Karunanidhi: A man who never saw defeat

Chennai: DMK president M Karunanidhi created an unparallelled record by winning all the 13 Assembly elections he had contested since 1957, barring in 1984 when he chose to enter the now defunct Legislative Council.

And he was the only Chief Minister, perhaps in the country, whose government was twice dismissed twice.

His government was first dismissed during the dark days of emergency in 1975-76 and again in 1991 invoking Article 356 of the Constitution following
the assassination of former Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi at Sriperumbudur, about 40 km from here, during an election rally.

A strong advocate of the rights of the State governments, State autonomy and adhering to the principles of federalism, he secured the right for Chief Ministers to hoist the national flag on Independence Day.

He championed cause of Tamil

It was he who created a separate invocation song for the State, the famous ‘Tamil Thai Vaazthu’ by adopting Manonmaniam Sundaranarâ’s poem ‘Neerarum Kadalodutha’.

During the times of emergency when there were fears that regional parties could be banished and even leaders like V R Nedunchezhian suggested that the DMK should shelve the word Dravida from its name, he stood his ground.

He even once threatened to jump into Kamalayam, the temple tank of Thiyagarajaswami in Tiruvarur, when the headmaster refused him admission.
But the unenviable record achieved by him, would never be done again– 13 times victory in assembly elections, nay not lost any polls he had

A rare feat

It was a record which no other politician might or could have achieved. The grand old man of Indian politics, Karunanidhi, also the five time Chief Minister has won a record successive 13 Assembly elections, when he won his 13th term to Assembly from his home turf of Tiruvarur by a margin of 68,366 votes in the last year’s Assembly elections–the biggest victory margin ever in his electoral politics.

His electoral winning record was perhaps unmatched in the country, as he maintained the unblemished record of having not lost any elections.

95 year old Karunanidhi, who, perhaps, for the first time who did not made his public appearance on his birthday due to his health condition on 3 June, was first elected to the State Assembly from Kulithalai in 1957 in the composite Thanjavur district as an Independent (the DMK then was not a recognised party), when Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru was India’s Prime Minister.

Now, when the fourth generation of the Nehru family was in politics, the nonagenarian from the Dravidian heartland and his hunger for success in the electoral battlefield was proved when he won his 13th Assembly elections by a record margin.

This was the highest ever victory margin achieved by the DMK Patriarch in his career, bettering the margin of 50,249 votes he secured in Tiruvarur in the 2011 polls.

The DMK veteran’s electoral winning record was perhaps unmatched in the country.

Spectatcular show

Karunanidhi, who had won each of the 13 Assembly polls, had contested from Chennai city in the elections held from 1967 to 2006 (he did not contest in 1984), before switching to Tiruvarur in 2011.

While he represented the rural constituencies of Kulithalai (1957), Thanjavur (1962) and Tiruvarur (2011) for a term each in the Assembly, he was twice elected from Saidapet (1967 and 1971), Anna Nagar (1977 and 1980) and Harbour (1989 and 1991) in Chennai.

He was elected from Chepauk in the city in 1996, 2001 and 2006. The DMK Chief’s winning streak would have been a notch higher had he contested in 1984, when AIADMK founder MGR, famously won lying in a hospital bed in Brooklyn, US.

Karunanidhi chose to stay away from the polls as he was elected to the then Legislative Council (now defunct) after resigning his MLA post in 1983 in protest against the attack on Tamils in Sri Lanka.

Karunanidhi had won even while his party lost the polls on five occasions. However, two of his victories would stand out.

In 1980, when MGR fielded H V Hande, a medical practitioner in Anna Nagar against Karunanidhi, the DMK Chief faced his toughest electoral battle before winning by a narrow margin of 699 votes.

The next tough electoral battle he faced was in 1991 when he was the lone DMK candidate to win, but by a thin margin of 890 votes in Harbour as the AIADMK-Congress combine swept the polls on the sympathy wave following the assassination of former Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi in Sriperumbudur.

And coinciding with his 94th birthday celebrations, the DMK has made it a double bonanza for its party cadres, by celebrating his diamond jubilee into the Assembly also.