3 June 1924: M. Karunanidhi, Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu, was born

M. Karunanidhi, five-time chief minister of Tamil Nadu and head of the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK), was born on 3 June 1924 in Tiruvarur to Muthuvel and Anjugam.
Before he became a full-fledged politician, Karunanidhi was known as a writer of scores of stories, novels and, most significantly, screenplays. He wrote film scripts that were socialist and rationalist in theme and identified with the Dravadian movement that was sweeping the state (then called Madras) during that time.
For him cinema was one of the means to get his views across to the Tamil people.
Karunanidhi famously wrote the screenplay for Parasakthi, a cult film of Tamil cinema which also saw the debut of the star Sivaji Ganesan.
Recalling his association with the landmark film, Karunanidhi wrote in an article in Frontline magazine in 2013: “Perumal (P.A. Perumal Mudaliar) of National Pictures, who was interested in the rationalist movement, was keen that I write the screenplay and dialogues for the film Parasakthi….When A.V. Meiyappa Chettiar of AVM Productions watched a couple of scenes Sivaji Ganesan had acted, he was dissatisfied with what he saw and was adamant that the actor should be changed. Perumal, the directors and I were not willing to go by his assessment. We told him categorically that we should not be hasty in our decision and lose a marvellous actor. As a result, Sivaji Ganesan acted as the hero in Parasakthi. The film attracted a large audience, created an awakening among the masses and ran to packed houses all over Tamil Nadu.”
Karunanidhi wrote more than 70 screenplays. Besides, his literary output included poems, songs and plays.
A long political journey 
Karunanidhi was interested in politics from his teenage years. 
Karunanidhi first got elected to the state assembly in 1957 from Kulithalai seat. In 1962 be became the deputy leader of opposition in the House. When the DMK stormed to power in 1967 and Annadurai became the chief minister of Madras state (which soon became Tamil Nadu), Karunanidhi was minister for public works in the cabinet. After Annadurai’s death in 1969, Karunanidhi became the Tamil Nadu chief minister — the first of his five stints as CM.  
When he became an MLA for the first time in 1957, Karunanidhi was relatively junior in the party which had stalwarts like K. Anbazhagan and V.R. Nedunchezhiyan. However, after 12 years, Annadurai’s death suddenly opened up the political space for the shrewd Karunanidhi to occupy the chief minister’s chair.
His other stints as chief minister have been during 1971-1976, 1989-1991, 1996-2001 and 2006-2011. From 1969, Karunanidhi became the head and supreme leader of his party. 
Been there, done that 
Having supported Indira Gandhi, Karunanidhi dissolved the State Assembly when the then prime minister dissolved the Lok Sabha in 1971. Consequently, the DMK won an overwhelming 182 seats in the Tamil Nadu assembly. But Karunanidhi later opposed the emergency declared by Indira Gandhi.  
However, his suspension of the charismatic actor-turned-politician M.G. Ramachandran (MGR) from the DMK proved to be a miscalculation. MGR floated his own outfit, the AIADMK, and his party became the dominant force in Tamil Nadu politics till the late 1980s. It was only after MGR’s death that Karunanidhi could again become chief minister. But from then on the challenge was from the new actor-turned-political star on the horizon: Jayalalithaa, who had taken charge of the AIADMK.  
Given the bi-polar nature of politics in the state, Karunanidhi has not been averse to forging alliances with the two national parties, the Congress and BJP. On the personal front, he married thrice — his wives are Padmavathy Ammal, Rajathiammal and Dayalu Ammal.
In a remarkable political career spanning nearly seven decades with several highs and lows, Karunanidhi is one of the oldest active politicians in the country. 
Also on this day:
1890 — Baburao Painter, pioneering Indian filmmaker, was born  
1930 — George Fernandes, union defence minister, was born 
2011 — Bhajan Lal, chief minister of Haryana, passed away 
In the late 1930s the legendary Tamil reformist leader and politician Periyar started an agitation against the compulsory introduction of Hindi in schools in Madras. Many young Tamils were inspired to join Periyar’s cause. Among them was the teenager Karunanidhi, who spoke impressively in public and wrote articles on the issue. His zeal brought him to the attention of Periyar and the other great Tamil leader C.N. Annadurai.

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