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An indulgent father, Karunanidhi a glue that kept family together

DMK chief M Karunanidhi was the glue that kept the family together despite rifts that often seemed serious.

india Updated: Aug 08, 2018 19:13 IST
M Manikandan
M Manikandan
Hindustan Times, Chennai
karunanidhi death,karunanidhi burial place,karunanidhi burial
DMK leaders MK Stalin and Kanimozhi stand alongside the mortal remains of their father and DMK chief M Karunanidhi at Rajaji Hall, in Chennai.(PTI Photo)

DMK patriarch Muthuvel Karunanidhi was a protective father who tried to guide his six children to greatness, though not always successfully.

His family had been his weak spot for which he had been criticised, notably by his arch-rival and former chief minister and AIADMK chief, Jayalalithaa during electoral battles.

Karunanidhi was the glue that kept the family together despite rifts that often seemed serious. He was particular about attending marriages in the family and visiting all the members of the family during Pongal. Despite his efforts to keep his family together, the rifts never completely disappeared and it was only his last bout of illness which ultimately proved fatal that seemed to unite his children, particularly two sons — M K Azhagiri and M K Stalin.

Except for Dayalu Ammal, Karunanidhi’s second wife, and M K Muthu, his the eldest son born to his first wife Padmavathi, everyone was present at Rajaji Hall where Karunanidhi’s body was kept to enable the public to pay their last respects.

Dayalu Ammal, who is now 86, finds it hard to recognize people even within the family and chose to stay back at Gopalapuram residence. She was taken to the hospital to see Karunanidhi only on Monday.

“Due to her age-related ailments, she did not come to Rajaji Hall. However, on seeing Karunanidhi’s body in Gopalapuram house, she broke into tears,” said a senior family member.

M K Muthu (70) also did not come to Rajaji Hall due to health issues. Karunanidhi initially had wanted Muthu to be his political heir in the early 1970s, but later launched him into films as a counter to M G Ramachandran, founder of the AIADMK. But Muthu’s career in films never really took off.

Muthu then started to move away from Karunanidhi. By the late 1980s when Muthu fell on hard times, it was Karunanidhi’s arch-rival and AIADMK supremo J Jayalalithaa who extended financial assistance to him, raising eyebrows in the state. But the differences between father and son that had lingered for over two decades, seemed to vanish in 2009 after Karunanidhi called on Muthu at a hospital where he was being treated.

Azhagiri, the elder son of Karunanidhi born to his second wife Dayalu Ammal, was brought into the party in the late 90s. After he fell out with his brother Stalin, Azhagiri was expelled from the party in 2014. Karunanidhi’s illness and death brought him together with Stalin and half-sister Kanimozhi. The trio had gone to chief minister Edappadi Palaniswami’s house on Tuesday to urge the government to allocate space at the Marina beach to bury their father.

Kanimozhi’s mother Rajathi Ammal was also present at Rajaji Hall. Two other children of Karunanidhi — daughter Selvi and youngest son, noted Tamil film producer M K Tamilarasu, both born to Dhayalu Ammal) — were also there.

First Published: Aug 08, 2018 17:56 IST