was quick to impress Periyar who appointed him the editor of the magazine of Dravidar Kazhagam.
  • Karunanidhi penned screenplays and dialogues for over 50 movies. He also wrote the stories of some of them like Marudanattu Ilavarasi (1950) Mandiri Kumari (1950), Tirumbipar (1953), Arasilangkumari (1961).

MGR supported Karunanidhi in 1969

  • MG Ramachandran, popularly known as MGR, supported Karunanidhi in his endeavour to edge past Nedunchezhian, who was the number two in the Annadurai Cabinet.
  • After assuming the reins of the govt, Karunanidhi became the DMK chief in July 1969, a post that he held till death.
  • MGR was expelled from party in 1972, and he floated the AIADMK, an event that marked the advent of bipolar politics in the state.
  • MGR led AIADMK to victory in 1977, and in 1980 and 1985. Karunanidhi was back in power in 1989, only to lose to J Jayalalithaa in 1991.

(With inputs from Agencies)

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