Tamil Nadu CM Karunanidhi turns 85
The city was virtually painted black and red - the colours of the ruling DMK - as thousands of party activists and admirers turned up to greet Tamil Nadu Chief Minister Muthuvel Karunanidhi on his 85th birthday on Tuesday.
The DMK's black and red flags fluttered all over the city and millions of party posters were pasted on almost every wall.
Party workers arrived in thousands from all over the state in over 3,000 buses, leading to traffic jams and massive parking problems.
To mark the occasion, eateries reduced the prices of their fare like idlis, dosas and coffee by 15 per cent after an assurance by the Dravidian patriarch that he would look into their demand to supply food ingredients at subsidised prices.
Among those to greet Karunanidhi were Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Congress chairperson Sonia Gandhi, who spoke to him on telephone.
Governor Surjit Singh Barnala, External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee, members of the state cabinet, several VIPs and hundreds of thousands of the ruling party faithful personally wished the chief minister.
Karunanidhi travelled between his two residences and the DMK headquarters in the city, triggering huge traffic jams in the arterial Anna Salai that lasted several hours.
The chief minister also paid floral tributes at the tombs of his party's founder CN Annadurai and social reformer Periyar, besides planting saplings at his residences.
Though Karunanidhi had appealed to his followers to let him observe the occasion in a private manner as he had not been well, the DMK general secretary K. Anbazhagan ignored the request and exhorted supporters to celebrate the occasion "in a grand manner".
Some of the chief minister's detractors, including his fierce critic and PMK founder S. Ramadoss, also greeted him. His office said there was no congratulatory call from his principal antagonist and predecessor J. Jayalalitha, leader of the rival AIADMK.