He was a passionate writer. A master politician. A revered mass leader. A stalwart of the Dravidian movement. An iconic personality. And when on August 7, five time Tamil Nadu Chief Minister M Karunanidhi breathed his last, an era in Tamil politics truly came to an end.
Affectionately called Kalaignar, the 94-year-old DMK patriarch had faded from public life for nearly two years, and had been in and out of hospital on account of age-related ailments.
The news of his death cast a pall of gloom across the sprawling state which he had enticed all his political career through powerful oratory and script writing that changed the course of politics and the way Tamil cinema was made and helped the DMK's growth. He was just 14 when be became a student activist.
Karunanidhi is survived by his wife Dayalu Ammal, his partner Rajathi Ammal, sons MK Muthu, Alagiri, Stalin, Tamilarasu, daughters Kanimozhi and Selvi, and several grandchildren.
From 1967, when the DMK ousted the Congress for ever from power in the state, Tamil Nadu has been ruled either by the DMK or AIADMK.
Succeeding his mentor Annadurai in 1969 as Chief Minister, Karunanidhi maintained a strong hold over the party and government.
Though he didn't aspire for politics beyond Tamil Nadu, the multi-faceted leader played key roles in national politics starting from when he aligned with Indira Gandhi in 1969 on issues like bank nationalisation and later in the formation of coalition governments under VP Singh, HD Deve Gowda, Atal Bihari Vajpayee and Manmohan Singh.
Once the ethnic conflict erupted in Sri Lanka in 1983, Karunanidhi became a champion of the Tamil cause and, later, the Tamil Tigers, often putting pressure on New Delhi to change its course vis-a-vis Colombo. But the LTTE's assassination of former Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi in 1991 almost wiped out the DMK, leaving him as the sole winner in Assembly elections.
It was one of the 13 Assembly elections he never lost and which helped him rule Tamil Nadu five times.
As Chief Minister, he had pioneered several welfare schemes. An avowed atheist, Karunanidhi was known for his trademark dark glasses as well as a yellow shawl.
Follow our special page here: Kalaignar bids goodbye
With his mother
When he won a hockey tournament.
Anna's first cabinet in 1969.
Karunanidhi in Paris
Karunanidhi with HD Deve Gowda and GK Moopanar
Karunaniddhi with Annadurai
Karunanidhi with Kamaraj, MGR and others
This picture was taken on 3.10.1969; It shows the then Governor Sardar Ujjal Singh and Karunanidhi receiving Indira Gandhi at the Meenambakkam airport.
Karunanidhi with MGR
Karunanidhi with Jayalalithaa
Durai Arasan with Karunanidhi; Source: By Dtsk77 via Wikimedia Commons
Mathialagan, VP Raman, Anna, Rajaji, Karunanidhi; Source: By Mohan V Raman, via Wikimedia Commons
Karunanidhi presenting the Kalaimamani award; Source: By KARTHIKLOVESMUSIC via Wikimedia Commons
Source: By Tamilfilmsbuff via Wikimedia Commons
(With IANS inputs)