News WrapGet Handpicked Stories from our editors directly to your mailbox

M Karunanidhi becomes first Indian political figure to lead party for 50 years

It has been a journey of ups and downs as leader of DMK party. For Karunanidhi, politics has been an innings played like no other.

M Karunanidhi becomes first Indian political figure to lead party for 50 years
File photo

Chennai: He was all of 14 when he first dabbled into politics. At the time, he was reportedly inspired by anti-Hindi agitations and even set up an organisation for local youth in his colony. M Karunanidhi would go on take politics even more seriously with each passing year and right from being a key member of the Dravidian movement to heading the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam party, the veteran leader has been in the thick of things for several decades.

Little wonder then that he now has the distinction of being the first in the country to lead a political party for half a century.

The five-time CM of Tamil Nadu was first elected chief of DMK on July 27 of 1969. He was 45 at the time and heading a political party that had previously been launched without a president as the post had been left vacant for Periyar E.V. Ramasamy.

For Karunanidhi though, there has been no looking back since being put on the helm of the party.

It was not easy though.

Karunanidhi - widely recognised from his dark glasses and yellow shawl - suffered several defeats in elections to nemesis MG Ramachandran and while he had had stints as Tamil Nadu CM, it was not until a strong sweep in 1996 that the DMK leader established a solid footing in the state. While he lost the next elections - in 2001 - to AIADMK, allowing Jayalalaithaa to take the realms of Tamil Nadu, DMK and Karunanidhi were back in power in 2006.

Known for his interest in arts, poetry and Tamil culture, Karunanidhi has had his share of sworn supporters and staunch critics over the last many years. For DMK though, he has been a pillar - withstanding the ups and downs of Indian politics with resolve. At 94 though, he may not be anywhere close to the figure he once was. Currently in Kauvery Hospital, Karunanidhi is suffering from urinary tract infection and has fever. And while there have been rumours in the past about his death, he has shown a steely determination to push forward regardless. And all his supporters would now be praying that Karunanidhi continues to guide and bless DMK and the state of Tamil Nadu for still many more years.