On his affinity to communist ideals
The expansion of the national movement, the trade union movement and communist politics influenced his evolution as a political leader.
KALAIGNAR KARUNANIDHI has left us. A personality that had dominated Dravidian politics and Tamil politics, arts and literature for seven decades, has bid farewell, leaving a void. Keeping aside the different occasions when I had to interact with him as Kerala’s Chief Minister and Leader of the Opposition, it would only be appropriate to say I did not have any direct personal relationship with him. But I have always observed and studied his political life, just like a student of politics. I am not trying to go into the life of Karunanidhi or the chronological details of his political history. My attempt is to try and delineate the qualitative merits of that stream in Dravidian politics, and in Tamil Nadu politics as a whole, which included him and which he helped develop.
We both came into politics in our adolescent years. My belief is that an affinity towards communist ideals too had played a hastening role in Karunanidhi’s political development. The lot of the workers during that period and the growth of the working class communist left movement had influenced Karunanidhi. One of the main sources that moulded Karunanidhi was the Tamil literary skill and dexterous speaking talent of the brilliant orator P. Jeevanandham, an associate of Periyar who later became a communist leader. But Karunanidhi rose and grew in politics not as an activist of the Communist Party, but along with Annadurai as an activist of the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam.
We can say that the decisive event that reinforced Karunanidhi’s future was a raging speech about the brave martyrdom of communists in the firing in the Salem jail, which he made at a DMK conference held in the wake of the incident. What needs to be read together is that the martyrdom of the 22 communist activists who were branded as “Danger Communists” and locked up in the Salem jail had shaken Karunanidhi terribly and that the firing incident had doubled the hatred in people’s minds against the administration.
Was it not Karunanidhi who sowed the seeds of politics and watered and nurtured it thereafter within M.G. Ramachandran, who in 1972 split away from the DMK and formed the Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam? It was Karunanidhi’s pen that made M.G. Ramachandran an “Ezhai Thozhan” (Friend of the Poor) and, through fiery dialogues, made him so popular. It would be more correct to say that it was the communist influence in Karunanidhi that did this. Karunanidhi and his working class characters stole the hearts of the Tamil people through dialogues that were always right on target.
One can say without any doubt that it was rational thought that “seasoned” Karunanidhi. To the end he held the belief that it was individual effort and not divine grace that gave strength to human beings. There was indeed a pro-communist constituency within the heart of that poet who translated Changampuzha’s [celebrated Malayalam poem] “Vazhakkula” into Tamil.
In later years, Karunanidhi, who took pride in his south Indian identity and rose with Annadurai’s slogan “Dravidian Nation or Death”, became the leader of a more extreme Tamil movement. The political tactician
“We cannot analyse the intrinsic strength of Tamil Nadu politics at all without linking it to Karunanidhi.”
WHEN Kerala Chief Minister V.S. Achuthanandan visited Karunanidhi in Chennai on June 10, 2006.