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Thalaivar Karunanidhi is dead

Last updated on: August 07, 2018 20:15 IST
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One of the most charismatic figures of Tamil Nadu politics and the most enduring mascot of the Dravidian movement breathed his last at 6.10 pm.

IMAGE: Karunanidhi was admitted to hospital 11 days ago for drop in blood pressure. Photograph: Reuters

Dravida Munnetra Kazagham chief M Karunanidhi, one of the foremost Dravidian politicians in modern times, died in Chennai on Tuesday, after waging a grim battle for life aged 94, the hospital where he was admitted for the last 11 days said.

One of the most charismatic figures of Tamil Nadu politics whose public life spanned over seven decades, is survived by two wives and six children, including DMK working president and heir apparent M K Stalin and daughter Kanimozhi, a Rajya Sabha MP.


The most enduring mascot of the Dravidian movement breathed his last at 6.10 p.m.

“With deep anguish we announce the demise of our beloved Kalaignar M Karunanidhi on 07.08.2018 at 6.10 pm. Despite the best possible efforts by our team of doctors and nurses to resuscitate him, he failed to respond.

“We profoundly mourn the loss of one of the tallest leaders of India and we share the grief of family members and fellow Tamilians worldwide,” a press release by Dr Aravindan Selvaraj, Executive Director of Kauvery Hospital, said.

President Ramnath Kovind and Prime Minister Narendra Modi mourned his death.

A bulletin from the Kauvery Hospital had said on Monday evening the condition of the DMK patriarch had “declined” and keeping his vital organs functioning was proving a “challenge”, triggering concerns about his condition among his followers who began swarming the hospital soon after.

Hundreds of them kept vigil outside the hospital overnight, but when the facility came out with another bulletin at 4.30 pm on Tuesday, describing his condition as “extremely critical and unstable”, the milling crowd grew delirious and dramatic scenes began unfolding.

Some were seen fainting, while a few others beat their chests and faces in utter desperation.

Cries of “Ezunthu Vaa Thalaiva (arise leader and come),” rent the air as DMK supporters bearing the red-and-black party flags broke into feverish chants hailing the stalwart.

However, their prayers went unanswered, with the hospital announcing his death at 6.10 pm.

Sudden silence descended once the hospital issued the bulletin confirming Karunanidhi’s death.


IMAGE: The statement from Kauvery Hospital announcing the DMK chief's demise. Photograph: ANI/Twitter

Some in the crowd lit the cell phone torches as a mark of respect for the departed leader.

Shops and business establishments downed shutters as the news of Karunanidhi’s demise spread and streets got deserted quickly.

A general alert has been sounded across the state and security tightened at vital installations to tackle any law and order situation, officials said.

Karunanidhi’s death comes barely 20 months after that of J Jayalalithaa, his long-time political foe and another bright star that faded from Tamil Nadu’s political firmament
on December 5, 2016.

The sharp-tongued, quick witted Karunanidhi was a five-time chief minister, who wielded considerable influence beyond his own state, in the corridors of power in New Delhi, for a long time, sewing up alliances with both the Congress and the Bharatiya Janata Party.

Hugely influenced by the rationalist and egalitarian ideology of E V Ramasamy ‘Periyar’ and DMK founder and the state’s first chief minister C N Annadurai, Karunanidhi became one of the most enduring mascots of the Dravidian Movement, which aimed at seeking equal rights for the depressed sections and women, and was against Brahminism.

Karunanidhi became the chief minister for the first time in 1969 after the demise of Annadurai. He subsequently helmed the state as chief minister in 1971, 1989, 1996 and 2006.

He was elected to the Legislative Assembly 13 times, the last time as a 92-year-old in 2016.

Karunanidhi, who earned sobriquets of ‘Thalaivar’ (The Leader) and ‘Kalaignar’ (The Artist) from his ardent followers, became DMK president in 1969 and held the position till his death.

Karuna’s deteriorating health

Following is the chronology of key events leading to the death of five time Chief Minister M Karunanidhi.

Oct 25, 2016: DMK announces that Karunanidhi is ill due to one of the medicines he was taking. DMK patriarch advised rest by doctors and not to meet visitors. He skips campaign for bypoll to three assembly segments in November

Dec 1: Admitted to Kauvery Hospital for further treatment for drug-induced allergy

Dec 8: Advised rest following discharge from hospital

Dec 15: Admitted again to hospital due to breathing difficulty

Dec 16: Undergoes tracheostomy; condition stable

Dec 23: Recovers, discharged from hospital.

Aug 16, 2017: Karunanidhi undergoes minor procedure at Kauvery Hospital for change of Percutaneous Endoscopic Gastronomy tube.

Oct 19: After nearly a year, Karunanidhi makes his first public appearance at an exhibition held in Chennai to showcase the 75-year-journey of DMK’s mouthpiece, ‘Murasoli’

July 18, 2018: Karunanidhi undergoes procedure at Kauvery Hospital in which tracheostomy tube is replaced by a new one

July 25: Seeking to assuage concerns over the top leader’s health, DMK working president M K Stalin says doctors are providing medication to his 94-year-old father for mild fever and there was nothing to worry

July 26: Kauvery Hospital says there has been slight decline in the leader’s health due to age related ailments; treated for fever due to urinary tract infection; hospital
level care provided to him at his residence

July 27: Political leaders make a beeline for the Gopalapuram residence of Karunanidhi. Stalin says his father’s condition was improving. President Ram Nath Kovind and Prime Minister Narendra Modi wish nonagenarian leader a quick recovery

July 28: Shifted to Kauvery Hospital at 1.30 am due to a dip in his blood pressure, condition stabilised

July 29: Amid anxiety about the leader's health, at 9.50 pm the hospital says there is a transient setback in his clinical condition, vital signs normalising with active medical support

July 30: Chief Minister K Palaniswami and deputy O Panneerselvam visit hospital

July 31: Hospital says Karunanidhi will require an extended period of hospitalisation due to “decline” in his general health though his vital parameters have normalised.
Rahul Gandhi, top actor Rajinikanth visit hospital

Aug 1: DMK says 21 of its party workers have died unable to bear the “shock” of the illness and hospitalisation of Karunanidhi

Aug 2: Sri Lankan Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe speaks to Stalin over phone and enquires about his father Karunanidhi’s health. Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan visits hospital

Aug 3: JD-S chief and former Prime Minister Deve Gowda visits hospital

Aug 4: Andhra Pradesh Chief Minster N Chandrababu Naidu, and Union minister Suresh Prabhu visit hospital

Aug 5: President Ram Nath Kovind visits Karunanidhi at hospital

Aug 6: Hospital says there has been a decline in the medical condition of Karunanidhi and maintaining his vital organ functions continues to remain a challenge considering
his age related ailments. Union Minister Nitin Gadkari visits hospital

Aug 7: Hospital says DMK chief’s condition is extremely critical and unstable. Hospital declares at 6.40 pm that Karunanidhi died at 6.10 pm

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