Chennai: M Karunanidhi, DMK patriarch and five-time former chief minister of Tamil Nadu, died at 94 on Tuesday after battling for life at Kauvery Hospital in Chennai. Admitted to the hospital on July 18, the Tamil Nadu strongman, popularly known as Kalaignar, breathed his last at 6.10 pm on August 7, according to a press release by Kauvery Hospital.
Kalaignar Muthuvel Karunanidhi, DMK patriarch and ex-Tamil Nadu CM, dead at 94
Karunanidhi's health began deteriorating significantly since Monday and in his last medical bulletin released on Tuesday evening, the hospital said that the leader "extremely critical and unstable". It said that despite maximum medical support, his vital organ functions continued to deteriorate.
As the news of his deteriorating health emerged, a large number of DMK supporters started gathering outside Kauvery Hospital. Photographs and videos of disturbed supporters outside the hospital depicted the popularity and the political might of the Tamil Nadu stalwart.
Before the confirmation of his demise, Tamil Nadu Director General of Police (DGP) had sent a fax to police offices across the state. It directed all police officials across Tamil Nadu to immediately report to duty in uniform.
Karunanidhi was the first political leader to have been the chief of a party for five decades. The five-time chief minister of Tamil Nadu was first elected chief of DMK on July 27, 1969. He was 45 at that time and headed a political party that had previously been launched without a president, as the post had been left vacant for Periyar EV Ramasamy.
During his political career, Karunanidhi suffered several defeats in elections to nemesis MG Ramachandran and while he had had stints as Tamil Nadu CM, it was not until a strong sweep in 1996 that the DMK leader established a solid footing in the state. While he lost the next elections - in 2001 - to AIADMK, allowing Jayalalaithaa to take the realms of Tamil Nadu, DMK and Karunanidhi were back in power in 2006.
Known for his interest in arts, poetry and Tamil culture, Karunanidhi has had his share of sworn supporters and staunch critics over the last many years. For DMK though, he has been a pillar - withstanding the ups and downs of Indian politics with resolve.
-- Zee Media Bureau