Karunanidhi is no more. The DMK chief passed away on August 7 after an eventful 94 years, during which he led his party to electoral victory several times and continued the legacy of Dravidian politics.
Kalaignar, as he was known to his followers, was among Tamil Nadu's great leaders who had a way with their words. His powerful oratorical skills with which he sparred with political rivals and journalists alike are the stuff of legend. He was capable of setting the stage on fire with sharp and lengthy speeches, but equally on point were his one-liners and quick repartee.
Here's a look at some of Karunanidhi's memorable one-liners which Tamil Nadu will always remember.
Once, Karunanidhi was asked who he lived with on Oliver Road in a bid to embarrass him in the Assembly. Karunanidhi was married to Dayalu, but he'd also taken Rajathi as his wife. It was Rajathi who stayed with him at the residence on Oliver Road.
Without fumbling, Karunanidhi shot back, "My daughter Kanimozhi's mother."
Karunanidhi was neither apologetic nor secretive about his marital status and his linguistic ability made sure that his opponents were disarmed.
Karunanidhi knew the value of power, like any other politician. However, he also had the self-awareness to know how far he could reach.
When the HD Deve Gowda-led government at the Centre fell in 1997, some leaders of the National Front suggested that he take over. However, Karunanidhi said, "I know my height", putting an end to the speculation.
Once, when the right-wing Hindu Munnani leader, Rama Gopalan presented him with the Bhagavad Gita, Karunanidhi graciously accepted the copy. But the rationalist leader was quick to give a return gift - a copy of K Veeramani's The Other Side of the Gita (Geethayin Marupakkam), which offers a critical look at how the book endorses the caste system and perpetuates social injustices.
Political leaders seldom agree on differing ideologies. With his gesture, Karunanidhi not only asserted his beliefs, he also displayed a rare quality - of expressing his dissent emphatically yet politely.
Karunanidhi was also known for diffusing the tension in media interactions, often cracking jokes that put a smile on the face of reporters. When American billionaire Bill Gates visited him in 2005, eager journalists asked the DMK chief about his interaction with Gates. Karunanidhi promptly said, "He had come to borrow some money from me."
In 2007, Karunanidhi's comments on the Ram Sethu, which he made in Erode, led to controversy and his daughter Selvi's house was even attacked. But the DMK leader remained defiant and in an interview to a TV channel, he asked, "There is no historical record of Rama or of him building a bridge. Did he study in any engineering college?" The question was followed by a characteristically irreverent chuckle.