Former Congressman responds to media reports that Karunanidhi had denied Kamaraj a Marina memorial.

Karunanidhi came forward with land for Kamaraj funeral Pazha NedumaranDMK archives - Kamaraj, Karunanidhi and MGR wait outside hospital where Anna was admitted.
news Controversy Thursday, August 09, 2018 - 14:12

A day after DMK President M Karunanidhi was laid to rest at the Marina Beach, the controversy over denying space for the former Chief Minister Kamaraj continues to rage. Contradictory media reports have also emerged over the issue.

A senior journalist who TNM spoke to on Wednesday said that it was Karunanidhi as CM in 1975 who organised a state funeral for Kamaraj. "Kamaraj died on Gandhi Jayanthi day and hence he was given a place in Gandhi Mandapam. There was no demand and no one asked for a Marina burial for him. It was Karunanidhi who organised the entire state funeral. He was the first person to reach there. During the Emergency, Karunanidhi supported Kamaraj, who was opposing Mrs Gandhi and he stood by him throughout this period,” said the journalist.

However, The Hindu quoted Tindivanam K Ramamurthee, who was the state general secretary of Kamaraj’s Congress (O), and A Gopanna, TNCC spokesperson, who both suggested that a request to hold Kamaraj's funeral at Marina Beach was turned down by Karunanidhi.

Stating that leaders like Pazha Nedumaran, Kannadasan and Jayakanthan had insisted that Kamaraj’s funeral be held at the Marina Beach, Tindivanam K Ramamurthee said that Karunanidhi had cited the difficulty in maintaining former CM Annadurai’s memorial as the reason to turn down the request. Gopanna also said that the DMK leader had managed to convince Congress (O) leaders to hold the funeral at Gandhi Mandapam.

TNM spoke to Pazha Nedumaran, president of the Tamizhar Desiya Munnani, who was general secretary of the TNCC at the time, to find out if he had made any demands to the then Chief Minister.

“I never met Mr Karunanidhi. We in Congress decided to hold the last rites at the Teynampet Congress grounds. Then Chief Minister Karunanidhi came forward himself and selected the land in Guindy; and we accepted,” said the veteran leader.

Kamaraj was cremated at Gandhi Mandapam in October 1975. A memorial for the freedom fighter and Congress leader was later built at the site.  

Nedumaran, however, refused to comment on why history was being distorted.

Following Karunanidhi’s death on Tuesday evening, the state government issued a press release stating their inability to allow the DMK leader to be buried at Anna Memorial on Marina Beach. Instead, they had offered two acres of land at Gandhi Mandapam.

Chief Secretary Girija Vaidyanathan’s press release had cited legal hurdles and the fact that Karunanidhi was not a sitting CM at the time of his death to turn down the DMK's request for a burial at Marina Beach. While the DMK challenged the ruling AIADMK’s decision at the Madras High Court, the state government’s counsel had argued that Karunanidhi had denied Kamaraj a space at Marina on the grounds that he was a former Chief Minister at the time of his death.

Following arguments that ran into the wee hours of Wednesday, the High Court allowed the DMK to lay to rest Karunanidhi near his political mentor Annadurai at the Marina Beach.

Read: Did Karunanidhi deny Rajaji and Kamaraj a Marina burial?