Saturday, 3 June 2017

The K-factor: Rise and Fall of An Aeon

When one intends to collate the history of Tamil Nadu politics since independence, there is one name, which cannot be neglected at any cause. Rather calling it a name, it is the representation of an era that stretches across six decades. It's 'M Karunanidhi', the one vital force, irrespective of its position in the State politics and assembly, has been existing as the center of all masses of the government mechanism in last 60 years, since 1957 to be precise.
Source: Internet
Yes, despite all those negative shades and criticisms over Karunanidhi, it is not so easy to document the history of politics of Tamil Nadu, and why not, the whole of India as well, leaving his name behind. In this Diamond Jubilee of Karunanidhi in the State assembly, let me just look back the path he has travelled to reach the peak of the State's politics, and subsequently fall from there, then to the dormant nature where he is at present, which he had never been in, before. Today, being his birthday, every other news room and media house will be highlighting all his achievements as a politician and Chief Minister. So, let me speak in a third perception, which says how this giant alligator has survived in the sea of politics.

Having started his political career by catching a train without a travel ticket (the same old and the most told story of all time), this nonagenarian politician has managed to gross a huge cadre base, which he could grip it with in his jurisdiction for over five decades, since the demise of former Chief Minister CN Annadurai. In fact, the demise of Anna, and the appointment of Karunanidhi as  DMK's president were two apparent events. It was a unanimous thought of about 90 per cent of DMK's cadres at that time, post demise of Anna that Navalar Nedunchezhiyan would be the next supremo of the party. But, unexpectedly, in a shocking twist, it was Karunanidhi, who was elected the president of DMK at that time. It is till date a mystery, how had he made it to the party's top chair.

Source: Internet
Later, Karunanidhi sworn in as the Chief Minister of the State. It was MGR, the then treasurer of the DMK, who extended his support for Karunanidhi to swear in the party's supremo and eventually, the Chief Minister. Irony was, Karunanidhi, who was backed  by MGR, committed his first historic blunder by dismissing MGR from the party, after raising some serious questions on the accounts of the party. This led to the evolution of MGR as a new leader in Tamil Nadu politics. MGR, launched his own party, the AIADMK after quitting DMK, and indeed acquired the throne, the Chief Ministerial chair of Tamil Nadu.

MGR, who already had a face-value, which he had gained through starring movies (of which, several were penned by Karunanidhi himself), emerged out to be an unbeaten hero of politics too. Usually, political analysts and neutralists claim Karunanidhi's decision of dismissing MGR from the party was the biggest mistake he had committed in all of his political career. Even I too second the same. As it was because of MGR's dismissal from the party, Karunanidhi led to the inception of a new party which was equally strong, that did not let him to taste the throne for 11 long years, until the death of MGR. If in case he had not did that, there would not have been an MGR, a Jayalalithaa or even OPS and EPS in Tamil Nadu politics. It was Karunanidhi, who sowed the seed to this fifty years of DMK-ADMK legacy.

But, the 11 years of being the opposition leader was the test phase and the most successful span of Karunanidhi, as a party leader, rather than a politician. Because, it was not a simple task to control such a mammoth party within its constraints, defending from all sorts of faction fights and dispersal of cadres. In fact, those 11 years happened to be the post dismissal period of the DMK's rule in the State, the first of its kind in whole of India. He, with all his strategies and political vendetta, was able to keep DMK in all its true spirits for that complete decade, against a magnum opus like MGR. This was one of the reasons why Karunanidhi is still quoted as a 'Rajatantri'. Even, this is still a mystery.

Source: Internet
Unlike the AIADMK, the DMK has some long living traditions and work culture, which are listed out as reasons for the rapport between the cadres and its leader. Every time, for every important political event, Karunanidhi addresses his party cadres through a letter which will also be published in news papers. He had always maintained this communication medium to speak out to his party cadres. Also, Karunanidhi was so open to his party cadres, that he had not denied anyone who wish to meet him in person.

But, such culture was never followed in their rivals, the AIADMK. Because, the AIADMK had always been a party, that was a leader-centered entity. While, the DMK, despite being a gripped by a leader, has at least some basic political ideology and ethics, which has been driving it, since its inception. Starting from the anti-Hindi campaign of 1960s and separate Tamil Nadu protests, DMK had always worked based on certain political agenda, which is not so in the case of the AIADMK. This has been the reason for DMK to still survive after all conspiracies that came in its way to split the party.

Source: Internet
Every time, it was the DMK itself, still to be accurate, Karunanidhi himself was the only reason for those splits happened in the party. Not an external factor. Earlier, it was dismissal of MGR in the 1970s, the first blunder. While, the second time he committed a mistake was in the early 1990s by sending Vaiko, an another idea-driven force from the party. This time, it was due to the influence of his family inside politics. When, Karunanidhi brought his son MK Stalin into the DMK, that turned out to be a hard time for him for the next few years.

Although Stalin had some face value at that time, through the services he had rendered for the party since the time of emergency, his replacement for Vaiko, who was supposed to be the No.2 after Karunanidhi, induced a chaos in the DMK. Vaiko, who was the face of the DMK in most parts of Tamil Nadu down South, had voiced the party's ideologies through his unprecedented speeches. He, after the dominance of Stalin in the party had again made a split in 1991, to launch a new party, MDMK.

Source: Internet
Though Vaiko could not emerge as a great leader like MGR, his loss, for the DMK had its consequences much later. Because, Vaiko was not only a spokesperson but, he was also a connecting factor between the DMK and the LTTE, which was taking forward the freedom struggle of Tamils in Eelam region of Sri Lanka. With this one point, if Vaiko had stayed back in DMK, the party would not have supported the Congress in 2009, by keeping mum during the genocide of Tamils in Sri Lanka. Vaiko, with all his efforts, would have barred the DMK and its leader Karunanidhi from the betrayal they had done to Tamils at that time. Karunanidhi, to secure the party's position in the Parliament and for the sake of his heirs who were accused in 2G scam, stayed silent, which led to a defeat for the DMK in 2011 elections, after which it never came to power.

Source: Internet
By chucking Vaiko, again Karunanidhi led to the evolution of young leaders like Seeman and Tirumurugan Gandhi, dawning new movements that evolved in the final stages of Eelam war. However, Karunanidhi, again tried out his Rajatantram this time by reviving 'Tamil Eelam Supporters Organisation' (TESO). But, this time, his tactics failed to reap him a fruit as there was not a bigger reception for the conference TESO had organised in August 2012. This was because, senior Tamil nationalists like P Maniarasan, Thiyagu and even Pazha Nedumaran, who was once the member of TESO during its launch in 1985, parted and boycotted the conference.

That is why, Karunanidhi's silence during 2009 Eelam war was his third biggest blunder. After that, he never could come out of that shade, and also he had some more crucial restraints from all sides, including emergence of his son Alagiri into politics, which caused a slight glitch in Stalin's faction, the 2G scam case which was followed by parting of Dayanithi Maran from the party. All these events that happened simultaneously became a hectic responsibility for Karunanidhi, following which he started losing grip in State politics, which even did not let him earn at least the opposition leader position in the State assembly after 2011 elections.

Source: Internet
But, as a journalist and a common man, now it is hard to see political events and their follow ups without a letter or a statement from Karunanidhi, who is dormant almost for a year since the party lost the 2016 assembly polls. Yes, even in his inactive times, Karunanidhi never had stopped addressing the ruling party or the people through his statements after every important political event.

His updation to the recent trends and technology too were noted as one of his commendable natures. He was so active in managing his Facebook and Twitter handles even at the age of 90. Likewise, his love towards movies, literature and cricket did not witness a decline ever when he was active (Writing about this might require a separate article. Apologies!). This was one of his most important and respected qualities, which he had consistently maintained till his last active day. That's missing today, in his diamond jubilee year.

Source: Internet

Leaving all his negative shades behind, ignoring all those conspiracies and scams he had been a part of, and the compromises he had made for the sake of his family, and sometimes for his self, if we see him as a politician alone, he is the last leader of his kind. The last leader of Dravidian politics, to have functioned with at least a basic ideology. Today, when coming across a number of parties with 'Dravidian' tag, it really wonders me that do they actually know what that word actual mean and represent. Despite being a strong opposer of Dravidian ideology, the one thing I have admired about Karunanidhi is his strong hold to this hypothetical theory of Dravidianism. This is that one important quality is what a politician, or a statesman should always hold, just in case he/she is truly wanna survive in politics, rather not a conspiracy.

- Santhosh Mathevan,
Chennai, June 3, 2017.

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