Stalwarts of the South
With 60-years of service in the Legislative Assembly, the tall legacy of M Karunanidhi will haunt Tamil politics for years to come.
M Karunanidhi, the former Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu, popularly called Kalaingar, turned 94. He has been actively involved in legislative politics, since the last six decades, without any gap. In order to remember his contribution towards legislative politics, a programme was organised at Chennai, with the active participation of national leaders, recently. It is commemorative of the remarkable journey of a man, who hailed from obscurity without having any relevant background, be it caste or class or education, and reached the zenith of glory simply because of his multifaceted talent and hard work, coupled with commitment for the emancipation of the Non-Brahmins, despite many shortfalls in his political career. Had he known Hindi and joined national politics, he could have become an acclaimed national leader. From 1957 to the last general election held for the Legislative Assembly, he successfully contested, won and served in the Tamil Nadu Legislature for sixty years. A man who failed in his school final, without any background, emerged victorious in all the political struggles by contextualising himself from the period of C Rajagopalachari to J Jayalalitha and sustained in politics for eight decades. It is not a small achievement. It is a history of sorts. In this context, it is necessary to assess his commitment in promoting legislative democracy and deepening it by evolving legislative debates and making them more mature and meaningful. It is an unequivocal fact that M Karunanidhi stood for the cause of democracy by waging a struggle against the emergency. He faced the emergency with a brave face and he paid a heavy price for it.