M Karunanidhi contesting assembly poll at 91; has no plans to quit any sooner!

Chennai,May 14: Although critics have argues that the 91-year-old leader Muthuvel Karunanidhi may not even last until the 2016 polls due to his weakening health conditions, he has proven them wrong. In fact, the one of the oldest leader is still here, and will lead his DMK party on Monday’s assembly poll in Tamil Nadu.

Accompanied with his third wife, Rajathi Ammal, Karunanidhi arrived to address a crowd and was greeted with emotions and loud music. The crowd chanted his name aloud with clapping and waving hands. The happiness was all over with black-and-red party flags being waved all over. People even stood on their chairs to have a close look at their leader.

But why so much of admiration for a old hand in a country that has over sixty-five percent young populace.

Well, here are few things you must know about Muthuvel Karunanidhi:

Karunanidhi was born on 3 June 1924 in a village in Thiruvarur district . A school quitter, he has made his name as film writer with Tamil films. And, in 1949, he entered actively into politics and became one of the founder member of the DMK.

In 1957, Karunanidhi fought state assembly elections in Tamil Nadu for the first time. Ever since, he has contested 12 assembly elections and never get defeated. Karunanidhi represented Tamil Nadu five times as a chief minister.

Apart from film scripts, the much popular political leader has also written many stories, plays and poems. He is popularly known as Kalaingar, (Tamil word for artist), for his ample of contribution to cinema and literature .

Why people as well as party members adore him?

The love and admiration he receives from people, his Party leaders and fellow member is awing. They bow before him and take his blessings by touching his feet. In fact, his admirers don’t even hesitate to say that they will vote for the leader until their last breathe.

While dressing a crowd in the state he recently says, “No one could prevent our party and alliance from coming to power this time. People have put their faith in us and the crowd here bears testimony to that.”

As per a report in BBC, a bus driver who was listening to him very carefully says, he got his job during Mr Karunanidhi’s tenure as CM in 2008. “He built a lot of bridges and roads during his term. He takes care of our needs.” Another supporter in her fifties says, she has been a admirer since she was a kid. “He gave 20,000 rupees for my daughter’s wedding. I will vote for Mr Karunanidhi until my death.”

The popularity of Karunanidhi is due to his seniority. The leader had seen everything that had happened in the past 6 to 7 decades. “He transformed Tamil literature, he’s written stories, plays and poems, he’s a reformist, he’s the only leader of his stature,” says, a newspaper columnist Bhaskaran Krishnamurthy.

Currently, Karunanidhis contesting his 13th assembly poll, and if DMK succeeded to win against the strongest contender AIADMK, the leader would hold the seat of CM once again. AIADMK is led by former actress and current Chief Minister Jayalalitha.

It is quite interesting that when Karunanidh won his first election, (10 years after India attained its freedom) Jawaharlal Nehru was the prime minister. Presently, Nehru-Gandhi’s fourth generation is in politics, while the DMK forefather is in no haste to pass on his power to his son.

Why DMK lost power in last election and probable next heir?

The atheist and a self-proclaimed rationalist ensure some corruption allegations against his family and party members. And this is said to be the crucial reasons behind his party’s destruction in the 2011.

There also has been a bitter power struggle between his sons – MK Alagiri and Mr Stalin. Ultimately, Mr Alagiri was expelled from the party in 2014 and the recognition of Mr Stalin as the heir is quite apparent now. Although Stalin is considered to be a youth leader, the 63-years-old is barely youthful now.

Possible reasons behind Karunanidhi’s charm:

“He’s the glue that holds the party and the family together. But the larger population may regard him as an experienced administrator who has delivered in the past. (Thus) fielding a young leader may not capture the youth’s imagination. People want electricity, jobs, peace and an equal society. It doesn’t matter whether a leader is 60 or 90 years old. What matters is who can deliver,” said Lawyer Suhrith Parthsarathy.

Will he be able to stand on the expectations of people even today?

Mr. Karunanidhi is troubled with many age-linked illness. He is unable to read properly and his voice shakes while speaking. According to some media reports, it also have been speculated that it could be Mr Karunanidhi’s last election, considering his age. But, Mr Krishnamurthy think contrarily. “He’s still there five years later, and will contest another election. As long as he’s alive, you can’t imagine an election without him. It doesn’t matter whether he’s 99 or 109,” he added.