Former Tamil Nadu Chief Minister Muthuvel Karunanidhi, one of the tallest leaders to emerge from the state, has passed away. He was 94 and had been out of active politics for nearly two years owing to his health.
A torch-bearer of the Dravidian ideology and a five-time Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu, Kalaignar Karunanidhi's legacy will undoubtedly be linked to the state's political history.
He once famously said, "You have one life. That life is going to go away only once. So let that life go while doing some good work, Anna. I have been working since my youth with these words in my heart.”
He lived by these words from his teenage years when he was a student-activist in Periyar's self-respect movement.
Years later in 1953, he led a crucial protest in the anti-Hindi agitation, which eventually was a turning point in his political career. Kallakudi, a town in Tiruchi was renamed Dalmiapuram after a North Indian industrialist who set up a cement factory there. Karunanidhi, along with student-activists reached the railway station of the town and stuck papers on the newly painted town sign to change it back to Kallakudi. Karunanidhi and several others were arrested, and two bystanders were killed in the police firing that followed.
Karunanidhi had arrived and soon, he was elected to the Tamil Nadu Assembly from the Kulithalai seat in Tiruchi.
But before his political career took off, Karunanidhi was known for another passion of his - screenwriting. He wrote several hit Tamil films, through which he propagated his ideals of equality and the Dravidian movement. Incidentally, his films helped launch both MG Ramachandran and Gemini Ganesan.
A follower of Annadurai, Karunanidhi succeeded him as president of the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam and rose to power as the Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu. He is famously remembered for opposing then Prime Minister Indira Gandhi during the height of the Emergency.