The News Scroll 04 May 2020  Last Updated at 5:43 pm | Source: IANS

Karunanidhi a visionary and a reformist pushing for social justice: Biographer Vasanthi

Karunanidhi a visionary and a reformist pushing for social justice: Biographer Vasanthi
Karunanidhi a visionary and a reformist pushing for social justice: Biographer Vasanthi

New Delhi, May 4 (IANS) To understand Muthuvel Karunanidhi (1924-2018), the President of the DMK who never lost a single election he fought, one has to understand the Dravidian movement, writes noted Tamil journalist and author Vasanthi in a new biography of the five time Tamil Nadu Chief Minister.

"Karunanidhi''s life story... is as much the story of the most tumultuous and fascinating period in the annals of modern Tamil Nadu. It is also a remarkable success story in terms of the welfare and progress of its 72.1 million people (2011 census) over seventy years, much of it under the rule of Dravidian parties, compared to the other states of India during that period. Tamil Nadu has raced ahead of most states on the parameters of growth, social justice and good governance," Vasanthi writes in "Karunanidhi – The Definitve Biography" (Juggernaut). It is available for free on the publisher''s app till the lockdown lasts.

"Karunanidhi has been part of this success story to a great extent. He was at the forefront of important social justice movement welfare schemes, a champion of state Dravidian identity, language and culture that resisted domination by the ''Aryan'' Brahmin-dominated culture of north India. And this movement has, from its very beginning, deeply affected and shaped politics in Tamil Nadu," the book says.

Karunanidi was born during the "tumultuous times" when "Periyar" E.V. Ramasamy (1879-1973), an Indian social activist and politician who started the Self-Respect Movement and the Dravidar Kazhagam (DK) led a revolt against Brahminical Hinduism and the inequities of the caste system in a society loaded with superstition and obscurantism, caste divisions and privilege,

Born, in a backward caste community and "a rebel at heart from childhood, keenly sensitive to caste-based discrimination, the young boy was swept away by the Dravidian movement. Periyar''s words stirred in him a passion that propelled him towards a long and extraordinary political journey that began when he was just 14 years old.

Through an exhaustive time-line and 20 chapters, the book deals with journey as Karunanidhi aligned with fellow thinker C.N. Annadurai - the fifth and last Chief Minister of Madras and the first Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu, as the state was renamed - who broke away from Periyar on ideological differences and formed the Dravida Munnetra Kazgham (DMK), the break with is one-time protegy M.G. Ramachandran (MGR), who went on to form the AIADMK; his role in forming the first non-Congress government at the Centre under Prime Minister V.P. Singh after the 1989 General Elections; the churning caused by the 2G scam due to which A. Raja of the DMK had to resign from the Central government; the rise of Jayalitha as MGR''s successor and the battle for his final resting place alongside Annadurai''s samadhi on Chennai''s Marina Beach.

In between all this, Karunanidhi found time to churn out over 70 film scripts, many of which translated into blockbusters of Tamil cinema, and innumerable books and articles. His literary output alone would win Karunanidhi, or Kalaignar (artist) as he was most popularly known, "an exalted place" in Tamil Nadu''s cultural life, the author notes.

Karunanidhi "had a multifaceted personality. He was a visionary and a reformist pushing for social justice, the builder of modern Tamil Nadu. But he was also a man with human weaknesses and shortcomings. He failed to admonish those close to him when they did wrong, be they party workers or his own family. He trusted people perhaps too easily and then was shocked when they betrayed him. A series of such betrayals perhaps pushed him to put his family before able and loyal party members," Vasanthi writes.

And then there were his failures of judgement, for instance, his handling the Sri Lankan Tamil issue and his support for the LTTE, which was engaged in a bitter civil war against the Sri Lankan government, when "his judgement was clouded by his emotional attachment to supporting the cause of his fellow Tamils across the Palk Strait, at the cost of law and order in his own state", the book says.

Also, when he "allowed the infiltration of Muslim fundamentalists at Kottaimedu, his judgement was coloured by his desire to demonstrate secular brotherhood with Tamil Nadu''s Muslims".

Neither did he do enough to stop corruption among DMK members. His detractors say he himself was corrupt, though none of the charges against him were ever proved in a court of law.

"He was the Tamil Nadu leader most abused by the media, but that is because he gave them space to do so. I have in several columns and articles been very critical of him. But I never feared reprisal," Vasanthi writes.

His fall from grace due to the rough and tumble of Tamil Nadu''s politics "was as monumental as his rise to power. His mistakes were scrutinized under a magnifying glass, and he was so severely judged that his remarkable achievements as an administrator and social reformer were obliterated. Even though none of the corruption charges against him were proved, the allegations in the Sarkaria Commission

(that probed the charges) and the Jain Commission (that probed the unchecked activities of the LTTE that culminated in the assassination of former Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi) are still raked up by his detractors", Vasanthi writes.

But Karunanidhi was a fighter to the end.

"And what a fighter he was too! Even after his death his spirit seemed to be fighting - fighting for the right to be buried next to his beloved mentor, C.N. Annadurai".

That was the final battle that Karunanidhi won.

(Vishnu Makhijani can be reached at



Disclaimer :- This story has not been edited by Outlook staff and is auto-generated from news agency feeds. Source: IANS
Next Story :
Download the Outlook ​Magazines App. Six magazines, wherever you go! Play Store and App Store