Sri Lankan Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe today wished ailing 94-year-old DMK patriarch M Karunanidhi a speedy recovery. After offering prayers at the Lord Venkateswara temple near here, he had a brief chat with reporters outside the shrine.
“The ailing Karunanidhi will soon recover and I wish him a speedy recovery.” Wickremesinghe said he had spoken to DMK working president M K Stalin yesterday about his fathers health condition.
Replying to a query on the problem Tamil Nadu fishermen face in the waters bordering the island nation, Wickremesinghe said, “The issue is settling down and we are trying to solve it.”
President Maithripala Sirisena had sent a message for the speedy recovery of former Tamil Nadu Chief Minister and Dravida Munnetra Kalagam (DMK) Leader, Muththuvelu Karunanidhi who is presently warded at Kauvery Hospital in the Tamil Nadu capital Chennai.
President Sirisena’s message was personally conveyed to Karunanidhi’s son and Tamil Nadu State Assembly Leader of the Opposition, M. K. Stalin a few days ago by Minister and Ceylon Workers Congress (CWC) Leader, Arumugam Thondaman who visited Chennai where the DMK Leader is hospitalized.
The 94-year-old DMK Leader first entered politics at the age of fourteen, taking part in the anti-Hindi Language campaign in Tamil Nadu.
He joined the DMK under the leadership of his political mentor and late Tamil Nadu Chief Minister, C. N. Annadurai in 1957 and was elected to the Tamil Nadu State Assembly for the first time in 1967.
It was following the demise of Annadurai that Karunanidhi became the Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu, for the first time, in 1969. Since then his political career in the Tamil Nadu State Assembly had been a `rollercoaster’ run with ups and downs and challenges posed by his rival political party All India Dravida Munnetra Kalagam (AIADMK) led by late Chief Ministers M. G. Ramachandran and by Jayalalitha Jeyaram, later.
However, Karunanidhi who is now bedridden became Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu five times until he was defeated by Jayalalitha in 2011.
Apart from being a prominent political figure in Tamil Nadu, Karunanidhi is considered a self-made Tamil scholar and he has made his mark on every aspect of the Tamil language.
Karunanidhi is an atheist and a progressive thinker. He lambasted the Brahmin hegemony in his writings and films.
It was Karunanidhi who first introduced the legendary Tamil film star Sivaji Ganeshan to the Tamil cinema in the ‘fifties in his film Parasakthi, which was aimed at attacking Brahmin supremacy in Tamil Nadu.
Karunanidhi was a script writer for nearly forty Tamil films of leading Tamil film stars for four decades in Tamil Nadu.
He even simplified ancient Tamil literary works and turned them into film stories.
Even reputed universities in Tamil Nadu have deeply appreciated Karunanidhi’s Tamil literary knowledge. This is a person who hardly followed any higher education course or entered a university.
In the early ‘eighties, when India focused on the Sri Lankan Tamil crisis, Tamil Nadu turned into a safe haven of the moderate and extremist political activists from the Northern and Eastern Provinces of Sri Lanka.
According to the first Chief Minister of the merged North-East Province, A. Varatharajaperumal, DMK Leader Karunanidhi and AIMDK’s late Chief Minister M. G. Ramachandran were all out to be in the limelight in the eyes of the people of Tamil Nadu by showing their concerns regarding the people of the North and the East in Sri Lanka.
In the early ‘eighties, Tamil Nadu State politics was intertwined heavily with New Delhi based on the Sri Lankan Tamil issue.
The LTTE was in the good books of the late Chief Minister and film idol M. G. Ramachandran. Ramachandran used the rapport he had with the LTTE to deal with his political opponent DMK Leader, M. Karunanidhi.
The LTTE was even shrewd enough to manipulate the late Chief Minister, Ramachandran to get the best out of him for their existence in Tamil Nadu.
Despite the LTTE being close to late Tamil Nadu Chief Minister Ramachandran, his arch rival and intellectually sound DMK Leader Karunanidhi, was cautious in dealing with the Sri Lankan Tamil militant outfits without antagonizing them.
He was constantly in touch with the Sri Lankan Tamil outfits and met former North-East Chief Minister and Eelam People’s Revolutionary Liberation front (EPRLF) stalwart Varatharajaperumal who had briefed the DMK leader on the development of Sri Lankan politics at that time.
When a coalition of Sri Lankan Tamil militant outfits called Eelam National Liberation Front (ENLF) was formed DMK Leader Karunanidhi was also briefed on the formation by Varatharajaperumal.
At the early stage, ENLF comprised the EPRLF, TELO and EROS. The DMK leader met EPRLF’s Varatharajaperumal, TELO’s Sri Sabaratnam and V. Balakumar of EROS at his residence in Gopalapuram, Chennai and emphasized the need of Tamil militant outfits working together.
However, the DMK Leader was seen as a person who somersaults in politics and the Sri Lankan Tamil political hardliners believed that as far as the North and East situation in Sri Lanka was concerned, Karunanidhi had his own agenda to safeguard his political interests.
Despite Karunanidhi staging a hunger strike in Chennai in 2009 calling a halt to the military operation in the Vanni, the people in the North and the East had seen the DMK Leader’s hunger strike as a `political gimmick’.
As far as India’s involvement in Sri Lankan Tamil politics is concerned the State of Tamil Nadu had its limitations. The Tamil State would have expressed its sentiments over the Sri Lankan Tamil issue strongly. But it couldn’t cross the line the Indian Central Government had drawn with regard to the Sri Lankan issue.
Although President Sirisena had sent his message to DMK Leader Karunanidhi for his speedy recovery, so far no Tamil politician from the North and East has uttered a word on the present state of the DMK Leader with the misconception that he failed to win the hearts and minds of the people in the Sri Lankan Tamil issue.
However, the legendary DMK Leader M. Karunanidhi will go down in history as one of the brilliant Tamil scholars of twentieth century whose contribution to Tamil language is immense.