The man who was known as Karunanidhi's shadow in political and journalistic circles, the former Tamil Nadu Chief Minister's personal secretary Shanmuganathan passed away in Chennai on December 21. He was battling an illness, according to reports, and passed away at Kauvery Hospital in Chennai He was 80.
Shanmuganathan joined Karunanidhi as his personal assistant first in 1969, in an unofficial capacity. Hailing from Thiruvarur like his boss, Shanmuganathan had a job in the Secretariat before he shifted careers. According to an article in the Times of India, Shanmugasundaram was spotted by Karunanidhi when he attended an event, where he was seen diligently taking down notes.
When the first DMK government was formed in 1967, and Karunanidhi was sworn in as PWD Minister, he called up Shanmuganathan asking him to work for him, but was turned down. But two years later, following CN Annaduraiâ€™s demise, when Karunanidhi became Chief Minister in February 1969, Shanmuganathan received official orders to join as PA to the CM. He accepted and became a part of Karunanidhiâ€™s team.
But Shanmuganathan joined Karunanidhi full-time only in 1976 after Presidentâ€™s rule was imposed. In fact, Shanmuganathan later revealed that he was approached by MG Ramachandran, Karunanidhiâ€™s nemesis to become his PA. But Shanmuganathan remained loyal to Karunanidhi, a trait that would span the leaderâ€™s lifetime.
RK Radhakrishnan, Associate Editor of Frontline, recalls that Karunanidhi did not even have to mention specifics while Shanmuganathan was taking notes. â€śShanmuganathan even knew what Karunanidhi would want to say and he would make drafts ready for Murasoli. Then Karunanidhi would make the changes that only he could make.â€ť
RK says that Shanmugaathan never left Karunanidhiâ€™s side, even during the worst times. â€śIt was easy for Shanmuganathan to make peace with Jayalalithaa in 2001 and walk away. But that thought never crossed his mind,â€ť he says.
Listen to RK Radhakrishnan speak about Shanmuganathan and his bond with M Karunanidhi.
After Karunanidhi passed away in August 2018, when Shanmuganathan was asked what life is like without the DMK leader, he told Thanthi TV, â€śIt is like a world without the sun.â€ť