Conquests Muthuvel Karunanidhi made many
On his long journey from Thirukkuvalai village in Tiruvarur district to the hearts of crores of Tamils, in the fields of politics, literature and cinema. On the evolution of the Dravidian icon who in a way dictated the course of even national politics for several decades.
ON APRIL 12, 2011, THE DAY AFTER electioneering had come to an end, Muthuvel Karunanidhi was in a reflective mood. Murasoli Selvam, his nephew and the editor of the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK) the party organ Murasoli, poet Ilayabharathi and I were with him, in Tiruvarur, discussing the latest poll surveys that predicted a close fight. He rejected the surveys and said that a close fight was not possible in Tamil Nadu and the State would vote decisively. “It looks like a decisive loss, rather than a close fight,” he observed. To lighten the mood, he changed the topic from poll outcomes to my proposed biography, which was not an authorised biography but an independent one for which he had assured maximum access. He was comfortable with the idea that I would complete the biography only after the court verdict on the 2G cases.
The ever-erudite Karunanidhi suddenly spoke about my tribute to the Jaffna scholar A.J. Canagaratna in which I had quoted James Joyce. Joyce, in A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man, makes his lead character declare: “I will not serve that in which I no longer believe whether it call itself my home, my fatherland, or my church: and I will try to express myself in some mode of life or art as freely as I can and as wholly as I can, using for my defence the only arms I allow to use—silence, exile and cunning.” Karunanidhi said there is a difference between one who seeks artistic freedom alone and the one who seeks a comprehensive political freedom that includes social justice along with creative freedom. “Exile was an option for Joyce, but it was not an option for Periyar, Anna or me. We had to stay put here and the arms we used are the pen and the tongue,” he said, giving an excellent opening for my biography.
SEPTEMBER 19, 1967:
In a State where language, empowerment, selfrespect, art, literary forms and films coalesce to lend political vibrancy, Karunanidhi’s life becomes a sort of natural metaphor of modern Tamil Nadu. His multifaceted personality helps to understand the organic evolution of the Dravidian Movement. To understand how he came to the position to wield the pen and his tongue for his politics, rather than bombs and rifles for revolution, one has to look at his early life.
Like Mahatma Gandhi, Periyar E.V. Ramasamy chose not to be a part of the electoral system or state power. But C.N. Annadurai and Karunanidhi, like Jawaharlal Nehru, chose to be a part of the state system. Annadurai did not live long to battle with the inherent
JUNE 29, 1970: Periyar E.V. Ramasamy greeting Karunanidhi on the eve of the Chief Minister’s tour of foreign countries, at a function in Madras.