Muthuvel Karunanidhi has passed away at Cauvery Hospital in Chennai at 6:10 PM on 7 August 2018. His cause of death was declared to be multiple organ failure related to an existing age-related disease. Prime Minister Narendra Modi is said to be travelling to Chennai to pay his respects to the political behemoth of Tamilian politics.
For more than a year, Karunanidhi – chief of Tamil Nadu political party Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK) – has been in and out of the hospital. He was admitted to the hospital again on July 28, but looked to have survived the worst of it by July 30. However, a week later, he succumbed to his illness.
Born on 3 June 1924, Karunanidhi was recognised as one of the pillars of the Dravidian movement in the southern state of Tamil Nadu. From an early age he was involved in uplifting his own community, from joining rallies to helping write in and edit the premier Dravidian-based DMK party’s newspaper Murasoli.
In 1957, at the age of 33, he entered the state assembly by winning the Kulithalai seat. It was his first official foray into politics. By 1969, he had been elected to the highest office in Tamil Nadu for the first time. Within two years he had lost his position to President’s Rule as his DMK party opposed Prime Minister Indira Gandhi’s decision to impose a state of emergency on the nation.
This would become a regular occurrence as his second term as Chief Minster of Tamil Nadu, between 1971 and 1976, also ended in President’s Rule. After a brief stint at the top in the late 1980’s, he twice came back to power in Chennai – between 1996 and 2001, and between 2006 and 2011. His tenures in the last two decades were usually interrupted by those of his late rival Jayalalithaa, affectionately known as “Amma” to her supporters.
Before and during his time in politics, Karunanidhi was also known as Kalaignar or artist. He spent his early career as a writer in the Tamilian movie industry. His literary achievements have been noted as one of the most influential in the state’s history, and encompass everything from poems to plays. He often wrote about issues facing Dravidians in Tamilian communities.